Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring has sprung

I realized that I haven't taken photos lately. I was out in Royston and the air had been freshened by a thunderstorm the day before, and it was cool and pretty and breezy. Royston is a cute town and the air is just so clear with budding leaves...and I had not taken my camera! With gas prices like they are, I've left off driving for no reason, and that includes driving on Saturdays to pretty areas to explore walking and photo-ing.

But I am renewed with fervor for capturing our gorgeous slice of life! Forget the North Pacific Gyre! Never mind about space junk! Suppress the knowledge that we are crapping up our planet! It's still nice...HERE.

The landlord's doggie, Grace. A big, gangly thing that's sweet as pie, but in her youthful enthusiasm, when you get out of your car, she jumps on your white pants.

Orange flowers framed by spring greenery at the neighborhood cemetery.

Horses irritated, kick the tub!

Blue bell flowers means it's spring!

Oops. I'm not so good about the keeping things alive deal. Probably a good thing I never had kids.

back pasture fence.

Flag at grave, the view from my deck.

Oops again!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

what a nice day!

A friend called me up yesterday and asked me out to lunch. Yay! A new restaurant opened up 20 months ago in a town just on the border of Madison County: Royston. It's about 15 minutes from where I live and I was eager to explore new territory. And my friend is sweet and nice and very smart. "Sure!" I said. I couldn't wait to spend time with her.

I drive through farms and fields and purely bucolic scenes on the way. Ahhh. Not a fast food restaurant in sight. Not a store in sight, just horses and cows and llamas and deer.

At Royston there is a little square by the tracks and two restaurants have opened recently, Bob's Small Town Grill, and Venezia Italian/Greek restaurant. We went to Bob's.

The hard wood floors shone with glamour and the Murano-looking lights above the bar and over the booths and tables were gorgeous. The decor was perfect, art deco travel posters and wood paneling walls. The menu was a blast from my cosmopolitan past: I chose grilled salmon on sourdough with lime garlic sauce, and green tea. Yum!

My friend and I talked, and talked, and talked and the place closed at two but Bob said we could stay as long as he was there so we still talked some more.

All in all it was a relaxing day and I enjoyed our visit very much!

Monday, April 28, 2008

space junk!

It used to be called the final frontier - the great unknown only the most prized and powerful technology could conquer.

But now, as these images show, the space beyond our atmosphere has become yet one more place blighted by man-made litter, with potentially devastating results. Known as 'space junk', the detritus consists of derelict spacecraft and dead satellites floating around the earth's orbit.

The spectacular images, produced digitally by the European Space Operations Centre, show how far humans have cluttered outer space in the 51 years since Sputnik One became the first man-made object in space. The rubbish consists of all kinds of discarded parts - rocket casing, pieces of metal ejected during collisions, nuts and bolts, dropped tools - documented piece by piece by Nasa.

More pics here

Friday, April 25, 2008

Police State/Martial law in the US

Which video is real and which is Memorex?

The first, a make-believe television ad from MTV created months ago warning about the coming police state. Don't laugh, Presidential directive #51 signed last May leaves total discretion to the President to determine when to lock down, anywhere, for any reason.

The second one is real. Operation Torch was launched in NYC today, proposing to "beef up safety" in the city's major transit hubs. And all thanks to your taxes, a 50% increase in a Homeland Security Grant.

After having listened to Naomi Wolf's interview about her new book The End of America, Naomi Wolf warns that history occurs in patterns, and in order to understand where our country is today and where it is headed, we need to read the history books. She lays out the 10 steps that dictators (or aspiring dictators) take in order to shut down an open society. We are actually late in the process. I recall the George Santayana quote, "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it".

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

tour de georgia

The Tour de Georgia swung by today. Hanging a right onto Rt 98 they pedaled my friend's house. She has a large porch in the shade, on which we ate crackers and ice cream and ice water and chatted while waiting for the bikers. They came, they zoomed, they left. It only took a second for them to pass!

From the website--The Tour de Georgia presented by AT&T is North America’s premier, professional cycling event and rolling festival of community activities. The Tour was first held in 2003 and has become a spring tradition with a varying route of over 600 miles of racing. Over 2.8 million spectators have traveled to Georgia to watch the event in the past five years, and direct economic impact has totaled over $148 million. The event is sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (2.HC ranking), and is part of the USA Cycling Professional Tour USA Cycling, Inc., making the event one of the top stage races for elite athletes around the world.

