Saturday, January 29, 2005

Quote for the day 

Whilst dining at the Renton A&W/KFC, the jukebox was playing "Country Roads" and Noodles said:
Listening to John Denver puts me in a haiku mood.
I don't know if I want to understand it.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

For whose eyes only? 

Here's a moral dilemma: I came across this page (via China of all places) about the film Eyes on the Prize. To quote the site:
Eyes on the Prize is the most important documentary ever made about the Civil Rights Movement--but copyright restrictions have kept it from the public for the past 10 years. We can't let that continue. On February 8th help us bring this film back to a nationwide audience. Get the film today and organize a screening in your city or town.
I've never seen the film, so I have to take their word for it regarding its importance. I am rather sympathetic towards their cause. While I respect the right of creators, even souless corporations, to profit from their creations, I think that copyrights are lasting a little bit too long. And I'm all for educating the public about the struggles of the people of our nation.

On the other hand, I have to wonder what exactly is hampering the distribution of this film. The only specific footage mentioned is a sequence showing "a group of people singing 'Happy Birthday' to Martin Luther King." It is pretty pathetic that a documentary would be required to pay royalties for such a scene. But if the film makes extensive use of other people's footage, then they have a right to be fairly compensated. If this film is as vital to the public as the site claims, the public should reward the people who endeavored to bring it to the screen. I have to wonder if the folks organizing the screenings would be willing to take up a collection to finance further licensing of the copyrighted footage?

Anyway, like many issues, I find myself stuck somewhere between the partisans.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Don't bother me, I'm busy 

Did I say that I wasn't going to complain about overtime this year, due to the increased expenses of getting the house ready to rent? Feh. The clarion call was sent out on Monday and I was anything but eager to join the fun. I ended up leaving on time on Monday, though yesterday I put in an hour and a half. If it was only my life, I think I should have left last year. But it's not, so here I am.

It's odd how a lot of doors seem closing right now. I am thoroughly disillusioned with the pre-press industry and my current company. At church, the other big pillar of life this past decade, the powers that be are moving away from Chinese ministry and aspire to become a church I'm not really sure I want to attend. Or rather, I should say the type of church to which I don't want to dedicate much of my life. And I'm even letting go of many of my entertainments--cancelling comic subscriptions, packing up eternal projects like photo albums and family tree research. Maybe it's the Hand o' God, maybe it's just a normal subconscious reaction to change. I don't know. Living in China has been Noodles' dream, but more and more I'm starting to look forward to it. So when the responsibilities of today come calling, I'm quickly irritated.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Under the weather 

Something fishy is going on around here. Friday we awoke to find that Bunnah--the Invincible Bunnah, who merely laughs at the viruses that knock down her sister--was running a fever. We set her up on the couch, kept her comfortable and hydrated, and commenced the day with an altered schedule. Saturday, the fever was still there. So we cancelled the shopping excursion planned for today. Noodles also consulted various medical books, Poodlepums turned her incredible imagination to every thing that could possibly go wrong and I went in to work to put in some overtime. This morn, the child was again feverish, though not enough to lose her stubbornness. (I had to threaten to squirt liquid acetominaphin into her mouth before she would eat her second acetominaphin tablet.)(According to Bunnah, the medicine packages lie when they claim their product is cherry flavored.) Noodles and I played tag-team church--I satyed home while she went in to play the piano for first service, and then she stayed behind while I went to usher for the second. Then, after a phone call to the consulting nurse, we took a family visit to Group Health's Urgent Care center. Near as they could figure, Bunnah has a touch of influenza. Nothing worth panicking over, but serious enough to alter our plans for another two days. (Darn! That's two potential blog entries out the window.)

The weird thing is that I'm not alone here. Yesterday, I did my daily blog circuit, and what did I read? Sherri is sick. Joel is sick. Anita was sick on Wednesday. The Leung family has a complete account of their daughter's recent surgery. And now I'm feeling tired and my head hurts. Well, actually that's the way I usually feel on Sundays. But the rest makes me wonder if blog linking can spread disease.

Friday, January 21, 2005

What's this one do? 

Okay, I'm staying up way too late dinking with the template here. After altering the fonts a bit (they looked great on my Mac G5 running OS X 10.3), I got brave enough to try and add a logo and mess with the colors. I have only the vaguest idea what I'm doing with the style sheets. I make an edit and hit preview to see what blows up. Anyhoo, I'll leave this here and welcome any comments, good or ill.

(The artwork, by the way, is a sketch by Poodlepums. She complains that I always steal her creations for my web projects.)


