Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Butterbeers all around

Happy birthday wishes today to J. K. Rowling, who was born on this day in 1965 -- not coincidentally sharing a birthday with her creation, Harry Potter. Thank you Ms. Rowling! It's been a great ride!

Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry in the movies, just had his birthday on July 23rd.

Tags: -

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Short Rabbits

I've been going through lots of old files (see previous post) and that includes collections of stuff I thought was funny enough to squirrel away on a floppy. Here is one that always makes me laugh. It's a list of actual English (Engrish) subtitles used in films made in Hong Kong:
  1. I am damn unsatisfied to be killed in this way.
  2. Fatty, you with your thick face have hurt my instep.
  3. Gun wounds again?
  4. Same old rules: no eyes, no groin.
  5. A normal person wouldn't steal pituitaries.
  6. Damn, I'll burn you into a BBQ chicken!
  7. Take my advice, or I'll spank you without pants.
  8. Who gave you the nerve to get killed here?
  9. Quiet or I'll blow your throat up.
  10. You always use violence. I should've ordered glutinous rice chicken.
  11. I'll fire aimlessly if you don't come out!
  12. You daring lousy guy.
  13. Beat him out of recognizable shape!
  14. I have been scared shitless too much lately.
  15. I got knife scars more than the number of your leg's hair!
  16. Beware! Your bones are going to be disconnected.
  17. The bullets inside are very hot. Why do I feel so cold?
  18. How can you use my intestines as a gift?
  19. This will be of fine service for you, you bag of the scum. I am sure you will not mind that I remove your manhoods and leave them out on the dessert flour for your aunts to eat.
  20. Yah-hah, evil spider woman! I have captured you by the short rabbits and can now deliver you violently to your gynecologist for a thorough extermination.
  21. Greetings, large black person. Let us not forget to form a team up together and go into the country to inflict the pain of our karate feets on some ass of the giant lizard person.

The graphic is from a collection of Chinese translations from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, ep III (which I think I would enjoy more if those captions were there). Apparently, they have translated "Jedi Counsel" into "Presbyterian Church." WTF? Very weird things can happen when you take something from one language, translate it into something, then translate the translation back into the original language. I borrowed the screen shot from this collection. There are some great ones out there, including Lord of the Rings (I can't find those anymore, my old bookmarks don't work. Next time I find them, I will snag them... but I *won't* save them on an old floppy.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

They don't make 'em like they used to

It was a weekend for cleansing, finally taking major steps toward getting RID of old & busted technology that has been collecting dust for too long.

It doesn't take long for computer stuff to become fit for a museum, and not much else. Ages ago -- actually it was just 14 years ago -- I was the manager for a small network of Macintoshes in a corporate art department, and generally considered to be the Mac-Person-To-Ask when questions arose anywhere in the facility (at the time, I should stress, I knew stuff. These days that's no longer the case). Having responsibility for all the hardware/software, including all the files (and being a packrat by nature) I ended up with lots of gear and junk. It was mine, they closed the facility down to a skeleton crew and sold us what we wanted. The tower unit I still have, a Mac 9600, is 10 years old! It still runs!! Not very useful, but it's the lone SCSI unit in the house so I've had it hooked up to the old iOmega Zip and Jaz drives all weekend -- trying to get crappy old files (that I will probably never get sorted out) downloaded so they can be burned to CD... then promptly forgotten I'm sure.

Yes, check out the picture above. "Time remaining: About 44 hours." I was beginning to think it was not too far off the mark. The iOmega Jaz and Zips, at least from back then, were notoriously unreliable media. Zip drives were noted for the "clicks of death" that you will often hear, meaning the disk won't mount, the disk is corrupted, or the drive is bad. The Jaz is a chirper, so all weekend we were clicking and chirping along (still not done!!! Gaaaaah!! What a pile!). The old-timer (the 9600 system, which cost ~$9,000 new with all the bells and whistles), also now known as "the boat anchor", has a CD drive but doesn't burn CDs, so we have to do File Sharing over to my Blueberry Baby, my 1999 iBook, which doesn't burn them either but must rely on an external burner, a USB device not compatible with the other box. After this project is through, I am going to get rid of all these drives, cables, big floppies, little floppies, terminators, old mice, dialup modems... and I don't ever want to see them again. I will miss my Blueberry Baby, but it's so slow by modern standards, and of course it's also a dinosaur. My current machine is a Powerbook G4 (17 inch) and it is pretty great but could probably be handed down for a new one soon -- one of those Intel Macs so I can get the latest gizmos. Things just get antiquated so quickly.