Below, the first four to pedal by were WAAAAAAYY ahead of the other one hundred.

Mr. Roberts is a good writer

I found Patrick Roberts's pieces on a recently released documentary, Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, well-written and thought provoking. I recommend them heartily.

Blog entry 1

Blog entry 2

Monday, April 21, 2008

Don't worry, bee happy

Sitting on my deck reading "The Case for Christ" on this glorious spring day, a resident bee thought that the deck was his territory. He tried his best to scare me off, hovering over my head, circling around from one side to the other, buzzing loudly and angrily dive bombing. Al the activity definitely did not scare me away, it just made me want to take photos.

I just threw in this pic below because I like the chair, I like the plant pot (real terra cotta) and I like the plant. All were free. I like that best of all.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Toonces she ain't

My landlord's cat Portia likes to get into cars when you're not looking. I found this out when she jumped into my back seat as I'd left the door open to unload groceries. I finished, shut the door and Portia was MIA until the landlord went looking for her at 11 pm. and sweeping the flashlight across my windshield saw eyes staring back, from behind the glass.

This morning the farm hand showed up to move horses from one pasture to another. She left her car window open and sure enough, big ole Portia leaped off the porch and nonchalantly moseyed up to the tire and sniffed it. I had a vantage point from my second floor window and was enjoying the show. Standing on her hind legs Portia scoped out the situation. Yup, Farm Hand does not notice so Portia hopped onto the car hood, and then leaped through the passenger window. I laughed, and snapped a couple of pictures.

Portia scooted to the driver's seat and at one point stood on her hind legs and putting her paws on the driver's wheel looked uncannily like Toonces the Driving Cat. Remember him from Saturday Night Live when SNL was good?

Anyway, soon enough, Portia heard the tell-tale crunch of gravel and knew the Farm Hand was coming back. Ever cautious kitty, she glanced out the window first, before making her move.

Getting out was not as easy as getting in, big Ole Portia discovered! A tight squeeze, a few kitty-groans, and she popped out.

Just a moment in the life of this farm.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

(de)Evolution of political debates

Ottawa, Illinois, on August 21, 1858:

Suddenly came an event. Lincoln wrote a challenge. Douglas met it. A debate was to be staged. The two men were to stand on platforms together and argue in seven different parts of the state with all Illinois watching, and the whole country listening…

And Abraham Lincoln said,

“This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world-enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites-causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty-criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest."

And Stephen A. Douglas said:

"I should like to know, if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle, and making exceptions to it, where will it stop? If one man says it does not mean a negro, why may not another man say it does not mean another man? If that declaration is not the truth, let us get this statute book in which we find it and tear it out. Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man-this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position, discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal."

One hundred and two years later, another pair of politicians mounted a mutual rostrum and made political as well as broadcasting history. The 1960 electronic version of the Lincoln-Douglas confrontations -- four "Great Debates" between Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy said: "In the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln said the question was whether this Nation could exist half slave or half free. In the election of 1960, and with the world around us, the question is whether the world will exist half slave or half free, whether it will move in the direction of freedom, in the direction of the road that we are taking, or whether it will move in the direction of slavery. I think it will depend in great measure upon what we do here in the United States, on the kind of society that we build, on the kind of strength that we maintain."

Nixon said:

"I don't believe in big government, but I believe in effective governmental action, and I think that's the only way that the United States is going to maintain its freedom; it's the only way that we're going to move ahead. I think we can do a better job. I think we're going to have to do a better job if we are going to meet the responsibilities which time and events have placed upon us.We cannot turn the job over to anyone else. If the United States fails, then the whole cause of freedom fails, and I think it depends in great measure on what we do here in this country."

2008, Obama/Clinton debates

LA Times: Did Obama Give Hillary The Finger?

And other silliness

Friday, April 18, 2008

I saw "Expelled" and it is great!

Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species" is a useful tool in tracking minute changes within species over time. Perhaps. I'll give it that. Natural Selection is only a theory after all, and there are many questions left unanswered.

And unless something changes, it looks like they never will be answered, because the highly respected scientists who attempt to pursue it- from all walks of science- are being expelled from the scientific academy for daring even to ask, never mind delve into this line of scientific inquiry.

Darwin concluded his theory by stating: "Nothing at first can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex organs and instincts have been perfected, not by means superior to, though analogous with, human reason, but by the accumulation of innumerable slight variations, each good for the individual possessor."

