As Woody Allen said, the heart wants what it wants. So, why are you here?
Monday, September 29, 2008
The Blogventure Begins... Later!
Thanks to those of you who have already turned in requests for the all-request blog month. I'll just mention that the event will actually start on the first of October and continue until Halloween, at which point I will have a Blogventure Blowout and write posts on every topic that hasn't been covered yet.
I was figuring that I'd be lucky to get 30 requests, not thinking that of course people would immediately think "I'll give him a dozen or so just for fun" At first that made it seem like I would get to pick and choose, but no: I'm going to write a post about all of them. Even if that means some posts end up like this:
I have a request that I cover the financial crisis. I haven't really been keeping up, but I have noticed that inflation stories make for very dull news coverage. I was lifting weights and trying to watch CNN and I was just about bored to tears.
I did increase my reps by 10% today, though. Booyah!
Thanks to Steve-o for the idea.
Or, if things get desperate:
Joe Biden sucks and is super-lame.
Thanks to Amy for the request!
No, no, I shan't be so dismissive. I will have at least three poorly-sourced paragraphs based off of unconfirmable source stories explaining why Joe Biden sucks and is super-lame ('Cause he is, man. He is). You deserve my very best, and so I'm going to at least give you something half-assed. We're committed around here, even if the things we're committed to are pretty stupid.
I've been posting off and on for a bit without any real momentum, so I just thought I'd set a goal for the next month of posting every single day. In order to meet this goal, I thought I'd give myself some motivation:
I will, for the next month, post on whatever topic is requested by a reader. Literally anything. Leave a comment or send me an email, and I will post on it. Regardless of what the subject is. I'm good for it.
Has the expression "all politics are local" finally become a completely useless expression? Can people stop saying it now? I understand the theory of how every bit of government only affects people on an individual, one-transaction-at-a-time level, and all management is done by local officials - police, etc. - but it's still complete nonsense now, right?
I pay taxes which are taken out of my check electronically, and the check itself is deposited into my bank, a national chain (WaMu), which was recently bought out by an even larger national chain (Chase). When I do my tax form at the end of the year, I do it online as well, because I do everything online. I move to another area of the country for a week, absolutely nothing at all changes. My life is fully portable, because it's all tied into the grid.
The massive, massive majority of people have no idea of the names of the people who are their selectman. A huge percentage of those also do not know their mayor, or their congressman, or their governor, or their senator. Our only concerns are fully national - we know the president, we know national issues: the war, immigration, gay marriage, and so on. The issues that are fully local, economic ones, the debate on them is always a national one. Even a state as proudly self-reliant as Texas fails to even pretend to try to fix any of the problems. Anything of any importance is decided on a national level.
So why pretend it's any different?
For the record, my congressman is Kevin Brady, my governor is the tiresome Rick Perry, my senators are John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, and my town is in flux over who is in charge until we incorporate in a couple of years.
Things are pretty normal now. Except - oh, yeah, I blew up my apartment.
There are a certain percentage of things that can only happen to me. Bizarre coincidences leading to disaster, things like running into a skunk while skiing, or having a plow truck dump all the snow from an overpass onto my car while I was driving underneath. Twice. The first time I ever drove in a blizzard. This week had one of those.
Sunday afternoon, I was watching football at home and decided to flip over to the other game. Since I don't have cable, I pick up all the broadcasts via an antenna made out half a dozen coat hangers and a paper clip. Understandably, whenever you change the channel, you have to re-twist the metal a dozen different ways in order to pick up the new broadcast, and I've gotten fairly used to the general idiosyncrasies of each channel: CBS - down and to the right, Fox - straight up and over the TV, ABC - attach to the doorknob, NBC - don't even try. Still, it can take a couple minutes of struggle to finally get an only vaguely fuzzy image.
On this occasion, I was wrestling the wires and jerking things back and forth when the paper clip burst free from the coaxial input and slipped off the edge of the hanger. Purely coincidentally, it managed to impale itself inside the outlet that the television was plugged into, in the millimeter of space between the plug and the outlet. There was a small, brilliant explosion as the paper clip melded itself to both the outlet and the plug, leaving a large, dark circle around the outlet and knocking out all of the outlets and lights in my apartment. I whacked the plug out of the outlet with a wooden spoon and went to flip the breaker a couple times. Nothing. I had shorted out my apartment.
I called my apartment complex to tell them that my outlets didn't seem to be working for some reason. They were appropriately apologetic for my baffling loss of power. I managed to be magnanimous about the whole thing. "I'm sure it's just one of those things," I told them.
Hopefully they'll forget about this incident quickly so that they can't start putting a pattern together. This sort of stuff tends to follow me around.
I went to renew my Social Security card and discovered that their office was stationed in what turned out to be the world's ugliest shopping mall. For one, it had the world's least appealing clothing store:
Immediately next to the the least appealing place I'd ever want to order a pan-seared salmon.
