Friday, December 31, 2010

"Collapse" - an Energy Documentary

I just watched one of the scariest documentaries I've ever seen. The film is directed by Chris Smith and it's called, "Collapse" (2009). It is, as the LA Times puts it: "...a spellbindingly weird one-man monologue by Michael Ruppert, a former LAPD officer and investigative journalist."

Spellbinding. Yes, indeed, it is, spellbinding. Terrifying, is more like it. The Times also said:

Smith admits that he has "very conflicted feelings" about Ruppert. "A lot of what he says is incredibly thought-provoking, with lots of historical support, but there are things that you'd probably get a lot of criticism for believing," he says. "So I wanted to give the audience the experience of living inside his world for 85 minutes. Even if you can't prove all of his ideas, his passion and belief is definitely concrete."

I suggest you check this out. Because even if he is wrong about what he says, he's right in that we really need to rethink how we are doing things. We need to prepare, because there is no question, that things are going to be changing, very soon, and indeed, if you look around you, they are changing now, and many things, are changing in the ways that Michael is saying they will change.

Consider if only, that Saudi Arabia is the largest oil field in the world, and they are starting to do off shore drilling. Its very expensive to do off shore drilling. So why do it? Unless you know something. And that something, as Michael puts it, is called, "Peak Oil". The point at which the production of oil peaks on a bell curve, and then starts coming down. And we have hit that peak and we are now on the down side of the curve.

When you consider what it made from oil and what depends on oil, for our well being, well, there is not really any question about it, we are in big trouble.

My childhood music collection

I had an odd collection of music when I was younger.

I already blogged about Glenn Gould in my collection.

I remember for instance, sitting in the living room with my parents, reading the newspaper and I found an ad from Radio Shack of all places, for an audio tape of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. I had just enough money, and I must have been about 16 or so, because I drove to the store and bought it. I still have it on cassette tape.

I remember, as I've mentioned before, a kid from school coming over and my having to take Bach piano fugues off and put on Black Sabbath; both of which I loved equally. But such a dichotomy lead to people thinking I was, weird. 

I loved, and still do, Morton Subotnik's "The Wild Bull". A fabulously touching piece of work and Silver Apples of the Moon, a later piece I more recently discovered.

I listened to mostly rock music back then but, I also started listening to blues because of my older brother. I listened to classical; I started listening to jazz; I loved the old b/w movies with their blends of swing, classical, jazz, whathaveyou.

I owned and played to death, the ground breaking, "Switched on Bach" album and its sequel the following year, "The Well-Tempered Synthesizer", a 1969 album released by Wendy Carlos (then released as Walter Carlos prior to his sex change, which, years later, in looking him up again, I was shocked to discover he was now putting music out as Wendy). The Well-Tempered Synthesizer consists of a selection of pieces by Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, and Handel as well as Bach whose music was exclusively featured on the first album. The title of The Well-Tempered Synthesizer is a play on Bach's own collection of pieces entitled The Well-Tempered Clavier which I later owned by Glenn Gould. Carlos did music for The Shining, and the original Tron movie; as well as a work titled, Clockwork Black.

I had some other very experimental pieces of music that I can no longer remember the names of, either the musicians or the music.

Here are a couple of links to 1960s and 1970s experimental music. None of these artists are artists I had on vinyl. I cannot find those now. Most "experimental" music I find now, are variations on normal music. Experimental is something very different.

World Lingo defines it this way:

"Experimental music is a term introduced by composer John Cage in 1955. Cage defined "an experimental action is one the outcome of which is not foreseen" (Cage 1961, 39), and he was specifically interested in completed works that performed an unpredictable action (Mauceri 1997, 197).

"In a broader sense, it is also used to mean any music that challenges the commonly accepted notions of what music is. David Cope describes experimental music as that, "which represents a refusal to accept the status quo" (Cope, 1997, 222)."

Perhaps what I refer to is Avant Garde music? I don't know. I just know that electronic music in the 60s was very experimental and from there, we go into Avant Garde. Some of it was very hard to listen to and some, very beautiful in its own sense of the term. But even today, we have some wonderful pieces of unusual music.

Needless to say, my musical tastes in my childhood years, confused my friends and family. My brother was into unusual music, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Capt. Beefheart, other music mostly in the Blues area. When I played some of my music for him, he found it interesting but really didn't know what to do with it. He had a rock band in the 60s, but I was the next generation and saw even a little further then than he did. Which was odd for him, as he was seeing far beyond what our parent's and their cohorts (and worse, their older generation of leaders) could see.

The thing is, to open your mind, to see beyond what you can see, to always strive for what you do not understand, and to be able to understand it, to think outside of the box, enhances your life, kicks up the quality of your life a notch, and helps you to even problem solve in other areas of your life.

And people think we don't need the Arts. Sometimes, they are our salvation, but people just can't see beyond needing to pay the mortgage. Its why we should be pushing the Arts in schools, over that of Sports. Kids need to have physical conditioning, but society needs to have the Arts. And both then, bleed into, onto, through, the other in that symbiotic way that things tend to do.

Defy expectation, strive to enjoy the unusual. Expect more.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pot Locator.com?

I really wasn't sure whether to put this under Entertainment, or commentary. When things have turned the corner on national acceptance...international? Okay, let's not get too carried away, right?

When you find web sites like this one, PotLocator.com. http://www.potlocator.com/, to locate where to get certified and to purchase a substance that has been generally illegal for decades, one has to wonder, one has to think: things have really changed. By the way, they have a couple of sister sites: 420 Petition and Marijuana Doctors.

And its about time. The thought that anyone has ever spent fifteen years in jail for possession of a single cannabis cigarette, is far beyond the pale. Making something illegal so criminals can profit by it, as they've been doing for decades, is ridiculous. Making something illegal because of a Zeitgeist of ignorance, also has no excuse.

As it is with Penn Jillette, and as I've previously stated many times, I'm not advocating the use of drugs, just American's freedom to make decisions for themselves about what they do with their own bodies. The government should never have gotten involved in banning things like alcohol, tobacco, or cannabis.

If we want to legislate high taxes on those substances, I don't have an argument with that. If people want it badly enough, then they should just grow their own. We can legally produce our own alcohol or tabacco at home. We are allowed to create or grow more than enough for personal use. The same should be true for cannabis.

There are other areas where the government has gotten too involved in our personal lives and they need to back off. We have to start somewhere to reclaim our rights and these are obvious ones.

Glenn Gould, Canada's Favorite Son

The other night I watched American Masters, on PBS, local Channel 9. It is interesting that it is about Glenn Gould, as he was thoroughly Canadian. Glenn Gould, in fact, is called Canada's favorite son. But he is a part of the American historical music consciousness. And so we see him documented on American Masters. This was an immensely affecting documentary. Gould died at 50, an age he always told a lady friend that he would not live beyond. A selection of Gould's recording of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier is on the Voyager Space Probes, exploring the outer solar system.

I saw that this episode was going to be on and so I Tivo'd it. Why? Because he was a brilliant pianist? Yes,  but more so because when I was a kid, in the late 1960s, I had an album of his. Bach Piano Fugues. I cannot imagine how many times I listened to that album. I remember, painting my closet, and I carpeted my closet with some rug remnants, making it wall to wall, while listening to that record, over and over again. I found it relaxing, mesmerizing.

I had at the time, no idea who Glenn Gould was, other than he was considered to be a great pianist. I cannot remember how I got the album. But not, in hindsight, I find it interesting that I somehow found my way to that music. I have tried to find that same exact album now, as I no longer have it, but I have had trouble finding exactly that pressing, in whatever current format it is now still available. Most likely at this point, sadly in digital format, as it would not have the same resonance I'm sure, as does the original vinyl analog format.

Half way through the documentary, I see that he owned a Chevy Impala and it looks strangely like one of two I owned. My first Impala was my first car, a 1967. My second was years later, a 65 that I traded a beat up Honda 400 motorcycle for. Straight across. How strange.

Back when I was a kid, I had an unusual music collection. I had gotten one of those compilation collections off of TV. They had famous recordings from around the world. But not full concerts,  not even full pieces, but valuable in that it was a cross section of all classical music. So, I had some knowledge of a variety of music. But there was something about Gould's playing that kept me coming back to that album of his, over and over, hundreds of times.

I remember, a friend of mine stopped by one day and I think it was the day I was painting my closet. I had two closets, one on either side of the room, one a short tiny closet, one a long one, running the length of the room. I used to hide in the long one from the household, so painting it, carpeting it, was like fixing up my extra room. So I had Glenn Gould's Bach Piano Fugues playing (and I cannot locate that album in any list), and this friend comes in and says, "What the hell is that?" Referring to the Bach.

