Monday, July 30, 2007

Music Monday - Pumpkins

From Wikipedia:

Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music is an album by The Smashing Pumpkins that was released for free on the Internet on September 5, 2000. A sequel to Machina/The Machines of God, it has thus far not had a commercial release. It consists of three EPs full of B-sides and alternate versions, and one double LP which is the actual album. Both Machina albums are concept albums. At the time the album was released it was to be the final Smashing Pumpkins studio album, but the band has since reformed with new members and released their newest album, Zeitgeist, in 2007. It is nonetheless the final studio album of the original lineup.

Near the conclusion of the Machina sessions, it was Billy Corgan's wish to release a double album of material, but Virgin Records was unwilling to do that following the disappointing sales of Adore. After the release, and poor sales, of the single-disc Machina/The Machines of God, Corgan then wanted to release a second Machina album separately, but Virgin declined to do this as well. As a final farewell to the fans, and as a snub to the unsupportive label (as evidenced by the album's title), it was released independently as Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music. The album was released on Corgan's own label Constantinople Records. Only 25 total copies were made. The records were shipped via FedEx to several heavily active fans in the online community, with instructions to immediately redistribute it among the fans.

Read the whole thing here, and download the set here.


Restaurant Review

Back in the beginning of June my SIL emailed me from the Caribbean where she resides to tell me that she intended to send Mrs. Muzzy and me out to dinner - along with an offer of several hours of baby-sitting - when she was up here this summer with her daughter. And so it was that Mrs Muzzy and I ended up at the new (and only) Brazilian Restaurant in town, Fogo De Chao, this past Saturday night.

We had reservations for 6:00 PM, but as is so often the case, we were not going to get there on time, so I called ahead and was told we would be seated when we arrived. As it turned out, we were only 20 minutes late, and actually managed to find a parking meter just yards from the front door the the establishment, in the heart of the Minneapolis entertainment district.

The restaurant is one of a chain that operates in both the US and Brazil in the typical Gaucho style that serves its meats done up a la churrasco.

From the Wikipedia:

A churrascaria (IPA pronunciation: [ʃuxaska'ɾiɐ]) is a Brazilian or Portuguese steakhouse. Churrasco is the cooking style, which translates roughly from the Portuguese for 'barbecue'. However, in order to avoid confusion, it is important to state that in the rest of South America other than Brazil, the 'barbecue' method of cooking meat is known as asado.

Distinctly a South American style rotisserie, it owes its origins to the fireside roasts of the gaúchos of southern Brazil traditionally from the Pampa region, centuries ago. In modern restaurants, rodizio service is typically offered. Passadors (meat waiters) come to your table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of meat, be it beef, pork, filet mignon, lamb, chicken, duck, ham (and pineapple), sausage, fish, or any other sort of local cut of meat.

In most parts of Brazil, the churrasco is roasted with charcoal. In the south of Brazil, however, mostly close to the borders of Argentina and Uruguay, embers of wood are also used.

In the United States some upscale churrascaria chain restaurants such as Fogo de Chão and Texas de Brazil have opened in several states.

Anyway, we were seated right away, and the waiter explained the house rules: take a clean plate to the salad bar, back at the table turn the coaster to the green side up when meat is wanted, and red side up when it is not. Side dishes are brought out periodically, drinks and dessert are extra.

And what a salad bar! I've never seen the likes. Meats, cheeses, various fresh and broiled vegetables. I filled my plate, and was feeling full before I ever turned my coaster to green, but I girded my loins and asked the servers to get me some chicken, some pork and some beef. Oh yeah, I also requested some Brazilian-style rice and beans and forofa, none of which was the best I've tasted, but were okay. The chicken and pork were good, but the beef was perfect, well-done like I asked, tender and juicy, a delight. To top off the evening, I ordered the house Flan, garnished with a live orchid. (Hey, for $6.75 it had better come with a live orchid.)

The food was great, but the what blew my mind was the staff. The waiters were amazing, rushing about like they were going into battle. I've never seen such energy in a restaurant. Seriously. They were literally running from the back to the tables, in order to get the meat and other dishes served. What's more, the place is huge and was packed the whole time we were there, with people lined up at the door, waiting to get in. I left a 20% tip because if anyone deserves it, those servers did.

