Sunrise over Lake Champlain from Ticonderoga
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Musings and Meanderings
Thursday, July 31, 2003
Ever see those neat little places where you can make comments on a blog?
Well I've been messing around between tasks trying to get one of the services to work.
So yea I've spent a stupid amount of time on the blog today, but you don't get to see the results... cause I cannot make it work.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Name Statistics - How popular are your first and last names?
2.629% of men in the US are named Michael.
Around 3220525 US men are named Michael!
Had a great talk with Alexander last night. He is having a ball at the beach near Watsonville. He has gone to the Santa Cruz boardwalk and has ridden the largest rollercoaster with Uncle Greg. He has dug a 28in hole trying to get to China. He has become the fast playmate for cousins Sophie and Jeremy. Jeremy apparently has learned the word for attack in French and then he yells it and jumps on Alex. Alex loves it! Today (my) cousin Lee Ann and her two girls are coming down from the Bay Area to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. If you have ever been there you know that this rocks for Alex. MW says he has been extreemly sweet and patient. Thats our boy. Now if he would just show those traits at home....
Miss him and can't wait for he and Greg to be here Sunday night.
The "Sir Robin" Congress
Brave Sir Robin when faced with a foe turned his tail and ran in the Monty Python's Holy Grail.
Congress has earned the Sir Robin title in many ways but this one is surely tops all. Not only has Congress turned tail and run from the Auto Industry Lobby when faced with increasing those SUV mile per gallon ratings.. But have actually made it HARDER now to increase those limits.
This is the Republican Agenda America, and you have yourself and the Supreme Court to thank for electing a House, Senate and Presidency for the same party. Take the money and run. Lower MPG ratings means we go through a irreplaceable natural resource faster. This means eventual windfall profits by the Oil companies who have supported the Republicans for so long.
Mr. Davis and his problems
And speaking of Republicans and energy why has the media not picked up on this one. Now I do realize that Mr. Davis of California is not the most popular person in the state right now for MANY reasons, but to pin the electricity crisis tail on this particular Donkey is ludicrous. It was the Republicans who deregulated the industry. Not the Democrats. Can you imagine a Democrat deregulating anything???
OBCD: I have not decided yet. More Al Stewart and other Vinyl project CDR's
Still Reading: The Center Cannot hold (its a long book).
QOTD: After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.
--(retired Senator and actor) Fred Thompson
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
The newest buzz on TV is Queer Eye for the Straight Guy showing on Bravo (where else) on Tuesday nights at 10pm. Five Gay men do live makeovers for a straight man so that they can impress their girlfiriends/fiancee etc. Its funny, not sterotyped and very well written. I have a severe aversion towards "reality shows" but this is just too funny to pass up.
So if you can't stomach gay men, then take a pass, but if you are open minded to other lifestyles then I cannot recommend this show enough.
Howard Dean is Blogging
Thanks to Vacumkitty for this heads up this am. I have posted the Dean official blog site in my list of links to the right below the pictures. Its great to watch this phenomenon grow, an "insurgency" campaign is always fun. I enjoyed watching McCain last election and should enjoy Dean's even more as I agree with most of what he is saying. In the end though I feel very strongly that fielding Dean against Bush is a mistake, Dean will not play in the parts of America that swing right or left, and this is where the DNC must push the hardest.
Every other Monday is Bachelor Night
L stays overnight in-territory every other Monday night. Usually this is "boys night in" where A and I usually rent a cool DVD - either a action adventure or top kids movie and we have something perfectly unhealthy for dinner.
Weirdness last night is that of course Alex is on the Left Coast this week at the beach with my side of the family. So I watched some B-5's that I record on my new DVR from Time Warner, as well as Friday's SG-1 season 7 episode. I still have to get through Sunday's talking heads programs that I also have recorded.
Actually went to bed at a decent hour and I'm STILL very tired from this weekend. Ah I remember when I could pull an all nighter and be recovered by the second day. Of course I was 18 then!
Which one works better?
e-mail me with your answer!
OBCD today: Oodles of Al Stewart shows I got from the AlStewart server - all MP3.. yea but good quality regardless of the fact.
QOTD: Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.
-- Eddie Cantor
Monday, July 28, 2003
Back to the Economist which is only for print edition or subscribers.
It was entitled Right Young Things: A Youthquake that is helping George Bush.
