Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tinkering School

Do you know how to tinker? Take things apart? Put them back together? As kids, my brothers and sister and I were pretty good about deconstructing...okay, that's a nice way of saying we broke a lot of stuff. Sometimes you just get curious and before you know it mom is yelling at you, "Just wait till your dad gets home!" *Gulp* Hopefully, if you hid well before he got home and stayed out of her hair, she would conveniently forget. Heck, she did not want him to be grumpy either.

I so want to go to this school...I want every kid I know to go to this school. I like that there a lot of girls using power tools. Man, I feel like grunting. I must be channeling Tim, the Tool Man Taylor. My brothers got to use power tools and were always in trouble for not putting the tools back where they belonged, but they could use them. I am tired of things in my life being "black boxes." I like the idea of being able to learn to turn something complex into understandable pieces. I mean everything can't be called a doohickey or doibie thing.

Freedom to use your imagination. Oh my. They took those "evil" plastic trash bags and made something out of it. They were inventive. Which, when you think about it, is a good basis for being "green." Reduce, reuse, recycle. They are finding ways to reuse something. They invented new ways to use them.

Invention. Yes, that's a good word. Invention, Imagination, Playing, Fun, Learning.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Damn it, Spock, I'm a Doctor Not a Physicist!

Space... the Final Frontier. I love Bones. I loved this movie. Okay, I guess I better do my disclaimer stuff. I WANT to be swept away by a movie. I have sucker written all over my body. Suspending disbelief--check. I'm all over that. I love when the theater lights go dark and the previews start. What stories are coming up that I just have to see? (Well, I would see more movies, but being as I don't have my own personal TARP fund going, I can't go as often as I would like.) I love seeing the studio logos come up--New Line, Paramount, Dreamworks, Universal, Focus Features.

I did not read too many reviews of this movie. Critics can be so....well, critical, you know what I mean. They get so picky about some things and then like movies so weird I have no idea what they are talking about. They have this thing for subtitles. I think they just want to show off that they can read.

I could not for the life of me imagine how they were going to pull off a young James Tiberius Kirk and a young Spock, which is a good thing I'm not a producer or director. They had everyone, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty, Bones. I loved when Kirk rides up to where they are building the first Enterprise and when you see the Enterprise for the first time completed.

I always think of shows like this as reminders of sweeping visions of where man can go, what we are capable of accomplishing. Corny, huh? I truly believe in space as the final frontier. I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to explore space and time. I always think of the saying, "You can't see the forest for the trees." We get so caught up in our "trees"--politics, finance, who won American Idol--that we lose track of the big picture.

Besides, I want to travel warp speed, so somebody needs to get cracking on that soon or I'm going to send tribbles to NASA.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Shiny People

Now they've done it. San Francisco is a city that prides itself on do-gooderism. This is a city that has a rule for everything. Here in good old Temecula, if I don't feel like sorting my used beans and weanie cans from my glass bottles of Jack Daniels, then dang it, I don't. My recycling barrel sits forlornly on the side of the house, a silent gray rebuke of my gross neglience of the planet. But then, to be on my own side, the only trash I generate otherwise is pizza boxes. I take out my shameful-headed-to-spoil-mother-earth regular trash every two weeks. But if I lived in San Francisco I could be fined! Yes. That's right. For not rooting through my own trash like truffle seeking pig and sorting the wheat from the chaff (I know, metaphor alert), I would be fined. $100 dollars the first time and $1000 after that. You heard me. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. Now, tell me, dear taxpayer. I work hard for my money and I did not plan to send my money to Governor Girlie Man so he could PAY someone to peek in my trash. That seems wrong on so many levels. I mean, a dumpster diver does it for free, all he wants is the good stuff.

But that actually isn't why I started this post. No, I started this post because San Francisco needs to import more homeless people. Yes, yes, they do. The caliber of homeless there is just not right. One of their homeless was charged with assault on another homeless person! What do you mean that's not shocking? He hit his fellow human homeless with a skate board. So very wrong. First of all, he should get a Nobel Peace Prize for riding a vehicle with such a low carbon foot print. He is the ultimate representative of being a Green Warrior. You know what, I think that's what San Francisco should call their homeless from now on--Green Warriors. They don't drive evil SUVs, they don't live in McMansions gobbling up more than their fair share of resources, they have very little stuff (only what they can push in a cart or two), they don't use a lot of water (which gives them a big B.O. foot print, but hey, San Franciscans, everyone has to make a sacrifice).

