Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hill Country landfill

Still working like a hamster here, finally catching a spare moment. Last Saturday we went to the Grand Opening of the Hill Country Galleria, a sprawling mass of concrete and chain stores that replaced a lot of undeveloped Hill Country landscape. Doesn't sound like something I'd do? You'd be right, and I only went there to see the South Austin Jug Band, who kicked it all off with a free show. The guys are finally home after a tour of the Netherlands, and a playing in a now legendary sandstorm out at the Joshua Tree Music Festival in the California desert. They have a new record out, and it is a dandy! You can listen to samples on their music page.

The Hill Country Galleria is part of a huge development trend that has completely transformed the Village of Bee Cave (should it now be called "Be Paved"?). There is a music venue out there called The Backyard, and it used to be out in the country. It's big enough for some big-name touring acts, and it was a unique experience. You'd park next to it on a dirt/grass lot, walk in and maybe visit the attached Austin Java for food or refreshments, then take your seat somewhere under the huge trees. Sometimes they made for obstructed views, but they sure were beautiful. We will never forget our favorite show there. It was Yes, and we had somehow landed some great seats. The weather was perfect that night and the view of the trees behind the stage was more awesome than any backdrop they could have come up with. The venue, although not technically in Austin, was Austin-weird. I discovered that Google-maps is still using an old image, so here's an aerial view of this venue and the surrounding area before the change. (EDIT: this view is 180 degrees from the views that follow. The stage faces the highway and backstage is just trees)

Not being able to leave a dollar unturned, the developers have since turned the place into a mass of pavement and "normalcy". Surrounding The Backyard now are things like Lowe's, Best Buy, Michael's, Applebee's, all the typical strip mall inhabitants. They stuck in another music venue adjoining The Backyard, but they are concreted in and none of the new neighbors allow music venue parking on their massive asphalt, so you have to make a vigorous hike way down the road where they have reserved an unlit rocky dirt lot. Just one shopping paradise wasn't enough, so now the area across the street has been turned into a hellish plastic "town" with Dillard's at one end, who cares at the other, and high-end shops in between. I don't think there is even one local business to be found in either complex. Here are before and after aerial shots with The Backyard pointed out for reference.


According to the population sign of this town, there are 656 residents. The new Galleria has a million square feet of shopping, and that doesn't count the older Galleria that surrounds The Backyard. [LINK]


It seems that this kind of development is unstoppable, especially if there are enough people who like this kind of stuff and will shop there... and even live there (that's the next thing in the works -- condos on the grounds. The motto is "Walk in the Woods, Shop in the Square". bullshit. What woods[?], and oh yeah, I hope they like polluted water because this monster is going to be hell on the aquifer). I didn't spend a dime there, and have no reason to ever visit it again -- unless they have more good (free) music. It's just a damned shame.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Save the 'shrooms!!

[LINK] You gotta love this! I wish this were the type of protest needed in the USA, instead of dealing with issues of one war after the next, gutting the Constitution, being spied upon by the government... (the list keeps going).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Reel Fear

Inspired by Von Monkerstein, and with fright week here, I decided to come up with my list of movies that scared me. Not just scared, but scarred. These all left a mark of some kind, a lingering influence.

eXistenZ (1999)
This one is about fantasy, real life, dreams, nightmares, the lines we draw, the nature of reality. Doesn't sound terrifying, I know, but this one lodged in my head like a rock in a shoe. Can't watch it again.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The old worn-out plot of of having a bunch of people spend the night in a haunted house for some big $, but this was before it was worn-out. The scene where the person who falls into the vat of acid comes up as a skeleton is the very reason I'm afraid of still, deep bodies of water -- that and water moccasins -- and now we've got the death by amoebas up the nose scariness going on. I was 6 when I saw this movie and it scared the bejeebers out of me. Now it's cheezy and funny, and has Vincent Price in it. Always a bonus.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
There are soooo many movies made about serial killers, but this one is the most frightening to me, because it seems like you are looking at real life. It's not Hollywoodized, and by that I mean it's not presented as fine art and cinematography with the well-placed lenses, enhanced colors and splatters. It's more like you are looking in on a real scene. Saw it once. Can't watch it again.

