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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sports Questions and Samhain

The World Series continues into November. In the Northeast, no less. This really bugs me. With two rounds before the Series, somethings gotta give. Maybe a 154-game season, which Major League baseball used to have until the 1960s, when it went to 162 games. And while they're at it, couldn't they starts some games earlier, so I kids could watch past the third inning?

I suppose this is sacrilege, but I wish the Yankees, and some minor league teams, and maybe others, would get rid of "God Bless America" during the 7th-inning stretch. It started after 9/11/2001, but now it's become a "new tradition". And at the last Hall of Fame game I attended, "honored America" with a scratchy and warped Kate Smith recording. And some people are now getting bent out of shape if television doesn't cover the singing of same, even when TV doesn't cover Take Me Out To The Ballgame, which follows.

In the NFL, I was really happy that Denver beat New England a few weeks ago, but I found it unfair that the Patriots never touched the ball offensively in overtime. There's got to be a better way than a coin flip. In the college game, each team at least gets a chance to score, not a perfect model, but clearly fairer.

So what's bugging you about sports? Maybe it's the relatively new scoring system in figure skating; I happen to like it better than the 6.0 standard. I read that some are advocating for more instant reply in baseball; not sure how that would work. The example is a ball, not a home run ball, that was judged as foul by the umpire but fair in the replay. Where would the batter, and even trickier, the runners, end up? I'm not opposed out of hand, but I can't see how it would work.

Swiped from Uthaclena: In Druid tradition, Samhain is the time of the dead, when the veil between the worlds thins and spirits walk the land of the living. It is the feast of death and rebirth, and the New Year of the Celtic calendar with the fall of the last leaves, the heart of the Autumn, the beginning of the Darkened Days, and the Quiet Time to listen to the Wisdom of the Crone. At this time we celebrate and commemorate our ancestors and elders who have passed into the Otherworld. But, fear naught, for the Sun will be born anew, and Light and Life will return to the world!

Solemn Blessings to you all; hold fast to the seed of Hope, and dream of Better days!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Vote Because, Well - Just Do It

Next Tuesday is Election Day, and I will vote. I always vote. I believe it is rooted in the fact that for many years in the history of this country, people were disenfranchised, largely because of their race and/or gender, and I just cannot help but take advantage of my right to participate in the democratic process.

And because it is an "off-year" election, fewer people will vote in November 2009 than in November 2008, even though the races that take this year arguably have more of a direct impact on people's lives than the statewide or national races. This means that MY vote will mean more, proportionally.

Still, it's difficult to muster much enthusiasm. For many races in Albany, NY, both citywide and countywide, the primary in September WAS the race. For those not in Albany, you need to know that this is a one-party town, and that one party is the Democratic party. Now since I am a registered Democrat - hey, I want to be where the action is - you might think I would be happy about that; I'm not, even though it advantages one of the candidates I'm supporting. I believe one-party rule, no matter the good intentions of that party, inevitably leads to complacency and arrogance.

This is why I will reveal my ballot in one race: I am voting for the Republican for county coroner. I don't even know who the party candidates are, though there were stories in the paper recently, for it doesn't matter. In fact, I have ALWAYS voted for the Republican candidate for coroner since I moved to Albany 30 years ago. And I believe that the Republican candidate for coroner has always lost. I fully expect that to happen again this year, but I don't care. It's my rage against the machine.

Incidentally, the last of the Albany County Board of Elections' extended hours to accept absentee ballot applications take place Saturday morning, October 31, from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

October Ramblin'

One foot in front of the other.

SATURDAY: I took the daughter to the Medieval Faire. She enjoyed the silly magician and the juggler who had an ax, a flaming stick and a rubber chicken in the air at once. She also enjoyed the Punch and Judy show, as much because the puppeteer had me control one of his marionettes for a short time; demented show with the devil showing up and Rensselaer (city across the river from Albany) a linguistic substitute for hell.
I always enjoy the crowning of the boy bishop; it's all very High Church. Wait, it's now the "child bishop", which means the bishop is, for the first tiome in my recollection, a girl! Brava!

Then a brief trip to a pumpkin carving party. Lydia had lots of kids to play with and didn't want to leave.

Finally, we got a babysitter and went to a friend's 40th birthday party, which was pleasant enough.

SUNDAY: Choir rehearsal, then church service, then meeting for the Black History Month planning.

Mother of one of the kids at the pumpkin carving party called to note that her son was feeling lethargic; ah, Lydia, too.

Still we all went to the State Museum, mostly because Lydia wanted to go on the carousel. A church group of about 10 saw Through the Eyes of Others: African Americans and Identity in American Art; 1609; This Great Nation Will Endure: Photographs of the Great Depression; and Berenice Abbott's Changing New York: A Triumph of Public Art. And yes, we all rode the carousel, even only one of us was under 40, and at least one of us was twice 40.

Then ANOTHER choir rehearsal.

MONDAY, TUESDAY: Home with a sick child. Her temperature was up Monday morning, then down Tuesday morning, when I thought she was rallying. But feverish Tuesday afternoon. When she was well was actually more work, keeping her occupied with Sorry, Uno, pick-up-sticks, Candyland... Difficult blogging conditions.

WEDNESDAY: Work, which comparatively speaking, was a vacation; the wife stayed home with the child. Although I got little done the first hour because my computer, and only MY computer, somehow decided to leave the LAN, and I had to wait for a techie to fix it.

There was this cellphone conversation in an elevator. The person standing near me: "Yeah, he was a good father. He never got drunk in the garage every weekend." I didn't know this person, but I felt embarrassed on her behalf.

Also, these guys were coming through our offices, only one of whom works there. So I say to the one I know, "Nobody else is here. Just you and me." And one of the other guys walking by says in this condescending tone, "That's 'you and I'." "Shut UP! Wasn't even talking to you; I don't even KNOW you. Shut UP!" I thought that, but didn't say it.
And in any case, almost no one would say, "Just we" in casual conversation; one would say say, "just us", the objective version, at least colloquially. Even my English teacher-wife couldn't discern for sure.
Old records from 1895-1925 on the original victrolas

Care for Caregivers: Getting the help you need could save your life.

Stop Drowning in Mail: 4-Step System to Manage Mail Overload
Picture above came in the e-mail yesterday with his note: "Eddie Haskell, The Beaver and Wally! HOLY Mackerel!! Are we REALLY that Old???" Yes, an excess of punctuation there.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

O is for Oscar

I have been fascinated by the Academy Awards, a/k/a the Oscars, for a very long time. As a kid, I'd watch the stars that I'd heard about for years, even though I had not seen much of, or ANY of their work. It was a great thrill.