Sometimes, however, I really love old technology. Here's my sewing machine which I've had since I was about 12 (and yessss... it was already an antique. I'm not THAT old!), got it at a thrift store for $14.95. You can still see the price written in some kind of marker on the top. This was before these old-timers became trendy. It's non-electric, relies on pedal power, and I used to make plenty of clothes and drapes and everything with it. It's a beautiful running machine and I would never think of trading it for the latest thing.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Google Earth Stars

Ran across this bit of oddness on a page featuring all kinds of cool stuff found through Google Earth. 10 acres! As if making a maze isn't hard enough without making it look like this.

Here's one that's near Austin, and I blogged it a couple of years ago. I've seen this one from an airplane. It's a weird sight. A man has written his name using trees. NASA uses it as a measurement device! I guess it's more linear than Oprah.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rain - infinity


How many days of rain have we had? This report says Texas had 44 days straight back on July 6th, but of course, it's a pretty big place. Duh. I don't know how many we've had here in Austin, it's in that ballpark. (Someone out there is keeping track.) It's just one rainy day after the next. Forecast Today: rain. Saturday: rain. Sunday: rain. Extended forecast -- take a guess. They think it will clear up next week... I hate to mention it but they said that last week and the week before too. The air is like soup but the skeeters are loving it.

Enjoy the vid. It's nearly 10 minutes long, but if you're down here you can't go out and play anyway.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Catblogging - Resting in the Restroom


Hey! Do you mind not taking my picture while I'm in the tub... er... litter pan? Never mind what I'm using it for! It's a cat thing. You wouldn't understand.

Note from Henry's mom: When we still had our sick kitties, we had to convert the spare bathroom into a "cat room". Normally, there is not a litter pan in the bathtub. We have since removed it, but not without some protest.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at This, That, and the Other Thing - - -

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ramifications?

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

Do you think this would include war protesters?

I'll bring the whine


Blogging has slowed down a bit here because I have been in a funk for some time -- and not good funk. A long-lasting mild depression. I am thinking part of it is like a second mid-life crisis (already been on that ride once!). There's a bubble of anxiety growing over financial insecurity, work worries, lack of down-time, loss of furry companions (death is not something I deal with very well), and not having hopes for the future. I have been staying in more, being alone. I'm moody, irritable, and liable to speak my mind. Not always a good idea -- I told my boss on the day job exactly what I thought about the raise I got and what I think of my job -- not always a smart idea to be brutally honest. I didn't even feel better afterward, because I see my situation as hopeless and dead-end. There's another person I report to as well, and she tried pulling all the strings possible to improve things, but the decision is not up to her in the end. grrrr.

My home business is going strong but it doesn't pay enough and there aren't any breaks in the action. When there ARE breaks, I sometimes fret even more. I will never figure out what I'm going to be when I grow up. Too much of the time, I fear I will end up with a cardboard sign. Worst part about all of the above is that it's all my fault!! GAH!

Talking about things seems to make them worse. Blogging helps some because it's non-verbal. Am I going to snap out of this? Can I do it on my own or do I need Prozac?

Screen captures from the The Apathetic Online Journal Entry Generator over at Brunching Shuttlecocks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Raven maniac

The Raven
There once was a girl named Lenore
And a bird and a bust and a door
And a guy with depression
And a whole lot of questions
And the bird always says "Nevermore."

I got a kick out of this page, it hit my funny bone the right way. For more Literature turned Limerick see Badgods.com. (a site worth the browse)

The real poem is here.

Brainy-AAAACK

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.



Found via Monkerstein.

It is true that I am a proud member of the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme. Intellectualist? Intellectual elite? Liberal elite? I guess I haven' t been paying attention to the right-wing blather enough to know that "liberal elite" and "intellectual elite" are negative terms used to group bunches of us together, and then if Ted Nugent's available he could easily be coaxed into getting rid of us in one fun afternoon. Here's a reactionary post on Burnt Orange Report.

This is a statement made by a Neocon with her guard down on a pricey cruise hosted by The National Review. Only the most elite conservatives in attendance... and one journalist undercover and trying to fit in. Found via Nick:
"and I ask them - why are liberals like this? What's their motivation? They stutter to a halt and there is a long, puzzled silence. " It's a good question," one of them, Martha, says finally. I have asked them to peer into the minds of cartoons and they are suddenly, reluctantly confronted with the hollowness of their creation. "There have always been intellectuals who want to tell people how to live," Martha adds, to an almost visible sense of relief. That's it - the intellectuals! They are not like us." [FULL STORY, and recommended reading!]