A Little Peace and Quiet (1985)
OK, it's not a movie, it's a Twilight Zone, and not even a "classic". This is one directed by Wes Craven from the 2nd TV series. It has always haunted me. a frazzled housewife (Melinda Dillon) finds a magic stopwatch that can stop time and motion, then with another click starts everything moving again -- she finds it's great for silencing the kids and commotion, getting through traffic, making shopping less stressful, or just getting a minute of peace. Then, when it's announced that nuclear missiles are incoming, the town erupts into chaos until she freezes the moment with the stopwatch. She sees the missile, right there frozen in the sky, maybe one second from hitting its target. That's how it ends.

Village of the Damned (1960)
Talk about bad seed!! For me this is the first "let's face it, children are scary" movie, now a common theme. And if they aren't scary enough on their own, then make them all joined at the brain, offspring of the same alien malevolent parentage. They know your thoughts, so you'd better be good and obey... or else.

Natural Born Killers (1994)
The enjoyment that the subjects get out of killing, and the media's equal joy in covering it. That's disturbing enough. Then Mr. Bs. co-worker went on and on about how cool it would be to do what they did. I got freaked out over this one and stayed that way.

The Wicker Man (1973)
I didn't see the recent re-make of this one and don't want to see it, but I enjoy this older version very much. It's about religion, and puts it very much under a harsh light, including the religion of the victim. When the villain in the movie is devils, angels, the anti-christ, stuff like that -- they don't scare me, I just switch those off -- gods are not scary, it's the true believers that are!!! This one does not have supernatural critters in it, it's all pretty real stuff that you might encounter yourself in a similar situation. Also, the movie has a lot of mystery going for it, right up until the last scene. If you've seen it on basic cable, you haven't seen it. The DVD has nude scenes (Britt Ekland). Highly gratuitous, IMO, unless they are just there to add to the whole surreal experience... and they do.

The Birds (1963)
I dearly love birds, but I still think of this movie when there are a love of them around, filling the trees and wires, and making a deafening racket (like they are now -- it's bird season). The scary part is that the villain is a perfectly normal thing that turns deadly, and you never even find out why. It made a lasting impression.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and excellent remake (1978)
Have not seen "The Invasion" with Nicole Kidman - maybe a rental sometime if we can't find anything else, it's not reviewed very well (not that that's ever stopped me). Anyway, everytime it seems like someone's behavior has changed to the point that they are not acting like themselves, we say "did you check for pods?". This is a paranoia-enhancing concept, where if you are not one of them, you have to pretend to be. A Fascist State controlled by aliens, and if it's a Fascist State, what does it matter if it's aliens or politicians?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Purrsday Night - Henry's Halloween costume

It's hard to decide what costume to wear. Goodness knows I can't get any cuter. Can you guess what this costume is? Three guesses...

Any ideas? OK, scroll down.


I'm a cat box. A cat box!! Get it? A cat... in a box... oh, never mind.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Missy, KC and Bear on Sunday - - -

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mind if I grunt?

Get the Ig-Nobel people on the phone! The Ig-Nobel prizes are awarded for research that just MIGHT be considered on the frivolous side. There have been two scientific studies conducted to assess the effect of grunting on exercise output, both by Dennis O'Connell, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and professor and chairman of physical therapy at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas.

You might wonder why such a study would be necessary. I mean, it does matter to some people for sure, especially the people at Planet Fitness. They have a No-Grunting policy:

[LINK] Late last year, Albert Argibay, a Wappinger Falls, N.Y., bodybuilder and state correction officer, was escorted by police out of the Planet Fitness gym he was a member of, after another member complained to management of his loud grunting during weightlifting.

Planet Fitness, a national chain, has a solid "no-grunting" policy in place and Argibay's noisemaking -- along with a resulting verbal tussle with management -- cost him his membership, The New York Times reported.

Maybe they should set aside a special "Grunting Area" to make all the patrons happy. And with those shenagigans going on, it makes the research studies seem vitally important.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Beer, Bikes and Bugs of every color

A beautiful weekend here, perfect for outdoor stuff - temps in the 80s Saturday, maybe 90s Sunday. The Tour de Fat Festival was great. It's a bikes, beer and green freak party. The March Fourth Marching Band mentioned in a previous post was not there, at least I didn't see them, but they had the (Austin-based) Asylum Street Spankers, a good group from Colorado called The Reals, and a circus-y performance by the Handsome Little Devils, AKA Squirm Burpee Circus -- who specialize in Jitterbug and Juggling with some Pyrotechnics thrown in. Mr. B had some success riding the crazy bikes but I didn't even last a minute - found myself a 3-wheeler and thought it was a winner until I realized that it had to ridden facing backwards. A little too tricky for my non-existent skills.