But the person in those days I was most fascinated with in the 1960s was Edith Head, the costume designer, who won eight awards. I liked her name and I especially loved the glasses. Though The Incredibles director Brad Bird has not confirmed it, it seemed immediately obvious that Edna E. Mode, the supergroup's costumer, was a parody of Ms. Head. (And that the new CBS-TV show NCIS: Los Angeles' Henrietta 'Hetty' Lange, played by Linda Hunt, is doing Edna Mode.)

Eventually, I got to see more of the movies. There was a time when I became a film affectionado. I would particularly make an effort to see the movies that had been nominated in the major categories: Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay. This meant going to the cinema a lot in December, January and February. Since I've never been a cold-weather fan, this suited me quite well. The Presidents Day/Washington's Birthday weekend of 1998, I saw five films in three days; four of them had been nominated for the 1997 awards: L.A. Confidential (Kim Basinger won for supporting actress; Curtis Hanson, with Brian Helgeland, won for adapted screenplay, lost for director; also lost for picture) and Mrs. Brown (Judi Dench lost for lead actress) on Saturday; Afterglow (Julie Christie lost for lead actress) plus some whimsical French film on Sunday, and The Apostle (Robert Duvall lost for leads actor) on Monday. In fact, the only performance in the major categories I DIDN'T see was Peter Fonda, who lost for best actor in Ulee's Gold; in fact, I STILL haven't seen it.

In the pre-Internet days, on the day of the announcement of the nominees, the great challenge was trying to find a radio station with good reception that was broadcasting the information live at 8:37 a.m. Eastern Time, 5:37 a.m. Pacific Time, write down all the information and kibbitz about the choices and the omissions. Now, of course, I can just go online, but a bit of the magic is lost.

This century, I watch far fewer movies. Seeing films on DVD, in my opinion, is a lesser experience which I do only as a last resort, such as when a film is no longer in theaters and I REALLY MUST see it before Oscar night. And these days, I don't even stay up for the awards but rather record them to watch over the next evening or three. Yet I still watch, because some part of the young boy who was dazzled by the magic of Hollywood still exists.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


But first, happy SEVENTH blogiversary to both Tegan at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog and Johnny Bacardi. That's like forever on the Internet.

Sunday Stealing, yet again.

A- Advocate for: mass transit; buses and light rail.

B- Best Feature: my brain. I think. (OR, my brain, I think.)

C- Could do without: the screaming that passes for political discourse.

D- Dreams and desires: for the child to thrive at whatever is her heart's content.

E- Essential items: certain reference books, or in lieu of that, certain bookmarked reference web pages.

F- Favorite past time: blogging.

G- Good at: confusing my opponents, and occasionally myself, with racquetball shots.

H- Have never tried: jumping out of an airplane.

I- If I had a million dollars: I'd contribute more to some arts organizations and food pantries.

J- Junkie for: music of many types.

K- Kindred spirit: Uthaclena.

L- Little known fact: when I was in college on the Student Government Association Financial Council, the books were audited and the accounts were off by thousands of dollars. The books for my area, education, which included the newspaper and the radio station, were off by 79 cents.

M- Memorable moment: getting a standing ovation for playing a kazoo solo at a Red Cross training camp.

N- Never again will I: take penicillin (allergic reaction).

O- Occasional indulgence: a day off from work, just for myself.

P- Profession: librarian, dammit!

Q- Quote: "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.... People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back." ~Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982

R- Reason to smile: The daughter's dancing.

S- Sorry about: slow to asking for forgiveness from one person, which would have had a huge effect on my relationship with a third party.

T- Things you are worrying about right now: Well, worried would overstating it, but I'd like to be around when the kid graduates college.

U- Uninterested in: 99.973% of celebrity gossip.

V- Very scared of: a loss of freedom in the country.

W- Worst habits: an unlibrarianlike level of disorder.

X- X marks my ideal vacation spot: Hawaii. Because I wanted to go, was invited to go, but couldn't.

Y- Yummiest dessert: carrot cake.

Z- Zodiac sign: Pisces.


Monday, October 26, 2009

The Lydster, Part 67: Kindergarten

I didn't know how Lydia would take to kindergarten. She'd been going to day care for four years, after all. And the first week's report was not encouraging: "all we do is color!" Ah, but there was a method to her teacher's madness. It was "color two of three trees", understanding the concept of numbers.

So it is astonishing how much she's learned in the past couple months. When she asked how many days between her birthday and mine, and I said 19, she replied, "Then it's 20 days between your birthday and Grandma's," whose birthday is the day after Lydia's. Yes, that would be correct.

Notable: she has learned how to tie her shoes. On September 24, she couldn't. On September 25, she was waiting for her mother, saw this book "Learn to Tie Your Shoes!" from CB Publishing complete with instructions and, more importantly, actual shoelaces; by the end of the day, she could do it. This is pleasing to me for a couple reasons:
1) this means she could tie them long before I could tie mine
2) when I get old and decrepit (or older and decrepiter), she'll be able to tie mime

She has to do homework for 20 minutes every day, usually with me. Part of it involves taking a picture book such as "K is for Kissing a Cool Kangaroo" and identifying all the words on the page that begin with each letter of the alphabet; I keep finding new ones myself.

Lydia has mellowed out about the process of learning. Early on at school, she was told to use the phonetic sounds to try to figure out the spelling of a word. When she got one wrong, she literally broke into tears in class. Now she knows that English is difficult, what with those Cs that sound like Ks, Cs that sound like Ss, Gs that sound like Js, and Ys that sound like Is, not to mention silent letters in words such as gnu and knife.

She has always liked to dance, but has actively resisted actually take classes. But she has now taken two sessions in a ballet class and really seems to enjoy it. For our part, we never pushed her in this direction; it had to be something SHE really wanted to do.

Lydia gets more interesting practically every day.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Beckster

My niece Rebecca turns 31 tomorrow. Since my sister Leslie was kind enough to share some photos of Becky's 1st year, when they lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC, NY, this seems like an appropriate time to post them here:

Leslie and Becky

Becky with her paternal grandmother, I believe

I always liked that quilt

With her Daddy Eric

The woman to the right was Leslie and Eric's neighbor Maria

The ultimate before picture

Held by grandma

Maria (left), Becky, Maria's mom(?)