I said, "Oh, sorry, I find it relaxing while I'm painting. How about this instead?" And I put on Black Sabbath's Masters of Reality, album; and he said, "That's more like it!" But I remember thinking, "Oh, how sad, he's so limited and he doesn't know what he's missing." As it turned out, he was pretty much a jerk. I had a tiny metal antique car collection, put out by Matchbox toy company. I had a Mercedes Silver Ghost, a Rolls Royce, and others; which, when I wasn't looking, he stole from my windowsill, where I could over look the neighborhood's housetops and off in the distance see a magnificent Mt. Rainier.

Then, after he left that day, Black Sabbath's album finished, and I went right back to Glenn Gould and Bach. It would put me into a kind of mental limbo, a sort of trance, all my concerns, melted. It felt like each impact of each key manipulated my being into a divine relaxation. I tried other piano music, but it didn't do the same thing. I listened to other pianists doing Bach and yes, it was Bach, there was something about Bach, but it was that combination of Gould and Bach that really seemed to do it.

Gould died too young at fifty years of age. But he has left us with an overwhelming collection of perfection, and freshness. Up to the point of his exploding onto the scene in the 50s and 60s, classical music was more or less a museum of classical interpretations. Almost not interpretations, but rather more of a mimicking of the original composers. Gould saw so much more in the original compositions and gave us a fascinating and sumptuous example of what can be done.

If you like piano music at all, in the more classical vein, you either already know about Gould, or you should seek his works out.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Obama Administration Science Guidelines

This is a topic that seems counter intuitive. When scientists come up with data, and mid level morons, I'm sorry, I mean, managers. Why, are people so afraid of what science has to say? Because it goes against the status quo? Because it goes sometimes against what people think? Isn't that the original purpose of science? To see what we cannot see because, we are stupid, which is basically deciding to remain ignorant, a time honored condition; or because we follow religious doctrine, or fear shedding knowledge that might go against our own prestige and previously uttered foolishness? I wonder how many times people have suffered because someone didn't want to "look bad"?

"Long-awaited guidelines ordered by President Obama last year to prevent government research from being altered or suppressed for political purposes so the integrity of government scientists can be protected could be released as early as Friday (December 17th).

"The guidelines are nearly 11/2 years overdue. During that time, the administration has drawn criticism for its own scientific missteps."

NPR.org article

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Elderly fight back - Rapist Attack Goes Awry

When I read things like this, I have to feel something reassuring. I do admit I enjoy hearing that some guy was attacked by some other guys and they got beat up for their efforts, because they picked on a martial arts expert, or a special forces guy, or someone like that. I'd love to hear about this being a woman, and then hear that she put them both in the hospital, but that never seems to happen. You also have to love the story, probably a social myth, about the guy that tries to rob a bar and its a cop bar with a bunch of off duty cops sitting around drinking, and suddenly they find themselves pissed off in that they find they have to work even now, when they were trying to have a drink and relax.

I wouldn't want to be that poor schmuck.

I actually feel badly for both of these people, although that isn't the Zeitgeist of such situations. Obviously, I feel sorry for the elderly woman, but then, how many of us get a chance to deal with something like this, and can then live the rest of our lives knowing we won out in the end of a bad situation, almost, an impossible situation. As for the guy, what sorry piece of work did life hand him for him to turn into such pond scum? And what about the friends, he had been staying with, since he was homeless? Here people are going out of their way for him and he pays them back by getting drunk and attempting to rape an old woman. I have NEVER understand ANY one wanting to rape an old woman. Lowest form of life, harming the elderly or the very young for that matter. In a way, I'm not sure I see much of a difference between pedophiles and those attacking the elderly.

I wasn't sure if this were commentary, or entertainment, and since I got so much pleasure out of it, I decided on the latter. This is from December 17th, old news but I found an interesting slant on it, how people report things like this. Basically the story goes like this:

Woman, 71, uses frying pan to fend off alleged attacker

"A man accused of attempting to rape an elderly Hutchinson woman in her home on Saturday spent several days in the hospital after the woman knocked him unconscious with a frying pan."
From: The Hutchinson News 

I do love hearing that a bully, a criminal,  someone who is imposing their will in an untoward way on another, gets their due. Not to mention, this fool has his photo plastered all over the world now, how embarrassing is that?

Then there are bloggers who go this route in reporting this incident
Old Lady Beats Rapist Unconscious from a blog the Blogger likes to call "WriteChic Press"; she's kind of cute, too, I have to admit.

Christwire.org blog put it this way:

"Hutchinson Police Sergeant Moore says that soon after gaining entry, Funderburk went on the attack. Eerily showing an unprecedented lust for his would-be victim, Funderburk attacked the woman, who fought back and “beat him down with a frying pan”, according to the report filed by Moore.
By the time police arrive, Funderburk lay in an unconscious pile of mushed depravity, on the floor.
Kevin Scott Funderburk remains jailed on over $55,000 bond on counts of attempted rape, criminal restraint, aggravated battery and damage to property.
Funderburk was wearing the neck brace in court, as pictured above, on Friday.
Police reports indicate the elderly grandmother was injured and would not reveal the extent and nature of her injuries. Moore states the suspect ‘held her down and was attempting a sexual assault.’
“She was fighting for her life,” Moore stated.
The Hutchinson News reports that the woman was injured but Moore did not release how serious her injuries were. He said the suspect held her down and was attempting a sexual assault.
“She was fighting for her life,” Moore said.
Like a weasel, Funderburk is apparently using the “I was drunk at the time of the incident” defense, which is punishable by an all expense paid trip to see Buckin’ Bubba down in County General.
An offended Moore stated:
“When we arrived, he (Funderburk) was unconscious and laying in his own vomit in th back of the house.” Moore continued, “He was in the hospital over the weekend where they stapled his scalp.”
Yes, grandmother busted this guy’s scalp open with a skillet."

Interesting. I detect a slight bias there.

I also found this incident reported in Great Britain... and Japan. When Mom said, go out into the world and make a mark for yourself, I doubt this was the kind of thing she was referring to. Then again, this guy is far more famous than I am. Marshall McLuhan said that once your name is a household word, you can then make money off of it.

I wonder if we'll see this guy on Jerry Springer type shows any time soon. After, he gets out of jail, that is.

Harbinger - excerpt from a story in my anthology

I was just notified I would be one of the authors of a new horror anthology. It will be called, "Rhonny Reaper Creature Feature Anthology", published by Zillion Publishing. The story is called, "The Conqueror Worm", an homage to Edgar Allen Poe, but also to HP Lovecraft. It's about two twelve year old boys who get to digging in the yard and find something, fascinating.

Proceeds go to Diabetes research. The last anthology I was in, was for cancer research and I've lost people to that, my little brother, my sister had breast cancer, which she is now free of. My father also died of cancer, I was told a particularly painful type; but as I hadn't seen him in seventeen years at that time, by his choice, I only know what I was told.

I have lost one very good friend to Diabetes. Rose. She was a real live spirit. I miss her and my other friends, and my brother. Rose refused to live according to the rules Diabetes proscribed for her. And so, first they had to remove one foot, then the other, and finally she lost it all. I tried to convince her to take better care of herself, but she said she would live life on her terms, or no terms at all. She died as she lived. You gotta respect that. Now, I don't even have a photo of her.

I heard from my other publisher this weekend. I was assured I'm next in line for my anthology of short horror stories to be reviewed and considered. I know they have been busy over at kNight Publishing and I look forward to things progressing.

So, I thought, just for fun, I would give you here, a sample, an excerpt from one of my stories. The sum of the parts of this particular anthology, the Gestalt if you will, is definitely more than their separate constituent parts. I designed it that way. Taken separately, the stories are all stand alone stories. But taken together, they are something quite much more altogether. Something, rather epic.

No. Really.

Anyway, here is a snippet out of one of the stories called, "Harbinger". The story begins as our protagonist is entering the elevator high up in a very nice hotel in Seattle. I based it upon the "W Hotel" actually. The guy has much on his mind on his long trip down to the lobby. The doors open and he has an experience, that will be in the book, then he enters the lobby area, we pick it up there....


My hat placed firmly on my head and tucking a flimsy leather brief under my arm for a certain look of respectability, I set out for that God forsaken, sodden weather that is Seattle. How it made me long for my American east coast.

As I was about to enter out into a dark and watered down city, I passed a woman in the lobby patting a child’s face with her rain soaked handkerchief. The child was whimpering, a sound I had not heard since a fatal hunting trip in the emerald Irish hills, which I had so recently endeavored so hard not to avoid.

Outside, a taxi horn blared its driver's panic as another vehicle, speeding to enter traffic, nearly sideswiped two limos and the mortally offended taxi driver. Through the Hotel's large wall of glass that served as the fore wall of the building, I could clearly see the guilty driver shakily wiping his now shiny forehead with a handkerchief.

Turning back to the woman and child, I quietly observed as the Hotel's twin pneumatic doors began to shut its warmth and dryness away from me. The woman, who had a rather striking figure and a carriage unknown to most women in the States, had quite instantly gotten the child to stop its appalling lamentations. This feat, nearly impossible for any woman no matter how talented or motherly she was, posed her no concern whatsoever.

She was fascinating. Her hair was blazing red in a most attractive and sensuous fashion.