Anyhow, this Green Warrior was discussing quantum physics and splitting atoms when this other Green Warrior decked him in the face with his low pollution skateboard. I guess maybe the first GW did not know his quark from his anus and the second GW was letting him in know in no uncertain terms exactly how quantum physics hangs. Think about it. We can stop sending our kids to high falutin' colleges with fancy foilage and send them to Grand Avenue in San Francisco to get an education.

Maybe Governor Girlie Man can help subsidize the helmets and padding.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Square Glasses are for People with Big Noses

My dad and my SIL, JuJuBeez, have a friendly, loving, ongoing sparring match going. It started the first day they met. My dad was watching TV, I believe. He is always watching TV, and if it wasn't sports, it was probably the news. He loves to yell at the announcers and their obvious stupidity.

My BB brought JuJuBeez to the house to meet my folks for the first time. After their introduction, my dad asks her, "Did you know today is Adolf Hitler's birthday?" Now, I would be totally floored if the guy I was dating introduced me to his dad and that was the first thing he said. I know I would stand their stammering. Does he expect an answer? What the hell do you say to that? I am easily flummoxed.

Well, the Beez is not easily cowed and she is definitely not one to let a remark like that pass unanswered. "Darn, and I forgot to buy him a birthday card." Silence. Crickets. I thought it was a cool answer.

Now they banter back and forth and it is always entertaining. We had a BBQ last night at my parents' house. JuJuBeez was in charge of setting the table. Plates, napkins, silverware, glasses. We sit down to enjoy the delicious carne ranchera. My dad pours his drink, and then mutters, "Who gave me the square glass?" JuJuBeez gulps. Uh oh. We look over at my dad who is now smiling a mischievous smile. Beez confesses to said indiscretion and then he says, "You know, square glasses are good for people with big noses" and picks up the glass with his nose wedged nicely in the corner of the glass and takes a big gulp.

Ah, families are such fun~!

An Unbelievable Farewell

Thank you to Sage for an incredible post on Staff Sargent John Beale. (Video is courtesy of State Rep. John Davis.) Please take the time to watch the whole video. It is long but so worthwhile. Watch the sides of the road as they travel through city after city. Such a heartfelt response for a fallen soldier. As you enjoy your Father's Day and get ready for Fourth of July, send your thoughts to the dads far from home.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Think My Daughter is Stephanie Plum

I am a huge fan of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, you know, the female bounty hunter. I went to a book signing in San Diego last year when her 14th book came out. Teddy Bear went with me because she loves all the books, too. She is a funny lady and wore high top Converse tennis shoes. They were so cool but Teddy Bear said I was nowhere near cool enough to wear them so don't get any ideas. Humpff. They passed out stickers saying you were either a Joe Morelli girl or a Ranger girl. For the guys, they had stickers saying they were Grandma Mazur's fans. We even took our picture with Janet~!

Stephanie Plum is one of my favorite characters in a book. She has 2 hot guys chasing after her, owns a hamster named Rex who lives in a soup can, has an incredibly funny Grandma, and the rest of her family is probably like all of our families out here...slightly nuts. But she destroys cars. She has been shot at, had them blow up. She is a menace to all cardom. If they ever make a movie of her books, my daughter needs to play her. Slightly spazzy. Okay, incredibly spazzy, but funny and entertaining when they are not driving people nuts with their stunts.

Teddy Bear got her first car inherited from her big sister, the Hot Tamale. Nice older Honda Accord. She hated that car for some unfathomable reason. Anyway, she got in a few accidents in that car. One accident is when she took a corner at high speed and 2 tires were destroyed. She thinks that because she does not like the car, it did not matter. I truly thought I would end up in an orange jump suit after that.

Next, she got to drive my old Astro Van. A huge van. She did okay at first but one day she got all frazzled because she was lost (she is always lost) and I think banged into a curb. I'm not sure about that one because she is still not fessing up to exactly what happened. That poor car eventually got sold.

