Monthly Archives: August 2009

Oh No!

Disney is acquiring Marvel Comics. I don’t hate Disney (much) but this is just wrong! This is a marriage made in some weird alternate universe where cute little fawns leap tall buildings and superheros sing sweet, catchy songs about birds and flowers. This is it. I know we’ve all said this dozens of times before but this really is the end of the world as we know it. Won’t someone please think of the children!

Longplayer

Longplayer is a 1000 year long musical composition. Interesting idea. I listened to a couple of minutes of the live stream and it was pleasant enough but if it was possible to listen to one thing for a thousand years I think I’d choose Mozart. Or maybe Bach. Or… oh heck, if I could live that long I’d listen to everything and once in a while turn off the music and just sit and listen to the crickets outside in the evening.

A Little Monday Morning Rambling

It’s only 50°F this morning. It’s August 31st and here in Oklahoma it is only 50°F! That is… well, I was going to say phenomenal but as soon as I thought it it felt a little odd because I almost never use that word. In this case I think it’s a perfectly good word because 50° in Oklahoma in August is indeed a strange phenomenon.

It seems like I’ve been hearing the word “phenomenal” a lot more often lately. I noticed it a few times on HGTV on Saturday. On several shows when they had the big reveal the homeowners’ reaction included the word “phenomenal” and I wanted to ask, “Exactly what phenomenon was involved in your room makeover?”

Yeah, I know… I’m probably being too literal but it seems to me that we need a few words that are reserved for truly unusual situations. Phenomenal things do not happen to us every day. Or maybe they do but if we go around using words like “phenomenal” every day how are we going to express our feelings when something way out of the ordinary happens?

Well, okay, I guess being on TV and getting a fantastic room makeover doesn’t happen to an individual every day but “phenomenal” still doesn’t seem like the right word and worst of all everybody is using it now.

Speaking of words, the language police are at it again. Nothing new here, just even more words and phrases that certain groups want to ban but the one that really got me is that “moist” is now considered disgusting. That’s funny… I’m not especially fond of the word but I always thought it was a good thing. Your cake and your holiday turkey, for example, are both supposed to be moist, as opposed to dry. What other word are we supposed to use? “Damp” doesn’t quite work.

I can see how, in certain contexts, “moist” might be unpleasant but if people would just keep their minds where they’re supposed to be they wouldn’t be getting icked out over common words all the time.

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I have to mention a significant event in the blogging world. Byzantium’s Shores has a new template. He’s kept much of the same feel – the denim background, the same sidebar stuff, a big header picture, which I expect will change from time to time – so I’ve had no trouble adjusting to the new, modern look.

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Finally, a couple more things I’ve noticed recently: Here’s an idea. (political) And another blog, Birds ‘n’ Such. Beautiful!

UPDATE: One more… Beavis and Butthead are 30.

Mendelssohn’s Other Violin Concerto

Anyone who listens to classical music at all has probably heard Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor many times and most violinists have recorded it. It is a beautiful and fun concerto but so is his lesser known Violin Concerto in D minor.

A Couple of Geeky Tweets

If you are the least bit interested in geeky stuff you should be following Adam Savage on Twitter. I’d follow him even if he wasn’t a celebrity because his “tweets” are interesting. In addition to comments about what’s going in San Francisco and occasional hints about upcoming episodes of Mythbusters he often links to cool stuff like these two videos. One about 100 years of special effects and this… I don’t know what it is but I want to play with it.

Postal Health Care?

Something else about U.S. health care:

You’ve heard the refrain: If the government ran healthcare, it would be just like the U.S. Postal Service. And nobody wants that.

Or do we? The USPS, an independent government agency, is the convenient butt of jokes regarding poor service, rude employees, and occasional government mangling of personal property. It routinely borrows from the government to cover operating losses and endures disruptive political meddling in basic management decisions.

Despite the disparaging clich├ęs, however, the Postal Service has some attributes that might make it a strong model for healthcare. It provides a basic service that’s not available from the private sector. To people without health coverage, postal-style healthcare might be a lot better than none at all. If service in a government healthcare plan turned out to be surly, that might even be a good thing: It would ensure a healthy market for better-run private plans, reducing fears of a government takeover. Oh, yeah, there’s one other thing: In customer satisfaction surveys, the Postal Service already scores higher than health insurers.

That makes sense to me. I never have a problem with the Post Office. It’s not perfect. I know we’d all like to have our letters and packages instantaneously transported across the country for free but, realistically, the service we get from the Post Office is much better than some of the other organizations we have to deal with. In fact, if everything ran as smoothly as the post office it would be a wonderful world.

Recently Completed

Here are a couple of sewing projects that I’ve finished in the last couple of weeks.

I don’t have much to say about the first one other than, I love this fabric and I like the way this top turned out.

Paisley Tunic
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I made the next one with fabric I found on Wal-mart’s bargain table, only $2 a yard. It’s a great fabric, a nice crisp cotton. However, I’m not entirely pleased with this blouse. I used Butterick No. B5261. It doesn’t have a short sleeve option but I made it with short sleeves anyway. This was the only raglan sleeve, button front pattern I could find at the time I bought it.

The problem is that it’s too large. I made it in size 14 as usual but I could have made it size 12, possibly even a 10. The pattern says, “Modern fit with Ready-to-Wear Sizing”. Modern fit must mean two sizes too big because the sizing is nothing like Ready-to-Wear unless by “Ready-to-Wear sizing” they mean the sizing of very expensive clothes that are sized so wealthy women can pretend they wear a smaller size than their actual size.

And by the way what’s up with the illustration for that pattern? Why does the model have no eyes or nose but only a mouth? What kind of sick fantasies was the illustrator having that he (she?) thought that a mouth was all the woman needed?

Well, anyway… here’s the picture of the new blouse. It is comfortable and doesn’t look too bad on. I’m used to wearing fairly loose tops; that’s just not how I expected this one to turn out.

Floral Print Blouse
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R.I.P. Edward Kennedy

I probably shouldn’t say anything about the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy since I don’t have anything especially good to say. (Nothing especially bad either.) I saw a headline yesterday that called him “the greatest of the Kennedy’s” and did sort of a double take. Say what? Edward? The greatest Kennedy? Well, what do I know? Maybe I missed something.

All I really know is that he was in the Senate a long time, was on TV a lot and said a lot of things I disagreed with, and maybe a few that I did agree with, and was not exactly a saint in his personal life. I think the best thing I can say is to repeat one of my favorite Firefly quotes:

It’s my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sommbitch or another. Ain’t about you, Jayne. It’s about what they need.

So I guess some people need royalty and the Kennedy family is the closest we’ve got. Who ascends to the throne now?

Congress Needs Counseling

This political cartoon illustrates what a lot of people have been thinking but it doesn’t make me think, “Good point!” It makes me think that Congress is a lot like a married couple bickering over money. Let’s say she wants to remodel the kitchen and he says, “That’s ridiculous. We don’t need it and it will cost too much money.” She responds, “Well, we could afford it if you hadn’t bought that new car. We didn’t need that; the old one ran just fine.”

Now of course kitchens and cars are trivial compared to war and health care but the point is that the two sides have different priorities and can’t or won’t try to understand the reasons for what the other side wants or needs. And what’s worse, some people will say anything to prevent other people from hearing and considering both sides.

As to where I stand… I don’t know. First of all, anyone who is dead set against a public health care program needs to ask some people on Medicare and Medicaid what they think of government run health insurance. They’ll probably have some complaints but ask them if they want to eliminate those programs and they’ll likely look at you like you’re crazy.

On the other hand, no matter what the government does it’s always way too complicated and way too expensive. And private insurance is already too complicated and too expensive. Requiring everyone to have insurance, whether it’s public or private will not bring down health care costs; it will increase them. Someone, I can’t remember where, expressed the opinion that if there was no insurance at all the medical industry would have to bring down costs because if they didn’t they would have very few patients. That sort of makes sense if you think about how markets work but even if it worked out that way there would still be a lot of people who couldn’t afford medical care. What about them?

I think there will be some kind of health care bill passed – something that Congress will have negotiated and compromised into an inadequate and completely unworkable monstrosity. And then in another administration they will make changes, trying to fix it but really just changing it. Those people who are opposing any kind of health care bill are squandering any opportunity they might have to be a part of the process. And if you make or believe ridiculous claims about things like “death panels” you’re not looking at what might actually be wrong with it and how it might be improved.

Someday our grandchildren will wonder what all the fuss was about. If they are even aware that there was a fuss.

Cat Conciousness

How intelligent are cats? Are they self-aware? This bright kitty certainly seems to be. I’m not so sure about my cats. Sometimes they seem to be pretty smart; other times they make rocks look like rocket scientists.

The other day Three was chasing a wasp that was flying around the window. He almost caught it and gave a short, funny little cry and pulled back his paw really quick and licked it for about ten seconds. Then he went back to chasing the wasp. I didn’t think that was particularly intelligent but maybe he’s just braver than I am. I did swat the wasp after that. I hadn’t noticed what he was chasing until it stung him.

Woofs and Tweets

Woofer is an answer to Twitter. Instead of having a 140 character maximum it has a 1400 character minimum. You don’t even have to sign up to use it if you have a Twitter account; just use your Twitter username. I can’t see it ever becoming very popular but I like the idea of it. It could give you a chance to practice using the words you learn at Grandiloquent Dictionary and Luciferous Logolepsy. Or you could just type a lot of nonsense and gibberish like most people do.

As for Twitter, it’s starting to take up too much of my time. It doesn’t seem like I spend all that much time there but I must be because suddenly I seem to have less time than I used to. Of course there are a lot of other things taking up my time too. It’s just that Twitter is the “one more little thing” that is one thing too many. I’m not going to drop it but I do need to get back to the way I was right after I first signed up – checking it once, or at most twice, a day. I don’t know if that’s what I actually will do but that’s what I need to do.

Food

I watched a show on the travel channel called Extreme Pig Outs. It was about restaurants that serve really huge meals. I mean really, seriously huge. Many of them have challenges – if you can eat the challenge meal within a given time it’s free.

Frankly, I find these pig outs appalling and I think, “These people are insane,” but, on the other hand, I see them as the front line in the war against the health nazis. As long as places like that exist we are still free to choose what we eat. Hopefully we won’t choose to eat at places like The Chip Shop or Jack-n-Grill too often.

In the healthier but not really healthy department, Green Giant has a line of “healthy” vegetable mixes. They have names like “Healthy Weight” and “Healthy Heart” and so forth in big, lettering on the front of the package. I do want to eat more vegetables (and not just because I’m supposed to) and some of these looked good so I thought I’d try a couple of them. I bought one that had navy beans, yellow carrots and spinach. I generally don’t like cooked spinach but it was a very small amount.

Now I don’t obsessively read labels but maybe I should start. As I was opening this product to microwave it I noticed that the percent of “daily value” of sodium per serving was 16%. That seems rather high for something that claims to be “healthy” or even for something known to be fairly unhealthy. It also tasted very bland. With all that sodium already in it I didn’t want to add any salt so I sprinkled on a generous amount of black pepper and that was just what it needed. It was quite good.

So, I guess the only way to get healthy food is to buy or grow fresh vegetables and make everything from scratch. I think some frozen vegetables are okay but not the kind that have seasonings or sauces. And never trust anything with a label that says it’s healthy or low fat or whatever because if it’s low one thing it’s sure to be high something else.

Shadows

Andrea linked to these paintings by Giorgio de Chirico. I immediately thought of Kolja Tatic. They’re not all that much alike but they sort of have the same feel. One notable similarity is that both artists often put two distant figures in their paintings. The angle of the light is also similar although the two artists each have it coming from a different direction in most of their paintings.

A Few More Blogs

Just some more blogs that I’ve come across and bookmarked recently.

Pretty Fakes – comics, pop culture, etc.

Now That’s Nifty – very nifty stuff found on the Web

OklaCookiemaker Quilts – life in western Oklahoma

Redneck Liberal – political; an Oklahoma liberal; not as rare a breed as you might imagine

Look! A Baby Wolf! – general interest, life, commentary. I’m not sure but I think I might know this blogger from a different blog a long time ago.

A Journey Round My Skull – mostly art

Posthuman Blues – fascinating mix of science-y stuff

Something Unexpected to Start the Weekend

Last week I mentioned that I can’t stand Wagner. Well, that’s not quite 100% true. I have heard several pieces or short parts of his operas that I can stand. Yes, I admit it. I like The Ride of the Valkyries. I also like the overture to The Flying Dutchman.

There is one work by Wagner that everyone (or at least everyone in America) has heard, as butchered by millions of church pianists. What we commonly know as “The Wedding March” is actually The Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin. Imagine my surprise and delight the first time I heard it the way it’s supposed to sound.

Quotes From Here and There

Fine, the bacon lube and bacon bras are a little creepy.here

Well, the truth is that aliens exist within a strange temporal distortion in which they are exposed to English before human beings even exist, so when they come knocking, they are not only fluent in the language, but technologically far more advanced than us apes.there