Sunday was spent mostly browsing at Whole Foods and seed-heading the wildflowers in the yard (and trying to get pictures of various critters). This mantis was hard to photograph, as his camo is so good, our (new) camera's autofocus usually didn't recognize him as the subject of the photo. He is eyeballing me! Trying to figure out what the hell I want, I'm sure. Click to enlarge. See him?


Here's a pretty moth (above) with very intense iridescent blue colors on his back. I have still not identified him. I need to send it over to What's That Bug? Does anyone know what this is? [EDIT: see comments for the answer] Another critter we are keeping an eye on is this Anole who really wants to live inside the screened porch. Maybe he/she feels safe from predators in there, but is really only safe if Jax isn't out there. For Jax, lizards = tasty. Before he was brought indoors for good, he was once spotted with no less than two lizard tails sticking out of his mouth. Bad boy!! Jax's porch time has now been limited because of the green guy. Below is a shot of a much more common butterfly, a Monarch enjoying the later stages of the Orange Cosmos flowers.



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Another work-life crisis

What's new, huh? I've lost my mind. Again.

I have had some writer’s block here on the blog lately because of all the personal struggles I’ve been going through. They are hard to talk about, mainly because they have been very much unresolved and in the NOW. After weeks (more like months) of soul searching, wrestling with work/life priorities, and trying to figure out how to be OK with putting my hopes and dreams into a sack and drowning them in the river.

I am a recovering workaholic. I say “recovering” because I don’t know if workaholism is completely curable. I’ve been fighting it for many years, with little success. The various enticements throw things off-balance. The latest crisis: about 5 years ago I took a full-time job. It didn’t pay very well but offered health insurance and holidays, also it was fairly easy especially since it was a step backwards about 15 years in my career path / skill levels – and offered none of the psychological reinforcements that people like to get from their work, AKA recognition, job satisfaction, accomplishment, blah blah snore.

So I branched out on my own. I put my hat in the ring for the job of redesigning and maintaining a website for a band that I liked. I got the job, and all things turned out very well. I felt needed and appreciated... not well-paid but that’s why they call it a “labor of love”. Before I knew it, other people (usually creatives, bands, etc.) were being referred to me, and I took on their projects too, one by one. In order to be able to do all that, I changed my hours on the “day job” to part-time, 20 hours per week. My new base of operations was my G4 Powerbook.

Trouble is, and my fatal flaw in the grand design, is that I didn’t build in a back-up system for myself. There was nobody to do my work if I was not doing it, so there was no down time. My average hours worked per week over the last year was around 60. I’ve had no more than a handful of whole days off, have worked all holidays, all weekends, nearly all my “vacation days”, and all the days that I was home sick from the day job.

It’s easy for other people to say “why don’t you just hire someone”? Sounds like a Duh, doesn’t it? All I needed to do was to find someone whose website skills and methods were similar to mine (so that I wouldn’t come back to a mess that I would have to spend twice the needed time redoing after I got back... at my own expense), someone I trusted 100% with all my customer’s passwords (websites, MySpace, SonicBids, etc.)... which very often offered access to credit cards and other sensitive info, and this person would be willing to work for next to no money, including on the weekend. Where are you, you perfectly wonderful mythological creature of a person??

I have already told my main client (an entertainment publicist) that I will need to be replaced by December 21 when my day job gives me a nice “winter break”. I will still have the rest of my clients so it won’t exactly be time off, I will still be on the job and on call to some degree. For the past two years I have spent my "winter break" working feverishly trying to meet a deadline on either a new website or CD art project.

Tentatively, I plan to keep taking care of the current clients until they need a new website – at which time someone else would take them over. Sounds like a plan, so we’ll see what happens next.

MUST_
TRY_
TO_
RELAX_
(even if it kills me)
.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Spokes, Spankers, etc.