Having babysat Becky, I can attest that she would put herself in the drawer

Mother and child

Maria, Leslie, Eric with bundle o joy

May have been 1st birthday party. My great aunt Charlotte is in the rear center; I'm at rear left.

Child with her daddy

Here's Rebecca (third from the right) with her group Siren's Crush. You can check out "exciting new 100% Live Video Footage" here. The band's MySpace page is here.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Anticipating Halloween QUESTIONS

In my twenties, I used to dress up for Halloween. While I might pull out my Frankenstein mask now and then - I REALLY can't breathe in that thing - I've lost my All Hallows Eve mojo.

But this year, the child is going to need an escort for her trick-or-treating; her costume is a ballet dress that lights up - I might just surprise myself by dressing

All I want to know:

Are you dressing up for Halloween? As what?
Are you going to a party, or parties?
Are you going trick or treating? Do you have a child to provide you cover?
Top 10 Spooky Buildings
My friend Fred Hembeck's comic icon, Soupy Sales, died this week. One of the many things Fred taught me about Soupy is that he was a Motown artist. Really. And some of the songs, as Fred noted, weren't half bad.
A suitable tribute for Soupy.
Scott from Scooter Chronicles answers my questions.
I've seen this a couple places on the Internet already: the octogenarian war vet's impassioned plea for gay rights.


Friday, October 23, 2009


My sister Marcia informed sister Leslie and me last week that our mom's been at the doctor's office, addressing some of her health issues, such as weight loss and pains, which could be for lack of eating and NOT DRINKING WATER. Perhaps she'll start taking those Boost-type drinks.

Yesterday, my mom was at the doctor's office for several hours, getting an IV for her dehydration. Marcia was driving mom home when she tried to avoid something on the road, left from some road construction, and hit something else. This briefly propelled the car into the air. The landing initiated the deployment of the airbags, which forced my mother's glasses into her face, cutting her, which made her scream, which unnerved Marcia.

Bottom line is that my mom went to the hospital to get checked out for a few hours, but did end up returning home. The vehicle, on the other hand, was towed and is probably totaled. Marcia notes it could have been worse.

and speaking of lack of water

Our office, indeed a bunch of offices, got e-mail notices recently that state contracts could no longer pay for water. Now, we're not a state agency. Nevertheless, our water dispenser was carted off yesterday. When I saw someone wheeling one machine, I knew ours would be next, and alerted everyone to get as much water as possible.

Odd thing is that we still have three bottles of water, but no real way to consume them. I used to have messages pop up on my computer to get a glass of water four times a day; I have to shut those down, and find a new way to stay hydrated.

and speaking of my office

We have been in our present building for 4.4 years. Never have I seen so many ladybugs on the walls and windows outside our office as I did yesterday after none noticed a couple days earlier. THOUSANDS of them, yet very few around the rest of the building. What is going on?

and speaking of checking thing out

I ordered checks by phone for the first time in over a year and a half. $32 for 150 checks? Don't know what they were before, but it wasn't NEAR that much! It'll prompt me to do more online transactions, though most of my bills are autopay already.

and speaking of the unexpected

I was riding my bike downtown a couple days ago when I saw a woman riding a Segway down Western avenue in Albany. I had actually never seen one up close before, only on television. We happened to catch the same red light, and I engaged the young woman who rides it in conversation.

Seems that she won the machine in June in a drawing, a total fluke. Now she rides it to work twice a week, rides her bicycle twice a week, and drives the car once a week.

I checked the Segway site, based in New Zealand, and found five dealers in the state of New York, on Long Island, Queens, western New York, Poughkeepsie (mid-Hudson) and Coeymans (around Albany).

A bus driver said that one will see the Segway more often because they were once not legal to ride on the streets but now are, traveling in the same stream of traffic as the bicycles. I didn't independently verify that, but it seems right.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Doing Away With Dewey

There was an article in the local paper last week that the Albany Public Library was going to do away with the Dewey Decimal System in favor of a system that's more like a bookstore, as I understand it. I have mixed emotions.

On one hand, I see why the library would want to utilize a system like that which the book-using public is used to. While I grew up using the Dewey Decimal System in the Binghamton Public Library, where I worked as a teen, it's not as though I'm wedded to it. Indeed, the books in the special library where I work uses the Library of Congress classification, an alphanumeric system even more arcane for the casual user than Melvil Dewey's categorization. Also, when I was going to library school, I quickly tired of the jokes about my devotion to the DDC.

On the other hand, the conversation suggests that DDC is complicated and that the bookstore model is "better". Maybe it's me, but I always find what I'm looking for in a DDC or LC library, while I'm more likely to have to ask for need help from a book store clerk. That's because the categories in some bookstores are not as helpful as they might be.

The example that immediately comes to mind is Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, by Douglas A. Blackmon. Last month, the Writers Institute and the Friends of the Albany Public Library sponsored Doug Blackmon to speak at APL.

For those of you not from the Albany area, the Writers Institute was co-founded 25 years ago by William Kennedy. Bill Kennedy is THE most noted writer to come out of Albany, and his fiction about Albany has been award-winning. I happen to particularly enjoy his nonfiction book, O Albany!

There was a dinner before the Blackmon presentation, and for reasons unknown to me, I had the pleasure to sit next to Doug Blackmon. We had a very interesting talk. One point that he made, relative to this current discussion, is how well or poorly his book sells in a given store depended, to a very large degree, on where his book was placed in said bookstore. If it was placed in the American history section - and the story certainly is an American story not often heard - then it sold all right. But if it were placed in the ghetto of the black history section ("ghetto" is my term) - as though the story were only important to, or applicable to black people - then it tended to do less well.

Now, a library book is not sold by the institution. But how often a book circulates certainly effects whether or not other books on that topic and/or books by that author.

I have no inside information just how this "bookstore" model is going to look until the Pine Hills branch - MY branch - reopens next month beyond what I've read here. But I'll be very interested to find out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

N is for Nest

We have lived in our house for nine years. The only wildlife that deigned to live on our back porch were these bees or wasps, who would actually drill into the wood of the porch.

So when my wife complained that I had tracked some grass onto the back porch back in May, I had no idea what the heck she was talking about. It turns out that there was a couple birds, male and female, building a nest on a narrow rail above the front porch. I should restate: actually, they were building three or four nests. But all but one were ultimately abandoned, but the vacated nests were eventually used to fortify the chosen dwelling. This rail is only about three inches (7.5 cm) wide, though the nest itself is about five inches (12.5 cm) in diameter; very well designed, I'd say.