Which is surprising, considering their excellent street exposure.
I'm fifty miles north of where the storm hit the coast, but the aftermath has been pretty lasting in our region. A week in, the majority of the town still lacks power, and FEMA is still trying to find ways to supply people with water. Living on the third floor of a fairly modern apartment building, I was mostly unaffected by the storm other than several days of having no power, just enough time to get really tired of canned beans. Seriously, I'm done.
These are some pictures I took as the storm was sweeping away. As you can see, my immediate area was fairly lightly hit, but traveling around this week, I'm realizing how incredibly lucky I am. Some friends of mine had their house destroyed by a falling tree, they'll be tearing it down to the framing over the coming months and starting over. I took some pictures today that I might post later from a much poorer community nearby. The floodwaters rose dramatically, filling most of the houses without about two feet of standing water. Driving through, the residents have dragged every bit of carpet and furniture out and left them at the curb, then gone back in and started taking sledgehammers to the walls. They're starting over with almost literally nothing, just four brick walls - sometimes less.
Here's a quick pictorial guide to my immediate area:
The approaching hurricane gave us a spectacular sunset.
Power on this side of the highway is still out.
This is the first moment I realized the storm might have hit harder than I thought.
This was not fragile-looking metalwork.
Nobody liked this restaurant, anyway.
I'll miss the Sonic, though.
If I can come up with more, I'll let you know or point you in the right direction.
I made my annual trek to see my beloved Red Sox this weekend, and though it's a three and a half hour drive to Arlington (and, I can attest, just as long back again), it was worth it.
I chose center field bleachers which turned out to be an excellent choice - I got to be among the crazies, who immediately took a liking to me and asked me about the Red Sox, what I thought of the Manny deal and did I think the Red Sox would win the Series (they seemed 100% convinced that the Sox are a lock, whereas I remain skeptical. This has to be the first time a Rangers fan has out-believed me, but there it is).
Last time I merely sat back and took the game in, but this time I got to be a bit more involved, hanging out with a crew that knows all the pitchers in the bullpen and shouts helpful advice about how not to suck this time out. The Rangers bullpen, it should be noted, bears this advice with remarkably good grace.
They may have been mild fans of the Red Sox ("We like any team that's not the Yankees" - the baseline principle behind many of my friendships), but the Sox were the opposing team, and so as more and more beer was imbibed, players started getting heckled. The main object of these fans ire was of course the player closest to them, Coco Crisp, the Sox's light-hitting center fielder.
Let me tell you, after nine innings in Arlington, I can now report with certainty that a number of very insulting and occasionally disturbing things rhyme with "CoCo."
The "planned community" in which I reside has built a new plaza with a large, dramatic fountain dominating it. At some point there are supposed to be restaurants and commerce buzzing all around this plaza, but right now it's just a big lit-up fountain, the planning committee apparently subscribing to the Ray Kinsella method of economics.
I hadn't stopped by the plaza until last night and immediately regretted not seeking it out sooner. The whole plaza was picturesque and filled with plenty of mostly empty benches overlooking the fountain, but the selling point was when, about ten minutes after I'd arrived, the lights went off suddenly and a lone voice drifted out of an unseen speaker:
"Why are there so many songs about rainbows...?"
It was Kermit the Frog singing "The Rainbow Connection." And incredibly, the whole fountain was synched to do a light show corresponding to the song. I immediately commented to a friend, "I love this so much I think I unironically love it."
In my excitement at the discovery of the GOP Ticket = "Battlestar Galactica" Theory, I forgot to mention the continuation of the "The West Wing" = Current Political Situation Theory.
In Season Six of "The West Wing," the Democratic candidate selects an older, weathered politician with Washington credibility and loads of foreign policy experience (along with a checkered past and a slight hint of masochism to his personality), to counteract accusations of his own naiveté. Meanwhile, the Republican goes against the longstanding expectations of his party and selects a young, rising-star governor from a lightly populated backwoods state to be his running mate. While his candidate's main object is to help shore up the base, his VP choice immediate goes on the offensive against the opposition as their dedicated hatchet man. In particular, the VP's eye-opener of a speech at the RNC raises the ire of the Democrats, before the Presidential candidate gives a less partisan, "I promise to work for the American people" speech to close the event.
So really, the similarities between the show and real life seem to have disappeared, eh?
By the way, has anyone else noticed that Obama's tax plan is the one Aaron Sorkin proposed in Season 4? They're even defending it in the same way.
This will mean nothing to a lot of you, but if you've ever watched Battlestar Galactica, the parallels here are truly frightening:
I'd been holding to the current Presidential race = Seasons 6 and 7 of The West Wing theory, but I think I may have to abandon that strategy and go for this new theory. After all, Sen. McCain and Col. Tigh are both former POWs, and Palin and Roslin both come from education backgrounds.
Though, I suppose there's something to be said for people just naturally looking for leadership from wizened old military vets and capable women wearing spectacles.