Sunday, June 29, 2008

The clock is ticking ... 3 posts! 3 posts! 3 posts in one!

I know I promised an article about Milo and also one about the Olympics. And I know it's been almost two days since I've posted. Here's the thing, though...three "the thing"s, actually:

  1. Milo is a rabbit and, it turns out, rabbits don't really do that much,

  2. The Olympics are still five weeks away and my preview would require actual research (and I know that you are on to my Wikipedia thievery), and

  3. It's so nice just to sit back and watch the craptastic Jurassic Park sequel "The Lost World" right now.
Therefore, I shall give you a post about Milo, followed by a post about the Olympics, and as a bonus (and because things are funnier in threes), a post about "The Lost World" -- all in one! Sadly, the best I can marshal for you is about a fourth-grade reading/writing level. Here goes...


Post #1: A Rabbit Named Milo
I have a rabbit. His name is Milo. He is awesome, but he doesn't really do that much. One thing about rabbits is that they can be litter-box-trained, and Milo is. He was that way when I got him from the Indiana House Rabbit Society, which sounds like some sort of small mammal militia seeking to secure voting rights for lagomorphs, but which is, in point of fact, a well-organized collection of rabbit advocates who take in wayward bunnies and foster-parent them until some poor schmuck like me a permanent parent comes to adopt them.

Milo is very soft. He is also brown and white, and he looks funny from behind. You wouldn't guess it, but Milo can stand on his hind legs and he reaches about a foot and a half in height. (Pretty big, right?) He mostly hangs out by his cage or under the couch (there's about a six-inch clearance and that's plenty for him). He sleeps most of the day and most of the night. He's crepuscular, which means active around dawn and around dusk.

If you sit on the floor, he'll come over and sometimes even hop in your lap to let you pet him. If you're not sitting on the floor but you're wiggling your feet, sometimes Milo will headbutt your feet; he's kind of got a fetish.

I'm glad to have a rabbit. He always comes to the door to meet me when I come home and, even though he's still a little skittish (millenia of prey-animal psychology will do that to a guy), I think he's getting used to being my roommate.


Post #2: The Summer Olympics Preview
I think it's cool that the Summer Olympics will take place starting on 8/8/08, 39 days from now, in Beijing, which, you may not know, is in China. I think the logo for the Beijing Olympics (shown at right) is weird. Like, lanky and misproportioned, which is not what I think of when I think of China, except for maybe Yao Ming. (Oh, and also Bao Xishun, whom I've posted about repeatedly.)

The Beijing 08 website lists all the sports in this time's summer games. Here are some sports that I didn't know were summer Olympic sports:
  • Badminton

On the Beijing 08 website, you can also learn how to say lots of things in English (which I am mostly fluent in), French (which is spoken in France), and Chinese (which, come on). For example, let's say you need to know how to say, "Most Chinese festivals follow the lunar calendar." I know I say that at least twice a week here in the States, and to be in Beijing and not know how to say that in both French and Chinese would be mortifying. Therefore, you'll be glad to know that I've clicked over to the "Learn Foreign Languages with Fuwa" Channel (whatever or whoever Fuwa is...oh: Friendlies!) and I have now learned proper pronunciation and can proudly announce, from the Great Wall to Tiananmen Square, "La plupart des fêtes chinoises dépendent du calendrier lunaire!" in a manner quite similar to a Parisian with dissociative amnesia.

Anyway, in terms of a preview, here are some things to watch for, based on the three and a half minutes of research I have done so far, mostly in the form of typing "Beijing Olympics controversy" into Google:

  • China doesn't value human rights the way the rest of the world does should. You can tell because people have gotten all upset when the Olympic torch relay went through their country. Apparently, in addition that whole Free Tibet (with purchase of Tibet of equal or lesser value) thing, more than a million Chinese people have been displaced by Olympics preparations - like their houses have been torn down and whatnot. (Although China says it's more like six thousand households.)
  • Also, China has ties to Darfur. (I kind of think Darfur needs a We Are The World-caliber anthem, because people don't get it.)
  • Because of recent scares regarding toothpaste and dog food made in China, some people are concerned about the safety and security of food and supplies that will be available there this summer.
  • The security budget for Beijing is reportedly one-fifth of what was spent in Athens in 2004. (Although that article I linked says the security budget for Beijing is $300 million, which would make the Athens security budget $1.5 billion, and that would surprise me.)
  • This ridiculous Speedo LZR swimsuit is all they're going to be talking about. If a guy or girl in a TYR suit wins any medal, it'll be anarchy -- dogs and cats, living together...greco-romans and freestylists wrestling in the same matches...

In conclusion, Bank of America has a website called America's Cheer, and I am begging you to go see it right now. You know, they can't all be as good as "Go Get Them Howard" below, but they're pretty good.


UPDATE: I just figured out that he says "Everyone at Orange County Badminton Club..." I didn't even know Badminton was an Olympic sport. (See above.)


Post #3: Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World
OK, this movie just sucks -- The Internet agrees -- and they're not even to the part where they (ridiculously, I might add) transport a live T-Rex to San Diego. I'm switching it.

The End

Scotty S.
Grade 4

Friday, June 27, 2008

Where the hell is Matt (.com)

How far around the world can you make it before you smile? I made it to Antseranana, Madagascar.



I kind of think this video is what this could have turned into...but he really only does one dance (except for the awesome improv in India), so I don't think that would fit what I'm about...

Quite possibly my favorite movie scene ever

And I am not kidding.

This is from the movie "Deep Blue Sea," which, all in all, is a craptastic movie. However, this scene is seriously awesome.

Allow me to set the stage: On a secret underwater marine laboratory complex, these scientists have been doing genetic engineering with sharks, ostensibly to learn about Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and other degenerative nerve disorders. Unfortunately, the sharks get supersmart, and all hell breaks loose when the sharks start hunting the six or eight people in the underwater lab. You know, breaking six-inch-thick shatter-proof glass, deactivating underwater security cameras, the usual.

