Archive for December, 2008

Lights, Camera, Action!

Oh, there was action – mostly of the “my sister … waaaaah” and “Elliot pushed me, wahhhhhh” variety. And a camera and lights!

Here Fishy Fishy Fishy

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday reprieve. Back to the grindstone, for a few days at least!

The weekend before the Santa holiday we visited an aquarium. Not what you’re expecting since I live in a land-locked state and all, eh? There’s lots to do here. We’re no Philly, but we hold our own. We have a zoo, an art museum, a science museum and the aquarium. Oddly, the aquarium is owned by a seafood restaurant chain, Landry’s. I’ll just let that one sink in a for a moment.

The kids love the aquarium. And to help them think it is even better than it really is, we only go about once per year. Of all our things-to-do-and-see, it is by far the most expensive. The other places are all part of the SCFD which means that they get tax payer money to help fund their operations. To be eligible for SCFD dollars an organization cannot be for-profit, obviously Landry’s is.

You walk through a glass tunnel, surrounded on all sides by water and fish. It’s very cool. Apparently you can swim with the fish too. Not us though, we meandered through the aquarium looking at all the fish. Audrey decided that the only reason the sharks weren’t eating the fish in the tank was that they weren’t hungry just then. I really hope it’s more than that, I don’t want to be walking through some time and unexpectanly see a shark gnawing on a parrot fish.

Remember how I said the aquarium is owned by Landry’s? They bought the bankrupt Ocean Journey in 2003 and then in 2005 added a full service restuarant with an amazing view of fish swimming. I have cognitive dissonance in that the aquarium (the house of fish) is owned by a fish restaurant and that they serve seafood in full-view of live swimming fish. But whatever – the fish tacos are yummy.

Better Watch Out

They Clean Up Well

Practicing for their own rendition of American Gothic.

Told that if they didn’t act like they liked eachother there’d be no desert.

Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree

I have this picture in my mind of what the perfect Christmas tree should look like. For us it’s a sparser tree, our ornaments are such that they’re better enjoyed when they’re hanging between branches. It should be tall, we have a vaulted living room ceiling. It should be affordable, which is why I love the National Forest program.

We headed up to the Buffalo Creek burn area, just like last year. It’s a little disconcerting to cut down your Christmas tree in the  Rocky Mountains in nothing more than a long-sleeve t-shirt and jeans. It’s supposed to be snowy, not 65 degrees. Regardless, the scenery is breath-taking. (Where is Joshua’s camera when I need it?)

After much hiking around and children pointing to trees that seemed tall to them, we found our tree

Peter tied it up, we strapped it to the top our car and off we went.

Next year though? I’m going for one that is more symmetrical. This year’s is a little ridiculous with the uneveniness.

Scenes from the Car

Scene One (a mother and her son are driving to an appointment through a suburban town. They are the only two people in the car. He is safely belted in his booster seat in the back. It is a brisk winter day)

SON:I just saw a turch.
MOTHER: A church?
SON: Yes.
MOTHER: How did you know it was a church?
SON: I know that all turches have big T’s on them.

Scene Two (mother and son arrive at their destination, mother whips and phone and hastily texts previous conversation to husband)

HUSBAND’S REPLY: That is a little disturbing and a little inspiring at the same time

(fade house lights)

100 Best CDs

NPR’s All Songs Considered has posted their top 100 picks for the year asking readers to choose their favorite ten from the list. I’m ashamed to admit I don’t know more of these.

Hey! The Flobots are from my neck of the woods, that’s cool. NIN, really? The folks at NPR like NIN? I’m having trouble seeing it. And Metallica. I guess this should shatter that image that NPR listeners are all old opera lovers. Oh! REM – phew, I’m not completely out of touch.

If you’d like to participate in the poll, it’s here. You’ll have to log in.

Adele: ‘19’
Alenajdro Escovedo: ‘Real Animal’
Amanda Palmer: ‘Who Killed Amanda Palmer?’
Beach House: ‘Devotion’
Beck: ‘Modern Guilt’
Black Kids: ‘Partie Traumatic’
Blitzen Trapper: ‘Furr’
Bob Dylan: ‘Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs’
Bon Iver: ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’
Bonnie Prince Billy: ‘Lie Down in the Light’
Calexico: ‘Carried to Dust’
Cat Power: ‘Jukebox’
Cloud Cult: ‘Feel Good Ghosts’
Cold War Kids: ‘Loyalty to Loyalty’
Coldplay: ‘Viva La Vida’
Conor Oberst: ‘Conor Oberst’
Crystal Castles: ‘Crystal Castles’
Cut Copy: ‘In Ghost Colours’
David Byrne/Brian Eno: ‘Everything That Happens Will Happen Today’
Death Cab For Cutie: ‘Narrow Stairs’
Deerhoof: ‘Offend Maggie’
Deerhunter: ‘Microcastle’
Delta Spirit: ‘Ode to Sunshine’
Dengue Fever: ‘Venus on Earth’
Department of Eagles: ‘In EAr Park’
Devotchka: ‘A Mad And Faithful Telling’
Dr. Dog: ‘Fate’
Drive-by Truckers: ‘Brighter Than Creations Dark’
Duffy: ‘Rockferry’
Elbow: ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’
Erykah Badu: ‘New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War’
Fleet Foxes: ‘Fleet Foxes’
Flight of the Conchords: ‘Flight of the Conchords’
Flobots: ‘Fight With Tools’
Foals: ‘Antidotes’
Frightened Rabbit: ‘Midnight Organ Fight’
Girl Talk: ‘Feed the Animals’
Gnarls Barkley: ‘Odd Couple’
Hercules and Love Affair: ‘Hercules and Love Affair’
I’m From Barcelona: ‘Who Killed Harry Houdini?’
Islands: ‘Arm’s Way’
Jenny Lewis: ‘Acid Tongue’
Jolie Holland: ‘The Living And The Dead’
Juana Molina: ‘Un Dia’
Juno: Soundtrack
Kings of Leon: ‘Only By The Night’
Laura Marling: ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’
Lightspeed Champion: ‘Falling Off The Lavender Bridge’
Lil Wayne: ‘Tha Carter III’
Los Campesinos: ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’
Lucinda Williams: ‘Little Honey’
Lykke Li: ‘Youth Novels’
M83: ‘Saturdays=Youth’
Magnetic Fields: ‘Distortion’
Man Man: ‘Rabbit Hats’
Mates of State: ‘Re-Arrange Us’
Metallica: ‘Death Magnetic’
MGMT: ‘Oracular Spectacular’
My Morning Jacket: ‘Evil Urges’
Nada Surf: ‘Lucky’
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: ‘Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!’
Nine Inch Nails: ‘Ghosts I-IV’
No Age: ‘Nouns’
Oasis: ‘Dig Out Your Soul’
Of Montreal: ‘Skeletal Lamping’
Okkervil River: ‘The Stand Ins’
Parts & Labor: ‘Receivers’
Plants and Animals: ‘Parc Avenue’
Portishead: ‘Third’
Punch Brothers: ‘Punch’
R.E.M. ‘Accelerate’
Ra Ra Riot: ‘Rhumb Line’
Railroad Earth: ‘Amen Corner’
Randy Newman: ‘Harps and Angels’
Ray LaMontagne: ‘Gossip in the Grain’
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals: ‘Cardinology’
Santogold: ‘Lights Out’
She and Him: ‘Volume One’
Shearwater: ‘Rook’
Sigur Ros’: ‘Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust’
Silver Jews: ‘Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea’
Spiritualized: ‘Songs in A & E’
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: ‘Real Emotional Trash’
Sun Kil Moon: ‘April’
Thao Nguyen: ‘We Brave Bee Stings and All’
The Black Keys: ‘Attack and Release’
The Dodos: ‘Visiter’
The Fireman: ‘Electric Arguments’
The Helio Sequence: ‘Keep Your Eyes Ahead’
The Mars Volta: ‘The Bedlam in Goliath’
The Mountain Goats: ‘Heretic Pride’
The raconteurs: ‘Consolers of the Lonely’
The Raveonettes: ‘Lust Lust Lust’
The Walkmen: ‘You & Me’
TV on the Radio: ‘Dear Science’
Vampire Weekend: ‘Vampire Weekend’
Weezer: ‘Weezer (Red Album)’
Why? ‘Alopecia’
Wolf Parade: ‘At Mount Zoomer’

Day Without a Gay

Today, December 10 don’t spend a dime. Day Without a Gay is a strike and boycott to demonstrate the financial value of the LGTBQ community in our society.

