Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Weather Outside is Delightful

It's almost noon on a semi-lazy Saturday. The rain is coming down pretty steady now. It's a cold rain. I know because I had to go out and rescue a cat that fell out of the window and then got scared. That was pretty amusing. I didn't see the cat actually fall, but then to see Mr. Big-Tough-Boss-All-The-Other-Cats-Around mewwing pitifully unsure of what to do next. It has quieted down, some, though. Rachel's down for a nap and Lori's at the store. It will soon pick back up, though. In the den, I've moved everything to the center of the room and covered with plastic. As soon as I'm done with my break (drinking some nice hot coffee my parents sent) I'll go find the blue tape and cover the floors with plastic and then begin priming the walls while Lori makes goodies. Simultaneously, Lori's mom is at her place also making goodies. Later today we'll take them to local fire stations. Usually they do it on Christmas day, but it was just too hectic this year. So it's a nice quiet relaxing moment. I look forward for more of these kinds of moments, sitting in a comfy chair holding my mug of coffee and staring blankly out the window at the rain once we get to Seattle. As for now, back to the coffee and then back to work.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Tip of the Day

Ok, this is an easy one. Just file it away for the next time you find yourself in this situation.

IF... you rear-end someone.

DO NOT get out of your car and start explaining what it was that was taking your attention away from the road.

NO ONE BLOODY CARES.

Instead, be apologetic and start offering money.

(Since I know you'll ask... the Santa Fe takes a licking and keeps on ticking. A quarter-inch scratch is all you'll see from the jackhole in the Cherokee who drove faster than us at one point coming up to the Festival of Lights.)

Headache Inducing Fun

The site (link above) is somewhat interesting -- this guy in Germany has created flash images to show 60 different visual illusions and phenomena. Some of these caused me headaches, but overall, it's very interesting.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Maybe I'm not creative

My creative writing is sad. Or at least my little "120 seconds of lit" concept is. I seem to always do the same thing -- try to hint at something and then tell you in the end what it is. I don't know if that's predictable or formulaic or what. I'm going to have to think about this...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Another day, more not done

Today was a really frustrating day at work. I learned second or third hand of a bunch of work that would soon be coming my way by people who didn't understand my job. Someone tried to work on something that affected me but gave up halfway through and went home unbeknownst to me. In the realm of diet, I did rather poorly. Though given the choice at dinner I had lemonade instead of a soft drink. It was a small price, but it was a start.

As we were leaving Rachel's school friends called who we've been trying to connect with for the longest time. We told them of our plans and they said they had toyed with the idea of Portland themselves. They seemed happy for us, but with twins coming in a matter of days, they were also disappointed that we wouldn't be around to see more of their little ones' new lives.

The visit kept us out until Rachel's bedtime so I'm not sure how much work, if any, we'll get done tonight.

120 Seconds of Lit 3

That was a funny place, he thought. That's not normally where you'd expect. He shrugged and shuffled off to get some coffee. He wondered if maybe he was just imagining it. He rubbed his eyes. Nope, it really was a cat. He measured out the coffee, poured it into the coffee maker, added water and pressed start. He cocked his head and stared at the cat. The coffee maker began to hiss as the coffee began brewing. He wondered if he should try to dislodge the cat or if at some point the cat would let go and fall from the ceiling where it hung, scared by who knows what.

(The words "cat" and "coffee" courtesy of Lori.)

2006

My friend Mark's asking on his blog what people's plans are for 2006. Of course, this is something I've already been thinking about, what with my summary of 2005 and the fact that everyone thinks retrospectively at this point in the year, but also projects optimism and hope.

So what's 2006? It's the year of me. At least on here, it will be. My goal is to be more retrospective, and to more frequently assess how things are going. I'm hoping at the end of 2006 when I go back and read what I've written over the past year, that I'll see more consistency. To be sure, life will change and things will occur, but I hope I can accept them into the context of where I'm going, rather than allow them to bat me around the room like a pinball. I will not flit like a butterfly, I will not careen like a car out of control bouncing from guardrail to guardrail.

The themes have all been there... family/friends, health/diet, spirituality, career, creativity/hobbies, current events, but I hope that in the new year I can more accurately capture them here in this blog and keep a more even keel, be it calm waters, or pounding through ice caps, that this new year will be the year I put the pieces together.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Now, Now, Now

Looking back over the year, I realized how much effort I put into a diet earlier in the year and how excited it was, it seemed like one I could stick to, until Rachel's birthday came along and I abandoned all hope after that. (Because I'm dumb.)

I realized why diets fail me so much. When my car looks awful, or I need to shave, or I get behind in the bills, I can quickly get caught up. Of course, each time I resolve to not get so shaggy, not let my car get so dirty, or to sign in to money more than twice a month. Even haircuts... my hair is too long right now, but this weekend I can go to Supercuts and everything will be set straight, my problem solved in less than 10 minutes.

Sadly, diets don't work that way and my problem with patience and lack of willpower make it difficult. Perhaps those are excuses, but they are also reality.

I'm gonna try to get back on the wagon, in small steps. No major radical change like Kevin's plans for the new year, but I'm gonna start small. I'm going to give all of the Reeses peanut butter cups that I got for Christmas to Lori. She really likes them a lot more than me, and if I give them to her, they're not going in my mouth.

In reality, I didn't do so poorly over the holidays. Don't get me wrong. I did horribly. But at the same time, I didn't really gain any new weight. I did the usual yo-yo to the exact same weight, though this time I did lose and gain more just to get back to the same spot. The worst part is we gave away the exercise bike, planning to buy a new one once we've moved.

So let's see what I can do with my poor willpower and lack of patience. If Seattle is a new start, let's see if I can get a jump on that in the next two months and actually have something (or less of something) to show for it by the time we move.

Cheers.

2005

My friend Kevin did a year-end recap of his life, excerpting his own blog to look back on what has happened. I thought it was such a great idea that I immediately made plans to copy the idea. Why not? Everyone from Comedy Central to MSNBC.com will have a year-in-review. What I quickly realized is how many things actually didn't go anywhere. For a few months, I was faithful to a diet. A few times I attempted to break the mold and be creative for creative's sake. The only common thread among the blog was probably unhappiness and reminiscing about a different time in my life.

I reconnected with people I hadn't spoken to in years, I encouraged friends to start and maintain blogs. (Why no new posts, Allison?) I provided my own commentary on a lot of news events, whether you cared or not. My blog wasn't well read, but that's ok with me. I know that the people who read it are close to me and mostly weren't people next-blogging in order to leave me comment-spam.

At the beginning of the last year, I announced that I didn't like resolutions. I never have. But in what now looks infantile and stupid, I closed out that post by saying

But, if I must, maybe I will resolve to be more awesomer than I was last year. I don't know how possible that is, but that's something I can shoot for.

Looking back, that has not happened. There were good times and bad times with the wife and I think in our current plans we've reconnected, built momentum and are really strong and tight right now. I hope to keep that up into the new year. The little one grows in leaps and bounds, almost daily amazing me, but certainly, bringing me joy by the hour. I've really come to appreciate family, especially family that was new to me 6-1/2 years ago. I've really come to love the idea of big families and look forward to next year when we are able to regularly surround ourselves with lots of family.

The job situation is still troubling. I think the single biggest topic last year was my dissatisfaction with my job. In some ways, perhaps that's to be expected. Not so much the dissatisfaction, but how much my blog looked at it. For most humans, we're defined by our jobs. Usually one of the first questions we ask each other upon introduction is "So, Bob, what do you do?" Now, I'm at a crossroads. I do not have an answer to that question. I am job searching in one state while my current employer considers the idea of having me telecommute after the move. Were I to accept, I would continue to work for an employer who gave me a lot of grief this past year, but it would be for a greater good. On the other hand, I'd be breaking my own rule, something I wish they would adopt, but so far they haven't.

But the move to Seattle is exciting. And very scary. As we move into the final week of December, we have a lot of work to do. The laminate hardwood floors in the den and dining room are done, the hardwood refinishing in the rest of the house is done and looks so beautiful. All that remains for which I need outside help is the kitchen cabinets and new linoleum. The rest is all on us... repainting trim, patching some damage to a wall, erecting new walls, replacing a door and quite a few light fixtures, hanging curtains and the list goes on and on. And then there's the need to probably find a new job, the first long-distance airplane trip with the baby to house-hunt.

But how did I get here? Here's a quick look back.

January - Was it the start of something? Was it foreshadowing?
...But I find it interesting that people down here underappreciate Seattle because of the rain. But as I write this, I can imagine Seattlites cursing me. Shut up! We don't want the California people up here! Shut up!...
February - This month saw me get a year older, fully into my thirties. It rained again, and I felt homesick for life in the late 90's.
...I wonder what it would be like to live somewhere where it rains all the time. I remember a lot of rain in Seattle, but I don't remember it ever being like this. Apparently, statistically, it usually isn't. I guess I would own some sort of coat that repelled water, to start. I do have to say that the rain sounds really neat outside right now, now that I'm happily back indoors and very quickly getting really exhausted. It is nice to have the hot water heater (I still need to fashion a new exhaust pipe) done, it seems to much more open in the garage without the large box taking up space. Despite the project taking way too long, I think he knew what he was doing and I don't think it will explode or leak all over and make our house moldy, so that's good...

