Wednesday, June 30, 2010

StumbleUpon, How I Love Thee

You just never know what you might find stumbling. Tonight, it was this:

You can buy the complete set - Darth Tater, Artoo Patatoo, Spud Trooper, Luke Frywalker, C 3Potato, Yam Solo, Princess Tator, Mashter Yoda, Spuda Fett, Darth Mash and Chipbacca - for only 231.79, or thereabouts. I didn't make a spreadsheet to add them all up or anything. On Amazon, of course.

How did I miss out on this when they came out originally? Cause they be collector's items now (thus the outrageous price for plastic toys). I could save a few bucks and cut out Boba Fett and Darth Maul.  If there is an Obi Wan Spudobi version out there, Amazon doesn't have him.

I have added them all to Eldest's Amazon wish list. Cause, you know, she's a Star Wars nerd.

Don't know where she got it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

BP Oil Hits Pensacola

The once white sand beaches of Pensacola are now brown. Though the Florida tourist commission keeps hitting the airwaves telling people the beaches are fine, the truth of the matter is something completely different.

That line of brown? It's oil 6 inches down. It came in with the tide and was buried by sand. The crews working to clean up the beaches are getting the larger tar balls but their sifters are allowing smaller particles to return to the sand. And deeper down, this oil remains untouched.

What it comes down to is this - we, as a species, cannot completely remove the oil from these beaches.  It's impossible. Mother Nature will eventually take care of this but she works on a completely different time scale. In a few thousand years, this oil may be removed with the wave action. For now, and for the foreseeable future, it will be present. Just a few inches below the surface.

If you want to see more desecration, head over to the St Petersburg Times photo blog.  H/T to Joe.My.God.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

NaBloPoMo failure and other changes

Well, I have failed to post everyday this month. Surprise. But I came close. I know that only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades, but I'll take it.

I have also changed the template up. I decided to try out Blogger's new template designer and I have to say, I like it. It's easy to use, has good variety and ends up with something that looks good. The only thing I wish I could do is change certain elements that Blogger controls. They've some new tidbits to add to the post but you cannot control the color or size and they clashed pretty heavily. Also, for some reason now when I edit or add an html widget it forces me to title it. Not good, Blogger. I will be complaining.

Other than that, it was relatively easy and didn't require me to save html or widgets, it just transferred them over. Which was very cool and made changing the template much, much easier.

On to other changes in our household. Youngest has been out on her own almost a month. I think Hubby and I have transitioned to the whole empty nest thing fairly well. Hubby is thrilled to be able to cook whatever he feels like since Youngest and her notoriously picky palette are someone else's problem. Also, he thinks her absence gives him license to run around in his underwear. Jury's still out on that one.

I've been doing the Slim Fast thing for almost a month now and lo and behold I am almost ten pounds lighter. (I have to lose another pound in three days to be exactly ten.) If I can keep this up I will be very close to where I want to be come our anniversary.

Speaking of which, we have two certificates for free week's stay at a selection of RCI resorts that came with our signing on with Wyndham. There are limits to where we can go. For instance, the only European destinations available for the free weeks are in Spain and Portugal. Anyone ever been to either? We haven't but we're leaning towards Portugal. All suggestions are welcome though I can't say we'll listen to any of them.

Let me know what you think about the new design.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Follow the Leader

I have lots of blogs in my reader. Lots. I don't get to each of them on a regular basis. The ones that post multiple times a day, like Daily Kos and Joe.My.God,  take up a lot of space but I try to get to the smaller blogs regular like. I at least peruse the snippets in the reader. Mostly.

But today I was looking for something different. Something that wasn't more speculation and gloating about General McChrystal or the latest depressing news out of the Gulf about BP's runaway disaster or some wacky Republican antics.

So I went to Fragrant Liar, cause her headline, WTH?, caught my eye. Using her blog as a starting point I went on a link journey to see what I could see. Found a few new additions for my reader along the way.

First stop was 15 Minute Lunch and his take on what constitutes a switchblade, robins nesting on his porch and a chipmunk with balls like a fruit bat.  Trust me. You'll love it.

From there I went to Shine Out Loud and a post title after my own heart - Politicians, Happy Meals, and Prostitutes.  Another gem for the reader and a potential meme for Friday's to boot. Happy days.

