Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Just what I need... more "Dead" appliances!

Found this link through Dave Barry's blog (see sidebar). Jerry Garcia's toilets, dishwashers, freezer... I'd rather have the furniture though. It has not been a good year for appliances here, but looking at it that way, it's been a good year to replace them.

EDIT Dec. 1: R.I.P to our poor long-suffering microwave.

Johnny Cash Action Figure

The other JC being celebrated this season! I have still not seen Walk the Line, it was sold out when we tried to go, but definitely planning on seeing it. I grew up with his music, he was one of those rare artists that both my parents liked. Like that quote from The Blues Brothers movie about what kind of music they had at Bob's Country Bunker: "Both kinds! Country AND Western." My mother liked the more folksy stuff, western and Bluegrass: Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe, Marty Robbins, Carter Family. My dad liked Honky-Tonk: Ray Price, Patsy Cline, Lefty Frizzell. But Johnny Cash suited them both, and I was always a fan as well. He was one-of-a-kind.

Get yours here. If you are in Austin, you can get one at Waterloo Records.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

This Utopia is too small for both of us!

I was reading this article on the Ten Stupidest Utopias, and thinking that almost any vision of a Utopia would get stupid quickly. Either that, or one person's ideal world would be another person's hell. Maybe it's as simple as being somewhere... anywhere else... and out of your current situation.

Would it be a place where there was peace? I am pro-peace and anti-war, but my real feeling about peace is that it will not exist as long as there are living beings. Life itself creates a war of survival. Even plants tangle each other out, I just don't know how they feel about it... heh heh... but people and other animals are never going to get along because they never have. Is it even possible?

This quote from Bertrand Russell sums it up:
This, however, is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peace will return.
-- Bertrand Russell (attributed: source unknown)

Right now there is peace on the moon, but would you want to live there? You can get your moon real estate through a Chinese firm that is financed by the US-based Lunar Embassy, you can even reserve your extra-terrestrial domain name ending in things like .lunar, .space, and .uranus (now THAT's ambitious!) All I can say is that I'll be surprised if Wal-Mart hasn't already bought a few acres... just in case.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Nerd score

I am nerdier than 71% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Snagged through Agitprop

Another gorgeous day!

Wow! The temperatures have been unseasonably warm, even for here. It's like summer (well, not Texas summer... more like a far northern summer) with light breezes. Still, the yards are filling up with decorative snowmen and fake snowflakes and fat guys wearing red furry parkas.

Davidson Loehr delivered another good sermon (which should be archived here in a week or so) on many of the wise sayings by both secular and less-secular folks, and how sometimes they mean essentially the same things. Here's a quote from Davidson that I liked: "Saying atheism is a religion is like saying baldness is a hair color". This was before discussing a quote from Bertrand Russell.

Also, our friends Pieces of East are back briefly from their gypsy journeys in the touring van. They played at the church and it was nice to see them. They are headed right back out there going coast to coast very shortly.

I think that was Jimmie Dale Gilmore we saw leaving the parking lot at Home Depot. He must be a neighbor (which reminds me I've been meaning to pick up his latest album). We've seen him around this area before.

Now I am sitting at the computer looking out the window watching my husband do yard work on this fabulous day. Gotta love that!!

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Another week of non-perishables

I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, very quickly but not in time to use lightning-fast reflexes to move Alex from the loveseat to the tile floor so he could be sick in a more convenient place for the humans. Poor kitty!! He's definitely not out of the woods with his tummy problem. Oh well, it gets the slipcovers and throw pillows washed. An accepted part of life with cats, or any other messy loved ones.

Then I find out that our FRIGIDAIRE refrigerator that was supposed to be fixed yesterday in a 3-hour visit by a repairman, and this after 2 weeks of basically waiting on parts and repair, is still NOT working. Our next appointment is next Friday, the 2nd of December. sheeesh. And we almost bought groceries yesterday thinking that we'd be putting them in a working fridge. At least some things go well.

This was a free refrigerator, my husband won it in a drawing, so that's our consolation here and we shouldn't look this gift horse in the mouth.

Friday, November 25, 2005

What would Elrond watch?

One of my favorite peeves, weather forecasters, were blissfully wrong about the weather today. It was supposed to be in the 60s with rain for the next couple of days, instead today it is about 80 by our thermometers and mostly sunny. (We do really need rain, so I hope it does show up tomorrow or later today.) This is a day that would not be out of place in Rivendell, even without the influence of Vilya, Elrond's Ring of Power. We don't get spectacular autumn colors like some places do (and I'm sure there's no cactus in Rivendell), but we are at our maximum Fall colors now with a few leaves still drifting down.

Most of the color comes from fall flower blooms and butterflies -- we are being invaded by butterflies now and they seem to love this yard. The mosquitoes froze a couple of weeks ago but there are still plenty of buzzing bees everywhere along with the butterflies. I'm not so good at identifying some of these, they're either Monarchs, Queens, or Viceroys, see What's that bug?

This one I know is a Red Admiral.