...I've come to realize that I've missed a few things and not even realized it. One, I've missed driving at freeway speeds. My morning commute in the carpool lane maybe gets up to 35. My evening commute, not that fast. Two, I miss driving my car. Most of the time I drive my wife's small SUV; I don't get much time behind the wheel of my Intrepid. Three, I miss driving after dark. Married with a kid kind of limits how often one can just get on the road at 11, 12, 1 or 2 am. It just doesn't happen, it's too hard to find a solid reason. And finally, as much to my surprise as anyone's, I miss the valley...
March - Apparently the sun came out in March...
...But now, when things are going really well, I'm not sitting here going "What could I have possibly done to deserve this?" Sure, I made an extra effort to be really nice and grateful to the AAA lady and the tow truck driver last week when I had to have my car towed, but I still drive to fast, get irritated too fast and probably spend a little too much time each morning at work reading the day's headlines. I really can't have done anything to deserve this, nor could I possibly believe that I had anything to do with this. It could be God, giving me a period of sunshine, or it could just be life going smoothly for the moment. Or, it could be part of my attitude... the thing about trying to be nicer and more social to people, beyond what it takes to conduct a transaction. Or maybe it's just a nice time....
April - Was the world about to end? That was the fear of a dream recounted.
...From the room, we could see the ocean. There were dark angry clouds in the sky. Pure white clouds or steam stretched from the ocean to the clouds. But, there was one opening. In that opening, the wind kept whipping up and swirling trying to form a tornado. It would, but kept loosing steam almost immediately. There were lots of silver birds flying around the area and you could see just the purest blue through the opening. Someone said that it was the kind of color you could see after a nuclear blast. But, we were facing the Pacific so I didn't know what that meant, or even what I was looking at....
May - Apparently in May I tried again at weight loss... it was my best attempt to date, a really great strategy called "There Will Always Be More Cake." The idea was that I would identify all of my problem foods and then each week I'd only be allowed to eat one of them if it was offered. That did actually last awhile, but not actually produce any results whatsoever. I may try it again, though.
...The family's been sick and the really twisted hours didn't help any. Nor did access to mostly bad-for-me foods. Even though they were supposed to be off-limits, I ate cookies, ice cream and doughnuts last week, and consumed several dark sodas, mostly just at the end of the week when everything went screwy. And, I paid for it. Probably about half my gain was lost (or half my lost was re-gained, depending on how you look at it.)...
June - Diet continued to be a big issue, but I also began to wonder if I was doing the right thing at work.
...But I'm wondering lately if it really isn't my purpose in life. Sometimes lately, I've started feeling like my purpose in life is to sit down and shut up. I could continue to see what was messed up, continue to know the best answer for solving it, but that it was not my place to try to fix it, that I should just accept the mediocre, the broken and the less-than-optimal, just as the rest of the world accepts it, often blindly missing the fact that things could be better. It's very unsatisfying....
July - The downhill slide continues...
...Every day my colleague and I waste so much time fantasizing about quitting. Although I'm not sure if he's being serious or not. I know he's at least half-way serious. He's lucky, that boss isn't his boss. My other boss is his boss. My other boss shows up in the office for maybe 20-60 minutes a week, spends most of that time on the phone working on consulting gigs and always leaves us hanging because he doesn't fully trust us, so all of our tasks are waiting for him to finish stuff. But his wife's a flight attendant, so he gets free flights, and he buys alot of stuff for work on his own credit card and gets reimbursed but gets to keep the Hilton points, so he's always flying places and stuff and we never know where he is. And his boss is completely oblivious to that fact. It's pretty annoying...
August - I finally give up...
...Which is why I've adopted a new motto for work. I DON'T CARE. I am not on leadership. I do not possess independent thought. I am a robot. I will do as i'm told, to the letter of the law. There is no spirit, there is no correction, this is no other possible way that could possibly be better, because if there was, someone else would have thought of it and told me to do it. I will not think for myself. It is a hard pill to swallow, and I'm finding it actually takes more work on my part to disengage my brain when I arrive at work. But I'm trying. It's a sad, frustrating world I'm trapped in....
September - And in September, I challenged God. Give me some kind of sign. The absense of a sign (anything!) means it's over. Led to some lively debate over whether or not God works so obviously in people's lives, butI don't think anything was ever solved, but I did take the lack of anything whatsoever as proof. A separate moment later on never made it into this blog because it was still under wraps, but maybe I should recount it later today since people keep asking about it.
...Crunch time. God, I already told You this in prayer, but I'm gonna put it here, too, in case You're reading blogs today. 40 minutes. If I don't have a super-huge-major completely-obvious no-doubt-about-it sign that You need me here at this job at this church, then I'm moving up the timetable. I cannot believe that it's in Your plan for me to be here and miserable. I need some beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt-proof that you need me here, or it's time for me to move on. 36 minutes.....
October - In the end of October, it did. I couldn't say it then, but the decision had been made. The clock started ticking. Even the blogs changed colors to symbolize that things were changing and I closed down the LA Traffic blog.
What if everything changed? I think that would be good.
November - The beginning of the end as we unravel things. This month I also started a separate blog where I can speak a little more freely about things I don't want to haunt me later. Nothing about it is tied to me and this is the only time you'll even hear me mention it.
The ambience of Islands is wonderful. I've lost track of how many different ones I've been to, but the experience is consistently great, a terrificly done tropical escape from the world around us. Last night we had dinner at the Islands in West Covina. It was sort of a last hurrah for us. Islands, we'll miss you.
December - The pieces were there, but cohesion was still lacking as the month began, though the picture began to become clearer as the month progressed.
...It feels like the impatience has come to an end, that we're now rushing madly towards something. It's like we were shown the box, and then it was poured out from the top of the Space Needle. All the pieces are there, but the task of getting them all togther seems both daunting, scary and nearly impossible. I know for my part, I have not been working hard enough. It's been really stressful and I've taken breaks when I could have been working on it. I'm worried that I'm not good enough and my failure is what's going to keep it from all coming together. Not to mention that we're trying to squeeze the contents of a 1,100 square foot home into much smaller amounts of space as we clear rooms to have flooring done or redone. And everyone else is sick. It's all very draining....

So what's next? I'm going to try to get back to the diet, back to the creativity, and maybe some more regular introspective and real posts, not just commentary on the news.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas, one and all

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I've never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it's December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the treetops glisten,
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright.
And may all your Christmases be white.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Little House of Horrors

Ok, I'm cancelling HGTV and DIY Network from my satellite company, not renewing This Old House magazine (a gift from my parents) and throwing away all my tools.

Victor has made me hate home improvement, contractors and all things change related.

We are hoping to stay in our next home for 20 years. This one we had hoped for five-to-seven, but that didn't work out now, did it? I'm sure that during that time we will again embark on home improvement projects. However, this time we will be smarter, and willing to pay more. The workmanship on the laminate floors that have been laid is great, the work on the drywall plastering isn't. I am hoping for good things with the refinishing of the hardwood floors.

Yesterday we had to leave work early and come home and box things up because Victor is a bully. He tells you one thing on the phone and then tells my mother-in-law something entirely different. I don't know if he thinks we won't talk to each other. But he also hides behind the language barrier, speaking really unclear and broken English and has a really awful headset on his phone that makes him even harder to understand.

Then when the carpets were pulled up, there was a big section in the middle where you could not have done a worse job patching a hardwood floor if you had tried, as well as a bunch of stuff stuck to the flooring. They're sure it will all come up and that they can successfully repair the damaged area(s), but I'm wondering if someone was killed here. Probably just too much CSI, but just weird looking at the marks on the floor.

I'm also struggling with the feeling of inconvenience, stress and loss of freedom. Basically I feel like it's a whine but I am also suffering from really poor sleep. All the moving meant that I had Burger King for lunch and Taco Bell for dinner. Lots of soda. We're (3 humans and 4 cats) now living in a 250 square foot room with boxes towering around us while another 250 square foot room is filled to the brim with boxes. The dog also lives in there. As does a fully decorated Christmas tree, now hidden behind a bunch of boxes. Lori's gonna have my head if we're not able to put everything back in its rightful place before Christmas.

Those feelings are a struggle because I know that there are lots of people who don't have houses. I don't just mean someone in a foriegn country, or even a homeless person, but even people we know who want to buy a house but can't. We have an extreme luxury... we have a house. Add to that good enough credit to be able to pay people to make it even better so we can sell it for even more money. It just makes me whining feel petty and stupid.

I guess I'm going to need to resolve today to fight through the sleepiness, maintain a great attitude and be grateful for all that we have, but really not think about the house, because even without the house, we have our health, good weather, each other and if it all comes down to it, I could sleep on the couch in the garage, the other couch in the carport, or either of the two cars.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Northward, Ho

The news is now official.  

We're heading  
to the great white north,  
or points nearby.  

Early next year  
we'll be relocating to Seattle.  

:)  


If the horrid home renovation project ever gets done and we're able to list the house.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Maye Case So Far

THEAGITATOR.COM -- Lori first told me this about this a few days ago, but I found this great website today that kind of summarizes the important parts. Basically police raided two sides of a duplex late at night on Dec. 26, 2001. They were specifically after a guy living on one side who was a drug dealer. He was arrested without incident and a large quantity of drugs were immediately siezed. The raid on the other side did not go so well. A cop busted into the bedroom of a man who opened fire, killing the cop. The black man's 18-month-old daughter was also in the room sleeping at the time. According to reports people started shouting "police!" and he immedialtely dropped the gun and raised his hands above his head and surrendered. The guy was stolen, but police are sure he obtained it legally from a friend. He had only been living in the duplex a few weeks. The white cop's dad was the police chief. According to reports, it's somewhat unclear as to when the second duplex was searched, several times are written and crossed out. Eventually it says that the search yielded a small bag supposedly containing drugs and three smoked cigar buts with traces of drugs in them. The man who was arrested as the drug dealer was never actually charged as a result of the raid. The other man, however, is now on death row awaiting execution, though everyone who's talking about the case believe he's innocent, that he was defending himself and his infant daughter (Rachel's age) at the time, that police did not identify themselves before raiding his apartment, or if they did, he did not hear them because he was asleep. More...