"The College Republicans have tripled their membership in the last three years, increasing their chapters from 409 to 1,1148 and recruiting 22,000 new members alone in 2002"
The article cites three trends:
1) "a healthy desire to tweak the noses of people in authority" i.e. America's Academic Community.
2) "surge in patriotism that widened the gap btw students and Vietnam era professors."
3) ".. American conservatives devote a a lot of energy to recruiting the young."
So where does that leave the left? Baby Boomers are getting conservative as they age. Their children are now conservative due to the alleged reasons above. The problem with the left today is that we are not organized like the right. Not even close. That gap will continue to grow unless there is a grass roots organization created by the dems.
Phat chance? I dunno....
Yes I got home safely. 9.5 hrs of travel of which 3 were spent on the ground in Las Vegas. If I never see the inside of the LV airport again I'll be a happy camper. The nice thing about flying with Alex was that one or the other of us could keep an eye on the bags while the other went to the bathroom or went shopping or whatever. Not as easy when you are flying solo.
I did get my Oakland Athletics collection up to speed at the Oakland airport before I took off. Bought a cool cap, two bumper stickers and a couple of fridge magnets. Geoff came over to my gate to say goodbye after we were separated in Security processing at the Oakland Airport so that was very cool.
OBCD now: "Ultra Lounge" an outrageous collection of jazz covers that have been chilled out and lounged. Brother Greg lent it to me to listen to for a while.
QOTD: Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do.
-- Dale Carnegie
Sunday, July 27, 2003
Wow what a day!
Woke up early enough to do the entry below recounting Friday's trip. Had some amazing expresso from Greg's Krup while I was doing that.
Hit the showers and Greg and I went to GG park to earmark the tables for Sebastian's 1st birthday party. Then we went to the Beach Chalet for an amazingly good Eggs Benedict and Bloody Mary's. When Greg found a bit of hair on his plate, the comped us another round of Bloody Mary's. No harm done and a bit of an extra buzz for the day.
Went back to his flat for a bit and then headed back the park for the fete. What a great turnout my mother inspired. We literally had people there from age 1 to 96! I'd say a rough count was ... well every family friend and relative that could make it! From my College sweetheart to Grandmother and two Great Aunts down from Sacramento. It was especially nice seeing two of my second cousins who I have rarely seen as they have grown up, one from England and one from Baltimore & Georgia. We had the picnic/birthday party near the Children's Playground in the park so Alex got to ride the carousel as well.
Here are the Pictures
The picnic lasted most of the day, and then Steve, Greg and I returned to Greg's flat to start buttoning up all the pictures we took. Greg was kind enough to lend me one of his digital cameras. We we both took lots of great pictures. Steve took a nap and we waited till 8 for Lee Ann and Bryce to show.
We had the MOST lovely evening. Just the cousins! These are some of my favorite people in the whole wide word, my two brothers and my cousins Steve and Lee Ann and her husband Bryce. Lee Ann and Bryce and I used to paint the town red every weekend when I was living here in San Francisco. Steve and I have been best friends since we were both small children. And what can you say about seeing your two brothers whom live on opposite ends of the planet. I have been blessed this year by being able to see them both together here in SF this month and in May in France. I usually don't see them more than ever other year.
We went to an amazing French Vietnamese restaurant right on the same block as Greg's flat. The food was just fantastic, I had not ever had this particular cuisine. We were really able to pig out for a decent (SF prices) per head cost and leave satisfied. Andrew joined us at the very end of dinner and then we all retired to Greg's flat again for wine and conversation.
Days like this happen very rarely in one's life so to enjoy and cherish them is a gift.
Well the fun being over I head back the opposite direction today. Leave at 11:30 pst from OAK via LV and arrive at 11:30 EST in Albany. Off to work tomorrow. Well it was fun while it lasted. Alex returns on the same flight in one week with brother Greg. Turnabout is fair play but there is no way I can match the remarkable gift brother Greg has given me this weekend by letting me stay at his flat and hosting last night's evening activities.
Quote of the day I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us
with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
-- Galileo Galilei
Photo Credit Greg Aston Photography
Greg, Kay, Mike, Andrew
Saturday, July 26, 2003
So here I am in the most beautiful city in the Country.. more probably the world. We are having a MAJOR family fete today in Golden Gate Park. Mark Twain did NOT say the coldest winter he spent was a summer in San Francisco but as I sit here in Greg's Office at 7:30am PST it is cold and foggy out. I LOVE IT!
For those of you who are not in the know I used to live less than a 1/4 mile from this very spot on the other side of Golden Gate Park from Greg's place.