It is that start point that Darwin never answered. How did we get here in the first place? In Darwin's day, we liken his knowledge of the individual cell as a mud hut, to today's knowledge of the individual cell as a Saturn orbiter. Once the wealth of material inside a single cell becomes apparent; and even more astounding, how each cell communicates with each other cell, then we have some other lines of scientific inquiry to pursue, it is obvious to conclude.

"Where does the new genetic information come from as a mechanism to drive molecules-to-man evolution? Natural selection cannot explain the rise of new genetic information."

If as Darwin says, 'complex organisms have been perfected' it presumes a start point. Who started us on the road to perfection? Are we to take "The God Delusion" author Richard Dawkins' theory that aliens from other planets seeded us? Are we to take Dr. William Provine's theory that a fully complete molecule jumped onto "the backs of crystals"? And believe him when he asserts that the inanimate crystal-organic molecule spontaneous mutation is less preposterous than an Intelligent Designer? Yes, Provine said to Ben Stein. Yes, we are.

It is the start point that flummoxes the scientists, well, the Darwinists to be exact. Where did we come from? The scientists who want to pursue this inquiry where the evidence leads, but are not allowed to. If they insist, they are expelled.

See the movie. It is fair, despite what you will read in the papers, as reviews from mainstream newspapers are already panning the movie with incorrect facts and angry hyperbole. What are Darwinists so afraid of? Go see it for yourself. The interviewer Ben Stein did not make Dawkins said that aliens seeded us from other planets. Nor did he make him answer to the question 'where did those aliens come from? he conceded that a spontaneous jump start to life is impossible. He said that all on his own.

CNS news summarizes the documentary this way--
“Expelled” calls attention to the plight of highly credentialed scholars who have been forced out of prestigious academic positions because they proposed Intelligent Design as a possible alternative to Charles Darwin’s 150-year-old theories about the origins of life. Instead of entertaining a debate on the merits of competing theories, the scientific establishment has moved to suppress the Intelligent Design movement in a “systematic and ruthless” way at odds with America’s founding principles, the film asserts.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, the movie, opened today. Theater locator at the movie's website

A writer's guide to procrastination

The funniest commercial now on television is the one for this week's episode of South Park. A guy is holding a laptop. There's no electricity. The group panics. Other guys says, "We're out of power! Check Drudge report!"

"Oh, nooo! We don't have the internet to find out why we don't have the inernet!"

I laugh every time I hear that, because it's so true. We've become so used to having electricity that when it goes out we become unglued. I've become so used to using the computer I don't know what to do without it. Shaking my head on these thoughts last night, I went to bed.

This morning at 5am, the power went out. Sleepily I thought, "When I get up I'll check Drudge to find out why." Doh! Art imitates life.

The power came back half an hour later, so here are some productive and worthwhile things to do with that precious electricity, like watch "An Engineer's Guide to Cats."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Real McNasty McCain

RawStory has an article about a new John McCain book hitting the stands in May, titled "The Real McCain." Ever since I saw this photo on Drudge last month, I've been intriqued about this man who would be President. Never before have I seen two men, in public, who are high-end politicos, hugging so sissily.

Who IS this John McCain?

The new book by Cliff Schecter relates some incidences that give us a peek at the man known in high school as McNasty:

"Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." "

Shocking. Awful. But apologists would say, heck that was in 1992, when he was only 55 years old. He has matured since then! Well, this from last week:

"In the book he outlines several other examples of McCain losing his cool and raises the question of how that would affect a McCain presidency. What should voters make of this pattern? In February 2008 Tim Russert succinctly described McCain on MSNBC's Morning Joe. A devilish grin spread from ear to ear as Russert, no McCain hater, leaned forward and spoke in a whisper, "He likes to fight." "

He likes to fight. Sigh. Just what we need.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

UMaine/Farmington "Art" installation disgraceful

Flags strewn around the floor of an art gallery is art these days? Walking on them is somehow aesthetically pleasing? Not in my book. I know about free speech. But why would anyone want to tromp on the very flag that gave those rights? And in doing so, tromping on the memories and sacrifices of our veterans who fought for those rights now so casually strewn around on the floor. Walking on the American flag in the name of art is a disgrace. And apparently many others think so too, as the increasing negative reaction to this display at the University of Maine grows.