Monday, December 12, 2005

What's Wrong with this picture?


Two things:
(1) If you read the caption to the right of the photo, it was too late by the time you got to the disclaimer.
(2) They need to update their advertising code, it should be fairly simple to eliminate items that have the "picture not yet available" placeholder graphic showing. I mean, who's going to click on that?

And, just a reminder, if you click on that story, and then you read the "Turkeys" article, you'll get to read what I wrote on page 2.

Another Dream Squashed

MSNBC.com -- It was supposed to be a new contender, it was supposed to shake things up and be a signal of things to come, that the old guys didn't own everything. Well, I guess it didn't pan out. Yesterday the other-other mega-media corporation, Paramount, announced that it was puchasing DreamWorks SKG (sans animation). More...

Vote for Megan, pt. 2

Megan won!

Thank you so much for supporting Megan and voting for her in the office makeover contest at MSNBC. We checked the Web site this morning, and she won the first prize of $10,000 to use in her classroom.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8985887

Thank you for helping out. She couldn't have won without you.

Stephen

Friday, December 09, 2005

Freaking Scary

href="http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/12/06/1102182227308.html">THEAGE.COM.AU -- Scientists in Florida extracted 25,000 neurons from the embryo of a rat. They were suspended in a solution on top of electrodes. The bonded together and then, via the electrodes, were taught to manipulate a flight simulation program on a computer connected to the electrodes. More...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wasteland of Impatience

"It's in the waiting that God prepares for our dreams to come true."
That was a quote from a sermon I heard with the title above. I thought both the title and the quote were really great. They came from a the pastor of a college/young adult service in Virginia near DC.

Their college/young adult service was started the same year as ours, but theirs is now over 1,500 weekly attendance and ours is less than 100, nine years later. They both meet at the same time, Sunday nights, and theirs has the added benefit of sometimes being held or not held because of temperatures below freezing and/or blizzards. The pastor who started that service was originally from a big church south of us here in L.A. and only took that job after a lot of prodding and calls from the church back east. He's now back in the southland at another church where he's the senior pastor. The guy who retired from being that church's senior pastor is now our church's weekend teaching pastor while we look for a new senior pastor. Small world, eh?

Anyhow, all this has made me think of the logic puzzle with the nine dots arranged in three rows of three dots. You're supposed to draw four straight lines, without lifting the pen, and cover all nine dots. If we just stare at the dots, it's impossible. But if we think outside the square, suddenly the answer becomes very clear.

It feels like the impatience has come to an end, that we're now rushing madly towards something. It's like we were shown the box, and then it was poured out from the top of the Space Needle. All the pieces are there, but the task of getting them all togther seems both daunting, scary and nearly impossible.

I know for my part, I have not been working hard enough. It's been really stressful and I've taken breaks when I could have been working on it. I'm worried that I'm not good enough and my failure is what's going to keep it from all coming together. Not to mention that we're trying to squeeze the contents of a 1,100 square foot home into much smaller amounts of space as we clear rooms to have flooring done or redone. And everyone else is sick. It's all very draining.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

California Dreamin'

I've come to realize that what I idealize about California is really not the California I live in.
Well I won't back down
No I won't back down
You could stand me up at the gates of Hell
But I won't back down
No I'll stand my ground
Won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground
And I won't back down.
It's really a disappointment to me that I did let this world drag me down and now I am backing down. I'm about 40 miles too far inland, and saddled with a job that takes all my time and a commute that sometimes makes me want to kill people.

It probably did me no good that my first two trips to California were vacations... first to Disneyland in 8th. grade and then a drive down my senior year for spring break to hang out at my college roommate's parent's house, trips to Disneyland and lots of hanging out. To be sure, it was further from the beach, but I didn't shave all week. I just relaxed. This was where the goatee was born.

So I might still maintain that I'm a Southern Californian accidentally born in Washington State, but I am not a Monrovian, an Arcadian, heaven forbid a Glendorian or worse yet, Pasadean. (Granted, by birth, Rachel is a Pasadean by birth, but she and Huntington Memorial Hospital are two bright spots in an otherwise unpleasant city.)

I am a Santa Monican, a Venetian, Los Angeleno (but only the nice parts). With a much better job, I'd be a Beverly Hillite.

But those are not to be, I'm afraid. And so in this place where people have taken a desert and made their dreams, I have fallen short, chosen poorly and am forced to re-examine everything.

However, this is not a time to pity. This is a time to explore the possibilities that change can bring.

(Hey Google... stop listing me as spam. I bought a single share of your stock today. At $412 + $10.99 transfer fee, it was all I could afford. Thanks for then dropping $6.)

Reality Turkeys

MSNBC.COM -- What's the biggest reality show turkey? It must be Amazing Race, the Family Edition. I mean, who can argue with a cool guy named James? (Top of page 2.) More...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Is Anyone Out There?

A guy named Paul English has published a guide that shows you how to get past the automated menus and directly to a human for over 100 companies.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Here Turkey, Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving.

What an action packed and quick weekend. I don't feel like it necessarily needed to be longer, but I wish I had gotten a little more done. I lost count of the number of trips to Home Depot and Target.

The weekend started with an episode of Lost. The nice thing is, by the time we stand around the Marian's desk discussing it, the next episode will be only two more days away.

I found some wood in our garage that was left over from another project and got part of the wall redone in the laundry room. Sadly, Home Depot decided to be closed on Thanksgiving. I think that's a tragedy, because it would have been the perfect day to do more in the laundry room. I made a great start and I love my new jig/orbital saw. It worked great, though measure twice, cut once isn't good enough for me. I think I need to measure at least four times from now on. But, I'll get more wood soon, finish the job and then repaint the room, put down some stick-on tiles and consider the job done. My original plans were too fancy and the effort and money would be overspent if I were to do that. So I've scaled back some and plan to do "good enough" instead of a fancier job.

We also ate really well on Thanksgiving, and then ever since then. Lori made a smaller spread than in past years, but we still had all the good stuff. Lori's mom joined us as well and we had a really nice relaxing day.

We also met with our advisor. In addition to reviewing how we should improve our home, he showed us two others in the neighborhood. In some ways, we're incredibly well off, considering. Turns out that a number of the projects we were thinking we needed to do, we don't need to do. And because of timing and because of the lower number of projects, Lori's starting to see the light on paying others to do the work.

Tim and Sarah joined us for dinner last night and that was really nice. They were dropping hints about thinking about having kids. Not spreading any rumors, but they're now apparently ready to entertain the idea. (woo hoo!) After dinner we sat in the living room and managed to have a grown-up conversation and play with Rachel at the same time. That was cool.

Today we slept in and didn't go to Sunday school. (We had gone to church Saturday night.) Then we had small group and got a bunch of cleaning done around here before having a video conference call with my parents and grandma because they wanted to see Rachel.

Then I had to make a late run to Albertsons to get cough medicine for Rachel. Of course, I tried to use the self-checkout because I'm impatient (anti-social?) and I got held-up because you can't by cold medicine without an age verification and Albertsons never has people over there by the self-checkout. Very annoying. (Another reason I prefer self-checkout -- last week we went there and I used the regular checkout and they put a 24-pack of Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper underneath the cart and I didn't see it and we got home and didn't have any Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper to drink.)

So now it's 10:40 already and we're starting to wind down and get ready for bed. I have no idea how it gets so late so quickly. Ugh... have to be up in 6-1/2 hours and I know it will be at least 30-45 minutes before we're in bed and who knows how long after that before I fall asleep.

Good night, y'all. Goodnight Google censors.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Next Blog

I've been hitting the "Next Blog" button a lot lately. I guess it's because I know that there won't be anything new on MSNBC.com, News.com or Google Labs and there isn't really much else on the internet of interest. I could make some more videos of the little one to post on Google Video. Or I could fire up Google Earth, but I know I'll just stare at Seattle some more. You'd think that alone would be enough to get me fired up and get on track with the part of Project Restart that involves me going on the internet and telling more people about me. But so far, I haven't. I guess I've been more introspective about what I'm thinking and putting down on the blog, and curious about what others are writing about. (I'm not mentioning Google just because I'm trying to kiss up to them and get un-spam-blog-blocked, but honestly, they do have a majority of the only websites I regularly frequent on the internet.)

I have to say... I haven't found a lot that I've wanted to read on the "next blog" button. Like me, people type a lot in their posts... And lots of people don't even bother with punctuation and spelling and stuff and that makes it difficult to read.

But I have been cheered to find that others are writing to complain about not having enough time to actually write. And others are wondering if they complain about their lives on their blog, will others care? I'm happy to hear that I'm not alone in those ponderings.

Anyhow, I have sat at this computer in the darkened kitchen long enough. I think I'll go have some milk and see if there are any chores that I can quickly do before sitting down with Lori to unwind in front of the TV.

One of these days I'll do another "120 seconds of lit" or post another picture (new pictures of the little one posted yesterday on Flickr, e-me if you don't have an invite yet) or do something creative. I yearn to be creative beyond home renovation.

Progress Goes Slowly

Progress on "Project Restart" has been going rather slowly, and we really need to pick up the pace if we're going to keep to the schedule.