Alright, I guess "intellectual" basically means preferring to use your brain instead of some other body parts to make decisions. It doesn't (to me, anyway) mean the same thing as "smart" or "intelligent". I think that there are all kinds of smart. "Intellectual" can also suggest being in possession of all the latest trendy knowledge associated with a gentile class, such as being well-read, being able to pick out a good wine, or being able to discuss globalization or the stock market. I am certainly not any of those things.

Elite. That words bugs me, and definitely doesn't describe me... nor do I particularly want it to. I find the concept of “elite” and especially “elitist” to be offensive. One person is not better than or superior to another, even if one has money, education, talent and power and the other has none of those. Many methods used for acquiring power and influence usually could be considered unethical or not deserving of respect.

"elite" partial definition from Merriam-Webster:
a: the choice part : CREAM
b: the best of a class
c: the socially superior part of society
d: a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence (members of the ruling elite) (the intellectual elites of the country)
From wiki: Liberal Elite
Liberal elite and liberal elitist are terms used by some ideological opponents of liberalism to refer pejoratively to affluent liberals, who, their opponents claim, are elitist and disconnected from the rest of society (note also the US term limousine liberal, the Irish term "smoked salmon liberal", or latte liberal as synonyms). The feelings stem from the populist movement of the late 19th century.

OK, let's skip the affluent and social aspects. If you have money, you have power whether there is a brain involved or not. It doesn’t matter what your politics are. If you were born rich and remained that way, then you have not known the same kind of struggle that the rest of us have. Limousine liberal… limousine conservative… money is money and sometimes it buys limousines and lattes. It buys plenty of those things for the Neocons to be sure, and they are not stupid either (alright, there's Dubya, so SOME are stupid... and he might be stupid, but he is the President) (this is not cheering me up any).

“Intellectual Elite” sounds like it simply refers to the well-educated persons in society whose opinions are valued because of their education or credentials. From the right wing point of view, it's a term used to attack those who support science, and I think that's it in a nutshell.

If the Neocons and other conservatives hate the "elite", they must hate themselves... and each other.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Race Against Spoilers

I have finished Book 7. The book arrived, as promised by Amazon, on Saturday afternoon, via US Mail. Since then I've been under the Deathly Hallows Invisibility Cloak, and actually finished reading it late Sunday night. It kept me away from all work that I do to pay the bills (so that means I took a day off Sunday)!! This almost never happens. I can't remember the last day that I didn't work (it was probably the last time there was a Happy Potter book released). Yes, Hell is freezing over and politicians are telling the truth! Really though, I only checked email a couple of times, and did a few chores in the house Sunday.

I just HATE it when people spoil the endings of things, so please don't leave any spoilers in the comments for other people (like my husband) who haven't finished it yet. He hasn't started it yet. I didn't put it down long enough!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Vote!

My Alex is featured in the Carnival of the Cats banner right now, so I am shamelessly encouraging everyone to click this link, go over there and click on his picture to vote (second from right), looks like this. It will be up there for a few days, and you can vote every day. He's won the "Catmodel of the Week" with that picture before, but it would be special if he won it this time since we just lost him a week ago. EDIT: He's off the banner now. Thanks for voting!

Today we found something to use for his marker. It's a metal lizard, very cute but still badass-looking, so it will suit him. We looked for a dragon but couldn't find a good one we both liked. This lizard doesn't look like a real species, so it can be a dragon if we want it to be.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A wing and a preyer

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has what they call "Nature Nights", which are family-oriented evening nature presentations. This one featured Last Chance Forever, a group devoted to rescuing and preserving birds of prey (raptors). It was a pretty good talk and demonstration (especially since the target audience was about 6 years old), and of course it's a good cause. The speaker (presumably the guy running the organization) mixed in more religion in his talk than I'd rather hear, especially being taught to kids. It's kind of like if a doctor is performing some procedure, and gets starts chanting and waving incense around. Whoa Nelly!!! Mentioning a Creator in a science-related talk is borderline (I can easily overlook that), but when you mention that animals think and feel emotion, you can't also suggest to people that birds have a soul and an afterlife. Also, there was a "dominionist" flavor in suggesting that humans were put here to be stewards and caretakers of the earth. If someone out there divinely gave humans this job, it was either a VERY bad choice and a mistake... or... it's time for the Big Guy to fire us and give the task to some other critter because humans could not have done a more piss-poor job caring for this planet than they have done. That's MY opinion, which in this case, is worth as much as his.