FARMINGTON: Art and beliefs clash at UMF

"FARMINGTON -- Susan Crane thought she was prepared to handle the reaction from students when she constructed five, large American flags on the student center hallway floor at the University of Maine at Farmington as an art class project. What she didn't expect was the level of emotion her experiment ignited."

Flag project hits nerve
(slow loading)

"My purpose was to figure out how people felt about the flag and gave them a choice to walk around it. And then what it really became is our First Amendment that everybody has a choice to say what they believe. I expected it to be controversial but not as controversial as it has become."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bobo is swamped!

My friend sent me this article appearing Sunday in a Rhode Island paper:

Notorious mobster 'Bobo' to be released
"Notorious Providence mobster Frank L. Marrapese Jr., a convicted killer known as a one-man crime wave, is about to rejoin society."

In which, further down the article, Bobo is saying:

"How do you think I feel?" he said on the tape. "I got three houses, five businesses, five kids, two girlfriends and a wife, and now I'm right there. I'm almost at the top, where I'm set for life."

LOL!! Like dastardly Prince Humperdinck in Princess Bride, "I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped."

It got me to thinking about life on 'The Hill' in Providence, Rhode Island. Federal Hill was a few blocks from where my grandparents and great-uncle and other relatives lived. I was born there and lived there for the first two years of my life, and visited weekly afterwards. The family business was on Westminster Street, "Prata Funeral Home." The Hill was where the New England mob had its headquarters. It was a good match, operating a funeral home where so many people were getting whacked every week. Ha. Ha.

American Mafia: Providence RI, Federal Hill

"With the retirement of Buccola in 1954, Providence became the center of the New England Family’s operations. From a wood-frame, two-story building in Providence, [Mob boss Raymond] Patriarca kept his office and ran his crime empire. The building housed the National Cigarette Service Company and Coin-O-Matic Distributors, a vending machine and pinball business, on Atwell Avenue on what is called Federal Hill. Made members of organized crime there were called “members of the Office.” Vincent Teresa described Atwell as a noisy open-air market, that was also an armed camp with “spotters” located everywhere. This set up was very similar to other popular mob-run areas like Mulberry Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy; Arthur Avenue in the Bronx; and Prince Street in Boston."

In its heyday, the Mobsters had some colorful names. I don't know what it is with Italians and nicknames but there you have it, a well-known trait. The only nicknames that I had were "guppy" when I was a tiny child, and "Miss Elizabeth" when I was newspaper editor. Not too colorful but better than Baby Shanks! Or any of these:

Frank “Butsey” Morelli
“Trigger Mike” Coppola
Joseph “The Animal” Barboza
William “The Wild Man” Grasso
Frances “Cadillac Frank” Salemme
Dennis “Champagne” Lepore
Luigi Giovanni “Baby Shanks” Manocchio

Even mobsters have legends to uphold with the weight of the father's success wearing on the heir. Ray Jr. took over the New England Mob after his father died, but junior wasn't well thought of. "At the time a former Rhode Island State Police investigator stated that Junior Patriarca, “Didn’t have the brains or the power to lead the family. He couldn’t lead a Brownie troop.” Or so one news article goes.

When we weren't eating a great dinner my nonnie cooked, there were always fantastic restaurants to choose from on Atwells Ave. As an adult, I remember taking some friends to one of them, a piazza-like Square lined with indoor and open air restaurants. We sat outside in the summer air, surrounded by turn of the century buildings with apartments on the upper floors. I noticed everyone was craning his or her necks and looking intently up to one particular apartment. A twenty-something gal was washing her dishes in her sink by the window. Naked. She must have had a lot of dishes, and they were very well cleaned, because she washed for a long time. A bunch of characters on The Hill.

Another great restaurant up there on the Hill is Angelo's Civita Farnese, est. 1924. It is a bona fide a Federal Hill tradition. Fodor's Review says "In the heart of the 'Hill,' Angelo's is a lively (even boisterous) family-run place with old-world charm. Locals come here for its good-size portions of fresh, simply prepared pasta." Being in business for 84 years is no small feat, as this news article attests-

"Angelo’s Civita Farnese on Atwells Avenue in Providence is the longest-operating family-owned restaurant in Rhode Island, a fact that was recognized today by the U.S. Small Business Administration....[Owner] Antignano will officially receive the award in Washington, D.C., on April 23, 2008, during the national Small Business Week celebration." My dad used to eat in there a lot. Go, Angelo's! Nice to see the original businesses on the Hill still thriving.

Our original family business established on Westminster St. is not still thriving. The flagship Prata Funeral Home was recently converted to luxury town homes, and the 1850 Federal style building re-named "Westminster Place." I found a blog entry from a couple who bought the place, and there are photos. It was weird to see other people living in the old Prata Funeral Home, and reading their comments about it. Oh, well, time moves on. I am grateful that at least the fine old building wasn't razed, nor has the old family homestead become a Hardees.

And that's where the Bobo being released from prison article has led me!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Map of worldwide food riots

map of food riots, link to Guardian UK.

Haitians use the expression "grangou klowox" or "eating bleach", to describe the daily hunger pains they face, because of the burning feeling in their stomachs.

From the AP today, Food Costs Rising Fastest in 17 Years
"The U.S. is wrestling with the worst food inflation in 17 years, and analysts expect new data due on Wednesday to show it's getting worse."

This is getting bad people.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Monthly Clubs

Some years ago, I was flipping through discarded magazines for collage material, and stumbled across an ad for "Bacon of the Month Club. I think having a monthly club dedicated to pork is hilarious.

Who would've thunk that a monthly pork offering would take off? "A different artisan bacon delivered to your door each month for twelve months!" and "Be sure to view the Bacon Collection!"

In January 2007 All Things Considered did a spot. "There's nothing quite like the salty, sweet, smoky smell of bacon frying in a pan. The smell is so seductive that it can vex even the vegetarians and kosher-keepers among us. And imagine how much better it will smell if each month brings home a new artisanal bacon. John T. Edge, our culinary curator, tells how his life has changed since joining the Bacon of the Month Club, which sends a different bacon each month, along with recipes and toys, from a bacon T-shirt to a rubber pig nose. And club poobah Captain Bacon tells how he tracks down all those gourmet bacons." Listen at the link.

Speaking of monthly clubs, the funniest "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode was the Fruit of the Month club. A different fruit would arrive each month at Marie and Frank's, which promptly freaked them out. "What? Did you get us into some kind of cult? I can't talk any more. There's too much fruit in the house."

Did you ever join one of those monthly clubs as a kid? I used to belong to Columbia House Record Club. Takes you back, doesn't it? "In 1955, an executive at CBS Records formed a new division of Columbia Records, one of the record labels owned by CBS. The purpose of the new division, which was named the Columbia Record Club, was to test the idea of marketing music through the mail. To attract interest in the concept, Columbia Record Club offered one free monophonic record to those who joined the club, offering its new members a wide selection of jazz, easy-listening, and Broadway show titles from which to choose. The response from the public confirmed the legitimacy of club membership and direct-mail marketing as an effective means of selling music. By the end of 1955, the Columbia Record Club boasted 128,000 members who purchased 700,000 records."

An idea whose time had come. I remember waiting for The Beatles, Neil Diamond, and Jimmy Buffett. I am still a Buffett fan.

In this Wikipedia entry for Columbia House records, "Weird Al Yankovic, in the song Albuquerque, implies that joining the Columbia Record Club is a much larger commitment than getting married or having children. The character in the song, not ready to make this commitment, divorces the woman of his dreams and never sees her again." Yeah, I remember that getting out of the club membership was pretty hard, especially if you were a kid. Maybe Marie Barone had a point after all. "Get us out of this Raymond! Please!!"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An example of a day, just one day among many

So my day...The sun rises a bit later here than in Maine. I am still not used to that, but I am getting used to laying in bed until 6:30 or 7 am and listening to the thousands of birds awaken. The property here has a large buffer of trees which attract many birds. Chickadees, finches, cardinals, geese, hereon, many others I do not know fly around over the pastures and those that sing, sing. Below, birds on my deck singing me awake.

I shuffle to the bathroom, tripping over three cats, all of whom have a vested interest in the this first step of the day. Abby, the oldest, likes to have a morning drink from the lightly dripping faucet at the bathroom sink. I turn it on for her. Bert likes to sit atop the toilet back and watch everything that happens with those big googly eyes of his. I would love to know what he thinks about, for he is surely watching everything intently. Luke hops into the shower, usually dragging a string and plays with it in there, causing a rumpus.

The all-important computer is flicked on, and the all-important coffee pot is started. It's a tie between which I need more, computer connection or coffee. They are one and the same, as important as air!

