Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Hey . .wait! I was going to start my autobiography. Aww, nuts! I would wish you well on helping to get his book started for him, but I doubt any royalty check you'd receive would be worth the trouble of cashing.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
A guilty pleasure of mine for the last few summers (and there are sooooo many), "Last Comic Standing" , like most every other reality-competition show, has tried to develop it's own signature phrase to be used at the denouement.
The best know "signature phrase" comes from "Survivor": "The Tribe has spoken".
"Last Comic Standing" uses the phrase "I know I am funnier than . ." when the comedians challenge each other to an elimination stand-up performance at the end of the episode. (btw, the comedian's name uttered most often is first into the elimination and can choose their competition from the other comedians mentioned)
I had this phrase in mind when I read this Wall Street Journal interview (which I found from viewing RawStory) today. No matter how bad my own unemployment situation becomes, I know I am better than this guy. I'm usually the first to empathize or, at least, sympathize with someone's misfortune.
Nuh-uh. No way. Not gonna happen. No freakin' way. He's reaping what he's sown. Too damn bad!
What a way to wrap up the year.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Watching the Kennedy Center Honors and writing while my partner fawns over Barbra Streisand. I had to post something about how freakin' awesome Dave Grohl sounded as he sang the hell out of "Who Are You". After quite a few televised performances by Dave where he has been avoiding high notes and limiting the screaming, it was so nice to hear him hit all the notes and belt it out!
And, I'm reading on-line that another amazing rock singer, Chris Cornell, performed at that same tribute to the Who, but CBS did not televise his performance. I also read that parts of Dave's performance (the parts with an expletive) were cut as well. What a shame!
Well, at least my partner is having a great time watching the last 30 minutes of this special.
I really enjoy The Huffington Post and LOVE that when I post a comment to a story that the comment copies itself onto this blog! For that, I thank HuffPo. That being said, I'd love an option when I ask to copy my comment back here to either choose the photo Huffington Post posts or an option to not post a photo.
My apologies for the stunningly large AP photo of Blagojevich below.
I really enjoyed Rachel Maddow's show last night. Best of the hour was the first 10 minutes with Richard Engel and the Telestrator he used to sketch out the last few days of occurrences in Gaza. I have retained enough Biblical knowledge to have a knee-jerk "this is the end times" reaction to any dramatic and terrible burst of violence in the area. I did have a great chat with a good friend last night about "end times" and left the conversation feeling much more calm and secure with the knowledge that a lot more would need to happen before the ending begins.
I really do appreciate my friend providing context to help me better understand what is happening in that corner of the world.
Also on Rachel's show last night was Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman talking about infrastructure, especially in light of recent disasters across the country. Even President-Elect Obama experienced first hand while on vacation since last week the effects of a power grid which not only susceptible to a thunder and lightening storm but takes as long as 12 hours to reset and return power to the majority of consumers.
Right now is a great opportunity to visit change.gov and either post a question for Obama's transition team to be answered likely next week or vote for a question already posted. Regardless of the number of issues facing the new administration, there is no harm in adding your voice to the chorus by checking out this web site.
Finally, I treated myself earlier today to hour one of five of the 100 greatest hard rock songs on VH1. I was well familiar with 18 of the first 20 songs listed and finally heard enough of Andrew WK's "Party Hard" to really dig it! (Click here for lyrics). So nice for the hour to tap back into the wild child frenzy of my teen years with these songs and am looking forward to the rest of the list. Much appreciation for VH1 taking me back !
What a circus! CNN is posting Twitter one-liners to the right of the news conference feed? No pretense that this is anything other than theatre of the absurd.
About Rod Blagojevich
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
Monday, December 29, 2008
. . and, my guess is, so do you!
My partner has recently developed a fear of opening his own mail, so he asked for help with opening and sorting about a couple of week's worth of it this morning. Fortunately, nothing was past due, everything to which needed replying has been replied. Included in the stack were a few Christmas cards. One of them included a quick note which included news that the sender had been laid off last month.
Including what I heard from my biological family and from my church family, I now know of six people laid off this year. I sorely wished I had some advice for finding a new job and, for some reason today, I am tapped out of my usual limitless optimism.
So, I will start changing my attitude by writing about what else I accomplished today.
I went through the last couple of days of e-mails. After reading through job alerts from many of the major job posting sites, I applied for three jobs (which is better than two, one or none).
I also got an e-mail from the Obama-Biden transition team inviting me to visit a new "Open for Questions" page from the change.gov website. Viewing the thousands of questions posted does not require registration to the site; however, posting your own question and/or voting yes or no does. After registering, I voted "yes" on seven questions ("yes" meaning participants want the question answered by the transition team). The question getting the most "yes" votes are right in line with what one may read in any of the more popular left-wing blogs.
Then, after perusing said left-wing blogs, I found a link to a BusinessWeek article listing the ten worst predictions involving the U.S. Economy for this year. My bet is you will find a good chuckle out of at least one of the ten predictions (my guffaws came from prediction #9).
Still need a laugh? Try this.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Did no one tell the rest of the world that this is the holiday season -- isn't the news supposed to be slow and introspective?
There is a vast wealth of stories to read out here. Huffington Post seems to have the best collection of news from Gaza with the recent attacks and attempts to flee the chaos into Egypt. Raw Story even has a story about hijras in Bangladesh who will have their first opportunity to vote in nationwide elections on Monday. Considering the rocky political history this country has had, they manage to re-emerge every few years and try to rise above their history.
