I wish that folks would stop killing each other because they're from the wrong tribe or because they don't worship the right God or because they aren't living the right way.
For the US:
I hope we start focusing on things that really matter to people, that can change the lives of people here and elsewhere in the world. Flag burning and whether the ten commandments belong in a courthouse is not what I want my representatives or Supreme Court to be focusing on. I want fewer starving children in our cities, better educated kids, better health care and a focus on the environment.
For my friends:
I hope they have unimaginable joy in '07.
I hope that '07 is a year of me focusing on getting healthier and taking better care of myself.
What are you hoping for in '07?
When the power went out and I grabbed my portable DVD player, I discovered that all three of the movies I had from Netflix were documentaries. I like documentaries, but it was odd that I had three at a time. I really enjoyed all of them. Here's a quick summary:
Who Killed the Electric Car? This was really interesting, frustrating (not the film, the information) and inspiring (now I really want a Prius). Turns out GM had manufactured an electric car that could be charged at your house and go for 70 miles on a charge. You're not going on any long drives with that, but for daily getting around to work, shopping, etc. it's perfect. A bunch of them went to Hollywood "celebs" - the usual suspects, Ed Begley Jr, Ted Danson, etc. but some made it to real people too. They loved the cars. They were fast, they looked cool, they drove well, etc etc etc. Then GM collected them all back (they only leased them - no selling) and crushed them all. They did not want to be in the electric car business - they only made them because of a law the California State Legislature had passed - which they then rescinded. The film goes into detail about who was responsible and didn't find any one entity to blame - the car companies, consumers, big oil, Calif. Legislature all share the blame. But it's such a bummer and even sadder that GM did everything they could to hide the fact that these cars ever existed. I'm glad the Toyota's kicking their butts.
WordPlay is about the NY Times crossword puzzle - the folks that write it (which turned out to be oddly interesting - there's a lot of rules for writing a crossword puzzle) and the folks that love it (including my hero, Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton). It was an entertaining flick.
New York Doll is about the (band) the New York Dolls. I was never a big fan but I think my friend Maria suggested I'd like this anyways and I really did. The most famous of the Dolls is David Johansen (popularly known as Buster Poindexter). Anyways, this doc follows a less known former member of the Dolls (Arthur "Killer" Kane) who became a Mormon. The Dolls reunited while the doc was being filmed. It was great. I don't want to spoil anything, but for anyone who's interested in music, this is a great great movie.
The movies I saw in the theatre last weekend were:
History Boys which was excellent. One of my favorite films of the year. Again, it's not for everybody. This was originally a play done in the West End (London's Broadway). It went to Broadway and did well there. This production includes the B'way cast and they were excellent. It's a character driven piece - about boys in a boarding school and their teachers. It's not one of those "inspiring" dopey school movies that come out every year or so (Hillary Swank has one coming out - you know, white teacher - Hillary, Robin Williams, Michelle Pfeifer, etc. - goes to the hood to teach, is overwhelmed by teens of color - they have no ability to communicate with each other; it's as if they're speaking different languages - and the teacher finds a way to break through that barrier and the kids suddenly change and become these really inspiring and thoughtful people. Of course the teacher learns a valuable lesson along the way....Yuck. I hate those films.) Anyways, back to History Boys...it does feel a bit like a play, meaning that it's chatty, so if you prefer car chases, you had best skip this one. For everyone else, I highly recommend it.
The Good Shephard - you know, I love spy movies. And, I love movies with a historical background. So, I was pretty excited for this one. It's about when the CIA was first formed and stars Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, who was horribly miscast, if you ask me. Matt was good, but this is sorta becoming his standard kind of role. I didn't really see him stretching, but perhaps the role didn't call for it. I'm sorry, but Angelina Jolie just does not strike me as a stay at home mom who's suffering cause her husband isn't sleeping with her. I mean, c'mon! Pretty much anybody on this planet (other than the Pope...I think) would sleep with Angelina Jolie, right? Perhaps I just know too much about her real life or something, but she's got too much joie de vivre to play this type of role. Flick was directed by Bobby DeNiro, whose work I usually enjoy (I loved A Bronx Tale), but I thought it jumped around too much. Spy flicks are a little complex to begin with (who's crossing who, etc.) and the jumping between years was a little much for me. It was a good movie, but not great, in my estimation.
And then there's Dreamgirls....I was really looking forward to this. As you may know, I'm a big musical theatre buff and I never got to see this in the theatre, but remember hearing about Jennifer Holliday singing "And I'm Telling You". That's what kicked off her career. And it will (and should) do the same for Jennifer Hudson. She not only kicked butt in that song, she did a great job in the movie. She should get a best-supporting nom for this one. However, once the movie stopped focusing on her....not so interesting. Beyonce bores me. She was ok in this movie playing (barely disguised) Diana Ross. What disappointed me the most was that the music was not very good. The two songs I knew (Dreamgirls and And I'm Telling You) are by far the best songs in the movie. The rest don't even qualify as forgettable. BTW, And I'm Telling You will be nominated for best music and it will win. Just saying. Oh, and one more thing - this movie is 2.5 hours long. If they cut an hour out of it, I bet I would have been much happier.