In spite of the great weather, we are watching lots of movies and videos. Recent movie list: Good Night, And Good Luck. (the best of the lot), Harry Potter & Goblet of Fire (pretty good but none of the movies come anywhere close to being as good as the books, and I have casting peeves with the HP movies), Ringers -- Lord of the Fans, and Alien Resurrection. Still in the stack, a re-viewing of the absolutely delightful Big Fish, and my new purchased Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I am really psyched over King Kong! Saw another new trailer for it yesterday. Syriana looks good. Narnia gets a shrug. We will see it on the big screen for the best visuals. Not overly excited over it except that it was done with Weta over in New Zealand. I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and got rid of my Chronicles of Narnia book. Did not care for it, but will give the movie a chance.

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Friday Cat - Duncan and New Drinking Songs

Duncan got a clean bill of health at the vet. His appetite must also be healthy because he's gained ANOTHER pound since last year, bringing him to 17 pounds. He's a great big tub o' love, and 100% silly. This is his favorite way to be held, resting between your arms with his belly swinging in the middle. If it wasn't goofy, it wouldn't be him. It really relaxes him to be held like this. He will almost let you trim his claws.

This week I've got a few local items to blog, including 2 you can buy. The first one is "Backyard Cat" (from nearby Round Rock), basically a cat version of a leg-iron. It doesn't look like it hurts the cat, but it does give them the silly walks as they drag this pillow-thingie around, and it's supposed to discourage them from jumping over a fence, climbing the curtains, etc. There are a couple of videos on the site. I recommend the Demo, for the best video of cats walking with bags tied to them. Actually, it might be a helpful product but I wouldn't use it myself, mainly because it's like the invisible fence... you can keep your pet in the yard with it, but coyotes, raccoons, and other neighborhood critters including loose cats and dogs can still come into your yard and beat up or even kill your poor kitty-cat since they will not be equipped with deterrent collars, or Backyard Cat bags. I guess it could be helpful for some situations.

The next item is just pure cat-lover's delight, it's the new CD "Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers" by Marc Gunn of the Brobdingnagian Bards. I have to think that your cats will like it too, as there are some parts where they could sing along. We saw Marc last weekend playing the CD release at Things Celtic, and it was cat-loving fun! Check it out here.

A co-worker told me that they have been seeing jaguarundi down near the lake catching fish. They are pretty rare, especially this far north. I don't know much about it, other than it's kind of a cat-weasel. Isn't it cute?

- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at IMAO on Sunday - - - -

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Embarrassing confession

I really like the cranberry sauce that comes in a can and looks like the can when you're eating it! I really don't like any other version of cranberry sauce.

This guy and his staff did some experiment with it with plates and pennies. Even though he is abusing my favorite version of cranberry sauce and encouraging others to do the same, he is somewhat redeemed by the LiveStrong bracelet (Go Lance).

Veggie Burger and a Butterbeer, please!

Thanksgiving is kind of a non-holiday to me. I have a job where I get a couple of days off, so that alone is cause for celebration, but the day itself has always been an uncomfortable and awkward one. As a kid, the gatherings on both sides of the family were pretty dysfunctional, and the word "fun" does not belong in the middle of that word. It was always a dreaded event.

I no longer see any of those people anymore, most are dead now, the rest are far away somewhere and I have no reason to seek them out (and vice versa). Before moving here, it was a day to spend with the in-laws, just a day when people would eat enough in one meal to last them a week, then waddle over to the TV. My husband's folks are nice people for a bunch of Republicans, so the day would be pleasant enough as long as he didn't start some political discussion and then leave me stranded alone in the middle of it while he enjoyed himself elsewhere. It was for those situations that I liked to bring my own transportation so I could bail out before panic and anxiety took over. His family gatherings are brimming with wine, beer and other popular drinks, and for awhile we had a tradition of getting liquored up, then going out looking at impressive empty houses that were for sale (one of them was a real estate agent). Unethical as hell, but at least it was fun. (EDIT: the driver was sober, and we didn't mess anything up)

Since we moved away, I see no point in generating some huge mess in the kitchen just so I can gain 5 pounds, so we go out. For the past 3 years we've found ourselves a good solution to the whole problem -- we go to the Alamo Drafthouse (one of my favorite places) and watch some new release. They've got enough veggie choices on the menu, wine, dessert, the works. Tomorrow we've got tickets for the new Harry Potter, a boy with a very dysfunctional family -- so how appropriate for commemorating Thanksgivings Passed! Actually, generating a huge mess in the kitchen isn't even possible now (boo-hoo). Our refrigerator is still broken (second week now!!) and we are still getting by with a little beer-sized fridge.