Before the doors could completely shut the scene out from me, the woman quite suddenly, and much to my amazement and chagrin, snapped one of the pre-pubescent's already pink eyeballs with an elegantly painted ring finger’s nail. For one interminable instant, soft pink eyeball and delicate crimson fingernail became as one. The door sighed closed and a group of formally dressed people pressed by me desperately seeking entrance to the now secured edifice.

I looked down at a sodden lump beneath my left foot. The frigid rains continued pouring down in a steady, heavy evacuation of the northwestern skies. I picked the tiny gray, purple-spotted glove up from beneath my shoe.

Immediately, it occurred to me that this must belong to that pathetic and whimpering child. Although I wished to return the glove, no fastidious desire to confront that woman  urged me on. Nevertheless, I shunted my cowardice aside and re-entered the lobby, albeit, a bit apprehensively.

More people, this time exiting. I stepped aside from the lushly carpeted entrance, scanning the room for the pair. But they were now nowhere to be seen.

Shifting the glove from my right hand to my left, I searched for the stick of gum in my overcoat pocket, continuing to look for the child in that immense lobby. The thumb of my left hand continued to stroke the soft knit glove. I fumbled the gum into my mouth, rubbed my chin and dried my nose. The back of my hand crushed water from my moist eyebrows; residue from the rain steadily dripped off a three day old beard.

An ancient gentleman was enjoying a snack on one of the couches near the center of the lobby. He began to choke. Purple faced, he spit something into a napkin and resumed eating. Again he began to choke, repeated the process and began to eat once more. It was then that I noticed a dull, coppery tang upon my palate. The old codger and I mimicked each other’s motions. I extracted the gum. At first, it looked quite all right for cinnamon gum. “Ripe Red” cinnamon gum, from Ireland. It was the last of a pack belonging to poor Nikolas. God rest him at least now, in peace.

It was then that I noticed the pink all over the palm of my hand, with dark red streaks. The reflection staring back at me in the chrome latticework encompassing the elegant entrance bedeviled me. The lack of my usual antiseptic look to my appearance shocked me. My best efforts had been put into maintaining a low profile since long before I had made it to London. And now....

My face was now a marbled red, splotches of dark pink spotting my chin, my nose. There were no cuts; none on my face, nor on my hands. The small gray and purple glove still rested silently in my left hand against my dark trouser leg. Intrigued, I squeezed it and watched. Focusing beyond it onto the cream colored carpet I now noticed the dark spots of the gray glove draining, shrouding perhaps a child's tempered screams. I winced. My heart skipped a few beats; my face paled.

Squeezing harder, a red streak slowly followed previously unnoticed droplets to the carpet; a tiny, macabre Rorschach built from living materials. Lifting the glove to my nose, I sniffed it. It stank of cheap metals, of old cuts on plump, swollen flesh, fallen rabid from septic misuse.

Profane memories came flooding back to me. Blood Oaths of Revenge. Blasphemies. Acts of Sacrilegious Dimensions. My head began to swim, for it had been I who had set the bomb in the R.U.C. Headquarters next to that of the British Army, in that far away Gaelic land. The three of us had sworn vengeance undiluted by the civilities of cultivated thoughts against men we had never seen. Men who had never hurt us.

They were unavoidable events. Events which had lead a few friends and myself, a New England State, Masters student in Literature, to those beautiful, but wrathful hills of Ireland; a land with incomprehensibly complicated, internal difficulties; events which once seemed rather distant and childishly simple, but were now quite, quite immediate. Time... for me now, may be quite possibly, of very limited scope and duration.

How...how, did I end up in such an unbelievable situation?

Once again, I looked for the woman. Perhaps this small diversion amongst my more serious problems relaxed me. However, there was no sign of either of them. Carefully, I laid the accusing glove over a chrome cigarette ash can. Relieved and disturbed, I took out my handkerchief and briskly wiped the blood and dismay from my face; off my hands. A man pushed past me.

Wonder swept over me at those unattending people surrounding me. They were caught up in a whirlpool of their own devising; busy in their own times, with their own desperations.

A rising sickness came into my throat, forced ever higher by an empty, gray and purple-spotted, tumultuous stomach. Tides of churlish nausea rose from deep within my chest, besieging ever-mounting depths of a cynical adherence to a culture, which many years ago, had ceased to make much sense to me. And the thoughts...thoughts of revenge, murder; of a heart attack in Paris; one brought on much too soon in my young life, and not long forgotten. This trip had taken an incredible toll upon my body, and my life.

Pushing this all back from me as forcefully as I could, I pushed on again, out into the night. The torrents of rain violently increased; just my luck to have bad weather as Lover. She had followed me ever since Ireland. In fact, this storm had begun brewing the very day Timothy had died.

Again I wiped my face overly hard with my handkerchief, this time being the last. I threw it into the gutter. I watched as it convulsed inexpensively into a nearby storm drain.

Why? Where was the connection? What was it that I was missing? Where...when will I find safety again? Ever? Where...where was...that place? That one place which permits no insanity. Where there is no deliverance from peace, none from happiness...perhaps merely the interminable, ever-loyal contentment of the apathetic.

Shouldering my personal burdens, I begrudgingly shunted my hat back on my head in the Seattle downpour and walked away from the Hotel's entryway. Unexpectedly, the child appeared from the alleyway up ahead, and stopped in front of me. The pained look transferred from the child, to my chest and down my left arm, throbbing.

With a quite proper English accent, he said:

"Have YOU ever known the Ashes of the Damned, Sir?"

END Excerpt

Well, that's it for now. See you around.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Happens to Electronic Waste?

From the NPR article:
"The dirty little secret is that when you take [your electronic waste] to recyclers, instead of throwing it in a trashcan, about 80 percent of that material, very quickly, finds itself on a container ship going to a country like China, Nigeria, India, Vietnam, Pakistan — where very dirty things happen to it," says Jim Puckett, the executive director of the Basel Action Network, which works to keep toxic waste out of the environment. Puckett describes a trip he took, to Guyana, and another in China, in December 2001 as a "cyber-age nightmare."

Cutting to the chase, here's the thing, look for companies called "E-Stewards", who are committed to recycling your old electronics appropriately.

NPR article

I had no idea. Did you? I thought our wastes were dissembled here in the US. This almost says we should just throw away our electronic wastes in our own garbage bins. Then at least we are only poisoning ourselves and not yet again, putting our wastes onto those under privileged peoples around the world.

This garbage has shown signs of being from the US Schools, government agencies, but also from England and other first world countries. Jim Pickett said that he cornered one industry insider, Robert Fall, who has claimed that if pushed, they can start building computers without toxins, by 2015. They can remove substances like cadmium, beryllium, lead, etc.

To find a way around this now, go to EPEAT to find the least toxic computers available. Also, Greenpeace has a list of manufacturers and the Electronics Take Back Coalition. As for your no longer needed cellphones, GreenPhone

Let's also consider that if your wasted computer ends up in a dump in China, or Guyana, or elsewhere, Identity thieves can access your old data and rip you off. So when you dump your old electronics, erase your information. Even if its broken, sometimes, they can still access your info. When researchers tried to purchase old hard drives from these dumps, they were asked for $300 indicating that these scavengers know, they are selling data, not just hardware.

Here is another NPR article that can be helpful. Some recyclers do wipe your old hard drives, but really? I wouldn't depend on that:
How to erase old hard drives without a drill bit

Its good to note that Interpol in the European Union, the EPA in the US and others are now, finally, getting involved in these legal considerations and protection of citizens' data. Also, authorities in Hong Kong have also been helpful in these efforts, actually finding shipping containers (maybe 100 or so) with the wrong kinds of electronic waste cargo, and some are actually being sent back to the US.

For myself, I've built many computer systems for my family over the years. I've taught my children, how to build a system. But it never occurred to me to teach them about getting rid of systems. That is something I will rectify right away. What I do as far as my information, is I always strip out my hard drives. I have a box full of them from over the years. When I do get rid of them, I either take them apart and keep the disk containing the data, or I wipe it with a powerful magnet.

But much like the old security adage of "the only secure computer is one that is unplugged, turned off and locked away", the only safe hard drive is one that is in your control. Or, obviously, as that isn't realistic, the only safe hard drive is one that is reasonably devoid of your old data. There are government level data erasers that write over the data many times with zero bit data, basically random ones and zeros. I've also used this type of software. More recently, the past fifteen years or so, I've kept my disks in the possibility that one day I will be able to access the data on them as some I would like to reclaim and some would just be like an historical archeological dig. Just for fun, basically.

In the end, give more thought to how you eliminate old electronics from your life and do be aware of your old data being contained on your old hard drives, your old cell phones even and any device that has your information. You don't want to find out that you've just bought a car in Guyana, or purchased an airplane ticket to the US, from China.