Her dad and I bought her a red Ford Focus last October and within one month it got vandalized. It had issues with the mechanical doohickeys. The engine mount was not entirely functional. She had flat tires as often as some people have dye jobs. Well, about a month ago or so, that car died and went to the great dump in the sky for cars. Her dad after much grumbling came through and bought her a Nissan Sentra. Nice color, good shape, clean. Nice. Well, she got a flat tire. Again. She had to go to work the next day and she borrowed my car. I work at home, figured I did not need my car. About 7:30 at night, I am starting to get a little perturbed. Why hasn't she called me to at least tell me she is at Killdozer's house? I go to bed and at 10:00 she comes in to tell me that my car, the car I am still making mondo huge payments for, got bashed in a parking lot at the mall. The front bumper was almost broken in half.

There are truly moments in life when I wish I could crawl into a fictional book and run away. My poor, poor Odyssey. It looked so sad. Silver bumper all cracked and partly hanging there. Well, I am not one to drive around in a car held together with duct tape and looking like a repo special, it went to the boo-boo shop and $850 later it is as good as new. (One of the disadvantages of having a $1000 deductible. Who knew I might actually have to use my insurance?!)

My daughter, on the other hand, is going to be my indentured servant for the next year or so.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fighting for Democracy? Let us Hope for Change

Charles Krauthammer has a great post on why it is important that President Hope and Change speaks up. Like I said before, I'm not sure that it will make a difference, but the Ayatollahs are getting ticked which is a good sign.

Auto Tune the News

Oh man, don't you love the beat~! HAHAHA.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can Your iPhone Play the Trombone?

Or maybe this.

When the Saint's Come Marching Home...come on, that was geeky fun~! I guess our kids can truthfully say, "But , mom, I am practicing my music lessons" when they are messing with their iPhones. I am trying to think of applications that would make my life easier, but somehow I cannot imagine the phone sprouting arms and legs and scuttling around my house cleaning.

What app would make your life easier...or just plain fun?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kevin, Dug, and the Little Mailman that Smelled Like Chocolate

Do you like adventure? Are you adventurous but never get to go anywhere? Some of you bloggers out there seem incredibly adventurous...or at least mischievous. I like to think I'm brave, but, well, I think they call being cowardly yellow because you piss yer pants. Which is worse? Longing for adventure and looking back and wishing you had taken the risks or going for it, and if you flub or look like an idiot, at least you tried?

My BFF and I saw "Up" the other day. In 3-D. Which, by the way, is the best way to see it. They give you cool glasses with the dorky lawyer type writing in it. "Do not wear these glasses to drive" or some malarkey. Heck, the real world is already 3-D, I don't need no stinkin' glasses to make it more 3-D. There were only 5 or so people in the audience and we ended up being the ones laughing the hardest. Carl in the movie is the spitting image of Spencer Tracy. I kept waiting for Katherine Hepburn to make an appearance.

I did not expect to cry in this movie. BFF hardly ever cries so I have to pretend or hide but the first 15 minutes or so of the movie were so poignant. Love, loss, dreams, regret, hope, adventure, optimism. It was all there. I loved it. The main character in the movie goes on an adventure and has a Wilderness scout as a stowaway, the little mailman that smells like chocolate. I love that he is trying to fulfill the requirements for his last badge and the space where the badge would go on his scarf is a hole right over his heart. Loved it. Go on, go look at the trailer.

I wanted to run away with him. He tied thousands of balloons to his house (you don't even need to pack!) and off he went to fulfill a life's ambition. And I want one of those collars for my dog so he can talk to me so that when he is barking incessantly, I can ask him what the heck his problem is. Knowing fat old Bo, he is probably barking because better that end than the other. Thing build up you know.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Fury in Iran. It has been an amazing co
uple of hours on Twitter. The Iranian government has shut down almost every form of media in the country but they have not been able to stop people on Twitter. Students are twittering from Tehran University as the police hunt them down. Pictures are being uploaded that might not otherwise get out. Poor Twitter had been scheduled to shut down for maintenance for an hour or so tonight but so much protest came down that it would stop people from communicating. People in Iran are finding each other to see if they are still alive and where they are, so Twitter postponed the maintenance to tomorrow. All media have been asked to leave. #IranElection is the hash tag or the keyword people are using to find out what is going on.