Tomorrow we're meeting someone who will advise us on how best to spend on home improvements to maximize our eventual sale price. I'm looking forward to this because at the moment, all we have our own ideas, some notes we've made from watching "Designed to Sell" constantly and about a bazillion dollars in Home Depot receipts. Cruel trick... you can save the receipts for purchases made that improve a home, but Home Depot's cheap receipts fade after a few months to where they're unreadable.

I had hoped to redo the laundry room this weekend, but the timing wasn't right and Home Depot had to go and be all closed yesterday. What's up with that? I was able to buy a jigsaw and did find a huge piece of plywood in the garage so I did get a big piece of the easiest part of the work done.

Perhaps tomorrow after the advisor has come and gone I'll be able to convince Lori to accompany me back to Home Depot to get some more plywood.

We did de-clutter the nursery tonight. Now every time you walk in there, it just feels good. It joins the bathroom and the living room as having been de-cluttered. I wondered aloud why it took something like this for us to get to that stage. She thinks that people don't live that way. I think that it's possible that people do. She conceded that it could be possible and we both agreed that it would be really tough to live that way.

We'll do a little more sorting tonight and I'll move some more stuff to the garage tomorrow before the advisor gets here. But we're also going to have to start calling to get quotes on getting flooring put in for some of the rooms and see about what we can do for flooring on our own in some other rooms. But the kitchen, that's the biggest project and I'm really not looking forward to it. I think to do it correctly will require tearing out some walls and if you only count weekends, we've got something like 10 days left. That's scary.

Say it aint so, Google!

I love Google. I'd love to work for Google.

To my disappointment, Google's Spam Robots have flagged my blog as possibly a spam-blog. That's like a knife in the heart.

On the other hand, to get my blog un-spam-listed, a human being at Google will review my blog soon to make sure that I'm not spam.

So, yay, another reader.

Yes, Google, this is not spam. Useless drivel that's probably another fine example of why the internet is filled with mostly useless hot air, but not spam. I think my three or four readers would agree. (That's you, Lori, Kevin, Allison and Janeal.)

On the other hand, Google, I am all for having the word verification requirement on all posts. I don't know how you handle that with the mail-to-blog, but there are so many annoying blogs under the "next blog" button that if we cut could down on those, cool. (Another suggestion: a "don't show me blogs like this" button [yeah, too many words], similar to what you have on the deskbar.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

hee hee

"Toyota Scion XB
Designed and promoted as a vehicle for Generation X’ers who like to spend their weekends surfing and generally hanging out and looking cool, the boxy, funky-looking Scion XB has instead found a devoted following among much older drivers who love its low ride and ample headroom. Dude, how uncool is that?"

More Turkey Cars on MSNBC

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Unfair Reality Shows

I always love it when people who have appeared on reality shows and looked like really poor excuses for human beings later complain that they were edited to look bad.

Sure, perhaps they didn't show it when you saved the baby kitten hiding under your car. But if you later taser said kitten and fry it on the engine block, then maybe it's not just the editors who are being jerks.

Yes, reality game show hopefuls, here's the shocking secret. Ready? You'll want to write this down.

If you don't do things that make you look like an a-hole while you're on camera, then the editors won't have stuff that makes you look like an a-hole to include in the show.
There. That wasn't so hard, was it, Weaver family?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Vote for Megan

MSNBC.COM -- My friend Megan Dove is a finalist to win a $10k makeover for her office. Please go vote for her. More...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Flight of the Bumblebook

This is kinda cool... Bookcrossing - once you're done with a book, you go to their site and register the book and leave comments about the book. They give you a special code (called a BCID) which you write in the front cover along with the website address.

Then, you leave the book in a public place.

The theory is that someone will find the book, read it, and possibly go back to the website and register that they found it.

Sort of like a catch-and-release program to share books.

Similar to Where's George and Grafedia.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I need some good news.

I don't have bad news, but it's been a long day. So, my few and faithful readers, I need some good news. It needn't be in any way related to me, or even be relevant to me. But if you've got some good news, please share. Even if it doesn't involve you, maybe it's something happy you saw on the news or something. If so, please share.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Islands' last hurrah

Sorry I haven't written recently. It's been, well, quite busy.

When I first arrived in Sherman Oaks, there was an Islands near church and work. They wanted to go there all the time, and I'd always go, and always order something different, but they were never exactly something I'd enjoy. I had all but given up when I stumbled on it, and now it's all I order, to the point that they often have to ask me to slow down... "Sunset, medium well on wheat with light onions." A perfect burger with bbq sauce, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and optionally, onions.

The ambience of Islands is wonderful. I've lost track of how many different ones I've been to, but the experience is consistently great, a terrificly done tropical escape from the world around us.

Last night we had dinner at the Islands in West Covina. It was sort of a last hurrah for us. Islands, we'll miss you.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Can you see me now? Good.

NEWS.COM -- This is cool... companies and state DOT's are starting to explore the idea of using cell phones to show traffic patterns. The idea is that with hundreds of thousands of cars on the road, often each with at least one cell phone powered on in each car, they can gather the information in large clusters and quickly be able to see if traffic is moving at the right speed, or where congestion is. Right now, it costs $1k-$20k to put sensors into a road, so this is possibly a cheaper way of gathering data on a lot more roads at once, which could lead to faster responses by emergency vehicles as well as communication to drivers about potential problems ahead and recommendations to alternate routes. As usual, critics suggest that it's the first step towards tracking individual people or finding people congregating to riot or protest. More...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I'm lost. Or more specifically, Locke.

You scored as Locke. You're Locke! People underestimate you, but you know you can do anything you want to. You hate limits being put on your life - you don't like it when people don't believe in you.

Locke

75%

Shannon

75%

Hurley

69%

Jack

56%

Claire

50%

Sawyer

50%

Michael

50%

Jin

38%

Sun

38%

Charlie

25%

Sayid

25%

Kate

13%

Boone

6%

Who is your "Lost" alter ego?
created with QuizFarm.com

Friday, November 04, 2005

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Why not become an actual minister? pt. 2

I watch a lot of Celebrity Poker Showdown. Sadly, I'm not absorbing as much about the gameplay as I'd hoped.

But one thing I've noticed is that there are way too many charities named after the person sitting at the table.

If everyone has their own charity, then everyone has to pay people to do the same administrative jobs as if a few of those charities merged and could benefit from economies of scale. (On the flip side, don't look at World Vision and their supposed 47% administration costs. If true, yikes.)

Same reason, why start a new church when there is, right in front of me, one with 109 years of history? (My colleague calls it "109 years unimpeded by progress.")

Why start over if it could be fixed? I thought it could be fixed, though now I'm not so sure anymore.

Yeah, it would be really easy to start a new church. I could call up the senior pastor of the old church and ask him to be the Senior Pastor. We could probably launch with 250-500 attendees our first week. And I think I would do a better job of advising him than the last group did. (The fact that he's a teacher by trade and ends up repeating himself too often notwithstanding.) I lack the Biblical training and the proper empathy to be the face of the church, the teaching pastor. Business Administrator or Executive Pastor, yeah, probably. But usually Senior Pastor = Teaching Pastor, though that concept is even being rethought these days.

Yeah, I could start a new church. Let someone else do the Biblical teaching, even find (poach?) others to be the caring people to the public, while I worried about keeping the thing fresh and new, about making it alive and growing. I could do that, and it would be difficult, difficult work.

I mean, which would you rather watch? This Old House or Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? I know you personally prefer This Old House. They have to work within the constraints of the existing architecture, and honor the past, but in the end, they can come up with something really beautiful that has the potential to fully serve the needs of a modern day family. While EM:HE simply destroys everything and starts over with something that has no history, has no past, and whose future is based solely on what the designers did to meet the current needs today. (And to showcase beautiful Kenmore appliances.)

I also play a lot of SimCity. It's always easier to create a town from scratch than it is to take a town you've been working on and think about what's really wrong with it and work at fixing it. (Not a fair comparison, the little sims don't protest very much when you demolish their homes to move a street over a block, and the bulldozer is really cheap.)

I think it would have been more of a challenge, more of an exciting experience, to try to change the existing church.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Friday, October 28, 2005

Why not become an actual minister?

"Why not become an actual minister? Or is that a silly question?"

Kevin asked this recently in response to one of my posts. I guess it's not necessarily a silly question, but yeah, ok. Why not become a minister?

For awhile, I was an ordained minster in the Universal Life Church, as I believe you still are. But then I thought to myself... perhaps it's not a good idea to be the minister of a religion that's not in sync with the religion I have put my faith in. To me, that's like working for Ford and driving a Dodge. To some, you might be saying "What's the big deal?" To me, if I'm going to believe in something, it's gotta be the full commitment. If I were to move to Detroit and start assembling F-150's, the Intrepid would have to go on Craigslist. If I were to work for a church, I would need to attend that church. If were to work for a studio, I'd have to believe in the product. (Hence my love of Disney.) But, we're not talking about that.

Why not become an actual minister?

Frankly, that's a pretty easy one. That's not what I'm gifted at. That requires a certain kind of skill, a certain type of empathy, a certain type of way of dealing with people I do not possess. In the lingo of the church, the gifts of ministers tend to fall into the discipling, shepherding, teaching type roles. That is not me. I wouldn't have a passion for it, possibly not the patience for it. And when it comes to people, there are a lot of ways that they can be hurt, and I'm not quite sure I can stomach that, or be rationale if my advice were solicited. Granted, I've become much more of a softie/wus since Rachel was born, but that could end up working against me. Lack of training could also be a stumbling block.

