Support Your Local Children's Hospital

Thursday, March 31, 2011
Earlier, I posted about my son's journey through Primary Children's Hospital. I just want to remind all of you to support your local children's healthcare charities. Here are a few links to some national charities as well:

Childs Play - Since 2003, we’ve set up and organized Child’s Play, a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in our network of over 60 hospitals worldwide. In five short years, you as a community have answered the call and come together to raise millions of dollars.

St. Jude Children's Hospital - St. Jude is unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility. Discoveries made here have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today's most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly.

Ronald McDonald House Charities - While Ronald McDonald House Charities cannot make medicine taste better or take away painful treatments, we can help lessen the burden and ensure more than 4 million families a year have the stability and resources they need to keep their child healthy and happy.

Autism Speaks - Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Since then, Autism Speaks has grown into the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We are proud of what we've been able to accomplish and look forward to continued successes in the years ahead.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation - JDRF is a leader in setting the agenda for diabetes research worldwide, and is the largest charitable funder of and advocate for type 1 diabetes research. The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.

Children's Miracle Network - We touch the lives of more children and their families than any other children’s charity. Whether they suffer from common childhood afflictions like asthma and broken bones, or fight bigger challenges like birth defects or cancer, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals provide comfort, treatment and hope to millions of sick kids each year.

Muscular Dystrophy Foundation - MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.

The Shriners Hospitals - The generosity of donors is what enables Shriners Hospitals for Children® to deliver life-changing medical care without placing burden on the families of our patients. There are many ways to give, from participating in one of our many fundraising events throughout the year, to creating a plan for giving. No matter how large or small, every gift to Shriners Hospitals for Children makes a difference in the life of a child.

I am sure there are many more I am missing. Feel free to leave a link in the comments.
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The Unrecognized World of Game Music!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
And now, to counteract the actually pretty depressing posts from the past few days and to make up for the lack of a New Music Tuesday for the second week in a row, I figured I'd post, in what must be my most link-heavy and researched post yet, about what I believe to be a wonderful if not overlooked medium of music in our day and age: Video Game Scoring. Let me start by musing on how far video games have come in my lifetime. As a youngin', I remember games like Commander Keen, Lemmings, Doom, and Sonic the Hedgehog with great fondness. Those were simple times for gaming music, which had to work with being 8 or 16 bit midi-file quality. Still, it's not like it was bad, it was adequate for gaming purposes back then. Hell, this was background music for a game about a blue hedgehog in running shoes who defeats a fat man's robots to free tiny animals. This was all you really needed.

But alas, games have come a long, long way since those days. Now, games take hundreds of people to make, with credit sequences that are often as long as those for major motion pictures. Games have evolved into a visceral, immersible, and powerful moving form of entertainment that, while still not considered "art" by certain critics (*cough* Roger Ebert *cough*), certainly contain powerful artistic elements. Music being one such example, most notably in the rich original scores made for modern games.

Now, I know soundtracks aren't as recognized as a form of music as other mediums, but there are still two categories at the Academy Awards that are designated to reward and recognize great music for cinema, including one for best original score. So who don't we, as a culture, recognize the scoring for gaming as well in any way? I mean, I can't even find 90% of the game soundtracks I want on iTunes, even for American-made games like the Elder Scrolls series. Also, if you don't believe me on the whole "Video Game Scoring is never recognized" thing, how many of you reading would roll your eyes if you discovered that the major symphony orchestra you were dragged to listen to live announced that they were going to be performing video game music? I think its awesome that some places do, but it's in the minority. The point is, while I disagree with Mr. Ebert, a lot of people don't. Most don't consider games an art form, which unfortunately tosses great original game scoring to the wayside as well.

Well, it's a bunch of bologna. Game scoring, like games, have come a long, long way and now games contain powerful and emotional music that really pushes the game itself. Did you listen to the 1991 Sonic theme I linked above? Good, you'll have something to compare my offerings to.

To shorten how much of the first page this article is eating, read the rest of the article, links and all, after the jump:
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In Which We Proves We Has This Internets Things Under Control

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Hey! Here are our social networking links.

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What poverty looks like to me

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I'm taking a poverty class this quarter and one of my assignments this week was to draw a picture of what poverty looked like to me. I am no artist, but I could 'see' it in my minds eye very clearly. Fortunately, I only had to describe what I'd drawn for the class. This is what I wrote there:

My page has two sides.

On one side is what I think the extreme end of poverty looks like, the one I have been conditioned to think of. This page is in black and white. There is a child from a scene from La Chureca in Nicaragua, a garbage dump where some people have lived their entire lives, sorting through other people’s trash to eek out a subsistence living.

On this side is Dorothea Lange’s famous Migrant Mother photograph of the mother with her children: Without a home, without food, without water. I think of the homeless people I see in doorways and at parks, the ones with mental illness or addictions that society likes to think they chose to do nothing about. I see visions of soup kitchen lines from the depression. I see the line of people outside the Salvation Army shelter in Salt Lake City, the line I can see from the nice restaurants at the Gateway.

