Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
By the way, there's a terrific film called Quinceanera that I would highly recommend. The central theme is a young girl's Quinceanera, but the film is really about much more, including neighborhood gentrification, faith, coming out, and acceptance. Check it out.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Let me explain.
When I started working out with a personal trainer, I had trouble regulating my breathing. When the weights started to feel too heavy, I'd hold my breath in order to finish the set. But holding my breath deprived my brain from adequate oxygen and made me feel light-headed and dizzy. I'm blond; I'm already light-headed and dizzy! So I made a conscious effort to not hold my breath. The lesson? Just breathe.
A few weeks ago I went to a free class on meditation. (I wasn't particularly interested in meditation, but the class was free and some friends were going, so I went too.) Meditation employs controlled breathing to assist in achieving a deeper sense of relaxation or awareness. I followed the instructor's guided breathing directions and was able to feel a sense of calmness and control of my feelings and emotions. There's much more to it, but that's what I got from the free class. The lesson? Just breathe.
Last night I went to another free class, this one on yoga. I was excited about this because of all the positive things I've heard and read from others about yoga. The instructor shared a brief history of yoga, then talked about the Western practice of yoga as a healing type of exercise. It is accepting, non-judgemental, and non-competitive (like me). Before beginning with the stretching, we started with guided breathing exercises to promote relaxation and openness. The breathing exercises continued as we began our stretching and twisting. I enjoyed it a lot and hope to find more opportunities to practice it. The lesson? Just breathe.
So during my shower this morning when I perceived that the Universe had been trying to tell me to Just breathe, I thought about how many other situations are improved with breathing.
We've all heard someone say "Take a deep breath" before attempting something challenging or something requiring great skill or concentration. Now I realize that's not just an empty phrase. Taking a deep breath oxygenates the brain and allows it to work and focus better. The lesson? Just breathe.
When someone is engaged in a 'spirited conversation' (read: argument) with a co-worker or friend but does not want to go too far, they may tell themselves silently 'Take a deep breath' before responding. This not only forces the person to wait before shouting a response they may later regret, but also sends oxygen to the brain which helps them think more clearly. The lesson? Just breathe.
When my job is stressful and I notice every muscle is tense, I tell myself 'Deep breath; exhale slowly. Deep breath; exhale slowly" and it helps. Pent up stress can lead to all sorts of physical and psychological disorders, so don't let it build up too long. Remember the lesson and breathe.
Crush du Jour: Charles Dera
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Spouse & I watched Obama's speech last night, and I must say that I found it to be inspiring. There's a lot of improvement needed in the US, but I thought Obama did a great job of selecting the most critical items, explain why he selected them, and then pledged to work with Congress to fix the broken processes and make America emerge from this recession. "We will rebuild; we will recover." If you're interested (and you should be) in the most critical areas Obama will concentrate on, check this out. If you want to read a transcript of his speech in its entirety, click here. How refreshing to hear from a President who actually sounds like he knows what he's talking about (rather than just reading a script), and who doesn't smirk and contort his face while delivering a speech!
Spouse & I went to the gym last night. Since most of the machines are different than those I'm used to at the trainer's, I asked the guy behind the desk for a little help. He gave me a 10-minute orientation of how the machines work, how to adjust them, and what order to use them. It was exactly what I wanted. Then I did 12 minutes on the treadmill to warm up, followed by 40 minutes on the machines. Spouse spent the entire time on the stair climber. I don't know how he can do it that long.
Tonight I'm going to an introductory yoga class. I'm kind of excited about it, as I've heard several people talk about how much they enjoy yoga. I think it will be fun.
Is it just me, or does this picture give anyone else dirty thoughts?
A few weeks ago I took Big Ella to a place that does vintage car restorations to get an estimate on a paint job. I was floored by what I was told. Keep in mind Big Ella is still wearing most of her original paint from 1959, although there are a few rust spots and other areas where the paint has worn off. The guy at the resto shop said "to do it right" he would remove the bumpers and all the chrome, sand the body down to the bare metal, cut out the rust and replace it with new sheet metal, prime and paint the car, then put the bumpers and all the chrome back on. He thought that would probably run somewhere between $15,000. - $20,000. I tried not to ask as surprised as I was when I said "Wow." I also decided not to tell him that was more than I paid for the car.
After relating this to a friend, he recommended Maaco.