I also got a mixed message when he said that he told his wife that she should have no fear of cockroaches, and that if she sees one on the wall she should just step up there and smash it instead of being afraid. THEN, with his very next breath, he tells us that we should not practice species-ism (a sentiment I strongly agree with) in hating and often killing -- for no reason -- certain animals because we think they are ugly, strange, otherwise distasteful, or just for being there.

HUH??? Dude, you just contradicted yourself. You confused me and probably confused the kids too. Plus you just told us a minute ago that cockroaches are not only food for birds, but they help decompose stuff so it can become dirt and go back to nature... and that they are harmless and beneficial. Later in the program he says that killing for any reason other than for food (or survival) is murder. So I hope his wife enjoys eating cockroaches.

But, all snarkiness aside, this group is doing some very good work and has some good messages about cohabitating on this earth as a fellow animal, and this Bald Eagle is part of that. A family built its new house in an undeveloped area where this eagle and its mate lived and hunted. The family moved in and placed their small dog in the backyard, where it was presumably taken by a predator. They got a new little dog, put it in the backyard, and when the man saw this eagle, he shot it as a preventive measure, hitting it in the wing. It lived but will never fly again. When authorities asked him if he had shot it, he denied it, first blaming it on some buddies (...with friends like him... who needs enemies?), then continuing to deny it until his wife and children told him they would not lie for him anymore (not to mention the ballistics evidence that was found). The rescue organization, using this eagle for an example, wanted to make the point that this man built his house in the eagle's habitat. We humans (as fellow animals) need to try to be better neighbors with the other creatures, especially when we take away their habitat to create ours.

Other birds shown in the presentation were hawks, falcons, and vultures, and the unbearably cute little screech owl.

Next week at the Nature Nights: SNAKES!!!! Slither and Slide!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Catblogging

If you are looking for this week's cat blog, it is here (from last Sunday): Alex - in Memoriam. I think I poured it all into that one.

Regular catblogging on Thursday night/Friday morning will return next week.

The blogging has been light, we are still adjusting and dealing with it. It requires a little time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I am not making this up


Click to enlarge.
This Dilbert strip hits home in a weird way. I actually used to work at a place where you were not permitted to visit the vending machines during working hours. This place was off the scale when it came to unbelievable rules and regulations. It was back in the early 1990s but could have been the 1890s the way it was run.

--The workday was from 9 to 5. There was a half-hour for lunch and no other breaks allowed (it made for a 7.5 hour day, but you worked every minute of it). We were supposed to be on salary, but if anyone was even one minute late in the morning or back from lunch, there would be a minute subtracted from your paycheck. Yet, a certain amount of overtime (including traveling) was expected for no extra pay.

--Starting times and lunch times were not flexible. You had to finish your lunch during that time as you were not permitted to eat at your desk. You could bring a thermos for your coffee or tea but could not go to the vending machines (as mentioned) or kitchen unless it was during lunch. They had a potluck Christmas luncheon, and people got in a long line at the food table. My supervisor was working feverishly to finish something up and ended up near the end of the line. Because the half-hour lunch was nearly over by then, the office manager came up and said to him "it's too bad you won't have time to eat much of that".

-- Personal phone calls were not permitted, phones were installed so that the office manager and others could listen in to anyone's phone at any time. Also, phone numbers called and received were tracked, and it was determined if any of them were personal. If they were (such as a phone call made to a doctor to make an appointment), those minutes would be subtracted from your check.

-- Personal conversations were not permitted. There were "secret spies" who would report such activity to the bosses. No more than two people were permitted to "gather" even for work-related conversations (they were terrified of people trying to form a Union. There was a manufacturing facility as well as the office headquarters, but that rule of "no more than two" applied to both). Many rooms were bugged with listening devices. They also had people making sure that you didn't spend too long in the bathroom. Office personnel were not permitted to speak to factory workers, and we in the art department were not permitted to speak to anyone in engineering or sales - not even on the phone. Of course, fraternizing with other employees after hours was strictly forbidden, and they did check. People were watched, even followed. The owner made an exception for himself by having an affair with the wife of one of his salesmen, who also worked for the company.