I am not sure if it will make a difference in the long run but it is weird to see the people of Iran protesting the election and fighting for even a little
bit of democracy in the face of the theocracy. The president of Iran is strictly a figurehead, the Ayatollah is the one who runs the country, but it would be nice to have this be the beginning of the end. It was not that long ago when Iran was not a theocracy. Not that the Shah of Iran was a good guy but the Ayatollahs have nothing on him.

Getty Image by Olivier Laban-Mattei. A Mousavi supporter helps evacuate an injured riot police officer.

Go watch a little bit of history in the making on Twitter.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Buzzzzz....The Honey Bees

Gilligan's Island--The Honey Bees.

I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Goody Goods

This just brings me back to my childhood.

In the late 60s, I would have been about 10, next brother was 8, next brother 7, and little sister 5. Baby Brother was still on the to do list. We watched all the goofy shows like this, Gilligan's Island, Saturday morning cartoons. Typical suburban yahoos. What is so different is the freedom we had.

My mother would throw us out of the house. It's a nice day outside. Go play. Off we would go. All day. No mom breathing down your neck. We would ride our bikes to the neighborhood 7-11. Yes, even the 5 year old. We played in the wash in our backyard. In the winter when it rained, a small creek would flow down the middle of it. We did some of the stupidest things imaginable. We ran up and down the fences in our backyards. We rode in cars standing between our parents. On long trips in the station wagon, my parents would lay the seats down and make a bed for all of us to sleep. We would drive through the desert at night. I loved it. You could watch the stars. We played with toys that would make some of these goody good moms palpitate. We fell out of trees. We rode little mini-bikes with loud sewing machine sounding engines. We played in the street. Played hide and seek at night. Blew up army men with firecrackers. We went trick or treating ALONE. No parents. (Which is partly the reason being the oldest that I am a bit bossy. I couldn't let the stupidity get too out of hand. It was my ass that got paddled if trouble got too out of hand.)

My sister and I took her boys one day to see a real Thomas the Tank Engine at a railroad museum. We got to ride in train in an open car. It was a beautiful day with tons of little boys hyperventilating with all the machinery and guy stuff everywhere. It was so cool. We sat in a car with 2 docents who were conducting tours and we had a chance to have a nice long talk with them. They were early 30s, maybe older. They were totally getting into talking about the things they did as boys. Blow up things with chemistry sets. Practically set the house on fire with the wood burning tool with the tiny little cord. They were totally enjoying their stories. They both had boys, about 8 or 9, as I remember. When I commented that their sons must have a blast doing all those things, too, they looked at me like I was nuts. What? No way. Their kids were not going to be allowed to do those things. It was dangerous.

Here were two men who you could tell were totally competent about taking things apart, putting things together, figuring things out, fixing things because they were allowed to do that as young boys and men, but they were not allowing their boys to do those same things. Change oil. Mow the lawn. Fix the dryer. Build something. Drill. Saw. Anything. Maybe even cook.

I love running into young people who can do things. I know a huge mistake I made with my girls was not making sure they had jobs to do. As part of a family, everyone needs to pitch in. We all had chores growing up. Man, the whining we did when we had to do them must have driven my mom nuts, but you did them. I knew how to keep a house when I moved out. Although to this day, I hate to vacuum. My mom had a canister vacuum with a long ass hose attached to it. No upright vacuum that leaves those pretty vacuum tracks that now I make sure that no one messes up for a few hours because they make a room look so clean. No, I had to get on my hands and knees with the little itty bitty attachment and do all the carpeting in the house. I can still picture that olive colored textured carpet. It was a bitch to get to look clean. I would rather clean the harvest gold formica counter top.

I need to ask my mom one day how she did not have fits when we would be gone all day and she would have no idea where we were. Does she realize how many times we were in the storm sewers riding our bikes? Sheesh. Those damn mutant turtles used to harass the hell out of us.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

This is slightly mad. A talking cake from outer space and Hugh Laurie from House, M.D.