Eventually, eggs must have been laid, although I couldn't see from that angle; there's only about a half foot (15 cm) from the top of the post to ceiling of the porch. Generally, one or the other bird would be hanging out at the nest the vast majority of the time. Although when I would open the back door and the smaller adult bird was awake, sometimes he or she would fly away for a time, but not too far.

Ultimately, we saw three baby birds being fed by their parents. But before too long, the birds were gone, leaving behind only the nest and purple poop on the porch. We're still unclear as to why they chose our home as their temporary residence, but it was fun while it lasted.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Now greener ogre

I came across this software that takes phrases and makes several anagrams. One of the samples is the title of this piece. It also took the line "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" and changed it to "Neatly weighs up mawkish philosophy about unforseen reality", which I thought was rather funny.

Saturday, we had plans to go to a museum a distance away, only to discover that it was unexpectedly (and illogically) closed. Plan B involved the usual housecleaning and shopping. But there came a point were my wife was going to take a nap and the daughter had fallen asleep on the sofa. Could I go to the grocery store to get some things?

I was surprised a bit by my disappointment. The idea of being in my own house, well not alone, but with it to myself was SO tantalizing. Going out to the store seemed counterintuitive, but go I did.

On the way back I run into five boys, maybe aged 14, on bicycles; no helmets, BTW. I too was on my bike. one asked me where Central Avenue was. Central Avenue is only THE main street in Albany. The answer wasn't that simple; if they wanted a low number, it would have made sense to head east on Western Avenue, but the higher numbers would suggest going straight (north) on West Lawrence, ignoring the fact that the road seems to end, something you can do on a bike, though not a car.

I travel on, and see them AGAIN on North Allen, in front of the elementary school. The same kid said he couldn't find Central. I said, "You have to keep going." Another kid asked, "Is it beyond Washington Avenue?"


Second boy: "See, I TOLD you so!"

Then boy #1 told me about some "furry" candy he wanted to buy, but his friends were going to go buy pot. Was this true, or an attempt to get a reaction from me? As it turns out the address they gave me was in Colonie, well past the Colonie Center mall, and I warned them it as a long ride.

I restated my directions: ride until you run into a funeral home. At which point, one of the other boys burst into a crying jag. I was told that his grandmother had just died. But this was "crying" that sounded mighty insincere, and I feel they're trying to yank my chain, though I passingly apologize.

They went on their way, I mine, left wondering: who ARE these kids, where did they come from, what did they REALLY want in Colonie, and how the heck do they not know where Central Avenue is?
I've been having a lot of vivid dreams recently. One involved a relative of mine on my father's side who accused me of mocking her when she had a child out of wedlock. this is untrue, as far as i know, but the specificity of that and other dreams is fascinating to me. These are the dreams you wish you could film, or are really glad you cannot. Another dream was particularly grotesque, again with references to my father's people. These things are supposedly manifestations of something, but I'm at a loss to ascertain what.
Why has my mother's phone number in North Carolina changed? New area code AND the seven digits. I've known the old number impressed in my mind for years. Arrgh.
Arthur at AmeriNZ on bigotry, in this case, a homophobic columnist.
Thom Wade links to the Jon Stewart/Daily Show assessment of an Al Franken amendment to a Congressional bill against rape by governmental contractors. 30 Republicans, who I thoughtfully listed in the comments to that post, opposed the bill.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Magical Mystery Tour MEME

Another Sunday Stealing.

1. Is there anybody you just wish would fall off the planet?

Right now it's Glenn Beck. Somehow more irritating to me even than Rush Limbaugh.

2. How do you flush the toilet in public?

Very well, thank you. Well, some of them flush automatically, others with a handle which I push with my hand. What, am I supposed to use, my feet?

3. Do you wear your seatbelt in the car?

Yes, but not outside the car; people would talk.

4. Do you have a crush on someone?

Sure. Probably you.

5. Name one thing you worry about running out of.


6. What famous person do you (or other people) think you resemble?

No idea. There was an Albany high school math and science teacher I evidently look like.

7. What is your favourite pizza topping?

Mushroom & onions. Together.

8. Do you crack your knuckles?

I can, but rarely do.

9. What song do you hate the most?

The Men In My Little Girl's Life by Mike Douglas.

10. Did just mentioning that song make it get stuck in your head?

It's so vapid that, no, not really.

11. What are your super powers?

Ability to discern information that may not be evident to others.

12. Peppermint or spearmint?


13. Where are your car keys?

Lost. I swear they're in the bedroom, but cannot find them.

14. Last song you listened to?

Where Did Our Love Go by the Supremes on a Motown compilation album.

15. What's your most annoying habit?

I have no annoying habits. I'm perfect.
Honestly, it's a certain shyness where I don't always engage with people.

16. Where did you last go on vacation?

Well, I won't consider visiting my mother in Charlotte, NC. Staying in Saratoga.

17. What is your best physical feature?

I am told my eyes.

18. What CD is closest to you right now?

You mean physically close to me? Some Motown compilation.
Emotionally? The Beatles' Revolver.

19. What 3 things can always be found in your refrigerator?

Milk, yogurt, ketchup.

20. What superstition do you believe/practice?

Really don't have any. Don't even read the horoscope, though I have in the past.

21. What colour are your bed sheets?


22. Would you rather be a fish or a bird?

Bird, for sure. Maybe a falcon.

23. Last thing you broke?

A glass in the kitchen sink.

24. What are you having to eat tonight?

Pizza in all likelihood.

25. What colour shirt are you wearing?


26. If you could be doing anything else today, what would you rather be doing?

Catching up on reading.

27. Do security cameras make you nervous?

I've surrendered to the notion that there just is no privacy anymore. I'm so glad that whatever I might have done in my sordid past was not captured on film.

28. If you wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

How Green Is My Valley

29. Last time you went to a cemetery?

Visited one in Saratoga.

30. Last concert you went to?

Bruce Springsteen.

31. Favourite musician(s)/bands you've seen in concert?

Talking Heads; Temptations

32. Next concert you're planning to attend?

Have no plans. But I tend to see one a year.

33. Do you talk to yourself?

Pretty much constantly. And I find myself to be a pithy conversationalist.

34. Have you ever adopted or purchased a pet?

Had cats for years, but not for years.

35. Have you ever been present when an animal is being born?

Yes, kittens.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Half Breed

I have developed a premise about some of those folks who instinctively dislike and especially distrust Barack Obama; while some of it may be because he's black, I think there are just as many who react that way because he is of mixed race. Allow me to explain.