So, to sum up: if you are looking for a new kind of restaurant experience, with great food and atmosphere, check out a Fogo De Chao near you. And FYI, the lunch menu is fifteen dollars less expensive than the dinner munu, but it's the same food and service. I give them four and a half stars, but only reason I wouldn't give them a full five stars was that the Brazilian side dishes weren't as good as they could have been. Other than that, the service was superb, the meat and salad bar were amazing, and it's just a great place to have a very nice dinner.

RIP - Tom Snyder

From Wikipedia:

Tom Snyder (May 12, 1936 - July 29, 2007) was an American television personality, news anchor, and radio personality best known for his late night talk shows The Tomorrow Show, on the NBC television network in the 1970s and '80s, and The Late Late Show, on the CBS television network in the 1990s. Snyder was also the pioneer anchor of the primetime "NBC News Update", in the 1970s and early 1980s, which was a one-minute capsule of news updates in primetime; later in the mid 1980s, local affiliates took over these news update timeslots for local headlines which also served as promos for the local late newscasts. [1]

Minnesota Computer Terms

Found on the web:

  • Log on: Making the wood stove hotter
  • Log off: Don't add wood
  • Monitor: Keep an eye on the woodstove
  • Download: Getting the firewood off the pickup
  • Megahertz: What happens when you drop a log on your toe while downloading
  • Floppy Disk: What you get from piling too much wood
  • RAM: The hydraulic thingy that makes the wood splitter work
  • Hard Drive: Getting home in a snowstorm
  • Prompt: What you wish the mail was in a snowstorm
  • Windows: What you close when it's 30 below
  • Screen: What you need for the mosquito season
  • Byte: What the mosquitoes will do to you if you don't have a screen
  • Micro Chip: What's left in the bottom of the bag
  • Infrared: Where the leftovers go when Fred's around
  • Modem: What you do to the hayfields
  • Dot Matrix: Farmer Matrix's daughter
  • Lap Top: Where little kids feel comfy
  • Keyboard: Where you hang up your keys
  • Software: Plastic eating utensils
  • Mouse: What eats the grain in the barn
  • Main Frame: The part of the barn that holds the frame up
  • Port: Fancy wine tried once by Farmer Matrix
  • Enter: C'mon in
  • Random Access Memory: You can't remember how much that new rifle cost when your wife asks

Hey, I didn't write them.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Found On The Web

Remembering Elizabeth

I first wrote and posted this on Jul. 28th, 2005, and I repost it here today, with only slight revision:

On July 28th, 1966, our family went on a picnic outing with friends to celebrate the birthday of a young South American teacher who was living with us at the time. We drove a few kilometers away from our town to a small undeveloped beach on the Tocantins river. After lunch my dad took a nap in a hammock, and my mom went down the beach to a shack to change into swim wear, while the several of us kids and young teens splashed about in the warm and shallow water.

Then, it happened.

While the events that followed are somewhat muddled in my mind, I recall a great deal of commotion. Someone noticed that my nearly-7-year-old sister Elizabeth had disappeared under the water, and had not reappeared. Most of the river was extremely shallow during that time of the year, but unknown to us, there was an underwater drop-off just behind where Elizabeth had been standing. Apparently, as she stepped out of the shallows into the drop-off, the slow but powerful current pulled her under, and she never came back up.

There was yelling, and shouting, and thrashing about by all of us. A couple of the girls started crying and shrieking. Some of the teenagers ran to get my mother, who happened to be changing clothes at the time. When she heard what had happened, she began to scream hysterically, and ran toward the river's edge, pushing a couple of young men out of her way, and plunged into the water, ostensibly in an attempt to effect a rescue. In the meantime a couple of others and I ran up a hill to fetch my father, who was resting in a hammock. I remember he raced down the hill, stripping his clothes off as he ran. Both of my parents plunged frantically into the water, trying to find my sister, and in the melee, they both nearly drowned.