So Alex and I warped out of Albany at 3pm yesterday after spending the am at my office. I got a quick haircut from my stylist Dee and did the bank deposit. We got through checkin and security with no problem and ended up in the very front of the "A" line for getting on the plane. (If you have flown SouthWest you know what I mean by this.)
Landed safely in Las Vegas at 8pm est and then sat almost 3 hrs for our late connection to Oakland. Were in the very front of the A line AGAIN for the Oakland leg and ALex was out like a light 5 min after takeoff!
Greg and Geoff picked us up from the Aeroport (sic). Dropped Alex off at MW's and saw Andrew for a bit. Slept at Gregs great pad in the Pacific District.
Today we are having an all California Relative birthday party for Sebastian (aged one - see blog of 7/22). It is assured to be a great photo op for all involved and colder than a ........ you fill in the blank. For my California Readers please don't be alarmed that you were not contacted about this impromptu visit. The family scheduling was very tight and time was really only for family. Fiendeye, B-water and V-Kitty I especially owe you a visit in the future!
The daily read
Picked up the latest Economist in the Las Vegas airport. My subscription has run out and I'm a bit short the $110 that my renewal costs. The world is a mess! Wow. Now I didn't need the Economist to tell me this of course, but they do the details SO well! I always find something funny though in the Economist to convince me that certain parts of the world are quite mad. This week was the article regarding France. Apparently in France you need only work three months of the year as a performing artist to qualify for a full one years of unemployment. Now I'm not picking on France mind you but really that is socialism at its most silly.
I've linked the articles you can read online without a subscription:
So what else can I tell you about going on that you may have missed in Time (written for 11th grade reading level) or Newsweek (written for 5th grade reading level). An interesting editorial cautions us not to write off John Kerry for the Democratic Nomination due to his "top down" of influence gathering. Apparently things are not going well for the "democratic" government of Hong Kong. European population growth is actually negative which bodes very poorly for their State Pension Programs in the future. And most British are still cheesed off at Tony and Dubyea for misleading them about Saddam.
Have a great weekend.
Quote(s) of the day:
I have not lost my mind - it's backed up on disk somewhere.
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick
Friday, July 25, 2003
Del Ray books has a great corner on Alternative History. (Click on the Alternative History link) With both Harry Harrison and Harry Turtledove in their fold.
I wish to wax eloquently about Harry Turtledove. Here is an unofficial "official" website. (I use those alternating terms because frankly if it isn't www.someonesname.com I don't think it's official).
I started by reading his World War series which is pretty "hard" SF. The setup here is that in the early part of WWII a race of fairly aggressive reptile aliens arrives at good old Sol to take the place over. Apparently however, they underestimate the creative abilities of the Human Race. Seven books later its well into the mid to late 20th Century.
What I discovered was that this Author has the ability to tell a very large epic story by simply creating a large handful of separate and distinct characters and telling their stories. These Characters may spend half to all of the first book of a trilogy or quadrilogy never interacting. His ability to characterize is simply amazing. The depth and breadth of these actors is stunning. Getting into his books can be a challenge because depending on the series, you may not see a character for 50 pages until he has introduced all the actors.
So having finished up all those books a while ago I decided to try out his Alternative History of the Civil War series. First up is "The Guns of the South" a one off book that stands alone where in a bunch of Afrikaners from the early 21st Century go back in time with AK47's and help the South win the Civil War. Thus hoping to retain the place of the "White Man" in history. Although it is a revolting concept, the book itself is well written and a good read.
However he decided to move on with a more conventional twist of History for his Great War Series. Apparently early on in the Civil War a courier from the South dropped a war plan that the North found and was able to use to defeat Lee. Turtledove posits that this never happened and due to the lightening strike and early victories of the South; France and England sit on the US diplomatically to recognize the CSA. He starts with How Few Remain: the story of the 2nd Civil War and takes it all the way through to the early 20th Century with his American Empire trilogy which follows the story of WWI with the USA and the CSA taking opposite sides in the Great War.
So basicly the USA gets its hiney spanked in the Civil War and the 2nd Civil War and then turns the tables on the CSA, France and England in WWI. What is fascinating is the amazing consequences of one act as referred to above. America is never one whole country from the 1860's on throwing history as we know it fully off kilter by the presence of another strong country to be in world alliances.
So if you have the stomach for very thick books, which are written in trilogies or more, and don't mind a bit of war story, then I cannot recommend enough Harry Turtledove's books.