That's my very long post about recent movies. Still have some to see (Little Children, The Good German and some others). I'll keep you updated.
What I really like about the announcement is that he once again focuses not only on what needs to change (universal health care, Iraq, etc.) but on what we need to do. If we want the world (or even our little part of it) to change, then we need to step up and participate and help change it. And not just by voting (although, that would be a great start). To me, it's similar to JFK's Peace Corp message. It makes sense and I think/hope it will interest younger folks (who are also likely part of his target audience as he focuses on the web).
Scoble says that as far as he knows, there are no limits to his access or what he writes. You have to figure that these guys are going to be scrutinized and videotaped all the time anyways - look at Mr. Macaca in Virginia. They always have to watch what they say and do, cause someone's going to be there with a cell phone camera to catch any slipup. Why not bring the influential bloggers into the fold right from the start? I think it's a really smart move and can't wait till he shows up on campus to talk. I'll be front and center (with my cell phone camera)!
So, I'm not a big Christmas celebrator - I generally hang out with friends 'n stuff, but basically, since I left NY and my Italian peeps (who have an amazing Christmas eve tradition), mostly I hang out with friends and catch up on movies.
Left work mid-afternoon yesterday and went to see "The History Boys", which is a film based on a play (originally from London, then Broadway). The original cast starred in the movie.
It was excellent, but definitely not for everyone. It's a thinking person's movie. It's about characters and relationships and time and how circumstances affect the future.
I really enjoyed it and there were several Oscar worthy performances in there.
Other flicks I hope to see over the long weekend (we have Monday and Tuesday off) include the two "Good" movies (The Good Shephard and The Good German), Dreamgirls (I love my musical theatre - don't like Bey0nce or Eddie Murphy, but I hear it's excellent) and Little Children.
So, I'm just sorta blah. Slept most of the day. Been on those super-duper antibiotics to get rid of a cough I've had since Thanksgiving, but it's gotten worse not better. Maybe that's why I'm blah. Or maybe I'm a little down. I've been eating really crappy since the power went down. That certainly doesn't help.
Lots of great cards and boxes from friends though. I'm saving the boxes until Christmas - it's just more fun that way!
I quote from msnbc.com:
In an evolutionary twist, Flora the Komodo dragon has managed to become pregnant all on her own without any male help. She is carrying seven baby Komodo dragons.
"We were blown away when we realized what she'd done," said Kevin Buley, a reptile expert at Flora's home at the Chester Zoo in this town in northern England. "But we certainly won't be naming any of the hatchlings Jesus."
"Komodo dragons seem to be able to switch ways of reproducing to deal with a shortage of suitable boyfriends," said Dr. Rick Shine, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Sydney, Australia.
But, just to keep us Seattle-ites (and Portland-ites) on our toes, check this out (snagged from Seattlest):
And off-topic, but no, I do not have electricity yet. However, some friends do, so Gus and I have evacuated to their house.
The following update stolen from the Seattlest blog:
While those of us in central Seattle enjoyed a three-day weekend, 234,000 people, mostly on the Eastside, are looking at their fifth night without power, and PSE's telling some of them--mostly in eastern King County (Duvall, North Bend, etc...)--that they won't be back on the grid for days.
--18,000 people in Seattle still don't have power--mainly in the Rainier Valley and West Seattle, but some in Madrona and Leschi. The P-I reports they'll all have power by Tuesday.
--The ol' bring-the-charcoal-grill-or-generator-inside-for-heat plan ain't working out too well. At least two men have died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and 100 cases with happier endings are reported. If you poison yourself, you end up in Virginia Mason's hyperbaric chamber, where they're calling this an epidemic.
--More than 44 King County roads were still closed Sunday night due to storm damage (downed trees, etc).
--Local stores are low on batteries and firewood.
--The Red Cross is operating shelters: stay-the-night shelters and also day shelters where people can warm up and get hot food.
--Bellevue, Kent, and Mercer Island schools, among others, are closed again today.
--If you got your roof blown off, or a tree fell into it, you understandably would like a roofer and tree removal service dispatched immediately, please. Well, you might have a wait. And if you overpay one of the rogue crews out gouging desperate homeowners, your insurance company won't pay for your impatience. Insurance companies are flying in adjusters to meet demand.
--Anyone who has power runs the risk of their house turning into an impromptu family reunion, someone at my work says that she, her aunt and uncle and two cousins, and everyone's dogs are bivouacked at her parent's house.
--Utility crews are here from as far away as Kansas. One electrical worker we know went 40 hours straight, slept for 5 hours, and went back out for another 40-hour shift.
This is a picture of the 20-25' branch that feel on my house during the windstorm on Thursday night....
We knew that a bad storm was coming, so being the geek I am, I left work at 5pm on Thursday to charge up my portable DVD players so I'd have entertainment... I also brought a bunch of firewood into the garage so that it would be easier to keep the fireplace going. Driving home was terrible - the rain was coming down so hard that even having the windshield wipers on top speed wasn't enough. It was the worst rain I've ever seen. It calmed down around 9 or so and I ran out to the grocery store and loaded up on soup and chips (hey, they don't require refrigeration!).
The winds started really picking up around 10pm. It sounded really bad and things kept falling and hitting the roof and the sides of the house. There were some really loud booms but I couldn't figure out what they were. There was no way I was going to sleep - the tv said that trees were falling on people's houses and killing them in their cars. Lost electricity around 1am. Finally fell asleep around 4 and woke up around 7am. It wasn't too bad - no electricity, but I have lots of flashlights and batteries (to my chagrin, I was actually short on D batteries so my battery powered (black & white) tv wouldn't work. I hung out and read my book and it was kinda ok.
I finally decided to drive around and take some pictures (click on the picture above for more). It was really bad. I live in an area that has a lot of very large very old trees and many of them came down and took down power lines (see pix for more details). I realized this wasn't going to be resolved quickly and made my way to a hardware store. Actually, I saw a line outside the hardware store and decided to get in line and get whatever they were getting cause I wasn't sure what I was missing. Of course, I remembered the D batteries and I also picked up Sterno and a tiny little Sterno stove thingy so that I could cook soup. Traffic was terrible because all the lights were out and you had to make you way around the trees and branches all over the place.
I was ok last night. Kept the fire going all day, read my book, watched the tv (hey, it gets 2 channels!) and found out that more than a million people were without electricity, watched "WordPlay" - pretty good documentary, but serious crossword people are seriously odd. I made soup on the grill outside cause it has a burner and it's way stronger than the sterno and discovered that every candle I have is scented. You get enough of them burning and the room has an undescribable odor...
Fell asleep on the couch in front of the fireplace around 8:30 last night. Woke up at 7:30 this morning and it was freezing! I checked my thermostat and it was 45 degrees in the house. Built a fire first thing. Went for a drive today to charge my phone and portable DVD player and got an email on the phone that power was on at work, so I have evacuated here for a while. I figure I can play on the internet and make calls n stuff and stay warm. My neighbor says that we always get power turned back on last so it probably won't get back on today. Hoping for tomorrow...
The good news is I am well, Gus is lying here beside me sleeping and my house is fine. I have everything I need. I'm a little miserable and bored, but compared to what some people are going through I feel really fortunate.
I predict that "the mission" is going to change. You know, like when they all of a sudden claimed that they never said "Stay the course". Oh, that's right, they said it, but only 5 times. In a world where 5 equals the number of snowflakes that fall on a cow in Vermont in winter.
But I digress...
So here are some potential revisions of what the mission is (so that we can "win" and get the hell out of there):
We win if an Iraqi chicken lays more than one egg in 24 hours.
We win if somewhere in Iraq, someone has electricity for 2 hours in a row.
We win if an old Iraqi man gets up to pee in the middle of the night.
Just a thought...
President Bush’s nominee to be Secretary of Defense said today that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq, and that an American failure there could help to ignite “a regional conflagration” in the Middle East.
The image on the right is a picture of the fountain in the courtyard in front of my house last week. It was cold, fyi. It's back to the normal temps - 40's in the day, 30s at night. You get to wear sweaters 'n everything here!
Yes, that's an alligator. I had the folks who sold me the house include it in the sale price.
With an estimated 40 million people worldwide living with HIV and more than 25 million people having died of AIDS since 1981, December 1st serves to remind everyone that action makes a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Americans should be reminded that HIV/AIDS does not discriminate. With an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 HIV- positive individuals living in the U.S., and approximately 40,000 new infections occurring every year, the U.S., like other nations around the world is deeply affected by HIV/AIDS.
· 40,000 people become infected with HIV every year in the United States.
· HIV is the leading cause of death worldwide among those ages 15-59.
· HIV/AIDS is now the leading cause of death for African-American women age 25-34.
Virtual AIDS Quilt: http://aidsquilt.heretv.com/
How much do you know about the AIDS crisis? Find out by taking this AIDS Test.
3rd Annual Light to Unite - light a candle and Bristol-Myers will donate $1 to fight AIDS: https://www.lighttounite.org/
Make your mark for children affected by AIDS. Ask the Bush Administration to allocate more money to help children affected by AIDS. Add your virtual signature to the online petition or use your mobile phone to send a text message to the White House.