Much of what follows I do not clearly remember, but was told from a number of sources: my mother - and another American woman named Kay who was staying with us - had gone into the water in an attempt to find Elizabeth, but had quickly been seized with stomach cramps, and were unable to swim. My father immediately set about trying to save them, taking a gulp of air and going under the water to try to hold the two afloat - he did this for a short while - until he passed out. Kay was able to swim to shore but my mother was swept down stream, and had to be rescued by some farmers in a canoe.

I do vaguely remember a number of people trying to save my father. They tied four or five towels together into a sort of rope, with the intent of sending someone into the river to try to pull Dad to shore, but this didn't work, with the towels coming apart in the water and drifting downstream. (Strange: I recall thinking at the time that Mom was going to mad about the loss of the towels.) Finally, my father was pulled out of the water and laid on the sand, where he stayed for some time. Somehow we got home - I believe Dad drove the family Jeep - and we had some soup, and went to bed.

Two days later, early in the morning, some farmers brought Elizabeth's body to the house. They had fished her out of the river some sixty miles downstream. Her body was already badly decomposed in the tropical heat, and stank of an awful sulfa smell. (To this day I cannot smell a home perm or rotten eggs without being reminded of that smell.) My father took her body and placed it on a small cot in the large play room, and covered it with a sheet. He did not allow the rest of the family to view the body. I have come to the conclusion that it was probably the right thing, although it deprived me of proof of the certainty of Elizabeth's death, which was to cause me no end of difficulty in the years to come.

My minister father conducted the closed-casket funeral - closed, because of the condition of the body - and Elizabeth's earthly remains were taken to the local cemetery to be buried. I recall that it was a sunny day and I remember picking flowers for my mom; I can only imagine that I was still oblivious to the truth of Elizabeth's fate. Although it was done for entirely in good faith and for good reasons, having a closed coffin service violated the tradition and norms and customs of that part of the country, and for the rest of the next year I heard rumors whispered about the neighborhood that the reason for the closed coffin was that the body had either (a) never been found, or (b) been buried in the woods behind our house. In either case, it was said to have been a shameful thing that our family had done. I recall feeling anger at not being able to shake the mockery of the neighborhood bullies who'd say such things.

I didn't truly understand that Elizabeth had died until nearly another whole year had passed. Because my sister's death wasn't talked about much - if at all - in our family, and because my parents never clearly articulated their own grief, I didn't feel free to articulate mine. In fact, it was not until nearly a year after her death that I was able to cry at all about what had happened. I simply hadn't ever come to grips with the fact that the whole episode had been real. Then it finally dawned on me that it wasn't a dream, that I was not going to wake up from the nightmare, as I always had from all my previous nightmares: Elizabeth really HAD died.

When the fact of her death became clear to me, I became quite ill, and spent the bulk of the following year sick of body, mind and soul. I missed nearly all of 5th grade with a low-grade depression which has plagued me on and off, ever since, and I'm convinced that it was during that period that I developed the ADD tendencies that have plagued me to this day. What's more, in my early teenage years I was to feel a great deal of guilt for the wrongs - both real and imagined - that I had committed against my sister. I was convinced, for a number of years, that I had been responsible for her death. I had been right there when she died and hadn't been able to save her. How could I have I NOT been responsible? It had to have been my fault, right? I now know better. I was just a kid who didn't even know how to swim at the time, but it took me a long time to understand that.

Elizabeth's death was hard on my mother, but she seemed to cope better than my dad. The loss of my sister devastated my father. She was his first daughter and had a special place in his heart. After her death he slipped into a severe depression that took its toll on his heart, both figuratively and literally, and he died at 51 years of age of a heart attack on July 25, 1986, nearly 20 years to the day from when Elizabeth had died.

I didn't truly understand what had happened to my Dad until years after his death, after I had the chance I read his personal journals. It would seem that when Elizabeth died, a part of him died, too. After my sister's death, the very things Dad wanted most in life - connectedness, love, family, community - he seemed less able to allow himself to experience, and he spent the next 20 years in great emotional pain. And, although my relations with him were not terribly strained, we were not close, either. He seemed to keep me at arm's length, possibly in an attempt to ensure that he would never be in a position to be that hurt again.