I just can't bring myself to dive into it !
Instead, I just finished watching an episode of Planet Earth on Discovery. Now that we have a high-definition TV, this series' stunning cinematography and jaw-dropping points of view in exotic locales looks even more beautiful than it did when it premiered on U.S. television. Discovery is airing four episodes tonight, repeating them through this week, then airing four more next week. I'm going to take my time watching all of these, bathing in the color, sounds, violence and gentility.
I'll get back into the politics, etc., later. For now, please just let me sleep . . .
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I had one of my rare few busy days today. Actually, Christmas Day was busy, but I spent more time away from home today. I was, like many other Americans this time of the year, at a family gathering. My partner was at home recuperating from oral surgery, so I made the 90 minute drive to my father's house. Altogether, there were eight of us there for an early dinner -- not a large gathering by most people's standards, but for our family, this was one of the largest since my brother's wedding this past April.
As these sorts of events go, I suspect it was no more or less interesting or eventful than any other family gathering. There was a major announcement (my Dad is getting married), plenty of liquor consumed, lots of story telling and laughing and, of course, things said when others were not in the room to defend themselves (I will assume I made it into that category as I was the first to leave Dad's home tonight).
Our family, very wisely, steered away from polite conversation "no-no"'s: politics and religion. I was fairly close today to starting one of those "no-no" conversations when the topic turned to unemployment (including me, 3 of the 8 of us are unwillingly or have been unwillingly unemployed at some time this year).
Kind of made me wonder what the topics of conversation may have been at Pastor Rick Warren's house gatherings this week. On the one hand, he was honored with being asked to give the Invocation at next month's Inauguration. On the other, he felt compelled at his church's website to post an over 20 minute monologue on the backlash he received from the LGBT community over his opinions on LGBT people and our assertion of the right to marry, one which was quashed last month when Proposition 8 was passed.
Rather than be the ump-teenth blogger to register an opinion about all of this, I will let columnist Frank Rich of the New York Times have the final say. My hope is this the final say about this until Inauguration Day, where my hope is the Invocation will be befitting of this historic event yet as memorable as previous Invocations made by the Grahams.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Unlike most people, I phrase the title of this post in a tone of gratitude and happiness. I am very much an amateur star-gazer (the ones in the sky, not the ones down the street). I don't even own a telescope . . yet.
I had the great joy in October to travel to Tonopah, NV (yeah, I also stopped in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and San Francisco) and had tears in my eyes when i drove 10 miles into the desert and saw nothing but stars in the night sky! This organization is a "one-stop" shop for all things dark-sky, including some suggestions on destinations under the Policy/Programs menu.
One of the stories posted at the MSNBC website is about Death Valley National Park's efforts to make as much of their park a dark sky park as possible. From what I read, it looks as if they will be successful once they make some modifications to their own lighting. Blocking the lights from nearby Las Vegas will be a huge challenge, though. Even if Vegas' lights cannot be blocked, the park stands a good chance of having a majority of its acreage set aside as dark-sky friendly.
On TV: I caught a showing of the newly released movie Christmas on Mars last night. Please watch this sober or, if you choose to watch this in an altered state, bring a friend as it is one of the weirdest movies I've ever seen.
That said, I LOVE weird movies!
Like some of Ed Wood's movies, I could tell everyone tried their best with this movie and poured a lot of heart into it. If Sundance is not airing it and you're not willing to risk the $10 to buy it off of iTunes, I hope it gets shown it somewhere on TV once a year around Christmas time.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Switched up the photos on the left and some of the text colors . . we'll see how it goes.
After stuffing my gut to excess most of the day, I settled in to watch a new episode of Discovery Channel's Cash Cab. Waiting for my new favorite game show host, Ben Bailey, to appear, I get introduced in the Frost/Nixon special edition to . . the Canadian host of Cash Cab.
It just ain't the same!
A quick look at Ben Bailey's website shows he's doing some stand up comedy in late January, parts of February, early March and mid April 2009. Hope there's still time for him to drive that cab of his and record some more episodes! Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the repeats and invite you to do the same.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
One bit of housekeeping before I continue. The posting below was of a comment I made to a story on Huffington Post's website. At the time, I thought that being able to link my blog to hers was so freakin' cool. I still think it is; however, I was not expecting the Associated Press (AP) photo of the Governator to come along for the ride! A small thing and not really a big deal, but my apologies if the photo was jarring/startling (it did both to me).
Pastor Warren, bless his heart, is making a wave or two. I'll let you search his 22 minute web video response within Saddleback Church's website (i think i'll take a pass at that visit - the story as told on last night's Rachel Maddow show was all I needed to see) to all the comments against Pastor Warren's invite to perform the Invocation at the Inauguration. The Orange County Register (whose politics are considerably conservative) published this today regarding a Baptist minister from down the street from my house who gives the good Pastor a few choice words. All the better to frame Pastor Warren as being far more moderate than he actually is.
I am now completely immersed in the Christmas spirit and can't get some of my favorite seasonal tunes out of my head. One of the most beautiful Christmas-adjacent songs ever is "2000 Miles" by the Pretenders. I love just humming the guitar melody as I go about my business as the melody Chrissie Hynde sings runs counter to the guitar. (click here for lyrics) So pretty and peaceful!