"Almost Live!" Seattle's one time premiere comedy show

"Almost Live! was a local sketch comedy television show in Seattle, Washington, USA, produced and broadcast by NBC affiliate KING-TV from 1984 to 1999. A re-packaged version of the show also aired on Comedy Central from 1992 to 1993, and episodes aired on WGRZ-TV in the late 1990s. The show was broadcast on Saturday nights at 11:30, pushing Saturday Night Live back to midnight. The show used to be aired in reruns by the Seattle NBC affiliate following Saturday Night Live." - Wikipedia

Original format


"Almost Live! began as a weekly half-hour talk and comedy sketch show created by then VP of Programming Bob Jones, and hosted by Ross Shafer and closely patterned after Late Night with David Letterman, airing at 6:00 p.m. on Sundays. From the beginning, It featured many spoofs and satires of local television, series such as Star Trek, and unique locales in the city such as Ballard and Green Lake. The show became so popular that it was expanded from a half hour to one hour and shown twice a week. After four years and nearly 40 local Emmy Awards and several national awards, Shafer left to host the Fox Network's The Late Show." - Wikipedia

Ross went on to try to become the "Big Star" everyone expected him to become, except that, it never happened. John Keister took over as host of the show and it then switched into a full comedy, sketch and video clip show. Some of the favorite parts of the show were, "The John Report", not unlike SNL's "Weekend Update"; The Lame Report featuring members of local Rock community; Bill Nye's science segment; "Mind Your Manners with Billy Quan", a parody of Bruce Lee's martial arts films; and many others. I always looked forward to the Lame Report; I don't know why, sometimes they were just really funny.
John Keister and a change in format

"John Keister became the permanent replacement after Shafer left the program. Until that time, Keister was a regular supporting performer. Many of the initial award winning elements of Almost Live were his efforts, so the program quickly changed formats to feature more of his abilities, as well as other cast members, at video sketches. The guest interviews and live band segments were dropped. The focus changed to the sketch comedy and the show was shaved back to a half-hour format." - Wikipedia

One day years ago, I was sitting at Harry's bar on lower Queen Anne years ago, about 1987 or so, and trying to talk to my son's soon to be mother and my future ex wife. It was getting hard to talk to her because at the booth behind me, were two guys that were just annoying the hell out of me. Specifically, one of them were really annoying. I finally told my guest, "That guy is really annoying me." She started laughing and said, "Don't you know who that is?" I said, know, I snuck a quick glance and didn't recognize him. She said, "That's John Keister, from Almost Live", a show we both liked a lot.

I guess I was irritable or something (to be fair, John was being unusually obnoxious) and so I told her, "If that guy doesn't shut up soon, I'm going to take that serving tray from the waitress and smack him with it." She laughed and said, "Yeah, he can be pretty obnoxious sometimes, but he is pretty funny." Luckily, he toned it down and we left shortly thereafter. It wasn't until the next time I saw the show that she pointed out who he was and I realized, I might have messed up one of their episodes and yes, I would have felt bad about it.

One of the cast was a young(er) Joel McHale, now on the hit sitcom, Community, and also still hosting The Soup, which replays hilarious scenes from the past week of TV, was once also a part of the cast of Almost Live!, a local sketch-comedy TV show produced by Seattle's KING-TV (Channel 5).


"Bill Nye the Science Guy". Ross Shafer is credited as the creator of Bill Nye the Science Guy, encouraging Boeing aircraft engineer Bill Nye to demonstrate science experiments on the show. Nye later turned it into the Bill Nye the Science Guy show on PBS.
 These are the recognizable greats to come from that show. Its pretty entertaining and as I noticed this weekend in watching an episode, is a little piece of history, especially Pacific NorthWest history. If you ever get a chance to watch it, just remember, some shows were great, some shows, not so great, but don't let one bad one ruin it for you.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day Weekend Wise Words

Merry Christmas!

I'm so sorry if you are not into Christmas. Its a fun thing. It doesn't have to be all about Jesus, if you're not Christian. I mean, I'm not. I celebrate Christmas. A secular one, but I still call it Christmas, because, well, it is.
I know that Christians want that Christmas be only about Jesus. They are welcome to that. But if you are not Christian, I think even Jesus would say, just don't worry about it, enjoy the festivities, enjoy your loved ones, enjoy giving to one another. Enjoy Peace.

Give to one another. Enjoy one another. Love one another. Give Peace to one another, and therefore, to yourself. Think! Reflect. Spend time with the positive in Life. Celebrate being Human and being alive.

Just remember, no matter what Christians say, Christmas really isn't just all about Jesus, nor Christianity, nor the Pope, not religion at all, truth be told. That's what people have turned it into over the millennia. Christmas is about the feelings behind the holiday. Intent, action, caring. Its about what matters in life, a chance to step back and look at that, examine it, and live it out. Religious leaders would have us make it all about them, or God. But its really about everything, and that's what all religious texts propound upon, though they put it out as all about God, or his leaders, or their "chosen" people.

But its really about you, and your relation to yours and higher states of being. Religions are always trying to put out there that you have to have this or that thing to commune with their God, sounding a lot like Wall Street advertisers over the millenia; you have to go to church to commune with God, you need this magical underwear, you need this book, that robe, a rosary, whatever. But really? Any real God, would only require your attention, your care, your trying and your doing.

It reminds me of my writing. I used to be afraid to write. Then a college English professor told me to just write, don't worry about the rules. And I've been enjoying, loving writing, ever since.

I am a student of the Buddha Dharma, what some would call being, in that Western terminology, a Buddhist. I was raised Catholic, but found it lacking in so much in life, in being so founded in doctrine and many things I found that to me, were anti Jesus.

So for many years I said that I was not Catholic, not Christian, in fact in many ways, I was Anti-Christian. I felt I was a "Jesuit" (not to be confused with the Catholic Jesuit Preists and their beliefs). I believed in Jesus, in what that man, Yeshua, had to say (which is, as I understand it, actually closer to Jesus' real name, you see).

Jesus was also not born on December 25th, he had no blond hair, no blue eyes and looked nothing like Jeff Chandler, or most pictures of modern day Jesus that I've seen.

Jesus had said that God is good, like one's father; not angry, not a jealous God like the ancients believed; those ancients being at that time, most religious groups and the multi deity religions.

So, let's simply celebrate what a cool guy, or if you will, God, named, if you will, Jesus, had to say, and on December 25th, if nothing else. Or skip it and go the secular Santa route, for perhaps even Jesus would say:

"Hey, that's cool. Just live life like it's worth living and be kind to one another. Focus on what is good and best in life. And the world will still be a better place for it, even fi you doln't believe in me or what people have claimed I professed. Just don't get stuck on the little things, like doctrine, church, leaders who have lost sight of what is most important. Religions always push their beliefs, but push what is important.Do it for me."

And so, I wish you all, a very Merry Christmas!

But okay, if you insist, Happy Holidays to you, too!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Meaning of Christmas

I received this text from one of my adult children recently, I'll clean up the text a bit as it was after all, texting:

My kid:
Capitalism pisses me off. And especially this new capitalist Christmas: buy buy buy. Unfortunately, its making me dislike Christmas.

Me:
Get (think) small(er). Its about showing to who you care for, by giving them something from you. Wall Street always abuses good things.

My kid:
Yeah, but most of the stuff in the stores is total crap. I dunno. things lost their meaning. Gifts should have meaning, I feel. Clothes clothes fashion fashion fashion...just time with my family is awesome and a gift as cheesy as it is (or may be). There are just so many little jerk kids running around going MOM MOM MOM WANT WANT....

Me:
Yup

My kid:
Live like you're poor, but feel like your rich.

Me:
I always felt that it was a way to feel rich for a while, in getting xmas gifts. When I was a kid anyway. Because we didn't have a lot. I didn't grow up vactationing on a boat like your mom did [we're divorced]. It was a week or two with no money worries. There was abundance one time a year. :)

That was pretty much the end of the texting on that topi for the day.

I understand what my kid was saying. I think we all do.

To explain what I was trying to get across....

When I was a kid we didn't have a lot. I knew there were money problems. It was obvious, even if never mentioned. Any poor kid understands that. Birthdays were great, once a year, I got attention, and gifts. Of course, my mom was born on my birthday so I had to share it with her, but she tried to be cool about it, by giving me the day and she took the night. So I got a party and that night she would go out for dinner with her husband (my step-father). But it wasn't like the entire day was my day. I just never saw it as cool.

But that was one day a year. Christmas, was an entirely different kind of thing. Of course, we were Catholic. So traditional Christmas, and high holidays. We focused on Jesus' birthday, and all of that. Then as I grew older I learned more about how the Catholic church took over a pagan holiday to assimilate the locals who wouldn't take on the Catholic holidays and maintained their ancient pagan holidays. So the church put Christmas on their pagan days, erasing them, mostly from history.

Back to the present....

What my chat above was trying to point out, was that for one time a year, we put aside our worries, our money problems, our lacking things, and we simply had things. We went shopping, for fun, we got gifts for fun. We gave, for fun.We explored the Christmas time spirit of things. That good feeling it gives you, the music, the sights, Santa, all of it.