From Shine I went next to He's having a bad day so scroll down. When I got to this picture, I knew I had found another kindred spirit.
Added bonus. His parents gave it to him. After Phronk I traveled next to Dr. Zombie's Midnight Theater of Terror. Just the place for all your Zombie needs. He does seem to have a serious infatuation with Winona Ryder but I can't hold it against him since I hit the jackpot with one of his links. It's not a blog, but boy was it worth the trip.

Night Zero is a photo-realistic web comic, or photocomic,  about life after the zombie apocalypse.  Dude.  Made my day.

Once upon a time before my reader was stuffed to the gills, this was how I found new blogs. By playing follow the link. It's also why I keep so many posted on my blog. Never let it be said that you can't find something to read after stopping by here.  So try out a blog you've never been to before and see where it leads. You never know what you're going to find.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Spin Cycle - Father's Day

Two Spin Cycles in a row! It's a miracle. I seriously meant to write this yesterday, but at least I'm not late like I was with the last one.

I went to a baby shower this weekend which meant I had to buy the gift for said shower Friday. I eschewed the registries and hit Barnes and Noble. The mom-to-be got a bag stuffed with books, classics all. (Where is this going and how is it connected to Father's Day? Have patience.)

I started with the classic that every young child's library should have - Good Night Moon (in a board book, so bonus!), added Caps for Sale (also a board book), Yertle the Turtle and other stories (my favorite Dr Seuss book) and finished with I'll Love You Forever (which if you aren't a weeping puddle by the end, you have no soul).

We read to our girls. A lot. Since both were with us this weekend for Father's Day, I even got to confirm my memories.  Good Night Moon was Eldest's favorite and Caps for Sale was Youngest's when they were little. Hubby and I shared bedtime story duties when the girls were little and the stories short. As they got older, the stories got longer. We eventually graduated to chapter books like James and the Giant Peach and The Phantom Tollbooth. By then, the girls preferred that Hubby do most of the reading.

He had a knack. His readings were much more dramatic, with voices and expression. Mine were not. He would read to them for far longer than I had the stamina to duplicate as well. Sometimes I even hung around to listen. And he read to them for far longer than the average Dad.

The girls were 7 and 9 when the Harry Potter books first came out. Hubby read the first three books out loud to them. In their entirety with voices and correct pronunciation of Hermione, no less. He would read these stories to them for an hour at a time. It was amazing. Think about it, would you still want a bedtime story at age 11? Eldest did.

These same kids would later buy the rest of the series for themselves and read it in one sitting. Each of those later books was read in one frenetic burst of late night reading. Yet they listened to the first three one or two chapters at a time for weeks. It wasn't rare for me to stick my head in and tell him to wrap it up, it had been over an hour and they really did need to get to sleep. My pronouncements were usually met with groans from all three.

It wasn't just the Harry Potter series that my husband read to them. He read Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles series and others that I can't recall. In short, he read to them for as long as they would let him. Long after I thought was too long.

At the time, it seemed indulgent. Now, it's something that the girls remember with fondness. Something that they will do with their children, I suspect. And isn't that what it's all about? Creating memories and traditions.

Happy Father's day (belated). You done good, babe.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Spin Cycle - Memories

I haven't joined in the Spin Cycle for a while now, but when Jen offered a free for all Sprite style, meaning she got to chose my topic - I said okay. Now I get to talk about memories.

Funny things, these memories. I'm not sure where to go with this. Do I relate some memories or talk about the fluid nature of them? Or how about the idea of collective memories and how they define us as a nations or culture? Maybe some mishmash amalgamation of all of these. Hmmm....

Well, my earliest memory fairly cements my geekdom: I remember watching Star Trek - The Original Series in my living room. I must have been all of 5. Couldn't tell you what the episode was, just that it was Star Trek. Kinda explains a lot. The next one is vaguely related and I think I may have told it before but it's a great story and worth retelling.

The summer of 1969 my family - Mom, Dad, sisters and grandfather - drove to Yellowstone National Park. Somewhere along the way, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. I was 5. My grandfather was 70-ish. He wanted to stay at the hotel and watch the landing. My sisters wanted to go visit the set for the TV show Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. They won. So while that iconic piece of television history can play as a tape in my head, I didn't witness it live.

