Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Sympathy for the delusional.
I feel bad for Tom Mauser, the father of a kid who died at Columbine High School.
He's annoyed at his state congresscritters for representing their constituency, saying that they are "measuring the political winds."
This means that they didn't vote the way he wanted them to vote, namely against the Thune Amendment.
Could somebody explain to me what his late son's shoes have to do with the price of beans in this political fight that he's injected himself into?
It's a fact that people suffering tragedy need to find something or someone to blame. Sadly, they'll thrash blindly about until they grasp a convenient target, and throttle it frantically, chanting "If only, if only, if only."
I feel for Mr. Mauser. His son shouldn't have died that day. I wish that we could point somewhere to a true panacea that would guarantee that other boys like his won't die in such tragic ways.
But I know better. :(
(Hat tip to Snowflakes In Hell, by way of Tamara.)
Monday, July 27, 2009
Reviewing childhood entertainment.
It's no secret that I have kids in the house. These children do, in fact, watch some age-appropriate television, and see movies. This of course means that Mrs. G and I watch them, too. I've come to some sudden flashes of realization, lately:
1. Speed Racer wasn't really the star of the show; Racer X was.
2. Remember that black and white scene toward the beginning of The Wizard Of Oz, in which Zeke the farm hand (played by Bert Lahr, who also played the Cowardly Lion) jumps into the pigsty? Remember how, after he jumped in and carried Dorothy out, he mopped his brow with panting anxiety? Remember how the others chuckled at the scaredy-man, who was afraid of a few pigs? I saw that scene the other day while my daughter watched it on DVD, and I realized something: he didn't hesitate to climb in and get Dorothy out. I asked my 10 year old daughter if she though that the character Zeke was a coward. She said that he was. I corrected her, because for the first time it struck me: Zeke overcame his fear to do what was needful. Only afterwards did he show his fear. This is the very definition of courageous. How had I missed that for so long?
Oh, and my daughters and I agree that the over-heavy male vibrato in the Cowardly Lion song "If I Were King Of The Forest" sucks dirty rocks. We also agree that troupes of giant flying monkeys are still a terrifying concept. We also note, having read the original book, that the Witch had sent packs of giant wolves to kill the traveling group, but that the Tin Woodsman had slain them neatly with his axe. Funny how that didn't make it into the movie.
3. The Electric Company, a TV show on PBS that used to come on after Sesame Street when I was a kid, had an amazing array of talent on it. Morgan Freeman and Mel Brooks each did 780 episodes. Gene Wilder (and the lesser talent Joan Rivers) did 650 episodes. Bill Cosby did 260 episodes. Repeat guest stars like Carol Burnett and Lily Tomlin. Wow. That show only lasted six seasons? Huh. You mean there were other reasons to watch it besides Spider Man?
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Thinking about communicating.
I had some good conversation with John Shirley, tonight. This was meatspace conversation, rather than those silly texts that we exchange or chats by phone. I've always liked that guy, but lately we've been pretty damned tight. Not a bad friend to have, that one. I've been proud to call him a friend for some time, now. If you follow his writings at Wandering Thoughts, then you know his life since returning from Afghanistan. If not, then I would submit that it's worth reading him to know him.
John said the other day that he looks at my dad as a father figure, and I felt no jealousy. Just understanding. His father passed on a few years ago, and I really would rather not have to try to think of what pain that passing cost him. I'm pleased to think of John like a brother. I have a brother, and love the man dearly. But my brother and I are victims of age disparity, and we have very different interests. He's a better man than most, and I have nothing but pleasure when we speak. It's just that, due to our different interests, we don't speak a whole lot.
On speaking: isn't this an odd time? I call my pals across the hundreds of miles, and it costs.... nothing. I could talk to John via phone in Georgia, and my plan has it paid for. I have spoken to Tamara, Claire, Cranky Professor, LawDog, Peter, Marko, Ambulance Driver, Don Gwinn, Roberta X (briefly), and Stingray (of the Atomic Nerds), all of whom live a hundred miles or more away from me, without spending an extra dime. My house phone gives me free long distance, and my cell phone, with 1400 minutes a month, is free long distance. Shoot, calling AT&T, I don't even use those minutes. Remember when the beauty of email was that you could stay in touch without costly long distance charges? Now, that's not an issue. Yet we text and email regularly. It's the modern equivalent of letter writing, I think. Paper mail may yet go the way of paper newspapers. (And make no mistake; their days are numbered.) I remember having to beg permission to talk to my high school girlfriend, who lived 8 miles north of me; it was long distance. I remember my best friend's father being furious when my best friend and I talked for an hour, our freshman year in college; "For the price of that phone call, you could have gotten a round-trip bus ticket from A&M to UT to visit!" He had griped to my buddy.