Bunch of stuff happening this week!! Tomorrow, there's a CD release party for one of my clients, The Gougers. Their new record (released on the 16th) is terrific! I had not heard them before I took on their project, and I think their music is great! You can listen on the website. Another client had a CD release on the 16th, and that was The Texas Sapphires. They are a great live band and have released a live album. Now all we need is a party held earlier than midnight and we will be there!

Nothing going on Friday but some TV watching, but Saturday we are tentatively planning what looks like a fun event. It's called Tour De Fat, and looks to be a very participatory event that's all about bicycles, living green, costumes and enjoying good beer (the sponsor is New Belgium - think Fat Tire). Do check out the website links (below), and this video:



Tour De Fat [MySpace] [website]

New Belgium (mmmmmmm..... beeeeeer)

Musical entertainment will include our own prized Asylum Street Spankers, and a band I missed seeing last Earth Day (for Nickel Creek): The March Fourth Marching Band from Portland OR. They look like lots of fun. They describe themselves as a "Surrealist high-energy big band ensemble". [MySpace]. I believe it's a free event, and held at Fiesta park where they will be having the Celtic Festival in a couple of weeks.

Now, the whole bicycle thing, I think it's great. My own personal problem is that I can't ride a bike. Yesssss... I DID try to learn... maybe 10 years ago. Miserable ridiculous pathetic failure, although better than my attempt at snow-skiing. Actually, I did learn to ride a bike in an empty flat parking lot where there are no vehicles, people, obstacles, or narrow paths. Also, I can ride on 3 wheels like nobody's business. 4 is even better. So, if I am to be a cyclist, it will not be a BIcyclist.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Off the tourist path

We wanted to try out Davine Foods, a veggie restaurant that was advertised in the Chronicle and said it was located inside The Enchanted Forest. I was expecting maybe a quaint, stylish little cubby-hole, and didn't know anything about the Enchanted Forest. It was truly Austin Weird in the best way. Looks to be an artist colony or at least an ongoing art project, like a junkyard where everything is joined to the things they are most unlikely to be part of. A suitcase filled with a rectangular nest full of broken eggs. An elevated agave planter made from old metal folding chairs arranged like flower petals, and surrounded with toilet planters. A huge sailboat under a canopy. (I don't think that one was intended to be art.) A wall made out of old busted televisions, and much more. The above picture was my favorite thing: the phone booth! They were getting ready for their annual Halloween bash, which I might consider if I could get Mr.B into a costume. I gave up on that a few years back.

Davine Foods was a little kitchen in an Airstream that is parked there, and the food was wonderful!! I had to practically share mine with a bee, which is the main reason I don't like eating outdoors. We'll have to go back there, maybe after the first freeze. Highly recommended.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Big State - Lovett or leave it


Another excursion out into the Wild Red Yonder. It was an adventure! We've never driven to College Station from Austin before and were relying on Google to get us there (not having learned our lesson from last weekend). Bless their little googly hearts, the route indicated was the shortest possible in miles, but was heavy on the back-road usage, and had a couple of non-existent or completely unmarked roads in there. After lots of turning around and doubling back, we made it to the Big State Festival in about 3.5 hours. It being afternoon when we left home, we got there in time to catch the final act of the day, which was Lyle Lovett.

Actually it was a choice between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Lyle... [rant] but the sound on the opposing stage was turned up so loud that we were front rail for Lyle -- right in the front of the stage-right speakers -- and had major sound bleedover. This festival was put together by the same people who do the ACL Festival, and obviously they don't know how NOT to do this, or they don't care. Not only that, the band before Skynyrd was still playing at equal volume when LS started and it was allowed to continue, creating (even from the front rail of the opposite end of the grounds) an ugly cacaphony. I've seen them pull the plug on bands doing that at ACL, and that's what's got to happen. Then figure out how to have more than one band playing intentionally at the same time without ruining one of them, or both. The beer was all corporate, the kind that the USA is infamous for. We DO have some good beer in Texas. Really. [/rant]

Here's a video of Lyle below. It's not his regular "Large Band" but it's a good representation of the swing style of some of his music. It really is a large band, I counted 18 people on stage Saturday including him -- they play horns, piano, cello, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, fiddle, pedal steel, congas, drums, and there's a gospel-style quartet. Awesome!

