Here's the Big Gulp machine at my favorite 7-11 store, taken yesterday afternoon. Maybe it's not a big deal to you but to me the Big Gulp machine is like the Sun to a plant or Mother's bosom to a baby. It's the source of one of life's greatest joys which is, well, Big Gulps.
But now there is trouble in paradise. See where it says Manzanita Sol? Yeah, that wasn't there the day before. It seems to be some sort of apple soda but I can't guess what "Refresco de Manzana Cae la tentacion" is all about.
What I do know is that in addition to the large panel of advertising that went in, the store also replaced the Cherry Cola fountain drink option in the Big Gulp machine with this new stuff. No Cherry Coke? No peace, right? Cherry Coke is, along with its beautiful twin sister Vanilla Coke, what made America great.
To add considerable insult to an almost inhuman amount of injury, this new Mexican soda is made by...by..... Pepsi!! Pepsi! The Devil's Pee!
Pepsi products instead of Coca-Cola products? Why not dirt instead of cake? How about hate instead of love? How about rats instead of dogs? Do I need to go on?
Pepsi instead of Coke? Maybe you'd prefer The Biggest Loser to The Office? Bea Arthur to Beyonce? How about getting polio instead of a good night's sleep?
All I am saying is this: How about a little less marching in the streets over the Writer's Strike, or the Jena 6, or some other "injustice" and a little more paying attention to what's really going on in this country. One Big Gulp Machine at a time.
Time magazine's current issue features a special report called, America by The Numbers.
"On the Job. Those few at the top can buy anything. Except, maybe, happiness.
Americans work more than they sleep. We also get - and take- less vacation than any other Western nation. but we are a remarkably satisfied lot: 9 out of 10 Americans say they are moderately or very satisfied with their job - a number that hasn't changed much in 35 years. So what jobs make us happy? ... For the most part, happiness isn't about money. Priests and firefighters are the most joyful, and they're pretty close to the middle of U.S. earners."
Isn't it interesting that priests and firefighters are the occupations with the happiest people in the profession? I thought it might have to do with the good feeling of being able to help others so directly and profoundly just doing what you do. Then I realized that they are both fields with virtually no women in them. What blessed relief that must be.
P.S. In case you are interested, here are the top ten and bottom ten jobs according to this Time magazine's "happiness index."
3. Reservation and ticket agents
6. Industrial engineers
8. Construction supply sales
10. Police officers
10. Dry Cleaners
9. Auto-body repairers
8. Food preparers
6. Amusement Park attendants
5. Welfare service aides
4. Construction wokers
3. Molding-machine operators
1. Gas-station attendants
I believe I have mentioned before that I am a year round Christmas music enthusiast. These last few weeks have been my favorite time of the year for one reason: almost every week there is a new holiday CD being released. Some of the best of this year's crop include those by Raul Malo, Jars Of Clay, Reliant K, and especially Over The Rhine.
The real tragedy for the audience is that most radio stations don't play very much Christmas music and those that do largely stick to the same safe titles and artists every year. You can get 24 hours a day in some cities of all the Christmas songs you know (and many of them deserve the plays - they are classics for a reason) but it is very difficult to hear anything beyond the regular playlist.
My small effort to give something back to the genre that has meant so much to me is to start a second blog, devoted only to one thing: sharing Christmas music to like-minded fans.
I plan to put as little work as possible into it by just posting an mp3 every morning with the title, artist, year and a brief note on the song. Sure, you'll hear Gene Autry (pictured) some days but I hope you'll also hear some songs and artists you don't know. And there is no reason a great song in December won't still be a great song in July.
I started posting mp3s on Thanksgiving but wanted to give it a few days to get the bugs out before announcing it here. My new site is ChristmasMusicEveryday.com.
When you look out your car on the highway exit ramp and see this man do you:
A) Keep your eyes fixed straight ahead on the traffic light. If you don't see him, maybe he won't see you.
B) Roll down your window and give the dude a buck and wish him a Merry Christmas.
C) Think about giving him that buck but then don't do it because you're guessing he'll blow it all on drugs or drink anyway.
D) Feel okay because you know you have donated to an organized charity to help the poor and that way makes more sense in the long run anyway.
E) Wait until he's not looking and snap a photo with your iPhone that you can use to exploit the stranger as content on your blog. Then step on it.
You know what I chose. How about you?
Hmm, I remember we had all sorts of fur and hair and wool and hooves and paws and snouts when we went to bed one recent night but in the morning I couldn't see any of them! Wait, I could sort of see one cow down by the barn but unless he ate everyone else (which is possible) then I knew I had to get down there and count heads.
I read an article in USA Today almost two weeks ago that I am still thinking about. So it occured to me that maybe I should share it with you in case it touches a chord in you as well. I am betting it will.
The report, which quoted the couple's oldest son, Scott O'Connor, focused on Alzheimer's patients who forget their spouses and fall in love with someone else. Experts say the scenario is somewhat common.