Anyway, as the lab starts to groan and buckle under the weight of all the water that's supposed to be on the outside but is now on the inside, thanks to the supersmart sharks, these five intrepid survivors have made their way to the bottom of the facility where there's this pressurized chamber and an escape pod. All they have to do is get in the water by the opening at the very bottom of the lab in this chamber...the only problem is there are two massive, supersmart sharks out there waiting to eat them. (That escape pod mechanism is damaged, sadly.)

So they have a vigorous debate -- try to make a break for it in the water, with at least one or two of them being eaten for sure, or try to find another way out of the possibly-flooded underwater lab facility?

Well, they can't make up their minds and it almost comes to blows. Luckily, eccentric millionaire Samuel L. Jackson's calmer head prevails, and he delivers this impassioned, inspirational speech...



...just a little too close to the edge of the water.

Classic.

RHB

Thursday, June 26, 2008

As promised...the first one that came up.

In my preview of things to come earlier this week, I said I'd use the Imagination Prompt Generator to come up with a blog topic. Here goes...the random topic for me to be blogging about is: "Ten of my very worst ideas..."

  1. Quitting that one job without another one lined up.
  2. Quitting that other job without another one lined up.
  3. Taking the train from Chicago to Denver and back in two days that one time, just for the fun of it, even though it was a nice introduction to train travel.
  4. Agreeing with a friend who wanted to knit me a man-pancho, or "mancho," as it came to be called...luckily it was highly regiftable.
  5. BevReg, the computerized beverage preference database, kind of like a coffee gift registry, so you could register your drink and then friends could get you exactly what you want when they're at Starbucks and they don't have to call you to figure out you want the venti extra hot caramel soy macchiato no whip or whatever. Because who's gonna say that? (Although I'm kind of still workshopping that one.)
  6. The 2004 Mini-Marathon.
  7. Not pre-approving the picture that ran with my "Millionaire" story in INtake three years ago, which showcased me in a way analagous to Elaine in her Christmas cards. (Luckily, that pic is no longer available online.)
  8. That time I got that weekend-overnights job where I had to put the little Atari-cartridge-like tapes in and out of the automated back-up machines.
  9. Taking responsibility for Tia Maria, the emotionally damaged cat, when Kevin moved into an allegedy no-pets condo. And the ensuing fiction when she and I took our leave from one another.
  10. Six weeks in Bismarck.

UPDATED TO ADD: 11. That time -- at age 26 -- when I cut my own hair on a lunch break and then created an entire fiction around it involving a "friend" who was in beauty school and it was her first time cutting hair, and I even created written evaluations for co-workers to fill out so that my "friend" could get feedback about how she did. (To their credit, my friends were very positive: "Great first try!" they wrote. "Next time, go for more symmetry." Or, "Ambitious first cut. Maybe try scissors instead of clippers next time!!!!!") 12. Any karaoke ever, except for my energetic rendition of Manilow's "Bandstand Boogie." 13. Any and all of my head-shaving-for-charity episodes. 14. Trusting that British fellow in Rome. 15. Not beating the hell out of those gypsies in Rome. 16. Accepting dinner from those strangers in Verona. (14, 15, & 16: All's well that ends well, right?)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

30 Minutes AND It's Free: ISM 92-County Walk

During QUASH over the weekend, we had to go see the Steam Clock on the Canal Terrace at the Indiana State Museum, and on our way there, we passed a ton of cool sculptures embedded into the side of the building. Which made me remember the ISM's 92-County Walk.

You see, around the outside of the Indiana State Museum building, on the walls, the sidewalk, and a stair rail, are various sculptures -- 92 of them, to be exact (one for each county) -- depicting facets of Indiana life from agriculture to industry to literature to justice. (Anyone know what those four traits also represent? Bonus points for the first commenter...other than my brother JJ...to post with the place in Indy where you'll find Agriculture, Industry, Literature, and Justice.)

Anyway. Here's the 30-minute rundown, again with minutes:seconds designated. It's slightly skewed, because I chose to park for a dollar at a meter at Ohio and West, rather than parking in the ISM's underground lot. (So sue me -- there was an Indians game starting and I didn't want to pay event parking fees!)

0:00 to 0:30 Walk inside the museum and ask for information on the 92-County Walk at the ticket counter. Receive a handy map which indicates which counties are where on the building's exterior.

0:30 Decide to start at #1 and work my way to #92.

0:30 to 0:45 Walk upstairs to ISM street level entrance, where #1 is.

0:45 Arrive at first sculpture. Not. At. All. Surprised to see that Scott is #1. (Haha.) But I am surprised to see that the counties are not in alphabetical order. Rather, they are in an order that I really could not figure out.

0:45 to 1:30 Hunt for Scott County sculpture and then read the plaque to discover its location (on the wall, over the rail, on the other side).

1:30 to 1:45 Try to figure out what a fish-looking sculpture has to do with Scott County's rich agricultural history.

1:45 Learn to accept it as a mystery of life, and move on.

1:45 to 30:00 Walk around the building and enjoy all 92 counties in "order" from Scott to Whitley. Because I spent all my time looking up, down and around, I really didn't keep track of my time the way I did at the IMA, so I'll just share some comments I texted myself as I was on the journey:

  • Oh. It's a waterfall.
  • Gypsum? What the hell is gypsum?
  • Bird's nest in Ernie Pyle's typewriter.
  • Tecumseh's brother The Prophet scares me in the Tippecanoe County one.
  • Boone County courthouse sits on the Second Prime Meridian. What is that? (Does this actually explain it?)
  • Delaware County's sculpture features Garfield (neither plus nor minus Garfield) in a Ball jar. This is hilarious to me, on many levels.
  • Couple walking past me sees me staring at a sign and then looking up at the building. She, to him: "Oh, it's not just signs along the building. There's also sculpture. Look at that!"
  • Dan Patch was from Benton County. I didn't really know what harness racing was, but I never did want to see some stuck-up jockey boy sittin' on Dan Patch. (Made my blood boil, well, I should say.)
  • The Great Big (1.5-ton, we learned in QUASH) Steam Clock still plays "Back Home Again In Indiana," even if it's, in the words of Randy Jackson, a little pitchy. Make sure you're at the Canal Terrace around the 15-minute mark so you (and your kids) can hear it.
  • The Franklin County sculpture is actually mounted under Blackford Street above the canal. Gotta look hard to find that one.
  • Parke County's covered bridges are as cool in the sculpture as they are in real life. (And you can take that either way, I suppose, although I mean it as a compliment.)
  • Owen County's glass waterfall is my favorite one. Very simple, yet with movement.
  • If you veer too far off the path, all of a sudden you're face-to-face with a mastodont's hind quarters, which is not a great place to be, let me tell you.
  • The Porter County dunes sculpture is pretty cool -- simple, elegant, beautiful. Much like Miss Indiana (formerly Miss Duneland) Katie Stam.
  • Around the corner into the final stretch, Madison County's sculpture includes some feathers made from taillights and turn signals. Which is much cooler than it sounds.
  • Posey County's sculpture is a large labyrinth on the ground, in the part of the Museum I've never even walked past. Seriously, the last 10 or 15 sculptures are in an area you wouldn't normally visit.
  • Union County's sculpture doesn't really hold a place in my memory. But the fact that it was named in honor of the spirit of national unity is pretty cool. (Also, did you know that the statue of Liberty at the top of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument faces south to keep an eye out for post-Civil-War Southern shenanigans?)
  • There's a beehive in the Pike County sculpture. Bee careful, honey. (Bwahaha!)
So, there it is. Not nearly as informative or time-oriented as my trip to the IMA post, but I definitely recommend you check this out. You can do it in 30 minutes, so it's good for lunch breaks and short attention spans. It's FREE, so it's good for penny-pinchers of all stripes. And there's tons of cool stuff to do nearby -- rent a Segway for a canal trip, have lunch on the terrace at the ISM or the Eiteljorg or the Government Center or the Indiana History Center, rent a paddleboat, see the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial, etc.

I'm toast.

When the (Revolution, Zombie Acopalypse, Race War, Economic Collapse, Whatever) comes, I'm pretty much destroyed.

In our staff meeting this morning, somebody mentioned that the weeds were getting pretty high in the church's park. (Previously, one of our favorite neighbors, Mrs. Woodard, would come over and "steal our weeds." She recently passed away, though, so we're on our own with regard to caring for the park.) I asked our building superintendent how long it would take if all 11 of us went out immediately after the meeting and pulled a little bit of weeds. "Not long," his response.

So off we went. Except "we" was "I" and if you know anything about me -- or have inferred anything about me from the past 750 posts -- you know that weeding is neither a skill nor an interest with which I was especially blessed. So while the other ten folks attended to their actual jobs, I decided to make the most of the sunny day and pull some weeds.

Only I couldn't tell the weeds from the actual plants that were supposed to be there. So I did what seemed right -- I went to our obelisk-type thing and rooted around at its base, finding things that didn't look like they belonged. I did pretty well, and 20 or so minutes later, I was done.

But here's the thing -- I'm dirty, sweaty, and grass-stained now. And that was for, like two square feet of garden space.

So how on earth, when the (people revolt, zombies attack, races fight it out, economy collapses, whatever), am I supposed to live off the grid, tending my own vegetable garden and whatnot?

I. Am. Toast. (Unless they make a solar-powered AeroGarden, which except for the solar-powered part is on my Amazon Wishlist, which is located in the left-hand side bar for your July-birthday-gift-giving convenience.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

SSSemestwhore: Favorable reviews can be bought

OK, you know my post "Crappy Hour at the Symphony"? Well, things have changed. It turns out I may have judged it prematurely.

For, you see, I won a 3G iPhone!

The first thing we did at the Happy Hour, once we made our way to the one bar that ONLY had alcoholic drinks, was leave the one bar that only had alcoholic drinks. Immediately to the right of the bar that only had alcoholic drinks was an AT&T table, where they were promoting something called AT&T Uverse, which, the night before, my slumlord landlady Jenny had told me the condo complex was getting wired for. Anyway, at the AT&T booth, they were running a raffle and giving away an iPod and an iPhone.

AND I WON THE IPHONE!

So, let's try this again:

Man, the Happy Hour at the Symphony didn't go at all like I expected, but it was awesome!

There was so much energy in the Circle Theatre lobby when we got there. The place was PACKED with cool people -- I saw our IT consultant from work and a bunch of other hipsters I recognized from around town. There was a dude on a small stage playing acoustic guitar and we made our way to the bar with soft drinks while we dodged attractive women armed with White Castles. Not today, miss! Thanks anyway!

We got about a minute and a half of conversation out before some dude came on to harsh the buzz. Apparently there was a fire next door at the IPL building, which shares the Symphony's power grid, so we had to bail. No concert tonight! But we rubbed elbows with the cool kids on our way out and hustled over to Rock Bottom for a nice dinner.

We didn't get the concert we were expecting, but we did get a bonus! Rainchecks in the form of tickets to our choice of Symphony on the Prairie concerts this summer.(Sadly, in this re-do, the Prairie tix are already spoken for.)

So the evening didn't turn out the way we'd thought it would, but we had a nice time rolling with the punches.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Year In Blog In Word Cloud

I just found Wordle, an online resource that lets you create a word cloud out of whatever text you have, where the words that appear more frequently are bigger than the words that appear less frequently.

I used it to make a word cloud out of all the text from all my blog entries from the last year (July 2007 through today). Here's how it looks:



I will say I'm a little surprised how big "time" is...any surprises on your end?

Words I do not ever expect to use unironically

  • Passion
  • Genuine (unless I am describing crystals)
  • Leverage (as a verb)
  • Undergrad
  • Synergy
  • Network (as a verb)
  • Authentic (unless I am speaking of foreign foods prepared in the US)
  • Offline
  • Proactive
  • Paradigm
  • Impactful

In the Pipeline

"Hey!" you're saying to yourself. "What's coming up on Scott's blog?"