EDIT2: Check out this great forecast! Rain coming after that and it will get in the 60s for a high, but we need the water.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

November 22

I always have some sadness on this day because it's the anniversary of the JFK assassination. An even sadder fact is that if I just call it the "Kennedy assassination" it needs to be distinguished from the RFK assassination. The Kennedys were very popular at our house. My mother loved them, including wives and kids, and so did I. I had scrapbooks filled with Kennedy clippings, pics from Life and Look magazine, anything I came across... Jackie, John-John, Caroline, Bobby... I was 7 when JFK was elected, and it was before the Beatles came along, so they, along with the Mercury astronauts, were my idealized heroes. I remember that day in 1963 like it was yesterday. Some things just get fused in your brain, they make deeper grooves and having more lasting impact than others. I was at school when we heard that the President had been shot. They wheeled one of those TVs on a tall rolling cart into the classroom, and after just a few minutes we were sent home. It was a shock that wouldn't wear off. For days we were glued to the television, watched Walter Cronkite tearfully report that the President was dead, watched Lee Harvey Oswald shot in the stomach, the swearing in of LBJ, there was the funeral march with the drums, Jackie in her black veil, John-John saluted his father's casket. I have never seen such dignity. It was all quite unimaginable and unthinkable. We cried until the tears were gone.

A few years later, conspiracy theories began to be formed and documented. My mother bought several books of this type: Six Seconds in Dallas, Rush to Judgment, The Witnesses, and more. A few years later I read these books and a stack more on the subject. Only one thing is really clear to me, that it was not the work of Lee Harvey Oswald, lone gunman. Alright, two things: that there has been so much evidence destroyed or lost, along with witnesses deceased that the whole truth will never be known. You have to decide if a partial-truth can be called a truth at all. The Warren Commission bases its conclusion on the magic bullet, the pristine bullet that supposedly hit both JFK and Connally, then exited their bodies with less of it missing than still remained in Connally.

The most intriguing and convincing theories to me are laid out in books by Col. L. Fletcher Prouty , Jim Garrison , Mark Lane, and "Coup D'Etat in America" by Weberman/Canfield. Forget Oliver Stone unless you're really familiar with this topic, there is enough bungled and confusing information out there for real without adding [another] deliberately embellished retelling... the same fundamentally, yet plot-twisted, embellished, edited and enhanced for the screen.

About 6 years ago, I visited Dealey Plaza. It was my first and last visit. I was amazed at how the area still looks very much the same as it did then. I walked all over the grounds, the Grassy Knoll, the picket fence, train tracks, the Texas School Book Depository. There is a museum and bookstore there now. The whole time I was in Dealey Plaza was spent crying hard. It still seems like yesterday, and walking that area was like being in a living nightmare. Since I've grown up (assuming I have grown up), the Kennedys have come to seem more like real people with real problems and fallibilities. It wasn't a storybook tale where there's a happily-ever-after. Yes, they are absolutely filthy rich and priveleged, and always were, but I've never been able to comprehend how people tolerated watching their husbands, fathers, and brothers killed over and over and over on television, having to relive the horror of that soooo many times for soooo many years. I doubt that I could survive all those things and keep my sanity. There are things that money and power will not buy.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Congratulations! It's.. a little old man!

I am a sucker for baby animals. Look at this little gorilla from Busch Gardens! And that hat!! hee hee! Cute.

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My Big Damn Heroes

It's funny how your dream man or woman will differ wildly from what you'd actually want in real life. Mine are usually some kind of movie or TV characters, as opposed to being the actor playing them, who I think of as a real person (well, duh...). But really, thinking of them as a real person takes all the fantasy fun away and they turn into a spoiled, bad-tempered womanizer who smells bad.

I always had a thing for space cowboys. When I was a young teenager I liked Captain Kirk. OK, I still like Captain Kirk. He accomplishes the task with quick thinking and a fast draw. Hot-headed and impulsive but with a heart of gold. Has to do the right thing.

Another big deal for me was Han Solo. All the same reasons, but even better because he's outside the grid. My latest Han Solo is Captain Malcolm Reynolds. He's even further off the grid than Solo and arguably more likely to shoot first.

All fine qualities... fine qualities... but the man I'm married to is a gardener. (Gardening is a hobby, he has a cube-world day job where he calls people on the phone all day and leaves at 4:30.) The plants are mostly natives (xeriscape!) and he got us a rain barrel for the occasional water needed, and the yard is full of wild beautiful plants, butterflies and birds. He also does laundry, fills the dishwasher, vacuums, cooks basic stuff, and is super cat-daddy to the 4 boys. By now, you're wondering what chores I do... heh heh... and NO, you can't borrow him. Also, he's into recycling, buys organic, is a member of the Sierra Club, and gives a buck to a homeless person just because they're most likely having a sucky day. We like the same movies, TV shows and political rallies. He will stop the car to move a turtle out of harm's way.

I shudder to think how he would handle a gun. I don't want them in the house, so I never want to know the answer to that. Also, he smells MUCH better than anyone who's been in space for an extended period... or running through a jungle, or chasing orcs, sleeping with a dwarf or a Wookiee (although I should point out here that elves do NOT smell, or not bad anyway... but Rangers... now that's different).

Now it's starting to sound like more of a fictional character than Han Solo, but believe me, things aren't perfect. It's hard work keeping a relationship going (it's going on 18 years now). We've both got issues and flaws, and have had to weather some real bad relationship-killing storms. I'm not easy to live with either, being rather a rogue with a heart of gold myself.

So he's not a blond Mirkwood elf or whip-snapping archeologist, or rogue space Captain, but a much better choice of companion when you're headed out there into the black.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Miscellaneous musings

Kelso's got some good commentary on the Tom Delay court proceedings (it might require registration, not sure)

And.... brought to you by Tom Delay's attorney... The charges have been dropped against Ringo Garza from Los Lonely Boys. Not the big splashy story that the arrest was, although shouldn't it be? Funny how that works. I'm sure it's big news to him. His wife had to pay $2000 and pick up the garbage (...just kidding on that last bit)

Is this really a good name for a donut company? If you're not familiar with the local geography, it sounds like they might break your tooth. What's more appealing than a... round rock...?

Ever want to design your own magnetic ribbon for the car? Tired of the same old sayings? Link snagged from J-Walk .

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Friday Cat - Alex the snuggle-bunny

Blogging Alex again this week. He's had a great week, still eating his "cat soup", asking for more, and keeping it down. [See last week's post] He may have given up crazy hour for awhile, but he's feeling good enough to rattle stuff around at 3:00 AM. Probably his way of asking for more soup.

- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Scribblings on Sunday - - - My cat page

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Scrooge that!!

I swear, I must be growing a set, and it’s about time. Of course, being assertive and honest is not exactly inching me toward that big reward of the gold pen set, especially since it comes with an attitude. When I was younger and was just starting my career, I said YES to everything... every task, every chance for overtime (even unpaid), every new project… my hand was in the air. I wanted to do more, have more responsibility, get more respect, give 110% and be a team player. rah. rah.

But after years of mergers, reorganizations, layoffs, failed marriage, loss of identity, ugly office politics, and seeing too many hard-working, long-suffering people who married their jobs, then got shoved out the door with gold pens sticking out of their backs.

When I starting working in this place 4 years ago there were 9 people doing graphics and website work. We are down to 4 due to people leaving, and in each case they have just divided up the duties of the now-missing person. How important is a person thought to be if they leave and aren’t replaced? And how important is a job function thought to be if the tasks can simply be redistributed among the lucky leftovers? It really shows a lack of respect and esteem for the people who work in this area. We ARE support people, and basically are here to assist those who perform the actual function of this entity, but we also have specialties… like photographer, web designer, technical artist and drafter, graphic designer, editor, and so on… also the pay is bad because technically it’s run by the state.

That’s where my attitude comes in. I don’t really feel obligated to take on every leftover task that still needs to be done, simply because some higher power doesn’t think that they need to replace a missing person. Second, I am getting too old and am not paid well enough to do a bunch of crap that I absolutely don’t believe in.

That’s why I refused to design and produce this year’s company Christmas card. I told my boss that I am a poor choice to do that because I hate Christmas, don’t celebrate it and am a big bah-humbug Scrooge. The person who is titled as being the graphic designer was probably not tapped for it because they are a Jehovah’s Witness. Heh heh!! Fortunately, the situation went away before I had to pull the religion card, these things can be unpleasant.

I think they should just do a company-wide survey, and anyone who reports not getting nauseous at the thought of displaying their company Christmas card gets the job of creating the next one.  More Despair: Burnout.

I think I may be getting uppity. ;-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Forecast: Whiny with bouts of freak-out

Aaahhhh! The season is finally here!!

Down here in the heart of Texas they have four seasons:

Spring: Hard to say when this really starts since flowers bloom all year. Roses love January! Spring is generally agreed to be the time when the Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush are covering everything - so March to April.

Summer: May through mid-October. Late October is when it may be cool enough to turn off the AC and open some windows without melting all the candles in the house.

Fall: Mid-October to late November. Oct-Nov. have been really pleasant -- either balmy or cool but no more than maybe a denim jacket at night needed. A few leaves do dry up and fall but it stays pretty green.

Whiny: From the first cold front that comes with a freeze or near-freeze, up until SXSW (mid-March).

Whiny just started yesterday! Central Texans are not a rugged bunch at all when it comes to cool temperatures. It froze in some places last night and may freeze in Austin tonight. (Buh-bye mosquitoes and some of you wasps!!) It will get down in the 30s and 40s during the night all week and only in the 60s and 70s during the day. People are now running around in OMIGOD amazement! Wrap up the pipes, bring in the pets (well, that's a good idea anyway), dress in layers, allow plenty of time to warm up the car in the morning!!! Film at 11!! You could die!

Warm up the car? Warming up the car is for near-zero temps where the battery and oil and stuff are having trouble dealing with bitter cold. This is sweater weather, if that. Back in St. Louis, which has an average winter -- sometimes bitter cold, wet, and gray for 6+ months -- there wouldn't be warnings like that until it got down around 10 degrees.