Speaking of this episode, it relates to that idea of the fluidity of memory I spoke about. I remember that my sisters wanted to go to the film/TV set. Only problem is, this set was nowhere near where we were. I would swear to you that is what happened. But did it? Knowing that set was not even in the same state kind brings into question my entire memory.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

RTT - It's been a long day *sigh*

It's Tuesday and if you don't know the drill by now, go check out The Unmom. Seriously. I'm too pooped to explain.

 It's not that I'm tired physically just that I'm exhausted in every other way. I mean, let's face it, it's easy to think the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Millions and millions of gallons of oil are still gushing into the Gulf. (Have we reached a billion yet? Maybe the better question is, will we?) Extremism is alive and well on both sides of the aisle in America. Sometimes it's obvious and sometimes it's not.

Plus, I'm reading Orson Scott Card's Empire and it's just damn depressing. Card's idea of a second America Civil War pushes all the right buttons except he's writing it from what I can only call an opposite perspective to my own. Namely, he's quite a bit further to the right of political center than I am comfortable with. Take note Eldest. I am reading the book. I will not guarantee I like it.

Enough politics. How's the dog, you might ask. (Aliceson, this is for you.) Much better, thank you. After thinking we were not going to get his medicine down him and he was just going to have to suck it up, Hubby saved the day. I sent him out for something to get the pills down Myrddin's throat and he came back with this:

Here's my unsolicited testimonial: THIS THINGS ARE GREAT! Seriously, if you have a pet that needs to take meds and fights you, these things will do the trick.  Myrddin is much better. He must be cause he was back to his usual noisy, bouncy self this morning.

Adding to my general level of mental pooped-ness is the fact that I am taking a virtual class from our database provider so I can hopefully administer the thing. The class itself isn't too difficult but our damn server has had to be rebooted 2 to 3 times a day during class. We upgraded to Server 2008 and let's just say the implementation of the upgrade has not proceeded smoothly. We either can't receive emails from our UK office and vice versa, can't get external emails or find the intertubes wandering off into uncharted waters. Our IT guy said today that they thought the exchange server was somehow pointing to the server in our China office, which is updated once in a blue moon, and that somehow explained the problem. Strangely enough, after this explanation and the attendant assumed repointing,  the server still had to be rebooted. Again. Grr.

I leave you with this happy picture. Cause the pups are just about the only thing that I can count on to make my day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Life in Film

Because the news today is not worth mentioning (did Sarah get breast implants? Seriously? That's news?), too disturbing to comment on (Have you seen Rick Barber's ad for Alabama's 2nd Congressional district?) or just plain sad (insert the latest news on the BP spill), I'm going in a different direction.

Once upon a time, I was a film major. For all of a semester and a half. Technically, it was RTF (Radio-Television-Film) but I was aiming for the film part.  Also, technically it never happened because I was a freshman and couldn't declare a major.

Any way. Film is a big part of my life. I am definitely a film buff, maybe even a film junkie. My parents weren't much into going to the movies so I didn't really start seriously watching movies until I was almost a teenager but once I did, I was hooked.

One of the first movies I remember going to see was The Towering Inferno. I was ten. For some reason, I went with my sister and her boyfriend (now husband). We saw it at the Alabama Theater in Houston. The Alabama was one of those old classic theaters with a balcony and was a Houston landmark for many years.

The next movie that stands out for me was, of course, Star Wars. It wasn't until I visited my cousin in Helena, Montana the summer of 1977 I saw it. It was shown with an intermission, if you can believe it. (Right before the final battle, if memory serves.) Needless to say I was completely enamored. I stood in line with my sister and husband to see The Empire Strike Back for what felt like hours. By Return of the Jedi, I was in college and saw it with my eventual husband.

By that time, I'd been a "film major" for my semester and a half and been thoroughly bitten. I got to see all sorts of movies as part of the introductory film class at UT, including one that is my personal most-hated film of all time. Generally speaking, I pay my money and I sit through the film. Rarely do I even consider leaving. The one time I would have, I couldn't. Had to watch it for the damn class. The worst movie ever made - Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls. UT had the capability of showing the film the way Warhol intended - on three screens simultaneously. but with only a single soundtrack - and it didn't help. I know there are folks out there that think this is a masterpiece. It's not. (The second worst film I ever saw was Leonard, Part 6; the film Bill Cosby likes to forget he ever made).

One good outcome of the film class was an appreciation for older movies, one I've managed to share with my girls. At first they were thoroughly modern kids - with no interest in black and white films - but then I got them to sit through Harvey and they were hooked.