I was skeptical, as I remembered hearing ads for $199. paint jobs. I figured the quality would be crap, but my friend said he had used Maaco to paint a vintage car he once owned, and it turned out very nice. I went online to look for Maaco locations and learn a bit more, and then I called them. Obviously the $199. paint job is a special; not their everyday price, and it does not include any bodywork, which is exactly what I expected. But the more I read and learned, accompanied by my friend's recommendation, the more I am considering doing it. The $15,000. paint job is simply out of the question. But even if I got the top-of-the-line paint job at Maaco, its only about $1,000. plus the body work. So I figure, I may be able to get it all done for $2,000. or so. At that price, even if the paint job only lasted a few years, I could just get it done again (several times) and still not spend as much as the resto guy quoted.
So I'm thinking about it. Have any of you ever used Maaco or know anybody who has? I'd love to hear about the experience.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Spouse also has a weekly personal training session with Rick, and I occasionally go with him so I can do cardio and other exercises on my own while Spouse is getting trained. This has been good for me too, but I'm not able to go with him every week, due to occasional evening appointments on his training night.
Just before Thanksgiving Spouse & I talked about the possibility of joining the gym that's near our house. What's surprising is that, for being a small town, there are at least 6 gyms within 5 miles of us! Our weekly personal training is great, but in order to make a visible difference in our bodies within our lifetime, we know we need to do more than train for an hour once a week.
We thought it would be good if we could get into a routine of going to the gym together after work a few days a week, and possibly on the weekend too. But we decided that joining a gym just before the holidays wasn't smart for us.
Last week we talked about it again and shared our commitment to developing that routine of going several times a week. We both know how exercise makes you feel better, more energetic, and can even elevate your mood. I stopped by the gym and picked up some info and applications. Then last Thurs we joined.
The guy at the desk talked to us about the different membership levels and prices (individual, senior and student discounts, punch card plans, etc.) but didn't mention the family plan. So I looked him in the eye and said "Can we have the family plan? We're a family."
He paused for just a second, presumably to process what I'd asked, and then said "Sure. Actually, the family plan is the most economical."
He was very nice, actually, so we set up our membership (which we can cancel at any time without penalty) and chose electronic payment to keep it simple, and then we worked out. We went back again on Sat. I had my personal training last night, but we're going to the gym together tonight after word. So far, so good.
The gym has lots and lots of machines and equipment, but not much in the way of 'amenities'. No pool, no sauna, no steam room. It really doesn't have a locker room per se, but the bathroom has 2 individual shower stalls in it. So I'm afraid I won't be able to titillate you with any stories of checking out completely beautiful, naked men taking showers at the gym. I'll leave that to you single guys with memberships to fancy gyms.
Crush du Jour: Fouad Abiad
Monday, February 23, 2009
Although 3 1/2 hours long, I thought the Oscar show kept a pretty good pace. The delicious Hugh Jackman had a great energy level that kept the show from feeling heavy.
This was probably the most enjoyable awards show for me in a long time. What did you think?
Sunday, February 22, 2009
It really has become a developing habit to recycle. I still catch Spouse throwing things in the trash now and then that can now be recycled, so I say "Uh-uh... recycle!" or I just pull it out of the trash myself and toss it into the recycling can.
When we first moved here 2 years ago, the recycling center was very picky about what they would accept. We had to separate our recyclables, and each of the different recycling collection dumpsters had multiple drawings of unacceptable items with a red circle and slash.We had separate dumpsters for cardboard, plastics, cans, glass, and newspapers, which meant sorting and separating it all. That was a pain, and probably caused many 'not to bother' with recycling.
But a year later, the individual collection dumpsters were replaced by 'all-in-one' dumpsters with no restrictions. No more sorting and no more restrictions. Now we can recycle a whole lot more than we could before.
We also got a new, walk-in collection dumpster for electronics and household items. Instead of throwing that old TV, computer, or mattress in the trash, you can now walk it right into the recycling dumpster. I love it!
Let's face it: we must all get into the mindset of recycling as much as possible. The health of our planet depends on it. That means we need to think 'recycle' about more than just plastic water bottles. So my new mantra is 'Reuse, reduce, recycle'.
Crush du Jour: Mike Radon
Friday, February 20, 2009
Jordan is very gentle, loving and affectionate. Overall, a very sweet dog. Spouse could not love her more. But she is also an inconvenient dog. You might recall this.
When she gets excited (when we return from being out, when its time to be fed, when company comes over) she barks quite loudly. There's something about her bark that finds the tender spot inside my ear and sucker-punches it. I often have to tell her to settle down to keep from going deaf.
Most of her life is spent lounging and/or sleeping. Seriously, she must sleep 23 out of 24 hours a day. She always picks the most inconvenient spots to relax and snooze, like doorways. She will plop herself down in a doorway, forcing me to step over top of her to exit the room. When I'm sitting at my desk working she lays down right next to my chair, so that when I need to get up I have to turn my chair all the way around to find some unoccupied floor space in order to stand up, and then step over her.