--For the first (I believe it was) 5-10 years of service you got one week of vacation per year, and the maximum would end up being two weeks per year. "Sick" time was uncompensated. One of the top salesmen there asked to be excused from attending a sales meeting in another city because his wife was having difficulty with the delivery of their child. He was told by the owner of the company that his wife had her doctors, and he had his job, and he needed to make a choice. He kept his job.

--The owner of the business (it was a family business, his two sons were the Vice-Presidents) was a racist and refused to hire any people of color. Also, he refused to do any business with Japan (an old leftover WWII hatred, although Germany was A-OK with him). Someone purchased some computers for the office which had a Japanese name on the box -- he ordered them returned (they were switched with some identical units with an American-sounding label on them, same box, different emblem, and those were OK because he didn't know the difference). His salespeople were not to allow Japanese people to enter their areas at trade shows -- to the point of firing salespeople over it.

--Once they sent around a questionaire asking people to account for their day, what tasks did they do, how much time on each one, etc. Pretty standard. A woman wrote on her sheet that she spent the last 5 minutes of the day tidying up her desk. She was disciplined. Her department was watched extra closely after that, and it was made clear to the whole office that you would be straightening up your desk on your own time, not theirs.

This place got you by paying more than other places, and after you were there it really wasn't that easy to find something else. People would feel trapped. They were so used to being publically and privately humiliated by the tyrants who ran things, and being convinced that they wouldn't make it or be good enough to make a living working for someone else that many of them developed a syndrome. Kind of a paranoid loyalty. They truely believed they had to stay there and take it, or they had too many bills to pay to work somewhere for less money. Not terribly unlike people in domestic abuse situations, but less severe. (I've been in that situation too)

Noooo, I am not going to mention the names of the company and people, but I will say that the business owner and his family (including his brother and their family business) were (and still are although the old man is dead now) some of the biggest Bush $upporters in that area.

Think "Montgomery Burns". Now imagine that he is a real person.

I actually worked there for 2 years. I found out about another job just through networking connections and I escaped. Even though the next place of employment was going through ugly corporate mergers which eventually shut down the facility and made me unemployed, I am very glad I got out. Excellent!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Alex - In Memoriam



Our oldest cat, Alex, is now no longer with us. We have now lost 2 of our 4 cats in the last 3 months. It has been a rough Summer. Alex, as you may know if you read here regularly, had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and had been diagnosed with pancreatitis and soon-to-fail kidneys. He had always had a good appetite and we had the IBD vomiting under control, but during the past month he had lost a pound, then suddenly stopped eating. He was in terrible distress and discomfort all weekend (in spite of his pain medicine he'd already been on for weeks), and had some swelling around his middle and a fever. He was 16 and a half years old! I think that's about 85 in people-years. He had been sick for years, but what a trooper he was!

Alex was named after Alexander the Great, and that was before I knew what a fighter he was, how strong, how determined, how smart, and able to get what he wanted. He was a talker with plenty of charm. Our family-members, who didn't normally like cats, loved Alex because he was so people-oriented and friendly, so they thought of him like a dog. He was completely unshy, and absolutely loved meeting new people. Every time we used to go on trips and leave him in a kennel, they would tell us when we got back how Alex managed to get special treatment -- no extra charge -- they did it willingly. He looked you straight in the eyes and if you leaned toward him he'd give you a strong head-bonk.

I picked him up at the Humane Society in 1991. He was only 8 weeks old and was listed as a "stray". He was definitely "working the room" of potential cat-parents, and we were stumbling over each other to adopt him first! (see his baby pictures at the slide show link at the top) He was so sweet and loving there, then as soon as I got him home, he turned into a screen-climbing, ankle-grabbing, cord-chewing, toe-pouncing, stair-acrobatic Hellbeast. He never relaxed, practically never slept (guess who else was not allowed to sleep?) and didn't mind being squirted with water. In fact, he has actually opened his mouth in anticipation of me squirting him, thinking it was a fun way to get a drink. I had to get my husband to rescue me from him (all the time) when he wouldn't let me walk through the apartment without attacking me like I was a Wildebeest just passing through. Those were his kitten years. (I think he remained a kitten for years... not settled down.)

He was one of those pets who didn't want you to leave him... ever. Those longing looks we got when leaving for work or going somewhere prompted me to bring home another cat (Henry), but we soon found that Alex HATED cats. He never peacefully co-existed with any of the other cats we got. If you are wondering how we ended up with more cats even after knowing about his attitude, well -- that's another story for another day. We would joke that he didn't like his own reflection in the mirror because it was a cat. ;-)


After many years, he did settle down a bit, and became very affectionate with us. He even seemed to pick me as his favorite, and loved to sit in my lap. He'd always ask with a little meow before jumping up. Then he'd just nuzzle, cuddle and gaze at you rather than sleep. He never slept that much anyway. Alex had a personality and a half, and although we are crying over him now, he still brings us a smile under the tears, and he always will.

Click on the Alex label for approximately the last year of posts on him, and the links below are the rest of them (oldest first):

Cat attack

Caffeine Cat Fiend

You Lookin' at me?

Salad and Tummy Troubles

Wyatt Urp needs a bigger tent

Friday the 13th Peek-a-Boo Alex

Love/Hate relationship

King Kong Kat

All the Live Long Day

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at TBIFOC - - -

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Catblogging - Think about Alex


UPDATED July 15 (see below). Alex has not been well for a few years. He has various problems: inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and kidneys heading toward failure. We've been very close to losing him several times in the past year and a half, then each time he rallies back a little, staying on the health roller coaster. Click on the Alex label for more details. He's very strong-willed. Lately, even though a lot of his symptoms are under control, he's been on the downward slope. He's lost a pound in the last month, and can't really stand to lose another one. We are trying to do what we can for him to make him comfortable. Sorry for the bummer catblog this week, but my little 16 year old baby has become a serious matter for concern and worry.

UPDATE 1: Friday morning. Alex had completely stopped eating the food he's been on for several months with no problems. We are feeding him another food, and he is vomiting it but at least there is food going in. Maybe he's headed for another rally. Can't tell.
UPDATE 2: Saturday. Alex has stopped eating more than a nibble and isn't drinking much either. He vomits everything. We will hydrate him, give him his meds this morning, but this evening he may need to go to the hospital. It's not looking good for him.
UPDATE 3: Sunday morning. Alex ate nothing since those couple of bites Friday night and was very listless and weak all day yesterday. He managed to use the litter pan (the injected fluids make him have a need to go). This morning he ate a few bites of dry k/d that we bought a long time ago to try for him. Don't know if he will eat any more of that or anything else. We believe that he is in the process of dying.
UPDATE 4: Sunday noon. He ate 60 pieces of dry food (yes, we are counting), so a minor rally. He got a "hungry pill" this morning which may be the reason he ate something, but the same pill didn't help him yesterday. Still on Alexwatch this afternoon. He may make it through the night. Not sure.
UPDATE 5: Sunday night. Alex is gone. See the more recent post for a memorial to him.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at TBIFOC - - -

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lady Bird

- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Complete guide, arrangements, bio, schedule, and tributes
- Link to Human Flower Project, "Lady Bird's Wild Highways"

Sadly, we, not only in Austin but all over this country have lost another great treasure in Lady Bird Johnson. She brought a lot of beauty into the world, beauty of the lasting kind. From her bio:
The Beautification Act of 1965 was one tangible result of Mrs. Johnson’s campaign for national beautification. Known as “Lady Bird’s Bill” because of her active support, the legislation called for control of outdoor advertising, including removal of certain types of signs along the nation's Interstate system and the existing federal-aid primary system. It also required certain junkyards along Interstate or primary highways to be removed or screened and encouraged scenic enhancement and roadside development.

It is part of that legacy that today the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 requires that at least 0.25 of 1 percent of funds expended for landscaping projects in the highway system be used to plant native flowers, plants and trees.

The term beautification concerned Mrs. Johnson, who feared it was “cosmetic” and “trivial.” She emphasized that it meant much more—“clean water, clean air, clean roadsides, safe waste disposal and preservation of valued old landmarks as well as great parks and wilderness areas.” Meg Greenwood, writing in the Reporter, noted the “deceptively sweet and simple-sounding name of ‘beautification’.”

There is a visitation for the public on Friday, and I believe that we just might go. She was well-loved in this town.

Oh, the humanity!

