Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Blog layout editing... la dee dah

This has effectively become a test blog at this point, but if you pop in, well... Hi! How are ya?

I had some heinous green enter my blog. You'll still see it upper left in the sidebar. I couldn't figure out, at the time, how to fix it. Tonight, I guess my brain had cooked it enough (for many, many months), because the solution took about 2 minutes.

Here's how it HAD looked, when I first came upon it:

And here's the fixed version, for posterity, because I will undoubtedly be tweaking:

There's still a box of green. I shall have to find that in the CSS somewhere.

This reminds me. Figuring puzzles out is COOL!

It's alive!

Heh. My Photobucket account has expired. THAT's now long it's been since I looked at this.

I shall make some changes shortly. But I couldn't just leave it with no new post.

Here is a new one.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A lovely shade of green

I've been away a while. All of a sudden I wonder what I said, the last time I posted. So I take a look... and would somebody please tell me how it is that I have not touched my blog for months on end, and in my absence what used to be white background has become a bright green?!


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Election results

Funny thing about a candidate I really do like actually winning --which has never happened for me before-- is the rather lost sense. Like a lot of people, I'm wondering... "Well, what NOW?" The answer turns out to be that I have a new West Wing show. Every day or so I get a snippet of an episode, as the new POTUS assembles his team and starts working on their plans for the end of January. The fact that it is all real is both exciting and frightening.

But this election was not without the familiar sense of defeat. I knew that Florida voters (my new neighbors) would pretty overwhelmingly vote to ban gay marriage, but I had hoped, even briefly expected, California voters to vote against such a ban. Alas, Prop 8 passed. Unsurprisingly, really, it appears the African American voters that poured out to vote with all that good "Yes We Can" passion... by and large decided that freedom is not for everybody. I do understand why that happens, but it's still so sad.

You already know that I make the mistake of reading comments on articles online. They are often so full of ignorance and hatred (and impossible spelling and punctuation), but I do find them fascinating for some reason. I can tell you, however, that sometimes I am honestly and pleasantly surprised by what I read. Here is an example, in a comment by somebody who calls himself Biggreyoldman on an article about Prop 8:

In a democracy 10 hungry cannibals can vote to eat the 11th cannibal. We live in a Consitutionaly limited Republic where the 11th cannibal has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You don't vote on eating the 11th cannibal.

Here with our Consitutional limited Republic you don't vote on the rights of people. Gays want the same EQUAL rights as straights, not special rights. They want to marry one of their choosing, two people want a legal union between consenting ADULTS, just of the same sex. It is their right and liberty to do so. You do not vote on what a person wants to do with their life with another consenting adult.

If you do not like gay marriage, don't marry another gay. One cannot vote to say what rights the gays have. It's voting to say you can eat the 11th cannibal. Laws that limit the Consitutional rights of others should be overturned by the courts. If they don't, we live in a mob rule where the mob dictates who can be eaten.

(from comments on the Detroit Free Press site)


Just after reading this, Luther called up Barack Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech, from back in March, given in Philadelphia. Neither of us had watched it in its entirety before. You can Youtube it yourself (you can get the full text on huffpost as well). It was beautiful --and interesting to note that it was given long before he was any kind of sure thing. We sat back and sipped our coffee and enjoyed a passionate presentation by a man who will now very likely spend the next four to eight years (please can we have eight? pretty please?) disappointing us, because how could he not?

He'll still be grand. And it's going to be very, very interesting watching it all unfold.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I dreamt I got my hair cut, and Cheryl and I went shopping

One of the things I really like about our new house is how close it turns out to be to that wonderful patch of Queen Street that has all my favorite restaurants and cute shops, and all my old friends can be found there fairly often. That is, of course, only in my dreams.

I must say my permanent and revisited dream landscape gets ever more complicated! While I have not recently visited my once-usual mountain-to-valley walking trails and either been mauled by the tigers or returned to the crystal house where I'm dead and stand before the corpse throne, I know it's still there. And a good tornado or alligator is always available. But lately I've been favoring my visits to my city, Toronto, but it's a Toronto where the major thoroughfares keep coming unglued, twisting around, and connecting back up in really uncomfortable ways. I never do manage to get off the train or subway at the right station, but I do fairly often manage to arrange my path so that I can stop and do some shopping at that Bay-and-Bloor mall (which itself is getting fancier as the years go by) on my way home at night.

That patch of Queen Street, which is sometimes a patch of Bloor Street, where the really great little restaurants are up a side street, and where I almost always see my friend Cheryl Zalameda... last night was somehow only a few blocks from our house near the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Pretty neat!

Cher and I connected first by cell phone. This was after a period of cat-sitting... which... is another story, but I can tell you that my cell phone was easily as complicated as the entire rest of the dream. Then Cher and I met. One cool thing about my dream Toronto is that apparently we're getting around the problem of stores moving around, so now, for instance, Cheryl's favorite and VERY EXPENSIVE clothing line can be purchased on the city bus. She was going to a cocktail party later that rainy evening and had picked out the dress she wanted by shopping online. So we flagged down a city bus, and we got on, and she tried to purchase her dress.

Okay, so the information design of this store is just dismal. The way the items are listed on the Web site is not how they're listed on the bus driver's manifest. After it became clear he had NO IDEA what Cheryl was talking about, he handed the thick wad of paper to her and she tried to figure it out herself. She found the dress on the list, and beside it was noted the compartment where we'd find the actual clothing item. But when I opened the compartment in the dash near the door, it was empty! Oh no!

"But I need it tonight!" So she started going down the list, and finally chose a beautiful chocolate and cream affair, not quite what she'd intended, but I assume she looked ravishing in it. There was indeed one of these in stock, in a compartment under the front-most seat behind the driver.

I might note that we were not RIDING the bus. We were cabbing it. So the actual passengers on this rainy night were a little annoyed at how long we were taking at our shopping.