Most dogs like routine so we feed and walk her around the same times each day. But occasionally she will get distracted by some irresistible smell or morsel she's found outside and forget to pee or poop while we're out. This, of course, means she has to 'go' later on, invariably when I'm busy on a deadline or participating in a conference call.
She didn't use to beg for human food because Spouse & I agreed when we got her that she would only eat dog food. Its better suited for her digestion, and it keeps her from begging. But little by little Spouse has taken to giving her little pieces of bread or a bagel, crackers, potato chips, or pretzels. The only thing we've found she won't eat are baby carrots. The 2 problems that have arisen since Spouse has begun feeding her people food is that she begs for some every time we eat, which is annoying as hell, and embarrassing when company is over, and it gives her gas. Rank, stinking, rotten, toxic gas, which is also annoying as hell, and embarrassing when company comes over.
Then there's the inconvenience of her hair all over the house. We really should vacuum every day to keep up with having a dog and a cat, but we don't. Not even close.
But despite the very real and true inconvenience of Jordan, we love her. I often make jokes to Spouse about how, when she's given me a particularly hard time, I'm going to drop her off miles away and hope she won't be able to find her way home. But of course I'd never do that. She'd find her way home, she's a hound!
Crush du Jour: Kraig Feldman
Thursday, February 19, 2009
While Bugs & Roger were here last weekend we tried a new flavored coffee called Tropic Kiss. On the bag of beans it read "Chocolate coffee with a smooch of coconut". I kid you not; it really used the word smooch, right on the bag. We joked about it several times over the course of the weekend, but enjoyed the smooth richness of the chocolate and coconut flavored coffee.
Then Tues evening Spouse & I met up with our new friends Deb & Greer for dinner. I met Deb just after moving here, when I was going through my 'I fancy myself a freelance writer' phase and I interviewed her for an article I never wrote. Our 1st dinner date was a few weeks ago at Saketumi, the new sushi place. Sit at the bar and order from the happy hour menu by 6:00 and everything's 1/2 price. Can you say "bargain"??? Spouse & I really enjoyed our food and Cosmos, as well as getting to know Deb & Greer. We had such a good time that we decided to do it again but at another joint.
So back to Tues evening, we met Deb & Greer at Lily Thai, the new Thai restaurant. Spouse & I love Thai food and have really missed it since moving away from VA, so it didn't take me long to decide what to order: Tom Kah Gai soup and Panang chicken curry. Both were delish.
Tom Kah Gai is made with coconut milk, lemon grass, chicken, and button mushrooms. Its very tasty. We had a great time again, and made tentative plans to dine together again.
Then, this morning before work I started my pot of coffee and walked the dog, which is my daily routine. I have several flavored coffees to choose from, and today I chose the Tropical Kiss, with the "smooch" of coconut. When I returned from the walk I poured myself a cup and headed upstairs to my office. Only today, when I tasted the coffee it tasted like lemon grass.
This made no sense at all. Tropical Kiss has a "smooch" of coconut, not lemon grass. But I swear to god that coffee tasted like lemon grass!
Then I wondered if somehow my taste buds had gotten confused from Tues night's Tom Kah Gai, with the coconut milk and lemon grass. But why would my taste buds convert chocolate and coconut into coconut and lemon grass?
If I ate a coconut macaroon, would it taste like lemon grass? I don't know because I didn't have any macaroons in the house (I'm trying to watch what I eat, remember?). So it remains a mystery why the chocolate/coconut coffee tasted like lemon grass.
I drank it anyway.
Crush du Jour: Amaury Nolasco
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
So no more during work hours blogging for me, at least for a while. I will have to catch up on my favorite blogs at night and on the weekends. Keep sharing!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Then I saw today that Kansas has also suspended state income tax refunds, and says they may not be able to meet payroll.
Today the company for whom I work had to layoff employees from all depts. The dept. in which I work was reduced by 50%. Fortunately I still have my job, but my work load is going to increase exponentially.
Crush du Jour: James Blake
Monday, February 16, 2009
Undie Mondays, courtesy of Idle Eyes and a Dormy.
Big Bang Theory, courtesy of CBS.
Dear Genevieve, courtesy of HGTV
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Man Discovers Co-Worker Is Really Dad
(posted on AOL.com)
(Feb. 12) – Police Sgt. Chris Walker struggled to solve the mystery of finding his own biological father -- until one day when he realized the man working with him in a Virginia police department shared his DNA, reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The story started 37 years ago, when a teenager named Clay Hamilton dated a slightly older woman who had just separated from her husband, the newspaper said. The woman lost touch after she got pregnant, returned to her husband and moved. Hamilton tried to contact her, but to no avail.