I'll keep my tradition tonight, days long headache notwithstanding: After going to my church's Christmas Eve service, which ends around 7;30 pm, I'll boil some hot chocolate and pour into a thermos, grab an umbrella (supposed to rain tonight) and take a stroll through the neighborhood to admire the Christmas lights and tacky decoration show in which the neighborhood loves to indulge. Once home, out go the chocolate chip/pecan cookies and hot tea for Santa and off I go to bed.
Peace, love and light be with you all while you celebrate and a wish for a better year for everyone!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Ooh, Ooh . . I know how we Californians can fix this mess! Let's have a recall ! It worked so well and got so many of our citizens involved in state politics. We could have a whole bunch of us run and pick the best of us for the job.
Oh . . wait .. we already did that with Gray Davis. Hmm...back to the drawing board.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
Blogs do matter! OK, this one will make its mark someday. For now, click here to read a follow up on a posting done about Saddleback Church's website. Well done! Now, we just need to get a group of LGBTQ and straight allies to pay a visit one Sunday to see how things are progressing!
The tying together of gay marriage to pedophilia, incest and polygamy made by Rick Warren in this interview was all I needed to hear to tick me off. After 2 minutes and some deep, cleansing breaths, I realized that Warren is not the only one who effortlessly wraps all of this behavior together.
While I am a Christian and gay, reading the Bible is difficult psychologically. I still own a copy of the Bible given to me as a child which is underlined, highlighted and noted in places where the Bible refers to homosexuality. Seems I did not need someone else to bash me over the head with the Bible; I was doing a good enough job on my own.
Now seems as good a time as any to start conquering my fear. The first place most go to quote Christianity's laws against homosexuality is Leviticus. Leviticus 18: 6-13 cover incest. Verses 14-18 cover Jerry Springer territory. Verse 19 . .eww! Verse 20 . . again, Jerry Springer territory.
OK, Leviticus 18:22, here we go. Well, as I've not "lie(d) with a woman" ever, I'm thinking I get a free pass. OK, I am splitting hairs, I suppose. However, as I'm a Christian, I actually do get a pass on this one. Click here to better understand how this works.
And, finally, Leviticus 18:23 talks about bestiality. On to Chapter 19.
Here we go, Leviticus 19:19 talks about wearing clothing "woven of two kinds of material". I sure hope Pastor Rick has checked the labels on his shirts (I think the jeans are safe being denim) and his suits. As there doesn't seem to be a point value assigned to each of these laws, wearing a polyester/wool, cotton/polyester or cotton/lycra article of clothing is just a big a no-no as Leviticus 18:22.
(I'm breaking Leviticus 19:19 right now . . I leave it you to figure out how !)
Oh, Pastor Rick, how could you! In Leviticus 19:27 and Leviticus 21: 5-6, that trendy goatee/mustache thing you have has to be grown out! I'm thinking about 6 - 8 weeks should give him a full beard and start on forelocks?
Leviticus 20 goes into the penalty phase of the law breaking referenced in Leviticus 18. Wow, there's a lot of blood and dying in this chapter. Maybe, to adhere closely to this chapter, Pastor Rick can band together with like minded others and lobby to get our penitentiary system back in line . . or, on second thought, perhaps some further study would be helpful.
OK, enough with the nitpicking. In my review of five chapters of Leviticus, I didn't see anything saying I could not marry another adult male who is not my blood relative. There was also an imperative thousands of years ago that the tribes of Israel procreate and have lots of children to give them the best chance of maintaining and growing the tribes. Put in this context, it makes a bit more sense why pork and shellfish were also verboten (pork not cooked thoroughly still contains trichinosis which is deadly to humans; a shellfish allergy, which some people have, can also be deadly). It also makes sense why incest and sexual relations while women are having their period were also against the law -- both would either not produce children or produce a child much more prone to genetic defects.
In a world where we know of shellfish allergy, we process, test and cook pork thoroughly before eating and where most have a basic understanding of the human reproductive system and genetics, the laws written in Leviticus make a bit more sense and we understand the actual consequences of not following these laws.
Specifically to Leviticus 18:22, it is important to note that thousands of years ago, there was no such thing as a microscope, which is needed to view sperm and ova. According to The History of Obstetrics and Gynaecology by Michael J. O'Down and Elliot Elias Philipp (pages 256 & 257) ova were not described and observed until the 19th century!
It seems most likely that men contained all the ingredients needed to create children and women's wombs were much like a farmer's field. A man, literally, would be planting his seed in a woman's field in order to grow a child. If a man was not having procreative sexual relations in compliance with laws in Leviticus, he was wasting seed, throwing it everywhere but in a place it would be most likely to grow. And in a society where creating families with lots of children was most important, waste of any kind would, of course, be contrary to that goal.
If I have figured all of this out with the help of my Pastor (and a lot of search engine use), it makes me wonder if Pastor Rick Warren had the same opportunity I had to learn all of this and to change his mind about gay marriage in the last . . uh . . . week or so. Certainly, with six billion people on the planet and so many children left orphaned, abandoned and neglected, the requirement to procreate is not nearly as important as it was in biblical times.
Now that is commonly knows the creation of human life requires sperm and ovum and that the meeting of the two can be aided outside the womb, perhaps Pastor Rick is now open to helping nurture loving relationships amongst his congregation, no matter if the couple is infertile, post-menopausal, two consenting men or two consenting women.
Guess we'll find out next month.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Saw my first "worst of 2008" list today with the focus on movies. For once, I missed each and every one of the movies on this list - didn't even rent or view them On Demand!