Off we went. Cheryl and I parted ways for the dream, as she needed to get ready for her party. And Luther took me to get my hair cut. Luckily, my new (real-world) hair-cutter-person's salon has a branch location in that patch of Queen/Bloor Street with all the nice stuff. It's a little humbler than the (real-world) Dunedin salon, but very friendly and quick. They gave Luther a glass of wine. Chris did a nice job, though he left the back too long, which is a little unfair after (real-world) he'd made the comment about Georgia and all at my last appointment.

It was still rainy. Come to think of it, it was rainy and somewhat dark for the entire dream. That's unusual.

Next door to the salon, a new roti place has opened up. It's just a little stand, really, and it's all vegetarian except the very first item on the board: Beef roti. The rotis come in lovely Chinese-food boxes, hand-dyed in swirls of color, each with a real flower tied to the top.

What's difficult about all this is that it is all so FAMILIAR. I wake up, and I know I've been dreaming, but as I begin to think about coffee and the work I should do instead of writing a blog post, I try to separate the dream from reality, but the process is fraught with error. That "very best" little restaurant on that side-street off Queen/Bloor, for instance: I almost always "remember" that as real, so as I wake up, I try to sort that real thing from the dream stuff.

But it's not real. It's just a permanent and often revisited part of the dream landscape. Like the mountain-to-valley hiking path and the crystal house, that restaurant is one of my anchors. And no wonder I go back there so often. The food is really good (I think they serve that palm-and-artichoke heart salad that I used to get at Kalendar), but also... my old friends hang out there.

So in my dream landscape, I can now apparently walk from my Florida house to an anchor-place that is frequented by my Toronto friends, who now themselves are as far-flung as ever. Nice, isn't it?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The "C" word versus the "A" word


Says the atheist.

I CAN'T HELP IT, she replies.


If you've been following the U.S. political news, you've been confronted recently by some secret codes. So let me spell things out for you here, where we're unlikely to be censored. *Spoiler alert* There will be words that you might not actually use in public. WHATever.

The McCain campaign has been seesawing over the past week between:
  • Energizing their "base"
    • Riling up ethnocentric fears and sensibilities, what's also known as racist and anti-anything-vaguely-foreign sensibilities
  • Maintaining a mere shred of cool
    • Insisting verbally that everybody remain "respectful"
    • Insinuating that "Arab" is the opposite of "a good family man" while calling the opponent a good family man
    • Continuing to broadcast commercials that suggest the opponent is a terrorist

The media, which have been falling all over themselves to appear balanced and as a result appear STOOPID, have nevertheless managed to publicize the fact that McCain supporters are getting riled up in sometimes pretty ugly ways. I mean, the woman in line with us outside the Obama rally in Dunedin, FL (on my birthday!) who said, "drop dead" to a McCain supporter across the street did so in a respectfully Jersey accent, clearly indicating that the "drop dead" was what people with other accents would phrase more like, "oh, would you please shut up, dear?" That's one thing. The person at the McCain rally, in response to some of the candidates' rhetoric, shouting "Off with his head"??? No. Uh... no. I'm sorry, but I think even the most die-hard Republican knows (though he or she might not admit it) that there're a good number of really frightened/angry racist individuals on the Republican side right now, and we don't need that element any more fired up than they already are. Sheesh. I mean, REALLY! (to paraphrase SNL)

It's not just me that's making the comparison. With the media pointing out this "dangerous rhetoric" in the McCain campaign, we have bloggers all over the place (could I link? yeah, but I'm lazy) saying HEY, WHAT GIVES? about the media not noting "similarly" bad behavior on the part of Obama supporters.

The "drop dead" lady notwithstanding... one of the examples I saw raised was of a group of young people at a Palin rally. They were "using the C-word."

They had t-shirts proclaiming that Palin is a cunt.

Yeah, I said it.

Here's the thing: Said blogger suggested that we'd see it all over the news if some McCain supporters showed up at an Obama rally with t-shirts calling Obama "the N-word" (that's code for nigger, in case you didn't know).


First: Sorry, ladies, but calling somebody a cunt is not the same as calling somebody a nigger. Why is it different? Because we have no respect in this society for cunts. Yes, that's right. Calling somebody a "cunt" is saying that person is worthless. In contrast, calling soebody a "nigger" is saying two things: 1. That person is worthless, BUT 2. That person is dangerous and should be lynched.

It has ever been the case that niggers have been looked upon with this kind of twisted (lack of) logic: Stupid, lazy, and yet somehow quite likely to beat you in a fight, possibly plotting to take over your country, cuz we know that stupid and lazy people are capable of such things.

So I'm sorry, but calling the vice-presidential candidate a "cunt" is liable to incite... laughter and sneers. And calling the presidential candidate a "nigger" (or worse, apparently: the "A" word, aka Arab) is liable to incite assassination attempts.

Stop patting yourselves on the back for being just as maligned. You're not, sadly. You should be, but you're not.

Friday, October 10, 2008

And they eat it up

"The crowd showed equal disdain for the media, fueled by comments from Palin, who encouraged the Republican supporters to take the campaign's message around the media. 'I can't pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrel,' she said. 'It's dangerous territory whenever I suggest the mainstream media isn't asking all the questions.'"

Washingtonpost.com: Anger Is Crowd's Overarching Emotion at McCain Rally

Let me get this straight. Palin is complaining that the mainstream media isn't asking all the questions? Palin. The same Palin that would, if McCain wins, become president if McCain dies, but her campaign has permitted only a few interviews and NO QUESTIONS OTHERWISE???

And the crowd, naturally, ate it up.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A heartbeat away from giving hockey a bad name

I have developed a terrible tendency to read some of the comments left after a news article or opinion piece, mostly on political news (I'm an election junkie). I guess I picked the comment-reading up in blogland. It's "terrible" because a lot of the people who leave comments on news articles are apparently UTTER MORONS. Also, the comments are often trolled by... well... trolls.