More recently, Hamilton retired from the Richmond, Va., police department and took another job with the Petersburg police -- where Walker works, according to the 'Today' show.
Walker told the Times-Dispatch that the man's name sounded familiar, so he chatted him up. He ran the details he learned by his mom.
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"There was a pause on the phone, and she said, 'That’s your dad'," Walker told the newspaper.
A DNA test proved the link.
"I cried" over the news, Hamilton told the Today show.
Walker has no hard feelings, he said. "He's my dad, and I love him," he told the newspaper. "God works in the mysterious ways."
Crush du Jour: Justin Hunter
Saturday, February 14, 2009
24 things about to disappear in America
24. Yellow Pages
This year will be pivotal for the global Yellow Pages industry. Much like newspapers, print Yellow Pages will continue to bleed dollars to their various digital counterparts. One research firm predicts the fall off in usage of newspapers and print Yellow Pages could even reach 10% this year; much higher than the 2%-3% fade rate seen in past years.
This is quite understandable to me. Why store those big, thick phone books when you can look up a company using the Internet? Plus, the online listings can be changed right away, as opposed to once a year when the books are printed.
23. Classified Ads
The Internet has made so many things obsolete that newspaper classified ads might sound like just another trivial item on a long list. But this is one of those harbingers of the future that could signal the end of civilization as we know it. The argument is that if newspaper classifieds are replaced by free online listings at sites like Craigslist, then newspapers are not far behind them.
I have had terrific success buying and selling items through online services. Again, the content can be updated immediately, as opposed to waiting for the publication's next printing.
22. Movie Rental Stores
While Netflix is looking up at the moment, Blockbuster keeps closing store locations by the hundreds. It still has about 6,000 left across the world, but those keep dwindling and the stock is down considerably in 2008, especially since the company gave up a quest of Circuit City. Movie Gallery, which owned the Hollywood Video brand, closed up shop earlier this year. Countless small video chains and mom-and-pop stores have given up the ghost already.
I can't remember the last time I rented a video from a physical location. Who wants to have to remember to return it on time, or try and figure out which genre your desired film may be filed under. Online services like Netflix have no late fees and allow you to search their library using key words.
21. Dial-up Internet Access
Dial-up connections have fallen from 40% in 2001 to 10% in 2008. The combination of an infrastructure to accommodate affordable high speed Internet connections and the disappearing home phone have all but pounded the final nail in the coffin of dial-up Internet access.
With affordable high speed services being offered by both the local cable and phone companies, dial-up Internet is the equivalent to a rotary dial telephone.
20. Phone Landlines
According to a survey from the National Center for Health Statistics, at the end of 2007 nearly one in six homes was cell-only and, of those homes that had landlines, one in eight only received calls on their cells.
When we moved 2 years ago we opted not to have a landline phone installed because it seemed a redundant expense. We only use cell phones.
19. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs
Maryland's icon, the blue crab, has been fading away in Chesapeake Bay. Last year Maryland saw the lowest harvest since 1945. The population is down 70% since 1990, when they first did a formal count. Over-fishing, pollution, invasive species and global warming get the blame.
This is really sad. Whereas we may be able to reduce over-fishing somewhat easily, the other contributors will be harder, if not impossible, to control.
For the better part of three decades, the VCR was a best-seller and staple in every American household until being completely decimated by the DVD, and now the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Pre-recorded VHS tapes are largely gone and VHS decks are practically nowhere to be found.
In my opinion this is simply 'progress'. DVDs provide much better quality and durability. However, we still have a VCR connected and I recently watched a movie made 20 years ago on it.
17. Ash Trees
In the late 1990s, a pretty, iridescent green species of beetle, now known as the emerald ash borer, hitched a ride to North America with ash wood products imported from eastern Asia. In less than a decade, its larvae have killed tens of millions of trees in the Midwest, and continue to spread. More than 7.5 billion ash trees are currently at risk.
This is sad, but again, appears to be something we have very little if any control over.
16. Ham Radio
Amateur radio operators enjoy personal (and often worldwide) wireless communications with each other and are able to support their communities with emergency and disaster communications if necessary, while increasing their personal knowledge of electronics and radio theory. However, proliferation of the Internet and its popularity among youth has caused the decline of amateur radio. In the past five years alone, the number of people holding active ham radio licenses has dropped by 50,000, even though Morse Code is no longer a requirement.
Huh? I thought ham radio enthusiasts were already gone. I suppose they would be handy after a disaster as long as they were battery powered.
