Friday, October 31, 2008

Have they learned nothing from the Charlton Heston movies?

It's after midnight and I'm leaving for Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday (today), but this was just too... awesome to pass up. Yes, I said awesome.

Here's the good-parts version, since I'm rapidly falling asleep.

1) The 700 Club called for a day of prayer on October 29th for the World Economies. They believe that God is currently in the process of judging the ideologies of the nations of the world. The prayer team wants to transcend the bull and bear market and have a "lion" market, meaning God's direct control on the financial system.

By the way, our current economic downturn is God's punishment for our "current stance on Israel", as well as passing laws condoning homosexual marriage. Of course, they held the prayer on October 29th, the anniversary of the Great Market Crash of 1929. Why did God visit that crash on the people of that time? The 700 Club doesn't say (neither Israel or homosexual marriage was on the map at the time), but color TV was demonstrated in '29, as well as Herbert Hoover being elected. Draw your own conclusions!

2) The appointed prayer consisted of meeting at the "bull" of Wall Street and apparently involved the laying on of hands. Though it may look as though they're worshiping the bull, it's the same sort of thing that occurred in the documentary "Jesus Camp". Children at the camp were asked to pray FOR President Bush, and they ended up laying hands all over a cardboard cutout of the Pres. I guess that's an important step. In my church, it usually involved folded hands and downcast eyes. And a lot of thinking.

Still, you'd think if you worshiped a god who has been known to cast people into a fiery pit for being around a golden bovine statue (see Exodus), you'd want to be EXTRA careful not to get anywhere near one.

Yet there they are. Laying hands on a golden bull.

Awesome.

[Photo comes from Wonkette.com]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Show me on this chart where my blog bad-touched you

I was having a conversation with a contemporary yesterday and the topic moved over into bad students. I finished an anecdote and she laughed and said something to the effect of "you have the weirdest students". I said wistfully that someday I'd write a book whose profits would support me into my old age.

"I would read that book!" she said gleefully.

"Well," I said in a tone of voice used to reminisce about a dog one previously owned, "I used to write about my students in my blog..."

She interrupted. "I don't *read* blogs. Ever." Her face was suddenly grave and distasteful, as though bad fish had been eaten.

I blinked. "...but I don't anymore, because I don't want them to stumble across it," I finished.

I should have said, "Why in the world not?", but I decided not to appear like a partisan for my own blog. Instead, I just let her comment lie there like the last crusty piece in the communal pan of brownies. I'd like to know what is so terrible about blogs, though.

Maybe she assumes that all blogs are rife with horribly-spelled ramblings about cake and tube tops and rock bands and thwarted feelings about girls. And while I may have indulged in all of those particular topics at some point, I would be hard pressed to categorize my blog as being "about" them.

I look at this blog as being about ME. To the extent that it talks about religion or politics or school, it's really reflecting the prominence of those issues in my mind at any given time. I'm not interested in creating a specialized blog where people go for the latest information or commentary about "this burning issue". There are political blogs that do the job much better. The only things I'm really qualified to talk about are myself, what I think, and music. The problem with music is that it's notoriously hard to write about. To mangle one of my favorite quotes, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."

In effect, it doesn't make sense to me that a person would be willing to read a book I had written, but practically in the same breath decry the need to ever read other things I had written. I suppose she could ONLY want to hear from me on stories about weird student behaviors.

I totally understand that some people strictly don't like blogs. They just don't care to read random thoughts. I can sympathize with that and don't hold a grudge against them. It's the people who want to know more about what I think or who enjoy my one-line status updates and want to read more of what I write, but ultimately don't come to my blog that I find puzzling.

Oh, well. Time for me to move onto my regularly scheduled entry about cake.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Actually, I'm *pretty* sure I spelled that correctly

While I was writing the update to my previous entry (which you should go back and read, if you haven't already), my in-browser spell correcting program called me out for a mistake.












I don't know whether or not it's readily apparent, but the checker was flagging me for misspelling the word "the". More specifically, you might notice that it thought I misspelled the "th" part of the word. I don't even really understand how that could be possible, but the correction underline clearly only extends under the T and H.

Apparently, it was *really* trying to get me to capitalize (as that's the only corrective option that makes some sense), so I would type "The Internet". I agree that sounds more important.

I Cam't Wait to Nuy a Mew MacNook!

There does seem to ne somethimg fummy anout the keynoard...





















As seen on Engadget.com


EDIT:

I hope the keys are able to just be popped off and replaced, because disassembling the computer to get at the keyboard takes 15 minutes and at least 56 screws, as described HERE on Step 32.