I have a daily routine which lasts about an hour. It starts with a prayer, and then a daily devotion from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the best preacher ever. He preached throughout most of the 1800s and made a lasting impression. Ocatavius Winslow is another great, and I switch back and forth over the months between Spurgeon and Winslow. The educated men of the 1800s and late 1700s wrote so much better than we do today. Whether founding fathers' letters or great preachers, the orators and writers of the 18th and 19th century have it all over us. Left, Abby drinking.

Then I go down my list of bookmarks, checking the Drudge Report, Portland Press Herald, USGS Earthquakes, Rapture Ready, Current Newspapers, and now that my friend is editing the Gray-New Gloucester Independent, I read that weekly too. Finally! that newspaper is good again!

Around 10 am I start the work for the day, whether it be website development, writing, or church-related stuff. Yesterday I got a call from a client and I could not figure it out over the phone so I hopped in the car and drove over there. But emergencies are rare and usually I get to stay home.

Today the work is to prepare for Sunday's workshop with all the Sunday School leaders. I had been voted Sunday School Director of my church and subsequently I attended a workshop about Evangelism Through the Sunday School. The man presenting (Tim Smith) it made a good point, every team needs a practice. Every choir needs a practice. As far as I knew our Sunday School Program has not had an all-leader meeting for many years. Are we uniting under a stated common goal? I do not know, so I thought it was important that we get everyone together to make sure we were on the same page in terms of direction, and the pastor agreed. Today and tomorrow, I am trying to distill the material I learned in the seminar (over 4 hours' worth) and boil it down to 30 minutes, in conjunction with 30 minutes of the first segment of the video I had purchased of the seminar which I plan to show. Nobody likes long meetings. Especially on Sunday. Left, Bert googly eyes.

Later I will make kale and red lentil soup, and read some in my book, Lee Strobel's "Case for Christ." Amazon summary- "The Case for Christ records Lee Strobel's attempt to "determine if there's credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God." The book consists primarily of interviews between Strobel (a former legal editor at the Chicago Tribune) and biblical scholars. Each interview is based on a simple question, concerning historical evidence (for example, "Can the Biographies of Jesus Be Trusted?"), scientific evidence, ("Does Archaeology Confirm or Contradict Jesus' Biographies?"), and "psychiatric evidence" ("Was Jesus Crazy When He Claimed to Be the Son of God?"). Together, these interviews compose a case brief defending Jesus' divinity, and urging readers to reach a verdict of their own." If you believe that "reason and logic" are anathema to "God" then I urge you to try this book. Left, Luke and his string.

This evening, I will continue making some collages, and as they are all finished (it's a set) I will scan and post them.

So that is a day in the life...Have a good one everybody!

A spoofalist video for your Bushisms speechafying enjoyment

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dogwood mania!

I didn't know that there were different colors of dogwoods. Well, we have had the pear blossoms pass, the forsythia is in force, and now the dogwoods are starting. Spring in Georgia is beautiful.

Here are two photos of our main street in Comer. Standing with the Post Office on my right shoulder, looking east, we see the Bank with a flowering Dogwood in front. Across the street from the Bank is the Phone Company, complete with old timey fonts, with another Dogwood. Notice the phone booths, obsolete and almost entirely gone from most urban and rural landscapes. I love Comer!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Netflix! Netflix! Netflix! Netflix!

I love it. I get movies sent to me in the convenience of my home, and there are thousands and thousands to choose from. Offbeat documentaries like yesterday's post about "Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea." Today I am watching "Helvetica." This is a riveting documentary about a typefont. Now, I know that 'riveting' and 'documentary' rarely go together. And to put 'documentary' with 'typefont' has never been done in the history of mankind. But there you have it! Helvetica rocks! Summary from the movie's website:

"Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives." How cool is that, a movie about a typeface! And it's interesting!

Another movie coming out, this one in the national theaters April 18, is "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." Do you remember Ben Stein from Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Anyone? Anyone?

Ben Stein, in the new film EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed, coming to a theater near you on April 18, 2008

"His heroic and, at times, shocking journey confronting the world’s top scientists, educators and philosophers, regarding the persecution of the many by an elite few. Ben travels the world on his quest, and learns an awe-inspiring truth…that bewilders him, then angers him…and then spurs him to action. Ben realizes that he has been “Expelled,” and that educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired – for the “crime” of merely believing that there might be evidence of “design” in nature, and that perhaps life is not just the result of accidental, random chance." Needless to say, the idea that there could something more to life than simple, random, monkey chance has sparked conversations around watercoolers from Seattle to Key West.