I did see a couple of turkeys myself. Sometimes, it's just unavoidable - a movie gets overhyped and it's the only new one out that week and it's playing everywhere, and . . OK, enough excuses:
"Max Payne". Mark Wahlberg, yum. Plot? Ugh.
"Transporter 3". Anything with Jason Statham is automatically a few notches better than other movies. However, the movie lost me with a tender . . . love . . scene with him and some skinny young woman. Disappointing and unnecessary. The movie . .yeah, that's it.
"Speed Racer". When the best thing I can say about a movie is "Wow, all the pretty colors!" and it's not a nature documentary, it's best to just walk past quickly.
Gay.com is asking visitors to vote on their favorite pop song out of a list of 25 songs. One quick look at the list shows Britney Spears, Cher, Kylie Minogue, 3 Madonna songs and Celine Dion are represented.
Buried in the list are songs by REM (eh . . ), Tina Turner (the only true diva in the whole damn list and the talent to back it up), Kate Bush (terrific songwriter!) and Nirvana (yay!)
Hmm.. for whom should I vote ? Done.
Currently in the lead is a Madonna song. I'm so damn proud to be gay . . . *sigh*
Friday, December 19, 2008
. . . I am promising to avoid posting entries in this blog regarding, relating to, adjacent to or in any way shape or form regarding politics -- whether it's national, statewide, county, city or even dog catcher.
Thanks to a conversation with a friend I had earlier this evening, it's come to my attention that I am spending entirely too much time diving into all things political. When I watched an MSNBC show earlier tonight talking about Rick Warren and found my blood pressure sky rocketing at some of the things this man had to say about homosexuality, my friend and I came to the conclusion that we both need to diversify our breadth of knowledge and infuse some variety into our conversations.
We've been chatting for months and, much to my delight, our conversations usually fall in and out of the two things which do not make for polite conversation: religion and politics.
While swearing off religion would be next to impossible for me, I am going to avoid posting on politics until after 12/25/08.
As a nice way to start a week-long series of posts on other things, that same MSNBC host interviewed an amazing photographer, Annie Leibovitz (click here for a good sample of work she did for Vanity Fair). I know next to nothing about photography, except for knowing what I like. I enjoy photos where subjects are framed, lighting evokes some kind of emotion, and the subject draws your attention, but not without gathering cues from the rest of the photo.
The grey square at the top left corner of this blog page is a sample of my photography skills. For a photographer, I'm a terrific writer! However, I stand no chance of improving my photography skill if I never take another photo. So, I tried another photo that "spoke to me" and may well replace the "birds on wires" photo I have.
Replace it with this photo or keep shooting?
Rick Warren was chosen by Obama to deliver the Invocation at next month's Inauguration. 2005's Invocation was made by Rev. Dr. Luis Leon, 2001's by Rev. Franklin Graham (son of Rev. Billy Graham), 1997's and 1993's by Rev. Billy Graham. I cannot recall anything that the Invocation delivery person said or did which so radically changed what the sworn-in President did or said during their presidency. This should end this ridiculous uproar over Obama's choice of Warren to deliver the Invocation.
Blagojevich speaks! ** yawn **
Bush's travels (WARNING: Photos may induce fits of rage, nausea and/or longing to leave him at one of these destinations)
On a personal level, I spent much of yesterday traveling to West Los Angeles for a job interview, parking, getting a soy latte, driving back toward home for a haircut, getting supper to go at one of my favorite eateries, coming home to a flooded kitchen floor and a partner who had tipped over in his wheelchair into a big muddy puddle.
Blessedly, the cause of the flooding was found this morning -- our upstairs neighbors had dropped two golf balls into their kitchen sink and, gravity being what it is, the balls had fallen down into our kitchen plumbing. Four hours and a pro plumber and all is well in the house.
Not so sure about our upstairs neighbors, though . .
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Here are three items I found interesting this morning. Choose one, two or all three to peruse. Would love to read what your thoughts were on any/each of these.
Greta Christina's Blog. I found this as a link from pageoneq.com (look to the left column of this blog - page one is one of my daily "go to" blogs). Before you panic, I was not converted to either of the things she discusses. However, what I read left me curious to read more and, after all, what more could a write ask of their readers than the desire to read more?
Governor Blagojevich's attorney. I caught a little of Genson's requests in front of the Illinois legislature. I found myself feeling sympathetic toward Genson. If, in fact, he has not had access to the conversation recordings on which the legislature is making its case for impeachment. While the legislature made the case that it is not a court, I cannot see how an attorney could mount some kind of defense or provide some kind of perspective without having access to the source material which is driving the impeachment.
"When (Adolf) Hitler needs a birthday cake . ." Yes, on the surface, this is news fluffernutter. Any time someone stirs up the proverbial racism pot, everyone who hears/reads the story takes a few minutes to check their own level of racism. Need a test to do so? Try this one. Read the blog entry first, then click on the link in the blog entry to proceed.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
No, you're not over-medicated or hallucinating or reading a Canadian blog.
The suffocating and strangling fog that has fallen over the U.S is slowly starting to lift and burn off. A little ashamed to say I had to read the article about the federal appeals court ruling yesterday out loud in order to understand the reason for the lawsuit which led to yesterday's ruling and why this appeals court decision was so important.
In a nutshell, if the FBI issued a National Security Letter looking for information, the entity receiving the letter could not say a word about the request to anyone. This, of course, lead to heaven-only-knows how many constitutional abuses being done where no one could see, hear or read about it.