On the other side of the page I see what I see when my students walk in the door: the silent poor. This side is colorful. I see the students who have houses and running water (sometimes) and enough food (right after the food stamps come) but who are otherwise going without food, going without toilet paper, going without shoes. I see my kids who come in here looking happy and fine with duct tape holding the soles of their shoes on. I see someone who comes in here an hour early in the morning to linger over the breakfast we serve because it’s their only meal of the day. I see the sixteen year old that I took to McDonalds after class one day (I know!) and then to the skate park, where he lived. I see the young men who come to GED and stay longer because we let them make peanut butter sandwiches.

For me -my vision of poverty has two faces: the one we all have been conditioned to think of when we think of poverty: and the one we mostly pretend not to see at all.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The next person who tells me "this isn't personal" is going to get beat about the head and shoulders with a diseased marmot. Because it is very fucking personal. Don't pretend it isn't.

This started with you knuckleheads and your foolish comments about health care reform. Death Panels? Please. If I said you are buying into a conspiracy theory, you told me it was true and just wait and see. If I told you corporations were running the country, you would have told me that was a conspiracy while you held up your "Obamacare = Socialism" signs. Never mind that now, Republican governors are creating their own death panels.

Now it's all about austerity. It's all about how the middle class is going to have "take one for the team". About how Social Security is the problem, so, my generation and my kids as well, need to understand that things need to change. In the midst of corporate profit increases that haven't been seen since 1950, there are still no new jobs. I am being told that the government needs to reign in spending, so we can't keep spending money on unemployment. Oh yeah, and because some teacher is making $50,000.00 a year unions are bad.

Meanwhile, in a Walmart parking lot somewhere in rural america, it will be snowing and I am sure I will hear at least one yahoo say, “So much for global warming,” while he leaves his pickup running and runs inside for a five pound chub of mass produced hamburger so he can have tacos for dinner. When he returns to his truck and goes to get gas, he will bitch about the gas prices and never once consider the absurdity of these things. He will go to bed secure in the misinformed knowledge that it is the people who have nothing that are the problem. He knows once we are  rid of them, he can have his country back.

There is one thing I have in common with that guy from that parking lot. I want my country back, too.
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Time and place, backwards and forwards

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I am at Primary Childrens Hospital. I have been coming here with Son #1 for the last 24 years. I don't even know how many visits it is anymore.

I remember his first visit like it was yesterday. I arrived at the hospital just as the Life Flight helicopter's rotors were winding down. I had left my wife at one hospital and drove across the valley, not knowing what expect.

Lot's of different people told me lot's different things that day. At some point his first surgery was done and I was able to see him for the second that day, the first being when they were prepping him for the flight to Primary.

In the NBICU, surrounded by other babies, many of them immature, was my boy. Larger then the other babies, my first thought was, why is my baby here? He looked healthy, well healthier than the other babies. As an aside, this would become an issue over the following years. At first glance you wouldn't know anything is wrong with him.

You can't judge a book by it's cover. Once in the ICU, after one of numerous surgeries, he was all drugged up on morphine. He looked up at me and said in a sad voice, "This the first time in my life I have been pain free," as if it had just occured to him what he had been dealing with since the first day of his life.

Over the 24 year journey that made Diane and I expert at working through the maze that is the American health care and insurance system, we have experienced highs and lows. We frequently lived in a state of mini denial between medical emergencies, trying to make things as normal as possible. In spite of this we knew, somewhere in the back of our minds, that we would be back at the hospital. Sooner or later.

Today he is seeing his neurosurgeon who has been treating him since he was six months old. He is the only specialist he still sees here, having moved on to other specialists over the last couple of years. This could very well be his last visit. This could be the last time I am in this hospital.

I have to thank the doctors, nurses and staff. While we had to become advocates for his care, our son always received the best of care here. Diane and I did, too.

Posted from my Droid using the Android Blogger App
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Because You Asked For It - A Shark Destroying A Nazi U-Boat

Monday, March 28, 2011
I noticed a few search terms hitting the blog today referring to "a shark fighting nazis". I don't know why you all are coming here, except for maybe "SHARK KNIFE!", but I threw together a quick photoshop of a shark bringing down a German U-Boat.
I thought adding Cappy's Shield was a nice touch
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Don't pigeonhole me!

Sunday, March 27, 2011
I am not always a big fan of polls, but this one is cool. By the way, this is a very good description of my political leanings.
Quiz: What Kind of Liberal Are You?

My Liberal Identity

You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.
Take the quiz at Political Humor
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The Play Of Nature

Sunday, March 27, 2011
Yesterday I decided to get my mind in order, or, at least move the weeks troubling thoughts to the back of my mind. I decide to walk the length of the Bear River Greenway, so I packed up all my camera gear. With my equipment in hand I headed out, not sure what I was going to see or even shoot.

The usual sights presented themselves. Melting ice, the river swirling with pieces of ice crashing into each other, bridges, reflections and a grand early spring sun lighting it all. Sadly, much of it was just... typical. Until I found a pair of Canadian Geese sunning themselves by the river. They seemed to not be worried by my presence while I took pictures of them. Of course, they let me know when I got too close. They were good models, and in keeping with my friend Lisa's tradition, I did thank them.
Geese Contact Stripped

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Welcome to the Unemployment Queue - Six Songs about Job Loss and Consequences

Friday, March 25, 2011
Once again, I join the ranks of the unemployed. I have had my share of jobs, but only three that I considered to be a career. The first was when I got my dream job at nineteen. I was hired by the now defunct Hercules Inc. in their materials development division. I always wanted to work in R&D at an aerospace company and it was a great five years. I didn't love that I worked for a company that was increasing the nuclear weapons stockpiles but the job was great fun.