July 11 is World Population Day... as in, getting it under control being crucial to our very survival as a species on this planet. [LINK - Sierra Club WPD]

There are 6 and a half BILLION people on this planet, give or take a hundred million or so, and that number is growing by roughly 80 million per year. Population growth is one of the chief factors in affecting climate change, but it seems to also be the elephant in the room. Not mentioning it will not make it disappear. A bit like impeachment, it seems to have been taken off the table. [excellent article: Independent UK]

The mantra of organizations centered on protecting the planet emphasize using fewer resources:
  • Save gas (get a fuel-efficient car, drive less, walk, bicycle...)
  • Green up your house and yard (solar panels, native plants, better lightbulbs, rainbarrels...)
  • Recycle, reuse...
All well and good, but even if we all did these things perfectly and continue to grow at this rate, it will make too little difference. The main reason, I believe, that this particular topic is left off of many pro-environment lists is that it will make the cause unpopular. Religious and political positions of many powers-that-be in this world discourage not only abortion, but prevention as well! People do not like to be told that they must limit the number of children that they should have. I am childfree by choice, as I'm sure several of you readers are, and you understand full-well what it's like to be treated as some kind of a freak who doesn't have or even want kids, as though your life has been meaningless, not only to yourself but to the rest of the world as well. Giving birth at will and without limitations is viewed by most humans as a right, and it will not be given up or compromised in the slightest amount, even in the name of saving the species (and lots of other species as well). No one wants governmental interference in this very personal matter, and I sincerely hope it doesn't come to that.

But -- if we must choose between significantly reducing human population growth by our own voluntary methods, letting natural disaster, starvation, war and disease take their courses, or creating some kind of hellish laws controlling behaviors and bodily functions... and we choose wrong... the world is not going to be a fitting place to bring up children. How ironic.
Cartoon from Ward Sutton.

Links:
- World Overpopulation Awareness
- AlterNet: How many people is too many?
- Decor Pebble Eco-blog post
- Citizen's Arrest (Environment Guardian UK)
- Really cool live population counter

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Monday, July 09, 2007

How far would you go to lose weight? Depends.

And something tells me that the name tag would be unnecessary, that you would need no introduction. [LINK] This is a diet pill, and the manufacturer (GlaxoSmithKline) recommends that you wear dark pants or bring a change of clothes with you until you get used to it.*

The pill block 25% of fat from being digested, and if you're going to have more than 15 grams of fat at one meal, you may want to stay close to home... in a diaper. Plastic might come in handy. The drug is called "Alli" and of course, sometimes these mishaps are called "Alli Oops". Make up your own jokes, I mean it's hard NOT to do that.

*assuming they mean getting used to eating less fat, not getting used to the "side effects"... or are they "rear effects"? Somebody stop me!!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

SiCKO

Click cartoon to enlarge. View SiCKO trailer below.
Went to see SiCKO, an I think it is really a must-see for all Americans. If you are an American who has never had a health problem, or if you are wealthy or at least affluent, then you may not see the need to be concerned about the health care system in this country. But there is a great need to be concerned, and to do something about it.

I am beginning to realize that I am very likely, if I live long enough, to share the fate of one of the people featured in the film: an 80 year old man who has to work until he dies in order to be able to afford his medications. I am certain that I will never truly be able to retire. Not only that, I will have to work for the employer who now provides my health insurance for the rest of my life because at my age and having had a few previous minor ailments and conditions, I might not be able to obtain new health insurance.

When the movie opened here, there was an event staged by some medical professionals at one of the theaters. It was in support of universal health care. [Full coverage here]

I am not suggesting that anyone make up their mind based on a Michael Moore movie, but definitely don't believe the lies and propaganda of corporations whose concern for their profits are at the top of the list, and this includes the politicians who have been bought and paid for. To those folks who have suggested that perhaps MM, rather than getting people riled up about our broken health care system, should perhaps be watching his diet and trying to get healthier... what are you really suggesting? That the answer is just to not get sick? Watch your diet and exercise and everything will work out fine? I'm sorry, but that's just delusional, or maybe just naive. This is just too important an issue, and corporations should not be deciding who gets adequate medical care and who doesn't based on their financial bottom line.

Links:
This Modern World archives

Michael Moore's SiCKO website

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Catblogging - Jax makes his point

If this face doesn't convince you...
...then maybe these will...