No word on how long it will take before abuses under this portion of the Patriot Act will be revealed. I will wait patiently . . no . . I freakin' cannot WAIT to see what kind of absurdity comes out because of yesterday's ruling. I'll do my best to not be surprised, but I have a lousy track record of that when it comes to things like these over the last 7-8 years.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Ooh, I've always wanted to do one of these lists!! But, to make things interesting, I'm going to shuffle songs, movies, TV and whatever else comes to mind into the list:
Nine Inch Nails "Discipline". This was a song from one of those rare few, totally artist approved free albums. I'm just nuts for the beats and this song reminds me of some of their earlier songs like "Head Like a Hole"
Thriving Ivory "Angels on the moon". I liked it so much I wrote a post on this weeks ago. Wanna read about it? Search this blog!
Does It Offend You, Yeah? "Dawn of the Dead". I'm a sucker for a great hook and I just cannot resist a pop song with steel drums folded into the chorus!
Motley Crue "Saints of Los Angeles". Ooh, it was like I was 16 again for a minute, then I realized how fortunate I was to give up that life when I was 19.
Gnarls Barkley "Who's Gonna Save My Soul". They just don't sound like anyone else out there. Haunting and beautiful.
Weezer "Troublemaker". A song all about my childhood dreams . . sort of. Lots of fun!
Metallica "Death Magnetic" (the whole album). Better than the Black Album. This should've been the follow up to "..Justice..".
"The Dark Knight". Only movie this year I saw twice in the theatre. Cried both times I saw Heath Ledger for the last time toward the end of the movie.
"Iron Man". Only other movie from this year I saw twice (did it On Demand style the second time). Fun, great effects, nice chemistry between Robert Downey Jr and Gwenyth Paltrow.
"Saving Grace" (TNT). My partner loves the Closer, which aired just before this show on Mondays over the summer. I love that the hero is dark, complex, strong and continues to be torn between getting swallowed up in evil or fighting for good. I also love that it does not resort to making judgments on the main characters at the end of every episode -- the show is messy, much like real life. Worth checking out when it returns in January (I think -- could be in June)
"The Rachel Maddow Show" (MSNBC). Her talent lies in making the complexities of politics easy to understand without being condescending or shrill. She's starting to get some really good guests on her show and her show is quite popular -- good for her!
Saturday Nights on BBC America. There was a sci-fi or fantasy show on every Saturday night on BBC America. At the moment, the most recent season of Doctor Who is airing and I cannot wait to see what show they put on Saturdays next. I really enjoyed Primeval, Robin Hood and Torchwood before. This is the place to see the best in TV sci-fi (until, I suspect, someone gets me involved in Battlestar Galactica or something)
What were your favorites from this past year?
I've gotten into the habit of listening to the local NPR affiliate for a few minutes before heading off to sleep. By the time I'm ready for bed, the NPR affiliate becomes a BBC World News affiliate so I get a good view of what's happening outside of the U.S.
Before I drifted off to sleep last night, I heard a correspondent reporting on the economic situation in Japan. If you only follow CNN, Fox or MSNBC, you may think that only the U.S. is suffering with layoffs, less money circulating in the economy, etc. Click here to get up to speed on what is happening in another of the world's largest economies, Japan.
My hope would be that our country's legislature would take a look at the rest of the world's economic situation, including the economies from which the U.S imports automobiles and electronics. I'm not bright enough to figure out if our country's economic woes have triggers crises in other countries, vice versa or all of us are dealing with economic troubles all at the same time.
If you're still thinking that the economies of other countries can't possibly affect the U.S. consider that the Screen Actor's Guild is reaching out to its members this week to discuss the situation with their contract with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers. While a strike conducted by the Writers Guild was, more or less, successful this time last year (though it lasted for months), there appears to be a hesitancy within SAG about whether they want to vote to strike starting next month.
While most can name at least ten well paid steadily working actors, the vast majority of SAG members work only occasionally and work second jobs outside of the industry to make ends meet. These are also the members who rely on their SAG membership for health benefits. I would be very surprised to see a strike occurring any time soon.
On the other hand, last year's Writer's Guild was well supported by actors and it is likely they would, in turn, provide support to actors should they vote to strike. Perhaps by SAG members being visible while on strike, others may find encouragement in seeing that labor still has some clout by standing together and working with management to come to an agreement that benefits all.
Or, maybe like what happened this past January with late night TV, management will start putting out management-starring films this summer.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I have been to quite a few parades. The first I remember was Fasching in Wiesbaden, Germany as a ten-year old. That one set the bar quite high for other parades to meet. I've been once to the Doo Dah Parade in Pasadena (I'm still cleaning bits of tortilla out of the oddest places) and have gone to a bunch of Pride parades in West Hollywood.
Today, I marched in my first parade -- the Whittier Christmas Parade.
I was so proud and happy to march with the Whittier chapter of PFLAG in its first time being represented in this parade. The staging (waiting for the parade to star
t moving) part took quite a while. The parade was scheduled to start at 10 am and, because of our group's placing in the parade, we did not leave our staging area until 11 am. There were around twenty of us marching, just dressed in warm and comfortable clothing with most of us sporting rainbow-colored ribbons either pinned to lapels or tied somewhere on our clothes.
This being the first time any LGBT-affiliated group had marched in this parade, no one knew for sure how anyone in the parade and those lined up and
down Greenleaf and Mar Vista would react to our presence.
Like most of the other community groups, we waived to all, put on big smiles and wished everyone Merry Christmas as we walked along.
