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.