No, I am a systems guy. And I don't mean I fix your PC. I mean in a world of logic, logistics, things involving a systematic approach. And I'm also a strategy, big picture kind of guy. I feel that I have the somewhat unique ability to get inside somewhere, but still remain an outsider. I can look at the big picture, I can see what's working, what's not working, and come up with solutions, often ones that people have not necessarily considered before.

And therein lies the crux of my current employment... those that are in charge are not interested in changing, improving or innovating. They're not soliciting my input and I'm learning it's not in my best interest to offer it. Sometimes it's outright dismissed, sometimes it's patiently heard and then completely disregarded. I realize that I'm not some uber-genius and that there is history, politics, egos, etc., that I am not privvy to knowing about, but I desperately crave to be in a position where I have the ability to affect change, to innovate, to improve, to make greater.

I wonder if that really answers the original question or not.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I'm happy.

I know that seems like a little thing, but if you've been following this blog lately, you'll realize that this is in fact really a newsworthy event.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Why are any of us here?

To drink coffee.

One of this year's 63 quotes on Starbucks coffee cups comes from Rick Warren and reads:

"You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He wanted you alive and created you for a purpose. Focusing on yourself will never reveal your real purpose. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Only in God do we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance and our destiny."

That's kinda cool.

Why am I here?

Ok, so a week or two ago I thought of someone I hadn't thought of in a long time. Another one of my reminiscing moments, I wondered what had ever happened to the redhead I met one weekend at a church camp when I was in high school.

Long, long ago, in a state far, far away, our high school youth group climbed into a white rental van with Carol at the wheel, headed for some place at the other end of the state. It was a dark and stormy trip and the rental van was too small for the number of people in it and all their luggage. Even so, our group was far smaller than usual. The usual stuff, Patty freaking out over bridges, Jeff flicking people's ears and everyone laughing and making lots of noise. The windows were all fogged and it was really, really dark.

I really don't remember the camp, other than I think it was on the water and we had to travel out of and back into the state to get to it. It was surrounded by lots of trees, and all the buildings were unconnected. At some point during the weekend, I connected with her, and we hung out a lot of the weekend. There was a meeting hall with tall ceilings, dirty walls in need of a fresh coat of paint, and quite possibly dark wood beams rising up to meet the ceiling every so often. Lots of those metal chairs with built-in cushions covered by that fake leather plastic stuff. Possibly dingy yellow. You know the kind, the metal loops around the top to make a handle and they stack and always have holes where stuffing's coming out. There might have been a big indoor fitness area with an astroturf floor, but I'm not sure. And the biggest surprise of all, I don't remember the food. You'd think if anything, I'd remember food, considering my fondness for it. But then again, I've been to a lot of camps and the food is really all the same, isn't it? The weekend was wet, wet, wet. I'm not sure if the rain ever stopped. And I think there were leaks in the walls of the bunk rooms, because I remember stuff being so wet that I got the car keys from Carol and went and slept in the van. I remember the van was parked under a light and that the van leaked because I did not sleep well. I also remember going to a laundramat in town one afternoon to dry a lot of our stuff. I remember standing with her on the last day trying to find someone with a camera so we could get a picture while my youth group rather forcefully insisted that I get a move on, that they were ready to head back home. So, I said my goodbyes, headed for home.

Ok, that sets the stage. It was a remote place, and in a word, I was living like a sleep-deprived, drowned rat. At yet, something pretty phenomenal happened. Ok, remember the redhead.

Fast-forward to Monday.

As I was getting ready for work, the computer was on on the kitchen and the work e-mail was open like it nearly always is. No time to read e-mail, I hit the refresh button to see what kind of mail would be waiting for me when I got into the office. The usual spam, some mail from colleagues and a message titled "Way Back When" from someone who had a first name I'd only come across once before in my life and a last name I didn't recognize. Odd, I thought, and put the computer back into sleep mode, figuring when I got to work, I'd know if it was spam or not, since the computer at work always did a better job of putting spam into the junk mail folder where it belong.

So, off to work. Fired up the computer, went and got my coffee and came back to start the day. The message was still in my inbox, so probably not junk. So, I clicked on it. And there she was, the girl I'd hung out with that weekend, and whom I'd probably talked to on Prodigy (remember Prodigy?) at Brian Fischer's house twice and maybe corresponded with handwritten letters once or twice.

So I e-mailed her back to say that yes, I was indeed me, impressed that she had tracked me down. I would have to admit that I hadn't remembered her last night. But over the course of the conversation, she referred to me as her "savior" that weekend. Life had been tough and according to her, I had said and/or done stuff that really helped her during that period.

Note: After reading it, she felt that I really hadn't captured "how [she] needed [me] at all that weekend." That perhaps I still today don't fully understand the impact I made that weekend on her life.

Wow.

What do you say to something like that? I'm still at a loss, but I've spent a week trying to figure out what that means. First off, I was just a goofy little 16 or 17 year old at the time. Those were not some of my finest years, either in how I lived them, or how life was treating me. It was a few years after the "visible black cloud years" but a savior? Second, that particular weekend I was probably functioning as a sleep-deprived half-drowned rat. If I was also connecting with people outside of my youth group, it could mean that I wasn't connecting well with the people from my group that had attended. A savior? Really?

I still can't wrap my brain around that. No matter how big my ego seems at time, I can't take that, blow on my fingernail, polish them on my shirt and sigh-out a "yep, I'm that good." I'm not. Makes you feel really humble to hear something like that. And I've debated with myself all week on whether I should write anything like this in my blog, if I could write anything. After a lot of internal debating, I finally decided that I would ask her if I could write something, offering to send it to her first, and if she was ok, I'd put it out there, just because that's what my blog is... my good, my bad, my ugly.

So how do I reconcile this? It ends up being very easy, very humbling. The only explanation I can come up with is that it wasn't me. Nope, not me. Sure, I was there. Sure, I hung out with her. Sure, words came from my mouth. But I have to believe it was God working through me. And that, that is both humbling and awesome.

And if it's true (and I believe it is), there's hope for me yet.

How Did I Get Here?

(this thought started life as an e-mail from me, but I liked it so much I told the reader I was going to steal it and post it on my blog)

The past is always a hard thing.

Good or bad, it's done and can't be changed. Some people are good at facing it, some people want to bury and pretend it doesn't exist. Some people are really accepting of others' pasts, and some people can't get past it and let it color their judgement of people now, or they want nothing to do with other people's pasts.

But, without our history, we are nothing. Every experience, every person has touched us in some way, good or bad to make us exactly who we are now. I love all that space-time continuum... butterfly effect... back to the future... etc. Change something, no matter how seemingly insignificant and major ramifications could be felt forever. I guess that's why it's good that we can't change our past. All we can really do is learn from it, and embrace it as part of who we are. If we are ashamed or unhappy about our past, all we can do is make sure the new pasts we make each day are better than those before them, I guess. (Yeah, pasts isn't a word.)

God, please pick up the white courtesy phone

This past Saturday night in church the pastor spoke of 'running away from God.' He posited that in most cases, we know quite well what we're doing, and that it's intentional. He used Jonah as an example of someone who heard God's word and turned and ran in the exact opposite direction, ultimately ending up in the belly of a whale wondering if that's how his life would end.

In the end, Jonah relents and gives in to what God has asked him to do.

But what happens when the exact opposite is true? What if you're standing there, arms outstretched, face lifted skyward saying "God, Your will, not mine." but God remains silent?

We've felt pushed to change the circumstances, to which Lori can stay home with Rachel. I've also felt pushed to leave this miserable job. But, how?

We're ready to sell cars, houses, move, change life drastically and dramatically. Or perhaps less drastic measures are needed. I've applied to a few places, but I'm struggling to know what I should do next, career-wise. I've done one assessment and I'm about to undertake another. The only thing I really feel passionate about is making churches better. Ideally, it would be this one, but if that's not the case, maybe there's another church out there who has got a good plan but needs help executing or communicating it.

I've talked to friends who are saying that I'm describing a place they've been in the past. They said that at the time, they couldn't figure anything out, but now they've gotten past that stage and they can look back and see things that were moving into place to make where they are now possible.

I think I can accept that. But it's so frustrating that it makes me wonder if there's a version of civil disobdience with God, or not. Can I stand up and say "God, I'm not going to work hard at my job anymore. I'm going to spend all day on realtor.com and hotjobs.com. I'm going to phone it in." I suppose that's not the best way to get God's attention, and I know I'm no Moses, but God's mind has been changed in the Bible, so I sometimes wonder if I should do something just to get God to respond.

Unfortunately, I probably wouldn't like the response. I guess that's not a risk I'm prepared to take.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Friday, October 21, 2005

Yes, but is it watchable?

MSNBC.COM -- Has a year already passed? The Parents Television Council announces its 10-best and 10-work show for viewing-as-a-family. Using the 120+ hours of primetime television, the PTC culls a list of the shows best suited for watching as a family and least suited. Adding insult to injury, the PTC was only able to come up with 9 for the good list. I'll give you one guess as to which network has the greatest number of shows on the bad list. Yes, FOX with six of the 10 baddies. Now, what would your guess be for the network with the greatest number of shows good list? If you said ABC, CBS, NBC, or UPN, you'd be wrong. Fox and The WB score with two each.

I could (and do) extrapolate from that that Fox is offering the most diverse line-up of programming.

ABC - 2 good, 1 bad. (Dancing with the Stars? Really? Lori says that woman who lost her dress is a scantily-clad "skank.")

CBS - 1 good, 3 bad. (Ghost Whisperer? Really? Aren't ghosts scary?)