I had to bite the inside of my lip at one point to prevent tears from falling. I could barely utter a word to anyone watching the parade. Save for two people who let us know their displeasure at our presence, everyone involved was either quiet or was warm, friendly and excited. Others in our group told me after we finished marching the parade route that they noticed some whom we passed were whispering to each other.
I cannot wait until next year's parade and will do what I can to talk everyone I know into participating with PFLAG, should PFLAG choose to
march again. The thousands participating and watching the parade saw a group of happy, proud people and a group that easily fit in with all of the
marching bands, floats and other community gro
I'm posting my first picture in this blog. My talents li
e in words, not in taking pictures. I was just happy many of my pictures were free of my finger blocking the lens! This photo does a good job summarizing how w
ell we were received. Most in our group were handing out candy canes (as were most of the other groups) to parade watchers. We had a happy group awaiting candy as I snapped this photo.
Friday, December 12, 2008
First, AIG's "retention payments". Now, the Federal Reserve refused a request from Bloomberg News to release names of institutions who received around two trillion dollars in loans.
I wish Bloomberg News the best of luck suing to get this information pried out of the Fed.
So, now I've missed out on a $100 K to $1M "retention payment" and a huge loan of money from American taxpayers where I don't have to tell the press how much I got or what I put up as collateral.
Now all I need is a story about someone undeserving getting a 3000 square foot home two blocks from the beach and free groceries for a year and . . I'm all set?
While running errands earlier today, I heard on CNN (thank you, satellite radio!) that the primo business people at AIG had decided to pay "retention payments" to 168 management staff ranging from around $100 K to $1M. This was even after they had asked from the government and received around $150B in loads. The payments were meant to retain quality management staff at AIG for the coming year.
I could feel my blood begin to boil and my head swell and almost could feel steam pouring out of my ears like an old-timey cartoon! As I'm driving around, I kept saying and singing about how, well, dishonest all of this seemed.
After searching for more info on this story, I found this article on a Congressman who is starting to ask some questions about all of this. I have a deep well of optimism from which to draw, so I am hopeful that the inquiries will lead to something more and either AIG will somehow be compelled to rededicate the money they received to something else or to return to the government those monies meant for the "retention payments".
Then again, if you loan a friend money to help him pay his rent and he decides to spend the money you loan on lottery tickets instead, unless you had him sign something which would compel him to use the loan for rent, you really have no business being upset at how your friend spent the money you loaned. You also would never loan money to him again and would do well to write off the loan as poor judgment on your part.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Homework: Have CNN on as I write this post. Coming this Sunday at 1 pm Eastern, Fareed Zakaria will be interviewing Colon Powell. The small clip I saw highlighted what Powell said about the Republicans' efforts to win the Presidential election last month and regarding the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy regarding gays in the military. I've watched other episodes on previous Sundays and Zakaria does a terrific job asking thoughtful questions without resorting to screeching opinions.
And, the humor part?
Take yer pick:
the ongoing Blagojevich scandal -- I recommend the side story on the wife. He talks like Pollyanna compared to her!
Jon Stewart's interview of Mike Huckabee earlier this week. Click here for a kind wordpress blogger who prepared a transcript of the second, and far more interesting half of the interview. Not so much humor in this, unless you account for the fact that Stewart is, first and foremost, a comedian.
A puzzler: an organization of journalists whose home base is outside of the U.S announced a list of individuals plus a list of movies from this year whom this organization thought were better than the rest this year. If you can figure out who this is, you too can search with your favorite internet search engine and peruse the list yourself. I'm cool with some listed, scratching my head with others listed and am hopeful that this year's TV show announcing the best of the best will be chock full of glitz, glamor and gowns (unless a good percentage of those individuals on the list decide to support their union in an action scheduled for next month)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I find myself needing more and more breaks from all of the political and political-adjacent coverage these days.
And today being International Human Rights Day as well as the Day Without a Gay, I'm doing my tiny little part by staying home all day. I feel so . . rebellious!
While I host my own little protest sit in, I'm unplugging by watching Extreme Trains on History Channel. The host is so in love with what he does, the joy just jumps from the screen. Last night's episode was a steam locomotive ride to/from Denver and Cheyenne to coincide with this year's Rodeo Days in Cheyenne. Such lovely scenery in between these two cities!
And I'm catching up on episodes of Cash Cab on Discovery Channel. Good looking, confident cab-driving host and fun contestants -- what more does a game-show lover like me need? And I can tell people I watch Discovery Channel and let them assume I'm more high-brow than I really am (oops . .guess my secret is out?).
Check either of these shows out for a nice diversion or find one of your own today. What takes your mind off the world's troubles?
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Was watching BBC America World News just now and they interviewed a man named Steve Burns from a company called AMP Motorworks. Mr. Burns is in Washington DC at the moment trying to get a meeting with Congress to ask for a loan from the government.
Click here to read a summary of what AMP Motorworks does. From what I saw in the interview, I see just a couple of hurdles to clear. First, the conversion of a Saturn Sky's internal combustion engine to an electric drive train costs $25,000.00. That price is steep for most car owners. For those who can afford the cost, once the Sky is brought into their shop, the conversion takes all of two days. Mr. Burns told the interviewer that he actually has a waiting list to get cars converted.
The other hurdle to clear is for apartment dwellers like me who do not have electrical outlets in the parking lot -- there is no where to plug in the car! However, if enough people with electrical outlets in their garages and carports demand this conversion, perhaps apartment home owners can be convinced to wire parking lots for electrical outlets.