Offering a glimpse into the private life of a woman who has remained on the public stage since her Supreme Court retirement in 2006 to care for her husband, the report spotlighted John O'Connor, 77. He and the woman, referred to only as "Kay," live at a Phoenix facility for people with Alzheimer's.
"Mom was thrilled that Dad was relaxed and happy and comfortable living here and wasn't complaining," Scott, 50, told KPNX-Channel 12 in Phoenix in a story that aired Thursday. The station is owned by Gannett, as is USA TODAY.
Though Sandra Day O'Connor, 77, did not appear in the television report, it gave a rare look at the life of the nation's first female justice. The family's willingness to highlight an aspect of a heart-wrenching illness recalled O'Connor's decision in 1994 to go public with her feelings about breast cancer.
In a speech to the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, she spoke about discovering the cancer in 1988 and undergoing a mastectomy.
Scott compared his father to "a teenager in love" and said, "For Mom to visit when he's happy … visiting with his girlfriend, sitting on the porch swing holding hands," was a relief after a painful period.
The O'Connors, who have three children, met at Stanford Law School and married in 1952. John O'Connor left a partnership at a Phoenix law firm to come to Washington with his wife in 1981. He worked for D.C. law firms but was limited in his ability to take on matters that could come before the justices.
As her husband's disease became more difficult to handle, O'Connor retired.
She was traveling Monday and could not be reached for comment.
Peter Reed, senior director of programs at the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, said the frequency of Alzheimer's patients forming new romantic relations is hard to estimate. "But the underlying causes of this are fairly common," he said. Though patients lose their cognitive abilities and experience mood changes, "one of the things that doesn't go away is the need for relationships."
"Justice O'Connor is certainly to be commended for … raising awareness and helping to reduce stigmas," he said.
Lisa O'Toole, manager at the center where John O'Connor resides, said the facility participated in the TV report "to educate the public about the disease process."
Reed said 5 million Americans have the progressive brain disease that affects memory and behavior."
Menu analysis prepared by American Council On Science And Health staff,
directors, and scientific advisors, with technical assistance from Dr.
Ruth Kava, Director of Nutrition, and Dr. Leonard Flynn, scientific
consultant. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Appetizers Cream of Mushroom Soup hydrazines Fresh Relish Tray Carrots aniline, caffeic acid Cherry Tomatoes benzaldehyde, caffeic acid, hydrogen peroxide, quercetin glycosides Celery caffeic acid, furan derivatives, psoralens Assorted Nuts Mixed Roasted Nuts aflatoxin, furfural Green Salad Tossed Lettuce and Arugula with Basil-Mustard Vinaigrette allyl isothiocyanate, caffeic acid, estragole, methyl eugenol Entrees Roast Turkey heterocyclic amines Bread Stuffing (with onions, celery, black pepper & mushrooms) acrylamide,
ethyl alcohol, benzo(a)pyrene, ethyl carbamate, furan derivatives,
furfural, dihydrazines, d-limonene, psoralens, quercetin glycosides,
safrole Cranberry Sauce furan derivatives or Prime Rib of Beef with Parsley Sauce benzene, heterocyclic amines, psoralens Vegetables Broccoli Spears allyl isothiocyanate Baked Potato ethyl alcohol, caffeic acid Sweet Potato ethyl alcohol, furfural Rolls with Butter acetaldehyde, benzene, ethyl alcohol, benzo(a)pyrene, ethyl carbamate, furan derivatives, furfural Desserts Pumpkin Pie benzo(a)pyrene, coumarin, methyl eugenol, safrole Apple Pie acetaldehyde, caffeic acid, coumarin, estragole, ethyl alcohol, methyl eugenol, quercetin glycosides, safrole Fruit Tray Fresh Apples, Grapes, Mangos, Pears, Pineapple acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde, caffeic acid, d-limonene, estragole, ethyl acrylate, quercetin glycosides Beverages Red Wine, White Wine ethyl alcohol, ethyl carbamate Coffee benzo(a)pyrene,
benzaldehyde, benzene, benzofuran, caffeic acid, catechol,
1,2,5,6-dibenz(a)anthracene, ethyl benzene, furan, furfural, hydrogen
peroxide, hydroquinone, d-limonene, 4-methylcatechol Tea benzo(a)pyrene, quercetin glycosides Jasmine Tea benzyl acetate NATURALLY OCCURRING MUTAGENS and CARCINOGENS FOUND in FOODS and BEVERAGES Acetaldehyde (apples, bread, coffee, tomatoes)—mutagen and potent rodent carcinogen Acrylamide (bread, rolls)—rodent and human neurotoxin; rodent carcinogen Aflatoxin (nuts)—mutagen and potent rodent carcinogen; also a human carcinogen Allyl isothiocyanate (arugula, broccoli, mustard)—mutagen and rodent carcinogen Aniline (carrots)—rodent carcinogen Benzaldehyde (apples, coffee, tomatoes)—rodent carcinogen Benzene (butter, coffee, roast beef)—rodent carcinogen Benzo(a)pyrene (bread, coffee, pumpkin pie, rolls, tea)—mutagen and rodent carcinogen Benzofuran (coffee)—rodent carcinogen Benzyl acetate (jasmine tea)—rodent carcinogen Caffeic acid (apples, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cof-fee, grapes, lettuce, mangos, pears, potatoes)—rodent carcinogen Catechol (coffee)—rodent carcinogen Coumarin (cinnamon in pies)—rodent carcinogen 1,2,5,6-dibenz(a)anthracene (coffee)—rodent carcinogen Estragole (apples, basil)—rodent carcinogen Ethyl alcohol (bread, red wine, rolls)—rodent and human carcinogen Ethyl acrylate (pineapple)—rodent carcinogen Ethyl benzene (coffee)—rodent carcinogen Ethyl carbamate (bread, rolls, red wine)—mutagen and rodent carcinogen Furan and furan derivatives (bread, onions, celery, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, coffee)—many are mutagens Furfural (bread, coffee, nuts, rolls, sweet potatoes)—furan derivative and rodent carcinogen Heterocyclic amines (roast beef, turkey)—mutagens and rodent carcinogens Hydrazines (mushrooms)—mutagens and rodent carcinogens Hydrogen peroxide (coffee, tomatoes)—mutagen and rodent carcinogen Hydroquinone (coffee)—rodent carcinogen d-limonene (black pepper, mangos)—rodent carcinogen 4-methylcatechol (coffee)—rodent carcinogen Methyl eugenol (basil, cinnamon and nutmeg in apple and pumpkin pies)—rodent carcinogen Psoralens (celery, parsley)—mutagens; rodent and human carcinogens Quercetin glycosides (apples, onions, tea, tomatoes)—mutagens and rodent carcinogens Safrole (nutmeg in apple and pumpkin pies, black pepper)—rodent carcinogen Please enjoy!
Menu analysis prepared by American Council On Science And Health staff, directors, and scientific advisors, with technical assistance from Dr. Ruth Kava, Director of Nutrition, and Dr. Leonard Flynn, scientific consultant.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Fresh Relish Tray
aniline, caffeic acid
benzaldehyde, caffeic acid, hydrogen peroxide, quercetin glycosides
caffeic acid, furan derivatives, psoralens
Mixed Roasted Nuts
Tossed Lettuce and Arugula with Basil-Mustard Vinaigrette
allyl isothiocyanate, caffeic acid, estragole, methyl eugenol
Bread Stuffing (with onions, celery, black pepper & mushrooms)
acrylamide, ethyl alcohol, benzo(a)pyrene, ethyl carbamate, furan derivatives, furfural, dihydrazines, d-limonene, psoralens, quercetin glycosides, safrole
Prime Rib of Beef with Parsley Sauce
benzene, heterocyclic amines, psoralens
ethyl alcohol, caffeic acid
ethyl alcohol, furfural
Rolls with Butter
acetaldehyde, benzene, ethyl alcohol, benzo(a)pyrene, ethyl carbamate, furan derivatives, furfural
benzo(a)pyrene, coumarin, methyl eugenol, safrole
acetaldehyde, caffeic acid, coumarin, estragole, ethyl alcohol, methyl eugenol, quercetin glycosides, safrole
Fresh Apples, Grapes, Mangos, Pears, Pineapple
acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde, caffeic acid, d-limonene, estragole, ethyl acrylate, quercetin glycosides
Red Wine, White Wine
ethyl alcohol, ethyl carbamate
benzo(a)pyrene, benzaldehyde, benzene, benzofuran, caffeic acid, catechol, 1,2,5,6-dibenz(a)anthracene, ethyl benzene, furan, furfural, hydrogen peroxide, hydroquinone, d-limonene, 4-methylcatechol
benzo(a)pyrene, quercetin glycosides
NATURALLY OCCURRING MUTAGENS and CARCINOGENS FOUND in FOODS and BEVERAGES
Acetaldehyde (apples, bread, coffee, tomatoes)—mutagen and potent rodent carcinogen
Acrylamide (bread, rolls)—rodent and human neurotoxin; rodent carcinogen
Aflatoxin (nuts)—mutagen and potent rodent carcinogen; also a human carcinogen
Allyl isothiocyanate (arugula, broccoli, mustard)—mutagen and rodent carcinogen
Aniline (carrots)—rodent carcinogen
Benzaldehyde (apples, coffee, tomatoes)—rodent carcinogen
Benzene (butter, coffee, roast beef)—rodent carcinogen
Benzo(a)pyrene (bread, coffee, pumpkin pie, rolls, tea)—mutagen and rodent carcinogen
Benzofuran (coffee)—rodent carcinogen
Benzyl acetate (jasmine tea)—rodent carcinogen
Caffeic acid (apples, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cof-fee, grapes, lettuce, mangos, pears, potatoes)—rodent carcinogen
Catechol (coffee)—rodent carcinogen
Coumarin (cinnamon in pies)—rodent carcinogen
1,2,5,6-dibenz(a)anthracene (coffee)—rodent carcinogen
Estragole (apples, basil)—rodent carcinogen
Ethyl alcohol (bread, red wine, rolls)—rodent and human carcinogen
Ethyl acrylate (pineapple)—rodent carcinogen
Ethyl benzene (coffee)—rodent carcinogen
Ethyl carbamate (bread, rolls, red wine)—mutagen and rodent carcinogen
Furan and furan derivatives (bread, onions, celery, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, coffee)—many are mutagens
Furfural (bread, coffee, nuts, rolls, sweet potatoes)—furan derivative and rodent carcinogen
Heterocyclic amines (roast beef, turkey)—mutagens and rodent carcinogens
Hydrazines (mushrooms)—mutagens and rodent carcinogens
Hydrogen peroxide (coffee, tomatoes)—mutagen and rodent carcinogen
Hydroquinone (coffee)—rodent carcinogen
d-limonene (black pepper, mangos)—rodent carcinogen
4-methylcatechol (coffee)—rodent carcinogen
Methyl eugenol (basil, cinnamon and nutmeg in apple and pumpkin pies)—rodent carcinogen
Psoralens (celery, parsley)—mutagens; rodent and human carcinogens
Quercetin glycosides (apples, onions, tea, tomatoes)—mutagens and rodent carcinogens
Safrole (nutmeg in apple and pumpkin pies, black pepper)—rodent carcinogen
There are certain customs that aren't written down anywhere but they are still nearly universally subscribed to. I'm thinking of those things we learn by example from our friends and family as we go about our day-to-day business. Things that make the world just work more smoothly.
