Monday, July 27, 2009

Don't watch those pandacams.

If you want to get anything else done, that is.

Just a word of warning, to the wise.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Giant pandas in real time

Check out the national zoo's pandacams.

Camera 1

Camera 2

The best time to see them outdoors is the morning; in the evening, they are indoors, sometimes snoozing, sometimes chowing down on bamboo, or just wandering around. There is a live operator running the cameras, and they follow the pandas around to make sure they are in view as much as possible.

Viewing time is limited to 15 minutes per session.

I could not screen-capture an image of the cam so this is an actual photograph of my computer screen. Sorry about the wiggly lines.

What I did after my summer vacation

I wasn't going to go, because it was right after I got back from my big trip... but the Moody Blues played relatively nearby Thursday evening. I had said (facetiously) that I wasn't going to go unless somebody gave me tickets.

Then Wednesday morning Pam e-mailed and said she had some extras; did I want them? Yeah, I did.

No cameras were allowed in the venue, but we got this shot with Pam's phone, and I am shamelessly stealing it to post here. That's me, Pam, and Cheryl, before the concert.

The concert was fabulous, as always. They dropped 3 songs from last year's setlist and added in 4 new ones, all of which went over very well. Two out of the 3 dropped songs I was happy to do without, but I did miss the former opener, "Lovely to see you." Now they're opening with "The voice," which is a good song too, but it's not nearly as "Lovely," and that's just my not-so-humble opinion.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I knew Henry Louis Gates was a total dork 10 years ago.

Back then, while attending college as part of my second midlife crisis, in the English composition and critical thinking class, we were to read certain essays (including one by Gates) and then answer some questions. Here is what I wrote in February of 1999 for this assignment:

          According to Henry Louis Gates, Jr., multiculturalism is thought to be “a pretty name for ethnic chauvinism” and “the mindless celebration of difference.” He then declares the debate “miscast from the beginning,” stating “I don’t think that is what multiculturalism . . . ought to be.” Substituting a definition of his own, “ . . . truly humane learning, unblinkered by . . . narrow ethnocentrism,” he gives examples to support multiculturalism as he defines it, using “cultural pluralism” synonymously. Writings that oppose his view he dismisses as “jeremiad.” (My dictionary defines this to mean “mournful and lamenting.”)

         Gates would have served his readers better if he had made it clearer throughout that the “multiculturalism” he supports is not what most people, by his admission, think of when they hear that word. In the third paragraph he more or less wishes away the commonly held definition of the term and substitutes his own. He then argues in favor of his version of “multiculturalism,” neglecting to mention that opponents of multiculturalism do not in fact oppose that which he supports. I find such sophistry highly annoying. When commentators can only make their point by knocking down a “straw dog,” I can only conclude that their argument lacks substance. Who but the most rabid Eurocentrist could argue against “multiculturalism” as Gates defines it? Recent news events have clearly shown that attempting to re-define words to suit one’s own wishes brings only ridicule and loss of credibility.

         We could give Gates the benefit of the doubt and applaud his attempt to reclaim the word and assign to it the meaning he thinks it should have. However, for maximum impact, one must speak the language of one’s audience. Gates would be much more credible if he had found a new way to describe his vision of “truly humane learning” without using a word that has come to mean something entirely different in popular usage.

Unfortunately I no longer have the source citation for the essay by Gates that I quoted above.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trains, Planes, And Shuttle Vans

As I write this, I have been stranded in Phoenix since last night, due to freaky storms. What is it with airline pilots, anyway, that they don't want to land their planes sideways in the thick of the lightning, cross-winds, monsoons and dust devils? Huh? What's up with that?

Hopefully I will get out of here and get home tonight. I actually have confirmed seats--but then again, I had confirmed seats last night too, and a whole lot of good THAT did me. Had to spend last night in a hotel; it was either that or try to sack out in the airport, and last time I did that, I was MUCH younger.... And because it was a weather problem, and thus not the airline's fault, they did not issue free room (or free meal) vouchers. Oh well. I was the bottom of the standby heap this morning, and did not get on that flight, although my suitcase did. So my suitcase will be back in the ol' home town before me. At least I won't have to wait for baggage claim... but I may have to wait for the lone gate agent to appear from wherever they hide between flights to get my suitcase out of the lock-up.

No, I am not sitting in the swanky "club" lounge with the free coffee. I had a free pass for the outbound flight 11 days ago, when I had a 3-hour layover, but this trip, customer service assured me they are not able to issue complementary club passes, and I am not paying 40 bucks for a day pass. 40 bucks does not a free cup of coffee make....

Meanwhile, I have just a couple of photos from the adventure at the National Zoo. No those are not stuffed animals, despite their appearance.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Yeah, Yeah, Still Alive

More or less, anyway.

There will be pictures later, I promise... but as I write this, I am in the Amtrak departure lounge in Washington, D.C., just leaving the national writers' conference behind for another year.

This morning we went to the national zoo and the giant pandas were out for a terrific photo op. Took LOTS of pictures--but the camera and its card are buried deep in my backpack now, and I am not digging them out again, so you'll have to wait for the pictures. Don't be holding your breath either; I won't be home until Monday night, because we're riding the train from D.C. to Chicago, arriving tomorrow morning, then to Milwaukee, and I fly home from Milwaukee tomorrow evening.

Last Tuesday we did all three branches of government in one day; the White House at 7:30 a.m. (we didn't see very much of it, and the East Room is MUCH smaller than I thought), then we switched hotels, then we went to the Capitol (with a brief stop at the Library of Congress while we waited for our Capitol appointment) and lastly, the Supreme Court, where we had lunch in the basement cafeteria. We ate at the Supreme Court. Go figure.

We also managed visits to the Washington Monument, the World War II and Vietnam memorials, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery (where we were fortunate enough to witness a changing of the guard ceremony), and the Air and Space Museum.

Yes, our feet hurt. Thank you for asking.

Oh, and somewhere in the midst of all that, we attended the annual national writers' conference.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Boomer Radio

If you aren't listening, why not??

For my fellow old farts, I have been compiling a partial list of artists who appear on the Vintage Rock channel. Look interesting? Then for heaven's sakes, TUNE IN!

Al Kooper
Al Stewart
Alice Cooper
Allman Brothers Band
American Dream
Arlo Guthrie
Big Brother & The Holding Company
Blind Faith
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Blue Cheer
Blues Magoos
Blues Project
Boz Scaggs
Brian Auger & The Trinity
Bruce Springsteen
Bubble Puppy
Buddy Miles
Buffalo Springfield
Canned Heat
Cat Stevens
Chambers Brothers
Circus Maximus
Colin Blunstone
Country Joe and The Fish
Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Crosby, Stills, Nash
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Cryan Shames
Danny O'Keefe
Dave Mason
David Allan & The Arrows
David Crosby
Deep Purple
Delaney and Bonnie & Friends
Derek & The Dominoes
Dr. John, The Night Tripper
Earth Opera
Edgar Winter Group
Edison Electric Band
Electric Flag
Electric Prunes
Elton John
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Eric Clapton
Everything is Everything
Fairport Convention
Fever Tree
Fleetwood Mac
Flying Burrito Brothers
Frank Zappa
Frijid Pink
George Harrison
Graham Nash
Grand Funk Railroad
Grass Roots
Grateful Dead
Greg Allman
Harry Nilsson
Hot Tuna
Ides Of March
Iron Butterfly
It's A Beautiful Day
Jack Bruce
Jackie Lomax
James Gang
Janis Joplin
Jeff Beck
Jefferson Airplane
Jesse Winchester
Jethro Tull
Jimi Hendrix
Jimmie Spheeris
Jo Jo Gunne
Joan Baez
Joe Cocker
John Lennon
John Mayall
John Renbourn
John Sebastian
Joni Mitchell
Judy Collins
Julie Driscoll And Brian Auger & The Trinity
King Crimson
Laura Nyro
Led Zeppelin
Lee Michaels
Leon Russell
Leonard Cohen
Lou Reed
Lovin' Spoonful
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Max Frost & The Troopers
Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper & Stephen Stills
Moby Grape
Moody Blues
Mothers Of Invention
Mott The Hoople
Neil Young
New Riders Of The Purple Sage
Norman Greenbaum
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Phil Ochs
Pink Floyd
Procol Harum
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Richie Havens
Rolling Stones
Savoy Brown
Simon & Garfunkel
Sly & The Family Stone
Small Faces
Spencer Davis Group
Spooky Tooth
Status Quo
Stephen Stills
Steve Miller Band
T. Rex
Taj Mahal
Teegarden & Van Winkle
Ten Wheel Drive
Ten Years After
The Band
Thunderclap Newman
Tim Hardin
Tom Rush
Van Morrison
Vanilla Fudge
Who, The
ZZ Top

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

As If I Needed Yet Another Excuse.

Daily Dose of Caffeine May Cure Alzheimer's, Scientists Find

I am still not sure how they define a "cup," though. Since my favorite coffee mug is about the size of a large bucket, I have always had to make adjustments when I hear about how many "cups" of coffee per day will do this or that.

Excuse me. I have to go pour another dose of anti-brain-rot medicine now.

(Hat tip: Sarahk, via Twitter)

Never Again.

Remember the incident where my credit card number was compromised, and I started receiving all kinds of interesting "products" in the mail?

In spite of the comic relief and blog-fodder achieved through that incident, it's been one big headache, because despite multiple promises and assurances, the credit card issuer, as of yesterday, had STILL not actually closed my account (I was assured it was closed back on November 11, 2008) and even allowed more fraudulent charges to get through after the card had been canceled. Then they charged an annual fee on the dead credit card, and started slapping me with late fees and finance charges. Apparently my closed account even went to collection.

After yet another a lengthy time on the phone yesterday (they should be paying me for my time, methinks) I am assured once again that the account has been closed and all charges have been reversed. I will believe that when I see it. (Hint: I am not holding my breath.)

At the end of the call, I informed the very nice phone representative that while of course I did not hold her personally responsible for the mess, she needed to pass the word upstairs that I would never, EVER do business with their company again. She was sorry to hear it--but said she completely understood where I was coming from.

Oh, you want to hear who messed up so badly? Well, I won't mention their name directly, but their initials are B of A....

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Baby

Not quite the baby she was when I got her, though....

Here's a view you don't see too often. Observe the adorable belly-markings, and the "fingers." Just to the right of the "fingers" you can see a couple of her back toes wrapped around the branch.

She was in predator mode, ready to leap for the front of the cage and eat whatever she saw moving. Unfortunately for her, what she saw moving was just my shadow. No live prey for the baby. She had to make do with gecko-goo. How boring.

(That's Firefly, for those who are keeping score.)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

In Celebration Of The Holiday...

... as only the Muppets can do it.

(Hat tip: Samantha.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Don't Try This At Home.

Do not mix decolorized iodine with hydrogen peroxide. You will be sorry. Guaranteed.

Saw an item in the paper about using white or decolorized iodine on the nails to strengthen them. Actually managed to find the stuff at the local specialty pharmacy, and started using it.

Unfortunately, I had not seen this item before I used hydrogen peroxide on something else today, and now my right thumbnail looks just like I soaked it in Betadine. Yuck.

I wonder how long it'll take to wear off....

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