OBCD: Various Vinyl from the "Vinyl Project" (Re-Mastering my vinyl collection to CDR)
Quote of the day: I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.
-- Gerry Spence
Thursday, July 24, 2003
I am freaking tired. This summer has been rough for some reason on the sleeper. (Father the sleeper has awoken!) (10 points for crediting that quote by movie or book.)
I wake up a minimum of once a night. Usually more like 2 or 3. Enough to look at my watch. I don't really get it. I know I am a light sleeper but its beyond me just what is waking me up. One thing we did not do this year is put the window AC unit in the bedroom yet. Partly because we got beat up pretty badly over the winter with heating costs. Partly because although it is humid.. It really has not been that hot at night.
I am sure the general life situation affects my sleep as well. The company I have been with for 5+ years, whose demise I must say has been predicted inaccurately many times, will probably not last the year. At the same time I'm looking to refinance the house and deal with some minor tax issues before this all happens.
But every morning I put on a bright and cheery face and face the day the best way possible. This is something MW taught me early on, though she always called me the bear in the am. So I go through my usual manic and depressive cycle, though I'm much more manic than depressive. Now don't get me wrong.. This is the usual human ups and downs, I don't need medication. Well not yet at least LOL.
So here is my difficulty. There is no question that the company has weeks not months to live. Due to the downsizing we have been through over the last 18 months no one on the management team is replaceable at this point. Let me say that again.. Unlike many companies where you should never consider yourself irreplaceable, due to the large number of hats we all wear, if any one of us were to leave before the closing bell, it could bring the entire house of cards down prematurely.
Would you do this to the people you have worked with over the last five years. People you consider family? Add to the quandary that the Owner seems to be off in never never land, and fully does not grasp that his company is close to closing. Ok and add this: this same owner has proven time and time again that he has no loyalty to yours truly nor anyone else on the team.
So do you go find a new job? Or do you wait and help try to pull the company out of the nosedive? If you find a new job the company nosedives for certain, if you don't, are you less employable? And NO I don't lay in bed at night thinking about these things.
I have to make at least one comment on the stupidity of the present administration each day or I feel like I am not doing my patriotic duty
North Korea is a real threat.. Not these pumped up baddies from the Middle East. If congress wants to do an investigation, why don't they focus that rapier like wit to the blatant mistakes carried on by the nascent Bush administration before the Twin Towers incident, and more importantly after.
The Bush foreign policy before the Twin Towers incident was simple. If Clinton did it then we won't. Basic policy for basically simple minds. After the incident it was also simple. Go get Al-Qaida. Nothing wrong with that as part of the bigger picture, but there doesn't seem to be a bigger picture in the present administration.
So the bottom line in many thinkers minds including mine is simple. The present administration ignored obvious warnings that North Korea was amping up their nuclear program. Refused to "negotiate" with them because it was beneath them, and of course because Clinton did do that. Anyone who understands North Korea understands that ignoring the problem is by far the worst thing you can do. Time for hearings.
OBCD today: the Dead from the SPAC show that I opted not to go to due to cost ($54.00 a head for lawn seats). And the Bruce Springsteen show from the Pepsi last year that NO ONE could get tickets for.
Quote of the day: Resolve to edge in a little reading every day, if it is but a single sentence. If you gain fifteen minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of the year.
-- Horace Mann
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Patriot Act.. Or as I call it Alien and Sedition Act part II
Well now here is a Surprise! An internal Justice Department audit cites various civil rights violations from enforcement of the Patriot Act. This is reported in the NYTimes and Yahoo this am.
Gosh Mr. Ashcroft I wasn't using my civil rights anyway.. No really you can have them. I don't really need them do I? Sure I trust you...
Reimportation of medicines
I heard on NPR (Click here and scroll down to the "Drug Reimportation" piece today only) this am that as part of the Medicaid bill they will be including a rider allowing US medicine made for overseas to be reimported to the US to save money. Seems like a good idea.
But the pharmaceutical industry says they have a safety issue with this. Let me get this straight, we are exporting unsafe medicines overseas? This is the logical extension of their "concern". Of course its all BS, they are just trying tooth and nail NOT to loose their gouging pricing levels so courageously defended by this present Administration and certain democrats such as Candidate Lieberman.