So, for just how many billions is Mr. Burns asking?
Yes, twenty million dollars. All of 0.13% of what was offered to the big 3 American car companies.
I'm ready to make that loan.
Here is the OMG story for today: the arrest of Illinois' governor Blagojevich. And, yes, I purposely sourced the Chicago Tribune for the article. I have to imagine someone in charge at the Tribune took two minutes in private to point and laugh at this turn of events then another two minutes to reflect on the nature of Karma. Or, you know, go for a smoke or something . .
My friend Randy, who does a wonderful job of challenging my preconceived notions on practically everything (how else does one learn and grow?), wanted to know how much of the 12/5/08 layoffs at Chicago's Republic Doors and Windows were the fault of labor, management and/or Bank of America. A decent amount of Googling to look for a more in-depth report on this issue came up empty. However, a view of *gulp* Fox News' website for a report on the situation from yesterday does its best to look at the situation from the management/bank's perspective. Given that, as of this writing, only two comments were posted (when usually Fox News fans are fairly prolific when they perceive an issue having to do more with a liberal political lean than just a report on the situation), it looks like the ones at fault are management and the bank.
A update: as of around an hour ago, B of A agreed to make some money available to Republic to help address the employees' severance and vacation pay owed.
While no one escapes blame when a business permanently closes its doors due to not making enough or any money at all, I have yet to hear of a business closing where the majority of fault lies with labor. Please feel free to point me in the direction of any situation that disproves what I said in the previous sentence -- and, yes, the more facts presented, the more likely I am to be persuaded.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I'm not sure where this post is going, so I'll preface it by giving you the option of reading my friend Randy's post from today. I'm not sure what I have to report will warm your heart like his story did mine.
I started the day facing three big challenges: following up with a temp agency on two job interviews I had before Thanksgiving, reaching out to California's Unemployment department over no unemployment checks in the last three weeks and completing an application to move from a COBRA health insurance plan from my last employer to an insurance plan through my college's alumni association.
The first was the easiest to do: One employer rehired a returning employee and the other employer still has not made up their mind.
The second task left me with only one option. After calling the office and hearing a pre-recorded message telling me, basically, don't bother calling us until Wednesday because we're too damn busy to let you wait on the phone (and even if you call on Wednesday, which I tried weeks earlier, you still ain't gonna get someone live!). The one option I had was to re-apply for unemployment insurance on-line, which I did. Either I won't hear live from someone from the unemployment office and the checks will start coming again OR I'll get a call from someone ready for confrontation (like I did the last time I applied).
The last task was the most frustrating. I worked in the managed care/insurance industry for 9 years and I had to carefully read and re-read the twelve page application for health insurance after having spent hours printing out this ".pdf" file. After bouncing ideas off my partner on how best to complete the fields with information I did not recall off the top of my head, I got around to page 9 and read that, because I had not yet exhausted the COBRA plan, I could not apply for this insurance! I would have saved over 60% on monthly premiums, though I would have had to meet a $1900.00 deductible first. Even so, I would have saved money had I been able to apply.
Even if I could successfully apply, I would have had to recall medications I may have taken sometime in the last five years and to recall the diagnoses I may or may not have had on the last couple of visits I made to the Emergency Room (I would call them migraine headaches, but pain being subjective and the doctors usually rolling their eyes at me when I listed my symptoms).
Save for my late mother, who meticulously kept records of every little thing, I cannot imagine anyone keeps medical information that detailed for that long. Or, maybe it's just me?
Suffice to say, all of this did nothing for my attitude, which was only aggravated further by one of my dogs misbehaving.
Then, around 10:30 this morning, I got a call for a new interview which I am going to tomorrow morning. And all became sunny once again !
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Just read the article and played a two-minute clip found at www.rawstory.com (click here to go directly to Raw Story's article) I was a little creeped out at what I read and saw.
If you needed proof that, at least in Texas, the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, has been reduced to a wink and a nod, here it is!
By the way, the KopBuster's originating site, nevergetbusted.com, was not accessible at the time of this writing, so I am looking forward to going there later on to find out when more of these videos will be forthcoming.
I spent a good portion of yesterday parked in front of my laptop and printer, attempting to print out a twelve page .pdf document e-mailed to me by a health insurance company. I have COBRA coverage through my last employer which will be available to me through November 2009. While there is some comfort in keeping the same coverage I have had for the last 2 1/2 years, this comfort is costing me nearly $400 per month - - and that coverage is just for me!
So, when I got an offer by mail from my college for health coverage at a discount with the same insurance company, I took a look. I found similar coverage, albeit with a deductible in most cases and higher copays, for as much as 75% less. Having been blessed with good health through diet and medication, I will not need another doctor's visit until summer 2009. And, not knowing how long it will take to find another job and have that health insurance begin, why wouldn't I take advantage of having to pay a little less every month, even after having to meet a deductible.
Now, I have three more pages to print, which for some reason take a good long while to print, then a lot of detailed information to fill out. Even with my many years of health insurance work experience, I have a lot of studying to do in order to fill it out correctly and to make sure I actually wind up saving money in the long run.
Jeez, what a lot of work it takes to save money! Can't wait for the eventuality of universal single-payer health insurance when I won't have to worry about this at all and I can focus on so many other things.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Pretty bleak news on the unemployment front out today. Click here for more details.
The president decided to give a statement from outside of the White House this morning. I think I would have heard more compassion, understanding and support from practically anyone else.