But what gets me is how the trolls fervent defenders of the Republican ticket have a problem with spaces and capitalization (let alone reason, logic, and that other thing... what was it again... oh yeah: spelling). I mean, who in the world has the ability to put a space between two words, but can't be bothered to include one between the end of one sentence and the start of the next? Here's a relatively mild example from the comments of a Christian Science Monitor overview of last week's Republican funnies (I love Tina Fey!).

There is no prof anyone can find of him changing to Obama.Go look it up not one news person can find anything on it.Why did it take him 20 years to leave his church. A church that promotes hate. You don’t think he took a little of that hate with him. 20 years of being told to hate. give me a brake.If he wasn’t running for president he would still be there.He voted against money for the military and said we need to get out because we would never do good there. now he says we have done good. he can’t make up his own mind how can we let him tell us whats good for us?Mccain might be the best choice but he is really our only choice.

I've seen worse than this. Worse by far. And almost always pro-Republican, or rather, anti-"Liberals." Quite often distinctly racist as well. So what's up with that? Is this some kind of proof they're anti-elitist or something?

On a separate (but related) note:

I am really, really tired of "a heartbeat away" now. Can we use another cliche, just to mix it up, maybe? Palin would be "very close," maybe even "next in line." Can we find something other than "a heartbeat away"? It's just got to the point that everybody says it, and it's icking me out.

That is all.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Growing up

One thing the Web is piss-poor at, in my opinion, is envisioning the future. It's become quite like TV in this respect. It works well at connecting people with the things they already know, and it's not quite so good at connecting them with new things, things that they didn't expect.

My example: The boy-child living in my house.

Now, Wil has this Web address, as does his father, and so I mean it in quite practical terms that I mean no disrespect. In fact, the opposite of disrespect: I respect the fact that Wil's life is not like that of similarly-aged people of previous generations. Or perhaps better described, similarly-aged people of the same "class" of previous generations.

I'm sure there were young people of very wealthy parents as far back as... forever... that had trouble figuring out how to motivate their children. And what I'm learning from obvserving Wil is that the children likely were not oblivious to this problem. In fact, when I think back to my own teenage years, I was not oblivious to this problem. People around me seemed to have ambitions. I was not at all clear on how to get some of my own. Wealthy parents' children must always be a problem, obviously, because it's hard to argue that they can't be supported. But the other thing that many of you will have already experienced (yourself and/or in raising your own) is that it is difficult for ANY child in this day and age (and society) to really BELIEVE that they can't be supported indefinitely. I mean, they've been supported THEIR WHOLE LIVES. How can anything else make sense?

So here we are. A few years ago, Wil said he wanted to get a job, instead of bowling. So he quit bowling.

Recently, I had occasion to ask him why he wanted to learn to drive. He answered that he wanted to learn to drive because he knew that it was something he was going to need to know.

And that's so freakin' significant! Something he knew he would need... versus something he DOES need, let alone something he WANTS.

Motivation is such a BEAR, isn't it? Because really, how do you do ANYTHING that you don't WANT to do in some small place in your brain?

So I'm left pondering... why would this young man, all of 18 years old, want to learn to drive, find a job, save money, move out, make his own meals, make his own plans, live his own life? I mean... it all goes contrary to how his life has ALWAYS BEEN, and it goes contrary to what he's being given RIGHT NOW. When you boil it all down, it'd be kinda reasonable to think him an idiot if he wanted to do those things. I mean, WHAT FOR?

We come back to the Internet because, before the question about driving, I did a little poking around for advice on how to teach driving. And most of the driving-teaching advice pointed to the "fact" that a teenager thinks only about what they want to do with the car, all the freedom they'll obtain, and the problem of teaching them is in bringing them down to the actual details and responsibilities of driving. I couldn't find one bit of advice for trying to help a young potential driver who doesn't want to drive, who isn't all that interested, and who is so aware of the potential threats that he's afraid of getting into the car.

I didn't learn to drive, when I was a teenager, because it didn't make any SENSE. It was scary AND it was useless. We didn't HAVE a car, and I could get everywhere by transit and walking. Later, I added biking.

But I wanted money. Oh boy. I was, still, delayed by my father being quite generous in supporting me as a teenager --I got to shop for my own clothes, on a bit of a budget, and travel and do things that I wanted to do. But I wanted MY OWN money, and I'm not sure how I got that urge, but I did. So I got a job.

So what do you do when an eighteen-year-old hasn't got really expensive interests, gets a ton of money from distant relatives at Christmasses and birthdays, and gets a meager allowance as well? WHY, IF HE HAD ANY BRAINS AT ALL, WOULD HE WANT A JOB?

Pffffffffft. He wouldn't. It would be unreasonable for him to want one. Wil's a smart young man and he knows he will need a job. But flat-out, that's not the same thing as wanting one.

I have an idea. But I don't think there's a chance in hell his Dad would go for it.

Still... the whole thing is perplexing, is all. I mean, I'm trying to get motivated to write a screenplay, work out, go to a doctor to get my feet fixed, learn a language, and work harder at my job. And I really, really, REALLY know that knowing these things "need to be done" is quite different...

...from wanting to do them.

P.S. In reviewing this, I see I am the same old bekbek after all. I remember saying, as a young teenager, that I didn't want to learn a language. I wanted to HAVE LEARNED it. Now, at 41 years old in a few days... I want to HAVE DONE all these things, or have them at that lovely point where it is all fun in tweaking and finishing up and celebrating accomplishment. Getting from here to there? Pffft. See you in another 30 years...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mondays are fun days

Sometimes the trivial things are worth mentioning. Trivial = TV.

Last year, I planned to watch several new shows as they were launched in September-October. Of all of them, the only one I continued to enjoy was Pushing Daisies. The show does have some charm, though it got a bit tiresome by the end of the season, being essentially too cute all the time. The main character can bring the dead back to life with a touch... but a second touch kills them again. So he doesn't pet his dog, who died once. And he doesn't kiss his girlfriend, who is supposed to be dead.