That bayou yahoo who refused to give a marriage license to a mixed race couple - doesn't he know about Loving vs. Virginia? - was probably seen as an aberrant reactionary; well, maybe.

When people say that someone is "half" something, that "something" is generally something other than white, e.g., "she is half Chinese", with the white assumed. (Read this Racialicious article to see why the whole fractionalization nomenclature is problematic.)

In fact, the only person I've EVER heard described as "half-white" by a white person is Barack Obama. Usually the context is this: "Why does he identify himself as black when he's half-white?"

Well, that's the great thing about the United States now, though not always in the past, is that people generally decide how they are identified. What the Census has allowed as of the last decennial count is that people can choose if they consider themselves as of one race or two races or multiple races. It's THEIR choice. Michelle Obama gets to identify as black even with her mixed heritage. Henry Louis Gates Jr gets to identify as black, even though his DNA test revealed in a PBS documentary that he was as much of European stock as African.

But when Barack Obama identifies as black when he had a white mother: is this seen as some sort of "rejection of his whiteness"? Thus the Glenn Becks of the world can say, apparently without irony, that the President "hates white people" and have some coterie of folks actually believe it.

I've not been talking policy disagreements here, so if you think that the enmity is totally based on deficits, health care. et al., that's fine. I'm just not convinced.
The title comes from the sometimes-angry Indian/white "half breed" named Quint on Gunsmoke, played by Burt Reynolds in 1962-66, who had difficulty fitting in with either culture.
Or maybe some song by Cher.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Talking withing Songs QUESTIONS

I was just listening to a Best of Sam and Dave album. In the intro to I Thank You, someone says:
I want everybody to get up off your seat
And get your arms together, and your hands together
And give me some of that o-o-old soul clapping

with the last three words practically sung.

An even better intro, though not a better song, is on their You Don't Know What You Mean to Me, which has an almost preached "Eddie FLOYD wrote the song."

Going back to the earliest days of rock and roll, there have been spoken lyrics within the context of a song. Some work for me, such as the corny Leader of the Pack by THE SHANGRI-LAS:
Is she really going out with him?
Well, there she is. Let's ask her.
Betty, is that Jimmy's ring you're wearing?
Gee, it must be great riding with him
Is he picking you up after school today?
By the way, where'd you meet him?

Others, not so much. There is a truly awful interlude in an Everly Brothers song called Ebony Eyes:
The plane was way overdue so I went inside to the airlines desk and I said "Sir, I
wonder why 1203 is so late?" He said "Aww, they probably took off late or they
may have run into some turbulent weather and had to alter their course." I went
back outside and I waited at the gate and I watched the beacon light from the
control tower as it whipped through the dark ebony skies as if it were searching for
(my ebony eyes.) And then came the announcement over the loudspeaker-
"Would those having relatives or friends on flight number 1203 please report to the
chapel across the street at once."

The original Supremes did it in Love Is Here And Now You're Gone
You close the door to your heart
And you turned the key, locked your love away from me

You stripped me of my dreams
You gave me faith, then took my hope
Look at me now

My heart cries out for your touch
But you're not there
And the lonely cry fades in the air

It's OK, but not my favorite song from the group.

In fact, the LONGEST rap in the pre-rap era that I own has to be the album version of Stevie Wonder's Livin' For the City, all that about "New York City: just like I pictured it; skyscrapers and everything."

So, excluding rap, or songs with rap elements, such as Blondie's Rapture, how do you feel about songs with spoken lyrics. What songs do you like? What songs do you hate? You may also pick rap/hip hop songs as well, though I may (if we're talking early rap) or probably won't recognize the reference.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Roger Finally Answers Your Question, Gordon

Gordon, the near twin, asks:

Here's a question that might lead to some, well, potentially awkward and uncomfortable conversation:

With all of the "criticism" around President Obama winning the Peace Prize, how much of it do you feel is legitimate (i.e., it's too soon to tell) and how much may be racially motivated.

Part of the reason why I ask is that several of my friends, after being moderate/liberal for years, are now suddenly becoming hard-core conservatives, and claiming that they "never trusted" Obama. Although the record's still out for me, to be fair - he's only been in office ten months, and he has some extremely formidable tasks ahead of him...

(I'm still annoyingly moderate, leaning towards liberal)

I'm willing to suggest that lots of people are legitimately in the "too soon to tell" camp, including myself. That said, I too have been fascinated about quickly people have turned with racial vitriol on Obama in general. I may have used the example of a close relative of my buddy Steve Bissette who had voted for Obama less than a year ago and now thinks that we need to "get the n****** out of there."

I think that the black President may have more goodwill with, say blacks - polls suggest that - but perhaps less with others. I'm not saying he didn't waste some of his political capital here and there, but that doesn't explain the racial ugliness that seems to underlie much of it.

Part of it is the VRWC. Even if you've never watched Glenn Beck - I never have - one inevitably has heard that "Obama hates white people" on someone's blog, and that he's "playing the race card", when most of the time, he studiously avoids even talking about it. (And when he does, you end up with a "beer summit.") Add to that the birthers and the like, and suddenly a talk the POTUS wants to give to schoolkids is Communist socialist Nazi propaganda.

You know the old saying, "Where there's smoke, there's fire." Surely SOME of it must be true, right, RIGHT? And if that guy with the funny name hates white people (like his mother and grandparents) and we don't REALLY know anything about him (his TWO autobiographies notwithstanding), then maybe if one thinks he DOES hate white people, I can only imagine that they would not be so kindly disposed toward him.

Take the Chicago Olympics bid. You know I'm with you on not thinking a Chicago Olympics was such a swell idea for reasons you talked about. Still, I believe he HAD to go to Copenhagen to try. Imagine the narrative otherwise. Leaders from Brazil, Japan, and Spain go, but he doesn't. The Games are awarded elsewhere. Obama is blamed; "If he had only gone to the IOC, the Olympics would have come to America. Obama must hate America." It's your basic damned if you do...scenario.

As for the Nobel Prize itself: if he were nominated two weeks after becoming President, he was in the running based on a then-pervasive sense that by electing - dare I say the cliche again? - a "historic" candidate for President, that his Nobel nomination and selection was based on a hope that the United States was taking an important step in becoming a post-racial society. Which it ain't reached yet.