NBC - 1 good, no bad. (Three Wishes? Was this originally pitched by their PAX division?)

Fox - 2 good, 6 bad. (American Idol good? Even after Fantasia?)

UPN - 1 good, 0 bad. (A show based on Chris Rock's growing up life is a good show to watch as a family. Well, good for them. I haven't seen it but I've heard good stuff about it. Not sure if I get UPN.)

The WB - 2 good, 0 bad. (Two shows I haven't seen.)

Ok, here's the more interesting part...

Good Shows

Sunday - 1
Monday - 1
Thursday - 1
Friday - 4
unspecified - 2

Bad Shows

Sunday - 5
Monday - 2
Thursday - 2
unspecified - 1

Sunday is when a lot of the bad-for-families shows air? How ironic.

The link to MSNBC links on past that to the PTC's website. I make no judgements on these shows other than the snarky comments below. Kevin, feel free to rant about PTC's inclusion of Arrested Development on the bad side, or wax poetically about your appreciation of 7th. Heaven.

Finally, common sense.

MSNBC.COM -- A woman finds a bullet in the pork loin she's serving, the store gives her a $10 refund and a new pork loin. The best guess is that someone fired a gun at pigs on a farm and somehow the bullet was missed by metal detectors later in the process. Kudos to the woman for not suing, but I think she should have gotten $50 or $100. But, not suing. Cool. More...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Paging Mr. Iger

Hi. My name is James. Please hire me.

OW!

Click the link above, and then stare at the black + in the center.

If you have the same reaction as me, everything will get blurry and your eyes will begin to hurt and water and then you'll get a headache.

Friday, October 14, 2005

L.A., my home

I love this quote. It was actually in an article about soccer, or as half of Los Angelenos call it, football. (The other half dreams of football but never stays past the 7th. inning of a Dodger game.) Regardless, I thought it was a classic quote.

The palm trees and the sunshine are deceiving, because Los Angeles is the place where dreams go to die.

Every year it happens, and the silent screams of frustration and desperation from the hordes of musicians, actors, writers and producers who bring their hopes and desires to Southern California add that extra tension that contributes to road rage in the famous traffic.

It ain't happening, though. It's funny how New York has a reputation as a tough town, but really, it's just more honest. Los Angeles will give a warm, welcoming smile to visitors, and then leave them to figure out one hot day while they're stuck for hours on the 405 - it does that for everyone.

You're not special. Right beside you is someone smarter, cuter, younger, and heck, they're not making it here either.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Rock On

Well, your CD collection looks shiny and costly.
How much did you pay for your bad Moto Guzzi?
And how much did you spend on your black leather jacket?
Is it you or your parents in this income tax bracket?

Now tickets to concerts and drinking at clubs,
Sometimes for music that you haven't even heard of.
And how much did you pay for your rock'n'roll t-shirt
That proves you were there,
That you heard of them first?

How do you afford your rock'n'roll lifestyle?
How do you afford your rock'n'roll lifestyle?
How do you afford your rock'n'roll lifestyle?
Ah, tell me.

How much did you pay for the chunk of his guitar,
The one he ruthlessly smashed at the end of the show?
And how much will he pay for a brand new guitar,
One which he'll ruthlessly smash at the end of another show?
And how long will the workers keep building him new ones?
As long as their soda cans are red, white, and blue ones.
And how long will the workers keep building him new ones?
As long as their soda cans are red, white, and blue ones.

Aging black leather and hospital bills,
Tattoo removal and dozens of pills.
Your liver pays dearly now for youthful magic moments,
But rock on completely with some brand new components.


How do you afford your rock'n'roll lifestyle?
How do you afford your rock'n'roll lifestyle?
How do you afford your rock'n'roll lifestyle?

Excess ain't rebellion.
You're drinking what they're selling.
Your self-destruction doesn't hurt them.
Your chaos won't convert them.
They're so happy to rebuild it.
You'll never really kill it.
Yeah, excess ain't rebellion.
You're drinking what they're selling.
Excess ain't rebellion.
You're drinking,
You're drinking,
You're drinking what they're selling.

(Rock and Roll Lifestyle (c) Cake)

This video showed up in the collection of videos sent to our TV station. I featured it regularly in my music video show because I loved the song. Heard it again just now. Still a great song.

Off-kilter

That didn't look right. He stepped back and looked again. Was it the light? Was it the angle? No, that was obviously clear. It wasn't supposed to be clear. He stared, willing it to begin to turn darker, but it kept being clear. Stupid, he thought. What was wrong? He recounted the steps he had gone through. Did that. Yep, did that. Uh-huh, did that... oh... wait... yeah, that was a pretty big step to forget. Dang it all.

Now there was no chance that it could be anything but clear. Worse yet, he'd have to wait until it was completely done before he could do it again, this time not forgetting the all-important step. Hopefully this wouldn't be indicative of how the rest of his day would go. He sighed and pulled out another filter, this time adding coffee grounds and leaned against a wall waiting for the coffee machine to finish.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Revolutionary

Sometimes the revolution leads to the death of the revolutionary.
Someone came into my office this morning and wrote that on a piece of paper on my desk. No, it wasn't some sarcastic anonymous note, I think it was more of a warning. I was here when they wrote it. I'm not sure if they were trying to be quiet or subtle, but I've since hung it on the wall of my cubicle (if it can be called that). It covers up the
There is no interim in God's plans
banner that I put up about two months ago.

He's not wrong... sometimes you have to die for your cause. I have, of course, come up with several alternatives.
  1. Sometimes the revolution dies with the revolutionary.
  2. Sometimes the revolution isn't worth dying for.
  3. Sometimes the people are too stupid to recognize their need for a revolution.
  4. Sometimes the revolutionary says "Oh, screw it. You would just mess that up, too."

Fire destroys 'Wallace and Gromit' warehouse

CNN.COM -- BRISTOL, England -- The company behind the new "Wallace and Gromit" film said Monday its "entire history" has been destroyed in a fire at a warehouse containing props and sets. More...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Just How Dumb Do You Think We Are?

Ok, so I know they're different.

For Burger King, it's a guy dressed as a king with a mask on. For Quaker Breakfast bars, it's a life-sized statue carried around in a children's wagon.

I have not seen many commercials as of late -- we have a Dish Network PVR -- and a 16-month old -- so it's very rare that we watch anything live, when it airs. So I haven't seen that many commercials.

But tonight I've seen both of those commercials. And then I saw them again, this time, one after the other.

I've gotta say... is all advertising now handled by 9-year old children and focus-tested on monkeys? Awful, awful, awful.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Gettin' Jiggy with Target

Target will supposedly start selling vibrators soon. The link above is to a stupid petition. Stupid because internet petitions aren't worth squat.

I have a better idea... go to the store regularly and take the vibrators, put them in your basket, wheel over to the toy section and then leave them all over on shelves and hanging from the racks and stuff.

Now that's both funny and probably much more effective.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Quote of the Day

Ok, it's only 8:58 am, but I'd be surprised if anything I read in e-mail or overhear today will make me laugh more than this...
"Eww. Nothing worse than impotent chinese porn stars.
Especially when they’re trying to sell you a house."

Friday, September 30, 2005

Too Late

A few years ago, there was a sleeper show on CBS called Early Edition. It was a nice little feel-good show about a guy whose newspaper each morning was one day ahead. That is, this morning on his doorstep, he'd have Saturday's paper. He'd use the sports section to do enough betting to live comfortably, and he'd spend a lot of the rest of the time trying to prevent the things from happening that had been printed in the paper, such as a kid getting hit by a car or something. You know, that whole space-time continuum thing that fascinates me so much.

There was a really cool episode, a la Run, Lolita, Run or Groundhog Day in which he kept re-living the day over and over again. He'd progress a little further in the day each time, but then invariably he'd do something wrong and he'd die and have to start over again, hoping to have learned enough to progress past that point and make it through the day. Ok, so this was also similar to an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and my own attempts to ship a life-sized model of Yoda to Switzerland, but anyhow, this isn't about that episode. Though it does make you think about redemption and the idea of doing things over and over again until you get it right.

But this was about the idea for an episode that popped into my head this morning for some weird reason as I walked down the hall to my office. The idea was that he'd get the paper as usual. The camera would let us see that it was actually not for tomorrow, but for years in the future. He'd start with the smaller items, trying to go rescue cats from trees to save an old lady who would have otherwise tried to climb the tree herself and broken her hip or something, only to find no old lady, no cat, and maybe a newly planted row of trees barely taller than himself. It would take him awhile of unsuccesfully trying to prevent accidents and tragedies that weren't about to happen before he really looked carefully at the paper and realized that the paper wasn't tomorrow, but 10 or 20 years later. So then he'd have to figure out what could have happened that day that would have led to something happening so far in the future. Some kind of trigger. Sort of like The Butterfly Effect, a movie I have not seen, but is sitting on my PVR waiting to be watched. I've heard it's not very good, but I'm into the whole messing with time thing.