We've met Lyle. A couple of years back during South-by he was sitting in with the morning radio concert/party down at the Four Seasons, so there he is sitting on a couch, and there you are sitting nearby, and we're all just watching great bands in a living room setting, drinking coffee and having pastries. The Greencards were playing there one morning, so we went down to see them -- he looked over and me and smiled real big while they were playing! He was enjoying it. And afterward he got up and gave Carol a hug and chatted. He was having a good time. Here's a shot taken at that event, one that used to be on their website... and ahem... while I'm at it, here's my own mug with the man who needs no nametag. Oh yea, and Robert Earl Keen played there that morning too. Oh yea, it only cost $5 and included Continental breakfast. I love SXSW. I surely do.OK, enough reminiscing about 2005...aaaah. Back to Big State Festival. After another 3 hour drive home even after abandoning Google's advice (we seemed unable to be able to even one one correct turn), I don't see any need to go to it next year. I still prefer clubs and intimate settings, good quality listening and performance situations, to the big festivals.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Ralph Vaughan Williams - worth a listen

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Ralph Vaughan Williams (pronounced 'rayf"), a 20th century composer of some breathtakingly beautiful music. I absolutely love this piece, presented in 2 parts (a total of about 15 minutes for both) below. The video is just a series of repeating images of him, not visually interesting after the first couple or so, and I would recommend clicking and listening while you are looking at something else. Turn it up!!

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis:
Part 1

Part 2

I love it when people pronounce it as "Fawn-tuh-see-uh" instead of "Fan-tase-ya".

We've got this one in our CD collection and have heard it live with Leonard Slatkin conducting the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (Slatkin has since moved on the conduct the National Symphony in Washington DC, and is currently with the Nashville Symphony).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Purrsday Night - Mere Cat Manners


Henry says if you are going to be rude and get that close and stare, you might as well just take a picture.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Momma Grace and Company on Sunday - -

Goings-On

Having a super-hectic week here! The (lost) camera had been with me practically every waking minute, so I've been obsessing with comparisons and reviews trying to pick out a replacement. I think we've settled on the Sony W80 (so much stressing over a point-and-shoot!!!).

Looks like there's a sit-in/camp-out down at City Hall called "7 Straight Nights", it's for straight people showing support for GLBT civil rights. That's going on now, but I'm loaded with work so probably won't be going down there. Someday these things will not be necessary. We need to get that group squared away, then maybe freedom of religion (and freedom FROM religion) can get more attention so that atheists will be able to freely announce that fact without fear of being killed. Yes, we are more hated than Muslims. More hated than Dubya, I suspect. Not THAT'S hated.

Looks like we have got a couple of passes for the Big State Festival this weekend, and they say "VIP" on them! Cool! Don't know what that means yet. It's no guarantee there will be veggie food. Good lineup, and thankfully, no Toby Keith.

A couple more festival opportunities, and this one sounds Weird: The Hairy Man Festival. Looks funny, but the charity it benefits is Church-related.

Here's one we would do if it weren't for the Big State thing: Green City Festival down at City Hall. That one looks like a winner.

The weather has cooled down to the 80s now, so that in itself is reason to celebrate.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Enchantment, with a small curse here and there


I was going to post these things yesterday, but after losing the camera I just couldn't bring myself to put something together without the pictures I had taken (so I have use pics I got off the net). Oh well, life must go on. I just finished a big project, and was going to use the payment for it to upgrade some software which needs it -- now I will have to spend nearly that much replacing the camera -- and will still need to upgrade the software. Like Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, "It just goes to show you, it's always something."

We were on a day trip on Saturday, headed toward Fredericksburg, when I saw a lot of very unusual sculptures out in a field so I had to see what they were. Right there on a ranch on Hwy. 290, was a massive art gallery and studio belonging to Johann and Kristin Eyfells. Kristin had passed away a few years back, but her husband had kept her spirit alive in that place, I nearly felt that she was still there. Both were artists originally from Iceland and having previously lived in Florida. It took 5 months and 18 trucks to transport their works (the sculptures were very large metal, stone, wood constructions) from Iceland, Florida and England to this ranch ~4 years ago.

Tribute to Kristin.