Like, say, not standing right over the person in front of you at the ATM's shoulder, right? You hold back 5 or 6 feet to give the person some privacy and a certain level of comfort to make a safe transaction.
Most folks recognize that in the interest of common courtesy, one should start writing out the check at the store register while the items are still being rung up. Go ahead and have the date and the store name at least filled in before you know the exact amount the check will be. You don't wait until the total is presented before then starting to dig through your wallet or purse for a check, do you? Of course not. That would be rude.
Today I want to suggest that there is a social norm that should be adhered to but apparently has not saturated the masses yet so its execution is spotty. I observed it with my own eyes while doing some Christmas shopping on Sunday on several levels of Seattle's Pacific Place shopping center.
And here it is: People, on an escalator, you stand on the right and walk on the left. Stand right. Walk Left. If you are not going to climb the stairs under your own power you should park yourself on the right side of the escalator's steps. If you mean to walk up and down yourself you should do that on the left, passing the people on the right.
Of course, if you are coming out of a subway and there are 100 people using the escalator at the same time then no one should be trying to be speedy. You just get on and ride. But if the passengers are sparse enough, then that's the rule. Stand right. Walk left.
As you were.
I am aware that the book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a beloved romance novel, but the new Hollywood film version of Love In The Time Of Cholera is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.
I am a huge Javier Bardem fan but he was impossible to root for as the romantic lead in the piece because he plays Florentino like a creepy, stalker loser. And no one needs to see as much of his ass as I had to see at this film.
John Leguizamo's character Lorenzo seems like he was edited in from another movie, one set at least 150 years past the time the other characters are supposed to be living in.
Go see it if you want to see the worst Old People makeup you have ever seen in any production not on a high school auditorium stage. Several characters are playing characters in their 60s but are shuffling around like they're in a Vicki Lawrence* sketch.
At 2 hours and 20 minutes long the film is at least 2 hours too long. Let me put it another way: somewhere Roger Ebert is grateful for the stroke so he didn't have to see it. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is wishing he had never written the book. Thomas Edison is wishing he had never invented the motion picture.
* Ask your parents.
"When making out your Christmas/ Holiday card list this year, please include a card to the following:
A recovering American soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001
If you like the idea, please pass it on."
That's the email that is burning bandwidth like a house-on-fire this month, although I haven't received it as many times as the stupid and annoying "Why Dogs Hate Halloween" yet.
As admirable as the sentiment of the email about the military is, and I have no doubt that those that forward it along only mean well, it is unfortunately not good advice.
From the Walter Reed Army Medical Center website:
"Walter Reed Army Medical Center officials want to
remind those individuals who want to show their appreciation through
mail to include packages, letters, and holiday cards addressed to 'Any
Wounded Soldier' or 'A Recovering American Soldier' that Walter Reed
cannot accept these packages in support of the decision by then Deputy
Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy in 2001. This
decision was made to ensure the safety and well being of patients and
staff at medical centers throughout the Department of Defense. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service
is no longer accepting "Any Service Member" or "A Recovering American
Soldier" letters or packages. Mail to "Any Service Member" that is
deposited into a collection box will not be delivered. Instead of sending an “Any Wounded Soldier” letter or package to
Walter Reed, please consider making a donation to one of the more than
300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their
families listed on the "America Supports You" website, www.americasupportsyou.mil Other organizations that offer means of showing your support for our
troops or assist wounded servicemembers and their families include:
"Walter Reed Army Medical Center officials want to remind those individuals who want to show their appreciation through mail to include packages, letters, and holiday cards addressed to 'Any Wounded Soldier' or 'A Recovering American Soldier' that Walter Reed cannot accept these packages in support of the decision by then Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy in 2001. This decision was made to ensure the safety and well being of patients and staff at medical centers throughout the Department of Defense.