Well, I'm here to tell you, quite a bit. In addition to the randomness you've come to love expect, here's some more stuff you'll see this week:

  • Words I never expect to use unironically
  • 30 Minutes AND It's Free: The ISM's Outdoor County Walk
  • Blogger, Stronger, Faster: My guide to the Summer Olympics
  • At least one post generated by the Imagination Prompt Generator, whose button I will push one time and one time only, and I promise to blog on whatever topic it gives me. (Oooh, edgy!)
  • An update on the life of Milo, my rabbit (with, hopefully, some pictures)

What else would you like to see? I'm open to suggestions, as this is as much for you as it is for me!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The AP has lost its damn mind.

AP Headline: Everything seemingly is spinning out of control

Huh?

Pretty sure Alan Fram and Eileen Putman don't need to be dusting off the Pulitzer-accepting duds this year...

PS -- The best part of that whole thing is that the picture Yahoo! has chosen to accompany the "Everything seemingly is spinning out of control" story is Michelle Obama guesting on The View.

QUASH just about killed me ... but it was awesome!

Also, we didn't win the prize money, but that's OK...my hair's intact!

This morning at 9:00, a bunch of people gathered for the inaugural Quest to Unravel Alzheimer's - a citywide Scavenger Hunt (QUASH). We met at Celebration Plaza at White River State Park (bottomish left, close to the river on the map below) and checked in and got our clue packets -- the Scavenger Hunt was a race around town, visiting local landmarks and answering questions/performing tasks at each to earn points in the contest.

Below is the path that my brother, JJ, and I ultimately took -- pretty good except for one major miscalculation on the location of the USS Indianapolis Memorial which took us way out of the way at the end. Our almost-five-mile path kind of looks like one of those Family Circus comics where you follow the dotted line to see what Billy did that day. Except our line is yellow, not dotted (pay no attention to the dots...I didn't know how to turn them off in Google Earth):




Twenty-six clues led us to such diverse landmarks as St. Elmo Steakhouse, the Scottish Rite Cathedral, all manner of war memorials (I mean, come on, Indy), and PanAm Plaza. (Remember the 1987 PanAm games?)

We were proud that we answered all 26 questions, including 3 that involved "Getting our QUASH on," doing some sort of special task -- completing a 3-legged race, answering brain teaser word puzzles and decoding a secret message. We figured we got three questions wrong. One was a silly error (we missed some flags flying on the Columbia Club), one was just a mistake (we went to the wrong war memorial -- again, come on), and one was a contestable, ambiguously-worded question. But when we talked to the guy, he told us even if we had that question right, it wouldn't make a difference...apparently the team that won got them all -- or almost all -- right.

Overall, a spectacular event. JJ and I raised almost a thousand dollars for Alzheimer's care, support, and research (Thanks to our many donor friends! And you can still donate if you'd like), and we had a great brotherly bonding morning, even if I am exhausted and sunburnt and a little creakier than I'd care to admit!

We'll definitely look to be involved next year and encourage you to do the same. 'Twas a blast!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Visualizing the Bible

Bible Cross-References




Bible Social Network

Click either one or click here for more information.

Because it is clear to me you seldom click as instructed

I want to share with you the story that I wrote (mostly to get bonus points for the QUASH Scavenger Hunt)...I linked to it below, but my informal audience surveys indicate you very rarely click the links I include (and even rarerly watch the videos I post).

Anyway, here you go -- it's called "Finally" and it was loosely inspired by my extended family's experience with Alzheimer's.



When the baby was asleep – finally – and when the dogs and cats had settled in for the night – finally – and when the last load was in the dryer – finally – she took a moment and sat down.

Finally.

She pulled out the scrapbook she’d been compiling, off and on, here and there. Flipping past the photos and newspaper clippings, she smiled at the old days. Simpler times, happier days.

Turning to the first blank page, she knew it was time.

Finally.

She opened the large manila envelope and spread its contents on the table: two pictures, a button, a library card, a fishing hook, an obituary from five years before. With a deep breath, she laid out the items on the page – everything in its place, everything just so.

But something was missing.

So she went to the drawer and pulled out a piece of handmade paper. It was bright blue, with flecks of orange and red, the last sheet of her favorite “special paper.”

On this last piece of precious paper, she wrote in careful script:
A grandmother is sometimes a Grandmother.
Often a Grandma, a Mamaw, or a Mee-maw.
But you were always my Granny.

My Granny who taught me to read,
My Granny who taught me to sew,
To ride a bike, to bake a cake, to catch a fish,
To fix a running toilet.

You were always my Granny, and then you weren’t.

I hate that you changed, that you seemed not to know who I was. I hate that it took you away from me, that I took myself away from you. That I didn’t, couldn’t come to your funeral.

When you weren’t my Granny, nothing made sense. When you started to forget, I started to forget. Who you were. Who I was. Who we are, and why, and how.

But I know now it’s the memories we have today and the love we share right now that make all the difference.

It took me five years, but I got it.

Finally.
Her tears blessed the poem as she pasted it into place. And she prayed for a world without Alzheimer’s: a world where memories of years ago are here, now. Where memories of yesterday’s walk in the park are as fresh as the daffodil air, and where memories of a childhood dance are as detailed as delicate collar lace. Where patience flows like a steady river and hope bursts forth like a thousand sunrises.

She checked on the baby, and the dogs and cats, and the laundry. And then she sat back down and closed the finished scrapbook.

She forgave herself and her Granny. And she remembered.

Finally.

Random blogification

A saucy melange of randomness:
  1. Remember that time I was bald? Yeah, good times. The problem is that I will be bald again if another $35 isn't pledged to my participation in this weekend's QUASH (Quest to Unravel Alzheimer's Scavenger Hunt). I'll do my best to keep you posted, but if you want to make a donation to help me fight premature baldness (and also to help do important work for people living with Alzheimer's) or if you want more details on the impending baldness, click here.
  2. In the Alzheimer's vein, if you want to read a (very) short story I wrote to get extra credit for the QUASH scavenger hunt, you can click here. (Yes, I'm still using Smaller Indiana.)
  3. This business of being at work an hour or two early, two mornings in a row, has grown tedious. This has got to stop.
  4. My calendar is suspiciously empty for the next two weeks. If you and I have made plans to do something (dinner, coffee, etc.), e-mail me so I make sure it's on there.
  5. I'm off to sign checks for work now, which will take longer than it used to. (Side note: Who thought it was a good idea for me to have check-signing authority? Honestly.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Crappy Hour at the Symphony

I don't know what I expected when I won four tickets to the Indianapolis Symphony's "Happy Hour" event as part of a silent auction gift package a few weeks ago.

But it sure wasn't this.

Tonight, Will, Carolyn, Kim and I headed to Hilbert Circle Theatre with tickets in hand, prepared to enjoy some hors d'ouevres and cocktails before a mini-concert by Artist TBA. (We had no idea what the hour-long concert was going to be.) What we found was something far more sinister: a lobby packed (no, PACKED) with people, dollar-fifty cokes in plastic cups, and -- I crap you not -- hors d'ouevres catered by White Castle.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not about to break my 34-year-11-month No-White-Castle record at the drop of a hat. This is not a record I take lightly.

Anyway, we got our Cokes and whatnot, avoiding the White Castle, and a man with a defective megaphone came onstage and announced that the concert was c ncel d ... b cau of f re in the I L bui di g ne t door. Which we deduced meant the concert had been canceled because of a fire in the IPL building next door, with whom the Symphony shares a power grid or whatever.

So, they gave us free tickets to our choice of Symphony on the Prairie events. Which, I guess, is something, but I have to tell you that the Prairie seems a lot less attractive now that I live 30 minutes away.

But, you know, whatever. The tickets were free and now I have EIGHT tickets for Symphony on the Prairie, since there were four in the original silent-auction gift pack.

Wanna come hear the Indianapolis Symphony outside some time this summer? Let me know. Four of the tix are spoken for at this point (as a do-over for tonight), but the rest are up for grabs...

Uh oh.

Internet addiction is a 'clinical disorder'

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Best. E-mail Subject Line. Ever!

You can see it just at the top there: "You're Invited To Live Forever."

Who could resist an e-mail subject line like that?


Well, I could actually, but only because this exhibit-opening party for To Live Forever, the new Egyptian exhibit at the IMA, would cost me $50 to attend. But what a great hook!

I'm such a nerd

Much of my free time lately has been dedicated to TypeRacer which, not all that surprisingly, is a typing race game where you see how fast you can type, in competition with other people on the internet.

There are people on there who can type 130+ words per minute. Only one time have I been able to break the 100 wpm barrier...I'm mostly between 85 and 100 wpm.

Can you break the 100 wpm barrier? And do you have any tips on fast typing? One of the things I know I need to do is turn off my internal editor -- some of the stuff they have you type is so grammar-wrong that it's hard to type!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sing out looooooooooooud, sing out strooooooooooooooooong!

If you've been keeping a sharp eye on the Twitter feed over to the left, you'll realize that I had my first-ever voice lesson tonight. I didn't sing with any choirs until a few years ago (showers and cars only, before then), and now that the music director at Broadway is offering classes ($15/half-hour session, which I think is a bargain, but I found out today that the going rate in Indy is just $20/half hour), I figured it would be a good opportunity.

So. There it is.

One of the things that I guess I'm preparing for, in addition to just being a better choir member and whatever, is the audition process for Broadway's fall production of Godspell.

In a few weeks, auditions will be held for the show which is running the weekend of October 10 - 12. I'm pretty sure that I'm all commitmented out for now and will be supporting the show from the sidelines, but I'm going to go ahead and audition anyway, just for the experience, and if they get desperate for folks, maybe I'll participate ... as long as there's no "acting" involved. I can sing OK and dance OK (shut up), but I get freaked out by the acting. So we'll see.

Anyway. For these auditions, I have to choose a song to sing, and they've suggested a Broadway showtune of some sort. (If I must...) Let me know if you have any suggestions. Here are my ideas so far:

Any recommendations? (Preferably nothing in Swedish.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hey, it's a blog, right?

It is clear to any reader, regular or otherwise, that this blog doesn't really have any coherent structure or purpose. Sometimes it's about videos I found, sometimes it's about my niece, sometimes it's observations of odd or quirky things I've run across in life or work.

But rarely is it about very personal stuff. This is one of those times.

I'm having this recurring dream/sleep experience. At least four nights a week for the last six or seven months, I have awakened, convinced that I have failed to prepare the house for visitors. Like, there's laundry to be done and I have to clean the shower and put out clean towels and whatever, and it's 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, and I've already blown it because they're on their way, or they were supposed to be here overnight, or whatever. And when I wake up, I'm completely convinced that this is true, but after I walk around for a few minutes, picking up laundry or setting out towels or whatever, I realize that this is ridiculous and I go back to sleep pretty quickly. This even happens when I am not staying in my own home -- when I slept over at my folks' house over the weekend, it happened.

Any insights into what this is about?

I mean, it started before Antonia and Alfredo were here -- before I had even invited them to stay -- so I don't think that has anything to do with it. But, dear readers (which includes family, friends, friends I've never met, and other Internet strangers), do you have any idea what this is about? Any good dream interpretation sights to link to, or ideas of how to get over this?

I don't think it's affecting my health, other than waking me up in the middle of the night. But it is getting kind of annoying...

The lighter side of Tim Russert

One of the (many) nice things about declaring today a sabbath day and keeping it for myself was that it was one of the rare Sundays I got to watch the Sunday morning news shows. The crappy thing is that it wasn't at all the same, as hardnosed "Meet The Press" moderator Tim Russert passed away suddenly on Friday.

This morning's news shows were full of reflections on Russert's leadership, his status as the journalist's journalist, his caring and open mentoring of others, and his reputation as the most prepared talk show host around. (Russert's background as a lawyer no doubt prepared him for "Meet The Press" -- indeed, his interviews were often referred to as "depositions.")

One of the things we haven't seen a lot of is the funnier side of Russert (except for NBC's cartoonish montage of Russert's heartfelt tributes to his home city of Buffalo, New York), but this clip from Friday's Late Night with Conan O'Brien is worth a watch:

"Leave the ram."

(Take the cannoli?)

While I find the concept of the Stride Gum commercials (the flavor lasts so long they have to track you down and MAKE you start chewing another piece) more than a little annoying, I do think this commerical is pretty funny. I'm not sure if it's the "AGENT" part or the sudden and hilarious appearance of the ram, but this one's a keeper.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Who knew? No, "Hulu."

The latest shiny object to occupy my attention is the website called Hulu, a free-but-premium video site that lets you watch all manner of your favorite shows from yesterday and today. For example, in the last week or so, I've watched an episode of Hart to Hart, several episodes of Andy Barker, P.I., and the entire fifth season of Nip/Tuck.

Hulu is awesome.

Also, it allows you to embed full episodes. For example, if I wanted to illustrate how much I miss Phil Hartman, I could just grab a complete episode of NewsRadio and embed it here, like this:



I imagine there's all manner of other features that Hulu offers, but watching videos and grabbing clips is enough for me right now.

Hulu is made of awesome.

Friday, June 13, 2008

GREAT NEWS! And also no news, which is bad news...

Alfredito's out of the hospital!

Hilariously, this is about the happiest facial expression I've ever seen on him:


He is one serious little hombre.

Anyway, here's the latest from Iván...
Dear Friends,

GOOD NEWS!!!!!

WE ARE OUT OF THE HOSPITAL!!!!!

Yesterday, after we were told that we would be at the hospital for at least another 10 days, the nephrologists decided that Alfredo could continue treatment out of the hospital. So, we left yesterday afternoon after 48 days.

Needless to say that this was an adventure that none of us wish to go through again.

Alfredito is still hurting from the last surgery but he is getting better everyday. When he saw that Antonia started packing in the morning he begun saying “VAMONOS MAMI” (Let’s go Mom). At the moment he is on dialysis every 3 hours. Once more fluid can be introduced in his belly, the exchanges could be spaced out to 4 or 5 hours between them.

Alfredito and Antonia will stay in the home of Silvia and Harold Schubert. Both of them and Juanita (Silvia’s mother) have been 3 angels sent from heaven. Antonia and I could not have gone through all this without their help. My appreciation to them is beyond anything words can express. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Both of them will stay at the Schubert’s until our return to El Salvador at the end of the month.

I also want to THANK ALL OF YOU out there who have called, prayed for us, sent well wishes, come to the hospital, sent us cards, sent checks, sent us food, calling cards, sent hugs and kisses, given me work when I could get out of the hospital, listened to me when I needed to talk to somebody and supported all this process in one way or another. MY ETERNAL GRATITUDE TO ALL.

So, that was the good news.

The “NO NEWS” is exactly that. We have received no news whatsoever from the doctors in El Salvador.

At first they replied to our e-mails and requested all sort of information on Alfredo’s condition, treatment, tests, etc. Once the hospital sent everything they asked for and inquired if they would be able to continue Alfredo’s treatment and in what conditions, they simply vanished.

No word, nada, zip, niet. I am hoping to get in touch with them next week to figure out what is going on and what is going to happen. I will keep you all posted.

Regards,

Iván

Kool-Aid-free's the lifestyle for me

Well, if there's only one thing we've taken away from this latest little adventure, I'd say that we now know that I seem to be more resistant to cult-like brain-washing than the average person.

Which is something, I guess.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mozart meets Ed Rooney Emperor Joseph II

You've no doubt deduced by now, dear reader, that when I embed videos to my blog, it is as much to create an album for myself (so I don't have to search for them every time) as it is to share them with you. Sometimes I keep them because they're especially funny or poignant. Sometimes they're just nostalgic.

The video below, from Amadeus, is all three. In this scene where young-adult Mozart meets Emperor Joseph and his crew for the first time, the narrative layer is pretty amusing, as the lighthearted Mozart reproduces note-for-note Salieri's composition as performed by Emperor Joseph a single time mere moments before, and then improvising to make it "Better? What do you think?".

But a little deeper, this clip (and the few minutes before it -- as Salieri labors, under the crucifix, to compose the piece and as Emperor Joseph works to perfect his performance) also illustrates, pretty poignantly, the various emotions aroused among the non-Mozart characters as they find themselves in the same room with this genius. Incredulity, jealousy, disbelief, shame, envy, pride, and reluctant admiration all show in the faces of the Emperor's men, in this clip of less than 2 minutes. Awesome.

And this clip is also nostalgic for me because I remember going to the Woodland Theatre (which is now long gone and turned into a strip mall) to see Amadeus in junior high -- more than 20 years ago. It was one of the first movies I remember going to without my parents. Why I would have wanted to see this film about the tragic life arc of one of history's greatest composers, I have no idea, but I still remember that experience, two decades later.

Anyway, here's the clip. You should watch it, if only for the last couple seconds.



PS - iTunes needs to get the Amadeus soundtrack. I will purchase it and download it the day it's available.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Thirty Minutes AND It's Free: The IMA

This is the first of the series of new posts I shall do (or the only post in a series of one -- we'll see) about places around town where you can do something cool in just 30 minutes for free.

On Saturday, after an event in the city, I was heading home and decided to stop at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Here's how I spent 30 minutes (in minutes:seconds format) and $0 total.

0:00 to 0:30
Park my car, walk to museum entrance

0:30 to 1:30
Talk to woman at visitor desk about exhibits, give her my zip code for free admission.

1:30 to 1:45
Take escalator to Gallery Level One.

1:45 to 6:45
Become entranced by Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing No. 652, a careful jumble (if there is such a thing) of geometric color at the very entrance to Gallery Level One.

Every time I visit the IMA, I try to look at good ol' 652 from a different location, and I always give myself a couple minutes to see something different -- even if it's observing someone else's reaction to the soaring, thirty-by-sixty-foot creation.

6:45 to 16:45
Explore the Gates of Hell. No, really.

The French sculptor Auguste Rodin designed a famous piece for a museum in Paris -- the project was conceived as these huge doors decorated with anguished humans, writhing demons, and other assorted creatures who've been damned. Remember that scene in The Devil's Advocate where the wall behind Al Pacino comes to life and starts moving? It's like that, only in bronze.

The eight or nine tragic and somewhat creepy pieces are on display right beside LeWitt's colorful wall art -- a bit of a noggin-scratcher, that juxtaposition -- but they're really compelling. You can see how each of the pieces (cast from Rodin's originals) was either a practice for Rodin while working on the bigger piece or actually a component of the finished project. The movement and line of each piece tells a story that adds to the larger Dante-inspired narrative.

16:45 to 18:00
Field urgent text messages from friend who is concerned about flooding. Mention in a reply that I am standing at the Gates of Hell. Her reply: "No kidding. So's Prince's Lakes."

18:00 to 18:05
Decide that if my home is, in fact, flooded, it can wait another 20 minutes while I look around.

18:05 to 18:20
Wander aimlessly around Gallery Level One. End up at the Star Studio, where the IMA displays art and gives museumgoers an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and give it a try themselves.

18:20 to 28:20
Freak out over how I never would have guessed how cool paper-folding can be.

Right now, in the exhibit "Squares-Folds-Life," the work of origami artist (I would say "origamist" but that sounds like someone who's running a compound in Texas) Robert J. Lang is on display in the Star Studio. A physicist by training, Lang has found his way into the art world through the somewhat exact science / somewhat creative art of paper-folding.

Lang's work includes both nature pieces (all manner of flora and fauna, like the lobster made from a single piece of paper, left) and geometric/abstract works (including a pretty cool American flag also folded from one piece of paper).

Off to the right, in the hands-on area, a family of four (very patient mom and very patient dad and two trying-their-hardest kids) is getting instructions from an even more patient museum worker who is teaching them all how to do origami.

28:20 to 29:30
Make my way back to the front lobby (via elevator because the down escalator is closed for repair) and take a quick look at Dream Maker, the mobile of huge, brightly-colored inflatables slowly parading around the top of the lobby.

29:30 to 30:00
Back to the car, zooming past Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture for good measure on the way out.

===============

Of course, there's way more at the IMA than just these four or five pieces of art. Like a huge collection of European Art, and another collection of Asian Art, and another collection of African Art. And all the outdoor gardens. And Puck's -- my God, the Chinese Chicken Salad! If you have a couple hours or more, you can find a ton of stuff to do at the IMA.

But if you find yourself near 38th & Michigan with just a little time to kill, head to the IMA and check out the itinerary above. Or, better yet, see what YOU can find in just 30 minutes!

My mindblowing rage

This week at our staff meeting, we participated in an exercise where we each grabbed a marker and then went up to easel pad paper -- one sheet for each of us -- and wrote on everyone else's sheet what we thought his or her gifts were. We were told not to write on our own, so I specifically didn't even look at mine to see what other people were writing.

I didn't get to see my sheet immediately after the exercise, either, as they were collected at the end of the meeting so our administrative assistant could write down everyone's and send the list around. (I suppose I could have looked when we were doing the second part of the exercise -- write on your own sheet the organizations you're a part of that people might not know about -- but I forgot to look then, too.)

Anyway, I was in the administrative assistant's office the other day, and I saw the sheets lying there, so I found my own and started reading it. And there were lots of good comments, but then I read one that said "Mindblowing in his rage."

And I thought to myself, "Hmm. That's odd. Because although there are times when I get tense -- even enraged -- around work things, I thought I usually tended to hide it well."

So then I re-read it, just to make sure. Oh ... "Mindblowing in his RANGE."

Yeah, that probably makes more sense. (You might note that "Mindblowing in his humility" was not one of the gifts listed.)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The fiber yogurt commercial where actors' careers go to die...

Mrs. Landingham from The West Wing AND Chip Lowell from Kate and Allie?

This commercial is some flashback:

On the BL

I was hanging out with some friends from the neighborhood around Broadway today, and one of them mentioned that earlier this morning she was watching the movie Teeth. I had seen information about that movie online when it came out a couple months ago, and I was surprised to hear that it was out on DVD already.

Me: Teeth? That movie was just in the theatres.

Friend #1 (looking sheepish): Uh huh...

Me: Is it on DVD already?

Friend #1 (looking sheepisher): Um...

Friend #2 (hilariously): No, it's not on DVD. She got a bootleg of it. We call that BL-DVD.

If you watch only one video on this blog...

...I'd suggest you make it this one showing mascot bloopers. I laughed until I cried. I actually had to start it over, because, come on, a dinosaur roller skating down stairs?

YES

Remember when I said this?

That's what I had in mind.

Now, to spread the word!

Alfredito Update

Here's the latest update on Alfredo from Iván ... Alfredo still needs prayers, so keep 'em coming!
Dear Friends,

Some of you have been a little frustrated that I have not been able to send more frequent updates. I give you my word that I have done my very best to do so.


This is a very important week for Alfredo. If everything goes well, he will be discharged this Wednesday from the hospital with Antonia in charge of doing the home peritoneal dialysis 3 to 5 times a day.

About 10 days ago, Alfredo was transferred from hemo dialysis to peritoneal dialysis which can be done at home. Antonia is being trained by specialists on how to do this on her own. Alfredo is doing quite well and he is ready to leave the hospital. Unfortunately his kidneys are not working at all and at this point the doctors do not expect that they will ever work again. Transplant is not an option either, at least for 2-3 years because the disease that has affected his kidneys will do the same thing to any new kidney at the moment.


Now the big question is if in El Salvador they can continue with the type of dialysis he needs and if the fluid for peritoneal dialysis is readily available. If he can't get the type of dialysis he needs, then the question will be how will that affect his health in the short and long term. We have communicated with the doctor in charge of dialysis at the main children hospital in El Salvador but he has not replied yet to confirm whether or not they can continue Alfredo's care in El Salvador. So, right now, EVERYTHING depends on the doctors in El Salvador. Nothing more can be done here.

I started writing this e-mail Tuesday afternoon and as it has been the case with Alfredo ever since we landed in the hospital, the situation changes dramatically everyday without notice. Everything that could have possibly gone wrong HAS GONE WRONG. Wednesday morning, as I was preparing to send this e-mail, the doctors came to check on Alfredo to see if he could be released. They have found 1 big hernia, possibly two and he needs immediate surgery so he can continue with peritoneal dialysis. So, we will not only not leave the hospital but it looks we will have to stay there for another 2 weeks or so. He may have to go back to hemo dialisys for a week while he recuperates from surgery and then start the process again for peritoneal dialysis.

If anything else goes wrong, we will probably not meet our goal to return to El Salvador on June 29 as originally planned. We do not seem to catch a break, so I am truly hoping this was the last hurdle to overcome. But spirits are high and Antonia and I are very hopeful that the three of us will return to El Salvador on time. And we also hope that Alfredo can receive the appropriate care back home so in 2-3 years he can have a kidney transplant and leave a normal life.


Many of you have asked me how to financially contribute to this process. You can send a tax exempt contribution to:


CoCoDA / Alfredito

609 E. 29th Street

Indianapolis, IN 46205


Any funds received will be used to cover the 2 surgeries and expenses incurred to date. We appreciate your support and we will be forever thankful. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


To all of you, my most sincere apologies for not writing more often, and my gratitude for helping at the hospital and for all your financial contributions.


My regards to all,

Iván

PS. Friday morning: The surgery yesterday afternoon went very well. They only found 1 hernia.



Other previous Alfredo updates here, here, here, and here.

Praise God. Now, can we get on with it?

For the last two years, the United Methodist Church in Indiana has been futzing and fitzing over whether it should stay divided into two conferences (geographical districts) or unite into one.

Exactly one crapload of money and even more time has been devoted to studying how to merge the two conferences into one create a new statewide conference. As someone who is pretty actively engaged in church life and fairly well attuned to issues of organizational development, I can pretty confidently say that the conferences' recent decision, announced just today, to merge create a new conference will have precisely zero effect on how I work, how I worship, and how I relate to the other 225,000 United Methodist Christians in Indiana.

I'm happy that the people to whom this apparently matters are excited about the future. I celebrate with them, and I offer a prayer for God's continued guidance for the Church and the churches.

But I hope we can move forward now and not get caught up in the politics and emotions of the merge creation of a new conference. Though it seems to the people at the top of the pyramid that this is the Most. Pressing. Issue. facing the church today, it's so very irrelevant to the 99.5% of us laity who just want to show up at church on Sunday and sing some hymns, hear a sermon, and maybe connect with God in community.

So, let us praise God that the initiative passed. And let us get on with the doing of God's work and not get further snagged on this ridiculous politicking and organizational masturbation.

(Can't wait to see what kind of Google hits that last phrase gets me...)

Wonder Witness? Well, wonder no longer...

She totally did it.

If this were an episode of Law & Order, it wouldn't even take Jack McCoy his full half of the show to convict Wonder Woman.

Just like when Stephen Keaton was the bad guy on SVU (see also: Kevin Arnold, Miranda Hobbs, and a couple dozen others) or when Bo Duke was the bad guy on that one CSI: Miami, it is clear to me that even though Wonder Woman "found" this dead body while she was alone in a boat on the Potomac River (which: huh?), she has some foul-play role in this episode.

You know I loves me some Wonder Woman, but if almost 18 years of watching Law & Order (HALF of my life) has taught me only one thing, it's that the celebrity special guest star Always. Did. It.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must return to hiding in my previously undisclosed crime-busting location, so as not to be preemptively, yet suspiciously, "found in the Potomac River" by the Woman.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Is This Real? (Cellphone popcorn)

I received a link to this page from a friend by e-mail. It contains 3 videos, each with a similar theme. Here's one of them:



Is this real? There's no way this is real. Is there?

Considering the facts that:
  1. popcorn pops because the water inside it gets heated and becomes steam and when the pressure builds up it explodes, turning the kernel inside out, and
  2. our bodies are 50 to 70% water,
it kind of seems like these cell phones aren't supergood for our bodies.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Yo mamma so fat, she fell to the dark side and couldn't get up.

While it remains unclear to me how I happened to find "Star Wars Themed Yo Mamma Jokes," I must tell you that this is worth a click.

(Well, at least an ironic click.)

W

I can't say that I'll see Oliver Stone's "W" movie when it comes out, but I have to tell you this teaser poster does tickle my fancy.

Specifically, it's that first Bushism, and the way he pronounced with such frustration, "You can't get fooled again" when he was actually saying it. That cracks me up every dang time.

The plinkin' and the plunkin' and the Jell-o puddin'...

... and the sweaters.


If the following two conditions BOTH apply to you:
  1. You love me, AND
  2. You have spare money laying around with no immediate plans for it.
then this would make a nice gift for me.

"Just in time for Father's Day!" indeed.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

May I borrow your sandbags?

Remember last weekend?

Well, we had more rain, and this time, the pond lake loch is even higher.


My rabbit Milo and I are about four feet from literally needing sandbags.

Sandbags or bunny-shaped SCUBA gear. Do they make that?

(Apparently, they do.)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The password is ... "meh."

CBS's new game show, "Million Dollar Password" debuted tonight, and I watched the first round. I was unimpressed.

I fear we have entered a new era for game shows. At some point (probably somewhere around the premiere of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" about ten years ago -- not to be ungrateful, because "Millionaire" was very, very good to me), we Americans went round the diminishing-returns bend. Now, like the coke fiend who can only get high with lethal doses of the smack, we can only get a high off a game show with a potential million-dollar pay-off.

Sadly, the trade for million-dollar pay-offs has been slower game play, and as tonight's debut proved, even network savior Regis Philbin can't elevate Password to primetime status.

So I have to wonder: Have we seen the death of the game show, as a genre?