15. The Swimming Hole
Thanks to our litigious society, swimming holes are becoming a thing of the past. '20/20' reports that swimming hole owners, like Robert Every in High Falls, NY, are shutting them down out of worry that if someone gets hurt they'll sue. And that's exactly what happened in Seattle. The city of Bellingham was sued by Katie Hofstetter who was paralyzed in a fall at a popular swimming hole in Whatcom Falls Park. As injuries occur and lawsuits follow, expect more swimming holes to post 'Keep out!' signs.
I'm not a lawyer, but couldn't the swimming hole owners post a sign indicating that anyone who chose to swim there would do so at their own risk? My grandparents lived "in the country" so I am familiar with the fun teenagers can have with a rope swing at a swimming hole.
14. Answering Machines
The steady decrease of answering machines is directly tied to # 20, the decline of landline telephones. According to USA Today, the number of homes that only use cell phones jumped 159% from 2004 to 2007. It's logical that as cellphones rise, many of them replacing traditional landlines, that there will be fewer answering machines.
I recently listened to an answering machine message that stated "I'm not home so call my cell phone..."
13. Cameras That Use Film
It doesn't require a statistician to prove the rapid disappearance of the film camera in America. Just look to companies like Nikon, the professional's choice for quality camera equipment. In 2006 it announced that it would stop making film cameras, pointing to the shrinking market. In 2005 only 3% of its sales were for film cameras, compared to 75% of sales from digital cameras and equipment.
With the affordability, ease of use, and seemingly limitless flexibility of digital photography, it seems hard to imagine why someone would want to use a film camera.
12. Incandescent Bulbs
With the green movement and all-things-sustainable-energy crowd, the Compact Fluorescent Light bulb (CFL) is largely replacing the older, Edison-era incandescent bulb. The EPA reports that 2007 sales for Energy Star CFLs nearly doubled from 2006, and these sales accounted for approximately 20% of the U.S. light bulb market. And according to USA Today, a new energy bill plans to phase out incandescent bulbs in the next 4-12 years.
I must admit that I was initially hesitant to switch to CFLs because the light has a slight blue tint (in my opinion) and because of their higher cost. However, when I saw how much electricity (and money) they save, I became a disciple.
11. Stand-Alone Bowling Alleys
BowlingBalls.us claims there are still 60 million Americans who bowl at least once a year, but many are not bowling in stand-alone bowling alleys. Most new bowling alleys are part of facilities for all types or recreation including laser tag, go-karts, bumper cars, video game arcades, climbing walls and glow miniature golf. Bowling lanes also have been added to many non-traditional venues such as adult communities, hotels and resorts, and gambling casinos.
I don't know anyone who bowls occasionally. I only know people who bowl regularly on a league, or don't bowl at all, so this notion that people are bowling at casinos and laser tag venues surprises me a bit.
10. The Milkman
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 1950 over half of the milk delivered was to the home in quart bottles, but by 1963 it was about a third, and by 2001 it represented only 0.4%. Nowadays most milk is sold through supermarkets in gallon jugs. The steady decline in home-delivered milk is blamed, of course, on the rise of the supermarket, better home refrigeration and longer-lasting milk. Although some milkmen still make the rounds in pockets of the U.S. they are certainly a dying breed.
I wasn't aware there was ANY home milk delivery anymore. It seems a horribly inefficient system. Imagine the gasoline required to power a refrigerated truck delivering milk to homes all day long.
9. Hand-Written Letters
In 2006 the Radicati Group estimated that 183 billion e-mails were sent each day worldwide. That's 2 million each second. By November of 2007 an estimated 3.3 billion Earthlings owned cell phones, and 80% of the world's population had access to cell phone coverage. In 2004, half a trillion text messages were sent, and the number has no doubt increased exponentially since then. So where amongst this gorge of gabble is there room for the elegant and polite hand-written letter?
This makes me wonder if our history will be less rich going forward. Much of what we know about historical people comes from their letters. If hand-written letters are replaced by emails and text messages that aren't handed down to relatives or libraries, where will this information about us come from?
8. Wild Horses
It is estimated that 100 years ago, as many as two million horses were roaming free within the US. In 2001 National Geographic News estimated that the wild horse population had decreased to about 50,000. Currently the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board states that there are 32,000 free roaming horses in ten Western states, with half of them residing in Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management is seeking to reduce the total number of free range horses to 27,000, possibly by selective euthanasia.
Euthanasia seems like a harsh and wasteful way of reducing the free roaming horse population. Wouldn't it be kinder to offer them free of charge to zoos, sanctuaries, and private owners who will assist with the capture of them?