Meanwhile, two other shows snuck up on me. How I missed them in my search for new shows, I'll never understand. I absolutely adore Chuck. He's a nice, "ordinary" guy that works at what's obviously a Best Buy store, but he has a bunch of spy stuff embedded in his brain, so by force of circumstance he is an unprepared and unwilling spy. It's exceptionally well crafted, in my opinion - and plain fun. Then there's The Big Bang Theory, an unassuming little half-hour sitcom that doesn't deviate from the sitcom formula... except that the main characters are geek geniuses, with the obligatory hot girl living across the hall. I ought not to like it, but I do. I really do.

And then halfway through the year, with a great deal of fanfare, we got another new show: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I thought this was a terrible idea, and I was sure it would disgust me, but how could I not watch? And upon watching, I was really distressed with how skinny the actress is (playing Sarah), which really shouldn't be as distracting as I found it to be. And really, how can a drama about cyborgs and time travel be a serious contender? Well, sorry, but dammit... I like it! Phooey, so there, etc.

So this year, Pushing Daisies is back, but I'm not really interested. It's run its course, in my mind. And nothing new that's been announced has really caught my interest, unless possibly My Own Worst Enemy. We'll see about that one. But that leaves us with what? Three shows from last year that I want to watch this year: Big Bang (CBS), Chuck (NBC), and Terminator (FOX).

Just the three shows.

And that's not all. But first, there's more. WE DON'T EVEN HAVE CABLE. We decided to save the money, so we have a nice antenna. Remember what antennas are? Here's a clue:

And with our antenna and our new digital conversion boxes (because U.S. TV broadcasting is going all-digital early next year), we get a perfect, clear signal (I'm convinced it's actually better than what we used to get with cable) on all three channels necessary for watching my three shows! WOOT!

So here's the fall schedule. Pay attention.

Monday, 8 p.m., Terminator (FOX).
Monday, 8 p.m., Chuck (NBC).
Monday, 8 p.m., Big Bang (CBS).

Anybody see a problem???

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Selling My Comic Books

Here's something aggravating:

The current prices for collectors' comic books are dependent on printing. A 1st-printing copy of Batman: The Dark Knight gets considerably more than a 2nd-print copy.

I bought my copy when the book came out at the Silver Snail in Toronto, as far as I can recall. Is it a 1st-printing? No idea. There's no COPYRIGHT in the freakin' thing, let alone a print number.

Why can't comic books have some of the same info as normal books get?! It's damned aggravating. Apparently you have to be some kind of Super Collector to be able to tell the print number, and that's not me.

But I'm selling the thing. That, and my Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles. And my Elfquests. And my Wolverines and X-Mens. So I gotta know!

Friday, September 12, 2008

McCain-Palin lies

Paul Krugman, "Blizzard of Lies."

Mr. Krugman says, about the blatant lies repeated --long after they've been publicly declared as untrue-- over and over again by the McCain-Palin campaign, "they’re probably counting on the common practice in the news media of being “balanced” at all costs."

I disagree. Oh sure, that's played into their hands. "Balanced" apparently means, these days, "let them lie if they want to - all is fair, yadda yadda."

But what I'm seeing, and this was backed up yesterday by some nice interviews on NPR (I'll add the link when I find it), is that there're quite a lot of people in this country that have been successfully convinced that the media --all of the media except possibly conservative talk-radio-- is "out to get" Palin and is itself lying.

This tactic is probably as old as dirt, but I first became aware of it with the Bush campaigns. What's being (erroneously, as far as I can tell) called "the base" has been led down a lovely little garden path on which it is not necessary --it's even a bad idea-- to read the news or assess facts critically, since any source of critical information other than those that obviously agree with your own worldview is immediately suspect.

If a news article in a highly reputable newspaper says Sarah Palin is lying, the newspaper article is by definition a pack of lies.

These people want to believe not only that McCain-Palin are the right choice, that their own choices are the right choices, but that any normally reliable source of opposing (or "fair") information must be ignored or slandered.

Which takes the pressure off, eh? It's not necessary to judge things critically. Don't worry about it. Don't think about it. Don't question. Just BELIEVE.

Sounds familiar. :(

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Politics: The Reality Show

Is it any wonder that the entire country seems to be in love with Sarah Palin? Unlike the "elitist" uber-celebrity Barack Obama, Sarah Palin is a "hockey mom" celebrity. It's like she won a contest to be a contestant on "Politics: The Reality Show," and millions are tuning in each day to watch how "the mom next door" fares in the world of politics. Yay, Sarah! cheer the fans. You can do it! We believe in you!

Uuuuggggggh. This is blechy to the max.

But for a population that apparently prefers to watch really ignorant, unskilled, ill-equipped, talentless people stumble through fake obstacles - which is the "script" of all reality TV, it seems - we really cannot be surprised that Sarah Palin the celebrity has way more appeal than someone who actually might be able to lead this country out of the awful mess it's gotten into.

Pffft. Please, somebody tell me it's all just a dream.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Boxes are for sleeping

There is still a bit of unpacking and organizing and optimizing to be done in other parts of the house, but in terms of actual stacks of boxes, we are down to just one final stack, in Luther's and my bedroom.

The Simplicity-cat is not, strictly speaking, allowed in our bedroom, so she has to sneak... but in the absence of any other tall stacks of boxes, she just had to get in there, clearly!

And, for perhaps no other reason than to prove (after that last photo) that I can at least sometimes take a photo that is in focus... Here's something that Luther brought home from the beach one morning:

I am reminded that we have yet to find a really good sushi restaurant here. We may have to go all the way to Tampa! That, or... fish more of these fellows out before they make it to an unhealthy beach landing.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dark Knight and paying for college

I haven't seen The Dark Knight yet. I loved Batman Begins like there was no tomorrow --it rocked. So I've been looking forward to the next installment. As usual, though, I've been avoiding reading too much of the hype.

Today I saw, via Google News, a headline that (for once) suggested not everybody loved The Dark Knight. There is, after all, a LOT of hype, and apparently a critical reception is considered unwelcome by fans. The critic in question is one David Edelstein. So I thought, "Let's see what he said about the first movie, Batman Begins."

I looked it up. Here's one of his reviews: A Dark and Stormy Knight. As much as I really dug the movie, I'd have to say I agree with his critique --and with where he praised the movie. The beauty was in the character. Well, what the hell do you do with a sequal in that case? You can't do the same thing --because then the character isn't growing. But you can't ignore the character altogether, or invent some easy new conflict, because then it's fake. How do you inject the same kind of emotional realism?

I am guessing The Dark Knight failed. And for me, a crazy bad guy doesn't make a movie. (I will note that I understand others will love it. Lots of people are enamored of crazy bad guys. Great.) I look forward to seeing it, nonetheless.

In the meantime, Luther and I are navigating the world of student finances. Wil starts college in August, and we are paying. Heck, we're paying through the NOSE. Florida is quite strict about residency --not surprising, really, given the number of people who could claim to be residents based on a grandparent or real estate investment. You have to be able to prove you've lived here for a full year before you will be allowed to pay the regular in-state tuition. We moved here in the spring, and we're going to have to pay out-of-state tuition. Wil's first year is going to cost about three times what his second year will cost, isn't that nice?

It is an interesting process. We are leaving no stone un-turned. We are recognizing what a boon this would be to somebody who had nothing (we're not eligible for grants and "forgivenesses" and so forth, because despite being broke as hell, we have too much... but others are not so fortunate as we). I am really freaked about how probably most truly poor people never learn of all these opportunities that are available to them, however. I know from experience that the less you have, the less people talk to you. There's money there, for somebody that is willing to really commit to education. But boy oh boy, it's all phrased in language that is inaccessible to those who don't already have that education. Watching Wil stare blankly at some of this crap is only a reminder --he already knows more than most.

What we'll be doing is taking out student loans, which Luther and I will later pay. I get to defer my panic about my own lack of any kind of retirement plan. Well, actually, it's fine: The plan remains the same. I must die first. That is all.

Life. She continues to be amusing.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Here we are in July already, and Luther's son is due to join us in just a few days. This means the pressure is on, now, to get some non-functional things functional. This includes somewhat unfortunate changes to one of the nicest rooms in the house: the main bathroom. This lovely little house has been perfectly set up for a couple whose children are grown up and out, and in Luther's case the "up and out" is only 50% complete at this time. The other 50%... is going to need to take a shower now and then, and the beautiful main bathroom is only set up for baths.

Normally, not a big deal. Who hasn't added a shower head to a bath before?! But in this case, there's also NO TILE. Yup, that's right. Oh yes, and there's the added factor that our old house still hasn't sold... so money is even tighter than usual.

Nice, isn't it?

Because of the window, we had already decided not to tile. We'd thought about covering the whole thing with one of those fiberglass surrounds, as ugly as they are, "for the time being"... but this would be a custom job and even if we did the work ourselves, not cheap. So I ordered a shower curtain ring from a shop in Ohio, with the idea that we'd just run a curtain the whole way around. That'll work!


Except there's still going to be water hitting the wall behind the tap. We insist on having shower handsets, and everybody who'll be living here is used to being able to use that feature, so it won't just be random spray that hits the wall, but also dripping hands reaching for the shower head. That wall is just going to get wet. Ultimately, I think the right thing will be to tile that wall and corner, in something nice that matches the minimal tile in the rest of the room. Curtains can be draped aside artfully when the room is not regularly being used for showers, and then they'll hang down again for showers, with the tile wall where water is likely to strike. Right now, though, there's no time and no money for a tiling job.

What to do? We thought about waterproof paint, but such a thing doesn't appear to exist, at least not for applying over existing paint on sheetrock (or whatever is under there - I'm ignorant of such things). And we could get a really cheap plastic surround kit and just put up part of it... but the cheaper they get, the uglier they get, and I don't know that we can bring ourselves to do it.

Other projects are underway. This weekend I did a whole "killdisk" thing on our old desktop machine, so that today or tomorrow I can figure out where to take it to sell or donate. We don't need it and frankly don't have anywhere to put it in this new house! And I also somewhat refurbished my old, old laptop so that it can act as our "legacy machine"--because we've had occasions where our work called for older versions of software, or at least being able to build screensnaps for teaching somebody with older software how to do something. The little laptop can stay tucked away, with just a little footprint, only to be pulled out when needed.

It may also be a handy Internet-access station for guests (hint, hint), provided they're patient with the slow machine.

We're also making some changes to what will be Wil's room. It is a really cool room in what used to be a carport or garage, and one whole wall is closets. Right now, the wide center section is set up with a wire clothes-closet system. We're putting a clothes rod in one of the side sections, so that both sides will be the clothes closets and the center section... can become Wil's "entertainment station." We'll run power into it, and he can set up his TV and all of his game systems and games, and then hopefully when he's not using them, he'll actually be able to close the doors and have the room almost instantly in order again. We'll see how that goes...

...but you can see, at least, that we're not getting a lot of help from Simplicity, who has discovered the little study nook in the corner of the room.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Movies Movies Movies

I went to school with some marvelously talented people. This is true of both undergrad and graduate school, but lately it's been the undergrad crowd that I've been catching up with --through Facebook, believe it or not.

So here's a plug for some of the cool things my old buddies have been up to recently. This is by no means a comprehensive list --everybody seems to be doing something extraordinary right now! But these will get you started:

First, Sylvain Lavigne: He has a new short film up on Youtube, and I think it's fabulous - plus I get to see Sylvain in his undies, which is always a treat! Watch it! Crap (subtitled version of Simonac)

Next, we have some features that you should definitely plan on renting from your local Blockbuster (or whatever), or better yet, try to find copies to buy! Yeah!

Jeff Renfroe's Civic Duty. Dylan Macleod did the cinematography!

David Ray's Fetching Cody.

And Julia Kwan's Eve and the Fire Horse.

I tell you what, it is an honor to know these people. Plus I seem to recall --vaguely-- that they're kinda fun to hang out with. Hmm. Is it time for another reunion yet?

Friday, June 06, 2008

A declaration of anonymity?

And now for something just a little different from recent posts about education, eco-friendly technologies, and the aggravation that is Hillary Clinton... This is a little odd, in my mind:

There is apparently an organization called "Anonymous" that protests Scientology. Now, from the little bit I've been learning, it's not in the least bit odd that one would protest Scientology (although as usual I'm left wondering: Couldn't we just cut to the chase and protest religions and cults in general? But I digress...), but I admit I'm finding it odd that Anonymous presents itself in a little bit of a... hhhmm... cultish manner.

I worry that it's awfully easy for some people to want to belong to something, and that when they jump ship from something as apparently icky as Scientology... they're awfully tempted to just sign up for something new, which seems counterproductive to me.

Why can't we raise more people that just want to be themselves? Themselves could be pretty cool, you know.

But there, these last few paragraphs will now have pissed off absolutely everybody, yay! (I just don't understand religion I just don't understand I don't... ~sigh~)

ANYWAY, despite that little ick-factor, I think Anonymous is kinda neat. Cathleen posted a link to a post about their upcoming worldwide protest (June 14), with accompanying video. Will there, I wonder, come a day when homemade videos on the Web used for organizational/advertising purposes have to actually recognize the copyright on things like James Horner's terrific Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack? Stay tuned, but DO NOT hold your breath.

But the real reason I, of all people, am posting the same link is... CHECK OUT THE VERY NICE FLAG DESIGNS! I mean, it's a great logo to begin with (though I sense it has perhaps had a good upgrade fairly recently), and then it works so well on some of the country flags. Nice design job, I must say.

And for my last "ponder" of the morning... Isn't there something odd about calling oneself Anonymous and then designing a logo that can be recognized everywhere? Hmm...


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Teaching Eco-Friendliness

Today I am working on some supplements for a textbook on Philosophy of Education. As usual, my brain is "cooking" the little tidbits I pick up as I work through the supplements. In the background, I have a television turned on. The show is a wandering feature that seems to have gone from eco-friendly architecture to elementary-level education on global warming (or climate change, if you prefer) and new eco-friendly technologies. The kids in the probably-Californian classroom seem very engaged.

I find myself remembering corresponding lessons from when I was a small child. The big topic then was, believe it or not, littering. We did talk about energy efficiency (turn off the lights when you're not using them), and we did talk about recycle-reuse (although that might have hit its stride later, when I was in high school), but littering stands out for me because in my mind, littering is what we've been doing all along, on a grand scale. The lessons on energy efficiency and the lessons on recycling and reusing, and now the lessons on global warming and all the new "green" technologies are just about finally cutting back on all the littering we've been doing.

In the Philosophy of Education supplements, I've been going through U.S. education history. Normal schools, common schools. The shift toward female teachers. Assimilation. Nationalism. Democracy. States rights.

And here's where I believe we're really running into problems with solving our littering problem:

We now see that we need to address the littering we've been doing as a society, versus just the littering of individuals. We now see that "littering" isn't just about the empty soda can thrown from the car window, but also about the exhaust fumes coming from the tailpipe. We are now beginning to see that our whole way of life rests on littering, from the waste and pollution generated by the vehicles so that we can live at great distances from where we work, to the waste and pollution generated on our farms so that we can get steak and potatoes even when we live nowhere near cows and potato fields.

But when I say "we" see this, I mean, "we, the educated." We, who understood that littering was bad 35 years ago, and are now able to extend that understanding to a wider, more far-reaching sensibility. And the trouble is... I just recently moved from an area where, it seems clear, the idea that throwing your empty soda-can out the window is bad... isn't being taught.

In middle Georgia, I'd have to say that most people haven't got that message that is now decades old. I've seen so many things thrown from car windows, I lost track in sheer amazement. Cigarette butts to cigarette packages to banana peels to partially-empty fried chicken buckets; tissues, newspapers, ashes, and peanut shells; fast-food wrappers; fast food. And this doesn't even count the stuff that comes flying out of the beds of pickup trucks, whose owners apparently use their trucks as refuse containers until a handy wind comes along at 70 mph to clean it all up for them.

So when I watch some keen, bright students enthusiastically exploring global warming concepts, and enthusiastically embracing eco-friendly technologies, with wide eyes and practiced mouse-clicking fingers, I can't help but think that it's all going to just remain some kind of "fad" until the less-than-enthusiastic kids of places like middle Georgia, with access to far older technologies and far poorer infrastructures, are at least taught that littering JUST CAN'T HAPPEN ANYMORE.

My Philosophy of Education, unfortunately, cannot reconcile itself with this states' rights thing, because the values I think a public education should instill are values that deal with long-term issues like climate change. And frankly, I can understand that a population that doesn't get that throwing shit out their car windows is bad... probably isn't going to wholeheartedly embrace the idea that they should stop driving cars because they're part of a lifestyle that's destroying our planet.

Not gonna happen. Not unless we develop a curriculum that applies equally to the students in northern and southern California and the students in middle Georgia and Alabama. Because it takes the whole society to adequately support long-term changes.

(In the meantime, while people continue to stick with habits and values that only recognize the short-term and the known and familiar, we have judicial systems that consider the larger context based on things like constitutions, and make decisions for us that appear to be against the popular consensus. And there you go, that's my comment about gay marriage -bravo!- in California, just as much as it is about efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hillary continues to run in the wrong party

Soon enough, I'll get back to the important matter of kitty cats and the fact that I can now walk to the water (and will be doing that in a few minutes if I know what's good for me). But I keep getting distracted by the ongoing soap opera that is the current Democratic nomination race. I say race, but it's been somewhat stalled lately.

As a follow-up to my previous post, Hillary apparently does, in fact, think the GOP is the better party for her. Yup! Mr. Boudreaux of George Mason University breaks it down for us in a delightful way in the Wall Street Journal:

'Nothing but Misogynists'

My problem is this: If she doesn't pull out now and start rooting heavily for Obama, there won't be enough time for her to drag her faithful followers to his side before November. I am, of course, assuming that she'll even be willing to do so. Many of the faithful on both sides in this race are getting quite venomous toward the other candidate, and because of all people the GOP chose McCain... these Democrats think they have a moderate alternate choice! Yikes! Talk about a bad idea! So ONE of the Democrats has to pull out and throw his/her full support behind the other, telling his/her followers, "okay, cut the crap, you know you can't vote for McCain, you just can't." Otherwise, as my own dearest and bestest friend pointed out in his myspace blog, we're looking at a long, hard future with a very conservative Supreme Court, given the people McCain would nominate. That's much more dangerous, long-term, than just the bunch of other horrible things that McCain could do in the next four years.

Hillary apparently NOW thinks that she is being expected to be the one to pull out because she's a woman. It's sexism. WRONG. It's far more likely a reflection of the fact that she's RUNNING AS A REPUBLICAN. Pfffft.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hillary Rodham Bush

I quite liked Hillary when all this started. Well, perhaps "liked" isn't correct, but I admired her, and I thought she seemed strong and capable. On Obama's worst days (not recent days at all, frankly), I was tempted to see Hillary as the better candidate. And the way she keeps on fighting has some appeal.

But all of a sudden, I now see that she's just another Bush. Not in that "all politicians suck" kind of way. No, I mean, really: The same deal. Rules don't count unless they support my decisions, and truth is what I say it is.

We had hints of this with the issue of Florida and Michigan. I'm sorry their respective Democratic leadership were too stupid and put their voters' numbers on the line, and obviously a compromise should be reached. But Hillary has all along insisted that the delegates be seated based on the states' results - and Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan because *gasp* he was following the rules...

Now, she's insisting that the entire nominating process should be thrown out the window, and why? Because she's losing, according to the rules. So let's ditch them.

Clinton: 'This Is Nowhere Near Over'

I'm guessing she has some supporters who just adore this approach. They're probably prepared to argue that a president like this will get things done, and damn anybody who gets in her way. But the problem is, this is what we've had for the past two terms; somebody who thinks he is above the laws. The rules don't apply, and if the rules do get in the way, we can just destroy the rules and who the hell cares what happens to the country in the process.

Charmingly, she has almost come right out and promised everybody that she will be another Bush: "If we had the same rules as the Republicans, I would be the nominee right now." And oh yes, she's the stronger candidate, offering this proof: Karl Rove says so.

A lot of people are afraid of a Clinton presidency because they think she'll be another Bill Clinton. We should all be so lucky. She's another Bush.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

All tied up and everywhere to go

Yesterday, Luther and I went out to Clearwater Beach in the afternoon, to play in a bit of storm surf and get the Honda's seats wet. The sky was blue, the sand was soft, the water was warm, and the Honda with its roof stowed in the trunk is a sweet ride.

When we got home to the Clearwater house, that poor Simplicity cat was in her spot at the front window, on the sagging futon, in quite a bad state. She had somehow managed to get her squirrel-on-a-string-on-a-stick toy wrapped around her neck, something that can only have gotten worse as she tried to escape the heavy stick, dragging it and squirrel from the back of the house to that spot in the front, where she waited for rescue. We have since taken the squirrel off the stick. Imagine if she'd had this accident occur while we were away on a longer trip!

Afterward, she hid. I think she had hurt a toe or something, but there is also her pride to consider. This morning she is in better spirits, and it is the bekbek that is a little blue. Luther has left once again for Georgia. ~sigh~

So on that note, the update: I now live in Florida. It is lovely. A good deal of our household things are still in Georgia. Luther graduated from college last week, but his son will not be finished high school until the very end of the month. So as a household, we are living in two places at once --me on a futon on the floor in Florida, but with an almost-complete (and looking lovely) office; Luther with the bed and the wireless network in Georgia. Another three weeks or so and we should be able to do the rest of the move, but of course the really big day, when we have well and truly finished with Georgia and live completely in Florida... will not happen until we have sold the house.

Want it? It's looking awfully nice these days... come on, you know you want to!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I like screen doors

Screen doors
And I cannot lie
Those other brothers can't deny


So here I am in Florida. I arrived Thursday, was shocked on Friday to realize I'd only been here for a day, got paid in the mail at my new house (and did the corresponding happy dance with bad singing accompaniment), got more work via Fedex, locked myself out, paid somebody to break the lock, replaced the lock, went for walks, discovered my bike is all but broken, and made a surprisingly nice chicken tikka masala, albeit with too much onion. And I sweated. I sweated lots. It was hot.

Then yesterday the temperature dropped, so much so that I left all the windows open last night, which led to my waking and prowling like a bad security guard several times during the night, but ultimately was a good choice because the house is nice and cool and I didn't run the A/C the whole time.

Today is gorgeous. In the 80s outside, but still getting there inside, all the windows open again. And yet I feel shut in.

I like screen doors. I want a lockable screen door at the very least on the back bedroom door (there is a door to the outside in the walk-in closet of the master bedroom at the very back of the house) and on the front door. It just seems like that'd make it feel more like I were enjoying the outdoors while I'm inside, working.

That is all.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Facing my mortality

A strange thought today:

Simplicity is finally starting to relax after the move. There she is, sleeping in the early evening, purring when she's petted, yawning and stretching. I said to her, "I'm not moving you again. You'll grow old and die in this house."

And then I felt tears come to my eyes. And in a few moments I realized that I was sad not for the cat, but for me. I fully expect to move again, so it's not that. But I am on that side of my life, now, where the plans are at least in part about where I'll be when I stop making plans.

How odd, how beautiful, how sad.

Of course, it is worth noting that I am melancholy to begin with. My Luther is more than six hours away! Yuck. Got to fix that.

The house is marvelous, yadda yadda. More later.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Moving Day 1.0

Moving Day 1.0 is complete. Luther and I spent several hours loading the U-haul truck on Friday, spent the evening in utter amazement at how tired a person can be, and got up the next morning to spend a day driving and then unpacking the same truck. Needless to say, I am sporting several new bruises - and am happy as a clam in a garlic cream sauce! Er... well, happier, really.

The house is so perfect for us that I am actually feeling homesick now. We returned to Georgia on Sunday, since there is work to be done on the house here, and I didn't feel good about leaving all of that to Luther and Wil. I will spend the next few days working (yay, I have work!) and working (boo, I need to finish painting the bathroom), and then we'll have Moving Day 1.1: I will pack up my little del Sol with my work stuff and Simplicity and head on back home to the boxes and the futons and the gorgeous lawn that needs mowing.

Today, I am leaving a comment on the blog kept by Cathy, one of the previous owners. Honestly, it tickled me pink to find her blog in the first place, and I am actually envious of hers and Kimball's new adventure even while I am in the midst of enjoying mine and Luther's. I remember once I was standing in a line in a CIBC bank in Toronto on pay day, and I was planning to deposit my check, and the fellow in front of me was planning to make a withdrawal, and I wondered why we couldn't just cut out the middle man and exchange our moneys right there on the spot. Sometimes we all find ourselves trading places with strangers and feel a little connection that is so quickly lost to the realities of daily life. Wouldn't it be nice to stop and have a drink together?

Moving Day 2.0 is TBA. Luther and Wil both have to finish school first! I hope we can find a buyer. And I admit, despite all my complaints about middle Georgia, I will miss this house - even while I am happily enjoying the new one.

Pictures later. I left my photo upload cable in Florida!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Utter foolishness, and a new home

Today I spent an inordinate amount of time on Google Maps, using the "Street View" feature to travel virtually along some streets in our new neighborhood. I am eager to see the house and the water and the local stores.

Then I suddenly realized what I was doing and how utterly foolish I was being. I mean, we're moving there. We now own the house (and accompanying debt). We'll actually be there in person this weekend, and in another week I will be living there full time. I will be able to actually WALK on those streets.

Yes, we bought the house. We are moving to Clearwater-Dunedin, Florida. Woo hoo!

Friday, April 04, 2008

A classic case of conflict of interest

Well, we are coming down to the wire, now. We close on the new home in just 11 days.

One of the things that excites me about the Tampa Bay area is all the wildlife. In particular, I love the little lizards!

I saw them for the first time on the other coast of Florida, near Patrick Air Force Base, south of Cape Canaveral, accompanying Luther on a "TDY" where I got to hang out by the pool while he and others in uniform talked about Things Somehow Important inside. Around the pool, there were pests - little lizards, darting here and there. I instantly fell in love, no doubt partly inspired by the sense of romance that went with the two of us everywhere we traveled, but in no small part also tinged with the exotic. Pests that aren't mice, rats, or bugs?! Pests that EAT BUGS?! What could be more magical?

In some parts of the Tampa Bay area, these lizards are so common that when one walks along a sidewalk, one must get used to the fact that little creatures will be darting across your path from the edge of the road to the bushes in the yard, startled by your presence. You just have to accept them and have faith that you are unlikely to step on them, as they move very fast.


As I look forward to the little lizards, I must face a certain conflict. Simplicity, also, quite enjoys little creatures that move quickly and enticingly. To prove the point, and warn us of things to come, this spring we are already seeing a far greater number of the little lizards in Warner Robins than we ever have in the past. Some of them are GORGEOUS - bright green, with bright orange neck pouches they thrust out in a flirtatious manner. But Simplicity has already taught me that they turn a rather sad, dark brown after they've been captured and punctured. Right now, she appears to be playing hockey on the back patio - and her puck is a very slick little baby lizard that skids quite excelently across the smooth pavement when struck with a skilled paw.

My poor, poor little lizards. ~sigh~

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Simplicity has found her voice

She only knows one word: MILK.

But who can resist a silent black shadow of a cat when she sees a white plate come out of the cupboard and suddenly brings music into the world? MEOW? MEOW!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Playing house

Luther and I are back from Florida with a little tale to tell. One day, were looking at some houses. The next day, we were buying one.

We have a contract. Having been through this only once before, I am still hesitant to say that the house is ours, but presumably it will be so, and fairly soon. Now my life is supposed to be all about selling the house I am in right now, but it is difficult. A million times a day, my mind goes to the gorgeous little home near the water, a good six hours or so away from here.

Another thing about not feeling the house is "ours" has to do with the sellers. We met them at the house, and they were fairly marvelous. Not only was their pride and care showing in every corner of the house itself, but they also showed it in the sparkle of their eyes, and the willingness to laugh with a couple of strangers in their kitchen.

It is really nice knowing that, unlike all the other houses we saw, knowing more about the previous owners in this case only makes the house seem cooler.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oh Daddy I'm so glad to see you but the Moustache Man is gone!

Just poking my head in here to say hi to anybody who may be lurking. I will likely be resurfacing more properly in the coming weeks as I get used to the fact that I'M FINISHED SCHOOL YIPPEE!, but that resurfacing will likely involve ending this blog and starting something new. If you're a "regular," I will definitely let you know where to find the new digs.

Speaking of new digs, we are moving. T minus 5 months or so. Specific address yet to be determined, but it's looking pretty SWEET!

And I graduated.

That is all.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Is it to be believed?!

I just caught a snippet of one of those "news" shows designed to outrage, and it worked. I was outraged at the guests who were expressing their outrage. The topic? A movie coming out, entitled The Golden Compass (I had to edit my post, because I'd called it the Golden Needle. Needle, compass, whatever...)

According to the guests, the movie -and moreso the books upon which it is based- is "dangerous" because it promotes atheism. One of the guests went so far as to pretend to care about freedom of speech by saying that of course everyone has the right to promote his ideas, BUT the author/publisher/producer should have to be up-front about what they're trying to do - in this case, to promote atheism to children.

Did I miss something? I haven't been in a bookstore for a while. Have "This is Christian propaganda" stickers been placed on the covers of the Narnia books?

I feel ill.