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at The Mind of Mog - - -

Yippee Ki Yay

We went to see Live Free or Die Hard (a.k.a Die Hard 4) with Bruce Willis, and it is more action-packed and exciting than a whole season of 24. If we are talking about the most recent season of 24, you'd have to throw in 2 seasons. Plus -- it features a terrorist bad guy who is not Islamic, Russian, or Chinese!! {Whaaaa??} Yup. He's a regular old American white guy who happens to be disgruntled and is a lot smarter than Timothy McVeigh. Don't worry, I refuse to post spoilers on something newly released, so I won't, but Bruce Willis is the ultimate badass, is he not? This is a pic I took at the Antone's show put on by director Robert Rodriguez (on the left) during the filming of Sin City, and featured Bruce Willis, Rodriguez and Del Castillo (a.k.a. Chingon). I am always stageside if possible, and when Bruce jumped down into the crowd, everyone was pressed up against each other already so I couldn't resist putting my arm around his waist for about 3 seconds. Well... what else could I do? Somewhere in Rodriguez' home videos is a 3 second clip of Bruce Willis next to yours truly. I love Rodriguez too. He has an amazing knack for coming up with the greatest characters, they can carry the movies all by themselves and sometimes do (his buddy Tarantino has that quality as well).

Still wanting to see Sicko, Ratatouille, Transformers (if I can talk Mr. B into it), and the new Harry Potter movie will be out soon although I'm much more looking forward to the book. 1408 looks good maybe. What's good in the theatre or DVD? What did you like or hate? No spoilers, please. Summer movie season -- I love it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy - Regime Change

A patriotic holiday is a good time to blog against Theocracy, because people need to be reminded that the Founding Fathers of this nation never intended for it be a Theocracy. First, I'm posting this recently discovered video which covers a lot of the very basic reasons why the creeds of religions should not be influencing the decisions made by the government. ANY government.



To follow that up, here is a collection of quotes from "The American Taliban" -- no, not the American who joined the Taliban, this is a bunch of American Theocrats whose words should scare the crap out of all people who love freedom. They can say what they want, but if you are following these people and believe in their words you are going against everything that this free country was founded upon. That's my freedom-loving opinion. Read!

This is from a "World Can't Wait" event, and features Olympia Dukakis reading The Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime, which is the text of their petition. It's audio only (that's why I posted it so small)



Here is the text:
YOUR GOVERNMENT, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in their sights.

YOUR GOVERNMENT is openly torturing people, and justifying it.

YOUR GOVERNMENT puts people in jail on the merest suspicion, refusing them lawyers, and either holding them indefinitely or deporting them in the dead of night.

YOUR GOVERNMENT is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule.

YOUR GOVERNMENT suppresses the science that doesn't fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price.

YOUR GOVERNMENT is moving to deny women here, and all over the world, the right to birth control and abortion.

YOUR GOVERNMENT enforces a culture of greed, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.

People look at all this and think of Hitler - and they are right to do so. The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.

Millions and millions are deeply disturbed and outraged by this. They recognize the need for a vehicle to express this outrage, yet they cannot find it; politics as usual cannot meet the enormity of the challenge, and people sense this.

There is not going to be some magical "pendulum swing." People who steal elections and believe they're on a "mission from God" will not go without a fight.

There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into "leaders" who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.

But silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn - or be forced - to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.

And there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush's outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.

Acting in this way, we join with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped.

This will not be easy. If we speak the truth, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world, and as we get this going we are going to reach out to the people who have been so badly fooled by Bush and we are NOT going to stop.

The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten.



Blog Against Theocracy Postings

First Freedom First, sign petition.


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Briefly checking in

I am sorry for you folks dealing with drought right now (we had ours last summer/fall), so I wish I could send you some of this rain. Can't remember the last day it didn't rain. The mosquitoes are digging it. I'm not. I've been congested so long trying to breathe this soupy air and mold that the trusty old sinus infection is back (is it ever truly gone?). Fever and sore throat kept me home from the day job today, but still had a full inbox of freelance work to do... and since, technically, I can do that from a sick bed I don't really get to take sick time -- plus I have no one to fill in for me. Now here I am, between tasks, propped up in a fog of fever putting up a quick post.

I decided to disallow anonymous comments again after getting some completely hilarious but vicious remarks on my July 4th post from a year ago. I thought about deleting them, but they were too ridiculous! Read and enjoy. Not going to feed that troll.

No big plans for the holiday. It will probably be similar to the one described at the link. Hunkering down trying to calm kitty cats and hoping there are no stray bullets headed our way. At least the rain has lowered the fire risk. Happy holiday all.

Planning on putting together a post for Blog Against Theocracy, and you might want to put one together yourself. Directions are on the link.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Secret show

We are on our way tonight to a special free show at Momo's featuring Del Castillo. It's just for fans and friends so they only advertised it on their website, forum, newsletter and MySpace (I know... the whole world knows now). Showtime 6:00 pm. Enjoy your night.

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