After the layoffs of 1989, I spent two years doing crap jobs, then I landed at Chevron (more or less). I loved that job, too, if only for the daily intellectual stimulation of problem solving and and dreaming up new imaginative ways to insult my co-workers. I made great friends at Chevron, even if I was working for an evil oil company.

After my job moved to Houston without me in 2002, I spent two years consulting and kicking around the process control and IT industry. I landed this last job in 2004. I wasn't sure what I was going to do employed in the public sector, starting out as a webmaster and IT helper, moving up to marketing and graphic arts. Like all things, some days it was just a job, but most days it was a good place to work.

They laid me off last night. I wasn't surprised, I had figured it was in the cards since last November, but it doesn't make me feel any better. I will miss most of the people I worked with (if any of my former fellow employees are reading this, you are one that I will miss).

Life goes on and all that, so, with that in mind, this week's pick six is all about work and lack thereof.

6.  Downbound Train - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Born In The USA. You could very easily make this list completely from Bruce's catalog. Nobody has written more songs about the plight of the American working class then The Boss. Pick an album you are bound to find an ode to the working man and woman.

5. Working Man - Rush - Debut Album. I know this is pre royal triumvirate, but it is the song that made Rush famous. The version off of "All The Worlds A Stage", their first live album features the Professor rocking a great drum solo at the end of the song, which is just amazing. When Geddy screeches "I get up at seven, yeah, And I go to work at nine. I got no time for livin'", I think, damn, I've been there. Search for the 1980's tour version which is a fun sort reggae verion of the song.

4. Career Opportunities - The Clash - Debut Album. I don't wanna make a tea at the BBC nor do I really wanna be a cop. Leave it to the Clash to sum up the drudgery that is a "career" in under two minutes. Brilliant. If you have Sandinista one of the last songs on the experimental album a version of Sandinista that has vocal tracks by the very young Luke and Ben Gallagher (keyboardist Mickey Gallagher's sons)

3. Let Go - Frou Frou - Details. The lyric "drink up baby doll; Are you in or are you out?; Leave your things behind; 'Cause it's all going off without you; Excuse me too busy you're writing your tragedy" gets this song on the list, if just to remind that there are other things out there. Opportunities are out there, except of course, making tea at the BBC.

2. Maggie's Farm - Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home. Whether you subscribe to the idea that Dylan was giving a big F.U. to folk music or as a meta meta song protesting folk protest songs or even as just a very cool protest song, there is something empowering about the chords and the line "I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more" repeated over and over again.

1. Oney - Johnny Cash - Any Old Wind That Blows. I don't really want to beat up my boss (assuming that I was actually strong enough to do such a thing) on the last day of work, but you got to love Johnny Cash singing "When I'm gone I'll be remembered; As the workin' man who put his point across; With a right hand full of knuckles; 'Cause today I show old Oney who's the boss." Dedicated to the working man, Johnny Cash reminds us no matter what, they can't take your pride away.

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David Gregory To The World - We Really Only Scrutinize Them When They Are Candidates.

Friday, March 25, 2011
Just flipping through the channels and stopped on the Today Show and Matt on the topic of 2012 Republican candidates, asked David Gregory about Newt Gingrich's incredible changing Libya position. The question from Matt was "Won't he be perceived as someone who is just critical everything?".

What spewed out of David Gregory's mouth was quite possibly the Villagers view of the world in a nut shell. In effect he said; "I think he knows that. Commentators don't get scrutinized like Presidential candidates."1

First of all, that's a crock. People are not equally scrutinized. Secondly, isn't the problem that career politicians are acting as commentators (mainly on Fox) then running for office. I think both candidates and pundits should be scrutinized equally, which is to say, consistently and often.

1.) I don't have the exact quote, but I think that is pretty close.
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On Being Overwhelmed

Thursday, March 24, 2011
I am overwhelmed with life right now. If you are watching the sun rise over the Badlands, this is a very good thing. If you are trying to get a lot of work done, even though it seems like the spectre of unemployment is hanging over your head, it is not.

Before I get off on a rant here, let's just say I am troubled by my lack enthusiasm for anything. Even last nights photo shoot was largely mechanical, which is bad for art (and sex). It was beautiful and all, but, it was just another sunset. Stunning sunsets are de rigueur for this part of the world1, so taking a good picture of one is like taking a good picture of deer around here. We don't have a shortage of either of these things.

So, what do you do when you just don't care anymore? Me? The only thing I can do. I will keep shooting, writing and showing up for work2. Eventually, this too shall pass. In the meantime have a mechanical HDR from last nights sunset.

3/23/2011 Worldwide Sunset HDR
OK GO - This Too Shall Pass

1.) Biggest bummer of the year? It was snowing both nights that we had the perigee moon. I didn't get to see it, let alone shoot it.
2.) I am also studiously avoiding politics right now. I hate not being aware of politics, but I can't waste the energy or neurons.
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A Happy B'Day to El Kaiser Guapo

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
It's the birthday of one of our contributors! Happy Birthday El Kaiser Guapo.
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Me? Well, It Really Depends On The Day, Doesn't It?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Quiet In SnowI think this what happens when you watch American Splendor and read to much late period Hunter S. Thompson. It is a sure way to awaken your demons. Everybody wave at my demons.