7. Personal Checks
According to an American Bankers Assoc. report, a net 23% of consumers plan to decrease their use of checks over the next 2 years, while a net 14% plan to increase their use of PIN debit. Bill payment remains the last stronghold of paper-based payments, for the time being. Checks continue to be the most commonly used bill payment method, with 71% of consumers paying at least one recurring bill per month by writing a check. However, on a bill-by-bill basis, checks account for only 49% of consumers' recurring bill payments, down from 72% in 2001 and 60% in 2003.
Our bank offers a free online bill payment system that tracks all your bills and bill payments, and reminds you of future due dates. Paying bills online leaves me with a record of every transaction and saves significant time and money from writing out checks and putting postage stamps on them. Its a little surprising to me that checks still comprise more than half of all bill payments.
6. Drive-in Theaters
During the peak in 1958 there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters in this country, but in 2007 only 405 drive-ins were still operating. No new drive-ins have been built since 2005. Only one reopened in 2005 and 5 reopened in 2006, so there isn't much of a movement toward reviving the closed ones.
This makes a lot of sense considering the plethora of access methods to movies these days. Netflix and cable/satellite on-demand libraries offer viewers the ability to see films conveniently at home.
5. Mumps & Measles
Despite what's been in the news lately, the measles and mumps truly are disappearing from the US. In 1964, 212,000 cases of mumps were reported in the US. By 1983, this figure had dropped to just 3,000, thanks to a vigorous vaccination program. Prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine, approximately half a million cases of measles were reported in the US annually, resulting in 450 deaths. In 2005, only 66 cases were recorded.
This is very good news, and a real tribute to school-based inoculations.
4. Honey Bees
Perhaps nothing on the list of disappearing America is so dire, plummeting so enormously, and so necessary to the survival of our food supply as the honey bee. Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, has spread throughout the US and Europe over the past few years, wiping out 50-90% of the colonies of many beekeepers, and along with it, their livelihood.
This is shocking. I'm surprised there is no mention of the cause(s) of CCD.
3. News Magazines and TV News
While the TV evening newscasts haven't gone anywhere over the last several decades, their audiences have. In 1984 in a story about the diminishing returns of the evening news, the New York Times reported that all 3 network evening news programs combined had only 40.9 million viewers. Fast forward to 2008 and what they have today is half that.
This is not surprising to me, as more and more people I know get their news from respected news sources online, at their convenience, instead of on TV at the network's convenience.
2. Analog TV
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 85% of homes in the U.S. get their television programming through cable or satellite providers. For the remaining 15% or 13 million who are using rabbit ears or a large outdoor antenna to get their local stations, change is in the air. In February 2009 these people will need to get a new TV, a converter box, or cable/satellite in order to get the all digital broadcast.
I'm amazed that there are still 15% of Americans that don't have cable to satellite. I would have imagined it being more like 3-4%. How can they be content with only 3 or 4 snowy channels?
1. The Family Farm
Since the 1930s the number of family farms has been declining rapidly. According to the USDA, 5.3 million farms dotted the nation in1950, but this number had declined to 2.1 million by the 2003 farm census. 91% of the US farms are small family farms.
Farming is hard physical work, and to do it on a medium-to-large scale requires lots of expensive equipment. Its no wonder that fewer families find this palatable. Perhaps farming will shift to become a business venture rather than a family one.
Crush du Jour: Quentin Alias
Friday, February 13, 2009
Our upcoming weekend, that's what! Its 'big' in the sense that we have several fun things planned, and 'long' in the sense that Spouse & I both have Mon off for Presidents Day. (Get your minds out of the gutter, girls.)
Our good buddies Bugs & Roger will be visiting us for the long weekend. They're due to arrive Fri around lunch time, and will spend the afternoon shopping at the tax-free outlets. When Spouse gets home and I finish work, the 4 of us will have a nice snack before we're off to the movies.
The Rehoboth Beach Film Society (of which I am a member) is having a mini GLBT film series this weekend, called 'Another Take'. We're going to see "Ciao" (trailers here) Fri night at 7:00, and then have dinner afterward. This film has been favorably review in OUT and The Advocate. Spouse & I have seen several other good gay films as a part of the 'Another Take' film series, so I have high expectations.
Our other good buddies Mike & Clark will also be in our neck of the woods this weekend. Every year they come with their pals Maurice & David for Presidents Day weekend, and stay at a friend's cottage in Rehoboth. Mike & Clark have invited Bugs & Roger and us to join them for lunch on Sat (location TBD), followed by cocktails and dinner Sat night at their cottage. We met Bugs & Roger through Mike & Clark, and we always have a great time together.