Our community contributes $700 billion a year to this economy (the same amount as the bailout), yet we are not given equal protections under the law that every citizen deserves. As such, it is time we make a stand.

While I will participate, I fear that in this economy no one will notice. Doesn’t matter. We must keep at it and keep at it.

I just read that a smart judge in FL just approved adoption by a gay parent. Florida banned gay parent adoption in 1977. It really upsets me that because I have a uterus and have accepted sperm I am somehow deemed a better parent than a person who so desperately wants to be a parent but cannot because some old (presumably) white man thirty years ago deemed homosexuals unfit parents. How does that work when one parent comes out of the closet after 10 years? Or do I even want to know? Wanting to be a parent, having the room in your heart to have it broken – that’s what makes you a parent. Not who you call “honey.”

Some fun facts

  • Same-sex couples raising adopted children are older, more educated, and have more economic resources than other adoptive parents.
  • Gay and lesbian parents are raising three percent of foster children in the United States.
  • Gay and lesbian parents are raising four percent of all adopted children in the United States.
  • A national ban on GLB foster care could cost from $87 to $130 million.

Awesome. We surely don’t want financially stable, well educated folks rearing-children. That makes no sense. And we should definitely put more burden on each state’s budget by refusing to place children in same-sex parent homes.

Good grief, I thought only Sarah Palin could make me this crazy.

Web 2.0 in a Family Crisis

In the wee hours of Friday morning my cousin was in a car accident 1,000 miles from where I live. By that evening I had an email telling me about it. The next day I talked to family and offered the only thing I could: build a website for family to post updates so that my aunt didn’t have to tell the same story over and over and over.

Saturday night I shopped for domains while chatting with another cousin through FB. That same day a friend posted on my cousin’s FB wall that she had been in an accident.

Sunday we bought a domain and Peter brought up another WordPress instance. I created new email accounts for the editor accounts I needed. I wanted all the email to forward back to me, not my aunt. Some because she didn’t need the additional spam, some because she’s not blog savvy and I knew I was signing up to admin the site and some because I’m trying to protect my cousin’s anonymity to some degree, having generic emails on the site supports that goal.

By Sunday night an aunt was posting.

Monday morning I put a link to the site on Mary’s FB wall.

Monday afternoon another aunt decided a PayPal donate button is needed. All I have to do is go to PayPal’s site plug in some information and all the HTML will be generated for me. I’ll paste that HTML into a widget text box and voila, a donate button linked to an account at a financial institution that I’ve never been to.

Comments have started to come in. The blog has been up for 36 hours and word has spread.

We plan to extend the site to include a google calendar that will track all the people that want to bring food and offer help to the family; that’ll be maintained by a family friend.

My aunts can post updates without my intervention and without having to know how it works. The calendar can change and the site will stay up-to-date. People who want to help, want to do something now, can donate on the site.

No one has to be a web developer (I chose a WP theme that supports widgets). All of this is possible because of the interoperability of the web components. I don’t know how to write a shopping cart, or a calendar control, I don’t even have to know HTML, CSS or PHP. Yet we have a password-protected blog up and running with an easy to remember domain that will be the central point for Mary’s updates. It was mostly free too. We bought a domain and that’s it.

In ye olde days, how long would that have taken? It would have been a major time-consuming, expensive project by knowledgable, web-savvy people.

We would have resorted to a phone tree.

A Medical Update

Thanks everyone for sending thoughts & prayers my family’s way. I talked with my aunt (my cousin’s mom – I have 5 aunts) this morning, she’s doing as well as can be expected. However, I did make her laugh when she asked how my kids are and I replied, “short and illiterate, just like they’re supposed to be.” So, at least my humor is still appreciated.

[redacted]

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