Alex moves into the ranks of the "big guys"
Alex's cousins budorock and dendrite9 invited Alex to a boys night out last night. So with some trepidation and after checking with the Mrs, Alex drove off with his two cousins (the oldest is a Sr. in HS and VERY mature) to see Pirates of the Caribbean. Needless to say Alex was very impressed with himself that he could go off alone with the boys.
So as he is getting into the car two middle school aged girls bike by the vehicle, and the oldest says, say hi Alex. Then looks at me and says, we are going to start teaching him now if that's ok! I laughed and said Sure!
Quickie Book review
This is especially for my friend Skydive! DAWN OF AMBER. If you are a fan of Zelazny's Amber series then this new prequel is a must read. The pace, first person POV, conniving relatives, and the discovery of this new "world" by the hero of the story are sharply reminiscent of the first book Nine Princes in Amber. But not copied, just reminiscent. It is a quick read and a fun romp as we get to know the earlier generation of Amberites: Oberon, Dad Dworkin and various brothers and sisters some of whom we meet in the Amber series books.
Now Reading at home: Turtledove's The Center Cannot Hold - Depending on how you count them book 6 or 7 in his alternative history universe where the South won the Civil war, but gets its arse kicked in WWI.
Today OBCD: more of various misc Prog shows.
Quote of the day: If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.
-- Hermann Hesse
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Alex is off to his week to 10 days with Emmy on Friday. Three weeks ago my mom calls to tell me that SW Airlines will not let a 10 yr old fly unaccompanied. The orginal plans were for the big guy to fly from Here to Las Vegas where my mom or brother would meet him and finish the journey. Same thing back 10 days later.
OK new plan.
So I am flying off on Friday to the Left Coast for a whirlwind 3 day fete. Primarily will be my Godson Sebastian's 1st birthday. In movies of my first birthday I barfed on a spinning top. Hopefully Sebastian will be more photogenic as any big get together with my family is less a reunion than a Photo Op... Btw Myself. MW. Greg Aston and others there are usually more cameras clicking and whirling than not.
I fly out on Friday, return on Sunday. Thats the whrilwind.
The worst thing about this whole weekend (and there is VERY little to complain about here by the way) is that my original "intel" was as bad as Bush's. I was under the impression for MONTHS that Alex was flying out LAST weekend. The problem is that I cancelled out of seeing my brother in laws big 40 while operating under the assumption of the wrong weekend. Collateral damage of bad Intel. I guess I know what Bushy feels like. No I take that back.. I actually have a brain. Also my mess up on weekends got my dearest friend cjwrites all excited about a renezvous for breakfast at the Beach Chalet, and alas the proper weekend wouldnt work out.
So the good and the bad. The yin and yang. But that's what life is all about eh?
Still Reading: Dawn of Amber
OBCD today: Misc Prog shows A - M.
Quote of the Day: In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.
-- Ambrose Bierce
Monday, July 21, 2003
I'm inspired by a very good friend who blogs and his consistency at doing so. I am going to try one more time to run this blog. If I want to know how he is doing I just simply go to his blog and I'm up to date. That was the idea of this journal but like all things Michael it has been inconsistent at best....
At worst.. Just useless...
If I fail again I'm deleting it and moving on to other things lol.
Alex and I saw League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on Sunday and we both dug it completely. It was the Xmen of the turn of the Century. Other than Connery there were no "major" actors but I recognized most of the faces regardless.
If you are not familiar this was derived from a Graphic Novel and (maybe) a comic book series. What a great idea to put some of the last century's great Characters from literature together in one group: Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, The Invisible Man, A Von Helsing (Dracula) associate, Dr Jekyl / Mr. Hyde, Dorian Grey and Prof Moriarty. The sets are very dark and gothic, and the "tech" from Capt Nemo: a "automobile" remember this is 1899 and the Nautilus itself are remarkable and quite gorgeous. It is quite a romp though not particularly mentally uplifting, and very enjoyable.
Alex and I saw the Hulk a couple of weeks ago as well. Now I thought that this was just full of pathos. I can see how many may have panned this movie but only looking at the surface dialog (pathetic) and acting (not superlative). What I saw instead was the fantastic directing (including those great cut scenes made to look like a comic book) and the deeper lying tragedy of what the Hulk monster was all about. I won't make this into a morality play, but I will tell you that by the end I was deeply touched by the work. This was NOT your run of the mill Marvel Comics Movie ala Xmen and Spiderman. Overall I did love it.
music of the day: Nearfest 2002
Presently reading at home: Dawn of Amber
Quote of the day: Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes