Saturday, June 25, 2011

June Hymn

I am home alone this weekend, trying to keep cool and embracing the mundane. No big activities planned, it just my duty to feed, water (and in Henry's case, medicate) the critters. This song is called "June Hymn" from the Decemberists latest album, and it should be perfect for your summer day. The video is just audio with a static image. Nothing to see but the album cover.

Here's a hymn to welcome in the day
Heralding a summer's early sway
And all the bulbs all coming in
To begin
The thrushes bleating battle with the wrens
Disrupts my reverie again

Pegging clothing on the line
Training jasmine how to vine
Up the arbor to your door
And more
You're standing on the landing with the war
You shouldered all the night before

And once upon it
The yellow bonnets
Garland all the lawn
And you were waking
And day was breaking
A panoply of song

And summer comes to Springville Hill

A barony of ivy in the trees
Expanding out its empire by degrees
And all the branches burst to bloom
In the boom
Heaven sent this cardinal maroon
To decorate our living room


And years from now when this old light
Isn't ambling anymore
Will I bring myself to write
"I give my best to Springville Hill"


Friday, June 24, 2011

Person A, do you take Person B to be your lawfully wedded spouse?

Here is the whole thing in a nutshell.

Person A and Person B are both adult human beings and citizens who are not related to each other* and are both allowed to marry another person who is also an adult human being, a citizen who is allowed to be willingly married.

The only objection *possible* to Person A marrying Person B has to be religious. And you can't use religion to make law in the USA. That's how it's supposed to work, and if it's working otherwise then it's a violation of the Separation of Church and State.

Way to go, New York!

*State laws vary when it comes to marrying a relative, such as a cousin. (Probably because of possible birth defects in their children, or some other trumped-up reason for the law, because nobody actually forbids unrelated bio-parents from passing along genetic disorders if they choose to risk it. Something tells me that if two cousins, one of which has been sterilized, wanted to marry in a state where cousins are not allowed to marry, that no exemption would be made for them. I don't know that for sure, though.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Silly Maru

Sex rules

Sorry if I over-tantalized you with that post title. You know those lists directed at the opposite gender... usually called "The Rules?" I think the first volley was probably directed at men and new versions keep going back and forth, customized through mass-mailing and such. MrB sent me this (as a joke, of course... I couldn't possibly be guilty of any of this or in need of any improvement).
All right Ladies… Here are your rules.
  1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
  2. Sometimes we are not thinking about you. Live with it.
  3. Sunday = sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.
  4. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.
  5. Crying is blackmail.
  6. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it! We'll get it for you, but just LET US KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!!!
  7. We don't remember dates. Mark birthdays and anniversaries on the calendar. Remind us frequently beforehand.
  8. Most guys own three pairs of shoes. What makes you think we'd be any good at choosing which pair, out of thirty, would look good with your dress?
  9. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question. Please pick one.
  10. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do.
  11. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
  12. A headache that lasts for seventeen months is a problem. See a doctor.
  13. Let us know about that funny noise in your car engine as soon as you hear it.
  14. Anything we said six months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after seven days.
  15. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us act like soap opera guys.
  16. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us. We refuse to answer, but still love you.
  17. If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
  18. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.
  19. Christopher Columbus did not need directions, and neither do we.
  20. The relationship is never going to be like it was the first two months we were going out. Get over it... and quit whining to your girlfriends.
  21. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what Mauve is.
  22. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.
  23. We are not mind readers and we never will be. Our lack of mind-reading ability is not proof of how little we care about you.
  24. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.
  25. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.
  26. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. Really, you look fine!!!
  27. It is neither in your best interest, or ours, to take the quiz together. No, it doesn't matter which quiz.
OK, my first reaction to these is that men who feel this way about their female partners should maybe consider getting a male partner instead.

Yes, indeed, it appears that males and females are generally very different in their communication styles. I don't believe that it's a sexist comment to make note of that.

Re: #8: I have probably ~30 pairs of shoes, and keeping them all. No need for debate. Last time I asked MrB for shoe advice, I put on an unmatched pair (wanting him to pick the best one out of the two) and he said "those look fine."

Re #10 "Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do." This illustrates a fundamental difference in typical male and female styles. I don't always talk about my problems because I am seeking (or even desiring) solutions. The talking about them is the only thing going on. It's the means and the end. It's how we roll.

The most glaring hypocrisy in this rules for women list is #11 "Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for." and #20" ... and quit whining to your girlfriends." Well, which is it?

The female to male rules were much harsher, I think. Here is one that I pared down to 25 from an original 50 rules for men.
  1. Don't lie.
  2. If guys' night out is going to be fun, invite the girls.
  3. The correct answer to "Do I look fat?" is never, ever "Yes." Ditto for "Is she prettier than me?"
  4. Ordering for her is good. Telling her what she wants is bad.
  5. A grunt is seldom an acceptable answer to any question.
  6. None of your ex-girlfriends were ever nicer, prettier, or better in bed.
  7. Her cooking is excellent. That isn't an excuse for you to avoid cooking.
  8. Buying her dinner does not equal foreplay.
  9. Two words: clean socks.
  10. Burping is not sexy.
  11. You're wrong.
  12. You're sorry.
  13. "Will you marry me?" is good. "Let's shack up together" is bad.
  14. No means No. Yes means Yes. Silence could mean anything she feels like at that particular moment in time, and it could change without notice.
  15. Never let her walk anywhere alone after 11pm.
  16. Chivalry and feminism are NOT mutually exclusive.
  17. Pick her up at the airport. Don't whine about it, just do it.
  18. If you want to break up with her, break up with her. Don't act like a complete jerk until she does it for you.
  19. Don't tell her you love her if you don't.
  20. Tell her you love her if you do. Often.
  21. Think boxers. Silk boxers.
  22. Remember Valentine's Day, and any cheesy "anniversary" she so-names.
  23. Don't try to change the way she dresses.
  24. Her haircut is never bad.
  25. The rules are never fair. Accept this without question. The fact that she has to go through labor while you sit in the waiting room on your ass smoking cigars isn't fair either, and it balances everything.
Wow. First of all, what blatant hypocrisy and sexism. Re #1 "Don't lie." That's my #1 rule if you want to be my buddy too... but then it goes on to order the poor guy to lie about nearly everything. Maybe you do look fat, sometimes your haircut is not the greatest, sometimes you are wearing something that your partner thinks is unflattering or embarrassing - and the truth is that there's always someone else who's a better lover and better-looking than you. Stop asking for lies and truth at the same time. It confuses people.

Re: #2 Are you kidding?
Re: #13 Bullshit. Nothing wrong with living together.
Re: #15 I like this one. It makes me feel like someone cares.
Re: #25 So the rules are not supposed to be fair and it's because of childbirth? Is that how you want it? I never birthed a baby and never will, so I must be exempt from this.

This would be my little list of Rules:
  1. Don't lie.
  2. Respect my opinion if it's based on expertise or experience. It doesn't mean you have to agree, though. Sometimes I'm wrong. I will admit it if that happens. You do the same.
  3. Don't decide what I will order in a restaurant. I am an adult.
  4. I can open my own door, pull out my own chair and usually pull on my own coat. If I am physically unable to do these things for some reason, then, yeah... a little help would be nice.
  5. Dates to remember will be written on the calendar. Forgetting will be forgiven, unless it's my birthday. A card will suffice.
  6. Soap is our friend.
  7. I am not a lady, I don't know what that means since it means something different to each person. I am a woman.
  8. Don't assume I like chick-flicks, cut flowers, or baby showers.
  9. Get that nasty-ass cigar away from me. I don't care what gender you are.
Here's another women-to-men list in case anyone needs more abuse: If it itches, wash it, Chicago Tribune.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sometimes the answer is No

Bill Maher's funny take on lots of stuff, including the current Perry candidate buzz. I personally don't think Perry's going to run for Prez (based on absolutely no facts, just a hunch). I'm thinking he wants to get tapped as VP on the GOP ticket, whoever is at the top. If it's Romney, then they'd have a folksy tea party southerner to balance out whatever they think Mitt lacks. Say your prayers, Perry. See what happens.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Just a nice, insightful writeup about dealing with us introverts. Yes, we ARE hard to figure out.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Trees, Space and the Meaning of Life

We went to see the film "The Tree of Life" last weekend, but before saying anything about it, I want to share this wonderful stop motion animation that was part of the Alamo Drafthouse's pre-show. This is great stuff, and you can find more info and more great stuff at blu.

BIG BANG BIG BOOM - the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Big Bang, Big Boom. The rest of the pre-show was themed this way too, and appropriately. This movie is critically-acclaimed. It won the Palme d'Or for Best Picture at Cannes, and is sitting on an 86% Tomatometer right now, nice and fresh. It's very thought-provoking and dwells on the spiritual... an individual's place in all of creation, life, the afterlife... I recommend seeing it even though I wasn't a big fan of it myself, judge for yourself. You might just think it's the greatest thing ever - really. The religious aspects of pondering on God - not really my cup of tea anymore, I don't even claim to be 'spiritual' - but the Space-Odyssey-esque trips through time and space were pretty cool.

The main reason I wanted to see this (other than the buzz) was because it was filmed in this area, several scenes in Austin but primarily in Smithville and parts between. I like to look up trivia and try and locate the filming locations on Google maps. Google just so happened to be doing street views of Smithville while the filming was going on (coincidence?) and all the blocks where it was underway it shows the closures, such as this view, which (if you could go 2 more blocks) would be facing the house. Also, it looks like Google was denied the privilege of doing street views in the closed areas at that time.

Reportedly, the Jolie-Pitts (kids and all, including the ones on the way) wanted to stay at an Austin resort during the filming but they wouldn't settle for Pitt's offer of $3000 for a month, so they either bought or rented a ranch instead. Mr. and Mrs. Smithville? That was irresistable. Sorry.

Very surprising trivia: they actually dug up and relocated a 65,000 lb. tree to the movie house's yard. This was documented in some short videos on this channel. Of all the...!#@!

While I was looking for more filming locations in Matagorda, Texas, I stumbled on this labyrinth! Debra, thought of you, of course. It's on the corner of Lewis and Fisher at the Christ Episcopal Church. Totally unrelated to the movie, as far as I know. And while we are distractedly Googlemap-surfing, I also want to mention that Smithville is really close to this (and recycling a 6-year-old screen capture here):

It's made from trees, and spells out the name of the landowner. It can be seen from space, and in fact, is so large and linear that it's used by NASA as a measurement device. Well, maybe that isn't so far off topic after all.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 57.84%* of Texas is at D4-level drought, which they define as "Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies." Texas has it worse than any state, although it looks like New Mexico is in 2nd place with 44.53% 'Exceptional.'

*[update June 16: now at 64.78%]

Haven't heard about much cracking down on water use, other than assigning a watering schedule (which doesn't seem to be well-enforced). We've recently discovered that someone has been using our water and hose while we are gone - asshole thieves. I guess that's our reward for being good water-conservation citizens - they must think we can spare some. They even left the faucet running a little bit this time - so water was running all night before it was discovered. Grrrrrrrr.

In this area they've have cancelled the 4th of July fireworks displays, which is pretty severe as that has not happened before - not this far ahead (although it's been rained out on the same day). Fireworks sales have been banned until July 1st, and possibly will not be allowed after that - so I hope that doesn't mean there will be extra gunfire and stupidity.

Ducks and other aquatic, pond-related critters are suffering.

This isn't helping... and, no... it's not really a dry heat. It's humid, but just won't rain.

[updated forecast June 16 below] Ouch. Also it was 103° yesterday and 101° on Tuesday. Always seems to turn out hotter than predicted. [update on Friday - screw that 104°, it was 106° today and tomorrow could beat that.]

Friday, June 10, 2011


A few friends have shared this on FB and it makes me laugh 'til I cry... or vice versa...

Let's Be Reasonable

Some very good points made in this article. Like many of you, I'm sure, I get tired of regional stereotypes - especially when you are being lumped in (unfairly) with a whole lot of un-like-minded folks.

Article: 10 scariest states to be an atheist
Now, to a great extent, how badly it sucks to be an atheist may not depend on the state you live in. It's sort of like the red-state/blue-state myth: cultural differences in the United States break down more along urban/rural lines than they do along state lines. Is it easier to be an atheist in New York than in Texas? Maybe... but it may also be easier if you're in Austin, Texas than if you're in rural upstate New York.

Many atheist and secularist leaders I spoke to stressed this point. According to Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason (the organization responsible for many of the atheist billboard campaigns), "As for the worst states to be an atheist, it doesn't generally work that way. It depends on what part of a state you are in."
That said, things that happen within the borders of a place belong to that place statistically, whether it pleases us or not. The list of places and their ranking might surprise you:
...atheist veterans marching in the Memorial Day parade were jeered, booed, insulted, cursed at, yelled at to leave, and told they were going to burn in hell. Not once or twice by a couple of fanatics... but repeatedly, throughout the course of the parade.
...and it didn't happen in the Bible Belt.

Many are convinced that goodness, morality, ethics, and just about everything positive you can think of when it comes to humanity, come from an external supernatural Being – and apparently belief in that Being is required beforehand because He’s not just giving away that stuff freely. I’ve been told, to my face and with sincerity, that morality cannot exist in an atheist. Many people who believe this way are perfectly intelligent and nice when their judgment is not clouded by superstitions and myths.

Replacing bigotry with acceptance, or at least tolerance is helped along when prejudiced folks discover that they already admire someone who they would normally have despised because of their own bigotry. Who knows? Maybe some of these Christian Right Tea Partiers will realize that their hero, Ayn Rand, was an atheist? OK, that one embraces the edges, but this whole topic is about the edges. Here's an established list of famous non-believers, and here's a more extensive one that breaks it up by category of famousness.

Monday, June 06, 2011

All kinds of shut up

Oh - this is good (and the sound is NSFW or for little kids)! The Alamo Drafthouse uses an actual customer complaint for a new "don't talk, and tweeting and texting totally counts as talking" PSAs that will play before the movie. If the girl had gotten there on time, maybe she would have gotten the message. Instead she got kicked out for texting.

They have created dozens of these, themed on a movie or person or whatever:
No Country For Old Men
Hobo With a Shotgun
Pineapple Express
Danny Trejo
Jackalope Preservation Society
Gov. Ann Richards
A whole bunch of celebrities

Anyway, thanks for caring, Alamo Drafthouse...

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Summertime blues 2011

MilkDrive, one of our great local bands, tearing it up on Saturday's warm evening.

Coming off of a blessed 3-day weekend, and if I had my way I would have a 4-day work week every week. For the entire month of May we have both been recovering from some bug - allergies, maybe, but something that was like a cold and led to bronchitis (him) and a persistent sore throat (me) requiring meds that have not really been that helpful. Also, full-on summer has arrived and will be a way of life here until October. By summer I mean it's 97 to over 100° every day with bright bright sun. Looong dog days. Yes, I know... it's Texas... and do really really love the weather here six months out of the year, and the other six I just deal. Those who dearly love the heat do the same thing in reverse.

The guy who inspected the air conditioning unit said we had a problem with the dryer venting lint too close to it, and recommended this apparatus that vented the dryer (lint plus all the hot air) into a little box in the same room with it (with some water in it, I guess to dampen the lint). MrB set it up, and before running it, mentioned that the A/C guy said it would heat up the room some. No shit. It heated the room well up into the 90°Fs... AND (because it was also apparently boiling the water or something) it was really really humid in there too. Steam room. This was running the dryer with the door closed, which we have to do if we expect to be able to hear the TV/stereo. I threw a hissy fit over it (dammit, it's hot enough in the house - it was a device from hell in my book) and made him re-vent it outside and get rid of that thing. Now we have to rig up a barrier of some kind outside to keep the lint out of the A/C. {sigh - home repairs always manage to occupy too much 'spare' time} Poor MrB had already picked out an alternate solution (an aluminum bendy pipe), cut his hand on it in the store, then cut his hand on it again returning it to the store after deciding it wouldn't work. Back to the drawing board.

I think we are just heaving a big sigh from long-term lack of down time, and looking ahead at more of the same indefinitely.

In 2005 I went to St. Louis and stayed one night to attend the wedding of a nephew. That's the last time I left Texas. Up until 2007 we used to be able to get away with staying somewhere overnight as long as we got back as soon as possible the next day (San Antonio or DFW were do-able on occasion then). Before the cats came down with all the health issues it was easier, put out extra food, litter, water - but things started to go south - and they not only needed regular and vigilant medical care and supervision, they were costing so much that a mini-vacation was a pipe dream.

So, I haven't left Austin other than a few miles beyond the city limits for about 4 years now. You all know I love this town and there is plenty to do, but I do have the blues setting in... especially when people start talking about their European vacations and what-not. Here in the heart of Texas, we have led a charmed existence, free from the recent disaster trends that other areas have suffered - such as freakish way-too-much snow, record-busting floods, tornados so numerous and massive as to seem mythical, hurricanes, tarballs, oil slicks, red tide, too many jellyfish (not being near a beach has a few advantages)… fire is a danger but can be somewhat prevented if people behave and quit burning stuff outdoors. We’re in a terrible drought. Seems like a new normal for the changing climate. It’s happening, folks. Real as hell.

Here’s a band we saw on Sunday night at Momo’s. This is a blues number to match my mood.

That’s Emily Gimble on those incredible vocals. Warren Hood and the Goods, one of the best bands in town or in Texas, or just keep going. They play many styles (original material and covers too); gypsy, Chicago, New Orleans, South Carolina… well, that’s about all the traveling I’ll be doing. Go on out and do your thing. I'll be here when you get back.