What makes an old sad bastard?
Feeling sorry for my self
Self absorbed and self immolating
My central conceit is that I know better
(and I wonder why I am so fucking depressed)

Truth is I am weaker and more insecure than you
My fake self assurance merely an dissociative act
played for my comfort and your amusement

Not meaning to be dangerous to you
Even though I know it can be
and it leaves no comfort to my psyche

In the end, no matter what you do
I will always feel alone
and be left feeling sorry for myself
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This blog is not out of order... but this blogger is.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Maybe I will wake up later. In the meantime... RANDOM PHOTO TIME!
Russian Olive In Sillhouette
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This blog is temporarily out of order...

Monday, March 21, 2011
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Old Things and Byways

Sunday, March 20, 2011
I know I am in the middle of a self imposed no blogging/no social networking weekend, but I wanted to share this:
Brigham City Train Station
Brigham City Train Station. I did some masking and dodging tweaks in Photoshop.
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Friday Pick Six Great Album Closers

Friday, March 18, 2011
Pacing an album is a difficult thing. Often, you need to put some of your best material at the beginning, to grab your listener's attention. You want to build up to your best songs from there, but sadly many albums start to fall apart after their best song. It takes great placing and album arrangement to keep listeners going until the end, and even better placing to end on something big. Not every artist can do this, and many can't and make albums where listeners will only listen to a couple of songs, usually the early ones, over and over while skipping the rest. This week's Pick Six is a recognition of truly great album closing songs; songs that wrap up the album in a definitive and wholly satisfying way:

1. Darkness On the Edge of Town, by Bruce Springsteen from the album of the same name
2. A Day in the Life, by the Beatles from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
3. Lullaby, by Ben Folds Five from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
4. Whatsername, by Green Day from American Idiot
5. This Love of Mine, by Frank Sinatra from In The Wee Small Hours
6. 23, by Jimmy Eat World from Futures

Now, I'm hoping most of these choices do not require an explanation. It should be noted that in the case of most of these artists I had to choose only one album closer, even though there are many good choices from those artists (actually, this is true of all of the above artists). But alas, I've always made it a point in my mix creation and Friday Pick Six processes that I limit myself to one offering per artist. So, if there was more than one good choice from one artist, I chose the one I liked best.

Darkness on the Edge of Town is probably Bruce's best album, and the title song is a good indication as to why that is. Really, it probably didn't matter what the last song of this album was, it would make it here because EVERY song is good from this particular album. The same can be said of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but it made it especially because the last song happens to be A Day In The Life, which is one of the most recognizable songs, like, ever.

Ben Folds had a lot of possibilities, but I went with Lullaby mostly because it's a magnificent closer to perhaps his most underrated album ever. Well, Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner or Songs for Silverman, but now we're getting off track.

Whatsername makes it because it is a closer that stirs interesting emotions as a commentary on the rest of the concept album it closes. If American Idiot is a story about leaving home and getting caught up in a whirlwind of sex, drugs, and psychosis before crashing and coming home, then Whatsername is the somewhat melancholy reflection on that life.

I bet most of you weren't expecting to see a Sinatra song on a list of rock songs, huh? Well, I happen to love Frankie, and this song perfectly sums up the feelings that he shares in his concept album detailing his separation from Ava Gardner, In the Wee Small Hours.

This last song is one that I included because of the personal weight it carries. The song is literally songwriter Jim Adkins' thoughts before he turned 23, which makes it a wonderful closer to an album about dealing with the future. Also, I'm about to turn 23, and this song hits a soft spot.

As per usual, videos after the jump.
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It's Friday.... and I need to quit being a buzzkill

Friday, March 18, 2011
While El Kaiser Guapo prepares this weeks Pick Six and we, hopefully, get a new post from our newest contributor, The Effin Bear, I just want to let you know, that I am going to take a break for the next couple of days. I am off on bit of a road trip and hopefully I will find something beautiful to take a picture of. So until next week, well, I let Colin Hay take it from here.
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Sometimes, I Miss This Guy

Friday, March 18, 2011
The Statute Of Limitations Has Expired, Right?
Sure, I used to get pissed off about stuff back then, but I am so much more pissed off now. Maybe I never should have become an ideologue and should have kept on smoking... um.... eating sandwiches.

Please, don't think I hate my life. I don't. I have a great life. A great wife. Great kids. Great friends. And I even like some of my family these days. I don't miss being eighteen. I miss the absolutism and assurance of feeling like the whole world is yours for the taking. Things like moral relativism were just philosophical discussions, not judgements.

When you are eighteen, you know the answer to everything. You just don't know how to make it happen. When you are forty eight, you know how to make things happen, but most of the time you are too tired to get anything done.

The thing about being eighteen is that life hasn't made you compromise yet. Of course your memories are going to be pure. My biggest concern back then was "Legalize It" and helping people in poverty. Sadly, it still ain't legal and even more people live in poverty. Sigh.