Being a general fan of science fiction, I've seen my share of sci-fi classics and neoclassics.  One of the things a sci-fi film buff watches a movie for is the special effects. We get to be serious critics and aficionados. In this day of CGI marvels, stop motion animation is a lost art and almost laughable when viewed against modern standards. Still, there is something endlessly charming about a Ray Harryhausen film like The Golden Voyage of Sinbad or The First Men in the Moon and of course, The Clash of the Titans. So when we went to see Jurassic Park, we were expecting something better than stop action but something still obviously fake. So much so that we took our children, ages 3 and 5 with us to see it. Imagine our surprise. (Youngest spent the entire film clinging to me like a monkey with her head in the crook of my neck)  If you are under 30, it's hard to really appreciate the quantum leap forward that this film represents.

I am such a sci-fi film fan that I'll watch just about anything that comes on SyFy on Saturday. (why, oh why did they change their name to that bastardization?) My family lets out a collective groan when I find one. Sometimes, they are just too horrible to sit through, but mostly they're just funny as hell. Speaking of funny as hell sci-fi movies, you need to bone up on your Cold War classics - The Thing (1951), The Day The Earth Stood Still, When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds (1953), Them!, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Fly (1958), The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Destination Moon. Funny in their paranoia, mostly, but those are classic science fiction films. In some of them the science is weak, at best, but mostly they're great theater.

Film for me is bit like candy. It's almost all good. It's rare that I pay money to see something and feel like I've wasted my money. This isn't to say I am indiscriminate in my tastes. I don't much care for horror movies - blood and gore and meaningless frights aren't my cup of tea. I'd much rather watch Alien than Halloween, for instance. I have no desire to see any of the Saw films but I'm one of the few people who liked Cloverfield. Action, romance, science fiction and fantasy, psychological thrillers. Those I will see and generally be satisfied that I haven't wasted my money. Most animated films these days fit the bill. I mean, who didn't like Up or The Robinsons?

I could go on and on and on, as you can see. There are plenty of films I haven't mentioned that are personal favorites and don't get me started on the Oscars. But when all is said and done, American cinema is perhaps the one thing this country has made that deserves to be preserved for all time. It's certainly one of our most influential exports, for better or worse.

Leave me a note and share you're favorite films or ones that are especially memorable. Fire up your DVD and don't forget the popcorn.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Texas GOP convention - Or, How the Crazy Turns

Well, it's over and it was more or less as expected. Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison made nice.  Party Chairman Cathie Adams, who steered the Texas GOP to a half a million indebtedness, is no longer chair of anything. Tea Party faithful had their booths with their subtle wares. In all a typical GOP state convention.

 Guns, guns and a poke at Ted Kennedy. Yep, it's Republican.

 One more reason I want to get out Williamson county. This gentlemen is a fellow Round Rockian. *sigh*

Perry kicked off the madness with a speech to the Texas Eagle Forum where he told the party faithful,
"We will raise our voices in defense of our values and in defiance of the hollow precepts and shameful self-interests that guide our opponents on the left," Perry said to the receptive audience.

He said the November election is bigger than "red states and blue states, conservatives or liberals, stimulus or budget cuts."

"We are in a struggle for the heart and soul of our nation," Perry said.

"That's the question: Who do you worship? Do you believe in the primacy of unrestrained federal government? Or do you worship the God of the universe, placing our trust in him?"
Seriously, this is an actual quote via the Dallas Morning News. It helps to understand that the Texas Eagle Forum was founded by Phyllis Schlafly and gave the Texas State Board of Education's soon-to-be-former Chair, Don McLeroy, its Patriot award for his efforts to pass the new social studies curriculum "despite the efforts by certain groups to undermine the curriculum review process."
Needless to say, Perry knew to whom he was speaking.

He backed that up with his speech on the convention floor attacking his opponent Bill White and painting Texas as having the small government answers that everyone is looking for. Citing all of White's supposed faults, which boil down primarily to being anti-gun, pro cap and trade and a Democrat, Perry spouted this jewel,
"Are liberals that blinded by their intellectual elitism, leftwing ideology and the worship of big government?"
Yup, that's it Governor Good Hair. I'm an intelligent ideologue who thinks government has all the answers to my every woe. You got one out of three. Not bad.

Today before they called it quits, the Texas GOP decided on the party platform for the next two years and my friends, it has one bright sparklie itself. They decided to add to the platform a call for state legislation similar to Arizona's that would "bar illegal immigrants from 'intentionally or knowingly' living in Texas" and would require local police to verify US citizenship when making arrests. 

Then the new party chairman "pledged to reach out to independents, disenchanted Republicans and minority groups, especially the burgeoning Hispanic community, to strengthen the party.” Hmmm. That might be a mite difficult there pardner.

In 2008, Texas was home to 8.9 million Hispanics, roughly 37% of our population. The top ten counties in the nation with the highest percentage of Hispanic population are all in Texas. In 2008, roughly half of the nation's Hispanic citizens voted, up 3% from 2004. I predict an even higher increase in 2010, fueled in part by the rising tide of crazy immigration platforms.

So, I say to the Texas GOP - Pass this legislation. I dare you. It will be the last significant thing you do for some time in this state. When almost 40% of your state rises up and kicks you out of office, there will be rejoicing.                                      

Karate Kid - Jackie Chan style

If you haven't seen this already, what the heck are you waiting for?  At least this time the lead character is like, actually 12, instead of 20-something like Ralph Machhio.

And may I just say, no 12-year-old should be that ripped. Scrawny, but ripped. I mean Jaden Smith has definition that just shouldn't be there in someone who probably weighs 90 pounds soaking wet.

Plus, no offense to Pat Morita, but Jackie Chan is way more convincing as a teacher of Kung Fu. As an added bonus, you get to watch Jackie take down 5 toughs without barely touching them. Instead he manages to get them to hit each other.

I admit, I am a Jackie Chan fan. The man is amazing to watch and funny to boot. This film is no exception. Though there are a few scenes were he really gets to stretch a bit as an actor and he does a great job.

Jaden Smith has a future. It's obvious that he's Will Smith's kid. Looks like him, moves like him, even sounds a bit like him. Any 12-year-old who has the dedication to learn what he did to make this film has the dedication to go the distance. That last signature move was so much better in this version. Just like the original, Jaden's character gets purposely injured and fights anyway. His move at the end balancing on one leg is much more realistic and just all around more impressive than Macchio's crane impression. Plus, there is no mistaking that Jaden actually did the stunt. Practically speaking, how many scrawny yet ripped black 12-year-olds are there in China? Kinda has to be him.

Anyway, this is why I am technically posting a day late. It's the movie's fault. Since it is still Saturday in some part of the US, just not mine, I'm counting it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Myrddin and the Mystery Bug

So our middle child is sick. $91 and 3 prescriptions later we don't know what is wrong only that he is one sick puppy. He's running a fever, lost weight, acts lethargic and like he just plain doesn't feel good.

We get to feed him drugs and watch for any change, good or bad. It's going to be a fun weekend. When we got back from the grocery store just now, we discovered that he had thrown up what little we managed to get him to eat, which is a new symptom.  Not sure if I should call the vet or just let the drugs do there job. I'm going with the latter unless he starts horking up his water.

We knew he was truly sick when he was acting like a well behaved dog. You know, no barking, no pulling at the leash, no going nuts when a motorcycle drives by four blocks over. Just laying around looking miserable.

Poor baby. Plus, the hog won't stop trying to eat his food.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Catholic School v. The Children

The Boston Pilot, which bills itself as the country's oldest Catholic newspaper, has one doozie of an editorial in its June 4 edition.

In it Michael Pakaluk argues against allowing children of same-sex couples to enroll in Catholic schools. His "reasoning", and I use the word loosely, is thus:

  • The inevitability of scandal; meaning that sooner or later a teacher or administrator would deal with the same-sex couple is such a manner as to give implicit approval.
"But this is scandal: that is, leading a “little one” astray in some serious matter by the example you set."
  • Parents are rightly given access to a child’s classroom, but
"I could not trust the designs of the same-sex couple...What guarantee would I have that he would not be an advocate for his lifestyle, implicitly if not explicitly? ...I saw this happening in my son’s school. The same-sex couple was interestingly activist in hosting pizza parties, sponsoring tables at fundraisers, and volunteering when parental help was needed."
  • Distribution of pornography.
"It seemed a real danger that the boy being raised by the same-sex couple would bring to school something obscene or pornographic, or refer to such things in conversation, as they go along with the same-sex lifestyle, which--as not being related to procreation-- is inherently eroticized and pornographic."
Yes, that's right. This 6-year-old and his parents that shared his child's classroom were going to  indoctrinate his child into the belief that homosexuality is ok and host pizza parties where they handed out porn to the kindergartners. Oh the scandal! That a same-sex couple might want to be involved and supportive of their child's school.

And he doesn't stop there. Just when you think he can't get anymore offensive, he delivers this jewel:
"Someone might wonder where the line should be drawn if children raised by same-sex couples are excluded from parochial schools. What about children raised by divorced, contracepting, or cohabiting couples?

Well--what would be the problem in requiring that if parents wish to enroll their children in a Catholic school, they must agree to abide by basic principles of morality?"
So just just how does a divorced Catholic abide by basic moral principals when they've broken their marriage vows? And how is the school going to tell when a parent is "contracepting" (is that even a word?) By the fact that they don't have a slew of kids enrolled? And porn? Seriously? In his fevered dreams, maybe. As if pornography is restricted to same-sex households.

Oh and his concerns are only for young children. It's okay for children of same-sex parents to enroll in Catholic high schools and "probably" middle schools.  Only when they're not old enough to have absorbed the church doctrine is it a bad idea to "expose" them to the homosexual "lifestyle", but by the time they get to high school and probably middle school they'll have soaked up the church's prejudices enough to be inoculated against teh gays.

You know what? Pakaluk most likely doesn't want to know about this CBS poll:

"The increasing visibility of gay and lesbian Americans appears to have contributed toward more positive perceptions of homosexual relations. Forty-three percent of Americans currently see homosexual relations between consenting adults as "wrong" - a drop of 19 percentage points from a Gallup poll taken in 1978."

Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.                        

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

RTT - politics, puppies, and pinheads

Hey there! It's Tuesday so it's time for Random Tuesday Thoughts with Keely! Why don't you join in, too?
Apparently birther nut Orly Taitz has a chance to win the Republican nomination for California Secretary of State. Democrats around the country are falling out of their chairs laughing. Republicans in California are shocked and amazed that someone so loony could stand a chance at winning. I kind of hope she manages to pull it off. She doesn't stand much of chance in November but it would be a certain kind of sweet justice to see the Republican's catering to the right-wing fringe come back to bite them loudly and vociferously in the ass.

A regular asked me today how my pups were doing. Well, Aibhne is officially fat. The vet said she needs to lose 8 pounds. So we've bought "diet dog food" and are attempting to whittle away at her not insignificant middle. Problem is that Myrddin absolutely doesn't need to be on diet anything. So he's got some special "active dog" chow. So where's the problem? Well, Aibhne is a hog. She will literally eat anything. Plus, she doesn't much care for the diet food. So, she tries to push Myrddin out of the way to steal his tastier chow. Since he's a wimp, he lets her. The last thing she needs is food designed for a high energy dog.

So we've had politics and puppies, now for the pinheads. Grr. So many to chose from. Mostly the biggest pinhead on my list today is a coworker who shall remain nameless. This person is our database administrator and IT head. He likes to import lists of contacts into our database without making sure we don't already have any of said contacts, thus creating massive numbers of duplication.

Guess who gets to clean it up?

Combining pinheads and politics we get the current media meme that President Obama needs to show more emotion, especially in reference to the BP oil spill.  What the hell? What do you pinheads want him to do and how do you really think that's going to help? Can the media focus on, I don't know, NEWS for a change? Once upon a time, we wanted our President to be calm and focused. Someone who could inspire confidence. Now we want someone who's going to scream and shout. What's next? We won't be happy until the President pounds the desk with his shoe a la Nikita Krushchev?

The whole damn lot is a bunch of pinheads. Makes me ashamed to have a Journalism degree.

Let's end this week's RTT with some warm and fuzzy pictures. Lord knows, I need the comic relief.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Digital Photography - Or, where I show my age

When I was in college at the University of Texas in the 80s studying for a photojournalism degree, we had guest lecturer who tried to tell us that digital photography was going to take over photojournalism.

We laughed.

It was hard to imagine in 1985 that digital cameras would be as ubiquitous as they are today. Sony was the first to come out with a "digital" camera in 1981. In 1986, Kodak created the first megapixel sensor that allowed for something approaching a photo-quality print.   So as an undergrad at UT, it was easy to scoff at the idea that digital photography was going to replace in any way the skills that we were learning amongst the stop bath fumes.

Now we know better. My phone has a 3.0 megapixel camera with a flash. You can get (and boy do I want one) a digital SLR with up to 15 megapixels. Only a professional would want or need that much definition and 10 is enough for the average person (which I am, degree notwithstanding), but you can see we've come a long way since that first sensor in 1986.

It wasn't until software caught up with the human photographer's ability to manipulate a raw image that I was really convinced that digital photography was king. Now I can do things with my software that would have taken me hours with special chemicals and apparatus to achieve in the darkroom. And that's not even talking the level of manipulation that something like Photoshop allows.

I read an interesting article today at work, which got me thinking about all of this and taking this trip down memory lane. It said that Coach, the folks who make wallets and such, have significantly reduced the number of plastic photo holders that they make.  Why? Because people carry their photographs digitally on their phones now. Think about it. When's the last time you made an actual print of your photographs to put in your wallet? Why whip out a paper photograph from your wallet when you can show off your kids or your critters by pulling out your phone? Instant updates available from Facebook, better quality, no sticking to the plastic when it gets too hot.

So it's not just that we take photos differently; we store them differently as well. We can take a virtually unlimited number of photos of Junior as he takes his first steps, delete the ones that didn't turn out and email them off to Grandma in less time than it would have taken to drive to the drugstore to get your film developed in the age of cellulose.

We can even scan old photos before they deteriorate completely, clean them up and save them digitally. And if you don't think that's been a boon to historians, amateur and professional, you haven't really considered what it would mean to lose the photographic record for something monumental like a world war.

And of course let's not forget that digital photography and the Internet. They have the power to bring change faster than ever before. If picture is worth a thousand words, this combination must be worth a million.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Memories of Dad

So Friday's writing prompt at NaBloPoMo was "What's the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of your father?"

Answer: getting my butt kicked playing one on one. Wasn't hard. He was 6 feet tall and I was much shorter. Plus, he could pretty much palm the ball and I was never extremely coordinated.

He never let me win, which is okay. While he got a kick out of my efforts, I'm sure, he didn't bother to stroke my ego by throwing a game. I've never quite understood the reasoning behind playing a game with a kid and screwing up so they can win. It kind of implies that you think that's the only way they could beat you. I know the idea is to increase their confidence but once they figure out (and they will figure it out) that you let them win, they will most likely not take kindly to your "kindness".  About the only time it makes sense is when you're playing Candyland with your 4-year-old.  And if you can't handle losing at that idiotic game to a 4-year-old, you should avoid competition.

That pretty much sums up "how a raise a kid according to my Dad". Treat your kid like an intelligent human being and that might just be what you end up with. Teaching that life isn't always fair can be as simple as playing one on one, and probably a lot easier than other methods. Be there when it counts.

Miss you, big guy.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Today was Austin's Pride Festival. It was hot, (It is June in Texas, after all) but fun. There was a great crowd. I worked my church's booth (United Christian Church) and we passed out untold numbers of skittles with a card advertising our church. We also went a little more high tech this year and had an audio/visual set up playing some of the ads that UCC has aired over the years.

Here's my favorite:

Later in the afternoon I worked the Transgender Education Network of Texas' booth. I had a great time, meet some cool people and got incredibly hot.This year we were at the Long Center, which is a much better location than last year. I think the crowd was bigger. I know we were coming close to running out of our skittle packets when I left at 4PM. We had packets left over last year, so it's a definite improvement.

This was a great experience.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Racism is alive and well in America

What do you think of this mural?

Apparently, quite a few people in Prescott, AZ think it needs to be taken down. It's been painted on the side of Miller Valley School and represents ways to go green and help the environment. The child at the center of the mural is modeled after a student at the school.

There have been calls to remove the mural and the school officials have asked the artists to lighten the faces of the children in the mural. They claim it's to better represent them moving into the light and being "radiant and happy".

The artist has related that during the painting of the mural, drivers passing the school shouted racial epithets despite the fact that students were assisting at the time.

Wall reports hearing comments such as "You're desecrating our school," "Get the ni----- off the wall," and "Get the sp-- off the wall."

"The pressure stayed up consistently," Wall said. "We had two months of cars shouting at us."
 These drivers were not alone. On his very own radio talk show, City Councilman Steve Blair said this:
I am not a racist individual, but I will tell you depicting a black guy in the middle of that mural, based upon who's president of the United States today and based upon the history of this community when I grew up, we had four black families - who I have been very good friends with for years - to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, 'Why?'"
Comments on The Daily Courier  and The Arizona Republic are worth reading just to get an example of the atmosphere. Many commenters express dismay and shame over the general level of ugliness surrounding this kerfluckel. Others rail about the "ugliness" of the mural and not a few compare it gang graffiti in LA.

Students voted on the mural and helped paint it. Now they're being told that their work is too controversial, too political and an eyesore. If I were a parent of one those children, I'd be pissed.

Miller Valley school is the most racially diverse school in Prescott. This mural depicts that. Some folks just can't handle it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

If not now, when?

Today was the Multifaith Pride service that kicks off the Austin Pride weekend for 2010. I had the great pleasure to be on the planning committee for the service and got to meet and work with a wide variety of people.

Our speaker for the event was Bishop Yvette Flunder, and ladies and gentlemen, she made all our work worth the effort. If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, I encourage you to do so.

Bishop Flunder related a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that she used as a call to action.
..."We must answer and deal with one or two myths that are still disseminated and often block powerful social action in order to grapple with the evils of society. One argument is the myth of time. This myth says in substance that only time can solve problems that we face in the area of human relations. So there are those who say to individuals struggling to make justice a reality. Why don't you wait and stop pushing so hard. If you will just be patient and wait 100 or 200 years the problem will work itself out. Well this argument still goes around. The only answer that one can give to this myth is that time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively...Somewhere along the way we must see that time will never solve the problem alone but that we must help time...We must always help time and realize that the time is always right to do right."
This notion that now is not the right time to fight for LGBT equality is one that we've heard over and over again, most especially from our government. If we wait for the time to be right, nothing will happen. Change only occurs over time because there are those who will fight for it. Minds are not changed unless someone speaks out about injustice.

Now is the time to continue to fight. Federal legislation to kill DADT is only the first step. The policy is still in place and we need to continue to push for its full dismantling.  DOMA needs to be revoked. Same-sex marriage should be a right. Why should LGBTs accept the conditional justice of civil unions? Why should they accept something that is second best? We need a trans-inclusive ENDA to become the law of the land. No one should fear losing their job because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. Why should they accept that they are second class citizens?

Now is the time. We have the momentum. We must continue the fight. Gay or straight. Black or white. Male or female. If as a nation we believe that all men are created equal, now is the time to live up to that statement.

If not now, when?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Philip Spooner set to music

On April 22, 2009, Philip Spooner spoke before the Maine legislature. His testimony in favor of same-sex marriage was inspiring. So much so that Melissa Dunphy wrote this piece for the 2010 Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Composition Competition:

Watch it with the annotation on. It can be a bit hard to understand at times, but well worth the 8 minutes.

"What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?"  That was this man's answer to what he thought about equality for LGBTs. It should be the answer we all give.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

NaBloPoMo for June

I have been a bad blogger of late; posting irregularly at best. So I've signed up for NaBloPoMo this month. This month's theme is NOW.

I like this theme. It has possibilities. Plus, NaBloPoMo has daily writing prompts for when I have brain freeze.

My current now is all about the Youngest. She's moving out today. As I speak, Hubs is packing a moving van with her and her roommate's stuff. Youngest has recruited her friends and ever present posse to help with the move. I got to help her pack over the long weekend while Hubs was helping Eldest move from one apartment to another in Denton. (Remember when you used to move on an annual or bi-annual basis? Me? Not so much. I haven't moved in 16 years. Though if memory serves, it sucks.)

After work, I get to help with the unpacking. Rah. First I pack it, then I unpack it. At least I don't have to haul it around.

So, as of this evening, we will be alone in the house. (If one can call a house with 3 dogs empty, that is.) I have been awaiting this moment with nothing short of glee. I love my Youngest but I am more than ready for her to be on her own. I am just not up to the continual parade of friends, the late nights and the floordrobe. Though the dogs will miss the last bit. It's their second favorite place to sleep. (First is our waterbed). She's just down the road in Austin and I have no doubt we'll be seeing her fairly frequently.

I've had several people tell me that I'll miss her. Maybe. But those same people (ok, not the exact same but you know what I mean) told me I'd miss my kids when they started elementary school and they were wrong then. No weeping over my babies going off to school then and none now.

Besides, I have her dog. She'll be back.