Being a Christian, I went looking for some kind of comfort, a place to rest, some reassurance. Nothing from my own church. Not knowing where else to turn, I went to Amma's site. She and her entourage were in Dearborn MI yesterday, one place in this country, I am sure, where comfort and encouragement are most needed and welcome.
While the "thought of the moment" didn't seem to apply to how I'm feeling, at least a spiritual leader is doing what she can, which is perfectly in line with what she has been doing in her home and in other places around the world.
Makes me wonder what other spiritual/religious leaders are doing these days? Oh, yeah, they're doing stuff like this.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
There's a lot of interesting things going on in our great big world today! Here are three articles that caught my eye today:
HuffPost Readers Blog The Meltdown. I posted my story here. Though it has not been posted, the stories posted today helped me feel grateful for what I have and that my situation could be much worse.
Dennis Leary firefighters show to tackle 9/11 conspiracy theories. I'm a big fan of Rescue Me. It's mostly soap opera for men with little bits of comedy improv. It is also one of the few shows that has managed to make me laugh and cry within the same episode. Can't wait to see just how the show handles this.
Why doesn't ABC News just become a blog and get it over with? A well made case for bookmarking and reading multiple sources if you want to rely on the Internet for news on a regular basis.
And, finally, I did some Christmas shopping at a local mall earlier today. My list is now down to just my life partner. I have visited this mall for nearly twenty years and it is now at its least busy and least occupied that I can recall. Two of its five anchor stores are either closed or are soon to be closed with about one in four retail spaces left unoccupied.
While my need to buy gifts, clothes and the occasional soy latte will not soon end, perhaps the decline of the mall is really a blessing in disguise. America can only have so many Wal-Marts, so the decline of the mall really means switching in shopping habits back to mixed neighborhood venues (stores on the 1st floor, living quarters on the 2nd/3rd floors) and a build up of on-line shopping outlets. Both of these means fewer drives to the stores and, perhaps, a refocus on shopping for what you need instead of shopping for entertainment's sake.
Now, if only I could somehow order that soy latte on-line, I'd be ready for the commerce revolution.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I attempted to attend a job fair this morning in Santa Ana CA. I arrived just as the fair started and circled around the miniscule hotel parking lot along with about 20 other cars and could not find a place to park. I could not figure out if there was some way to park remotely and take a bus to the hotel, so I drove to a mall a couple of miles away and tried to do some Christmas shopping for a little while.
After an hour of walking around, getting a few ideas and only having purchased a small cinnamon roll, I drove back to the hotel. There were no cars circling the parking lot, but the lot had been closed. I drove around the neighborhood and could not find parking anywhere else. I took all of this as a sign that I was not meant to be at this particular job fair.
Also, if I had found a parking spot and went to the fair, I would have missed an interview on Thom Hartman's program of Wall Street's Psychic Advisor Mary T. Browne. When Hartman let it slip that she charges as much as $400.00 per hour for her advice, I nearly had to pull over the car from having such heavy fits of laughter. Here is essentially what advice she gives her clients:
- Think pink: send out positive, loving thoughts and they will come back to you and guide you toward which investments to make. Pink, according to Ms. Brown, is the color of love in a person's aura.
- Be honest: Watch out for those who say one thing while their body language communicates something else. Go with your "gut feeling" on making the right investments.
If you feel this advice has been of any help to you, post a reply to this entry and leave your e-mail address. I'd be happy to let you know how you may pay me $100 for this sage advice. After all, I just saved you $300 in consultant fees and you're just about as likely to make wise stock investments with these two pieces of advice as you would be if you reached out and contacted Ms. Brown.
I feel so positive, warm and fuzzy right now! Let the healing begin !!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I miss new episodes of The Daily Show! Jon is back and I could not stop giggling over this.
Seriously, the best advice I have ever received on getting news came from one of my favorite liberal talk show hosts, Randi Rhodes. I started listening to her years ago when she was on Air America. On one of the first shows I heard, she admonished her audience to not rely on her show nor any talk show for news. She routinely sources the blogs she posts on her site so you can read for yourself the piece of news she used to form her opinion.
So, watching Fox News and MSNBC for hard news? Probably not smart. My suggestions? Newshour on PBS, BBC News and/or the Christian Science Monitor (though be mindful of those companies who sponsor/advertise on these sites)
SPECIAL NOTE: If I have done this correctly, on the left should be a link to my buddy's blog: Randy's Blog. Never shy about his opinion and never failing to have an educated opinion, I look forward to checking in on his blog in between government policy brainstorming sessions during games of Canasta.
What? Maybe if those in positions of power spent a little more time brainstorming over card games our country's issues may be a lot further along in being addressed and resolved.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Plenty to talk about today: President-Elect Obama's security team was announced and today is also World AIDS Day. I was surprised to find out that today also marks the 53rd anniversary of the date when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person and go to the back end of the bus she was riding.
Was I reminded of this while glued to MSNBC or skipping around my favorite blogs? Nope, I heard it from Whoopi Goldberg as I watched The View late this morning!
While my life is quite a bit different from Ms. Parks', today served as a good reminder that in each of us rests the ability to, with even the seemingly smallest of gestures, affect change in our world. While the likelyhood of any of us choosing to do something small could result in such a large change in our world, the opportunity to affect change is lost when we choose to do nothing.
I have been challenging myself, in small ways, to make changes within my world, especially with my recent change in employment status. How significant could the coming days be for all of us should we continue to accept this challenge to change?