Now, you've gotten me to wondering: if Hillary Clinton, or for that matter, Bill Richardson, had been elected President, might one of them been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize based on THAT historic breakthrough?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change

I agreed to do this bloggers unite to save the world thing today on climate change, but my heart's not in it. I mean, there are still people who deny that we are slowly, or not so slowly killing ourselves and our planet. No wonder they called a movie about the topic The Age of Stupid.

President Obama gave a nice speech on climate change at the United Nations last month. Of course, Jon Stewart on the Daily Show rightly mocked the amount of fuel used by the leaders getting to New York City.

I WILL plug the 350 event on October 24. That day, in almost every country of the world, ordinary citizens will come together in a series of events and rallies and demonstrations and glorious public art projects, all designed to do one thing: make the most important number in the world the most well-known.
That number is 350, as in parts per million carbon dioxide. In the last two years, the scientific community has made very clear that it's the maximum safe level for carbon in the atmosphere, at least if we want to have a planet "similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapated."

Perhaps huge participation numbers will light a fire under President Obama when he goes to Copenhagen in December for U.N.-sponsored climate talks.

Of course, we as individuals have to do more. I may use a reel mower, which I tend to arrogantly think of as a REAL mower. We compost. But surely our old house still needs more insulation. So it's not just the leaders; it's gotta be all of us as well.

I've mentioned this before, but someone should explain to me how cap and trade is NOT functionally like the (not so) old church tradition of selling indulgences, where the the "sinners" pay for redemption.

As the President said: "Unease is no excuse for inaction. And we must not allow the perfect to become the enemy of progress."


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

M is for Mowing

I hate mowing the lawn.

This is not a matter of lack of energy, though it is a matter of time. Mostly, though, it's a matter that I really like seeing the wildflowers growing in the back yard and really hate mowing them down. All things being equal, I'd rather hire a goat to keep the grass down.

Still I found some interesting narratives and statistics. I've discovered that the country's great obsession with the lawn is fairly recent, though the lawn mower, has been around since the 1830s.

In the 1930s, U.S. lawn mower sales held at about 50,000 units annually. Following World War II and the American migration to suburbs, homeowners began to take a growing pride in tending their lawns, hedges, and gardens. During this same time, new grass seed varieties were also being developed, and the quest for the "perfect" lawn became a popular hobby and a point of pride.

I understand this abstractly, but basically the lawn obsession is totally foreign to me. The neighbors might care, however.

Reel mowers were the standard home lawn grooming device until the 1950s, when gas-powered rotary motors developed into more than a rough cutting tool. By the end of that decade, power mowers outsold reel mowers by a margin of 9 to 1. The rise in the popularity of power garden equipment was accompanied by a corresponding surge in lawn mower accidents—wounds from flying debris and toe and finger amputations. In the mid-1990s, design changes combined with news stories about equipment safety have raised public awareness.

I have a reel mower now. It uses no gas, no electricity, makes a minimal amount of noise. I will admit, however, that the overly rainy June and July made mowing difficult, not only because mowing wet grass is more difficult, but also because the rain made the grass grow faster.

One of my neighbors was considering buying a reel mower, but after this last summer is far less inclined.

In 1972, the federal Consumer Product Safety Act created a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); one of the initial concerns of that agency was power lawn mower accidents. At the time an estimated 77,000 people each year were injured by the whirling blades of this equipment. Following 10 years of CPSC data gathering and testimony from experts and consumers, the first safety requirements for power lawnmowers—the deadman control and blade housing and shield designs to prevent foot injuries—were adopted.

Something that operators of reel mowers have never had to concern them,selves with.

The Environmental Protection Agency continues to be a strong motivator when it comes to improving lawn and garden equipment. It has been the EPA's position for some time that lawn mowers are significant polluters. A recent EPA-funded study compared gasoline mowers typically used across the country with cordless electric mowers. Gasoline-powered equipment emitted eight times more nitrogen oxides, 3,300 times more hydrocarbons, 5,000 times more carbon monoxide, and more than twice the carbon dioxide per hour of operation compared to the electric models.

The EPA study concluded that if just 20 percent of U.S. homeowners with gasoline mowers switched to cordless electric mowers, there would be annual emissions reductions of 10,800 tons of hydrocarbons, 340 tons of nitrogen oxides, 84,000 tons of carbon monoxide, and 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

And if they stuck with reel mowers, it'd be even better.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oh, Yeah, Television. I Remember Television

The wife and daughter left to visit parents/grandparents Sunday afternoon until Monday afternoon. I had this impressive list of things to do. Not the least of which is to remove clothes from the armoire I have and put them in the new dresser I bought from my in-laws the day before. I always disliked the armoire I have currently. I didn't ask for it, I didn't buy it, and I felt it was imposed on me. But my clothes had to go SOMEWHERE when Lydia took over the room which had a massive closet where my clothes used to reside, especially for socks and underwear.

One time. one of my sisters rearranged my armoire, so that all of my T-shirts were in one large section. I realized early on that I HATED this. Moreover, my T-shirts hated it. I may have mentioned this before: Karen Sammler, a character on one of my favorite shows of all time, Once and Again, would organize her underwear and socks in such a way that they would each get used approximately the same number of times. In the armoire, the most recently-washed T-shirts tended to get washed, put away and be the only ones I could easily get to. I suppose I could have rearranged them back, but that wasn't optimal either.

So when I put my T-shirts in the dresser drawer - ah! There were T-shirts in there I hadn't even SEEN in two years. It takes SO little to make me, and the T-shirts, happy.

I should have emptied the rest of the armoire, but I discovered this device in my living room that discovered I could watch anytime I wanted, without negotiation, called the television. Since I was over two weeks behind on everything, save for The Office, I decided to actually watch some of the new and old shows I had recorded.

The Office (NBC): watched with the wife the Pam and Jim wedding show. My, Dwight seems even nastier this year than before, with real potential to create actual harm.

Modern Family (ABC): I've seen only seen the first episode and I failed to record the second. It didn't really come together for me until the family actually came together at the end. Look forward to seeing again.

Glee (FOX): I missed that premiere episode in the spring. When my wife and I saw it rebroadcast this fall, we weren't sure it was worth seeing again; it seemed a bit facile. But the second show sealed the deal. It featured my adoptee Victor Garber as the father of the lead character. Jane Lynch's character seemed less shrill and more devious.