Over they years, Christmas time grew to more than a Catholic, or Christian thing. They don't like that. Too bad. Christmas now, as much as people don't like it, has become a secular, a truly American Tradition. Wall Street has had a lot to do with that. And for the good side of it, thanks. For the bad side of it, you should be ashamed.

But Christmas is no longer about Jesus, who was not named Jesus, who was not born on December 25th. Its about feeling good for a while. Wall Street tries to drag that out to even before Thanksgiving now. Again, shame on you. Greedy bastards. And they have found out how to extend it beyond Christmas, with returns and refunds and buy buy buy more after you have that gift card or the money from the returns/refunds, etc.

But what I remember from childhood, was that for that couple of weeks leading up to Christmas, was feeling good, smiling a lot, getting to see Santa for yearly photo sessions which I both loved and hated. We got a tree, we thought about others, bought them presents, wrapped them (although only to the best of our abilities and pretty sad those are at times). The tree in the living room began to fill with presents beneath it. Nightly, the tree was lit. Daily too when we were around. I had to keep water in the pot at the bottom of the tree or it turned into something dead and sad before Christmas Even, traditionally the night we gave presents.

I remember as a young kid, getting up to opening presents Christmas morning, but at some point, we switched it to Christmas Eve. Then we would go to midnight mass which was beautiful, with all the candles lit in the churchgoers hands and the singing and all but then we'd get home exhausted and wake early exhausted. I can't imagine what I was like the next day, all ADHD as usually but now tired on top of it, with huge influxes of secreted candy from our stockings full of goodies and the exhilaration of having new toys and all.

My point in all this is this, Christmas isn't Christian anymore. Yes, Christians and Catholics celebrate it for the original reasons. But now plenty of others, even many Jewish people, celebrate the idea of Christmas giving. Santa plays a big part in it, replacing Jesus. But not really, because, he has just changed his shape and what and how he does things; how he bestows love, what he gives for love. And what difference does it make?

Of course, Christians and Catholics should continue to play out their Faith, but others, who have no belief in Jesus, should be able to enjoy it as it is. Should we change the name to something less denominational? Why? What does it matter? The term Christmas, has lost its original meaning, just like cities named for the same have as in Christ Church, or Christianville, or whatever you can think of. Do you have to be Christian to live in those places? Absolutely not. Should they change the name to Jonestown, or something with no meaning? Why?

What I remember as a child, was Christmas would come upon us and we would revel in it's arrival. It didn't have that much to do with me, as a child, with religion. It was all about community, love, acceptance (in most families), abundance (for a change) and fun. We had lots of food. We had friends and family over. Leftovers lasted for a week or two. After a while I did get sick of turkey, but not the potato salad or other things.

And so, for those few weeks each year, I had a feeling, as a child, of love, no worries, fun times and community. Why, would we muck it all up with religion? Espeically, when you aren't Christian, in any sense of the word. So, why cannot Jewish people, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists and others, all enjoy, just for the sake of enjoyment. And why would Christians want to take that away from them, just because they are not celebrating Jesus in any sense of the word?

I really think we've lost sight of the whole thing, in pushing that Christmas is ONLY about Jesus, ONLY about CHRISTIANS. They started something good, and now they should just shut up about it. Thanks! But, do your own thing. Let everyone else enjoy the benefits of your contributions. Why try to ruin it for everybody? No, really. How can you possibly have issue with that? If you think so highly of Jesus, and his existence has contributed good to the world in a completely unforeseen way, where is the problem?

I know, you think you need to profess your religion to everyone and all that, but seriously, lighten up, will you? Some good, even in the wrong way, is better than no good. You would rather we call it Winter Holidays? Over Christmas? You've kind of shot yourself in the foot, don't you think? Because of your people demanding it all be about Jesus all these years, now no one wants it to have anything to do with Jesus and they are even offended by calling it, Christmas. Good job guys.

Sometimes, one needs to accept small wins and just let it go, rather than demand a big win and win nothing.

And I would argue that for any religion that has contributes something to the world, that they have lost control over, shut up. Be pleased that you have contributed to the world a little happiness where once there was none.

And you know what? I suspect, Jesus might just think even a secular Christmas, just isn't such a bad thing after all.

Merry Christmas!

A Merry Christmas to you and your family and friends and loved ones!
"Every year more than 400 million people celebrate Xmas around the world -- that makes Xmas one of the world’s biggest religious and commercial festivities. In approximately year 300 A.D., the birthday of Jesus was determined to be on December 25, the day that has been celebrated from then till this very day. The celebration on the 25th of December starts with Christmas Eve, the evening of December 24.

"The religious festival is originally a blend of pagan customs. The Romans held a festival on December 25 called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, i.e. "the birthday of the unconquered sun.". Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in late December to early January. However, it is uncertain exactly why December 25 became associated with the birth of Jesus since the Old Testament doesn’t mention a specific date of the event."
From All Things Christmas

I mostly mention this as prep to my blog tomorrow. People around the world celebrate Christmas, and not all of them are Christians, Catholics, or believers in Jesus or his generally accepted status as Christ Jesus. But that is not a bad thing, okay? So just relax, and enjoy your holiday. And all the best to you, peace and goodwill to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Life's Dichotomies

Why do people so respect those with "nerves of steel"? Have you ever considered just what it takes to not allow extreme pressures to affect you?

People like the "nerves of steel" type, because they build companies. But typically, they make lousy lovers. Maybe they can be hot for a night, maybe because of the fear they invoke, the intensity with is insanity, that you can take for focus, power; but, for anything more than a night at a time, these types are complete nightmares. Ask anyone who has ridden that train.

Why do women like the "bad boys" when they get treated so poorly and in reality they really want the good boys? They want to be treated like they were good boys, but at moments, they want the intensity of the bad boy. Is it any different than those men who want the angel in the kitchen and the whore in the bed room?

What is it about this dichotomy?

Why do people respect what is the opposite of what they need?
Why are we so attracted to what is bad?

Why?

Could it be because some of us, are too dependent upon others for our intensity? Our, thrills? Rather than create our own excitement? We are social creatures, but we really need to depend mostly, upon our selves. Once we accept becoming adults, we are responsible for ourselves, entirely.

We need to see that in our daily lives, in our relationships, in those we choose as friends, and lovers. Because, if we gives even a little more thought to our choices, and how we live our lives, our life will get a little better. And isn't that worth the effort?

New Hellraiser film to be darker, Dusk till Dawn, Amityville coming back too


HellRaiser

A few months ago it was announced that, god forbid, the Hellraiser remake was going to be aimed at a teen audience, think of a sparkly Pinhead. Actually scratch that, Pinhead doesn't sparkle he freaking causes pain and pleasure and no one does it better. Now thanks to the guys over at MovieFone, they recently caught up with the director of the remake, Patrick Lussier and he denied these horrible "teen audience" rumors."Oh, God no. No, no, we definitely did not want to do that.

If you're going to make a 'Hellraiser' movie... you're basically looking at a franchise that went from Clive's movie up to the 'Hellraiser'-in-Space movie, 'Bloodline,' which had some great stuff in it, actually; the way it goes backwards and forwards in time, and Angelique is such an interesting character. There's a part of this world that we're never allowed to see because there's never been the resources to show it, so let's show it."

More From Dusk Till Dawn, and Amityville, sequels on the way

The Miramax library is in new hands and under the direction of Mike Lang, if you haven't been following the business-side of things occurring in Hollywood. The transition of the films that fall under the Miramax brand is the reason why you haven't seen the release of Blu-Ray titles like Pulp Fiction or the Scream films in the U.S.But that's all going to change now that the Miramax deal is closed. At the edn of last week, Lang's Miramax announced they are partnering up with The Weinstein Company to create sequels to some of the films in the Miramax library.

The first films to be produced under the agreement will be sequels to Bad Santa, Rounders and Shakespeare in Love. The other potential sequels and TV projects are Bridget Jones's Diary, Copland, From Dusk Till Dawn, Swingers, Clerks, Shall We Dance, and The Amityville Horror. Interesting news about the latter as many thought a sequel to the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror was tied up at MGM. This partnership augments an existing relationship between the companies on such franchises as Scream 4 (to be released April 15, 2011), Spy Kids 4 (to be released August 19, 2011) and Scary Movie 5.

In addition, Miramax will handle digital distribution on select sequel projects. Miramax and TWC have also agreed to develop new, special edition materials for Blu-ray releases, such as roundtables featuring cast and directors. "We are very close to these films and the new management of Miramax also feels that we are in the best position to create sequels that are at once worthy and compelling in their own right," stated TWC's Harvey and Bob Weinstein. "We look forward to working with Mike and his team on getting these films into production as soon as possible, and extending our partnership in the years ahead."

from Reggie Dwight on Facebook

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why we believe in myths

 Why do we believe in myths?

I just always thought they went along with Jerry Springer, beer, pretzels, twinkies and teen pregnancy. You know, all American stuff.