I cannot wrap my head around this second video. I mean, this is Gregory House. Cranky, misanthropic, entirely too sexy doc from House, M.D. He does say that a smile a day will keep the doctor away. You may never see my pearly whites again.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day Prayer

FDR giving a prayer for the soldiers fighting on June 6, 1944.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Turkish Star Wars

Could it get any cheesier? Almost as much fun as the Italian Spiderman.

"Some of the Most Shocking Footage I Have Ever Filmed"

Filmed by Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana in Jerusalem

"Based on our interviews these people were from high socio economic backgrounds and had developed thoughts about current Israeli politics. The question is why more journalists are not covering this story. All you have to do is walk the streets of Jerusalem and you will find dozens of people that harbor the same beliefs. As a resident of Jerusalem, I can say that the people represented in this video are not members of a fringe group or simply drunk college kids. These people reflect the sentiments shared by many people in this country and this city. These people and their families are the core of the opposition to meaningful peace between Israel and her neighbors. This is what Obama is up against." - Joseph Dana

Words have meaning. Inconceivable. I don't think that "most shocking" means what he thinks it means. The language of the drunk kids is foul, but I imagine if you went to Berkeley and interviewed some drunk students after asking them about, let's say, Bush, well, I imagine the language would be colorful and shocking. Or perhaps the new Black Panthers. It is kind of shocking that he says this is the "core" of the opposition to meaningful peace in Israel? Really? Is he serious? The core? I am sure the president of Iran will be glad to know he is not the problem.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Goddess of Democracy

June 4, 1989. Tiananmen Square. China.

Students at a Fine Arts school created the Goddess of Democracy.

"At this grim moment, what we need most is to remain calm and united in a single purpose. We need a powerful cementing force to strengthen our resolve: That is the Goddess of Democracy. Democracy…You are the symbol of every student in the Square, of the hearts of millions of people. …Today, here in the People’s Square, the people’s Goddess stands tall and announces to the whole world: A consciousness of democracy has awakened among the Chinese people! The new era has begun! …The statue of the Goddess of Democracy is made of plaster, and of course cannot stand here forever. But as the symbol of the people’s hearts, she is divine and inviolate. Let those who would sully her beware: the people will not permit this! …On the day when real democracy and freedom come to China, we must erect another Goddess of Democracy here in the Square, monumental, towering, and permanent. We have strong faith that that day will come at last. We have still another hope: Chinese people, arise! Erect the statue of the Goddess of Democracy in your millions of hearts! Long live the people! Long live freedom! Long live democracy!"

Minzhu Han (1990). Cries For Democracy: Writings and Speeches from the 1989 Chinese Democracy Movement. Oxford, England: Princeton University Press

Let us not forget.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yugoslavian Recidivist Knuckleheads

Do you remember Night Court? I loved this show. And I had no idea Brent Spiner, aka Data from Star Trek-The Next Generation was in it until I found this video. I have been on a Star Trek bender watching season one. I just started the episode "Datalore" where they go to Data's home world and find his "brother." I love how they make fun of things like money and the need people felt in the old 21st century for such a silly thing. They are so beyond money, so advanced.

The show always seemed to emphasize what was good in human nature--curiousity, change, exploring, striving to get ahead and learn, most of all learning. What is out there? What does it mean? I loved the exploration part of the show. Kind of like going on a long drive just wandering around. Taking a road just because you have never been on it and it seems interesting. Sometimes it is scary and sometimes you find something you did not imagine.

When they would encounter beings more advanced then they were, those beings always seemed to see something to admire in humanity. Even with all our flaws. Oh, the fun they had showing us our flaws and how we would outgrow them. I loved the fundamental optimism of the show.

I still do not understand how people are not excited about learning. I have a post brewing on Wolfram Alpha, a "computational knowledge engine." It is not a search engine like Google. From the little I have played with it, I would call it more of an answer engine. It is such a fun site and Dr. Stephen Wolfram (yes, that is his name!) gives some great answers to why he started this project. But even my brother the geek and his equally geeky friend, Lop, did not know what it was. (I mean they both have servers in their homes. It's like a computer wonderland.) They are the kind of people though who will discover the site and manage to manipulate it such a way that will blow me away.

But for all my love of things geek, and things that bleep and touch screens to play with, I like silly sitcoms like this one. Ah, gee. Now I want to watch Designing Women. Time for a Julia Sugarbaker rant.