Tell it Brother Tosh

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Oy... My Tolerance Level is at a New Low or Conservatives to the Poor - You Can't Have Any Money Till You Clean Your Room

Friday, March 18, 2011
As Susie Madrak says over at Crook and Liars, "They're not just crazy, they're evil". When I mention crazy, I usually rant about Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman. I am beginning to think Ms. Bachman's particular brand of crazy is either very calculated or congenital. I am leaning towards congenital or something in the water in Minnesota. From the genius Republicans on the Welfare Rights Committee comes this doozy:
Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all.
Yes, that's right, they want to impose an allowance on poor people. Further they want to control all the money they give people on welfare:
House File 171 would make it so that families on MFIP - and disabled single adults on General Assistance and Minnesota Supplemental Aid - could not have their cash grants in cash or put into a checking account. Rather, they could only use a state-issued debit card at special terminals in certain businesses that are set up to accept the card. 
The bill also calls for unconstitutional residency requirements, not allowing the debit card to be used across state lines and other provisions that the Welfare Rights Committee and others consider unacceptable.
I suppose there are those people who abuse the system, but treating the poor like children, in effect, shaming them, assumes that people want to be poor. We have discussed this here before, but if we keep idiots like this in place our country is sure to fail.

Like Mick and Joe wrote in Know Your Rights off of Combat Rock:
And Number 2
You have the right to food money
Providing of course you
Don't mind a little
Investigation, humiliation
And if you cross your fingers
The Clash... always know how to put it into perspective.

Hat Tip to Suzie Madrak @ Crooks & Liars
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Just When You Think They Can't Sink Any Lower

Thursday, March 17, 2011
In the post previous to this, I wrote I couldn't find anything funny to say about the comments conservative knuckle draggers? This one is just beyond the pale. From Republican Florida state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo regarding the rape of an 11 year old girl:
"There was an article about an 11 year old girl who was gangraped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute," Passidomo declared.
"And her parents let her attend school like that. And I think it’s incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn’t happen to our students," she added
This is beyond assholery. This lady is just an idiot and sick. Blaming an 11 year old girl and her parents for a brutal crime? Wow. Someone pass the Xanax please.

Hat tip to John Cole at Ballon Juice and
The Raw Story

Extra props to Stefan over in the comments at Balloon JuiceBecause, as we all know, it’s perfectly legal and acceptable to gangrape 21 year old prostitut…wait, what?
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Me To Conservative Politicos - I Can No Longer Think Of Anything Snarky To Say

Thursday, March 17, 2011
Crazy politicians make
sad Panda sad 
While we all watch in sadness at what befallen our ally Japan, there have been a few stories of tea-party Republicans making outrageous statements that I can't find the energy to mock. Never mind that many rightbloggers are using the nuclear disaster in Japan to make an argument for more nuclear power plants and less regulation, these other comments are jaw droppers.

Let's start with Virgil Peck, who is a Republican legislator in Kansas
A legislator said Monday it might be a good idea to control illegal immigration the way the feral hog population has been controlled: with gunmen shooting from helicopters.
Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, said he was just joking, but that his comment did reflect frustration with the problem of illegal immigration. - From
His argument is that he was joking? How the fuck is this a joke? How is this funny? I can't even begin to tell you how pissed this made me or how the only comeback I could think of is... what an asshole. Which, sadly, is not funny either.

Next we have Republican congressional candidate with his own unique spin on solving the immigration problem and the unemployment problem. In the most racist way possible.
Several sources who were in the Feb. 20 endorsement interview with Davis confirmed his comments, which echo those he made to the Tonawanda News in 2008, when he said: “We have a huge unemployment problem with black youth in our cities. Put them on buses, take them out there [to the farms] and pay them a decent wage; they will work.”  
When Davis repeated those sentiments in the recent interview, the Republican leaders—who later delivered the party endorsement for the vacant seat in the 26th Congressional District to Assemblywoman Jane L. Corwin of Clarence—said they couldn’t believe what they were hearing. - from The Buffalo News
Again, I can't think of anything to say except, what an asshole.

Next up, Mike Pence, freshly minted Senator for Utah has joined that group of people who think child labor laws are unconstitutional. This leads me to wonder, is their goal to destroy the unions and make children clean up government offices? As long as they aren't illegal immigrant kids, I guess.
"Congress decided it wanted to prohibit that practice, so it passed a law. No more child labor. The Supreme Court heard a challenge to that law, and the Supreme Court decided a case in 1918 called Hammer v. Dagenhardt," Lee said. "In that case, the Supreme Court acknowledged something very interesting -- that, as reprehensible as child labor is, and as much as it ought to be abandoned -- that’s something that has to be done by state legislators, not by Members of Congress." 
Lee's reasoning was that labor and manufacturing are "by their very nature, local activities" and not "interstate commercial transactions." He added: "This may sound harsh, but it was designed to be that way. It was designed to be a little bit harsh." - From The Raw Story, YouTube video here.
This is how Tenthers are going to make their argument in favor of states rights? That we can go back to child labor? Again, what an asshole.

I just can't find the energy to work a good dose of righteous indignation anymore. If the right isn't making outrageous statements, then they are making up blatant lies, gutting environmental regulationsdestroying your right to a fair wage or trying to figure out how to give more of your money to their wealthy donors. And there is nothing funny about any of that.