Yes! According to BlogPulse, "Something amazing happened just over a week ago. The controversy around Premise Media’s upcoming movie Ben Stein’s EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed became the hottest topic in the blogosphere. According to BlogPulse, a service of Nielsen Buzzmetrics, the issue held the number one slot throughout the day on Monday, March 24th. There were also over 800 results on Technorati."

The documentary is even-handed and Stein interviewed many, many scientists, from all points of view, and let them speak freely. I understand from reading reviews of those who have been granted advance screenings, that the film is about "the merits of Intelligent Design should be on the same level playing field as Evolutionary Theory. This film is about the freedom of speech, the freedom of ideas and ability to express those ideas...not about whether God created the heavens and the earth. The film’s main point was that Intelligent Design should be taught in conjunction with Evolution" because both have equal scientific merit. Can't wait for April 18! the movie website has a theater locator so you can check to see if it will be appearing in your area.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The weirdest place in the United States

The weirdest place in the United States is the Salton Sea. Has to be. If you've been there, you'll know whereof I speak. If not, then I highly recommend the documentary "Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea." In 73 minutes you will see the beauty, funk, good, bad and ugly of this place. The documentarians captured well the spookiness of the lost and unknown desert sea, as well as its utter beauty.

I visited there once a decade ago but the impression Salton made on me is indelible, and I think of it often. It's the wildest, weirdest, most important ecological place in the United States that no one knows about.

Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea trailer

The lake was formed accidentally in 1905 when engineers re-routing the Colorado River failed to protect the canal barriers and the entire river poured into an existing salty depression. It took engineers a year and a half to stop the flow, and by then, one of the world's largest inland seas had been created. The lake was 45 miles long and 20 miles wide, and it stood at 227 feet below sea level. In time, it became 25 percent saltier than the Pacific Ocean as farmer runoff melded into the lake and kept it from evaporating completely.

I traveled across country with my husband at the time in a VW camper and we spent one night by the side of the lake. The air was so clear we could see every jagged crater edge on the moon, the desert before us cast aglow, and the snowcapped Sierra Madres in the distance. It was cool to be able to see desert, water, and snow all at the same time, under such a luminous moon, too, the likes of which I have never seen again. That beauty was offset by the weird vibes we got all night. We nestled down and tried to sleep, but could not. Eventually we just gave up, cranked the motor and booked out of there. The hairs on the back of our necks were standing up, quivering with electricity almost all the way to San Diego.

The documentary is interesting in that it shows the characters who live in the dusty and dying towns around the lake. But the director is never disrespectful of the people, instead, just showing them as who they are and letting us enjoy them and the place that is so offbeat that everyone accommodates all the wierdness. For example, a Christian nudist stands by the side of the road with his sign on the ground saying love and peace and waves to every car that goes by. "I just don't like clothes," he says. "And I love God."

Among the decidedly off-the-beaten-path folks featured in the film are a hard-drinking Hungarian revolutionary with a mouth worse than a seasoned sailor, and the noted outsider artist Leonard Knight, who has been obsessively building, re-building and painting his masterpiece -- the towering outdoor installation "Salvation Mountain" -- for the past 20 years. Being the only southern inland large body of water in the US-Canada-Mexico migratory route, the Sea is critical for birds and a bird lovers' paradise.

If you think Provincetown in summer is funky, if you think Burning Man is all that, well, you ain't seen nothing until you have seen the Salton Sea. Watch the movie, you will enjoy it.

Recent articles:

California's oft-maligned, oddly beautiful and downright weird Salton Sea
(by National Geographic)

Get a birds-eye view of birds at the Salton Sea

Ecological, human issues of Salton Sea

The Good

The Bad

The Ugly

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The daily olive

My kitten Bert loves green olives. The juice is like catnip to him. So we have this routine and if I have not initiated the launch sequence by 7pm, he meows at my ankles till I do.

1. Tear paper towel in half.
2. Cut one green olive in quarters, remove pimento.
3. Place 1/4 olive on center of paper towel, with four drips of olive juice.
4. Place olive laden paper towel on floor and watch Bert go.

This video will change your life

OK, maybe not a total change, but it's totally cute. C'mon, risk the 22 seconds:

And now you know how to fold a shirt!