But apparently, there is more to it than that. Who knew? Right?

Well (again, apparently), Cecilia Beltran and her intellectual hero, Joseph Campbell, knew.

"TED - which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design - offers a series of cutting-edge conferences focused on "ideas worth spreading." This has spawned related, independently organized events under the rubric, TEDx.

"Cecila Beltran, a member of the JCF Mythological RoundTable® Chapter in New York City, describes the background that brought her to the TEDxEast conference on Interconnectivity:

When I was a creative for some of the top advertising multinationals in southeast asia, I began to suspect that nobody really knew what a big idea was. I was largely entrusted with pharmaceutical accounts as a creative because they saw that I actually enjoyed perusing through thick raw data of medical research. I would frequently do projects relating to brain development. It was this background that gave me ability to recognize the similarities of the Kabalistic diagram with certain brain functions.

"More than a decade in advertising where I learned to use metaphors and symbolism to motivate action through ideas, an unusual religious background, and my medical research mindset all came together in my discovery of the parallels between brain functions and certain key themes that recur in myth, and I began to recognize them everywhere I went. I began to put these discoveries in writing and made it my life work. I now live in New York and frequently  participate in the Mythological RoundTable® discussions at the Mythology Café."

Check it out: Read the article from JCF.org

‘Boyscouts vs. Zombies’ Picked up by Paramount

Thanks to the guys over at Deadline, they have revealed that Paramount Pictures have acquired the rights to Carrie Evans & Emi Mochizukis screenplay, Boy Scouts Vs. Zombies which was on that infamous Black List. Evans & Mochizukis are graduates of the Disney Writing Program, who have also scripted the film College Road Trip.The script is said to be in the vein of The Goonies, which follows a local boy scout troop that must save a girl scout troop from an outbreak of zombies, while on an overnight camping trip.Boy Scouts Vs. Zombies will be produced by Todd Garner's Broken Road, Oops Doughnuts partners Andy Fickman and Betsy Sullenger, and Bryan Brucks' Brucks Entertainment. This sounds like it will be a lot of fun, and surely if its in the vein of The Goonies then its just got to be awesome. from Reggie Dwight on Facebook

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good job America the dollar is dying, Ruble and Yuan(?) Not so much.

China and Russia, especially pushed hard by the ex KGB lacky, Putin, has just set up an agreement to use their own currency in product exchanges rather than using the American Dollar. Putin especially, has been pushing to replace the US Dollar with the Euro as the World's reserve currency. All this coming a few months after the United Nations came out with a report (World Economic and Social Survey 2010 - Retooling Global Development), saying that the dollar was an unreliable currency and needed to be replaced by something more stable.

Nice one, US Government. Especially, the Republicans. You have screwed the pooch on this one guys. Your incorrect assumptions about how economy works, your tax cuts, your turning a blind eye, deregulation, your Reagan economics, have put the US in lousy place, possibly for the rest of time. And people are still voting the GOP (Grand Old Putins, it would appear, not Grand Old Party anymore) into office. So it would appear US citizens are as dumb as the people running the country.

$4,000,000,000,000 (4 Trillion) goes through the Daily Foreign Exchange system, every day. Most of those trades now, in US dollars. Last Wednesday, Ruble-Yuan Exchanges totaled just $730,000. So what you say? Well, if you're American, having the dollar as the World's Reserve Currency, gives the US tremendous economical and political advantages. And our government, has allowed, over the past few decades, for this power to basically be trickled and shoveled away into nothingness. If we were to get into an ever worse situation than we are now in, we would not have this leverage to get back our status to where it should be.

So, how about we buckle down, and get ourselves out of this mess, that we got our selves into? We need to bite the bullet, and extract the shrapnel that was, and is, the past few bubbles and indiscretions that have become our economic policies.

In the meantime, as Fareed Zakaria said on his program on Sunday morning, let's hope that the Sino-Russian experiment remains a thought, and does not become policy.

I don't belong here?

Have you ever had that feeling, suggested by the line in the song Creep, by Radiohead:

When you were here before,
Couldn't look you in the eye
You're just like an angel,
Your skin makes me cry

You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You're so fuckin' special

But I'm a creep,
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here?
I don't belong here

I don't care if it hurts,
I wanna have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul

I want you to notice
when I'm not around
You're so fuckin' special
I wish I was special

But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here?
I don't belong here, ohhhh, ohhhh

She's running out again
She's running out
She run run run run...
run... run...

Whatever makes you happy
Whatever you want
You're so fuckin' special
I wish I was special

But I'm a creep,
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here?
I don't belong here

I don't belong here...

Naw, me neither....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mochi Tsuki Festival at Islandwood, Bainbridge Island, Washington State

I have attended this festival, put on by BIJAC at IslandWood School on Bainbridge Island, Washington, for successive years and its always been a fun event. Especially, bring the kids if you have any because they love it. This year it is on January 2, 2011.

The Taiko Drums by Seattle Kokon Taiko (video part 2) is incredible and worth waiting for and attending. Islandwood is an excellent facility on some of the most beautiful acreage on Bainbridge Island, just a 35 minute ride from downtown Seattle.

BIJAC EVENT - Mochi Tsuki

Islandwood Mochi video

The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community (BIJAC) honors the heritage of the Issei (first–generation Japanese) who came to the United States, and particularly to Bainbridge Island, to make a new life for themselves and their children. We hope to promote a better understanding of the diversity of our nation by sharing their history, customs, and values. _TIM3862 - Masaru Shibayama, Age 2, Looks at Soldier's RifleBIJAC is dedicated to preserving and sharing an accurate historical record through oral histories and an outreach educational program.
For over a millennium, making and eating the sweet rice treat mochi has been a celebrated New Year’s tradition in Japan, with generations of families and communities coming together to wish good health and prosperity for the new year. Each year BIJAC brings this celebration to Bainbridge Island. We invite everyone, young and old, to bundle up against the crisp winter air, and enjoy the tradition of mochi tsuki (moe–chee sue–key), or "mochi–making."

Mochi–making involves a centuries old method of first steaming the sweet rice over an open fire, then placing the cooked rice into a warm stone or concrete bowl called an usu. Using large wooden mallets, two people rhythmically pound the rice in the usu while a third person uses his bare hands to swiftly move the rice between each mallet crash. After several minutes of vigorous pounding, the rice becomes a thick, smooth dough — mochi. While traditional pounding takes place outside, back in the kitchen modern mochi-making appliances are also running. Once cooked and pounded, people of all ages hand form the steaming–hot mochi into small cakes. Some are filled with a sweet bean paste called ahn. Guests can then eat their mochi warm and fresh, or bring them home to be later roasted and dipped in a sweetened soy sauce.

http://islandwood.org/events/calendar/mochi-tsuki-festival-2>IslandWood has generously provided its beautiful, spacious grounds for this event, usually held from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on the Sunday closest to New Year's Day. BIJAC's acclaimed Kodomo no Tame Ni–For the Sake of the Children–pictorial history is on display, as is the latest in news about the Nidoto Nai Yoni–Let It Not Happen Again–Memorial. Other activities include performances by Seattle Kokon Taiko, various films about our community, and guided tours of the award winning IslandWood, school in the woods, campus.

This event is free and donations for mochi are welcome.

The next Mochi Tsuki Celebration is scheduled for Sunday, January 2, 2011 from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM at IslandWood. There will be three short Taiko Drumming performances. Free tickets will be handed out on a first come, first served basis.



The Mochi Tsuki Festival celebrates the New Year with Japanese culture, performances by Seattle Kokon Taiko, various films and displays, and of course, mochi!

What    Community Event
When     Jan 02, 2011 from 11:00 AM to 03:00 PM
Where     http://islandwood.org/about/directions>IslandWood School, Bainbridge Island, Washington State USA
Contact Name    Gaye Lynn Galusha
Contact Phone     206-855-4307

Join them as they celebrate the New Year with the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community's 22nd Annual Mochi Tsuki Festival!

Dress for the winter weather and experience the tradition of mochi tsuki (moe–chee sue–key) or "mochi–making" first hand. Pound rice and make mochi cakes along with the mochi masters.

BIJAC's acclaimed Kodomo no Tame Ni - For the Sake of the Children - pictorial history is on display, as is the latest in news about the Nidoto Nai Yoni - Let It Not Happen Again - Memorial.

Enjoy performances by Seattle Kokon Taiko - free tickets available on a first-come basis - as well as various films about our community and guided tours of the IslandWood campus.

This event is free and no pre-registration is required. Although we all love animals, pets are not allowed at IslandWood (service dogs excepted).

YouTube Mochi videos

There are festivals like this in other places around the country. Search your area to see if you have one local enough to attend and if you do, I highly recommend going. One such example is, University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies’ annual Mochitsuki festival. Another is in the Portland, Oregon area.

"Gotcha" cartoon from MPP.org

2010 Holiday Card
From: MPP.org

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weekend Wise Words

Twelve great Oscar Wilde quotes:

The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.