In addition, the U.S. Postal Service is no longer accepting "Any Service Member" or "A Recovering American Soldier" letters or packages. Mail to "Any Service Member" that is deposited into a collection box will not be delivered.
Instead of sending an “Any Wounded Soldier” letter or package to Walter Reed, please consider making a donation to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their families listed on the "America Supports You" website, www.americasupportsyou.mil
Other organizations that offer means of showing your support for our troops or assist wounded servicemembers and their families include:
You can tell the holidays are really here when the Dreyer's Ice Cream specialty flavors start to appear in your grocer's freezer. I got excited at the word peppermint on the first carton I spied with my little eye last night while grocery shopping.
Then my heart raced when I noticed the egg nog flavor right next to it. But wait, something's wrong. Where's the Reason For The Season? We're already past Halloween and less than a week from Thanksgiving. Where's the Dreyer's Pumpkin Ice Cream?
Oh, whew, okay. My bad. it's over here in the adjacent aisle. I'll just pick some up now and get on home....uh-oh. This can't be. That's not my beloved pumpkin ice cream - it just looks exactly like it. But this is something called Swiss Orange. And it's not even ice cream! Ohmigod! It's sherbet!! What is this, Mexico?
I feel a strongly worded letter coming on unless that freezer looks very different on my next visit. Count on it.
15 November 2007
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
19001 South Western Ave.
Torrance, CA 90501
Dear Toyota Guy or Gal,
I drive one of your 2007 Priuses...er...Prii. Wait, what do you call more than one? I am generally happy with it. So it's not a very exciting automobile to drive but it is comfortable and more than 40 miles per gallon is welcome these days.
I also like how quiet it is on the road and I sometimes drive up right next to a jogger or better yet, a blind guy, and lay on the horn right at the last second before he even knows I'm there. Hilarious!
But I digress. I am writing with a question about one of your features on the car when it is moving in reverse. The little camera on the rear bumper that shows me what is behind me before I hit it is helpful and I applaud you for that. What I don't get is the obnoxious "beep beep beep" that accompanies every backwards trip.
You know the reason that garbage trucks make that annoying sound is so that vehicles and pedestrians in the area are advised the truck is moving, right? Their beeping is heard on the outside of the vehicle and that makes it a safety feature
Your beeping is only heard on the inside of the vehicle! That means that literally the only person in the world who hears the warning signal is the one person who already knows that the car is in reverse. I'm the driver. I put it in R so why do I need all that noise?
I would appreciate it very much if you could explain this seemingly illogical attribute of an otherwise sensible car. Also, is there any way to disable it?
No, I haven't picked up a sponsor for this blog. Instead this is the ad for the 99 Cents store that ran in yesterday's Los Angeles Times. There are three things that captured my attention.
#2 I'm no good in the kitchen. What the heck is a "Charger Plate"? At only 99 cents, how can it not only hold food plus charge stuff? Where do you plug it in? I'm serious. What is that?
#3. A close up, please. Well, it's about time the big corporations starting looking after the working man. At least someone is trying to make new Dodgers manager Joe Torre move to Southern California a little easier. He took a big pay cut to go there plus he has to pay for the move and finding a house won't be cheap. At a penny saved per item bought at the 99 Cents store they are practically paying him to shop there!
I really do. Year round. Full time. All kinds. One of
these days I am going to get my dream blog, www.Christmas MusicEveryday.com up and running.
In the meantime, here is an unusual Christmas music item too neat to save for that happy day.
You know the singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens? I am a
huge fan of his, especially his song, John Wayne Gacy, Jr." from his
2005 CD (Come On Feel The) Illinoise. I think it is one of the best ballads every written about a mass murderer and one of my Top 40 favorite songs of all time.
So here's that:
But wait, Bean! What's the Christmas angle? Well, on the heels of last year's outstanding Sufjan holiday album comes this word from his label, Asthmatic Kitty:
"Sufjan Stevens is busy working on a very special gift
right now, for a very special person. And in the spirit of Christmas,
that person will give Sufjan a similarly special gift.
Here's how it works: write an original Christmas song, record it, and email the song to us. Asthmatic Kitty will pick a winner, and that person will trade rights to their song for rights to Sufjan's song.
Just like a gift exhange, Sufjan's song becomes your song. You can hoard it for yourself, sell it to a major soft drink corporation, use it in your daughter's first Christmas video, or share it for free on your website. No one except Sufjan and you will hear his song, unless you decide otherwise. You get the song and all legal rights to it. We get the same rights to your song."
That's the spirit! Click here for more info and if you do write or record a song, I'd love to hear it too!
Okay, it's not the world's most pressing concern. but just because something isn't Darfur crisis bad, or even Dane Cook in another movie bad, doesn't mean it shouldn't be addressed.
You know how you're watching, say, The Office, and the segment ends and you're chuckling to yourself that Jim and Dwight and Michael are all wearing fake mustaches in a botched Silly String raid of the Utica branch of Dundler Mifflin? And then a commercial comes on for, say, Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls, and instead of enjoying the guys in the ad dressed up in their wacky costumes and maybe thinking about how delicious a Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowl might be you are instead diving for the television remote to turn the volume down before your ears bleed and and the dog wakes up?
Well, finally someone is addressing the absurd volume disparity between the shows and the commercials/station promos. Our old friends at the Dolby Corporation are preparing to announce which TV sets and A/V receivers will have this new feature, called Dolby Volume, and will also be licensing the technology to third party manufacturers as well.
I am a technical zero so can't begin to explain how it works but here's what GizMag says about it, "In dynamically adjusting audio output the system applies principles of psycho-acoustics – the science of how the human brain perceives sound. At higher volumes the brain hears 'flat' sounds with the bass, treble and mid-range leveled out, but at lower volumes your brain misses bass and treble elements and your ears become sensitive to only the mid-range. This is where Dolby’s modeling technology steps in to compensate for the brain’s natural tendencies and continue to deliver all the nuances of the soundtrack based on what we actually hear."
However it works, it's a Hallelujah technological breakthrough in my opinion, and long overdue.
* "You don't do heavy metal in dubly, you know." - Jeanine Pettibone, This Is Spinal Tap, 1984
Friday night was the opening of a new exhibit at my very favorite art gallery, Seattle's Roq La Rue. Owners Kirstin and Kenny are stand up folks, dear friends of ours, and thanks to their good taste we have many beautiful things to look at when we are home.
The new November show is typical of so many at the gallery: three enormously talented artists offering fantastic art for sale at a fair price. This show we were so happy to buy two of our friend Brian Despain's latest works.
I couldn't swipe an image to share the third artist, Scott Musgrove's work but he is equally talented. See more from all three men at Kirstin's gallery site and when in Seattle be sure to stop by down on Second Avenue just a block from the Crocodile Cafe.
Anyone who knows me already knew what today's post was going to be about before even clicking on their bookmark/favorites link. Yes, today is the 32d anniversary of the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald.
If you are unfamiliar with this maritime tragedy, here is a brief description from the excellent Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum website:
"The legend of the Edmund Fitzgerald remains the most mysterious and controversial of all shipwreck tales heard around the Great Lakes. Her story is surpassed in books, film and media only by that of the Titanic. Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot inspired popular interest in this vessel with his 1976 ballad, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
The Edmund Fitzgerald was lost with her entire crew of 29 men on Lake Superior November 10, 1975, 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan. Whitefish Point is the site of the Whitefish Point Light Station and Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) has conducted three underwater expeditions to the wreck, 1989, 1994, and 1995.
At the request of family members surviving her crew, Fitzgerald's 200 lb. bronze bell was recovered by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society on July 4, 1995. This expedition was conducted jointly with the National Geographic Society, Canadian Navy, Sony Corporation, and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The bell is now on display in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum as a memorial to her lost crew."
This week I looked into, and very nearly booked my flight to attend in person the memorial service scheduled for tonight. I could not work out all the travel arrangements necessary for this weekend but will plan ahead another year to have enough time to take in several of the commemorative events planned throughout the Midwest.
If you are lucky enough to be within driving distance, here is the information about tonight, again from the Shipwreck Museum's site:
" The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum will present the 32nd annual Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service at 7 pm Saturday, November 10, 2007, at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, Whitefish Point, Michigan. The public is invited to attend. The service includes reflections, music, and the Call to the Last Watch Ceremony in which the ship's bell is rung 29 times for each crewman lost with her, and a 30th ring for all who have lost their lives on the Great Lakes. Refreshments will be served; seating is limited, it is recommended that you arrive early. Admission to the Fitzgerald Service is free.
Or, click here to watch the 30th anniversary service from wherever you are.
"The music-filled theatrical production of “Gales of November” begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Capitol Civic Centre, 913 S. Eighth St., Manitowoc. Tickets are $33, $25 and $19. (920) 683-2184.
The Wisconsin Maritime Museum, 75 Maritime Drive, Manitowoc, will open its exhibit, “Of Ships and Men — The Edmund Fitzgerald” on Saturday, Nov. 10. It will run through winter 2008. Winter hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Admission to tour the museum and USS Cobia submarine is $12 for adults; $10 for children, 6 to 15; and free for ages 5 and under. 1 (866) 724-2356."
And from the Star-Tribune, a useful summary of the ship and its last voyage can be found here, plus word of this event in Minnesota:
"The 32nd anniversary of the most famous maritime disaster in Great Lakes history will be marked this weekend on Minnesota's North Shore. A beacon lighting and commemoration of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Split Rock Lighthouse northeast of Two Harbors. This annual event includes a film about the Fitzgerald to be shown in the Visitor Center theater throughout the afternoon.
The lighthouse and fog signal building will be open and staffed both days from noon to 6 pm. The lighthouse will close temporarily at 4:30 p.m., and the names of the 29 lost crew members will be read as a ship's bell tolls. After the ceremony, the beacon will be lit and the tower will reopen for visitors.
The commemoration is led by the Minnesota Historical Society. There is a fee of $4 for ages 6 and older. Society members pay no fee."
Rest in peace, men.
P.S. There was a humorous misunderstanding one year when I pulled up to a stoplight next to a car with an license plate that read 11 10 75. I rolled down my window and starting chatting with him, assuming he was a fellow Edmund Fitzgerald fan. He looked at me like I was crazy and when I asked about his plate he reminded me that the United States Marine Corps. was founded on November, 10 1775!
So Semper Fi too, men.
StronglyWordedLetter.com has only been public for ten days and you have generously left over 210 comments to the various posts so far. I read a number of blogs each day on which I have never posted so it touches me greatly that you take the time. Really.
If there is one overriding theme in the feedback so far it is that very few of you care what I have to say but many of you want to see pictures of Tater Tot, the world's best dog ever. Many of you have
suggested demanded that a weekly photo of the Tot be published on, say, Fridays. I can't argue with that idea because she makes me so happy to look at too.
For new 2007 readers, Tater is an English bulldog, is eight-and-a- half years old, and knows she is special. Of course all dogs are, only she is more so.
In this photo, she is wrapped up in her favorite blanket, spun from the wool of Milagro, whom you met in this spot last Saturday.
What's it like being a sports fan in Boston these days? The Red Sox just won the World Series again, the
Cheaters Patriots are the NFL's only unbeaten team, the new-look Celtics, now with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, are 3-0, even Boston College is a Top 10 college football team.
But let me take you back to 1980, perhaps the best overall sports year a city has ever had. How about the World Series, Superbowl, Stanley Cup and NBA Finals all in one year?
The Philadelphia 76ers were the Eastern Conference champions but lost to the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers team, 4 games to 2.
The Philadelphia Eagles also made it to the Big Game, losing the Superbowl to the Oakland Raiders 27-10.
The Philadelphia Flyers lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the New York Islanders, 4 games to 2.
And, yes, the Philadelphia Phillies made it to the World Series too. They won it, over the Kansas City Royals, 4 games to 2.
If you're not a sports fan maybe you read that and think, "What a bunch of loser teams!" but as a guy who lives in a city with an all-time history of only 3 NBA Finals appearances (one win), 1 Superbowl appearance (and loss), zero World Series games ever and no NHL team at all, hitting all four major sports championships in one year is nothing short of incredible.
Thanks to my line of work I have the opportunity to become acquainted with many extremely interesting people and and by "get acquainted" I mean exchange occasional emails on topic of mutual interest with no need to ever meet them, talk to them, or otherwise know them. This allows me to stay home in my pajamas and watch television while they go out and live actual lives that they can then write to me about and I can sort of imagine what that might be like.
That brings me to my new friend who I don't know that we'll call Steve because that is his actual name.
Here's his story, which he sent to me back on Halloween morning and followed up with the photos just yesterday. I can't get enough of stuff like this. Tell me what you think.
Steve wrote, "I have a index file photo from a roll of film I shot several years ago showing 30+ photos in color , and then there’s one black & white picture – this came several months after my Dad passed away . The black & white picture looks like it was from the 50s , and the man in the picture looks like my Dad . I’m pretty sure this cannot happen if the picture is processed for ‘color’ .
Please find attached the photo index picture. The negative # 26A is obviously the one I’m referring to . There was no negative # 26A in the film pack when I got the photos back from the store . I’ve included a copy of the entire index , as well as a close up of the ‘ghosts’ . "
With the forty million dollars made at the box office for Jerry Seinfeld's Bee Movie this weekend I want to share something fascinating I read about bees recently.
"Honeybees have evolved a complex language to tell one another where the best nectar is, using the sun as a reference point. Amazingly, they can also do this on overcast days and at night, by calculating the position of the sun on the other side of the world.
This means they can actually learn and store information, despite having a brain 1.5 million times smaller than our own. A bee's brain has about 950,000 neurons. A human brain has between 100 and 200 billion.
Honeybees have an in-built "map" of the sun's movements across the sky over twenty-four hours and can modify this map to fit local conditions very quickly - all decisions about where to fly are made within five seconds."
Source: The Book Of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
My TIVO was weeping heading into the weekend under the weight of all my unwatched shows on its back so I tried to alleviate some of the pressure by catching and releasing a few of the programs it held.
Weeds, which has had the most consistently excellent season of any show on the air that I watch this season continued its great run. Californication got better every week and had a terrific and very satisfying season finale too. Real Time With Bill Maher is still worth watching too. I already miss Mad Men. Still love The Office, am getting bored with whiny Grey's Anatomy and this week's Friday Night Lights was the best episode of the season so far.
The subject of this post, however, concerns the most disturbing thing my TIVO was holding for me. Thursday night's Tonight Show was automatically recorded as are all shows whose descriptions include the keyword "Manilow."
But who or what is this thing on my TV screen singing instead of Barry Manilow? I ask you.
We used to have a guinea pig named Bedhead who looked exactly like this guy.
Donna is guessing facelift, eyelift, cheek implants and extreme skin tightening. What do you think?
Daylight Saving Time Returns Sunday at 2 a.m.
Those words were on the front page of the Island newspaper this week, prompting me to write them a strongly worded letter. And here it is.
It has turned into a twice-a-year event for me: sending a letter to the The Beachcomber to correct whatever mention of the time change is on the front page of the paper.
Like Charlie Brown approaching the football, every April and October I am so hopeful that your copy editor will have finally gotten it straight but this week I find myself flat on my back again.
Sunday, November 4th was this year's first day of the return to Standard Time. It is not the start of Daylight Saving Time as you informed readers.
Daylight Saving Time (Not "Savings" as it appears in this week's Windemere ad) begins in the spring and ends in the fall. Standard Time begins in the fall and ends in the spring. Every year.
This year was an improvement over one October a few years ago. That week the paper printed Daylight Savings Time Returns Saturday. I'm sure they meant Daylight Saving Time Ends Sunday. My letter that year was brief.
Five words. Three errors. Nice.
That's Buttercup on the right in our back yard a couple of weeks ago. She was a birthday gift from Donna about 12 years ago now and despite being fed every day by one of us we can still tell she would kill and then eat us if she had the opportunity. I find that ironic because legally we could kill and eat her but we don't. That sourpuss look on her face has earned her the affectionate nickname, "Bittercup."
Also in the frame and very nearly blocking out the sun is Milagro, the sheep that eats every minute of every day always. She that is affectionately known as "Fatass."
I don't collect autographs but I do have a few that are very special to me. I would include among those: Johnny Cash, Jim Lovell, Regis Philbin, Joe Dimaggio, Grace Kelly, and Antonie de Saint-Exupery, author of the children's classic The Little Prince (the last two courtesy of my thoughtful bride).
So it's worth noting that another name-signer in my small collection passed away yesterday. He was not a household name, yet was at the epicenter of the one of the most significant events in the human history.
Tibbets was already a heavily decorated pilot in the European and North African campaigns, flying 25 missions in B-17s when he was selected to fulfill the goal of the most secret plan of the war: the Manhattan Project.
The New York Times picks up the story at 8:15:15 am on August 6, 1945: "the bomb known to its creators as Little Boy dropped free at an altitude of 31,000 feet. Forty- three seconds later, at 1,890 feet above ground zero, it exploded in a nuclear inferno that left tens of thousands dead and dying and turned much of Hiroshima, a city of some 250,000 at the time, into a scorched ruin.
Estimates for the dead and injured in the bombing have varied widely over the years. A summary report by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey issued on July 1, 1946, estimated that 60,000 to 70,000 people had been killed and 50,000 injured.
After releasing the bomb, Colonel Tibbets executed a well-rehearsed diving turn to avoid the blast effect.
In his memoir “The Tibbets Story,” he told of “the awesome sight that met our eyes as we turned for a heading that would take us alongside the burning, devastated city.”
“The giant purple mushroom, which the tail-gunner had described, had already risen to a height of 45,000 feet, 3 miles above our own altitude, and was still boiling upward like something terribly alive,” he remembered."
More than 60 years later, President Truman's decision and the young colonel's execution of it are still so controversial that the Tibbets family has announced there will be no headstone or marker placed this week so as to not give detractors a place to gather.
The Times again, "General Tibbets expressed no regrets over his role in the launching of atomic warfare. 'I viewed my mission as one to save lives,” he said. “I didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor. I didn’t start the war, but I was going to finish it.' ”
It's been exactly one year since my last blog went dark. There's no question I've missed posting it but have been hesitant to restart it for fear of taking on more that I have time for.
So this time around I am going to try to not let it get away from me. Following in the footsteps of my blogfather Frank Murphy I am going to try to stick to one thought per day, instead of writing everything on my mind.
I'm also going to assume most of you have heard of a search engine and am going to save time by not inserting links to every little thing.
I've also decided to give Typepad a shot this time but have still not figured out all the bells and whistles so if there is a veteran of this particular blogging software out there, please speak up so I can annoy you with inane questions and
late night heavy breathing
(See, that's one of the neat new text options. Comedy gold).
That brings me to the Comments feature, always a dangerous option to enable. Yes, I will moderate the comments but your remarks will be posted if you adhere to these two rules.
1) Language. Keep it safe for work. You're not at a Raiders game, people.
2) I don't talk about my day job here. If you happen to know what that is then you'll understand why. It's embarrassing enough to spend my mornings that way, right? Why ruin the rest of my day? Any reference to where I work or what I do will get your post deleted. Of course, I do have a public email address and you can always feel free to send your work-related comments here.
That's it for the introductions.
Welcome to StronglyWordedLetter.com.
Where you get what you pay for.
P.S. Oh, I almost forgot. I've been posting every day for the last month to try it out again so feel free to catch up.