Last days of the Lion King

MSNBC.COM -- Regardless, don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out, Michael. This is a fluff piece that points out a lot of the good stuff that happened while Michael Eiser was running the company. But it serves as a good reminder... his resignation is tomorrow!! Woo hoo. And happy birthday, Lori!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

God's Got 40 Minutes

Crunch time. God, I already told You this in prayer, but I'm gonna put it here, too, in case You're reading blogs today. 40 minutes. If I don't have a super-huge-major completely-obvious no-doubt-about-it sign that You need me here at this job at this church, then I'm moving up the timetable. I cannot believe that it's in Your plan for me to be here and miserable. I need some beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt-proof that you need me here, or it's time for me to move on. 36 minutes...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

On Notice

We've been put on notice... the department needs to cut a quarter million in costs and they're nearly out of programs to cut. Pretty much all that's left is headcount. I don't know what to think. I'm part of two groups (both in the same department), one of 2 full-time and two part-time plus me and another with 3 full-time, one part-time and me. I don't know if that kind of complication of budget works in my favor or not. Last time I worked out all the different scenarios of who could potentially leave and who might stay. And then they went with a plan I hadn't even considered and I was out the door in a heartbeat, but with a 8-month severance. No such safety net available this time around, I'm afraid.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Friday, September 23, 2005

Oil, Schmoil

I've been trying to remember and/or find this quote from an episode of Reno 911! I saw a few weeks ago when I was up in the middle of the night unable to sleep. I wish I could find it, but it was great. In fact, the episode itself was pretty hilarious.

The department had been granted a new vehicle - a Hummer. The whole episode dealt with them trying to get used to it, trying to park it, stuff like that.

But when extolling the virtues of it, they talked about how the fact that it wasn't fuel efficient was a good thing. They were saying the quickest way to world peace was to use up all the oil. Then those countries wouldn't be able to finance violence and terrorism. The quote was something like "You don't put a bank out of business by going in and taking a little bit of money, you go in there and rob the place and take all the money."

I thought it was an interesting take that makes me want to use more gasoline. Because not only for that reason, but then carmakers will finally be forced to make cars that don't destroy the environment. (Well, I bet they'd come up with a new way to do it... like making a 20x20' piece of steel to get four hubcaps and then throwing the rest away or something.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Potpourri

If I spelled it wrong, I consider it a badge of honor. Anyhow...
  1. There was thunder and lightning and rain the other night. I'm glad to welcome it back. Check with me again in a few months and I'll tell you I'm ready for it to be done.
  2. I've heard JetBlue was good, but they proved you don't even need wheels to land a plane more smoothly than United. If you haven't seen the video, go to MSNBC.com. That pilot deserves some really big bonus or something from the airline.
  3. I still need to report on the meeting I had, but everyone except me thought it was great and that I was great. Well, I think I'm pretty good, but I wasn't too thrilled about the meeting.
  4. Lost tonight... um, what? I'm happy that they didn't just open a new can of worms. Tonight's twists I can deal with. I don't think I could really do justice to explaining the episode and it was sad to see Carol Vessey all beat up, but all in all a good episode.
  5. A grocery store in town did a major renovation for its 20th. anniversary. They had their grand re-opening and I wanted to go and Lori capitulated. The lines were long and we spent more than I had hoped, but the woman behind us in line gave us a $10 off coupon, they gave us a free Starbucks coupon and we won an inexpensive, but pretty decent looking DVD player.
  6. I lamented today to my favorite colleague that I didn't belong because (a) I'm wrong and everyone else is right or (b) I'm constantly right because I'm a genius and they're all wrong. He suggested there was a (c) Everyone is wrong. Lori points out that this still leaves them wrong 66% of the time. It's staggeringly bad. I feel like I could fix it, but a lot of people would need to get off the bus. I'm not convinced that's going to happen, so it's most likely me that's looking for a new ride uptown. Bottom line... does God have a plan for me at this church? If so, is something fantastic going to happen, or does God's plan basically involve me being miserable?

It's late, so I'm out of here. Goodnight, cruel world.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Kill me, kill me now.

First off, the webcam shot of me leaning forward, staring at the screen is just awful. Fortunately, it will be gone by the time anyone reads this, hopefully.

Anyhow, I need to rant. The powers that be and a few powers that think they be have determined that we need a new website.

Since I'm the guy who does the websites, naturally, people are looking to me on this. I have aspirations to leadership, so I'll humor them. But it really ticks me off because in order to do this, I'm essentially proposing policy. The only way to actually do what they want done involves a bit of a change in mindset, a change in the way things are done.

Problem is, that my changes would occur in a vacuum. We have a whole department here... an every-other-month magazine, a weekly brochure, posters, directional signage, call-in recordings, and so on, and so on. So really, to build my new system, without actually taking any of this into consideration does not bode well. It sets me up for (a) failure or (b) a lot more work trying to make people understand the system. On top of that, I guarantee that if this system for the website is not the same system used for the rest of the communication, then it will not get used, because the website is an afterthought, an also ran. It's not critical, it's not important, it's not on people's radars.

The powers that be and the powers that think they be strongly indicate that it is and are pushing for it to be even moreso. But the people who require the advertising the most are the ones who think the least about the website. (In an ideal world, they wouldn't think about any of it -- they would submit their advertising requirements and let the Communications Department determine the best course of action.)

The other part of this equation that utterly sucks is that I'm not management. I can propose all I want. I can even get buy-in, approval and possibly even enactment of my vision. But why? I'm not in a leadership position. I'm not paid and in the general course of things, my input is not valued. Sometimes I feel downright hostility for even presenting ideas. I'm starting to learn when and when not to speak up. Sometimes I have to let people make bonehead mistakes. Even if it means more work for me. That just means other worthy projects have to wait on the sidelines while mistakes are made and then cleaned up.

In all this, I risk offending my boss. He's not a good boss, he's not a good leader. He's admitted in so many words that he's not a manager, doesn't like managing people and would much rather just be creative. And offending my boss isn't just having someone upset at me, it's having someone then be hypercritical of everything I am working on or have done in the past as a way of passive-aggressively retaliating, even so far as demanding changes to stuff that he's ultimately been responsible for the final design or process mechanism on.

But the best part of all? I now have a very stale presentation to make tomorrow. It's been postponed several times because people couldn't make it. Most recently, because my boss never looks at his calendar and decided to stay home and telecommute. Then I was on vacation. We scheduled it for tomorrow, one of the four times before the end of October when all parties could meet. Again, he didn't consider his calendar and planned to have a contractor come to his house tomorrow to start on his addition, so he won't be here.

My other boss, when he found out, said "No more rescheduling. We are having the meeting tomorrow."

And my boss' boss, when he found out, said we have to trust God's providence regarding who actually attends the meeting. It's not that I don't trust God, it's just that my fanatasies of what God's plan might entail just doesn't in any way include this guy skipping the meeting. It includes him quitting or getting fired, but who's to say that I'm qualified for his particular job, and I know he won't quit or get fired. He's too happy here muddling along maintaining and not innovating.

Hollywood Power Outage Sends City Into Chaos.

No electricity for 26 minutes. 'This is our Tsunami.'
By Joshua Gates, Actor, Photographer. Victim.


LOS ANGELES, CA, September 12, 2005 - Horror and disbelief swept through the
greater Hollywood area this afternoon as a minor power-outage turned the
city into a virtual war zone and local residents struggled to deal with the
devastating aftermath.

The outage struck at 1:35 PM, during L.A.'s busy afternoon coffee and
Pilates rush hour. Traffic lights fell dark, local gyms and sushi
restaurants were without power for nearly 30 minutes and many businesses
were illuminated only by the light of the sun and its blistering 78 degree
heat. "It was horrible," said out of work actor and voice-over artist Rick
Shea. "I was in a Jamba Juice on Melrose when it hit and the blenders simply
shut down. A woman lunged for my Berry Lime Sublime an after that, well, it
got pretty ugly."

In the ensuing panic, local radio stations broadcasted conflicting reports
as to exactly which local businesses would be offering relief supplies.
Almost 100 people flocked to the Starbucks at Santa Monica and La Brea only
to find helpless baristas, no hot coffee and a totally meager selection of
baked goods.

"My mother is 83 years old and we heard on the radio that this Starbucks was
going to be up and running. If she doesn't get a venti Arabian Mocha Sanani,
I don't know what's going to happen to her, I really don't." said Lucinda
Merino of Los Feliz. To make matters worse, those few people who did manage
to get coffee were further thwarted by a total lack of artificial sweeteners
on site. "Sugar in the Raw? Are you frigging kidding me?," sobbed avid salsa
dancer, Enrique Santoro. "I'm on the South Beach Diet and my insulin levels
are going to go crazy if I use this. Why isn't the rest of the country doing
something?" Deteriorating conditions will force authorities to evacuate the
thousands of people at local Quiznos, movie theaters and upscale shopping
centers, including the The Beverly Center, where a policeman told CNN unrest
was escalating. The officer expressed concern that the situation could
worsen overnight after patrons defaced multiple "So You Think you Can Dance"
posters, looted a Baby Gap and demanded free makeovers en masse at a MAC
cosmetics store during the afternoon.

At least 2,000 refugees, a majority of them beautiful, will travel in a bus
convoy to Beverly Hills starting this evening and will be sheltered at the
8-year-old Spago on North Canon where soft omelettes with confit bacon and
Hudson Valley foie gras was being airlifted in by The National Guard.
Honorary Mayor of Hollywood Johnny Grant told a group of embedded reporters
at a Koo Koo Roo Chicken restaurant on Larchmont that, "The scope and scale
of this disaster is almost too much to comprehend. Local carwashes are at a
stand-still, the tram tour at Universal Studios has been on hold for almost
an hour now and I've been waiting for a rotisserie leg and thigh with a side
of green beans for upwards of 15 minutes. This truly is our Tsunami."