A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.

When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.

I am not young enough to know everything.

It is a dangerous thing to reform anyone.

My great mistake, the fault for which I can't forgive myself, is that one day I ceased my obstinate pursuit of my own individuality.

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.

This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back again.

The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

Children begin by loving their parents. After a time they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.

- Oscar Wilde

With thanks to:
FamousQuotes.com

From Wikidpdia:
"At the height of his fame and success, whilst his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, was still on stage in London, Wilde sued his lover's father for libel. After a series of trials, Wilde was convicted of gross indecency with other men and imprisoned for two years, held to hard labour. In prison he wrote De Profundis, a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. He died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six."

This is yet another example of a great mind that was crushed due to society's lack of comprehension and compassion. I only wish people would think twice, those who are in power, before pronouncing insanity upon those who truly do us little harm but cause us distress at reflecting upon our own moral structure and codes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Insurance companies turn breast reductions into masectomies

This really annoys me. I like breasts as much as the next guy, but sometimes, they need reduction for a variety of reasons. If the woman's life is not enhanced by their breast size, they may need to come down. If their size is causing them daily pain, or worse, causing damage to things like their spine, they definitely need breast reduction. And, health insurance companies should pay for it like any other reasonable medical cost.

However, insurance companies found a loophole. They don't want to pay for this, they say, because later women will want another reduction, so they turn a reduction, basically, into a mastectomy. That is incredibly sad. Pathetic really, on the part of health insurance companies. And more said on the part of women. Because that means women are suffering because of the health insurance companies.

Insurance companies say, basically, if you want a reduction, okay, then you have to take off an amount specified by the Schnur scale. This is a fairly general scale used by doctors, but we've heard how that goes. Not to mention, this was originally intended as a guideline. Not an end all be all as insurance companies have turned it into. Especially, if you are short, then the scale can be off.

Breasts, especially in the US, are an important commodity, an important social status issue as well as quite important in a woman's self esteem. Something that the insurance companies seem to give no credence to whatsoever. It is a number, not in any way, an emotional consideration.

Consider you are in that situation. You need some weight taken off your chest, but not too much. Just enough so you can handle the strain on your back. So the insurance company says, okay, but we need to take nearly all of them off. Would you do it? Even if you are in pain every single day? Especially, if you are a young woman?

I really think the health insurance industry needs to be taken to task on this one. From their perspective, they have a reasonable scale to make this decision by. But as many of us know, a DOCTOR should make that decision because there are a variety of things to take into account: the patient in general, their emotional status, their physical structure, size, weight, height, some of which the scale takes into account, but definitely, not all.

What this does is put the insurance company in the position of a monster, an uncaring bastard, really. And so, many women continue to suffer on a daily basis, in pain, and in many cases, deforming their spine, to the uncaring disconcern of paper pushers hidden away in corporate offices.

Sounds all pretty familiar, doesn't it?

About the Schnur scale

How do you feel about this sexy video?

I saw this video the other day. I thought it was sex, clever, cute, and demented. All the perfect elements for an ad.

But it would seem its been pulled. For bad taste I should presume. I always thought it was cool because it was about a woman, secure in herself for marrying an old guy. Happy with her situation, in a relationship she found to be advantageous. Same as with love, right? I love you, you love me, so its advantageous for us both, because its an arrangement we both find to our advantage. Since marriage has almost forever been an arrangement for profit, I'm not sure I see anything wrong with this.

But, then in the end, they take the expected path and well, my question is, do you see a downside in this?

Because, I'm not sure I do.

Check it out yourself and let me know. Because, I could think of worse ways to end a marriage. Actually, I have gone through worse ways to end a marriage, several times....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sarah Palin as the GOP 2012 Presidential Nominee? Uh, no.

There's currently a joke going around about ex-Alaskan Governor, current media sensation, Sarah Palin:

‎"Hi. This is Sarah Palin. Is Senator Lieberman in?"
"No, governor. This is Yom Kippur."
"Well, hello, Yom. Can I leave a message?"

This pretty much sums up the good ole' country girl intellect of the ex Governor of Alaska, and ex-2008 Vice-Presidential running partner of Senator McCain. So the question is, will she be up for nomination, or actually be the GOP Presidential candidate for 2012?

I don't think so. She has shown her colors. Hasn't she.

Christie Todd-Whitman was on Fareed Zakaria's GPS Sunday show and I feel she agrees. She was the first female Governor (Republican) of New Jersey, and wrote the NY Times bestseller, "It's My Party, Too".Governor Whitman is also the President of the Whitman Strategy Group and was also in the GW Bush cabinet.

She told Fareed that there simply isn't the base for the GOP to get Sarah elected. That pretty much sums that one up.

As for this last election, she said that people didn't become Republicans, they were just telling the President that he went too far left and they wanted more balance. Whitman is concerned about the 50% of the Republicans being new and having a shallow institutional knowledge of what they will have to do. They think they will go into it with a mind set of no spending, but reality is the government has to spend and there are services they have to supply, which will lead to a rude awakening of these new politicians.

She said, "I don't think Palin will win nationwide"; and that the GOP should have learned that in 2008, because they got their base out there and then they were "handed their heads." Plus, she said that there are plenty of others out there working hard right now, for that nomination: Mitt Romney, for instance. She also said that just about all the Congressmen and Senators right now think they are viable candidates (and obviously, they aren't all viable, what does that say about the GOP?).

Whitman told Fareed that were Palin to actually become the GOP nominee, she would "have to show me a lot more than I've seen thus far, as far as an understanding of the depth and the complexity of the issues that we face. I mean, I don't know her personally, so I can't comment on that. I mean, she was a Governor, but the fact that she left office before even completing her first term, is just not an attitude that I think is necessarily in the best interest of your constituents rather than what is in your best interests."

If I had to vote for Christie, or Sarah? Sarah would lose.

Princess Liea an alky? "Wishful Drinking" on HBO tells all

Carrie Fisher's one-woman-show titled, "Wishful Drinking", is now appearing on HBO.
Carrie Fisher (LA Times)
If you have any curiosity about what the woman who played Princess Leia, this is the show for you. She is famous the world over, among other things, for her role in the Star Wars franchises that began in the 1970's; and for her appearance in a certain sequel of the original, by appearing in a slave costume as slave to "Jabba the Hut", a nasty bulky, disgusting character, which lead to her being THE fantasy girl of nerds everywhere for the following decades. She has had a fascinating life few of us would want to experience. But it makes great fodder for her show.

In the show, she explains her birth, birthright and birth nightmares. As well as the history of a piece of Hollywood that included among others, Liz Taylor (whom her father left her mother, Debbie Reynolds for) and her one time husband, Paul Simon. Its funny, poignant, heart breaking and entertaining, and highly recommended.

"Wishful Drinking" show HBO web site.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Surfing

I learned to surf in New Jersey. Cape May, New Jersey. People have laughed about that, but we had a die hard surf and beach culture there. When I went to Hawaii the first time, I did just fine. So those guys in NJ must have known what they were doing.

This is a metaphor I have come back to time and again throughout my life. Surfing. Skiing. I've used another similar one, that of, Winter, Summer (I'm more of a Summer guy). But let's stick to the surfing format for this time.

I've always been a surfer at heart. A surfer rides a wave, tons of water with force and direction, and a chaos that you have to learn to deal with. Like shifting sands beneath your feet that you never really know what it will do next. When it changes, you change. And if you can master that, you can ride the waves of power throughout your life. Of course there are plenty of surfers that are total losers in life. But if you think of this as a philosophy, things change in how you handle things.

In skiing, you are going down a static run. Sure, it has surprises in it, but if you keep an eye out, you can see what is coming. And if you ski it again, its still there where you left it, ran over it last time, or crashed into it. If you are being pulled by a boat, water skiing, same things basically.

And I've met people in life that ran their life, just like they were surfers (fewer people that I've met) or skiers (many more people that I've met). The skiers seemed to have more difficulty in handles surprises. But are better at dealing with it, than those people that do not, either ski or surf.

So, I've always looked at difficulties in life as if I'm riding a big wave. Its taking me a long and I'm doing my best to stay on top, cut left or right, speed up or slow down as need be. Normally, it takes little thought. But when big things go wrong, with suddenly I'm faced with something that is throwing everyone else around me, I just dig in, and get ready for the change, to ride whatever direction it goes. But remember, you always also, have to know when to hit the surface, leap for your life. Because, its all the same thing, you have to know what to do, and ride it to the best conclusion possible. At nearly all costs, riding it in to shore.

So the next time you are gong along in life, and life turns into a monster, trying to slam you into the rocks, consider what you need to do, and rather than leap off, hit the bunny run, ask for the jet boat to pick you up, ride that wave until it expends its energy. Because, it always does.

And if you are a skier, remember, the bottom of the mountain is always down there, at the bottom.