EDIT, THE SECOND (12:37 pm): Since I already (less than 20 minutes after posting) received an email complaining about my treatment of Macs, I should also add a disclaimer.

For the brain-impaired, this is NOT the standard MacBook keyboard configuration. If anyone assumed that I thought so and was "lording my smarts" over the simple Apple users, allow me to correct you. And also to laugh at you for being so disconnected.

The Applites are a clean and industrious people. Apparently a select few are SO industrious that they have the time to scour the Internet for perceived slights to Apple and lobby for their explanation.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Shouldn't one be exhausted AFTER the big week?

This coming week is a busy one. Actually, it is going to kick off a lot of busy-ness all the way into November. Concerts to attend this week, concerts to play in, lots of hours in the car.

I came home tonight from Brass Band rehearsal quite exhausted. I didn't realize how heavy that feeling was until I realized I was completely horizontal on my couch, trying to type on my laptop. Despite the discomfort in my wrists, it was just SO comfortable to have my head on the side cushion.

Then I saw something that jolted my brain back into gear: there was a visit to my blog from my undergrad, depaul.edu. Whoever it was, they searched Google for "doctor andy" and found my blog. Repeating the process, I discovered I'm now result number two when "doctor andy" is the search criteria. I'm sandwiched between two ACTUAL Andy doctors, with like... medical advice. It brought a smirk out of me that I'm not even a "Doctor Andy" yet.

So, the idea that someone searching at 10:30pm for me specifically triggered a flash of remembrance. I remember being in the DePaul computer labs and searching for "doctor andy", just to see what there was out there. At that time (ten years ago), I was first starting to realize that I might continue on further study in music. The end result of study being that I would eventually earn the honorific at some point.

So seeing the anonymous visitor from DePaul immediately made me think I'd been visited by myself from 10 years ago. This bit of Star-Trekkian fancy was enough to wake me thoroughly back up.

Of course, I know it's not me. Aside of the obvious facts of physics and causality, the person was using Internet Explorer 6. I clearly remember using Netscape version 3.0 on the computers "back in my day".

It's kind of fun, though, since I was never known as "Doctor Andy" when I was living in Chicago. That means if the person was actually an acquaintence of mine, they found me by searching for my current moniker.

On the other hand, if it really is me from 10 years ago, you (me) should definitely hook up with Jennifer from my "Saints and Sinners" class. Turns out she was (will be) very interested in me... you... us.

And buy Apple, selling for under $10 a share.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Look, Dad! Someone who keeps their house worse than I.

I have a link to an incredibly filthy house. It is beyond "foul and disgusting". Without a doubt, it is the closest physical incarnation I have seen to Dante's bolgia for the wasteful.

I don't know what the clinical term for the fear of garbage is, but those who have it should never click on this link. For everyone else... well... the state of this person's apartment will probably give you that phobia.

I was halfway through writing a long-winded exploration of all the horrible things I saw in these pictures, but I decided to delete it. As disgusting as this is, it is even more profoundly sad. A human being dwells here and keeps it like this through choice, laziness, or not knowing any better. I'd rather not mock that, anymore than I have already done through shame and disgust.


HERE

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Republican, naturally."

Depending on your level of media saturation, you may have heard about a YouTube video showing fatigued kids chanting and drilling in support of Barack Obama. I had seen the video online before, but only realized in the aftermath that it was from a school here in Kansas City. Here's a link to the story about it from the Kansas City Star, including a copy of the video. I haven't seen the whole thing and this entry really isn't about the video, so viewing it is not required to follow my entry.

The teacher involved has been suspended while the district goes through legal evaluations. The "big deal" seems to be questions raised about the appropriateness of such a display at a public school.

On one hand, I think it's great. I was involved with civic projects at our high school, even going so far as to have the congressional Democratic majority leader visit our social studies classroom during his reelection campaign. That's one of the best things that's come out of this "popular" election we're currently in: people are involved to a degree I can't remember.

I think a significant portion of this involvement comes from things like "The Daily Show". It reaches a portion of the electorate that the traditional news outlets don't. My youngest brother has never been interested in politics, but he's quite knowledgeable about the candidates and the issues this year.

It will be interesting to see if "The Daily Show" will maintain the traditional media role in opposition (to an extent) to Obama the sitting president. As many news scholars have observed, the media's role is to challenge the president and the government on everything, acting as an oversight board in representing the interests of the people.

But I digress. A little civics in school is fine. Now politics in school.... that's another matter. This particular teacher was suspended for putting together a sort of pro-candidate pageant. Were students who disagreed left out? Were they forcibly involved? Were they allowed to sit in a corner and think? I don't know.