We can now just call who we want, and have good conversations with good people. Our world isn't limited to bogus "localities,' as defined by the phone companies.
You. Reader: do me a favor. Call someone whom you've either never physically met, or who matters to you, and just chat for a minute or twenty. It may be the most important conversation of your week. Or your life.
Y'all know Brigid, right?
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Look, when you're the sole witness to your attack, and there's NO evidence of the attack, and the attacker is countering that you started it and he never touched you, so that your word is all that we have to go on....
DON'T start lying to the police about things that are provable. You will be discredited, and your case will be closed, under the heading "Unfounded."
Even if the Po-po want to believe you, they can't take something like that to a judge, and ask for a warrant. There is a "credible witness" standard.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Fun with friends and kin.
We shot an IDPA match yesterday. Dad and I invited my good friend John Shirley along. (You don't know John Shirley? Well shame on your happy ass.)
We had a good time, and practiced as closely to life as we play. Dad, John, and I were the only ones utilizing cover garments in the hot Texas summer sun. Dad shot his S&W M13. John shot a Glock 19. I shot a M37 Airweight.
Funny how many people came up to compliment me on shooting what was undoubtedly the slowest string in the match. When you shoot an airweight snubnosed 5-shot, you have NOTHING to prove.
John even took up the role of action photographer for one of the club members during the match. Funny how similar dynamics for shooting lead and pixels can be:
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Am I the only one...?
Am I the only one who sees the 25 year old footage of a bunch of white folk beating on a black man's head, and immediately thinks of the bee scene with Steve Zahn and Martin Lawrence in National Security?
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I'm seriously thinking about getting my first tattoo.
The last couple of weeks, a good buddy's in-laws had been just a little too cute, about hiding the Living Will that my buddy's father in-law had written up years ago.
In black and white, it stated that he did NOT want to be put on a respirator. The man had health problems for decades, and knew what he was doing when he signed that document in front of a notary. He then told everyone in his family about it. Still, one of his children who could not deal with it bullied my buddy's mother-in-law into withholding the testiment from his healthcare providers. The advance health care directive was only honored after the other siblings (and my buddy, who was persona non grata for his troubles for a while) raised their collective voices that it be brought forth, just as the doctors were about to put a trachial tube into the poor guy.
The old gentleman passed away, at last, the way he had specified.
This morning, while doing my best to keep up 120 compressions a minute on the chest of a person at whom's side I had arrived just 60 seconds after hearing the call for the ambulance go out, I wondered: how long it had taken the family to call for an ambulance, and how fast was the dispatch? I did the best that I knew how, and passed the patient on to fully-equipped paramedics, and I thought about Ambulance Driver's T-shirt.
How small could I get that, tattooed on my chest, and still have it be legible?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I'm not much of a fan of musicals, but...
...if you're a fan of Joss Whedon's (and I am), may I point out that his most excellent short musical in three parts, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, is available for frickin' FREE at Hulu.com.
I love that it's got an on-again, off-again video blog type format to it. (though this does seem to drift away.)
(Hat-tip to LawDog, who told me about this a year ago, but I was too cheap to download it for a fee.)
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Well at least it's a dry heat.
...which is actually why this weather forecast and report of current conditions ain't so bad, really. No, really.
(Click To EmBiggen.)
Labels: speaking of the weather
I had dinner last night with some of my favorite people.
John Shirley, for one. My mother, for another. Then I had my wife and my two girls at the table all at once, which is lately a bit too rare a circumstance. We had my Carribean grilled chicken with
My mom especially liked John more than a little bit. I had thought that she would, and was glad to be there while they made each other's meatspace acquaintance. My home was honored by his presence, and I hope that he'll allow me to host him again.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Yeah, it's Texas. It gets hot. Get over it.