IFC cable channel no longer commercial free

Apparently, as of last Tuesday 12/6, IFC channel (Independent Film Channel) now has commercials, and commercial interruptions during all programming. They have dropped art-house films for indie films and more main stream, and TV shows/original programming. I loved this channel for years, but now I will resent even watching it, and I very well may not. Facebook and Twitter postings are yelling about this sad decision for IFC.

I'm probably going to quit watching the IFC. I don't understand why we pay for channels when they force us to watch commercials, if we watch their channel. I thought pay TV was going to eliminate commercials. 

Someone on a site somewhere said something I have to try and paraphrase: "...can it be long before badly applied patches start making movie characters say "Forget You!" and "I don't give a spit" to appease the ChristiaNazis?"

Its a very good question.

To me, "independent" means, taking chances, walking the fine line, being interesting, pushing the envelope. I suppose what we now need is a Super Independent channel. At this point, I'm not seeing much of anything independent about the IFC. Icky Film Channel? Idiot Film Channel?

Pathetic.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let's kill people for breaking "God's" Laws. Or are those Our Laws?

Woooohoooo...let's kill people. Fun, isn't it FUN people? God said we can. Our (Pakistani) government said we can. Our religious leaders are crying out for murder. Yehaw...we have dispensation to do it (how Catholic, don't you think?). We can kill and be rewarded in Heaven (That make believe location up in the sky with 72 virgins (Ugh, virgins) and here on Earth ($5,800 ain't bad for killing a Christian woman). Let's chant, come on, everyone! Kill the bitch, kill the bitch! Kill Kill Kill. Woohooo, look at me, I'm a muslim jerk (or should that be asshole?)! Note the lower case "m" in muslim. Why? Because, upper case "M" is a Muslim and those are good people. The lower case ones are Taliban, terrorists, bastardizers of the Islamic religion. And they don't even know it. Sad.

Okay, enough of displaying how these people appear to any sane person.

Before I get into this, I would like to say that I have an orientation in life that is very close to any Buddhist. But I would like to think of it as a more enlightened form of Buddha Dharma. I struggle with it daily, working against my original self, as I was raised, which was Catholic. I have opinions that work against me, I make mistakes, I sometimes have this pointed out to me and I do my best to correct my not so brilliant thoughts as I notice them.

But like as a friend of mine once told me of the leader in his family's "church" when he was younger: One day they were sitting at a picnic table, eating. A mosquito landed on their leaders arm. She was from all accounts, a character, a leader, intelligent, wise. Someone asked her a question about killing. Her response was to regard the mosquito, then smack it dead, there on her arm. She looked up, smiled and said: "Off to your next life." Then she went back to eating. Her point being, although you should not kill, when you do, know it, be aware, have a reason that requires it with reason, not nonsense, not made up reasons, not because "Joey told me to (or God)", have it be a good reason, then simply do it and move on with your life. Because it was required. And there is the rub. What is required? And finally, do NOT, put it into a God's lap. Do not blame others, you did it.

It is as Buddha had once said, when you recognize it, you know it. That leads many people to ignorance, because, they are by nature, ignorant. An enlightened soul, simply knows they are doing wrong. In these Muslim nations, where government and religion are one, this "knowing" becomes blurred. Very easily so, too.

When the State enforces "God's Laws" is is God who is enforcing Law, or is it people who are raising themselves above their own God? Becoming, self important. Fearing that perhaps God won't do His Job? Maybe God ain't Great enough to handle His own Laws. Perhaps Mohammad cannot handle doing his job, or perhaps God, won't enforce people speaking against Mr. great himself, Mohammad the Man. I have a question, was Mohammad really such a bastard as his modern day people seem to proclaim he was? And note, I said nothing bad about him. I've only asked a question. If you cannot hold your beliefs, your God's your idols up to scrutiny, perhaps you shouldn't be having them? Yes?

Really people? Really?

If God is so Great, then why in God's Name, does he need piddling little bastards like Us, to enforce His laws, to kill his creations?

This, from NPR:

Activists of the Pakistani fundamentalist party Jamat-i-Islami protest last month in Karachi, chanting slogans against Asia Bibi, a Christian mother sentenced to death for blasphemy.

 [what a nice looking group of young men calling for the murder of a kind woman who offered some people some water to drink.]
The woman in question, offered water to people in the fields. They refused saying she had contaminated the water because she was Christian. Now that is some religion you got there, you ignorant backward peasants. 
Still, the life of Asia Bibi, a mother of two and stepmother of three, is at stake.

AP -Asia Bibi at a prison in Sheikhupura, near Lahore, on Nov. 20.  She appeared in a televised interview from her prison, tearfully denying the blasphemy charges that led to her death sentence.

A cleric has offered 500,000 rupees — roughly $5,800 — to anyone who kills the now eighteen month long jailed woman, who is being held in the district jail in the city of Sheikhupura. The Taliban also have threatened retribution should she be spared, yet another sign the case has become a rallying point for extremists. [why, oh WHY, do these people love killing women so much? Freud? Any thoughts there? Could it be that sex is so forbidden and they are simply PISSED off at life?]
The Rev. Samson Dilawar, a Catholic priest, with Ashiq Masih, husband of Asia Bibi, and daughter Sidra
Reporter is Julie McCarthy/NPR Photo is of the Rev. Samson Dilawar, a Catholic priest, with Ashiq Masih, husband of Asia Bibi, and daughter Sidra at a safe house where the family agreed to be interviewed.

A Frightened Family

Within 24 hours of the Taliban warning, Asia Bibi's family fled their home in the Christian colony of Gloria in Sheikhupura, a 90-minute drive from Lahore. [so, religion, once again, is making people run for their lives; but I'm sure its what God wants]

The Vatican has called for her release. Well, at least her people are sticking up for her.

The Taliban, biggest losers in the world, want to murder a woman. Do these people not see what degenerates they are? Killing women? Old women? Do we need people like this on the face of the earth who put themselves above their own God?

I think "an eye for an eye", a quote from the same miserable texts they decry their own citizens from, perhaps should be turned upon them, their clerics, their governments. If we're going to go to war, perhaps it should be for something like this. Where innocent people are demanded to be put to death, for being kind, as they say (and which always confused me) "God fearing people".

I think what we need is a small, elite group who simply goes in and kills all those people who think like this, simply wipe out those who think we should treat others like this. Then when they are all dead, they can wipe themselves out.

I jest, but this, is not funny. These people, this form of thought, organizations like this, religions like this, really need to be wiped from the face of the earth. What God, would allow His people to treat His people in such ways? Does this religion, these people, this government, not sound like something bred and raised in caves, by cave people? By ignorant, delusional, self serving, self aggrandizing, people?

It angers me, that any group would put upon any other group like this. To put people, who are obviously good people, I mean, she offered them water for God's sake, for Mohammad's sake, she was trying to take care of people who weren't even of her religion. And they want to put her to death after 18 months in prison? For what?

Someone just told me (this is hearsay, but she is usually accurate), that. about a year ago a woman was sentenced to death for a having a baby out of wedlock. She was raped and was too traumatized by the ordeal to come forward. This information was ignored, she was branded a whore and stoned to death.

Hearing things like that really sickens me. How can people in those countries NOT see what they are doing? No, no need to explain it, I have a degree in psychology. I KNOW. But still, I have to wonder, how. I ponder on the turning a blind eye to this kind of thing, going on around the world. I know all about the borders of other nations, thing. I know we perhaps, shouldn't sacrifice our military on this kind of thing. Or is that what its for, beyond protecting our own borders?

I'm really not a war mongerer, but this kind of thing sometimes makes me want to be. I've always stood up for the underdog (unless they ask for it on purpose and no, a girl wearing sexy clothes is not asking for it!). Even in grade school I got beat up repeatedly for standing up for other kids being picked on by bullies. I really don't like seeing organized people putting down individuals, even groups, like this. Its bad enough we have religions allowing this, but for the governments to be infested with religious doctrine to where its institutionalized even further...well...it makes me crazy sometimes. And for governments, who KNOW better, to whine about its citizens being backward and "what can we do, or me, oh my" oh get some balls. And this goes for America too ("Don't ask, Don't tell, sound familiar?).

I tell you, this part of the world sickens me sometimes. There is simply no excuse for people, for forms of thought like this, to exist. And the sooner we wipe them out, the better. I do not suggest, truly, killing them, though it is a feel good solution. But they need to be made to be the pariah's of the world until they see the ignorance, the errors of their ways, of their God's ways. But really? I don't think this has a thing to do with God, Mohammad, or any prophets, but with people, with greedy government leaders, who would create such a law. It would seems in some cases, a religion is cruel and unusual punishment. And yes, a religion's people are the religion, so don't give me that tired argument.

Leaders are supposed to lead but instead, they set themselves up for power and this is what we get:

Stupid, ignorant religions and even stupider, more ignorant people who follow them.

It seems the President of Pakistan has called for a full review, and people aren't usually put to death for this. But to even be able to be jailed for speaking WORDS, really needs to be addressed world wide (hear this China?) and people should be allowed to talk without fear of being jailed, or put to torture, or death.