I ended my workday making some corrections to a credit card application. One of those crx was to delete a panel of type that encouraged the reader/applicant to use their credit cards responsibly. It was replaced by... nothing. Now I can understand putting the text on the application in the first place. It's a nice gesture, albeit bordering on the hypocritical. But why take it off? Are they afraid of insulting their customers? Or are they more afraid that someone who really thought through their use of credit would decide that they didn't need another card? Sometimes I wish I was privy to the rationale behind customer's changes. Of course, most of them would probably just irritate me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

What was I thinking? 

I think the "moving" spirit has descended upon me. I got an e-mail from a person who had read one of my book reviews. He's looking to finish his collection of the Time Wars novels and asked me if I was willing to part with my copy of The Six-Gun Solution. I don't want to, really, but I felt inclined to say yes anyway. My copy would otherwise spend the next two years packed in a box and I figured it might be fun to have a specific book for which to search the next time I bopped into one of the various used book shops that grace the area. Of course, another explanation is that I'm just going insane...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I'm happy he didn't sneeze 

A belated Happy MLK Day to one and all. I'm not one for celebrating civic holidays--I don't go to the cemetary anymore on Memorial Day, I don't wear Union colors on Labor Day. I do watch the Forth of July fireworks, but that's for its entertainment value rather than to celebrate being an American. So it was today, my only observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was to avoid trying to go to the bank. Democracy Now! however, decided to celebrate by airing the speech Dr. King gave the night before he was murdered. I didn't intend to listen closely as I worked, but I couldn't help myself. The speech, the ideas he expressed were just magnificent. Listening to the beauty of his words, I couldn't understand why anyone would want him dead. But of course, as my heart stirred in response to his speech, I knew damn well why his life was cut short. A person who can move others to change is dangerous. And so this world was deprived of a great man. But I'd like to think Dr. King is having the last laugh as his words and memory lives on to inspire another generation.

Of course, as powerful as Democracy Now's tribute was, I think the honors for best MLK tribute has to go to Jon over at Smartbrother. Can't top cute kids.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Fixing a hole 

The preparations for the China adventure continue. On Friday we had a rental agent do a quick walkthrough of the house. The plan is to rent the house while we're away, so it doesn't sit vacant. (Generating some income to pay the property taxes is also desirable.) I didn't have many expectations, but it was a slight reality check. He recommended only two improvements to make the place more rentable--repaint the interior and add a shower to the bathroom. Now the repainting thing has been nagging to be done for years now. I'm not at all surprised that he suggested that. The shower thing, though, that's something that we've gotten used to over the years. It would have never occurred to me that it would be a major detriment to the marketability of the place. Kind of myopic of me.

I suppose that's one way this whole process will affect Noodles and myself. We've gotten comfortable with being a bit different from the status quo. More than comfortable, actually. I think we're stuck in the oddball rut. Of course, now that we're faced with things like renting our house and fundraising, where we're seeking other's approval (and money), we have to give more thought to others' views and prejudices. Not something that I've had to do for a while. Nor something I particularily relish. But I must admit it's a good step. I call this an adventure, but if we're really going to do this well, we have to adopt a more servile attitude--Noodles, so that she can be an effective teacher and myself, so that I can give emotional support to her and the kids throughout a challenging couple of years. Lord, have mercy! Help this stubborn old mule change his bad habits!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Onward corporate soldiers 

I forgot to mention that we Bloatmeal employees got our first communication from our new overlords. Let's call the new company Wombatsch. Mr. Wombatsch, the President and CEO sent all of us an e-mail--actually a pdf file attached to a mail from the Bloatmeal CEO. (Don't worry, he's not out of a job. At least not yet. He's playing a key role in the transition.) Basically he says that they are ready to begin the assimilation process. He ends with the comforting words "I look forward to working with all of you as we strive to secure our position as the global leader in our industry." Actually, I'd just be content to do my job well, make some money and then go home. (Okay, I might use the company's high speed internet connection to do some surfing before I go home, but you get the idea.)