The Good Wife (CBS): I decided to watch this because it features actors from other shows I've watched. Not only Julianna Margulies from E/R, but also Josh Charles from Sports Night, Christine Baranski from Cybil (and a lot of other stuff). Also, Matt Czuchry, Rory Gilmore's obnoxiously pompous boyfriend in Gilmore Girls, who plays the same pompous jerk here, and Chris Noth, doing some cross between his characters on Law & Order and Sex in the City. I thought the premise - woman stands by her man after sex scandal a la Silda Wall Spitzer with Eliot, then needs a job - was pretty thin, enough for a one-off movie but hardly a series. But after two episodes, I am looking forward to see what happens, how it plays. The secondary story about her home life (two kids and her mother-in-law) has potential.

Brothers and Sisters (ABC): The tease of the first episode suggested trouble for one of Nora's (Sally Field) children, and intentionally make you think it's one rather than another. I was irritated. But I'm two eps behind, so i haven't seen the resolution.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC): Yes, I'm still watching it. I thought the premiere was a rather good example of how people grieve, in this case, the death of George; it's not all at once, and you can postpone the pain, but not really avoid it. the second show was about cutbacks and a whole other type of pain and grief. Izzy (Katherine Heigl) hasn't irritated me as much as she has in previous seasons, but I'm not unhappy that the actress will be taking off time to make a movie.

But I also watched football. Not a whole game, mind you. Overtime of the Broncos over the Patriots; are the Broncos for real? Interesting how the Red Sox and the Patriots seem to be on the same arc - ultimate success to also-rans. I also watched a little baseball, primarily Game 3 of the Yankees over the Twins. Caught the baserunning blunder on the Twins' part and homers by A-Rod and Posada. But I just couldn't stay up another half inning to see if the Yankees would hold the lead. (They did.)

People often ask me if I saw "last night's JEOPARDY!"; the answer, almost invariably, is "no". So they often tell me what the Final JEOPARDY! answer is, testing me to see if I would have correctly gotten it, but almost always, some major element of the answer is missing.

Well, back to sharing the set with the wife and child; it was fun while it lasted.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Christopher Columbus

The wife gets up one morning last week and while taking her shower muses on the word colony. Since Christopher Columbus was also known as, among other things, Cristóbal Colón, she wondered if his name might be the root of the word.

Interesting premise, but apparently not so. According to the dictionary, the etymology of the word colony is from the Middle English colonie, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, from Latin colonia, from colonus farmer, colonist, from colere to cultivate.
Confidential to FGH: all meals in Columbus, OH are $14.92 or a multiple of same; it's a municipal mandate. Also true in Columbia, SC.
Went to the wedding of Susan Brynofson, a member of my church choir, and Robert Gierthy yesterday. Congratulations to them and their families.
There's a new 1.25 mile pedestrian walkway over the Hudson River between Highland and Poughkeepsie, near my old college town of New Paltz, the refurbishing of an old railroad bridge long abandoned. I need to walk this sometime.
I had indicated my fear from making my first appearance on radio since I used to read news copy for my college radio station XX years ago. It's now available for dissection. I'll tell you what was very weird about it, which was told to me beforehand: I never talked with the host before or after the show. Also I really thought I finally was rolling when it ended. More info, including the links here.
Free Gospel Concert: A Tribute to Mahalia Jackson today (Monday, October 12)
Huxley Theater, New York State Museum
A pre-concert movie at 3PM - Mahalia Jackson: the Power and the Glory
In concert: Sharon Fullard, Constance Graves, Marjorie Rush
Merline Smith - Concert Master
Visit Through the Eyes of Others on exhibition in West Gallery


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Camel through the Eye of A Needle

The liturgy for this week in my tradition includes the Gospel of Mark, the 10th chapter, starting with the 17th verse. It's about a rich young man who follows all the laws, but Jesus said, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." The young man was NOT happy.

Then Jesus said, at verse 25, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Similar scripture can be found in Matthew 19:24 and Luke 18:25.

A couple thoughts on this: There are lots of folks who seem to think that what is meant by the eye of the needle is a small gate or a rope, thus difficult but not impossible to achieve. I don't buy it and this site explains it well as any.

Also, it's clear that most of the poorest Westerners are much better off than the poor in developing countries. Does this lead some in the United States, e.g., to decide that the poor in their own country are not worthy of compassion? When I type the word "underserved" in Blogger and in other word processing formats, the spell check wanted to know if I really meant "undeserved".

Mostly, though, I was thinking of last week's PARADE magazine survey of How Spiritual Are We?, we being Americans. In the print version, the visual representatives of faith leadership were were Rick Warren and Joel Osteen. Rick Warren is problematic for all sorts of reasons, including his apparent homophobia.

But I want to concentrate on Joel Osteen, who is engaged in what's commonly referred to as the "prosperity gospel." Essentially, if you are positive, then God is going to give you all of the goodies of this world. To my ears, it's just a more polished version of the late Rev. Ike, who would say, "Why have that pie in the sky, when you can have it NOW, with ice cream on the top." I find myself agreeing uncomfortably with some evangelicals (as the term is commonly understood) when I suggest that Osteen's teachings are heretical to Biblical teachings. I watched him two years ago on 60 Minutes, and I'm more inclined to believe so after the program than I did before it, even though the interview was designed to answer his critics.

"Love of money is the root of all evil", the Bible says. Even when preached by a reputed man of God.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Information QUESTION

I was reading the Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago, and they reported that betting line and most of the "experts" predicted that Chicago would get the 2016 Olympics; you know how THAT worked out.

My question, then, is: What are your sources of information that you most trust? It might well be different sources for different info.

For instance, I find Advertising Age to be a remarkably good gauge of the fall television season, not so much what will be good as much as what the advertisers will be likely to buy into, which may have to quality. the shows they picked to click (Glee, Modern Family, The Good Wife) showed up on many lists as did their losers (Brothers, the already canceled The Beautiful Life). The point is that, year in and year out, they've been reliable.

Bill Flanagan of MTV has an occasional segment on CBS Sunday Morning where he recommends albums. There hasn't been one I have purchased that I did not enjoy. This includes albums by Lizz Wright, Randy Newman, Mudcrutch, and Levon Helm, plus an album of Nashville blues.

I used to love to watch Roger Ebert with Richard Roeper or the late Gene Siskel, and he, interacting with his cohort, always gave me a good gauge as to whether I would like a movie. I didn't always like what he liked - he had his blind spots - but I always knew WHY he liked it and it informed my viewing. Actually, now I am more affected by Ebert's pronouncements on non-movie topics such as alcoholism, death and racism.

When Chicago was up for the Olympics, I had had my doubts about it. So I was happy that Gordon confirmed my feelings; all things Chicago, I tend to listen to Gordon. Likewise, the American expat Arthur's insights, especially on New Zealand politics, are generally my gauge. And there are a bunch more: Johnny Bacardi on Elton John music, Jaquandor on movie music, etc., etc.

Who are your guides?
My reaction to Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize was epitomized in the title of something on saw at Common Dreams: now earn it!


Friday, October 09, 2009

A Couple Lennon Flicks

Sometimes I see October 9 creeping up on the calendar and have not much to say past "Happy birthday, John." This year, though, as a result of the 09/09/09 VH1 Classic extravaganza, there were a couple Lennon-related items worthy of noting, neither of which I had ever seen before.

One was a live concert in New York City in 1972, a benefit for the mentally handicapped (the preferred term in the day). It was odd, though. It all SOUNDED particularly familiar, such as him referring to his old group as the Rolling Stones. That's because I own the album that was released posthumously in 1986; I have it on vinyl, perhaps one of the last LPs I ever bought. A photo of Lennon given to me by my friend Rocco was almost certainly from the same set of concerts. (Yes, the same Rocco who gets a mention in Love & Rockets 40.)

VH1 bleeped a couple words in the concert, one of them a pronoun. One was in the title of Woman Is the N***** of the World, which was excised several times. The other word was from Well Well Well. In the line, "She looked so beautiful, I could eat her," the "her" was clipped. The interesting thing about the technology is that it didn't affect the backing track, only the vocal track.

Something that I DIDN'T know until recently is that there were two concerts. And Elephant's Memory, John and Yoko's backing band, was reportedly really ticked off with Yoko Ono, believing she should have released the music from the tighter second concert rather than the first. A few of those second show performances appear on the box set Lennon Anthology. John messes up the lyrics to Come Together in both.

Here's a performance of Instant Karma, followed by Mother.

The other item I saw was the 2006 feature film, the U.S. vs. John Lennon, which chronicled the development of John Lennon's evolution from moptop to the famous/infamous "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus" comment to John & Yoko on the cover of Two Virgins. But ultimately, he was recognized as a political creature - black activist Angela Davis, e.g., took notice of the Beatles song Revolution. Many may have thought John and Yoko's bagism and bed-ins were silly; John didn't seem to care. Yet "Give Peace a Chance", recorded at the Montreal bed-in, became as much the antiwar anthem as "We Shall Overcome" was the anthem for the civil rights movement.

Post-Beatles, John and Yoko's activism became more pointed, hanging out with Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale (who appears in the film). When John was seemingly successful in freeing activist John Sinclair, the Nixon White House became concerned about the 1972 election, especially given the passage of the 26th Amendment allowing 18-year-olds the right to vote for the first time nationally.

What to do? Based on a suggestion by Senator Strom Thurmond, the Nixon White House decided to try to deport John Lennon. The basis was a marijuana conviction that lots of pop stars in England had been subjected to, all performed by one overzealous officer.

The twists and turns of that four-year journey are fascinating, especially as told by among others, Walter Cronkite, Mario Cuomo, John Dean, Ron Kovic, George McGovern, Gore Vidal, and Geraldo Rivera, who had broken the story of the abuses in the mental health system, and was MC for the One to One concerts. Most interesting, though, was Watergate convict G. Gordon Liddy, who freely confirmed that the Nixon White House WAS out to get John.

October 9, 1975 was not only John's 35th birthday, it was the date of Sean Lennon's birth AND the day their immigration lawyer Leon Wildes informs John that he'd won the case. In some ways, I think the movie should have ended there. Instead, we get happy scenes of John, Yoko and Sean for a few minutes, followed by four gunshots. It seemed tacked on, though Yoko's only complaint was that the bullets should have been louder.

Still I learned a LOT in this film that I did not know. Recommended. Here's the trailer.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

As Much of a Rant as I Can Muster

Ken Levine had an interesting post about ranting. He ranted about Christmas decorations in September, sports seasons that gpo on too long and the like.

SamuraiFrog links to a young woman ranting about a giveaway of Darwin's Origin of the Species, and for good cause. (Language NSFW.) SF is also good at ranting, himself.

I suppose I've ranted now and then in the comments sections of other people's blogs. I know that at least on one occasion recently, I got rather incensed that a letter writer suggested that the blogger was being racist, essentially because the blogger saw some of the reaction to Barack Obama as being racist. I felt the need to defend the blogger, though I knew the blogger didn't need any defending from me. But I was SO incensed that I was compelled to anyway.

My little rant here, I guess, is small potatoes. My wife is a big fan of figure skating. During the fall and winter, there are six Grand Prix events that take place across the world. Apparently, though, according to this site, the only event that will be televised this season is the Skate America, and for that, only the Ladies Free Skate. No short programs, no men's, pairs or dance. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships will be shown in January, but in the season leading up to an Olympic year, one wants more opportunities to gauge the skaters from other countries as well as the American contingent.

Meanwhile, NBC IS showing what I frankly consider junk events such as Halloween on Ice Starring Mannheim Steamroller or Musselman’s Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular. These are exhibitions, not real competitive skating. And while I don't care personally, I think the coverage of he sport does it a disservice. It'd be like showing pre-season games and the All-Star Game without showing the regular season competition. Of course, the fact that the junk events are scheduled so often may be a reflection of the ratings, in which case I suppose the skating viewers may be to blame as well.

Oh, know what else is bugging me? The fact that when i type the words men's, women's, or children's in Blogger and elsewhere, they are underlined in red as though they are misspelled. Sure I can ignore it, but why is it indicated as incorrect in the first place?


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

L is for Lydia

Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor, now part of modern Turkey. Its population spoke an Anatolian language in the Indo-European language family known as Lydian, which became extinct in the first century BC. Coins were invented in Lydia around 610 BC.

Lydia was also a rich businesswoman of Thyatira in modern Greece, who appears in the Biblical book of Acts. She housed the apostle Paul and his colleagues. Ah, that money linkage.

The church that I went to as a child in Binghamton, NY, Trinity AME Zion, was two very short blocks away, down Gaines Street over Oak Street, to the corner of Oak and Lydia. On weekdays, I would walk down Lydia, zigzag five more short blocks to my school, Daniel S. Dickinson.

Yet none of that, save for the vague recollection about the New Testament woman, was consciously in my mind when we decided to name our daughter Lydia five and a half years ago.

Here are pics from her first two and a quarter years; the last picture was developed 6 July 2006. Some of the earlier pics I never used in the blog before.

And a more recent shot, from her fourth birthday party: