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.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

As time goes by

For the past few days, I've been working on a test bank for a book entitled "Nation of Nations," an American history text. Some pretty interesting stuff. I have to say that the chapters pre- during- and post-Civil War, when talking about the South... describe attitudes and customs that are now FREAKISHLY familiar. Nothing has changed in the South except the costumes. Don't be fooled. This is just another remake, and not even a good one, at that.

But it's interesting. We talk about getting sick of the same old histories over and over again, but the truth is, Luther and I tend to be fascinated. If the boy is driven nuts by it all, well, that's all to the good. He needs to push himself onward and outward, and the best strategy I can come up is to do as we damn well please and see how that goes.

Take, for instance, the whole clock thing. The whole preoccupation with regimented time that took over the nation. People started to think in terms of time and work and play broken up into increments, and deadlines to be met at every turn. Interesting turning point in history.

Right now, I am downloading "2nd pass" (pre-production with artwork and page numbers) textbook chapters via FTP. I can't download the whole folder, so I have to do the chapters one-by-one. Each one takes long enough that I think about how I'm wasting my time, but each one is fast enough that I can't really get something else started in the time alotted. So in fact, at this moment I'm NOT downloading, because I've paused in order to blog.

The thing is... When did we start being frustrated that we couldn't do two things at once? I mean, when did it become such a habit that NOT being able to do two things at once - talk to a friend while driving, look at porn on the Internet while enjoying TV with the family in the livingroom (to give a few not-particularly-wholesome examples) - was such a damned PROBLEM?

Doing one thing at a time takes too long. I get bored. I want a snack and a backrub.


Friday, September 21, 2007

No racial divide

Been busy lately. Gotta work. My partner in crime is soon to be retired again, so I better try to make some money, eh?

Meanwhile, I've been following the Jena 6 story, and I wore all black yesterday in protest (although it must be admitted that wearing black is not exactly unusual for me in any case). You can Google or Google News "Jena 6" for background. This morning's news has this:

Jena resident Terry Adams disagreed with any accusations that there might be a black-white divide in the area.

"We are not a racial town. We get along with each other, we get along fine. This is something that got out of proportion. It really has."

Jena's racial tensions were aggravated in August 2006, when three white teens hung the nooses the day after a group of black students received permission from school administrators to sit under the tree -- a place where white students normally congregated.

The guilty students were briefly suspended from classes, despite the principal's recommendation they be expelled, according to Donald Washington, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.

A member of the LaSalle Parish School Board -- which had a role in supporting suspension instead of expulsion -- insisted the board is not prejudiced.

The panel felt it took the appropriate action, Jonny Fryar said.

"I talked to one of the parents, who called me and said their son thought it was a prank and naive to the fact of what it meant and he was sorry," he said.

"I hate to see people label us as something we are not. Because we have black students and white students playing football together. They shake hands, get along. This is an unfortunate incident. We hope that the community can heal." Source

Why did the black students need permission to sit where white students normally congregated? Had the white students previously obtained permission?

And then the kid saying he was naïve about what the nooses meant: So, he would have hung nooses there if some more white students had sat under the tree?

Yeah. There’s no black-white divide. None whatsoever.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Work snippets 3

Working on Armesto, The World. Not a bad title. The World.

Item number 1:

They were anti-evolution. They didn't want to evolve. Their grandaddys never did it, they sure as HELL weren't going to do it either.

Item number 2:

15. The world’s first true democracies, offering women the same political rights as men, took shape in
a. Britain and the United States.
b. France and the United States.
c. Norway and New Zealand.
d. India and Sweden.

Interesting take on the word "true," isn't it? We still don't give everybody the same political rights. Here, at least, convicts can't vote. Children can't vote. Permanent residents can't vote. Only "citizens" vote, but hasn't that always, essentially, been the case? It's just that we're forever changing our definition of "citizen."

The actual text says this: "In politics, too, the new century opened with new departures. The world's first full democracies--full in the sense that women had equal political rights with men--took shape in Norway and New Zealand."

I'll edit the question to use "full." But it is still highly subjective. I would argue that if we distinguish the citizen from other types of residents, and if democracy is an activity by and for only the citizens, then a "full" democracy is one in which each citizen verifiably has a voice in the process, regardless of the non-citizens that have been left out altogether.

We don't have that now.

Meanwhile, I'm going to be inducted into an honors society. Don't hurt yourself as you fall out of your chair, laughing.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Tops

Gotta make this quick so I can get to work, but... My friend over at already posted a nice blog entry on a little phenom we've observed on Facebook, and I wanted to add my own little notes.

With Facebook, you can belong to a couple of "networks" decided by your school (if you have a school email account), your region (whatever you select), and your workplace. I've selected SPSU as my school, and Tampa Bay as my region, since I'm in the countdown to moving there. Facebook has now helpfully posted "stats" on the networks, based on what individuals have posted in their profiles with regard to favorite movies, music, books, etc.

My SPSU network's Top Books holds no surprises. As Diane (she of the fat brain) succinctly pointed out, the list of nine books includes a religious text, a book written for children, movie tie-ins, and books one is forced to read in school. I enjoyed comparing my SPSU list to Diane's LA-region list, actually. Perhaps it is significant that the Bible is in first place at SPSU, but drops to second place in LA, behind (of course) Harry Potter.

The main thing is that these are not lists that suggest a group of real "readers." What's your favorite book? I am a devout Christian, so it has to be the Good Book. And I love, love, love me some Harry Potter. Hmm. What else have I read? (Look at DVD shelf with those few books next to the DVDs.) Oh yeah! The novelization of Star Wars! I LOVED that book! It was exactly like the movie, but with WORDS! Hmm... what else? What was that book I read five years ago in High School? What was it, what was it...

I'm exaggerating. And using far too many words, yet again. But still...

Here's the part I found really interesting this morning, though: My Tampa Bay area network has ONLY SEVEN BOOKS in its Top Books list. The LA area and SPSU each have nine books listed.

At first I thought the Tampa people couldn't come up with more than seven choices. The odd thing about this is that their "Top Interests" has "reading" in the third spot.

And then it hit me: There were not enough agreements on Top Books to get true 8th and 9th place books in Tampa. There's um... something called... diversity of opinion! Their third-favorite interest (after music - apparently R&B ugh - and movies) is reading. READING EVEN COMES IN BEFORE FOOTBALL. And they're not all reading the same thing.

I am tentatively hopeful.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fifteen for a moment

As you know, I have yet to figure out why I'm blogging. With less and less of a sense of purpose, the post frequency is dropping. Oddly, at the very same time I am close to paying for a couple of domain names and have already signed up for a new blog space on... one of those other blog sites. Don't ask me why. I don't know the answer.

For lack of anything better, here's a quick update on what's going on in my life:

1. School has started again. This is supposedly my last semester before I graduate, and it is certainly my last semester for at least a year.

For my Information Architecture class, Dr. Shauf is doing podcasts, and wants us to subscribe via iTunes. I already have iTunes, though I rarely use it. Naturally, the subscription process is not working - just for me - for some unknown reason. Troubleshooting has led to my listening to my very small collection of ridiculously pop songs. Let's see how long they keep repeating before I kill something.

2. For my other class, Applied Graphics 1, I finally purchased my very own legal copy of Photoshop, as part of Adobe's Creative Suite 3, Design Standard. I very excitedly went to install the package... and I did not have enough RAM! WTF? My giant machine is apparently a weakling. So now, in addition to messing with an unhelpful iTunes, I am waiting for my 2-GB, $160 purchase of new RAM to arrive from Dell.

It turns out the ability to track your packages online is a bad thing. Painful. My RAM has been in Macon since early Saturday. For some unknown reason, DHL still doesn't plan to deliver it to me, a half-hour drive away, until Wednesday.

3. There is a little dog running around the neighborhood. He's ADORABLE, apparently a young Jack Russel, though the size of his ears suggests he may be mixed with something even cuter. He lies in the grass, eagerly watching me mow the lawn. He has lost his tags and clearly lost his people, and Simplicity, our poor cat... is FREAKED OUT.

They're about the same size.

4. Work is going well. Actually, I feel like it is going badly, but everybody I meet says that one cannot possibly expect it to go smoothly the first year, and so I am somehow not supposed to worry that I'll get to the end of the year and discover I've only made something like $5000 instead of the $30,000 minimum we need. Right now, I am trying to balance tight deadlines against the lack of 2nd pass pages for page references... okay, nevermind.

Luther has been working for me, much more productively than I myself work. If we have our druthers, he will leave his part-time co-op job sometime this semester, and starting next year he will be doing the same work I've been doing, editing and writing and all that jazz, and we will both work from home and drive each other happily insane.

He keeps telling other people that we are also going to be doing web design and perhaps some film work. I hope he has a plan for our figuring out how to do that stuff.

5. In two weeks, we're going to Tarpon Springs again, to start scoping it out in earnest as our future home. Wil is going to come with us; he has not voiced an opinion of any kind on his own future plans, so I've given up waiting and am going to plan MY life on the assumption that he'll be moving with us. If he spontaneously decides he has his own ideas about his future, I may kill him.

Luckily, we are going to look at mini-apartment buildings - a duplex or triplex. I already have my eye on a little place that is probably a complete dump, but it has palm trees in the front and I KNOW there are little lizards in the yard, so I'm all set. Since I doubt Luther will ever forgive me for killing his son, I think it will be convenient that we can have our own apartments with the office in the apartment in the middle. Perhaps over time, if I pretty myself up a bit and start making some decent money, he'll find a way to overlook my murderous ways.

Love is love.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Simplicity had her annual shots today. This makes her an estimated three years old this month - based on our guess of "about a year old" on her first appearance on our back patio. Now that I see how she looks as a "grown" cat, however, I think she is probably a good deal younger. Can she have been only 6 months and have had a litter of kittens, when we gave her that first taste of the heavenly sliced ham? She was so tiny, then. It wasn't just the starvation thing going on.

This time, I didn't want to take her to the vet's in that cardboard box from Petsmart, so I finally got around to trying out the harness and tether I'd got for her several months ago.

It went okay. She hated it, but I don't know that she hated it any more than the box. She explored, rather frantically. She found that she had just enough leash to get around the back of the driver's seat and halfway up the fabric wall to my shoulder - but not enough to then claw her way into my lap, which is really just as well. She looked out the window. She decided the view was too alarming, and sprawled on the middle row of seating. I did pat the passenger seat beside me and convince her to come forward and leap up - but no, that was clearly not for her! Back behind me she went. Too much window in the front, I think.

Here's the thing: She trusts me. She was scared, and she was crying, but I'd talk to her and she'd quiet down. When I could stop and look back at her, she was always looking right at me. I think she sits there and stares at the side of my head, and just waits to see my eyes so she knows we're okay.

At the vet's (LOVELY doctor, whose name I've forgotten again - Critter Fixers in Bonaire) it was much the same as the last time. She was fine as long as my hand was on her shoulders. Then they took her into the back (this time, for ear mite drops, ewww!), and when she came back out, she looked like a tasmanian devil, all legs, all claws, all flying fur and teeth... and then I put my hand on her shoulders, and she was fine again.

The look she gives me, completely direct gaze, almost a searching gaze as she seems to actually look into my eyes for something... I've seen it once before. Amber: the kitten Mom got for me and Sarah when we lived on Alcina. Amber wouldn't go have her kittens without me. I was sitting on the toilet, and she ran out of her bed and lay down on the bathroom floor and started to have her first kitten. I had to pick her AND the stupid halfway-kitten up and run back to the bed under the desk. Amber trusted me. Simplicity, for some unknown reason, trusts me.

She has her territory. She is not going to like moving to Florida. But the key landmarks of her territory... appear to be us. So she should be okay.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Uninvited guest

Apparently I cannot sleep after Luther leaves for work, at least without frightening dreams from which it is hard to wake up.

This morning, I got up and it was very quiet. I came through the office, and for some reason Luther had set up two cots, overlapping each other, neatly made with sheets and blankets and pillows all perfectly tucked and creaseless. I went downstairs, and there were lights on. There was food on the counter – refried beans and rice – right there on the counter, and as I looked around, the refried beans were kinda spattered everywhere, like someone had had a food fight. And there was a hole in the pile of rice, like someone had stuck a finger in it to make a hole for some reason. I realized the fridge was open, and I looked in the fridge, and there were egg shells – like someone had gone in there and eaten the raw eggs and left the shells. The place was really trashed.

It was still dark out, and the light on the patio went off, which made me look, and I went and tried to turn the light on, and it’d go on for a second and then flicker out again, so I couldn’t really see anything. I was kinda freaked out, because I’d thought maybe somebody was in the house. And then I thought, this has to be some kind of animal, but what animals around here can open refrigerators? So then I looked around, and as I got to the top of the stairs to the downstairs bedrooms, I looked down, and there was a really big skunk in front of the bathroom there, and I said, “oh no,” and I was really torn between fright and laughter, and I went upstairs and closed the doors, looking for my phone…

…and then I woke up, and I went downstairs, and the light in the kitchen was on…

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Harvard boat yard

Had a bad dream between the time Luther left this morning and the time I got up. Still feel kinda weird, now. I went down the street to sign Luther up for his P.E. sailing class at Harvard. He was taking a grad course there, and we were living there. Streets looked like the age and relative style of some of the little Greek-area streets in Tarpon Springs (and some of Toronto), concrete retaining walls straining at the seems along the cracked and buckled sidewalk, little lawns, little houses, short chain-link fences – but the houses were bigger and there was a definite Northern Atlantic feeling about the place. Harvard had bought and was renovating a Victorian next to a ramshackle boat yard, and the office for the sailing club was supposed to be there. I got to the Victorian with a couple of others. We had to climb a metal ladder (a la monkey bars) to the second-story landing to get into the house. This is where it started to go weird. When I set my foot on the landing, the wood gave. It was quite soft. In fact, the whole house was apparently made of some kind of papier mache, and it was rotting a little, and I said as much to the guys, but they were being all no-nonsense and talking amongst themselves, and then the two of them left and said that I and the one other guy, young skinny black guy, would carry on with whatever it was. So he and I went inside, had to open a window and climb through, and everything we touched or stepped on was giving that little bit, like it would fall apart any moment. And then we went through a doorway and I saw the hornet. There was a hornet in the corner of the door-jam, and I realized there was a nest built in the wall, and I sorta just started to think about the possibility – that it was a giant nest that filled all the walls of this paper house… and then we climbed out again and the dream ended.

Then I got up and went downstairs, and the sound of the fan in the den was like… lots and lots and lots of insects.

Good morning.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Don't ask me how it happens. Sometimes, "Welcome to the world of adulthood" means "I'll pay you five bucks for something that adults do because it has to be done."

I'm trying to figure it out. I'll let you know when I do.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The three amigos

There was a time when I much preferred the Periplaneta americana over the Blattella germanica. I now no longer have a preference - they're equally disgusting.

Over the past few weeks, I'd wake up in the middle of the night, go downstairs for some water, and be confronted by the three amigos - three two-inch-long cockroaches on the kitchen counter. They'd stop what they were doing as soon as I showed up, of course. You could see them pause, consider their options, glance slyly at each other. And then they'd scram. Stupid things are huge but nimble - they can get away via the tiniest crack in just about anything.

And you just knew that they had a pre-arranged meeting time for the next night, an hour or so after the humans went to bed. Chattin' it up, climbing all over everything, pooping and laughing. You see, our cockroaches are as big as field mice. And they poop a lot like field mice. Everywhere.

Also, they can fly.

Luther did eventually get them, one by one, but they have cousins. Lots and lots of stupid cousins who yes, live outside, but insist upon venturing into indoor territory upon occasion, just to make trouble.

Last night, Luther got up for a bit and went to the den to play on his computer. I was pretty restless too, so I got myself a soda (aka pop) and sat down in the dark in the office, with just the glow of my computer screen. So I'm sitting there, with my hands on the keyboard, and in the blue light... I see movement to my left. Damn gigantic cockroach has come scurrying up beside my arm to the edge of my desk and is LOOKING AT ME. Hmm. Whatcha doin? Wanna play?

I jump up and turn on the overhead light - and he is gone. No sign of him.

A while later, I go and say goodnight to Luther, and I come back upstairs and go to the bedroom and lie down. I decide to leave my light on just a little. I put my head on my pillow. And the damn cockroach crests the hill of the little pile of clothing on my bedstands. And stops. And looks at me.

I jump up and throw a clothing item across the room. I turn on the overhead light. And the bastard is gone. No sign of him, at least not until he suddenly appears on the other side of the bed.

Half an hour later, all the overhead lights are on, all the bedclothes have been torn off, there're magazines and lamps and clothing and books strewn across the floor and down the hall, the clothes hamper has been tossed down the stairs, and I'm standing beside it in my underwear with a flyswatter in one hand and a pillow case in the other, roaring in rage because the damn thing refuses to be caught and killed.

Luther is a better hunter-killer than I. He got the thing. But that crazy fellow got the last laugh. This morning I sat down once again at my computer, and I started to type... AND THERE WERE POOPS ON MY KEYBOARD.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Work snippets 2

From the forthcoming revised companion website content for Solomon, Introducing Philosophy, 9th edition, Oxford University Press:
One of the most important basic rights is the presumed right to own private property. John Locke listed three basic rights that would become the main ingredients of both the American Declaration of Independence and a political philosophy called liberalism: “life, liberty, and the right to own private property.” For Locke, private property is the bulwark of freedom and the basis of other human rights. One’s own body is private property in the most basic sense; no one else has the authority to violate it or use it without permission. But then Locke adds that the right to own property that one has helped cultivate with his or her body is also basic to freedom and human dignity.
"One's own body is private property ... no one else has the authority to violate it or use it without permission."

I’m surprised I haven’t seen abortion pro-choice arguments that speak in these terms, in terms of the right to own private property and, ultimately, to own that which you cultivate. The argument tends to focus, instead, on other rights, such as the right to privacy. Are they connected? I suppose that they are.

I can well imagine some extreme conservatives arguing that to “cultivate” a woman’s body is to plant seed in it and bring that seed to fruition. But I think in the modern world where our babies are not ensuring our survival in the same sense as they once were, we ought to be able to recognize a woman’s body may cultivate other things – a woman may cultivate ideas, arts, sciences, knowledge, creations with her hands and her mind, rather than purely with her womb. But really it comes down to who we consider “real citizens” in our world. If each citizen has the right to own and cultivate property, and if one’s own body is considered “private property,” and if a woman is a citizen... then no matter who may plant the seed, a woman's body is her property to choose to do with as she wishes.

The ONLY problem worth discussion is the relative value to the society versus the value to the individual, where we withdraw individual rights for the greater good. I must consider these actions as viable, since there are many individual rights - such as the right to gun-ownership - that I do not embrace, in favor of concerns for the health of a wider society. Is there value to the wider society in denying a woman's right to her most private property, such that this value is greater than the value to the individual, or, in fact, greater than the value of the individual?

Fundamentalists are, I suppose, arguing for what they perceive is the greater good. The trouble is that they seem unable to prove, outside purely religious justifications ("God said so"), that denying women the right to decide what happens with their own bodies is "for the greater good." My suspicion is that the society they desire to protect is a society in which women are subservient. Women cannot be truly subservient if they own their own private property and cannot be forced to use it to their masters’ benefit. So if the "greater good" is a society in which women "know their place" and the value of individual freedom stops at the nursery door... then abortion cannot be allowed.

If, on the other hand, we actually believe in and intend to protect freedom and equality, the answer must be otherwise.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A lesson in physics

If the watched pot does not appear to be boiling, you have to ask yourself:

Is the stove lit?

Does the pot feel the fire?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Work snippets 1

28. When Aristotle wrote about the soul, he was referring to
a. the unconscious mind.
b. the form of the body.
c. the spirit within the body.
d. the bottom of the feet.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Breaking the spell

My Mom and Paul used to be pretty negative about some of my interests when I was a teenager. They didn't think much of science fiction and fantasy. I should really spend time on activities of better quality.

Somehow through my travels and college and all my friends as an adult, my world did expand. I still treasure some of the books, but they represent one of a million possible interests. Now, a book has to be really good. It's not enough that it's "the kind of stuff I love."

And now, I live with Wil. Wil likes fantasy and video games and Japanese-animated TV shows to pretty much the exclusion of anything else. I think fantasy is still amusing in small doses, but the "I am a devout follower" attitude Wil sometimes displays is... icky. We were at Target the other day, and he fairly snapped to attention when an ad for Harry Potter came on the TVs for sale. Good God, you don't have to swear your undying devotion. It's not like you hadn't heard Harry Potter was coming out.

Luther seems to pretty much hate it, too. From saying Japanimation "sucks" to Wil's face, to outright dismissing the fantasy and the games, he's pretty clear: "Real" things are better, and "fantasy" is not "real." If Wil had many interests, I think it would be fine. But the be-all-and-end-all thing is unacceptable.

The other night, Luther's channel-surfing landed us on C-Span, for a speech Garrison Keillor was giving to a library association. It was a really good speech. Garrison was talking about the magic refuge of a library in the face of all the horrors of his youth, and that magic extended to all kinds of books, and I thought about how great it would be if Wil developed a passion for something like reading in a library. Normally I can't stand how Garrison Keillor talks, but this particular speech was so good, it was casting a kind of spell. It wasn't just me; Wil made some responsive noises. He was actually listening.

Then I made a big mistake. I got up to see if I could coax the cat inside. When I came back in, Wil was putting his shoes on to go try to get the cat. He'd stopped watching. I'd broken the spell. I insisted we stay on C-Span, hoping Wil would sit back down. But after he came back inside, he went and got his laptop computer.

Right now, as I write this, I am sitting in front of the TV. But I'm beginning to think laptops should be banned in front of the TV. Do one thing or the other. You cannot do both, and there is something... rude about pretending. It's like the old headphone thing. I don't know you can hear me, and I assume you're not listening to me or don't find me interesting enough to put the headphones down. It's rude. And I'm just as guilty of this, with the computer and the TV.

In Wil's case, he is patently not watching TV. With shows he actually likes and used to watch constantly... he turns them on, but he's not looking at the TV, and he's not listening to the TV sound. And the other night, he was no longer listening to Garrison Keillor's speech. He was playing a game or looking at his favorite web sites.

And I'm torn. (If nothing else, one must consider the irony of being frustrated that a kid is not watching the TV.)

I know that I learned a lot from my interest in sci-fi as a teenager. I met a lot of people, and I gradually broke out of my shell while leaning on the safety of limited challenges. "Limited challenges" says it all. You didn't have to try hard to be accepted among - I'm sorry, but sci-fi and fantasy fandom isn't exactly brain surgery. It didn't take long for me to figure out that I could do better, but it was easy. It was safe.

So I say to myself, "it can't be bad that Wil has interests. Encourage him to pursue them, and he'll meet people, make friends, and learn. And then he'll move on, just like I did."

But it's so frustrating. It turns out, when you live with a young person, you want to share things that you think have value. And the blank stare, the dutiful "okay," and the completely false "I'm going to go to bed now" [I'm going downstairs to watch shows I like and play games that interest me] are all so disappointing.

And now I'm faced with a new problem. I'm only just turning 40, and I am honestly beginning to dislike "all these newfangled gizmos and technologies."

The laptop in front of the TV is a prime example. Wil doesn't ever have to really pay attention to anything that isn't in his interest area. We can watch a TV show, and he can "be with us" but enjoy his own interests. Now if he reads the news at all, he accesses it by using his Wii video game - and the stories are so obviously already filtered for what a Wii audience will likely find of interest. In the past few days, I've been pleased to discover that Wil is playing one of his video games while on the phone with a friend. I was thrilled that he actually was socializing. And this evening, I heard the name of his friend - and unless I completely misunderstood, it's his cousin in North Carolina.

The cell phone makes it possible for him to have a playmate without going out and making new friends. He doesn't even have to use the internet and make computer friends! He can just use the old friends that were given to him by family.

These technologies were supposed to bring us together. They were supposed to make things easier. And they are, they are! But... they also make it increasingly easy for a kid to completely surround himself with his safe zone.

So... I'm not sorry I had the fun I had, when I was younger. And I know that I learned some wonderful things and read some great books that Mom and Paul would still never consider reading. And maybe if Wil comes with us to Florida, where there are nutty things like sci-fi and fantasy conventions that he could go to, he'll stretch a little and see a bit of the world. But I have to say, I have a newfound understanding of the challenge this stuff represents.

I broke one spell the other night, clumsily. The Garrison Keillor speech was cool, and I broke it. But Garrison was also talking about running away to a safe zone. Hiding among the books. I'd like to see the larger spell broken, now.

Thank goodness it's Luther's problem and not mine, eh?

Survey about childhood

I haven't filled out many of these surveys lately, but it's that kind of Monday and I need a little break. So here we go:

1. Are you a child of the 70s, 80s, or 90s?
60s and 70s

2. Where were you born?
St. Joseph's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3. What city did you grow up in?
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4. Did you have a good childhood?
Yes. (So far this is a pretty boring survey, I must say.)

5. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A famous author or an astronaut. A hero.

6. What do you want to be now?
Rich. It would be nice if I could get to that point by being a famous screenwriter, an actor, or an astronaut.

7. Name the first memorable vacation you took as a kid.
Vacations were all memorable - they were VACATIONS. Feeding squirrels and chipmunks in my lap in a campsite at Silver Lake definitely ranks right up there, though. Any trip by myself by bus to Ottawa was cool. England and France and Scotland with Mom and my sister when I was 10. Easter egg hunt on Easter weekend in a posh apartment hotel in New York City. That kind of thing was always great.

8. What was your first best friend’s name?
I'm not sure. I guess maybe Dina, though we weren't friends for long. There were the kids on my street, but we were just thrown together by geography and ageism.

9. Are they still your friend?
Not a chance. My oldest friend is Liz Bischof, from grade 6.

10. Can you name all the schools you ever attended?
Nope. I don't have a clue what the name of the Montessori school might have been [edit: Dad wrote to tell me it was York Montessori School]. And I went to a couple of different High Schools for summer and evening classes, but I only remember West Toronto for sure. Other than that, let's see...
Alpha, Toronto, Canada (free school)
Dewson Public School, Toronto, Canada (elementary)
Hillcrest Public School, Toronto, Canada (elementary)
Lord Landsdowne Public School, Toronto, Canada (intermediate)
Harbord Collegiate Institute, Toronto, Canada (secondary)
Subway Academy II, Toronto, Canada (alternative secondary)
West Toronto Collegiate Institute, Toronto, Canada (secondary summer school)
Central Technical School, Toronto, Canada (secondary)
Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada (post-secondary, undergraduate)
Southern Polytechnic State University, Marietta, Georgia (graduate school)

11. Were you closer to your mom or dad as a kid?
I really think it was about the same. We each had things that we shared independently.

12. What was the first record, tape or CD you remember buying?
The first I remember... probably Star Wars, on vinyl.

13. How old were you when you first heard of Chuck Norris?
No idea. Twenties? I am not a fan.

14. Are you scared of anything?
Yes. Every time Luther is working with the saw or a big knife, I am completely unreasonably afraid. I'm terrified of the unseen under-the-surface environment of water, especially murky, muddy, weedy water. I'm scared of a lot of things, actually.

15. How old were you when you wanted to get your ears pierced for the 2nd time?
A couple of weeks ago I thought about it. I was 39.

16. Did you buy school lunch or bring your own?
There was no such thing as school lunch, until the cafeteria at Harbord. I brought my own, or bought a sandwich or pizza slice at the store, or went home for lunch. Sometimes at Lord Landsdowne I would buy a sandwich (bologna on a fresh, crusty kaiser roll with mustard, yum) and trade it in the schoolyard, usually for fried rice.

17. Broken any bones or had any freaky accidents as a kid?
I fell off a swing once and went to the hospital. I'd hit my head pretty badly. I was very little...

18. Were you a mean kid?
No, I was a sucker. I didn't even want to be mean. I wanted to save everybody.

19. Favorite board game of all of all time?

20. Did you play house or pretend to be a super hero?
We put on plays in the back yard, and we pretended to be in the Lord of the Rings. Long before the movies, I might add.

21. What was your favorite class in elementary school?
Ancient History. Although I liked math quite a bit. Actually, I think I liked all my classes. Except maybe gym.

22. Seriously, are you still just a kid at heart?
No. Yes. Uh... yes. I still think I'm a little kid and everybody else knows more than I do and is more confident than I am.

23. Did you ever come close to dying?
I thought so at the time. I had pneumonia. In the emergency room, I tried to give messages to my Mom to give to my friends when I was gone.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A recovering book-a-holic

In 30 seconds flat, Diane Wright got me hooked on Library Thing, and the funny part is, I don't read.

I am not a reader. But I used to be one. I could play one on TV, given half a chance and perhaps some plastic surgery.

When I was much younger, I shared a library with my Dad. People we knew, and people they knew, would come to our house, browse our collection, scrawl their names on a sheet of paper, and go away with artifacts from our bookshelves. Often, they returned them.

I learned to see books and bookshelves as reflections of myself. Other people might put photographs of their grandchildren up, or set out their fine collections of miniatures, or decorate their kitchens with cute cow-print items. For me, good bookcases full of books I decided I liked enough to keep offer an opportunity to say something about myself to visitors.

Alas, Luther and I do not do whatever it takes to have visitors, and my books and his are in cupboards and closets. And my book collection has shrunk, due to the pressures and necessities of moving. And, since I don't read, and since when I did read, I read almost exclusively science fiction... my book collection is not what you'd call "impressive" among the literary set.

Still, the books say something about who this Becky person is, or was before she became bekbek, certainly before Georgia. And when there's a newer edition in the mix... they say a lot about how much I loved them, when I was a reader. Enough to buy them again, even though I don't read them again, because they simply ought to be on my shelves.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Now it is July Ninth

I am finished my summer semester. Luther has three or four weeks left to his summer semester. Wil has been on summer vacation for several weeks, and goes back to school in almost exactly a month. It is tempting to insert some dig about what he may have accomplished in that time, but whatever. Why shouldn't he look bitterly back upon his first 20 years and wonder why he wasted them just like the rest of us?

I still don't know about the blog thing. I am about ready to purchase a couple of domain names. I'm tempted to move to Wordpress because that's where all the cool templates reside. I still don't have a purpose for keeping a blog, and I don't "keep" it regularly in any case.

But I am a semester away from having my Master of Science in Bullshit*. So I figure it is time to celebrate.

Bring on the dancing monkies.

*I have had some questions about this statement, so allow me to explain: I am essentially getting my degree in rhetoric, which is not quite the same thing as bullshit. However, on most days I feel like I'm pulling a fast one, just tricking my way through it all, just like when I was a kid and discovered that as long as an exam required an essay answer, I was getting an "A" regardless of whether I ever read or studied the class materials. I do study, now. I do work hard. I have somewhere developed high standards for myself and for others. On the really good days, I remember this and am proud. Most other days... ~shrug~ Bullshit.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I have this idea that the movie, Pleasantville, is like... an American studio version of Antonioni. I shall pursue this. But there is all the joy of reality and chaos... in a controlled and tied-up tale. All the ideal with none of the... experience.

Thinking about it. Percolating, if you will.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

An exceptional mind

Luther is doing some work for me, revising a supplement for a textbook on African-American History. Meanwhile, in my class on Medical Communication, one of the ongoing discussions over the past few weeks has been about race and children's learning materials, prompted by our analysis of an asthma management simulation prepared for black kids in Atlanta. This morning, once again, our activities crossed paths in a little discussion.

I was a bit fired up (I know, it's difficult to imagine, right?) about the whole idea that a kid wouldn't "see herself" in the simulation unless there were a kid of the same skin color in that simulation. Why wouldn't a kid identify with another person, regardless of skin color?

The whole thing brings to mind how often I heard, growing up, that "girls don't have any good role models." The idea was (and still is, no doubt) that a girl couldn't aspire to be an astronaut, school principal, mayor, or mob boss unless she saw women in those positions. THIS DROVE ME NUTS. When I saw an astronaut, I never thought, "wow, if only I was a man so I could do that." Kids don't limit themselves like that unless we tell them to, such as when that guidance counselor told me I was being ridiculous for choosing "fireman" on my careers survey, because that's a man's job.

Luther listened patiently. And then he said: "You also have to take into account that you have an exceptional mind."

I said: "But I really don't believe that!"

And he said: "Well, that's because you're stooopid."

Wise, wise words for a Sunday morning.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New car

I fell in love with a new car the other day. Check it out:

It's actually way cuter in person than in pictures. "Adorable" is the word I kept repeating. At about $8500 used, with 60,000 miles on it, I'm sure not going to buy it, but wow. It gets 50 miles to the gallon. Hybrid gas-electric.

Truly adorable. Luther said, "but it has no back seat!" and I said, "That's how I like 'em!" (Okay, I didn't, but it was something to that effect.)

Anybody want? Come on down and visit. I'll take you over there.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Ragin' Cajun

Does James Carville have a fan club? Paraphrased: "I am not going to ask for lower taxes when there are American children out there without healthcare. I am not going to ask for lower taxes when U.S. troops don't have the equipment they need to survive in Iraq."

I don't want you to miss my stirring story about the arrowhead I found, so don't be thinking this is my only recent post. But I had to rant. I just had to.

He rocks.

Cupid was a litterer

I found this in the backyard yesterday (June 3rd, 2007).

What you can't really see in the scan is that there is a ridge down the center, and another two fainter ridges at the top. Though clearly well-worn and not conclusively (to my eye) man-made, it appears to be an arrowhead.

For those of you who haven't been here (insert guilt trip for almost everybody), we have a fairly large yard for a city property, the largest in our neighborhood. The house was built in the 1960s, and before that, these would have been woods with trails and not much else. We're "downtown" by virtue of the city having grown so very fast.

The yard is notorious (among the small sample of Wil, Luther, and myself) for the number of bricks, marbles, and army men that we manage to pull up from the soil. We have also found cinder blocks, railroad ties, oyster shells (that shine startlingly in moonlight when they are first exposed by the rain), and the occasional piece of concrete yard art in the form of frogs and rabbits, their shapes marred and chipped over years of tumbling in the dirt. A rock that looks -and moreso, feels- like it could well have been bound to a stick as a primitive weapon actually seems quite a reasonable find.

But is it really an arrowhead? Couldn't it just be a rock? I've no way of knowing, but I lean toward the arrowhead, as does Luther. Recently, it finally rained after several months of dry spell. After the rain, the night was loud with frogs. I had forgotten the frogs. They've been quiet since last year. They had no voices until the rain. And their sound all through the night... speaks of wilderness and history.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


**disclaimer (and warning): the version I've found does crash pretty readily. I am pouting as I type. You should be able to save your games, but damn... if it's this unstable, I don't know...**

I found Larn to play on Windows. I used to play this as a teenager at Softquad, on a UNIX mainframe. If the past hour is any judge, it still has the power to hook me. COOL! It's text-only. I mean, not some kind of story game. No, I mean... text characters define the visual landscape.

If you must, look it up on Wikipedia. If you just want to play, go here to download the game. Save it to your computer. Unzip it. In the Win32 folder, double-click on the *.exe file. (It might not work if you already have Vista, but it does work on XP.)

I am totally happy. This is just the treat I needed!

p.s. Type ? to get the commands.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Moving day

I never expected to be in Georgia for this long.

I wasn't against the idea. I didn't think staying was really a possibility, so I didn't think much about it. My boyfriend was in the military. We'd have to move.

I think that's part of why it feels so odd to watch others leave, while we stay. I want to feel sad, because they won't be my neighbors anymore, and I like having them as my neighbors. But I don't feel sad, because I never thought we'd be neighbors for long in the first place.

Anita and Anita's husband were from Texas. Mr. Anita got a job here, with the base. Then Anita got sick with cancer and went back to Texas. After she died, Mr. Anita gave me all their frozen food. Luther was deployed, and I lived on this huge stash of frozen, homemade tamales. They were and always will be the best tamales ever.

I think the man that moved into their apartment still lives there. But we bought this house, and got new neighbors.

Steve and Stella live across the road from us. They are Greek Americans, but they're Greek like I'm Welsh. We went over there for ice cream, once, and they showed us pictures of their kids and grandkids and great grandkids, and they talked about who in the pictures had passed away, and who had what disease or condition. We pick up their paper whenever they go away to visit their kids.

Stella doesn't walk much anymore. Steve works on his lawn, slowly but thoroughly. Only lately, the lawn's been getting a bit overgrown. Today, there was a moving truck on the driveway.

And me? I feel like a little kid with my chin on the window sill, watching people leave but not really understanding they can just be gone from my life, and no longer be my neighbors.

Like I said, it's odd.

That's SUPERstar, thank you!

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Shopping for a new home

I would tell you that working at home is nice, and it is, but I'm stressing out this week and am having some trouble summoning the enthusiasm. The workplace where one is told what to do, and most of one's time is wasted, is emotionally draining. But the stress? Low. Being at home and self-employed is emotionally satisfying, and often intellectually stimulating, but... AAAAAAAGGGGHHH!!!

More on that later.

Meanwhile, I have also discovered that my adorable little office, the second room of our little "Master suite" of two small bedrooms with a bathroom between them, with the desk at the window so I can see the daylight and the trees and the squirrels... gets very, very hot from around 2 p.m. onward. Hot like, my hands start sweating on the keyboard. And this is with the A/C going.

As a result, I have now moved to the downstairs den, the disgarded, 2nd-class office space, very nice, visually warm, lots of space, good furniture, TV... but no real window to look out of. One ought to feel cut off in this room. I guess I'll find out, but I now know this:

When we start shopping for houses in Florida, windows ALL the way around the office might not be a workable plan.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday morning idiocy

Haven't been blogging. Work is piled up. School started again. But I'm around, and I do take the time to read a little casual news with my morning coffee.

Today's gem: Yet again, the Bush administration is suggesting that it's important to choose your words carefully.

The Bush administration is lecturing others on the importance of words.

One more time: Bush


Is it just me?

It is to shake one's head at in disbelief.

How many morons does it take to elect a president? And then do it again?

From, Carter: Anti-Bush remarks 'careless or misinterpreted", "Deupty White House press secretary Tony Fratto, with Bush at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, said Monday: 'I think it just highlights the importance of being careful in choosing your words.'"

Wow, that's some kind of strategery, eh?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Neighborhood Walk program

You know, when you get a puppy, you should be committed to walking it, right?

If you have children, I think maybe you should be committed to at least that level of commitment to their exercise.

But that's a bit of an aside.

I was thinking about how Wil walks home from school every day. He takes the bus in the morning - which is probably a wise control on his time. And he walks home in the afternoon. I think he's taking some pride in having done this now for three semesters in Georgia. He's now 17.

What if our neighborhoods that say they're so much about families and children were to implement a neighborhood walk program? Volunteer-based, with maybe some assistance from the city or county depending on the need. Two adults, preferably from different families, for each day and each route, to walk children home on a set (and published) route. It could even be one adult volunteer and one High School Junior or Senior volunteer - giving our older teens who AREN'T into sports a chance to participate in something physical. They could even win awards, at least certificates, but certainly could have some volunteer work and responsibility to report when applying for jobs.

The idea would be that people who are uncomfortable with having their kids walk home would be able to allow it (or more likely, mandate it) knowing that the walk was supervised. Even better, the walk would be a community involvement for the child.

There are a lot of kinks to consider. The kid across the road from us is learning to play the trombone. That sucker is more than half her size, and she's not all that physical to begin with. That's where I'd start looking for neighborhood donations and other assistance. Professional musicians can get instrument cases with proper straps for one thing - so they can carry over the shoulder or on the back. But would it be enough to, say... have all the kids in the group take turns carrying the heavy loads? I dunno.

And there are other little things. What if one of your neighborhood walkers wants to read from the Bible while the kids walk? What if another one dares to mention he's an atheist?

Each neighborhood could sort something out. Their ability to do so ought to be a fair indication of their real willingness to invest in their kids.

Just a thought. I like the idea, but would I volunteer? Hmm.

Let me consider that AFTER moving to Florida.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Craving order

I'm really starting to loathe the media. It's sad, because I actually generally think the anti-media hype is stupid. But this thing of constantly shocking people is ridiculous.

I just watched a segment on TV about young women taking vows in a strict religious (christian, not that it matters) order. WHY would they do such a thing? WHAT WOULD DRIVE THEM to sacrifice a future of love and family? WHAT KIND OF RELIGIOUS PASSION goes into such a dedication? Oooh, it's so shocking and weird!


It's not weird.

Any 20 year old ought to be able to tell you it's not weird, actually. I did it. I felt it at 15, but I couldn't face telling my parents, so I did nothing about it. What was I considering? The military.

Yeah, I know, it's weird. But I thought about it. I never figured out there were recruiters to talk to, or it probably would have been a done deal. I had NO IDEA how the military thing worked. But I knew this: Once you join, all the answers are their answers. You no longer have to come up with your own, and in fact, you're not supposed to come up with your own.


I think any sane person who stays in the military finds some reason, some purpose. It might be "I'm supporting my family," and it might be, "well, who else is going to tell me what to wear?" but when push comes to shove, young people who join the military do grow up.

And I think sane people who join a religious order go through something of the same. They develop a sense of purpose. It may be twisted and weird to us, but given they've been living in seclusion, it probably feels like it makes sense.

In both groups, I think quite a number started, by and large, here: Wow, I have no purpose, and I have no power, and my current course of action seems so.... meaningless. If I do this other thing, no matter WHAT I do, people will honor me for the choice I've made. My life will MEAN SOMETHING.

It's seductive, as I've said. Especially since you have to make NO personal sacrifice to have it. Yeah, yeah, the show I was watching talked about how these young women had to "give up" their relationships... and I cry, "bullshit." Relationships are HARD. Show me somebody who doesn't think so. Talking to other people is hard. We all know it. I know people who've totally DITCHED other people just cuz they can't be bothered, cuz it's too difficult, because other people have expectations, ugh. So what do you give up when you join a special little nunnery? Oh that's right. You give up...

...all responsibility.

100% of the time, your decisions are made FOR you, by somebody else. You never decide. God has made your decisions, or the order has chosen for you how to relate to God. You're done. The clothes you put on in the morning. The food you eat. The books you read. The time you have to talk to your parents. Decision made.

The show picked on young women that were educated, like education should somehow negate religious passion. Education doesn't provide security, especially for young women. But a religious order?

All the certainty in the world. There will no longer be questions. You'll be safe forever.

I think there's some of that for the soldiers, especially the young soldiers. I understand the financial decision, and I certainly understand the lure of the culture (a little bit of unabashed socialism in an otherwise capitalist society? shoot, I gotta say, I love the military when I'm here in the States). But for some people, I can't believe they AREN'T swayed by the certainty. Here, the rules are set. You do what they say, and you'll be taken care of.

There are no questions.

No wonder this country is so religious.



As a near-40 woman with no babies of her own, I've reached that special time in my life when I wonder things like, "do I love the cat TOO much?"

Thank goodness I'll (probably) outlive her. Yeesh.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Color me drab

I have pretty much settled on the colors for the exterior of our split-level ranch house. It's been in dire need of paint since before we bought it, and now that we've added some patches of white primer over the baby blue siding, we really are going to have to get it painted fast, before we become permanent "bad neighbors."

I showed my colors to Luther, and he said they were pretty boring.

But here's the thing: A split-level ranch IS BORING.

Quick, try this: Go to your nearest paint supplier and look at all the brochures with pictures of houses. Or if you're lazy, do some web surfing on "how to paint your house," and look at all the pretty photos showing examples of how various color combinations work. And tell me, do you see any ranch houses in the examples?


Because they're BORING.

A long time ago, I decided that a small room should be painted a dark color. White paint is not going to make a small room bigger. It's just going to raise the light levels so that you can really see the clutter of trying to crowd your belongings into such a small space. Dark paint... is cozy. It's right for a small space.

Our house is a split-level ranch in an oddly woodland setting in the middle of town. Let it be simple and calm, with colors that blend inoffensively with the trees and the leaves.

That's it. That's my plan.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Last night I had another super dream in which I was a super spy or cop or something or other. It was clear this morning, but I decided not to blog about it, and now it is unclear. If you read my previous blog entry, please note that there is uncertain and unclear, and the former is okay, but the latter is just plain annoying.

In any case, near to the end of the epic dream, I was walking down my street (not at all Virginia Avenue, not quite Alcina in Toronto, not Grace, not... anyplace, but a combination of all), and it was night time, and the sky was crystal clear, and I was looking up and saw one star blink.

It blinked.

And then, it exploded.

I saw a sphere of red light grow out of the star, and then sharpen, and then pull back inward, and the star faded to a dull red, where before it had been white and bright and large.

Then the star fell. And I caught it. It was a mechanism about a foot in diameter. Later, as I was walking up my walkway at my house, the weird guy from halfway down the street came up in a miniature golf cart and didn't say a word about it, just grabbed the mechanism and handed me a floppy credit card and said, "call that number and give them your bank account," and took off down the sidewalk back to his house.

Luther said he'd go watch TV in the basement, so I could call the number. Obviously it would be classified and he shouldn't listen. I scoffed at the whole thing. But I called the number. I was hoping for a big payoff.

I woke up thinking about the lottery.


And then tonight, upset about something and not quite wanting to go to sleep yet, I read the news.

CNN: Giant exploding star outshines previous supernovas

I'm in my jammies. I'd like nothing more than to go for a walk, especially since I can hear the teenager's voice downstairs and don't have my own TV to drown him out. But... I'm in my jammies. And I'm already sleepy. And it's probably cloudy.

But I'm thinking... my exploded star was talking to me.

My very own exploding star.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Shifting gears

Somtimes I am overwhelmed with the anti-uncertainty movement, everybody so certain that "good" can only be defined as "certain" or "reliable" or "dependable," known versus unknown, expected and even required versus unexpected and completely voluntary or even unnecessary or even arbitrary. I feel like the surprising, the frightening happenstance that is the real world has already slipped away, now out of reach, and if I don't concentrate very hard, I'll lose even the memory of truth.

But the truth is this: Sometimes, when you're driving to work at 7:30 in the morning, the clutch in your little Honda del Sol decides to self-destruct. And it's scary because you're in traffic and your car doesn't exactly not-go, instead making rude noises and behaving quite erratically, if that's even a word. Later, after several nice socket wrenches have bit the dust, and your boyfriend has a bruised rib from where the transmission fell on him, you'll get back into your car to drive to work once again, and you won't feel certain about the clutch.

You'll wonder if it could happen again.

And the movement of your car at 75 mph doesn't seem like quite as good an idea as it had previously.

But you keep driving. And when your brakes fail on the way home from work, you still don't actually crash into anything, but you consider the possibility on several occasions. And the next time you get to drive the car, you put your foot on that brake pedal and cringe inwardly, almost certain that it won't work, and the car will not stop after all, even though it has a brand new (actually, refurbished) brake master cylindar. You're almost certain that there is never a way to stop, ever again.

The truth is this: There is no certainty at all, even about the bad and scary things. The brakes will work most of the time, and sometimes they won't work, and you'll drive to work at 75 mph knowing this. And really, isn't that pretty marvelous? What an adventure!

But I'm surrounded by people who don't want to be on an adventure, you see. And they'll insist, every time something scares them, that the world must be changed to ensure that this something can never, ever happen again. So they close their emotional fists around all the somethings, and they shut out possibility altogether, leaving only a sweaty palm and darkness.

I'm going to put this blog to rest soon. I might start another. Or I might not. I really don't know what will happen.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Semi-live blogging: The GOP debate

8:39 pm

They were all looking surprisingly good for a bit, there. I disagreed with them on several points, but I was impressed with some on several other points. One fellow - I think it was Huckabee, but I'm not sure - actually said what I've been waiting for: "What we did with Iraq was wrong. It was a mistake. But we can't leave, because we have to clean it up." I'm paraphrasing. I'd go further. But I was surprised to hear it.

Sadly, they turned to Roe v. Wade. All but Gulianni made me ill. And Gulianni left it up to States' rights, which I don't believe in.

Made me ill. I can't help it.

Now (8:41) they're talking faith. Ugh.

I'm thinking, could it be that the U.S. shows that I watched as a child were Canadian-version U.S. shows? Because I remember when the U.S. was founded on reason, not faith.

But the GOP says it was otherwise.

8:45 pm

Okay, Gulianni needs to stop talking about what he DID, and start talking about what he thinks and believes. Yes, a record is important, but we can look the record up. The news people will surely do it for us, when they've got some down time. This is an opportunity to respond to some questions, and when you veer away from them, you better have something more to say than, "when I was Mayor of New York..."

8:48 pm

Wow, they're totally losing me now. I mean, I could never embrace a GOP candidate, but now I'm creeping out on them.

Also, let us note that McCain had better be GONE after this. He's been tanking already, but tonight he totally lost it. Yeah, let's attack Iran. Good choice. Way to go.

8:57 pm

One thing I've liked about Gulianni in this debate is that he's at least once said, "it's up to the judges." I am sick to death of these "leaders" failing to recognize the rule of law and the constitutional role of the judiciary. "Activist judges" indeed --it is their JOB to decide how the Constitution applies to present-day matters. You don't like it? Tough.

We just had a break. We left the TV on, but we talked about Obama. He worries me. I'm about ready to buy a t-shirt, and he worries me. I'm not sold. Mainly, I don't think that I can "vote" (support: I can't vote, so it's a virtual thing) for somebody who says we have to get out of Iraq. I agree, yes, we have to get out. But we can't JUST LEAVE. We put them where they are, and we made a mistake. As I said earlier, we need to admit the mistake --as a nation, we ought to apologize to the Iraqi people, actually, and bizarrely I think that would help, at least with the educated population that understands how this representative democracy works. We made a mistake as a nation, but now we're going to stay because we have to help clean it up.

NO democrat has the nerve to do this, yet. But Luther makes this point: There are stages to the nomination and election process. Now is not that time.

That's fine, but Obama better leave that window open if he wants to do something grand. Leave it open just a crack. Say you want our troops home. But say you need to become leader first, before you can get all the intelligence necessary to figure out how to do it best.

Back to the stupid GOP...

9:03 pm

WOW. Mcain, paraphrased: We have to make the tax cuts permanent, and we have to cut some expenditures.

I used to semi-like McCain. That's what started the Obama talk -- Luther and I were talking about how McCain has to win so far before he can show his true colors. And I'm sorry, but no. He's too much of a whore now. It's sickening. Whey would we have any reason to think he wouldn't be like this as a leader?

9:08 pm

Wow. This is actually pretty interesting! But the wine with dinner is hitting my brain to the point that even if you were interested in this topic (which you probably weren't), I wouldn't satisfy you. I shall add links to any pertinent blogs I find.



9:11 pm I CAN'T HELP IT

Is the time oddly freakish?

Are there any of you who don't believe in evolution? Three GOP candidates reased their hands.

McCain said he believed in evolution, but then spouted some nonsense about a sunset in the Grand Canyon.

Expletive expletive expletive.


The question was flawed, of course. One doesn't "believe" in evolution.



Okay, really, I'm done.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I just won $10,000,000! Now I know it's real!

I've been entering Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes lately. Anybody with half a brain knows that the odds of winning are... ridiculous. But then again, it takes 10 seconds to enter.

In today's entry email, PCH reports that they awarded a winner and got a less than satisfying response at the door, and it made it to the television, and they're awfully disappointed. So for this sweepstakes, they've created an acceptance script. If I say the lines when they come to my door to award me $10,000,000, I'll win an extra $5000 on the spot! Woot!

"I just won $10,000,000! Now I know it's real! There's no way in hell I'm going to win anything, but I'm rehearsing my lines JUST IN CASE!"

If I win, I'm giving the $5000 to charity. But I'm keeping the $10,000,000. All of it.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tips and tricks on a Sunday morning

It was nice to see Anne drop by and leave a comment! Hi, Anne!

She noted the little Twitter box. Yes, it is a little fun, but I get the sense that I'm not experiencing the full value, because A) I don't use text messaging --it's not part of my phone plan, so each message would cost extra, and B) I don't have a Mac --for which there are apparently some nice messaging and other applications through which you can pop a note over to Twitter without having to log in to the Twitter site.

For me, instead, it's mostly a new way to keep in touch with my friend JamesJames in Toronto. He's a very nice and smart guy, this JamesJames, and through his little Twitter posts I feel like I "see" him all the time, much like the old days, a friend walking in to work, yet again proclaiming his undying passion for his Starbucks coffee.

Dmitry Chepovetsky, by way of cleaning up the mystery left by my previous drunken post, is an actor who was studying in the Ryerson Theatre program when I and my friends were at Ryerson's film school. I'm sure to this day he'll say that his greatest role ever was in Stephen Ayres' film, "When I Grow Up," YEAH! That was such a fun shoot! (Stephen, I swear I still don't know why my underwear was on the rock outside the cabin. I swear!) Nowadays, Dmitry is a big TV and movie star, but I hadn't been paying attention, so when I saw him in Man of the Year, I was quite astonished and thrilled. Yay, Dmitry!

Meanwhile, I am now officially finished my semester, and I seem to have managed to squeek by with my silly grad-4.0 (because it sure isn't 4.0 if you count undergrad) intact --official results due later today. One cool trick that came in handy for both my classes was Google's Page Creator, suggested by a classmate named Michael Wood. I can build a static web site from scratch, of course, and I do have some web space through school and our ISP, but when I had a couple of different assignments for which I had to "present" either a recorded voice presentation or a web page... Googlepages was so very much easier than building my own. When you just need to put a couple of pages out there quickly, try it --it is FREE, which is just the way I like it. All you need is a Gmail account.

Finally, because this is a tips and tricks post, let me take a moment to shout out to my friend, the restickable glue stick. You would not believe how useful this is. It's kinda like... it's kinda like when we bought our multi-purpose printer-scanner-copier-fax machine, and I thought the one thing I really would never use is the copier, and wouldn't you know we probably use the copier every day? I use the restickable glue stick to put stuff up on my wall beside my desk: Luther's class schedule for the next two semesters, the colors I am thinking are right for painting the house, the notes from a halfway finished job...

...which I should finish now.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dmitry Chepovetsky

Buzzed and sleepy, and I have a Luther two rooms away that...

Well, let's leave that to the imagination.

Meanwhile, look up Dmitry Chepovetsy. I love this man. Check him out. I am so STOKED to see him in Man of the (okay, the name of the movie sucked and I don't remember it, but Robin Williams became president).


I swear I was freaking out. Yay, Dmitry!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Getting a grip

I'm up at 11:20 p.m., which used to be pretty early but has been pretty late for quite a while.

I have a screenplay to read and a screenplay to write. I have French CDs and Greek CDs to comprend et katalaveno, et je comprend un peu, mais then katalaveno. Oh boy do I ever then katalaveno, sheesh.

I know it's a tired phrase, but I'm not getting any younger. And the gym isn't getting any closer.

I've been planning to paint all the closet doors since we bought the house that we bought four years ago. Or has it been five? And the bathrooms need painting. The fan downstairs has been halfway-installed for millenia, it seems.

A friend of mine asked about business card designs and I had a whole clear idea about cool, creative things to be done, and I have the Photoshopping to prove it, just... no actual designs. I got my cousin's phone number last week, because I think my cousin actually lives not far from where we plan to move to, but I haven't tried calling him. I installed Skype after two months of procrastination, but I don't turn it on.

Is it just me?

On the up side, I have a presentation to attend, and a short exam, and I'll be finished the semester. My next class starts in three weeks, and I intend to graduate in the fall. I am working; I am working from home, which makes me feel like a slouch for all the things I could be doing and am not doing, but on the other hand I am working and occasionally I even get paid. I submitted another little short story to Jason's new and lovely contest. I helped one of Luther's school friends write a letter, and for some reason she sent me some money when it was done. I mowed the lawn... twice. Sometimes I remember to water it.

Yeah. It's just me.

If only we could come up with a reason to go to war

First, I want to say that "these people" is not a good way to refer to any group, but in the case of Bush et al, I just don't think "this administration" is necessarily correct in all cases. Some of his buddies aren't precisely part of the administration, and I have a vague (perhaps unfounded) notion that some members of this administration aren't part of "these people," either. So I'm going to use "these people," and you can imagine who I am referring to.

These people just amaze me.

Do you remember when Saddam Hussein had engineered the attack on the World Trade Center? No? Why not? It seems to have faded from the public record, perhaps because shortly after that reason to go to war against Iraq, these people had to admit that Saddam Hussein wasn't directly responsible. But then he had at least aided Osama bin Laden, and was perhaps sheltering him in the aftermath. Later, he hadn't actually given aid to Osama bin Laden, but it was clear that he was a really bad man and we needed to save the poor, oppressed women in Iraq. I remember the few weeks when it was all about women's lives. What? You don't remember that either?

It seemed like every time we turned the radio on, there was a new reason for attacking Iraq. These days, they're even losing their grip on the completely hopeless "bring democracy" mission, so it's all about the country being a haven for terrorist activity, nevermind the fact that this situation is exacerbated by the fact that we attacked in the first place.

But I'm not here to talk about Iraq today. No, I'm just reliving the shifting sands of untruths. Check this out, and tell me it doesn't sound awfully familiar:

The Office of Special Counsel is also responsible for protecting the job rights of National Guard and Reserve members who are called away for military duty. In that capacity, Bloch is looking into whether David Iglesias, one of eight U.S. attorneys dismissed earlier this year, was punished for missing work to serve in the Navy Reserve.

Iglesias, who was the U.S. attorney for New Mexico until he was replaced in February, was cited as an "absentee landlord" in a Justice Department document laying out reasons for his termination. William Moschella, the No. 3 official at Justice, told a House subcommittee in March that Iglesias was fired because he delegated too much responsibility to his deputy.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, recently told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Iglesias was added to the list of prosecutors to be replaced after the midterm elections, and that Rove had complained Iglesias had not pursued voter fraud cases aggressively enough.

Iglesias has said he felt "leaned on" when two Republican members of New Mexico's congressional delegation, Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson, called him to inquire about pending corruption cases against state Democrats before the election.

When the firing-of-attorneys thing finally fades from the news cycle, I wonder what the last reason will turn out to be?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Defeat in Iraq? Mission Accomplished!

I don't understand why Bush et al are so freaked out by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's statement last week that the "war is lost."

I mean, with this administration's vast experience of meaningless statements about the war - Mission Accomplished anyone? - why should they fear anybody would take this latest one seriously?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Angry people get angrier when they're told they're too angry

This morning, the Virginia Tech shootings finally got to me. I'm not sure what it was. All of a sudden, there were tears. Last night, I was laughing while watching Bowling for Columbine, and this morning, I was crying for a crazy young man and what I can only assume was a kind of desperation that led him to wantonly destroy other human beings.

Luther and I have talked about it all a few times. I roll my eyes at the simultaneously consoling and alarming messages about grief and security from my school, Southern Poly, and Luther's, Macon State. Life for these Georgia students is no different today than it was yesterday, but school administrators seem to delight in insisting that everything has changed. A crazy person with a couple of guns could shoot you at your work as easily as at your school, and it's not a new thing. I was standing at a gas pump a half hour ago remembering that somebody with a gun can shoot me from where he is hiding in the trunk of his car much more easily than he could shoot me in a classroom on a college campus. The fact is that it is all easy. Practically everybody has access to a gun, and when you're not worried about getting out alive, you can take a lot of people with you when you die.

It might be the gun arguments that are getting to me most of all. I don't really believe that guns are a necessary part of life. We have them. We rarely even think about them, let alone take them out and use them. But the other day I read an article in the National Post that quoted a young woman in Montreal, whose school had witnessed a shooting last fall, and in response to Virginia Tech, her question was, How can people be allowed to own a gun like that? And I laughed. It was the kind of question I can't imagine hearing from an American, even now.

And then I read in today's junk on, an article by Ted Nugent, who in my limited experience talks like every other "gun nut" in this country. You'd have to be crazy and by the way, dickless to suggest that we shouldn't own guns. He goes on to talk about the examples of gun owners who have saved the day, preventing other gun owners from shooting other people.

You can argue the whole gun thing both ways, but THAT particular argument is what makes this whole thing stink. THAT argument is what makes this country a voilent and selfish and frightening place to live. Because what Ted Nugent is saying is that if we are to be responsible, if we are to do the RIGHT thing, we must counter gun ownership with guns of our own. The more guns there are out there, and the more willing people are to use them, the more guns we ought to have, and the more willing we ought to be to use them.

That's just plain sick.

This kind of violence will only get worse if we maintain and encourage the mentality that the right answer to our fears and the dangers we perceive around us is to arm ourselves. And if this is what Mr. Nugent really believes, then perhaps he would like to step up and take the blame for a young man that conquered his enemies and himself at Virginia Tech the other day. Because I won't blame the gun.

I'll blame the asshole.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The "Endless Hour" Short Fiction Contest, Woot!

Come one, come all, and join me in giving Jason Evans far too much to read. Yes, he is hosting another short fiction contest.

How much can you say in 250 words?

Visit the Endless Hour at Clarity of Night for details on the rules of the game, as well as the photograph that will be your inspiration.

And don't forget to check out the past entries for Jason's fun contests --you'll find the links in his blog.

Thanks, Jason! Now, to shake out my memories of the days before dishwashers...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

June Callwood

"I’m all right with the doom questions," she said, adding that she was not afraid of death. "I don’t think there’s anything to fear. I do fear dependency, and I’ve talked to my doctor about that: ‘Don’t you leave me lying there in a diaper with tubes all over. No, no, no.’ Most of us, my generation, share the same feeling that we don’t want to be dependent and we don’t want to be undignified. You’re going to go, and if you can find a way to go quickly, that’s the best."

At the time, she also chuckled about her poor family who, she said, did not share her enthusiasm for dying. "They’re showing a little grumpiness about this, although they’re getting a lot of preparation. Every time they open the damn newspaper, I’m dying again." Then she laughed, that silvery sweet laugh her friends and family knew so intimately.

When she was still around nearly two years later, her tumours having stabilized, she joked about it. "I'm finding it rather embarrassing that I'm not dead," she told The Toronto Star in January 2006. I'm not the least afraid of dying, but I'm beginning to be concerned about not dying."

National Post: June Callwood, author and activist, dead at 82

Monday, April 16, 2007

Nappy-headed hos

I'm not a big rap fan. And I agree that the "rap culture" and the lucrative businesses that trademark it pretty much rests their money-making power on putting down women and minorities. Yep. Swear words don't scare me, but ugly, violent attitudes as displayed on a constant basis... what is one to do?

I disagree, however, that the Imus faux pas should be related to rap music and any other entertainment genre.

Imus is a radio personality. And he's made a name for himself by "speaking his mind," which translates in a public sense to "saying shocking things in order to convince people that I'm speaking my mind and not being all PC and stuff." But when he was talking about Rutgers' women's basketball players, he was delivering some sports commentary. And he was talking about real women who can be identified by name, who have fans, who have families that might be listening; young women who might be listening themselves.

They're not generic "hos" in a rap song. They're basketball players. And if he doesn't like that they're strong, and they're proud, and they're rough, and they're tough... that doesn't excuse labeling them as prostitutes.

In a rap song or stand-up comedy routine, sure, the concept ugly enough. It's just not personal. And it's not nationally syndicated. And it's not married with a racist slant.

Get over it everybody. Pick on rap if you want to, but understand it has nothing at all to do with Imus. Imus is getting his knuckles rapped because he was just a little bit more of an asshole on the air than he is paid to be. Rap musicians are barely scratching the surface of what they're paid to be.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Film school

I keep wondering what Wil studied in his "film" class in high school. They watched movies, including movies such as The Matrix. That's about all I've gathered.

I'm watching Mulan, the animated movie, on TV. Research questions immediately come to mind, for young students watching this American movie that makes use of a cartoon version of Chinese traditions. These should be opportunities to gain some perspective on the world, but also on film, on American storytelling, on how "foreign" is often used to depict situations we won't deal with in our own culture.

For example: Mulan is told that she should "learn her place." Men go to war, women make a home. Research women in combat in present day United States. Do women hold combat roles?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Childhood obesity

There was a quick piece on the rise of childhood obesity on the news this evening. In the piece, the news organization said childhood obesity had been on the rise since 1963.

I blame convenience food. I've been blaming convenience food for quite a while. I remember being a teenager, and how easily I could have eaten a can of Chef Boyardee spagetti for every meal, without fail, if given the opportunity. It wasn't because I loved the food. It's because it was sweet and tart and easy.


"Easy" in those days meant washing a pot afterward. And a bowl and a spoon. Nowadays, "easy" means throwing out the paper napkin you used as plate and napkin both, for your corn dog that came individually-wrapped in plastic. Where I used a stove (a gas stove, I might add), these days' kids use the microwave. Put the pre-wrapped item in the oven, press a button, wait 60 seconds, and then put the item on a napkin. When you're done, the waste goes in the trash. No preparation. No clean-up. Just eat.

Just eat.

I think it's significant. I live with a kid that is remarkably conservative about how much he consumes, and he's additionally willing to walk home each day from school (to the point that I worry that he won't take the bus when he needs to do so, but that's a different story). I'm pretty happy with where he's going with his health, except that when he's on his own, if not taunted by my comments, he'll eat... canned pasta and frozen corn dogs.

Canned pasta and frozen corn dogs aren't good for you. And kids who start their lives eating this stuff are in a real bind.

I know some parents. It is clearly not easy to get kids to eat stuff that's good for them. Then if you're busy, to get kids to MAKE stuff that's good for them? It's practically hopeless. "Honey, I'm going to be busy studying for my doctorate tonight, so I'm going to need you to make you're own dinner. Can you chop up some fresh vegetables for a salad instead of eating two of those frozen corn dogs from the freezer?" COME ON.

It's ridiculous.

Anyway, they said "1963."

When did the microwave become affordable in the average household?

Early 1960s.

When did TV dinners become common? When they started including desserts.

In the 1960s.

I don't think I'm crazy. Convenience is killing our kids.

Thank goodness I don't have one of my own, eh? Be drivin' me nuts.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Form 4562 is fucked up

Seriously. Look up IRS form 4562. Does it make any sense?

I dare you to tell me, what is "section 179"? Because my understanding is that I can take a "1st year expense" for my business that covers such things as the new computer (and the software to run it). But all 179 roads lead to form 4562, which has instructions attached, and the instructions say things like, "Section 179 property is property that you acquire by purchase ofr use in the active conduct of your trade or business, and is one of the following.
Tangible personal property."

Well, hell, wouldn't that cover everything? And if so, why do web sites all over differentiate between "equipment" and "first year expense"?

Ack. Argh.

April Fool's Scavenger Hunt

First item found 8:56 a.m.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Serious matters

Wow, this is bizarre. It's a quote from a news piece about the testimony of a former aide to Alberto Gonzales on the firings of U.S. attorneys. But doesn't it encapsulate so much more?

Leahy accused the Bush administration of "a series of shifting explanations, excuses, lack of accountability or even acknowledgment of the seriousness of this matter."
Ex-aide contradicts Gonzales on attorney firings

A Lost Dog Ate My Brain

Alright, I'm good and spooked and up, sipping a Diet Coke. That's my current middle-of-the night vice: Diet Coke and the Internet.

Had a doozy of a dream tonight, starting with a chat with my Mom, Paul, and Aunt Donna, a literary analysis type of chat (because who doesn't have those?) about a specific book.

In the book, a man grows old and ultimately dies. He has a rich social circle, but he has a keen desire to pass something on to a direct heir. Unfortunately, his immediate family -especially, his son- go before him. As the story progresses, he winds up with his only "descendant" being the girlfriend of his son, a woman he never approved of, but late in his life, comes to respect and love. She is his posterity.

There are visuals, so I pictured Mom and Paul and Donna, the ice and... Calvados?... in our glasses, the printed words on paper, the old man -can't quite place him, but know him- and his "daughter," who is played by Helen Mirren. I've been a fan of hers since 2010 and that stupid pen fiasco, so don't go all The Queen on me.

Well, Donna wants to know, have I read the short story that is in response to this book?

Okay, so another author wrote a short story that is a commentary on the first book. In the short story, the main character is a funeral director. A large part of his job is talking with the bereaved, being a sounding board for them, listening. Listening and being still, being... nothing.

You know how when you're selling your house you're supposed to leave it mostly empty, nice-looking but with as little of your own life as possible? It's supposed to have enough room for the potential buyer to be able to picture their own life in it, instead of yours. That's this guy. He has so little of himself, he has almost none of himself, so that he can be there for these bereaved individuals. As a result, on his own he is almost not there. Plastic, still, sticks out like a sore thumb visually (black suit, white shirt, black slicked hair, white face - a wax museum young Al Gore -and I like Al Gore!), and can sit in a chair 30 feet from a graveside service and nobody will see him there.

So, he watches. And he figures out that there's something wrong with the characters in the first book. He figures out that he can sit there at the funeral and watch them, and he'll figure out what's wrong. What wasn't said in the book. Something underlying, unspoken, unwritten. Something not quite right.

This is where my dream shifts. Mom and Paul and Donna and me, we are no longer in the dream. Instead, the major character is the author of the short story, but with a narrator. This is like a third story, a story about the writer of the story that was written about the book.

And he is Bill Cameron, author of Lost Dog.

And the short story comes out, and it creates quite a stir, being essentially a whole new take on the original book that was so well-received. Remember Rosencrantz & Guidenstern? It's a little like that.

In the middle of the night, the short story author gets a phonecall from a fan. The fan wants to "interview" him about the story. The line is breaking up quite a bit, but the author, tiredly, is determined to see this through, to play the author role. And the "fan" is a grinning, maniacal, corpse.

Yes, I said corpse. Think back. Didn't I start this post by saying I was spooked?

Flesh rotting on bones, corpse. Grinning. On the phone.

That's it. I don't know what happens next. But I don't think it can be good for Bill.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Taxing Woman

Apparently, I was wrong. The connection between God's creation of the world and Donald Rumsfeld is even closer than I thought. God made the world in six days. Six! On the seventh day, that slacker-loser-bedwetter rested.

If he had actually worked on the seventh day... he would have had to pay taxes.

So here I am, doing our taxes. I spent all day Sunday on our taxes for 2006. Very interesting stuff, as you can imagine. Everything about Georgia, as usual, is stupid. I'd done our federal taxes, and then I turned to the Georgia form, and it's little things, you know? Like the fact that they've now managed somehow to hire somebody who can build a fillable PDF form, but you can't save the form with data in it, and some hidden codes cause several of the number fields to be replaced with big, black, plus signs when you go to print. Given last year's fiasco (Georgia said we didn't pay and therefore owed them several thousand dollars, even though we had our little receipt and everything), I am unwilling to trust our fate to some big, black, plus signs. And the envelope tore when I tried to get it out of the booklet. And the address label is bigger than the space alotted to it. And it's next to impossible to figure out their schedules, or tell when they're referring to federal forms versus state forms.

I finally got the damn tax envelopes out to the curb, and I came back in and did a little work, and then it came time for...

...wait for it...

2007 taxes.

Yes, welcome to self-employment. I must now estimate my tax burden and pay taxes on a quarterly basis. To do so, I must essentially... do my 2007 taxes now, with made-up numbers. I'll have business deductions, and income from several different sources. When you boil it all down, in order to figure out what to pay to the government in the next few weeks (1st quarter), I have to do taxes all over again, only today's taxes are more complicated than yesterday's taxes. How is an honest sole proprieter supposed to make any money, when she spends all her time doing taxes?

Friday, March 23, 2007

What's the big deal? Apple, Obama, and cancers for president

I've now read and heard several news reports on the YouTube Obama-for-president ad, modeled after a 1984 Macintosh ad. And I have to say, I'm disappointed in the reporters. Across the board, they've been expressing excitement over the amazing things people can do with a computer in a living room at home.

If you search YouTube, you can watch not only the Obama ad, but also the original Macintosh ad. And what's the difference? Hilary Clinton's face plastered over the screen image. Not even top quality. Her image is degraded -a common technique for handling the fact that you are using a borrowed image to begin with- to look like a bad video signal.

If I've had one disappointment about the Obama campaign thus far, it's been that he is quoted as saying his staff don't have the capability of doing something like this. The fact is, they probably do. It's just not that hard.

On the up side (as an Obama supporter, which tentatively I am), if the media response is to be considered at all representative, I am not your usual audience and it shouldn't be a problem for the campaign.

Meanwhile, the media is freaking out over John Edwards and his wife's cancer. Now, I applaud their apparent sympathy. But they seem to be eager to cast this cancer as a campaign weakness, and I admit I'm sitting here thinking, "what gives?"

The man is putting a whole lot of his campaign eggs in the health insurance basket. And his wife has cancer. I may be cruel and heartless, but it seems to me that this can only help his campaign. He either understands what real people face (true: His wife has cancer; also true: They don't have to worry about the expense of health care), or by his campaign platform, he understands that others don't have the benefits that he and his wife enjoy (true: They don't have to worry about the expense of health care, but he is campaigning for universal health care).

Either way, it looks pretty good. I fail to see how it is a liability. What, because he might not have a glowing blond wife at his side in every picture? Give me a break! That only makes him that much more desireable to hetero female voters. Rock stars always get more when their wives are absent.

Cynical? Moi?