My first encounter with politics in school was sometime around 4th grade. One of our teachers was talking about public policy, I don't even remember why. All I remember about the conversation was her saying to a group of kids, "The Democratic method is GIVE people welfare, GIVE them houses, GIVE them jobs. The Republicans say, 'We want you to WORK for that money, WORK for that job, WORK for that house.'".

I remember her laying emphasis on those verbs like a skilled orator. I'm sure all of us kids were confused, because economic policy is a little out of a 4th-grader's bounds. Eventually, somebody said, "Well, which one are you?"

"Republican, naturally," was her response. Again, I have very little context for this, other than the fact that a year hasn't gone by since without me thinking about it. It's just one of those childhood memories that becomes ingrained while others fade. For example, I don't remember what my elementary playground looked like, since it was long ago removed and replaced with one made of recycled milk containers. Me forgetting, in spite of the hours and hours I spent out there while growing up.

Would that statement have gotten her suspended or reprimanded? I don't really know. She didn't come out and endorse a candidate, but she was making implicit value assertions about the two parties.

I seem to remember our Scout troop being involved in the Bush/Dukakis election of 1988, too. Specifically, I remember all gathering at someone's house to watch part of the election returns, or maybe it was one of the debates. I think it was the first time I'd ever heard the word "abortion" as a term of interest.

I don't know that any of these events had a lasting effect on my political upbringing. I remember wanting to be associated with the Republicans in the Scout days, because other kids were making fun of Democrats as being "asses". This had nothing to do with the party's particular politics, per se, just the ability to use the word "ass" as a demeaning term for a fellow kid.

It's basically the same tone of voice that people use the terms "right wing" and "liberal" now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Dreadful Tally

I love the place I live. There's a beautiful view, which is now only marred by the construction project on the far left. It's quiet in the evenings. It has plenty of space. This time of the year, there are beautiful views out my living room window of the trees starting to process into fall colors.

But there is something here that disturbs me. Fortunately, it doesn't occur as frequently as once a day. It's on the order of once every three weeks or so; sometimes more and sometimes less. It's something I pay attention to each and every time it occurs.

It's the emergency vehicles going by.

I live on a nice boulevard that gracefully curves its way between two larger "grid" streets. As such, it's a main conduit for emergency vehicles trying to get to places. That part I have no issue with. I've heard sirens in every place I've ever lived.

Sirens are never "good" sounds, I suppose. Police and firemen are always headed towards something unfortunate when the siren is on, even if its relatively benign, such as a speeding ticket. Whenever the fire truck goes by, there's a good chance someone's home and possessions are on fire.

Something particular catches my attention about where I live. It's just across and down the street from a two separate "retirement" communities, focusing more on end-of-life care. So, each time I hear the siren, I listen to see if it continues on up the boulevard to some other accident. If it turns and heads up my street, I know it's a grim portent for some resident of the old-age home.

The paramedics know it, too, because they usually switch off the siren just after they make the turn. No use upsetting more people than necessary.

Friday, October 03, 2008

More of a Guitar Lackey, really...

Last week, I played my first games of "Dance Dance Revolution" and "Guitar Hero". While at a party, someone had brought a PS2 and these games. I'm fully aware that I'm significantly behind the curve on these games. My youngest brother was going out to the arcades years ago to do DDR, so I'm sure that they're on to the 14th sequel.

I've done only remedial guitar, but I've worked with it enough to know that it's not my bag. It hurts my hands (which I'm sure would go away with time), it seems confusing to not look at what the primary melodic motion is doing, and it requires a level of finger dexterity which is not on my short list of talents. So even though Guitar Hero is dumbed-down guitar, I still did poorly. Mostly, it had to do with trying to push the buttons exactly in time while strumming in time. That's not necessary: the left hand can anticipate the proper colors far in advance. So I wasted a lot of motion.

Out came the pads, and DDR began. It was vastly entertaining to watch other people doing it. Their gazes are so fixed, it reminds me of watching people watching a movie.

Then it was my turn. I was dancing cooperatively with a woman who had also never attempted it. Sadly, my feet were too big to stand in the middle without accidently triggering at least one of the directions. It wasn't a continual disadvantage, but it did throw me out a few times. In addition, I could never quite get the hang of when to actually press the pad at the appropriate time. I don't know if I was lagging behind, or if the pad didn't register at the moment I felt it should, but I was not making great headway. I failed a song on the easiest difficulty. However, I did manage a D grade on an intermediate song, so I consider that a badge of honor.

I can see how it might be a good source of exercise. I was certainly winded, though that certainly wasn't helped by the fact that I'd already had five beers before I even attempted it.

I achieved an "A" grade in avoiding tumbling head first into the fireplace.