Before work today, I have to mow, and go up in the attic and get something heavy down, and... what the hell am I waiting for?!? It's going to be hot.
Those who are discussing how cool it is up north are invited to enjoy a nice big cuppa shut the hell up.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Beauty is where you find it.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Retro has its limitations.
Look, I think steampunk callbacks to the Gilded Age and before are just kewler than heck.
But if you are home with your children in your frame house, and surmise that you've just had a drive-by (fellow going to his night-shift job) shooting (neighbor kids setting off some leftover firecrackers) out front, and your response is to:
Text your spouse about what you saw and heard, and
Ask what to do, and
Ruminate on his suggestion (via text!) to call the cops, and
Commiserate with your neighbor via phone, before finally
Calling the cops, then
I question whether you're fit to actually be taking care of those children at all.
When you're calling in an Emergency, don't just be a bear; be a grizzly.
While it's true that this person was wrong about her suppositions, I'm fine with that part. Heck, put a couple of walls between me and five evenly-spaced firecrackers, and I'd be hard-pressed to guarantee that it's not small caliber pistol-fire. Those who swear that they can tell the difference, without knowing the exact surface construction of the area of the discharge or what acoustic interference may lie between them and the source, are simply blowing smoke.
By all means, call the cops. But don't turn your whiz-bang, more-processing-power-and-better-communications-than-the-Apollo-astronauts-had-cell-phone into an 1850's telegraph key to do it. Excuse me-- to discuss doing it. You are empowered. There's a 9 key. There's a 1 key. There's a Send key. Make a cop come.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Where my nose begins.
To a certain guy who griped at me last night:
Look, I'm on your side about you getting to express your joy at the freedoms we enjoy, on Independence Day. I want you to get to go out and do it. But when you moved into a neighborhood that is cheek-and-jowl enough to actually have a Home Owner's Association, you knew what you were getting into.
Don't be surprised when the same cop who gave you a warning about firing off aerial fireworks in your neighborhood last year decides to write you a ticket for conducting random probability arson experiments this year.
The county is afire with mysterious fires and no one to stand up and take responsibility for them. Fine. But in the moderately-heavily populated area you're in, your finely-crafted Chinese or Mexican firework that arcs over the fence to fizzle on someone's roof rather than pop with celebration 100 feet over your yard can mean that your neighbor has to run the risk of losing everything he has. I'm sure YOU're the one who will stand up and say "Oh, my bad. Lemme pick up that insurance deductible for you."
My favorite comment was "The government gives us the tools to celebrate, but won't let us use them."
Huh? I know that my government is redistributing the wealth at mighty high speed, but where, exactly, does one get in on this fireworks distribution program? And how does that work, exactly? Are there race-based initiatives? If so, where do whistling chasers and Black Cats fall in this program?
I'll confess to being dumbfounded by this twisted logic, and I withdrew before I had trouble finding my way to my car from that rabbit hole.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
233 years ago today
This nation declared its independence.
It seems silly to say "this nation," when you consider how different it is now from that fledgling creature that barely took off, and somehow flew. But, just as a newborn eaglet fresh from its egg bears little resemblance to the adult eagle that it will become, that little nation grew. It retained its name. It retained its origins. It retained its founders as its founders. Whether officially or not, it retained its language, more or less.
Ideals have changed. Goals have changed. But we are still a nation of states [little S] united, on the continent of North America.
Am I proud of this nation? Certainly. Am I blind to its flaws? No, not at all. But while I may not like the precise heading on the course that we seem to have plotted by popular vote (a hell of a way to run a bridge, I'll tell you), I don't think that we're headed into shoal water just yet. (What is it about this national talk that makes me want to wax metaphoric? Which is it? An eagle? Or a ship?)
Today, the Natl. Park Service re-opened the crown of Lady Liberty to visits by visitors. You have to buy a ticket to go up, so plan ahead. If I ever find myself in the vicinity of New York, I suppose that I will be unable to resist going up.
Because I work this evening, I suppose that my Independence Day festivities occurred last night. We had friends over, and consumed enormous steaks, a surprisingly good green salad, and perfect baked potatoes. None of us had room for desert. For breakfast today, I got to eat steak. Tell me THAT's not a holiday.