Oh yeah... and Rush Limbaugh making fun of the Japanese? Really? What an entertainer you are. What an asshole.
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Just Words In Rhythm?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
That Light, That Night, That Sight
He had a dream
and so did she

Shared emotions comforted them
crossed paths in common

Their dreams did not
need to be compatible

He had a dream
and so did she

secrets shared and whispers
of encouragement filled them

They held each other
and they had dreams
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On Being A Target

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This is for those of you who have chosen to live in a media bubble that suppresses, hides and lies about any dissent. That group of people who are actively protesting the loss of… something. Never mind you are frequently protesting against your own best interests. Which truly confuses me. Cognitive dissonance isn't just for philosophical, sociological or psychological discussions any more.

I live among you, in the corner and on the border of some of the states with some of the great tea party representatives of the country. If I asked some of you why you are Republicans, you wouldn't have an answer. Being conservative is just a core value for you and yours. Other presidents have come and gone during your conservative lifetime. Yet, now you are buying up guns and ammo and arming for the next revolution. It's like the Clinton years cranked up to eleven.

I get it, you never got over 9/11, but, consider this; Wasn't it your trust that the government knew what it was doing that brought such a tremendous shock to your being? With an event as large as bringing down the WTC towers, you would think someone knew something. Never mind that Bin Laden and Al Qaeda had successfully attacked the US abroad and with in the country prior to 9/11.

Eight years later. your country, which is increasingly confusing to you, elected a black man with a funny name to the highest office in the land. So some guy comes to you and offers outrageous conspiracies that are no less plausible in this post 9/11 era. You say you want your country back, but you really just want to stop being scared.

You are scared of teenagers. You are scared of other races. You are scared of liberals. You are scared of terrorists. You are scared for the future. Why wouldn't you be? The way the world works right now already puts you on edge. What does the next ten years hold?

I can't explain why you are pissed about how much money teachers make, but don't care that five percent of the population controls fifty five percent of the wealth. Yet, you are letting those people manipulate you into being pissed off about… well everything. You are being used. You are a target, manipulated by moneyed interests, getting prime spots on the morning news because YOU are their target demographic.

In spite of this, you cling to your guns (and in some cases, your religion) living in a state of perpetual panic. You wear t-shirts that hint of violence with misappropriated sayings from our founding fathers. You proudly parade about with your guns. You shout about the scourge communism, socialism and fascism. You are angry people living angry lives in the shadow of an empire in decline. At this point I am pretty convinced most days you aren't even sure what you are angry about any more.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011
We interrupt your regular programming for the following messages:
Sad Sigh
Douche! (another link)
This ain't surprising.
Keep fighting

If you want to help Japan (don't forget Haiti and New Zealand, too. They still need help.)
That is all

Update: Good thing this blog has autopilot. I think I am going go home and have a very brief nervous breakdown, followed by a nice single malt... we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Some days
are just days
Other days
are just days
These days
are just days
No matter what
anyone else says

Yesterday was a regular day
Got up, made coffee and watched the news
Dressed for work, my car warmed
My desk my home for the next nine hours
Music played and I was distracted from the mundane
Yesterday was just a day

Some days
are better days
Other days
are better days
These days
are better days
Acting in rhythm
to your secret plays

Today is a grand day
Whispers of springtime in the air
A bluish gray sky filled with traveling geese
The remaining snow icy and crunchy as I walk
Songbirds singing winters final song
Today was a better day

Some days
are awful days
Other days
are awful days
These days
are awful days
Hide under the blankets
and hope this is just a phase

Tomorrow is a ?
Projected to be around
Projections abound
Good or Bad, is it in my control?
Fear or Faith, can I make that distinction?
Tomorrow is an unknown day
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So Tired

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
If anyone has answer, be sure to speak up.
So tired
not life
not you
not me
just tired
of absurd
idiotic comments
made by
even more
absurd pundits
Glossing over
the truth
As if
good enough
truth enough
holding hands
with nightmares
skipping with
the devil
So tired
not life
not you
not me
just tired
of faithful
freak outs
over stupid
provable shit
want truth
shouting TRUTH
about TIME
wasting time
wish I
understood why
their contentment
with lies
So tired
not life
not you
not me
just tired
some one
wake me
when it's
all over
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Awesome Musical Thing of the Day

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
In AV Club's ongoing series Undercover in which artists cover songs as chosen by the AV Club crowd. To kick off the 2011 version, we have Iron & Wine covering George Michael's 'One More Try'. It's pretty damn good! Enjoy

Iron And Wine covers George Michael
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Adele - 21

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
One of the things I love about music is watching an artist mature over time. In these days of waning music sales, you are largely relegated to watching artists mature in the indy scene. This involves hoping you can see the artist live live or that they will be able to release another album.

No, the labels want sure things and they are no longer willing to wait for an artist to find their audience or sound on pure talent alone. This is what makes Adele exceptional. Adele brings a heart wrenching punch to blue eyed soul that we only glimpsed in her very impressive debut effort, 19.

Since she sells records, we get to see her progression as a songwriter and performer. Her latest work, 21, is even more impressive than her debut. She pours her heart and voice into every note, but don't think this is a an album of jazzy/bluesy ballads. The first two songs, 'Rolling In The Deep' and 'Rumour Has It' are modern soul/alt rock powerhouses.

'Rolling in the Deep' with it's 'F*** You, you are missing the best thing that ever happened to you' attitude lets the world know that sweet girl who made 19 has grown up with lyrics like this:
Finally, I can see you crystal clear.
Go ahead and sell me out and I'll lay your ship bare.
See how I leave, with every piece of you
Don't underestimate the things that I will do.

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Happy PI Day

Monday, March 14, 2011
Hope you are having a happy 3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 8214808651 3282306647 0938446095 5058223172 5359408128 4811174502 8410270193 8521105559 6446229489 5493038196 4428810975 6659334461 2847564823 3786783165 2712019091 4564856692 3460348610 4543266482 1339360726 0249141273 7245870066 0631558817 4881520920 9628292540 9171536436 7892590360 0113305305 4882046652 1384146951 9415116094 3305727036 5759591953 0921861173 8193261179 3105118548 0744623799 6274956735 1885752724 8912279381 8301194912 9833673362 4406566430 8602139494 6395224737 1907021798 6094370277 0539217176 2931767523 8467481846 7669405132 0005681271 4526356082 7785771342 7577896091 7363717872 1468440901 2249534301 4654958537 1050792279 6892589235 4201995611 2129021960 8640344181 5981362977 4771309960 5187072113 4999999837 2978049951 0597317328 1609631859 5024459455 3469083026 4252230825 3344685035 2619311881 7101000313 7838752886 5875332083 8142061717 7669147303 5982534904 2875546873 1159562863 8823537875 9375195778 1857780532 1712268066 1300192787 6611195909 2164201989 3809525720 1065485863 2788659361 5338182796 8230301952 0353018529 6899577362 2599413891 2497217752 8347913151 5574857242 4541506959 day
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Attention: I Miss Steven Page Harmonizing With Ed Roberts

Monday, March 14, 2011
It isn't that the first BNL album without Steven is bad. It's pretty good, but it's gonna take some time before I really can get over the idea that Steven is no longer in the band.

I am going to roll out a late Pick Six, sort of related to this, that is, six songs about Jane, including BNL's Jane off of Maybe You Should Drive
  1. Lou Reed, Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane
  2. Barenaked Ladies - Jane
  3. Ben Folds Five - Jane
  4. Nick Drake - Hazey Jane I & II
  5. America - Daisy Jane
*Update: Yes, I know, I left the Stones Lady Jane off of the list. This is not a commentary on the song or the group. 
As always, videos after the jump.
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And then the sun sets and removes my doubt

Friday, March 11, 2011
Bad days. We all have them. On those bad days, I am always grateful for my hobby. The solitary (or sometimes with dear Diane) nature of waiting or looking for a shot eases my troubled heart. Every once in awhile I am rewarded with moments that would be forever remembered, even if I didn't take a picture of it. My subject of choice is frequently sunsets, but with sunsets like these, it can't be helped.
Orange Sunset
Orange Sunset
Country Road Sunset
Country Road Sunset
Update - I must have a lot of bad days. I started a slideshow of my entire Flickr feed and after 2 hours, I am just getting to December 2009. I don't really have a lot bad days. I just love shooting pictures.
Update 2 - Last year uploaded 1,059 pictures. Figure 1 in 10 are upload worthy (with 1 in a hundred of that group being really, really good) means I shot 10,000 + shots last year? Maybe, that's around 29 a day. Wow.
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Some Days It Doesn't Pay To Trust Your Feelings

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Sitting around
Waiting for the end of the world
I know it's close
cause Hootie and the Blowfish
are playing on the radio
I pop another Xanax
properly medicated
I can sit around
and wait for the end of the world
I don't want someone I can have a beer with
or who can field strip a moose
I pour another single malt
properly numbed
I can sit around
and wait for the end of the world
I know it's close
when poorly constructed tweets
serve as political replies
I roll another joint
properly cloudy
I can wait
for the end of the world
once Hootie was over, the music got better
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Whew, we dodged the big one!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011
The previous noted that some people think the world is going to end in May, some think it is next year. I have proof positive that the world survives just fine:
And I Was Worried The World Was Going To End In 2012
I am not sure why this date is there. The folder is empty right now, but I assume at some point in the future there will be a very important message for all of us in that folder. Only time will tell.
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Quote of the Week, Quote of the Month, Quote of the Year...

Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Hell, let's just give it quote of the decade. We might as well, since the world is going to end on May 21st. From the always erudite P.Z. Meyers over at his blog, Pharyngula, commenting on some group that is predicting the end of the world:
I think humanity is in on some great conspiracy to forever disappoint my opinion of it.
Now, that's comedy gold.
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It was only logical, Captain

Tuesday, March 08, 2011
I have no other comment other than to say this was the most obvious next step for this (Shatner as Gimli):
Now I can't stop - Shatner as Quint in Jaws:
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Yes... I did Photoshop that

Monday, March 07, 2011
I like Photoshop and GIMP. I use them everyday. Mostly I use them for photo retouching, photo enhancement and simple graphics. Since I also teach people how to use the applications, I have a pretty wide knowledge of how to use the programs.

A couple of conversations with friends online inspired todays photoshops. I am not a master by any stretch of the imaginations, but I do have fun. The first one is a triumvirate of crazy white guys in what would be a great remake. This one is still messy and a little rushed, but I think that adds to the charm.

This one, well, I don't think I can explain why I did this, but here is Shatner as Gimli.
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Monday, March 07, 2011
It's always fun to revisit old photos after you have some new Photoshop tricks in your pocket. I was thinking of doing a selective color work today, when I remembered this one, which lends itself well to the process of selective coloring. This picture has been a favorite of mine for quite awhile, and I think this might be my favorite version.
Blue Chair Revisited in Selective Colour
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Meaning True Love?

Saturday, March 05, 2011
A note from a mad poet: I must admit that these words are more freeform than anything else. Simple musings on love and choices. Love is not a battlefield (Sorry Ms. Benatar). No, it is a simple matter of complimentary souls. In theory finding such a person is simple, but, in practice? Well, we wouldn't have much of the music industry if every story had a happy ending would we1?
In a dream, whispered words
lost lullabies and  peaceful interludes
Covering up the eventual
nightmares of indescribable loss
In a dream
breathless and waiting
In a nightmare
waiting and breathless
In a dream her hand is waiting
For a peaceful stroll under a quiet moon
In a nightmare her hand is lost
To a howling wind and a raging sea
True love is a balancing act
Two hearts on a high wire
Two lives in harmony
Two lovers entwined
then falling asleep to dream
1.) As the great fictional character, Rob Fleming, said; "People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobodies worries about kids listening to thousands - literally thousands - of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss." — Nick Hornby (High Fidelity)
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A quick note from the proprietor

Saturday, March 05, 2011
I know we haven't been serving up New Music Tuesday's or Friday Pick Sixes that last couple of weeks. We will return to our regularly scheduled programs as soon as we can.
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If in that moment you close your eyes...

Friday, March 04, 2011
Piedmont Wyoming

Shuttered windows
Boarded doors
Broken stairs
Words used to echo here
Whispers shared either faithful or fateful
Laughter and tears
Life and death

The wind moves
the limbs of the willow
and the buildings creak
The only noise left
Ancient nails against aging timber
Once raised by hammer and saw
Now slowly falling down

Winters were weathered here
Storms waited out
Someones dream
and open to the sky
Now home to small animals
Birds nesting in rooms
where children used to play

These places stay haunted
by memories we don't have
but can still imagine
Generations reduced to a still life
The detritus of someone else's memory
Cast about in a state of slow decay
Where no one is coming home any more
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Sucked In

Friday, March 04, 2011
The internet is an amazing tool, but some days I feel like it is just sucking me in. I never read a Cracked article, because that site has a way of making drill deeper as additional related content is presented. Cracked is the crack of websites. Anyhoo, I am trying to keep my web use strictly work related. Still, since my work is kind of web related, it's a pretty wide spectrum of available web goodness.

I also spend some time playing with Photoshop, which is also, sort of, work related. It is a great stress reliever. Today these two things, Photoshop and Internet use combined to inspire me to make this picture, Sucked In:
Help, I am getting sucked in!
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Five Things I Know and Five Things I Wish I Didn't Know

Thursday, March 03, 2011
  1. It takes me three minutes longer to shower if I use shower gel instead of plain old soap.
  2. If I eat oatmeal for breakfast at 7:00, I will not be hungry until 11:30. There are very few things more filling than oatmeal for breakfast
  3. I get more work done on Wednesday than I do on any other day of the week.
  4. If I clear the snow from the bottom to top rather than side to side, I get done 10 minutes sooner.
  5. Fifty five goldfish crackers are one hundred and forty calories.
  1. Whaling has not been a necessary industry since the 19th century. Most countries that still engage in the mass slaughter of cetaceans do so for cultural reasons1. Along with this, most people who eat at any seafood chain do not give a damn about a sustainable ocean.
  2. I live in a country in which the rich get richer, the middle class is being crowded out and the poor get poorer. Somehow, the rich have convinced twenty five percent of the population to protest on their behalf.
  3. I know that even if we could find the food to feed the world, some evil rat bastard would steal it.
  4. It is far easier to go with the flow than to swim against the current. It's easier to hide in your tribe than to accept another. It's easier to justify than to change. It's easier to say it's someone else's problem and most people do.
  5. Truth is a precious commodity, but we all tarnish it with little white lies. Some don't even try to tell the truth anymore. Lies are infinitely more powerful and seductive than doing the right thing.
1.) Most indigenous tribes I give the benefit of the doubt on this, since they tend to be harvesting in very small numbers for their use only.
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A Quick Update on a Short Story

Tuesday, March 01, 2011
I started writing "The Last Shot" about a month ago. I shared the first part of it with you and promised the remaining two parts, which, are still not posted. The good news is that I have the ending done. Also in the good column, is that I have a workable timeline.

So why haven't I finished the story? I have thrown one of our protagonists into a cell... somewhere. The other protagonist is... somewhere. I know why each of them is in their respective places. I also know the motivations of one of them. I just can't figure out how to catch them up to each other so the story can move forward.

I have written five different approaches and none of them work without it sounding like, 'Oh well, guess we took the wrong person, you are free to go, Allen'. Worse, having Ilyana rescue Allen, like some kind of action heroine would totally push the story a direction I don't want to go1.

So there you have it. I am stuck. Not forever. I have an inkling of an idea that involves a bicycle, a young French girl and the local gendarmes. That's a little bit of a hint about what's going on, isn't it? Stay tuned.

1.) I know Illy has a gun, but she isn't Lara Croft. Though, I do kind of picture her as a cross between Angelina Jolie and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
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