Sat also happens to be Valentines day, so I have ordered a dozen orange roses to be delivered to Spouse at his office today.
He loves cut flowers, especially roses, but does not care much for red roses, the universal symbol of love and Valentines day. So often I just send bouquets of various cut flowers for his birthday or our anniversary. But for Valentines day I always send roses, but ask the florist if they have any unusual colored roses. This year its orange. In past years I've sent lavender roses, which were stunning.I always send them to his office so his straight co-workers will see that gay couples behave very much like straight couples. Plus its just fun get flowers at work.
Sun at 2:00 we're going back to the movies to see "Mulligans" (trailers here). It was written by and stars Charlie David, an out gay actor (and former Crush du Jour) whom I like.
The rest of Sun and Mon are open. Knowing Bugs & Roger, that time will be casually filled with coffee, laughter, reading, laughter, cocktails, laughter, food, laughter, relaxing, and laughter. Oh, and did I mention laughter?
Wishing all of you something big and long this weekend!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Straight Man Promotes Gay Marriage In Colorado
By 365gay Newscenter Staff
(Denver, Colorado) A straight Colorado man is promoting a ballot measure that would allow same-sex marriage in the state.
Stu Allen, 23, tells The Rocky Mountain News that gay couples should have the same rights that he and his girlfriend of seven years would have if they got married.
“I don’t think there should be gender-specific laws when it comes to marriage in Colorado - or anywhere,” Allen told the paper. “It seems like a civil rights issue.”
His ballot measure would overturn Colorado’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that was approved by voters in 2006 and would make marriage gender neutral.
Allen told The News that when he began researching what is required to get a measure on the ballot he found there had to be two sponsors. He contacted his high school friend Hallie Atencio who readily agreed.
“I wholeheartedly believe in what he’s trying to do,” Atencio, 22, told The News. “I think we can create some change.”
The proposed ballot measure has been filed with the state. Tuesday Allen will meet with officials for a “review and comment session” that is required before an issue gets on the ballot. The state would then have to approve the wording on the measure before Allen can begin collecting signatures.
In addition to banning same-sex marriage in 2006, voters the same year rejected another ballot issue that would have given same-sex couples many of the rights of marriage including property inheritance rights and the power to make medical and funeral arrangements.
Allen’s gay marriage measure is opposed by supporters of the ban on same-sex marriage.
“The voters have already spoken about the direction they would like to see our state go regarding the marriage issue,” state Sen. Mike Kopp (R) told The Rocky Mountain News.
And, from my (new) home state of DE came the following nice little piece of progress.
The City of Newark's personnel policy now prohibits discrimination for sexual orientation, and as of last night's vote, also prohibits discrimination for gender identity and expression.
The Council also unanimously voted to have staff research and report back to council within 90 days on domestic partner benefits, a life partner registry, and nondiscrimination for housing, employment, and public accommodations.
Every seat in council chambers was filled and I do not believe the outcome would have been unanimous or as supportive if it were not for all the community members who came and shared their stories and thoughts. --Ezra Temko
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
"One, two, three, four. We have four jars of - wait a minute! I think there's one in the fridge, too." Sure enough, I produced yet another jar of peanut butter from the door of the refrigerator.
"It appears we have 5 jars of peanut butter, all of which have been opened." I confirmed.
As the laughter subsided, Kerry asked if they were different varieties, like chunky and creamy.
I confirmed all 5 were creamy.
Anticipating their next question, I cut them off at the pass: "No, I don't know why we have 5 opened jars of peanut butter. Its really bordering on asshole behavior, isn't it?"
"Asshole behavior... what's that?" Kerry asked with a chuckle.
"Asshole behavior is the actions or behavior that would commonly be associated with someone considered to be an asshole" I defined, to even more laughter. "Wouldn't you agree that opening a new jar while the previous jar still has peanut butter in it could be a mistake once, but that doing it 4 times is dangerously close to asshole behavior?"
We laughed more and more as all 3 of us got into it by coming up with additional evidences of asshole behavior:
- Using the last of the toilet paper and/or paper towels and not replacing the roll
- Putting an empty container back into the fridge
- Pulling a bunch of stuff out of a closet or cabinet while searching for an item, and not putting the stuff back
- Going for a walk with someone and not stopping when they say "I need to tie my shoe"
- Leaving the isle with the grocery cart while someone is reading a label/making a selection
- Filling the sink instead of the dishwasher with dirty dishes
- Not answering when someone asks you a question
Can you add anything to the list of asshole behaviors?Totally unrelated side point #1: Today is Feb 11 and it is currently warmer outdoors than it is inside our house.
Totally unrelated side point #2: This week's weigh-in was heartening, as I lost the 2 lbs I gained last week from eating all those french fries. So now I am back to where I was 2 weeks ago.
Crush du Jour: Rob McElhenney
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Yes, I wrote 'AOL chat rooms'. I told you he's old school.
I'm pretty much the opposite. I read lots of blogs, have a MySpace page, and get hundreds of email updates, jokes and stories a week from friends and family. (I only forward the ones I've never seen before.)
When we see each using the computer, we occasionally like to tease each other by saying with a straight face "I'm starting to get concerned about your addiction to online porn" when we see the other using the computer. Its not an accusation at all, its just a little joke we like to say, which usually results in a chuckle or two.
The other day he saw me in front of the computer reading David Dust's blog, which always has photos of lots of hot guys, in addition to David's hilarious reality show recaps. Spouse saw David's selection of hotties and said "I'm starting to get concerned about your addiction to online porn".
I replied "Its not porn, its David's blog." Spouse & I met David in NYC last Oct, so he knows David. "Oh, is that what you kids are calling it these days? David's blog?" he joked further, and I got a little chuckle out of it.
A few minutes later he walked by and saw me reading another blog. His curiosity piqued, he asked "Who's blog is that?" I told him it was cb's blog, and then excitedly added that cb had just gotten a new cat!
Trying a variation on our 'addiction to online porn' joke, Spouse declared "I'm starting to get concerned about your growing list of cyber pals". I replied "These people are NOT cyber pals, they're my friends. And while it may be true that I've never met most of them, I probably know more about their lives, and they about ours, than most of our real-life friends."
Spouse didn't say anything back, and just left me to my blog reading. As soon as I said those words, I wondered if they were really true. Do I know more intimate details of my blogger friends' lives than I do my real-life friends' lives? If so, is that a bad thing?
Everyone would surely agree that bloggers are more apt to share personal and intimate details on their blogs because most of their readers have never met them, and likely never will. Its easier to be honest and candid when typing to strangers than when speaking face-to-face with friends. This makes sense.
But I began to wonder why most of our real-life relationships weren't deep enough for us to feel comfortable sharing personal or intimate details with them. Are we 'shallow' because we don't discuss intimate things with our real-life friends? Do we not try hard enough to have intimate real-life friendships? Do people actually want to share that much with their friends, face-to-face?
Now I believe I have figured out a key to this. We do have some real-life friends with whom we share personal details about our life, but they are people we spend a lot of time with. We spend time with them 2-3 times a week, or 3-4 days in a row. Now it makes more sense to me. We're not shallow because we don't have intimate friendships with all our friends. We simply don't spend enough time with most of them for that kind of comfort level to develop. And there's nothing wrong with having 'close' friends and 'casual' friends.
So, to all of you blogger friends out there, I ask that you keep on sharing! And I will, too.
Crush du Jour: Jason Powell
Monday, February 09, 2009
1. You take your dog for a walk and you both use the same tree.
2. You can entertain yourself for more than 15 minutes with a fly swatter.
3. Your boat has not left the driveway in 15 years.
4. You burn your yard rather than mow it.
6. The Salvation Army declines your donated furniture.
7. You offer to give someone the shirt off your back and they don't want it.
8. You have the local taxidermist on speed dial.
9. You come back from the dump with more than you took.
10. You keep a can of Raid on the kitchen table.
11. Your wife can climb a tree faster than your cat.
12. Your grandmother has 'ammo' on her Christmas list.
13. You keep flea and tick soap in the shower.
14. You've been involved in a custody fight over a hunting dog.
15. You go to the stock car races and don't need a program.
16. You know how many bales of hay your car will hold.
17. You have a rag for a gas cap.
18. Your house doesn't have curtains, but your truck does.
19. You wonder how service stations keep their rest-rooms so clean.
20. You can spit without opening your mouth.
21. You consider your license plate personalized because your father made it.
22. Your lifetime goal is to own a fireworks stand.
23. You have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say 'Cool Whip' on the side.
24. The biggest city you've ever been to is Wal-Mart.
25. Your working TV sits on top of your non-working TV.
26. You've used your ironing board as a buffet table.
27. A tornado hits your neighborhood and does $100,000 worth of improvements.
28. You've used a toilet brush to scratch your back.
29. You missed your 5th grade graduation because you were on jury duty.
30. You think fast food is hitting a deer at 65.
Bonus: You know you're a redneck when you FINALLY find some overalls that fit!
Saturday, February 07, 2009
All photos may be clicked to enlarge. Enjoy!