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Lead us not into temptation 

I didn't mean to do it, honestly. I truly intended to simply attend church without incident. But as I was walking from the car, with the fresh snow on the road, I just couldn't resist gathering up a handful and tossing it towards my children. I purposefully lobbed it over their heads, so as not to dampen their Sunday best. But alas, that one indulgance led to my downfall. Seattle gets snow so infrequently, and this morning's snowfall was just perfect packing snow. I couldn't resist the second snowball, also lobbed over their heads. Unfortunately, Mo and Laurie's family had also just arrived at church. While my children dutifully went into church, they followed me down the road to perdition and started lobbing snow. At me. (I do make a rather good target, I must admit.) I think there was at least a half second when I considered following my children into the church, but then the battle was joined, though I contented myself with dodging snowballs and tossing far misses of my own. A minute later, Bunnah and Poodlepums (who can now toodle on the tin whistle) had joined the melee. The skirmish lasted for about ten minutes and then, as the Chinese service started, I was able to herd the younguns upstairs to the Sunday School rooms.

After class, Mo and Laurie, who's mom and grandma attend the Chinese service, headed back outside. Poodles and Bunnah went in to the English service. I stood in the church entrance on usher duty, inspiring der kinder to pelt the door with snowballs. It seemed safe enough to me, so I allowed them their fun, piously sticking out my tounge in thanksgiving for the sturdy plexiglass windows. Unfortunately, one of the other members arrived at church and showed concern for the snow accumulating in front of the doorway. As a midwesterner, the thought never occurred to me that such a small amount could be dangerous. Even afer she pointed it out, I can't see how such a small amount could be dangerous. Anyway, she cautioned the children against moving the snow towards the door, but they had long since succumbed to a berserker snowball rage and didn't listen to her. In the interest of peace and harmony, I ventured outdoors to entice the children away from the door. That lasted a couple of minutes, then I realized that I was ushering and needed to be inside. Since I had suffered a couple of glancing blows, I was brushing off my sweater on my way inside when WHAM! Mo tagged me in the face with a snowball. I didn't think the child had it in her. (The aim, not the desire to pelt me with a snowball.) Since I was headed to the house of the Lord, and had work to do, I forgave her the transgression and turned the other cheek. Of course, I quickly moved the other cheek indoors to safety. Soon afterwards, Mo and Laurie's mother came and fetched them and ended the morning's antics.

I had learned two important lessons: one, that I need to be careful and consider the consequences of my actions, especially in the presence of impressionable young people. And two, Mo is now old enough to play varsity snowball. Next time I'm gonna tag the child.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The case of the waiting whistle 

Poodlepums says I should blog about "the tin whistle joke," so here goes:

Last summer, I bought her the book Song by Song by Aubrey Atwater. It's written for guitar, dulcimer, banjo, tin whistle and/or voice, but Poodles has been quite adept at translating that to violin. Anyway, in one of the text portions it reads: "a squeak or unclear sound means you are breathing too hard or too softly or you are not completely covering the hole.* This is the part that especially takes time and practice...and the reason whistles have been tossed through unopen windows!" Poodlepums found this terribly amusing, and made it a point to mention it on multiple occasions. I retaliated by threatening to buy her a tin whistle. He reaction to this suggestion was quite dramatic, so I continued to find opportunities to repeat my threat. Anyway, the birthday/holiday season came upon us and the whistle joke took on a more concrete form as Poodles birthday neared. I promised her that I would not buy her a tin whistle for her birthday. She ignored the subtle joke and accused me of scheming to purchase said tooter for her natal anniversary. Anyway, the grand day arrived and I proved my integrity by not giving her a tin whistle.

So now the joke switched to Christmas. I sweetened the pot by threatening to send her to Rhode Island to receive tin whistle instruction from Ms. Atwater. Now I had no real inclination to actually buy the child a tin whistle, at least at first. I mean, we already have a couple of recorders which the children can and do play if they want to play a song with a nice, woodwind kind of sound. However, as Christmas drew nearer, my inclination started to change. Top Ten Toys carried an inexpensive model and I was starting to think that it would be worth the price to cap the running gag. Of course, simply presenting the whistle at Christmas, or later on Bunnah's birthday, just wouldn't do. I toyed with the idea of waiting for Valentine's Day and hiding it with the candy. Anyway, on December 23rd I had to run out to a nice little toy store in Issaquah, White Horse Toys, in order to get a last minute replacement gift. (The mail order company let us down.) While there, I also browsed for a birthday present for Bunnah and found out that they also carried an inexpensive tin whistle. I caved in and bought the item, sneaking it into the house after the children were asleep.

Chirstmas came and passed and the joke started to loose steam. I started to think that waiting until February might not work so well. Then, a few days before Epiphany and the removal of the tree, the solution hit me. Without telling a soul, I slipped the tin whistle under the tree stand, where it was hidden from view by the tree skirt. On January 6th, Noodles and the kids started de-decorating the house. I parked myself in the dining room and busied myself by updating the Christmas card list. After removing and packaging up the ornaments, the garland and the lights. Noodles took away the tree skirt and folded it up. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the ever vigilant Bunnah staring at the base of the tree. After a minute, she pointed and asked, "What's that?" Noodles picked up the whistle, and held it out for Poodlepums to see. Poodles had a delayed reaction (she first thought that part of the stand had broken off) but soon squealed with mock indignation. A satisfying sound that marked the end of the Christmas giving season.

*I can personally attest that this is true! [footnote not in original text. I added this. I know, I can't even shut up long enough to quote somebody else. I feel so bad.]

Another Saturday night and I ain't 

...accomplished anything. Well, not much, anyway. Some mail answered, some deskwork tended to. I would have accomplished more, theoretically, but I had to sit down and watch one of my Christmas presents: a DVD containing Buster Keaton's The Cameraman. Now I had just happened to have borrowed and watched a copy of The Cameraman from the library about a month ago. But my new DVD, that has a commentary track, so I watched the film again, this time while listening to the commentary track featuring one Glenn Mitchell. Never heard of the guy before, but he wrote a book called A-Z of Silent Film Comedy: An Illustrated Companion. Anyway, I think these commentary tracks are going to be the death of me. I have no willpower to resist them. I can't just watch the flurshugginer movie and return the vid. No, I have to watch it again to hear what the director, the actors and/or the historians have to say. Of course, if I listen to more of the less inspired tracks, say like those on A Mighty Wind or the Farscape episode "Crackers Don't Matter", I may be cured of the habit. (Hmm, I wonder if there's a web site that reviews commentary tracks yet.) But I doubt it. There's enough film student left in me to wonder what's going on behind the scenes.

Word for the day 

The word for the day is "opinions".

There's a long, convoluted tale behind this, which I'm not going to share here. Suffice it to say that it involves church politics, strained relationships and a pastor who (intentionally or not, I don't know) picked the wrong time to mention that some people in the congregation have "opinions". You betcha, Rev. Sorry if that bothers you, but that's the way it is....

Friday, January 07, 2005

Reality check 

Got an e-mail last night from the Sauerkrauts, the folks under whose auspices Noodles wants to go to China and teach English. They've got our applications and some of our references, and they've also got a price tag for our little adventure: $20,000. My first reaction was 20,000? Wow! That's a lotta dough. My second reaction was 20,000? For a family of four? Wow! How do we move there permanently? Anyway, it did make the whole idea a bit more concrete and started me thinking on the details. Not the 20 grand itself, since that should, theoretically, be handled through fundraising. (though perhaps I'm being too optimistic there) I'm thinking more about the transition times when we move from our comfy little status quo to relying on the kindness of strangers and then back again. Maybe even trying to tighten the belt while I'm still working. Of course, this is all just echoing a post I made almost a year ago. I am such a procrastinator...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Meet me in Bellevue-ee, Louie 

This month, I made it to the Bellevue-East Side Weblogger Meetup tonight. I briefly considered skipping it, as they were shutting down our department's server at 11:00 pm and I wanted to get in my 8 hours, but then I realized I would probably be doing catalog work, which is on a different server. Anyway, this was the smallest crowd I experienced. In attendance were:

Anita Rowland of Anita's LOL
Klausner of Opinions and A**holes
David Gellar of As if..., and
Hamburger Lad of Hamburgerland

There was no music to contend with this time around--the closest we got to cacophony was when someone was doing some hammering as they were dismantling The Compleat Cook store. It was pretty much just idle chit-chat, though the talk got more technical when David showed up. He showed off the blogging tool his company has put in their e-mail platform. I was impressed, but then I'm usually awed by the latest technology...at least 'til I get to the price tag. Anyway, the system's geared for businesses, so I doubt if it'll be gracing my computer anytime soon. (Unless our new overlords decide to upgrade the e-mail system here at work.)(Nah. Who wants a bunch of blogging pre-press operators? "Did you see the fleshtones in that catalog? Oy! I thought I was watching the SciFi Channel...")

Okay, I'm really getting off topic there. I should get home and wrap birthday presents. All in all, I once again had an enjoyable lunch hour, even if I didn't eat lunch.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Still got it 

According to this quiz, I haven't lived in Seattle too long.

True Chicagoan
You are a true Chicagoan! You've probably lived
here for a long time, or are thoroughly
obsessed with the city and its history.
Congratulations! Maybe you should run for

Are You a True Chicagoan?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Holiday twilight 

And so ends the holiday season. Tomorrow it's back to work, back to school, back to paying bills, back to dieting. For once, my family is in tune with the rest of the culture because today we had Bunnah's birthday party--the practical end of our year end/beginning celebrations. (She still gets some presents and a birthday dinner at a restaurant on her actual birthday, but the big hoohah has finished.) This year all the child wanted was toys and so that's all she got. We had lots of fun playing with them.

Oh, and for some bizarre reason, we didn't get enough free calendars for 2005, so I'm actually going to have to go and buy myself one. It's a joy, because I can choose whatever I want, but then again, I'll have to find something I'll actually like. I should just make my own. I've got that "Pylons of the Northwest" calendar idea gathering dust on the mental shelf. I should do that before any more of my high school friends die off, because they're the only ones who'd get the joke. Maybe next year....

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The post not taken 

One thing I've grown to dislike as a citizen in this media saturated culture is the plethora of year-in-review "programs" that show up on the radio and TV. Even though I recognize the value of remembrance and even nostalgia, such efforts seem to show a lack of creativity and originality. This year, however, having become a content provider of sorts, I am better appreciating the value of such programming. What it lacks in originality it makes up for in ease of creation. So, in all hypocracy, I offer the Hamburgerland year-in-review. But in an effort to show some creativity, I will focus not on what I've written, but rather the things I never got around to posting.

(Note: Yeah, I know that a year-in-review post should have been made by yesterday at the latest. I frittered away yesterday by searching for birthday presents for Bunnah and by watching an extra episode of Farscape. Sorry.)

I saved a few aborted posts over the year: A couple of dreams, an extra paragraph from the July 29th post, some raw data to seed a rant about web site design and "special features" that restrict access to some users. I even have one entry to start my unrealized project of reviewing the hamburgers of Seattle. And then there's the ideas I've had for sidebar pages--lists of things I would do if I had all the money in the world (and the morality to spend it frivolously) or what I would do if I were in charge or sarcastic replies to silly advertisements. Little one liners I think up while making my way through the day. The common denominator here is that they didn't generate enough verbage for me to bother to post them.

Of course, I should have mentioned that the first thing excluded from the blog was a book review. One of my concerns when starting this blog was if I would be able to find enough about which to write. I had planned to aid that effort by posting the book reviews I write for my original website. (Sort of my original blog, if you will.) Since I'd be writing them anyway, I thought I'd save myself some work. Problem was, I quickly developed a concept of an audience for this blog (small as it may be), whereas I still think of the old site as read by no one but myself and seminarians doing a Google search for The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal. (No, it's not for sale. Sorry.) I posted the review for Dracula, but then when I wrote up my opinions on A Study in Scarlet, it didn't seem worth posting here as well. Or maybe I just had better things to write about--I forget. Anyway, there's been a few times I've considered a review worth sharing, but usually I spare you a cross post. (Heck, might as well give you a link so you can see for yourself.)

One time I started a "project" but failed to deliver was when my company went through contract negotiations. Some remnant of my high school journalism class awoke and I had the ambition to chronicle the negotiation process for the world. The problems were that I wasn't on the negotiating committee, didn't have the opportunity or inclination to get input from my co-workers and didn't have the time to write something of any depth. The result was that all I wrote was my own reactions to the infrequent meetings of the rank and file. Now I remember why I didn't ace journalism. Anyway, I made a few posts along the way, but really failed to document the process, especially towards the end.

Another time I dropped the ball, though it took place behind the scenes, was failing to write a post on Hell House. I had first read about it on another blog. (Slumberland or Slacktivist or muteTroubador, I forget which) As a theologically conservative Christian with "blue state" social leanings, I wanted to add my own two cents to the discussion. So I gathered some links to the other viewpoints out there, checked out the Hollywood Hell House site and went and rented the video to see the Hell House first... well, second hand. However, by the time I got the time to sit down and write, it was November and the whole concept seemed dated. Maybe I'll have to dig the topic up for next Hallowe'en.

And of course, there's all the cool posts on other blogs that I think about mentioning but never do. Such as the Meet Me in Seattle exercise at Slumberland, which I misunderstood, or the Random Book Meme at 42. Most recently I got excited over the color photos from the early 1900s linked to by Klausner at Opinions and A**holes. (It is so cool. My grandparents were kids when these were taken!) However, tsunami thoughts pushed such ephemera aside.

So anyway, that's what you were spared. And now we turn our gaze upon a new year. Unless you're following the Chinese lunar calendar. Or the Jewish calendar. Or the Aztec calendar. Or the... Anyway, unless you die, life goes on. Hope we have some fun with it.