Oh yes, and the sun is BRIGHT and shiny here, unless there's a storm coming. Sun glare is a problem all the time. If there's ice, everything will close down. Fine with me, I'm not a fan of ice.
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Rick del Castillo

Happy birthday to Austin guitar phenomenon, Rick del Castillo. He and his brother Mark are some of the finest guitar players you will ever see or hear! I love this band, heart and soul.

Paz, amor, y musica latina!

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Monday, November 14, 2005

That's why it's called a "cold"

I love this! They've finally come up with the science to back the obvious fact that being cold and damp really does tend to make you sick... with a cold. Previously, the story was that in the winter, people are confined indoors with each other, making each other sick and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the temperature. Well good point. Maybe that's why summer colds seems more prevalent here... where people are confined indoors together to keep cool. It is a virus and you do catch it from an infected person but it's hard to deny that getting sick immediately after cold/damp exposure is just a coincidence. If it weren't related to temperature, why would there be a "season" for it? hmmmm?

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Now I hate waitin' round like a bump on a log.

There are lots of goofy ads on radio and TV for ARS Service Express (like the cowboy ditty in the title), and how they almost never show up late. In fact, they call themselves the "on-time repair guys". My window of waiting was from 9 to 11 AM. The guy shows up at 2:15.

The refrigerator stopped running Saturday night... (guess we can stop chasing it...nyuk nyuk), and ARS was able to come Monday whereas Sears couldn't come until Tuesday. The hilarious part is that the refrigerator is still broken. It was the compressor, which should be still under warranty but we have to get it fixed only by certain companies, ARS not being one of them, and Sears, ironically, probably IS one of them since it's a Frigidaire. (Not even sure any more who is still willing to mess with Frigidaire.)

Well, forget Sears... somebody else is scheduled to come out Friday, and we bought a little beer-sized fridge to tide us over. So we are out the cost of that, and ARS' $100. He DID fix the gas leak in the stove, however, so I think it was well worth it. Plus we are supposed to get a check back for $50 because they were late.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Little Queequeg* toughs it out

Our neighbors next door have one of these dogs, a pomeranian. Cutest little fluffnutter you ever saw. But get this: they keep him as an outdoor pet. Yes, that's right. He is out there in 100+ degree temps and in thunderstorms, they've even left him in the backyard and gone away for a long weekend. Yesterday I saw him scuffling around in the alley behind the house. The alley is an area between the back fences where thick brush grows. It's a mass of stickers and cactus with rats, snakes, and other critters that like to lurk in thick brush that only gets hacked down with a weed-whacker twice a year. I never walk in it without long pants and heavy boots with socks pulled up over the pants. I am overly careful, I know, but I get freaky over scorpions and stuff.

Their pets seem to last about a year, then they are "stolen" (so they say) or just disappear, but are replaced immediately with a new pet. One of their cats used to visit us all the time. He was really outgoing but not socialized at all. He seemed to be 100% outdoors, and his food would just be thrown loose on the driveway. He was always covered in fleas, and was unneutered. Sometimes we'd put an application of Advantage on him (not even our cat!!!). We got very attached to him.

Now does ANYBODY really keep a pomeranian as an outdoor pet? I'm wondering how common this is. Anyway, yesterday One of the kids told us that they are going to get another pomeranian soon. Grrrrrrrr

*Queequeg was the name of Dana Sculley's dog.

Animal News of the Weird and Wonderful

New lemur named for John Cleese

Schizophrenia may come from cats

Dog celebrated at Cat Show, a dog was once named Cat of the Year

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Circle the wagons, I think we're surrounded!

Burnt Orange Report has done an excellent job in putting together a color-coded map of how the state voted on Prop 2, so please go over there and read more about the stats. I believe there is a Travis County breakdown map in the works too, and I will be very interested in viewing that one. This is where politics gets very local indeed. I know that our neighborhood is rather mixed politically, based on the signs that go in the yards near an election. Greetings from the Sea of Green!

EDIT for the benefit of out-of-staters: Prop 2 enabled the Amendment which declares marraige to be between one man and one woman. EDIT 2, BOR has now posted their Travis County breakdown map.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Why the big damned spider?

Look at the size of this! Oh Jeez, give me a break, some of us are arachnophobes! I have to admit that it got my curiousity up, and as hard as it is for me to look at graphic images of spiders, I did visit the website. I had to know who had the gall to post this monstrosity... so the marketing technique worked... whatever it was. Actually, it's for a photographer's studio, and it's not all spiders, there's also a scorpion, and some models, and landscapes and maybe some fluffy stuff. It's good work, and a ballsy ad. Hats off to him for that anyway. This is a venomous East African Baboon Spider, by the way.

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Long May You Run*

Happy birthday to Neil Young, who turned 60 today. I've been a fan since Buffalo Springfield and was lucky enough to have seen that band. Most recent personal sighting was at Willie's picnic in 2003. Willie sat in with him, it was great.

The definition of "old man" is certainly relative to your own age, isn't it?

*Yes, I know... it's a song about a car. A great songwriter can write a great song about nearly anything.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Cat - Salad and Tummy Troubles

This is Alex, the cat who loves salad greens, especially red leaf lettuce. He can smell lettuce in a plastic bag inside another plastic bag from across the room, and pick it out of all the other bags like a drug-sniffing dog. It looks more like the lettuce is leaving him here instead of going in, but salad is never a pretty sight when it's being eaten.

Alex has had trouble keeping the food in for many years. Lots of vets have seen him and recommended this or that, but the only thing that's ever kept him from the daily barf is getting a steroid shot which would hold him for about a month.

We've been doing that for about a year or so, stretching out the time with a steroid-laced ear gel (easier than a pill), and recently switching him to some foods for sensitive tummies, but he's been replacing his bulimia with anorexia, not going off food completely but just eating very little. He's lost 4 pounds since February. (I have been trying like hell to lose 4 pounds with mixed success... but poor Alex, that was a third of his body weight) The poor little guy is down to 7 pounds and is a little bag of bones.

Yesterday we got him an ultrasound, and the findings are pretty serious. He has one of two things: irritable bowel syndrome, or intestinal cancer. There is only one way to diagnose it definitely and that is with explorative surgery. It's a tough procedure that would keep him recovering at the vet for a couple of days, then for a week or so at home (and I should stress that he is already a very sick boy). If it turned out to be cancer, they would treat it with various things, including maybe chemo, and the doctor said he could live maybe another 2 years that way and be probably not die from cancer. I should point out that Alex will be 15 in January... geriatric, and would be very lucky to live 2 more years anyway.

Some info on pet cancer recovery:

On average about 65 - 75 percent of cats and 80 - 90 percent of dogs with lymphoma will respond to chemotherapy drugs. About 20 percent of treated cats will still be alive one year after diagnosis and about 20 percent of dogs will be alive two years after the diagnosis of lymphoma. Dogs and cats with lymphoma that are not treated live an average of 4 to 8 weeks.
We had some hard decisions to make, and have decided, at least for now, to treat his condition as if it's irritable bowel (the same steroids are given in either case), not put him through the surgery (the surgery was just for diagnosis, not treatment), and just try to keep food in him and meat on his old bones. I guess we will know soon enough, for better or worse. Sorry that this week is a downer, but our heads are spinning from this new dilemna. It's hard to process.

- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Curiouser & Curiouser on Sunday - -

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

One for Leno

I'll bet they couldn't WAIT to use this headline!

Should Homeland Security and FEMA be buying these like hotcakes?

Terrorist, hurricane and tornado-proof bunker
Starting at only $37,900 on eBay. You can even live in them underwater. These are enough to bring out the Dale Gribble or Lone Gunmen in anyone!

I would think that if you didn't want to attract terrorists, that you would choose the one that looks less like a target.

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The results are in...

...and Bush, the White House and the USA (including Iraq) are the big winners in Dilbert's Weasel Poll, with the teaching of Intelligent Design being the Weasliest behavior. I still say this is all terribly unfair to weasels.

In other Weasel News, Prop 2 passed in Texas by an amazing 77%. At least I can hold my head up as an Austinite, where the vote was 60% AGAINST. It feels a little like when I lived in a liberal college town in 1972 where George McGovern got about 60% of the Presidential vote. (I'd still vote for him... but hey... his Presidency probably wouldn't have been as interesting as Nixon's turned out to be. Interesting is usually not good). Living in an oasis like that can lull a person into believing that things are better than they are, that people are more enlightened, open-minded, understanding, and kind-hearted. I was naive back then. These days, I've got the binoculars handy.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

He's got a purty mouth.

We just upgraded to a new TV set, which these days is a bigger deal than it used to be because of changing technology. It's not just bigger. Actually we technically got something smaller than what it replaced, with with the new aspect ratio and no need to letterbox it sure looks bigger. That's an improvement.

What I'm not sure is an improvement is the high-definition. Everything is much clearer... including skin problems, hair frizz, and all sorts of things like that. Also, apparently makeup is styled for the non-HDTV color palette, and the most noticable thing about that is seeing all the lipstick on the men. OK, I am not bothered by men who choose to wear lipstick, but when ALL men and boys of all ages are wearing deep pink and light red shades, and I'm watching a drama where people are supposed to look... well... not out of the ordinary, I start wondering what planet this is supposed to be. They seem to be wearing more lipstick than the female actors. I mean, the burliest badasses and uber-rednecks have ruby lips. Oh yeah, and you can also see the rouge. In cases like this it's more like surrealistic... which I guess is perfectly appropriate if you're watching cheez-tv like Surface or Category 7. Shirley, you can't be serious!

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Sunday, November 06, 2005


So the Klan had their big rally on Saturday in favor of Prop 2, and there were 14 of them there, versus the 3,000 people who showed up in counter-protest. Looks like the sheets and pointy hats are out, at least with this little bunch (who, as it turned out, came here all the way from San Angelo in West Texas).

Check out the new fashions here, looks like celtic crosses and Confederate flags are all the rage:

View the Statesman's photo slide show here. Keep an eye out for these fashions. It always helps to recognize what you're seeing. EDIT: Ironic that they seem to favor the color black.

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The Mighty Mighty Creek!!

Nickel Creek finally rolled through Texas with regular tour dates after an absence of 2 years. They also hit Austin at the Cactus Cafe during the private radio promo tour (Search This Blog for postings on that). It's hard for me to discuss Nickel Creek without gushing, they are just so awesome!

We went to the Stubb's Austin and Floore's Helotes shows. Both were great shows but really very different, including the setlist.

Stubb's was sold out, or very near. They had the stage set up to allow for more band theatrics such as playing on little platforms that bridged the stage and the audience barrier. Those barriers were not there when we say them 2 years ago, but they really are needed, if not to protect the band to protect the audience! Chris is a wild man with some flying feet. There were some significant noise problems at Stubb's. For one thing, they had the sound re-directed in a way to where it was much harder to hear from stage-side. Also, it's on Red River and quiet Creek was being seriously drowned out by the decibel-level coming from Red Eye Fly. It was VERY distracting. Add to that the various helicopters and sirens that prevail at a venue located next to the police complex along with fire trucks and ambulances. The audience at Stubb's sang along on every song, even the new ones. That's got to make a band feel good.

Floore's is an extremely laid-back place, even compared to an Austin venue. We weren't very smashed in at the front, although the place was pretty full. It's located more in the sticks so the ambient noise was a few crickets instead of sirens and heavy metal. The stageside sound was fantastic, just phenomenal. The audience didn't sing along much, but had the same deafening applause and squealing as in Austin. I am completely out of squeals today.

After the show we went to the bus hoping for autographs (and got them), and were treated to a post-show unplugged mandolin performance by Chris. I have several pictures of this over on my website. I can't tell you how great it was, I am just in awe of the beautiful music that comes from that instrument, and from this band. The girl in the picture here is Sarah Jarosz, who is a great, young player from Central Texas. We got acquainted with her and her parents in the line when we got to talking about The Greencards.

I got setlist souvenirs from both shows, making everyone jealous. They are keepers, especially since one of them is now autographed.

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Lego my Firefly

This guy has created an impressive (Joss Whedon's Firefly-class) Serenity model, including light effects, along with cast members out of Lego bricks! There are even a number of wallpapers and avatars available. Go to the website for the real wallpaper. I sized this one down.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday Cats - California Girls

Jax: The Texas Oasis boys have guests this week -- a couple of cute California girls! They come from around that place where Alfred Hitchcock made that movie with all the crunchy, tasty birds.
Duncan: Yummm!
Jax: Oh! Like YOU ever got a bird! Not unless it was in the house, or already mashed up in kibble! Back to the girls... the first one is named "PITA".
Henry: Pita? What does that mean? I think she's pretty.
Jax: It stands for "Pain In The Ass".
Alex: I think all you cats should be named "Pita".
Henry: You're a big pain in the ass, I know that!
Alex: And you're not really my brother. You're adopted.
Jax: Shut up!! You're BOTH adopted. Her full name is "Pita Marie" after Sister Peter Marie on Oz.
Duncan: What does "Peter" stand for?
Jax: Never mind! Our other girl is Samantha. She's named both for Samhain and Samantha Stevens.
Henry: How Bewitching! Look! I think she's twitching her nose at me.
Alex: Maybe she wants you to disappear. I know I do.
Henry: Seriously, look at that pose. I think she's flirting with me. And LOOK! She sent a baby picture too.

Duncan: So... would they like some drinks?
Jax: Of course! Filtered water from the tap, and make sure it's fresh.
Duncan: I'll get Mom to serve it. I don't have any thumbs.

- Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at pages turned on Sunday - - - Friday Ark -

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Phlu Phobia

I couldn't find the official name for "fear of influenza" on this Phobia List, but it really does need a name. It's going around. In this case it's a fine line between a rational and irrational fear, since we are told that there IS a danger... making the fear rational. Stories like this one help to whip up the frenzy: It's inevitable, say government officials: a pandemic will strike the United States and the impact will be profound. Then there's Bush and his 7 billion dollar plan. I feel safer already.

One of our benefits at work is that annual flu shots are made conveniently available for just a few dollars. we all know what happened last year because of the Chiron snafu, so there were none available, not timely enough anyway, so I skipped it. So this year I was waiting patiently for notification on flu shots, especially in the light of the pandemic scare, and here comes this email:
___ is currently on a waiting list for influenza vaccine, but we have been unable to get confirmation as to if or when we will receive it. ___ is not alone in this dilemma. Like many other medical practices across the nation which have been unable to get vaccine or receive a full shipment of vaccine they've ordered, we are actively pursuing obtaining the vaccine and are contacting our vendor almost daily for information. blah blah...

In the meantime, we encourage those wanting a flu shot to turn to other sources in the community. A helpful link to help locate flu shots available through large retailers is

For information on these flu shot clinics as well as those sponsored by Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services and medical practices in Austin, call "211 Texas" by dialing 211. You can also go to
and follow these steps:
***Go to Step 2 and click on "Find Services by Word
or Phrase"
***Enter "flu" in the search box
***Click on "Flu Shots"

OK, the first link is called find-a-flu-shot dot com. Here is what I see when I go there and try to get information. Personally, I think the domain name is deceptive:
We regret to announce that a number of our flu shot clinics may experience a limited supply of available vaccine. Contacting your local flu shot clinic before you arrive is best in order to determine if an adequate supply of the vaccine is available. We apologize for any inconvenience.

The power outages and devastating consequences of Hurricane Wilma have led to the cancellation of several flu clinics in the affected areas. Prior to visiting your local flu clinic, we recommend that you call ahead to verify the status. At this time, there is no information available about rescheduling the cancelled clinics. We apologize for any inconvenience.

They're blaming it on Wilma? oookaaaaay...

Actually, the second link they provided was helpful. I was able to pull up a whole list of places offering immunizations. Of course they will cost at least $30 instead of $3, but at least something looks available. I will probably hold out while hoping for something cheap, and end up not getting one again this year.

The Centers for Disease Control provides lots of general information on flu, avian or otherwise.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Impeachment! Let's Roll!

The Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime
Rally and march today!! World Can't Wait

From the website:

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 ...

9AM Day of the Dead joins with World Can't Wait

1:45 Walkout from UT Austin
2:00 Gather at South Mall
3:00 State Capitol for rally and press statement
4:00 March up Guadalupe calling on thousands to JOIN US! Bring drums, music, and theatre. Bring signs and banners. New Orleans style procession!
5:30 converge at Mojo's Daily Grind for open mic.
Late Evening: Back out to the people with our message in all sorts of creative ways!
Speakers include: Josh-University student in TX High School, students, Dr. Davidson Loehr, Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, James Glines, Former staff army sergeant, last stationed in Kuwait Glen Maxey, Helen Parish, environment, community activist, Joyous Rainbow, Community activist Nick Lawrie, Democracy for Texas

This is a national organizational effort, so check the website for activities in your area.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

3rd time is the charm

I've posted a couple of these before, but this is the political quiz I've been looking for. It's put together by Libertarians, and before all this technology came along it would be handed out to people on a little wallet-sized card. I found the link on J-Walk's blog.

The political description that fits you best is...

LIBERALS usually embrace freedom of choice in personal matters, but tend to support significant government control of the economy. They generally support a government-funded "safety net" to help the disadvantaged, and advocate strict regulation of business. Liberals tend to favor environmental regulations, defend civil liberties and free expression, support government action to promote equality, and tolerate diverse lifestyles.

Fowl play!

Well, well... I am shocked!! To think that someone in this administration would be reaping profits through the misfortune of others! This news via Agitprop on Rumsfeld making a killing with Tamiflu. Here's the CNN article.

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From El Guero Canelo to Stubb's BBQ

I'm pretty sure we were the oldest people at the Iron & Wine/Calexico show at Stubb's. Actually there were 4 people who looked older than us who seemed to be new at the concert thing and were directed to the VIP area. I think they were parents and maybe grandparents of the opener... so we still count, esp. since we were front and center. It was a really nice crowd of mostly teens and twenties, which I like to see very much because this is good music for the soul and I like to see kids getting hooked on the good stuff. These are hard-core music-lovers and they are listening.

We were close enough to where I could easily ask Joey Burns "when are we going to get a whole Calexico show in Austin?", and he said they'd love to but this touring with other acts is working out pretty well too. Fair enough, I suppose. They will get better known this way. They've just done a record with Iron & Wine, which I wasn't that familiar with, in fact... I wasn't that familiar with Iron & Wine at all except for that one track on the Garden State soundtrack.

Calexico played a really tasty one-hour set, which was awesome. Some new stuff I didn't know and some signature pieces. Charlie Sexton joined in. Then they played either full or partial band with I&W for the rest of the night.

Iron & Wine was called psychedelic in one of the papers here. I can see that. I remember how lots of the music in the 60s was played very, very slow... folk, blues, and what they would now call "ambient"... sometimes with some rhythm, sometimes without any, like a heartbeat slowed by deep-breathing, meditating, time to concentrate deeply on every note, every breath, so that it all seems to go in super-slo-mo. You can practically see the color tracers. It's been a long time, but that's not an experience that's forgotten. that is the way Sam Beam presents each tone, like the petals of a flower or a leaf falling from a tree. What's the hurry?

With that said, I will say that overall it was too slow and mellow for my tastes, or maybe my mood, although I really liked the pieces that used percussion (More cowbell !!!!). Calexico was a nice synergistic addition, and I'm really glad I got to see this show but I would prefer just to hear them for a couple of hours... heating it up with horns and percussion, and that sweet pedal steel and the biggest hot desert twang you ever heard. I am hooked on that.

No pictures because I don't even bother trying to take a camera into Stubb's (Amphitheatre), but I've already got a lot of Calexico pictures here.

(EDIT-Post title explanation: El Guero Canelo is a Mexican hot dog place in Tuscon, and Guero Canelo is a Calexico song.)

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