Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Wed, Jun 30 2004

Is There A Bigger Wall Behind This Man's Wall Of Separation Of Church And State?

It's June 30, 2004. It's the day of the beginning of the "implosion of the American empire". Gary North said so. Oh, really?

At first glance, Mr. North doesn't appear to be saying anything so very different from a lot of other critics of the current administration. He's been speaking and writing for awhile now, and has been giving (and selling) advice on investments to people for awhile now. But Mr. North bases his advice on some underlying principles that might be very disturbing to some folks. I happen to belong to a Christian denomination (Seventh-day Adventist) that keeps one entire department of the organization set aside for religious liberty issues. You don't have to be an Adventist to benefit from their legal advice and support. If you've lost your job (for instance) because of your religious beliefs, they will help you find a way to make it right with the offending employer. The goal really is to let everyone, as far as possible, have a choice in worship, both in thinking and in practice.

Gary North, who puts forth lots of financial advice, touts the idea of religious liberty as well. But there are distinctive differences in the way Mr. North views the issue, when compared with a lot of Americans. In a whole new twist on the ends justifying the means, he envisions a day when religious liberty is flipped 180 degrees, and the governing process is held in place totally by Christians (and that would be Christians as his particular interpretation defines them). Let me point you to Liberty Magazine's article from 2001, in which Mr. North is quoted. He openly reveals what his ultimate idea of separation of church and state should cause.

Forcing one's beliefs into the history books by the manipulation of political events seems to me to be the very practice spoken of in the Book of Revelation as a major character feature of the Antichrist. No, I'm not suggesting that Mr. North is the Antichrist. I would only encourage everyone to study the issues, and to base their own interpretation of religious freedom on something besides an agenda that "makes sure" biblical prophetic events are fulfilled. This sort of tactic is the very kind of thing that makes our current foreign relations with the Middle East (and other places) so tricky. Many other governments are based on thousands of years of religous practices that have melded with government controls. It makes for strong opinions, and even stronger action when someone suggests a more open, democratic approach.

Even in America, when religion becomes politics, and politics become the religion, the result is always going to be an attempt, on the part of some, to legislate (their view of) morality, which is impossible to do. Those who believe it must happen that way will be forced to force the rest of us to do things their way. We could put a lot of other labels on that kind of behavior, but we can't very well call it religious freedom, now can we?

posted at: 11:38 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Jun 29 2004

In The Not-Fair Department

Once again, while the rest of us pour oursevles into our writings with honesty and integrity, a writer gets attention because he lied to his readers.
I love fiction, but only when I know I'm writing fiction and you know you're reading fiction. Maybe that's why I haven't gotten my fifteen minutes of fame yet. I believe integrity counts. If I ever do get fifteen minutes, I want them to be something I earned honestly and can be proud of. If you catch me even looking like I'm thinking of doing it any other way, let me know immediately, won't you?

posted at: 17:32 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Oil And Rice

A lot of the hunger in the world is not a supply problem. It's a political problem. But if the projections hold true on declining rice yields due to global warming, that could change.

The UN has designated 2004 as the International Year of Rice. Those little grains are the staple (and in some cases, only) food for most of our planet. When floods or other disasters strike, humanitarian organizations often arrive with rice and fresh water as emergency rations. But rice only grows well in certain regions. If we lose those regions without finding new ones with a suitable climate and terrain, we have a big problem on our hands. And if you think aid in the form of rice only goes to "other countries", consider the folks in Seattle, who do an annual Walk-a-thon that raises funds for a local Asian food bank. Last year 19,000 pounds of rice were given out by the food bank, in that area alone. The walk-a-thon raises money to keep the whole food distribution going for residents at, or below, poverty level. But you can only buy rice if someone is able to grow rice.

Here's where rice grows. I wonder if we'll be able to develop new areas for ricelands fast enough, as old ones become less productive due to climate changes. If we want to keep eating on this planet, we'd better be looking at making adjustments right now.

Have you noticed that the political aspects of hunger never seem to raise as much anger as the political aspects of oil? Of course, oil produces energy for machines that process and preserve food for storage. And oil fuels vehicles that take food where it's needed, or at least to places where people have money to pay for it. If everyone could get oil, maybe everyone could eat, as it stands now. But what if climate changes meant no one could eat and everyone could still get oil? Starving people don't have much energy to fight with, do they? We've all seen the sad videos of people lying on the ground waiting to die from hunger and malnutrition.

What if rice (or crops in general), and not oil, suddenly became the most important commodity on the planet? Would the political climate change along with the atmospheric one? We might find out. The hard way.

posted at: 09:00 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Mon, Jun 28 2004

Many Happy Returns To Eric

I think I still have time to wish Eric, at Fire Ant Gazette, a Happy Birthday. It sounds as though he had a good day, except for the part about the extremely unfortunate spider count. Mercy. Fire ants? Tarantulas? I wonder if he has to check his shoes for scorpions in the morning, too. (Of course, this would be an activity not unique to Texas. I've heard tales that when one lives in Imperial Valley, California, one does not get up to use the bathroom in the night without checking the dark floor with a flashlight before one puts one's bare toes down, just in case there might be a stinging tail in one's path.)

posted at: 20:31 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Watsonville Community Airport: Yes! City of Watsonville Development in Buena Vista: No!

A bit of local politics: The fight is on. The city of Watsonville will have a meeting of the General Plan Update Committee later today, with time to talk about the meetings it held in our area, and with time to discuss the findings of the (.pdf file) Crosswind Runway Report. At Bunea Vista neighborhood meeting we attended, pilots had to correct the so-called expert who presented the material. Two other individuals stood up and said that they had been present at planning sessions for Buena Vista development, and that the presentations given to us that night did not represent the work done at those sessions.

If the airport runways are moved or closed, it will impede the ability of the airport to operate in the best manner for Santa Cruz County. The residents of the Buena Vista area made our feelings very clear at the meeting we attended. We do want our airport to operate to the best of its capability, and we want it even at the cost of Watsonville's plans for urban sprawl.

posted at: 13:12 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Sun, Jun 27 2004

Spam Smuggling Sidewinders

In the midst of the ongoing battle with spam, and after my cleaning out literally thousands of unwanted messages, my spouse let me know today that a few little changes he had made to our email handler were already causing the server to spot large numbers of messages being sent from a particular outfit that apparently is already on a list of places that are notorious for generating unsolicited commercial mail. And they call themselves a business and they do it for other people and other businesses. And they get paid to do it. I really hate to give them any free publicity, so let's just say that my fondness for the Old West and its folklore does not extend to the likes of those practicing the art of the "Quick Draw" of spam in any form of "Media" such as the internet. You'll find them listed (along with a lot of others) on this blacklist.

posted at: 14:14 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Sat, Jun 26 2004

Stories From The Hobbit Trail

We can't say for certain, but it's possible that if another author had written Lord of the Rings, the tale might have taken on very a different voice and a very different mood. Jack Kerouac might have said it this way. But what about Lewis Carroll? Or Anne McCaffrey? Would Mickey Spillane have given it that matter-of-fact opening? And, in another time, in another place, when Margaret Mitchell wove the power of love into the horrors of war, could there have been Gone With The Ring? Read these interpretations, and many more, at If "Lord of the Rings" had been written by someone else.

posted at: 13:55 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

But Some Of Us Really Are "Volumptuous"

Well, it seems that I've been saying diphtheria incorrectly all these years. I was aware that "chester drawers" was wrong (aside from the fact that it sounds like Victoria's biggest secret of all). They missed "vetenarian" in their list, but maybe they didn't see it as being in the top 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words.

posted at: 11:38 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Fri, Jun 25 2004

Was That The Mona Lisa In The Background?

If you like film trivia, you'll have a good time checking out the Art Historians' Guide to the Movies.

posted at: 14:36 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Thu, Jun 24 2004

Male Seeking Female With All The Charm Of A Gorilla

Humans can be so silly and arrogant when it comes to other species, even in our narrow-minded attempts to preserve their kind. Why assume that Casey the gorilla will mate with just any female gorilla that happens to be in his path? Doesn't he have the right to be selective? And when he doesn't perform, the first thing the clueless people do is get out a sex video to steam things up. Does anybody care what Casey wants? Or what the female gorillas in the zoo want?

Maybe there are reasons other than obvious human ones that Casey does not choose a mate from among those presented to him. Species have a lot of built-in instincts and mechanisms that encourage the best reproductive situations for a long-lasting, healthy line of future populations. Maybe the females with Casey possess none of the inherited characteristics that would produce the best offspring when coupled with Casey's attributes. Humans may not know this, on a human level. But Casey might know this very well, on a gorilla level.

The Gorilla Foundation has spent decades teaching sign language to lowland gorillas. If sex how-to videos aren't encouraging Casey the gorilla to get the idea, why assume the problem is his? Maybe it's the humans who have failed, by not providing him with just the kind of partner he wants. Here's a thought. Why don't the humans at the zoo contact the nice people at The Gorilla Foundation, and get Koko the gorilla to ask Casey the gorilla what he seeks in a female? Then Koko can sign Casey's answer for the humans. Why teach gorillas to sign at all, if we aren't going to use the language gift to help other gorillas? People spend all this money here and there, studying this or that animal, and still miss the obvious point that the best way to figure out how to help a gorilla propagate the species might just be through another gorilla.

posted at: 08:38 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Wed, Jun 23 2004

Why Can't I Do This Puzle?

Since I'm math-challenged anyway, I will probably never figure out the solution to this math puzzle.

posted at: 17:02 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Tue, Jun 22 2004

Free Radio Santa Cruz: Clarification

Last month I made mention of Free Radio Santa Cruz, and I got some additional information from V-Man, who knows his stuff, because he works there. In order to prevent any further misdirection on my part, I will quote him here, with his permission:

What happened is that Air 1 had a ten watt repeater on 95.9 fm down in the south county. They petitioned the FCC for a frequency change, due to interference from a Spanish language station, and the FCC gave them 96.3, since it was technically an open channel. They went on the air last summer. Now, one might be led to believe that this was done intentionally to cause a problem for FRSC, but one might be called a conspiracy theorist, so we'll just say it was a coincidence. This is how the signals blended in the Live Oak, Capitola areas. In October, we put up our own repeater on 101.1 FM, and had both frequencies going for awhile, then, when we moved to a new home, and got listeners used to the new frequency, we stopped using 96.3 FM.

Thanks much, V-Man. And do keep reminding us that the people make the best users of airwaves. When we rely on government agencies to do our work for us, we give up our power to something that is way too ethereal to be responsible (or responsive) to citizens who value freedom of speech.

posted at: 08:56 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

The Battle For Whiskey Hill

We spent two and a half hours at a frustrating meeting last Wednesday night. Our neighborhood (called Freedom) is in a pocket of older development that sprang up after World War II in an area formerly called Whiskey Hill. We've come a long way since the days of saloons and brothels, but now there is a push from the nearby town of Watsonville to annex land and develop more housing, and there are groups (some from higher levels than our local community) who are pushing for Watsonville to expand its borders and pack in more people per square acre. Those of us who love the neighborhood have gained a new kind of reputation for our community. We're the notorious diehards who are digging in our proverbial little heels and telling Watsonville to go somewhere else with its plans to pave over rolling hills where horses roam and where a traffic jam means there are more than 2 vehicles sitting at the stop sign down on Buena Vista Drive.

We were never allowed to vote on Measure U, the measure which opened the door for the development and changes in zoning of property in this area. Our tiny pocket of streets is not expected to be in the city limits of Watsonville any time soon. They don't want us. We already have single family homes with happy property owners. If they annexed us, they would have to pay for infrastructure. If they annex the open land right next to us and get it into the hands of greedy developers, they can collect taxes from the resulting overly-dense housing that will surely happen. Only Watsonville city residents were allowed to vote for or against Measure U, and they voted to pass it.

The meeting last Wednesday was an opportunity for certain planners to present possible scenarios of what might happen when development actually begins to take place. They had a very good turnout for the meeting, and our vocal crowd was eager to let them know we are not happy campers, and that none of their pretty little plans suit us. Period.

One issue that may make or break a lot of their grab for green is that of our Watsonville Community Airport. Donna Jones covers some of the airport issues in today's Santa Cruz Sentinel. The airport brings in tremendous revenue and assists local business and agriculture. It was the sole way in and out of this area after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which blocked mountain and bridge access on all sides except the west (which is Pacific Ocean). Now we are hoping this same airport helps to thwart the greedy attempts to take away rural beauty and replace it with cookie cutter housing (with a few token mansions on a hilltop). Could it be that this airport, which was not even here where the place was called Whiskey Hill, will do something that we as local residents couldn't do at the polls? Can it stop this whole lopsided growth attempt? We'll find out. One thing is certain. We're going to give them a run for their money, even if we're not allowed to vote. If the name of Whiskey Hill gave us a reputation for being a tough neighborhood, then the name of Freedom gives us a boost that backs it up with solidarity of purpose. We're proud of our neighborhood and we're proud of our airport. We plan to keep them both for a long time to come.

posted at: 08:13 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Jun 21 2004

Look! Up There! It's A Bird!

A friend has been keeping me updated on the attempts to study peregrine falcons in Rochester, New York. One bird just received a transmitter and is being tracked as it comes and goes from its nesting box--which happens to be on top of the Eastman Kodak Company headquarters building. More than a dozen of the birds have already gotten their start in this unusual location. You can check out the comings and goings of the current avian residents on Kodak's birdcam .

posted at: 10:27 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Sun, Jun 20 2004

Don't Just Talk About Love--Send Shoes

I've been too busy with yard work and other tasks today to write. Instead of making up some late-evening post that would only show you how tired I am tonight, I will ask you to consider doing something nice for someone. Please go help Sgt. Hook with his Operation Shoe Fly. You can also help in other ways at Spirit of America. Do it no matter what your political persuasions are, because it helps kids. The kids we help now might grow up to be wonderful leaders with dreams and plans that take us all beyond on our wildest imagination. We might make friends of those who would otherwise grow up to be our enemies.

posted at: 21:20 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Sat, Jun 19 2004

The Evils Of Dropping Out

If nothing else, the recent leader of the al Qaeda group operating in Saudi Arabia has shown very clearly what kind of glamourous life one can attain if they drop out of high school. He joined a gang, carried a big ol' gun, and even became the local leader of an extremist terrorist faction. Of course, he had to do a lot of his own dirty work, so he hid beneath a black hood, like a common criminal. He gained tremendous amounts of attention and empathy--for the family, friends, countrymen and allies of the man he helped to behead.

We do note that Moqrin has been beheaded himself, in a sense. There are pictures of him (minus the hood) all over the news, along with stories that tell us he died a violent, disgraceful death after a really lengthy leadership (maybe three whole months) over other like-minded misfits of society.

Listen up, kids. Stay in school.

posted at: 10:02 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Fri, Jun 18 2004

Leader Of The Pack

I caught a glimpse of something interesting over at Panchromatica. I think the idea comes from Australia, but it might also be a great way to increase courtesy and thoughtfulness here in the states. Would you like to drive a Neighborhood Pace Car?

posted at: 16:29 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Media Is A Good Thing If You Let It Work For You

To the PR and marketing folks out there--it's a new day, when old-fashioned journalism and the internet bring instant praise (or instant rebuke). When journalists ask you for assistance in promoting your company, product or event, do what you can to cooperate and to make their task as easy as possible, especially when it turns into free publicity for your company, product or event. If you don't, be sure your PR sins will find you out.

posted at: 09:48 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Coming October 28, To A Banking Institution Near You

In doing research completely unrelated to checking accounts and banks, I came across an entry on The Small Business Blog, concerning Check 21. The FDIC is telling banks to ready themselves to be responsible for identifying and tracking the electronic transferring of checks from one institution to another. In the past, paper checks made the rounds slowly, and we spoke of a check "clearing" the bank. Since most of us now no longer see our paper checks once we pay them out, banks must provide a way to substitute electronic facsimiles of checks and provide identification encoding and endorsement tracking. The full text of the FDIC letter is here.

All this change brings to mind a number of scenarios that are both good and bad for consumers, small business, and banks. It also brings to mind the question of just how the Image Replacement Document (IRD) of your paper check will be produced and transferred. Do you recall the recent election difficulties concerning a particular company that makes electronic voting machines? Presenting: The Diebold ImageWay.

posted at: 08:11 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Thu, Jun 17 2004

The Face Value Of Money

Big Stupid Tommy is dreaming of making (but not printing) his own money with new faces.

Some folks think they already see things on paper money that wasn't put there to begin with, but which can be seen with careful folding.

If you don't care whose face is on the money, but you simply want to make the money you have go farther, you could make a paper money catapult (scroll down).

posted at: 18:06 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Wed, Jun 16 2004

James Joyce Is Still Remembered

We'd all like to be remembered, so it's nice to see that Bloomsday is in full swing. You can get a virtual tour of Leopold Bloom's adventures over at Ulysses for Dummies. If they made you read James Joyce's work in school, and you didn't really enjoy it all, and you can only remember snippets of names of his characters, you can look them up at Joyce Country.

posted at: 11:02 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Enterprise Zones: At The Expense Of Other State Taxpayers?

Well, we've done it again. For the 19th year in a row, we missed our state budget deadline. If you look at this flow chart of the budget process, you can see that The Governor's Budget gets to the legislature by January 10. That seems to go fairly well. I don't hear much about that part. It seems to be what goes on between January 10 and June 15 that bogs things down.

If it's true that most of the funding for state services in California is now supported by personal income taxpayers, what are corporations doing to assist us? Hopefully, they are hiring more Californians than ever so that personal income levels rise. The aforementioned PDF spoke of one group of those escaping income taxes being users of something called Enterprise Zones. I was not familiar with such zones. Am I just leading a sheltered life?

I decided to look around for more information. I found the California Association of Enterprise Zones, and clicked on their Enterprise Zones link. I got a long list of communities that are included. These privileges are apparently good for 5 years, but some communities have sought an extension. As closely as I can tell, these tax breaks are offered to employers in economically challenged neighborhoods. Here's the map for Watsonville, which is the town closest to me. West Sacramento has a good-sized Enterprise Zone. I'm just beginning to learn what this means for California taxpayers, and what it means for our state budget and just who those are who manage to escape paying a good share of income tax. But now that I have the scent, I'm off to investigate.

posted at: 10:19 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Jun 15 2004

Query With Clips, A New Way

I really like the way Phil Houtz did his writing clips. It's a great way to feature your work. And if some of your writing is web-based, you could provide direct links to articles and other work.

posted at: 11:28 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, Jun 14 2004

Dad Might Like These

If your dad drives a truck or SUV, maybe he would like a hitch cover for Fathers Day. And if he needs to put things on the roof of the vehicle a lot, there's the Flip-Step for easier access. It's even lighted.

posted at: 10:57 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Sun, Jun 13 2004

Listening Even When No One Is Talking

I really like the piece Anne Holmquest did for Aberdeen News today. I've taken several "active listening" courses when I was training to do volunteer work for crisis phone lines and other community work. The problem is that many people don't give you much to listen to. They are secretive, guarded individuals who dole out information to you only when it suits their ego's best interests. This sort of thing is compounded by the fact that we all have familial, cultural and ethnic differences that can make a seemingly innocent question or statement come across as an affront, such as in the case of inter-cultural business negotiation.

People who have been involved in controlling cults or who have been abused as children often resist active listening techniques, because they have been forced to maintain so much secrecy in their life that they have never learned any other coping mechanism. People who battle eating disorders or alcoholism often shut down even more when someone tries to encourage them to open up, and may even lash out at the person attempting to reach out to them.

Even things like birth order can apparently play a part in how people perceive your willingness to be a good listener, and how willing they are to reciprocate.

We can't possibly know all these things about people when we have a casual encounter with them on the street. If we stopped to question their background before we interacted with them, they might retreat even further, or they might take umbrage and tell us just what we can do with our active listening techniques. It's frustrating. I'm not ready to give up and walk around in a bubble, where the only interaction with people is on a factual, militaristic, need-to-know basis. That's too boring and cold for me. I guess I'll just keep fumbling my way through. I might make some folks really unhappy and I might get shot down now and then. But maybe, just maybe, now and then I might discover some real gems of fun or meaningful communication with other people that I would have missed if I hadn't taken a risk.

posted at: 11:08 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Handheld Computing

If the whole handheld computer market is in for a wee bit of downtime, as suggested in this PC World article, why is a handheld device that is capable of running Windows XP about to join the rest of the pack? The OQO debuts this later this year. Tiqit can also operate Windows XP, but doesn't seem to be getting the same notice as the OQO. I will be watching progress and prices, for now. These devices have always had limited appeal for me, partly because of the tedious keyboards they tend to have, and the tiny viewing screens that are probably adequate for those under the age of 40. I wouldn't necessarily balk at a higher price for a handheld computer, if someone offered one with speedy typing and a large viewing screen. An added plus would be extended battery time, but that's a whole other topic for a whole other day.

posted at: 07:37 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Jun 11 2004

AAAAA: Anxious About Acronyns And Abbreviations

I use these acronyms, but sometimes I forget their exact translation into words:

  • ARPAnet: Advanced Research Projects Agency Network
  • ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange
  • Active Server Pages
  • AVI: Audio/Video Interleaved
  • BIOS: Basic Input/Output System
  • CGI: Common Gateway Interface
  • DNS: Domain Name System
  • FTP: File Transfer Protocol
  • HTTP: HyperText Transport Protocol
  • JPEG: Joint Photographic Experts Group
  • MPG: Motion Picture Experts Group
  • PDF: Portable Document Format
  • SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
  • TLD: Top Level Domain
  • URL: Uniform Resource Locator
  • ZIP: Zone Information Protocol
I was going to include exact phrases of what I often mistakenly call these things, but if any of the rest of you tend to be confused, I didn't want to add my confused version to your confused version. I mean, it's bad enough that the word acronym is itself an Acronym.

posted at: 15:53 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Spiritual Preparation

Friday always seems to be a catch-up day for me. I am rather a renegade in my church circle in some ways, but for those Seventh-day Adventists who esteem the party line, many speak of Friday as the "preparation day". When the denomination was first gathering steam, it was made up of mostly folks who came out of other faiths and denominations in an effort to create a Bible-based organization of believers. Many had come from descendants of the group of people who were the Millerites. Their sense that the Second Coming was imminent meant that they took their everyday work tasks seriously, but it also meant they had to get those tasks out of the way so that they could spend Sabbath in study and missionary work. They sometimes saw the Bible story of manna mostly as a lesson that no one should be cooking and cleaning and working on the seventh day.

It was also the Victorian era for them, when taking a bath often involved carrying and heating water (which might mean first carrying wood and building a fire). The concept of what was work and what was rest was a bit different in those days. Cooking meals and keeping house were similarly challenging tasks. Early Adventists prided themselves on having their boots blacked and their church clothes all laid out on Friday, in preparation for the Sabbath day. These times are different. Most of us spend our workdays with a few hasty minutes in the shower, grabbing clean clothes out of the dryer, and snatching a breakfast bar as we run out the door (or over to our keyboards). And if someone thinks they might wear boots to church on the weekend, it's usually a fashion choice and not a necessity. (Exceptions noted for you few remaining, oil-rig workers and cowboys out there who still know what work boots are).

I do still like the idea of a preparation day. It reminds me of packing for a trip, or getting all gussied up to go out for dinner with special people. It's fun to do something to make a future event just a little more special. So, while I might run the vacuum or pick up some flowers for the table, I don't make Fridays any more frenzied than I have to these days, or the whole preparation thing loses its focus for me on a spiritual level. I have learned to pick one thing I don't get to take care of as a regular, everyday task (such as cleaning out a junk drawer or sending a note to someone I haven't been in touch with lately). I like the way it sets me up for an emotional sense of readiness for any spiritual tidbits I might gain in the aftermath, in the next day or so. It isn't the task that matters so much as the feeling of expectancy it gives me. I just can't get that same good feeling if I whine about how hard I'm working and how much I have to do or if I rush and work so hard that I have a splitting headache when it's time to suddenly switch gears and be "spiritual-minded". We humans just aren't like little spigots that turn on and off that way. We need time to transition and process our thoughts and actions. Like so many things that really matter in life, it isn't the destination that changes us. It's what we've already come to be, on the way to that destination.

posted at: 13:53 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Thu, Jun 10 2004

Tee-Time At Angola

The Prison View Golf Course is now open, and the Grand Opening Celebration is this coming weekend. You must undergo a complete background check before teeing off, so contact the Pro-shop 48 hours in advance of your visit.

posted at: 09:17 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Utility Box Art

The June 2004 issue of San Diego Magazine features painted art on San Diego Gas and Electric green utility boxes. They do mention the artistic attraction of such work. What they don't mention is that the art was also part of a project spearheaded by local graphic design professor Candice Lopez, and that the project has had more than one positive outcome. The formerly green utility boxes apparently had become sources of unintended neighborhood blight when drug dealers used them as places of business. When Candice brought in a team of artists and local residents to bring visual interest to the boxes, she also brought about a sense of ownership in the community that sent the drug dealers off to find other less conspicuous tables for their trade. The boxes became part of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego's progressive downtown area.One article mentioned the 94,000 boxes Candice and her cohorts will have to tackle if they want to cover the whole local scene.

The trend toward making utility boxes public art has been catching on in places such as Cambridge, Massachusetts, Zichron Ya'akov, Israel, and Auckland City in Australia. So, if you're stuck with an ugly utility box near your property or your favorite park, don't fret. Someone may pull up any day now and jazz it up for you. If you want to have the first say in designing or painting a box yourself, let your city or utility company know. And you can bet that soon we're sure to see an emerging online gallery of utility box art.

posted at: 07:37 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Wed, Jun 09 2004

Shouldn't Duck Brand Duct Tape Be Called Duck Duct Tape?

Did you know that you can now get transparent duct tape from 3M? Of course, one should not confuse 3M Duct Tape with Duck Tape. If you're not busy on Father's Day weekend, you could attend the Duct Tape Festival, where you might get one of 500 rolls of free Duck Tape, if you arrive early enough.

Then there's the poor old Taped Duck.

posted at: 18:01 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Is It Warm Out Here Or Is It Just Crowd Control?

The Pentagon has been working on something that was obviously the brainchild of a team of menopausal woman who knew the power of hot flashes.

posted at: 14:51 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

See How The Mighty Have Fallen--And A Lot Of Other People Too

Well, I guess some falls are funny and some are not, but you can see links to all kinds of falls at People Falling Over.

posted at: 14:41 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

The Pretty Little Security Guard Wants You To Check Your Shoes

I had to smile, and then wince in agreement, at the comments offered up over at Let's Run The Numbers. My husband once had to take off his shoes before a flight to attend the funeral of his own sister, probably because his ticket had been purchased in a rushed and unconventional manner. Or maybe it was because he looked a bit off-kilter and out of sorts. Well, one would in such circumstances. I don't know their reason, or if they even had a reason. I only remember that it seemed that they were adding insult to injury at the time.

An acquaintance once told us that she believed "profiling" air passengers was a really good idea, even though her own daughter had been singled out for extra attention. Later, when airlines told us not to lock our luggage because they would need to open it, she was one of the first to complain. As long as we allow them to treat us like criminals while we pay for that privilege, they will continue to do so, and will very likely increase their activities to include more invasive and humiliating behavior. Sometimes flight is almost a necessity, and they know that. If we can't vote with our pocketbook, we can at least support efforts to make flight not only safe, but tolerable, and preferably, as pleasant as possible. And we can vote for those who appoint those who oversee such decisions. After 9-11 we were all encouraged to go on living freely in order to show the terrorists that their actions were not affecting us. It's a little tough to do that when the same sources encourage travelers to be treated like potential human incendiary devices. The two attitudes clash. A little like lipstick and combat boots.

posted at: 11:30 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Jun 08 2004

Computer Cases Get A Life Of Their Own

I've seen a few computer cases that were clear or colored or had other unusual looks about them. But the folks who do these case mods are serious about getting a one-of-a-kind look to their puter. Of course, if a person wanted to get the most bang for their buck, they might combine the qualities of the best of computing with the best of coffeemaking and come up with something like this.

If you're the type who likes pushing your computer case and its contents to the limit, you can find some goodies and advice at Voided Warranty. I don't do these things, though I have to admit that something like this GingerbreadPC would be fun to have under the tree at Christmas. Someone even worked a computer into a case that would look nice in the boudoir. You don't have to do anything drastic. You could just update your case with an official Spiderman Fan Grill Guard. But if you get really serious about doing case art and modification, you could be like the guy who plans to take his commissioned project for Intel right into the future, with a mod that makes me think of a back-to-the-future kind of Rocketeer.

posted at: 11:31 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Mon, Jun 07 2004

The Woman Can Wail

I always wanted a big boomy singing voice, but what I got was a nice blending chorus voice. In my dreams (only), I am the likes of Ethel or maybe Janis. And now, after seeing a performance or two on TV, I add Nikki Lamborn to that list. The woman could instantly solidify cement with that set of pipes. And I do mean that in the very nicest way.

Here are some good online links, in case you want to improve your singing voice.

posted at: 08:52 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Sun, Jun 06 2004

Ancient Art In A Flash

Awhile back I mentioned the fun of a site where you can drag and drop bits and pieces to make up portraits (and other things). That was Mr. Picassohead. If you crave still more drag and drop art, have some fun with the Historic Tale Construction Kit. It lets you make tapestries and share them with others.

posted at: 17:22 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Sat, Jun 05 2004

Even The Internet Can Speak In Tongues

The folks at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon held a Sunday service like they've never held before. Many people believe that only a language which can be interpreted by another human, is a valid manifestation of "tongues", while others belong to denominations that fully espouse ecstatic syllables that might not be readily recognized as a language. This author does a fairly good job of talking about the matter with some degree of objectivity, though I think most of us do hold a bias one way or the other when it comes to glossolalia. I would think that things such as Babelfish might be considered a legitimate type of speaking in tongues, since it would give one the ability to use say something spiritual on a web site and then for someone else who understood a different language to read and understand the basic message. It isn't exactly the rocks crying out, but it's still pretty spectacular.

posted at: 15:55 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Fri, Jun 04 2004

Draw, Pardner!

For those who rarely wear a belt or who need to bend over at the waist frequently, this is a nifty little pouch for carrying a cell phone. It just tucks into one's waistband, so you don't have to worry about clips for a belt. It's the Fast Draw Cellular Phone Holster.

posted at: 14:50 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Now You See It--Now You See Something Else

I have a modest collection of lenticular pictures, many of which were produced by Vari-Vue, so I took a closer look at the digital version of the lenticular image at ocean blog Shifting Baselines.

posted at: 08:28 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Thu, Jun 03 2004

Paper Doll Nostalgia

The men reading this may posting may prefer to look at this, or here, or maybe this if you're hungry.

As a kid I loved paper dolls and have often thought of designing some of my own. But I never in my wildest dreams thought of these.

If you're the type who doesn't want to be bothered with paper, you can try out these paper dolls that change clothes when you click on the outfits.

If those are too old-school for you, there's a Buffy The Vampire Slayer paper doll. Or Luke Skywalker, his Jedi Knight outfit, plus a cape to go with it.

The two paper dolls on the right here have fantasy-length legs.

Scroll down on this page for the likes of Hyacinth Bucket and other characters from British comedies.

If you want to draw your own paper doll, here are some tips.

I hope this didn't bore my guy readers. Guys, if there is a woman (including a daughter) in your life, chances are that she will (if she hasn't already) develop a fascination with paper dolls at some point. I guess these things are a symbol of being able to change lifestyles and settings as quickly as one changes outfits. It's an instant transformation we all wish we could make as often as we wish. It's all part of the mystery of the female mind.

posted at: 17:39 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

I Am A) Running Marathons B) Have A Cold And Need Soup C) Signing My Last Will

If you're a prolific writer who loves to get snail mail from folks, and you have a lazy letter writer among your circle of loved ones, try giving them a kit for Multiple Choice Correspondence. Actually, I've been using this sort of thing for years, when I needed quick responses to find out the best date for a group social function, but I'll bet my choices were more creative. In a pinch, this standardized version will do. Now someone should come up with these for cell phone text messages.

posted at: 07:48 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Jun 02 2004

These Web Tidbits Caught My Eye Today

From Heather at angelweave, a link to do something special for our troops and our veterans in hospitals. It's Books for Soldiers.

Android World has a page of links to Fun Animatronics Sites.

You'll need some time to view all four parts, but you'll enjoy the great use of Flash in The Space Odyssey Explained, an interpretation of Stanley Kubrick's 2001.

posted at: 10:25 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Jun 01 2004

Blogs And Cover Envy

I had great fun reading an article that was almost more about getting the subject's people to cooperate than it was about the subject. Of course, I won't be posting a picture of the article's subject here, nor am I likely to do so in the future, because this is a blog, and blogs, by the nature of their concept and layout, don't actually have the ability to feature such things as cover photos of Jesse James.

Well, we do keep hearing that even bad publicity is good publicity. I'm just trying to figure out whether or not I would like to hire the kind of publicists mentioned in the article. On one hand, they could keep one's name and photo out of places that had no cover. On the other hand, they might keep one out of an energetic, widely-read publication like Orange County Weekly. Thank goodness that didn't happen this time. I'm still not certain if that was because of the publicists, or in spite of them.

posted at: 08:20 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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