"We want to accommodate those people suffering in the Beverly Center as
quickly as possible for the simple reason they have been through a horrible
ordeal," Grant said. "We need water. We need edamame. We need low-carb
bread," said Martha Owens, 49 who was one of the thousands trapped in the
Beverly Center when the escalators stopped moving. "They need to start
sending somebody through here." Along miles of coastline, the power simply
surged, causing writers to lose upwards of a page of original screenplay
material, causing Direct TV service to work only intermittently and forcing
local residents to walk outside and look helplessly at the Pacific from
their ocean view decks. "I can hardly begin to put this experience into
words," said longtime Two and a Half Men writer John Edlestein. "I was just
getting into my rhythm and making some real headway on a scene where Charlie
Sheen parties with a busload of female volleyball players when my PowerBook
crapped out. I have nothing. Simply, nothing." Delivering his weekly radio
address live from the White House, President Bush announced he was deploying
more than 7,000 additional active-duty troops to the region. He comforted
victims and praised relief workers.

"But despite their best efforts, the magnitude of responding to a crisis
over a disaster area this sunny and trendy has created tremendous problems,"
he said. "The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the
help they need, especially in the Hollywood Hills, and that is unacceptable.

Do new innovations and technologies make us more intelligent?

NEWS.COM -- Yes and no. Interesting article. Looks like the start of a series on these concepts.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

If We Are The Body

It's crowded in worship today
As she slips in
trying to fade into the faces
the girls' teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
farther than they know

CHORUS
But if we are the body
why arent His arms reaching
why arent His hands healing
why arent His words teaching
and if we are the body
why arent His feet going
why is His love not showing them there is a way
there is a way

A traveler is far away from home
he sheds his coat
and quietly sinks into the back row
the weight of their judgemental glances tell him that his chances
are better out on the road

CHORUS
But if we are the body
why arent His arms reaching
why arent His hands healing
why arent His words teaching
and if we are the body
why arent His feet going
why is His love not showing them there is a way

Jesus paid much too high a price
for us to pick and choose who should come
and we are the body of Christ

Chorus (2x)
But if we are the body
why arent His arms reaching
why arent His hands healing
why arent His words teaching
and if we are the body
why arent His feet going
why is His love not showing them there is a way

Jesus is the way

Saturday, September 17, 2005

International Aid Flies Into Arkansas

MSNBC.COM-- Israel, Egypt, India, Russia, Denmark, China, Thailand, Tunisia, Peru, Finland, Romania, Chile, South Korea, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Greece are among the countries sending planes full of supplies to help in the Katrina rescue/recovery/rebuilding efforts. Kind of a cool story to read.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I was told there'd be no math.

We were doing some figuring while we were on vacation... 2 new cats, 1 new dog, 1 new baby, 2 new cars, 15 airline flights, 1 cruise, 6 mailing addresses, 4 apartments, 1 house, 10 cell phones, 19 phone numbers, 15 jobs*, only 2 full-time employers, major debt reduction, countless e-mails, instant messages, phone calls and kisses, 6 months dating, 8 months engaged and 6 years married. How awesome is that? Lori, I thank God constantly than you dropped into my life when you did. Your (or His) timing couldn't have been better.


(*including temp. assignments, promotions, etc.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Much Longer Tour

Bon Voyage, Gilligan.

Recall the Troops!

What doesn't make sense, though, is that this is the perfect opportunity to save face... recall a lot of troops to help in the efforts at home.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Here, have a new one...

Keith Olbermann ended Countdown tonight (Monday, Sept. 5) with a scathing editorial that was so awesome, that if I cannot find it online soon, I'm going to try to find a rerun of the broadcast so that I can transcribe it.

Google's Planet, Katrinafied

Link above to a method to get post-Katrina imagery into Google Earth, complete with the ability to adjust the transparency, so you can quickly compare pre- and post- Katrina damage. If you don't have Google Earth, you can also go to Google Maps (maps.google.com) and go to New Orleans and a "Katrina" button will appear next to the Satellite/Hybrid/Map buttons, but you don't get the rotation, plane or transparency that you get with Google Earth. The new images come from planes flying overhead, so they don't always line up exactly, and there are clouds sometimes, but you can find stuff like levee breaks pretty easily. Keep praying for the rescue and relief workers.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

AMBER ALERT

THE CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL HAS ISSUED A

* CHILD ABDUCTION EMERGENCY FOR
SOUTHWEST CALIFORNIA...

* A CHILD ABDUCTION OCCURRED ON SEPTEMBER 4 AT 124 PM IN
FONTANA...CALIFORNIA.

* THE CHILDS NAME IS NOAH LEANO...AGE 18 MONTHS...HISPANIC MALE
CHILD...WEARING A ONE PIECE RED JUMPER.

* THE SUSPECT IS A HISPANIC MALE...30 YEARS OLD...WEARING A PLAID
SHIRT.

THE SUSPECT IS DRIVING A STOLEN 2000 WHITE FORD EXPEDITION WITH
CALIFORNIA LICENSE PLATE 5 J Y A 7 8 0. THE VEHICLE HAS 3 CHROME
TIRE RIMS AND A BLACK RIGHT REAR TIRE RIM...AND A STICKER IN THE
REAR WINDOW THAT SAYS...7 FAMILY MEMBER.

TO REPORT SIGHTINGS CALL 9 1 1 OR FONTANA PARK POLICE DEPARTMENT
AT 9 0 9 3 5 6 7 1 6 0.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

I love this picture.


I think this is just a neat picture. It's from MSNBC. The woman in the wheelchair is 105, the girl holding her hand is 5. And then there are a bunch of hard-working rescue/relief workers there making sure they get out safely.

I've become glued to my television and the more I see and hear, the more I'm unimpressed with the current leadership in Washington. There are allegations that plans were ready to go much sooner but got stopped at the White House. There's Bush himself, already in Texas, but still takes two days to end his vacation. Lori said it perfectly when she said "Clinton would have been there on Monday with the people." At the very least, it should really be painfully obvious now to some how un-media savvy this current administration is. The facts surrounding whether or not they botched the entire thing, I hope someone has finally woken up and taken notice of how important perception is.

Sure, it's very easy to mobilize a local TV station helicopter and then uplink that live footage to MSNBC. It's easy for one Fox News reporter to fly in with 1,000 bottles of water. It's easy for CNN to dispatch crews from Atlanta. But even though things were happening, the people making them happen were far too silent. This is where the Republican idea of giving more power to the states (compared to the Democrats' desire to give more power to the federal government) really fails.

The same thing, surprisingly enough, is happening at my church. Our Senior Pastor recently announced his resignation. He did it in a really poor matter, basically giving no notice whatsoever. It's really opened wide a bad rift and hurt a lot of people, made a lot of people mad, and make a lot of people really confused about what's going on. And that's just the ones that have actually stuck around. One estimate says that depending on how you handle such a situation, a church of our size with a dynamic leader on which too much emphasis has been placed will see a 25 to 75(!!!)% decrease in attendance once that leader leaves.

The powers that be, again, fail to understand perception, basically letting the exiting Senior Pastor (and now the small dissenting faction most likely responsible for his departure in the first place) dictate the show. Their plays at transparency and increased communication are a good start, but no actual change is occuring as a result, at least not at the speed at which people would expect. I fear that far too few are using it as a learning experience to make changes for the future.

We'll see what happens in the gulf coast states. The devastation is just incredible. Most of the people who are upset about the lack of support they are receiving are also unaware of just how dramatic it is. It sucks when your only contact with the outside world is the camera crew that comes to your door, but I'm not sure these people realize how lucky they are to have a door for someone to knock on, even if they are running low on food, have no water and no electicity.

I know it's probably frowned on in some circles because it makes them objective, but thank God for the media who have taken matters into their own hands, not just shipping cameramen and reports, but food as well. This is just frigging insane, and it's good to see people putting humanity ahead of their jobs.

Lots of countries have been offering support. The ones that have really made news were countries like Australia and Japan who have gone ahead and made large contributions to the Red Cross after the State Department wasn't responding to them quickly enough. Other countries have offered help, like France and Germany. The Netherlands, too, but they're also going on camera to deride us for not having done more to protect our cities in the first place. But the two that really stand out the most to me are Sri Lanka, still cleaning up from the Tsunamis, who gave $25,000 and urged all Sri Lankan doctors in the US to avail themselves to the efforts, and Cuba, where Castra was offered to send 1,100 doctors and something like 25 tons of medicine. (I know we're all pissed at Castro, but I hope this embargo ends in my lifetime, it looks like a really beautiful place to visit and the Cuban food I've had here is amazing, so it's gotta be phenomenal over there.)

As much great stuff is now happening, I have to ask... Jesse Jackson -- why are you such a frigging idiot? I swear, the worst thing that has happened to race relationships is this man. I don't even understand what credentials he has anymore other than media whore. He's on TV saying "We are not refugees. We are Americans." Uh... refugees is a perfectly acceptable term. No one said they weren't Americans. And what's this "we" crap? I doubt you're enduring any of the conditions these people are having to deal with and not every person who got trapped on a roof was black. Shut up, shut up, shut up. Let intelligent black people speak instead, who actually want to improve race relations. I won't name names because I'm not really familiar with a lot of them, but I know there are many influential black people far smarter than you, Jesse. Racist and black. Now that's just sad.

But let's not end on a sad note. The Convention Center and Superdome have been emptied. American Airlines has made at least one flight out full of people, and they let them bring their pets. Air Trans teamed with two NFL players/brothers. The brothers purchased supplies and secured many more donations. Air Tran donated the plane and fuel and the crew donated their time. They filled the hold of the plane, and then filled every seat on the plane as well with supplies.

I'm still hoping that this is ultimately considered successful. We've a lot to learn from this tragedy, and with scientists saying it's only going to get worse, hopefully we learn enough to be far more prepared in the future.