Johann Eyfells is now 84 years old, but he was still hard at work, and still very sharp. He stopped what he was doing and showed us around his studio, talked about the various sculptures, and we all spent some quality time looking through Kirstin's paintings. There was a photographic portrait of her, framed but sitting on the floor against the wall in the gallery. He said it was by Jerry Uelsmann. I was stunned, Uelsmann was one of my artistic idols back in high school/college. He said that Jerry Uelsmann was a friend of theirs. Visit Uelsmann's site here. It was a real pleasure visiting that place.

Johann and Kristin Eyfells Foundation website. Lots of information there, including map. I should caution that email will not be a good way to get hold of Johann. He is not an email person himself.

After the Eyfells Ranch, the day was rather downhill. We stopped by Wild Seed Farms, which had been really built up in my mind, but as it turns out we like our own Natural Gardener (warning: website makes a sound) every bit as much. Wild Seed had a lot more of the "gift shop" frills that neither of us are interested in. A stop in Fredericksburg for lunch, and got back on the road for Enchanted Rock. I had never been there, and figured it was about time. We can blame Google Maps for the bad directions, which led to arguments and a fresh tension headache for me. As we were headed down the wrong road for the second time, we saw a BIG turtle in the road. It was right smack in the middle of the opposite lane, and I was able to run back and rescue it. It was OK but probably had been through the recent trauma of having a car drive over it, because all its appendages were tucked in. I'd say the shell was about 10-12 inches long, and after looking up turtles (SOOOO much more pleasant than looking up spiders, esp. for an arachnophobe like me), I am thinking it was a Texas Cooter. (who thinks up these names? That's the second-funniest turtle name I've heard after "Stinkpot")

It was late afternoon when we finally found the place, after calling them and waiting on hold for what seems like a half hour, and it was now the heat of the day, I was all tuckered out after the arguments and my fresh headache, so I was in no shape to venture very far up a slanty rock. I don't do that well going up inclines even at peak performance and well-rested. What was I thinking??? So I beat myself up pretty good about that for awhile -- then on Sunday we discovered that somehow the camera had been left there.

But... we saved a Texas Cooter Turtle from certain death, were given a special tour of the Eyfells Gallery that we won't soon forget, and got back home sweet Austin right at sundown. I don't leave these city limits much, it's due to lack of funds plus too much work and responsibility, but when I do it's always good to get back.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

This blog lost its camera

Bummer!!! And it had some pics in it! Some pics I wanted to share today, and some cute cat pics and all kinds of stuff from our Hill Country excursion -- a rarity for us. I think it was left at Enchanted Rock on Saturday. [major whiiiiine]

Jukebox

Found this music player app over at Hill's place (see the "play jukebox" link on the sidebar). Danged thing seems to take forever to load for me. That's why I put it in a new window (so you can still listen while you read) instead of embedded on the blog here. Maybe I need to cut down the number of things on it. Feedback?

Also, let me know if you find any tracks that are just samples instead of whole songs.

First Thursday in October

Every month this South Congress event is a little different. We hadn't actually walked the street on First Thursday in some time, so it seemed radically different. Stuff has been torn down and replaced with shiny new high-end shoppes, and more of that plus a lot more pricey condos are going in fast. We like to spend time at Jo's Coffee, where Gary Primich used to play, and now that he has passed away there was a band there called Chili Cold Blood. One other new development was that they had orange cones and the police helping people to cross the street. Something like that has been needed badly for a long time, but the downside of it seems to be that the police were also bearing down hard on the bands playing around there with their decibel-meters. They actually shut down the band playing across the street near Amy's Ice Cream, and were ready to pounce on Jo's. CCB was rightfully disgruntled but kept going tamed down and turned way down.

There were the usual roving zombies, always promoting some zombie event or another. It's funny to see a zombie talking on a cell phone. Further south it was more what you'd expect at First Thursday, with parking lot drummers and dancers. Like the little Airstream trailer with Texas Cupcakes that featured a couple of tap-dancers (see pic) (more on Hey, Cupcake).

Just like last time I went to First Thursday, I showed up in one tee-shirt and left wearing another one. Here's my new tee (see below) purchased for $5 on the sidewalk at Parts & Labour, a new place next to New Bohemia that has some nice home-grown stuff. (it had a little blue ink stain on it, hence the discount)

All in all, a little less weird. Bad moves, Austin Powers-That-Be. The turning gears in place here are destroying the very things you pride yourselves on. Find the balance, and find it fast.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

First Purrrsday in October

Jax says it's time to get decked out in black and orange (OK, amber) for October. (He apologizes for wearing white after Labor Day)

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Stranger Ranger on Sunday - - -

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

BE a humane society

Chickens are an animal that very few people care about. When carnivores rank their level of respect for the animals who die to feed them, I would say that chickens are worsted only by fish. They are viewed only as entities who have no purpose other than that of feeding us "higher" beings. Where chickens are not worsted by fish is in the way they are treated by us while they are alive.

I am not making a plea here for anyone to Go Veggie. That's a very personal choice, and a difficult one, but one thing that IS easy to do is that if you buy eggs, buy Cage-Free (Free Range). Support the growing list of corporations, vendors, cafeterias, restaurants, and other organizations who have switched their preference or policy to Cage-Free.

And boycott Wendy's. Even Burger King has instituted a preference for cage-free eggs, beginning with a small percentage and increasing it to 100% over several more months. Wendy's, on the other hand, is trying to defend its caged policy by asserting that the 72 square inches it allows per hen is greater than the minimum requirement. 72 square inches: picture an 8x9 inch piece of paper, not even a full sheet. The cages create unspeakably cruel conditions that no living creature should be subjected to, especially by us "superior" humans who pride ourselves on our big brains, and our ability to reason and feel compassion. So use it. If you are unaware of the conditions in the battery cages, here's a short video to watch (only 2 minutes).


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Hen and Eggs picture by Jessica Fries.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Just like Jesus used to make?

This Grapes of Galilee wine prides itself on being "grown beside the Sea of Galilee, watered by the Jordan River". Mmmmm! Sounds delish, and must be recommended since god hisself once took a bath in it, and a few other people too. A little Jesus and John the B dirt would probably be nothing to worry about, but these reports of pollution in both of those bodies of water just might be.
From 2005, the year on the wine label [full article]:
Pollution turns Jordan River into 'sewage canal'

[...] South of the dam, the river is tainted with untreated and partially treated sewage, saline water and fish pond effluents that tumble from large drainage pipes built into the riverbed. The stench is choking. [...]

May 2006: Jordan River dangerously polluted [full article]
Mark Willacy: reporter
Gidon Bromberg from Friends of the Earth

[...] MARK WILLACY: These days wading into the Jordan River can be a health hazard. It's a slow-moving, cloudy green stream choked in some stretches by human waste.

GIDON BROMBERG: Well, to be quite frank, it's in a disgusting state. What used to be a river is little more than a sewerage canal. [...]
(BLUEBERRY: Holy shit!!)
July 2007: Sea of Galilee beach pollution [full article]

Seven Sea of Galilee beaches closed Thursday during the peak of the holiday season, four due to water contaminations and three others because of a lack of lifeguard services.

Health Ministry officials found contaminated water in the fresh water lake, also known as Lake Kinneret, for the third time this week, raising fears over the effect of pollution on this major source for drinking water.

The officials discovered off the lake's beaches large quantities of fecal colliform bacteria, which are believed to come from sewage spillages.

However, comprehensive searches on Thursday located no such leaks. The amounts of fecal colliform found this week are double the norm for beaches visited by bathers, which are allowed some 400 bacteria per 100ml of water. [...]

[...] the Health Ministry also closed two Lake Kinneret beaches for swimming, after the Tiberias municipality pumped sewage into the area.

A malfunction at the city's pumping station caused sewage to flow into the lake for what the ministry says was roughly one hour, polluting the two beaches.

This was the second time in recent months that the city's sewage has flowed into the lake and polluted nearby beaches. [...]

OK, this doesn't mean the wine tastes like it comes from BELOW the Bible Belt, and the wine-making water there may be as good as it is in America where we are known for cow and pig poop, plus the usual assortment of weird, toxic chemicals from industry, lawn fertilizers, bug poison, detergent... Yum. I'm just hoping that wine really IS safer than water... and I'll bet it is. Same for beer.

Grapes of Galilee wine found via J-Walk.

Another link:
Vanishing Jordan River Needs Global Rescue Effort [Environment News Service article]

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