Sadly, I seem to have learned that lesson only too well. In like manner, I have spent decades keeping others from getting too close to me, in a vain attempt to keep from having to suffer loss, and pain, and disappointment. It's only been in the several years since the births of my daughters that I feel like I've started to come alive a bit. If I lost either of them I, too, would be devastated. But I think that I would also be grateful for having been given the chance to be their Dad. I only wish that my father could have lived to see his grandkids. Perhaps in his golden years he could have experienced a bit of the healing that my girls have brought to me.

One last note: in recent years members of the family have gone back to the town where she was buried but have been unable to locate her grave site. It's not even known with certainty in which cemetery she was buried. It's obviously not somewhere I could visit regularly, but it causes me sadness to know that her earthly resting place has been somehow inadvertently lost or forgotten, or even moved, perhaps. Thing is, the town we lived in then had maybe five thousand inhabitants, and today has perhaps a quarter-million. There has been massive development in the forty years hence, and there is no one left to ask about such things. Nearly all the adults who might have been there at the time - and there weren't many - have all passed away. In any case, I'm well aware that the only thing in question are Elizabeth's mortal remains, that her soul rests elsewhere, so I guess I'm using this space as a kind of marker for her. I will not forget.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Caetano And Friends

Caetano Veloso


'Tatuagem / Esse Cara'
Caetano Veloso and Chico Buarque


'Como Dois E Dois'
Caetano Veloso and Roberto Carlos


Caetano Veloso and Sandy


'Garota De Ipanema'
Caetano Veloso and Joao Gilberto


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

From the WTH Files: 'Viva Viagra'

PC World Recommends

From PC World's list of 20 best freeware files for those using Wintel boxes:

Click here to view full-size image.

ClamWin Free Antivirus

Antivirus software tends to be big and bloated, use plenty of RAM and system resources, and generally clog up your system. Worse is that increasingly, antivirus vendors make it difficult to buy antivirus software by itself, and include firewalls, anti-spyware and other software with it.

If you want a clean, mean piece of antivirus software that does just one thing--protect against viruses--you'll want this program. It has a small footprint, and doesn't take up much system resources.

It will scan your entire hard disk at once for viruses and spyware, or can scan individual files and folders. It also includes a Microsoft Outlook add-in to remove virus-infected attachments automatically from your e-mail. The program has one drawback, though: It doesn't include real-time virus protection.

Download ClamWin Free Antivirus

Other good freeware anti-virus/spyware programs include

and Microsoft's own Windows Defender.

BTW, I don't understand why the Mighty Microsofties don't just build proper 'Defender' features into the OS. But then again, being a 20-year Mac user, Muzzy recommends switching to a Mac, at any rate. But hey, if you must use Windoze, by all means be sure to practice Safe Hex.

Remembering Father

On July 25, 2005 I posted the following on this blog, and today I'm reprising it, slightly edited to make it up-to-date:

I was at home in bed in the wee hours of the morning 21 years ago today, when the phone rang: it was my brother, calling from overseas to tell me my father was having a heart-attack on the front porch of the family home. I called back a few minutes later and was told that Dad had just died. He is buried in South America, where he passed away at 51 years of age.

My Dad suffered a great deal of heart-ache and depression in the years after my nearly-seven year-old sister died on July 28th, 1966, and I'm sure that the stress of her loss contributed to his early death, nearly 20 years to the day after she drowned. I still miss him, even today, all these many years later. But even more than merely for myself, I wish Dad could have lived to see his 7 living grand-kids, especially my 2 lovely daughters. He'd be a 72 year-old grandpa today, and I'd like to believe that his grand-kids would have helped in his Golden Years to heal some of the pain and loss he felt during much of his young life.

Many years ago, when I was but a young pup in college, my mother remarked to me how it broke my dad's heart to see me growing up so much like him. I thought that was an odd thing to say, and I asked her to explain further. She told me that he saw in me a young man who was a loner, who cut himself off from others, who had a strong streak of stubbornness, but above all, a young man with a depressive nature, someone he felt was bound to experience much pain for it in the years to come, just as he had. I recall feeling hurt and even a little angry that he might have said such things about me, especially that he said them to my mom and not me, and I shrugged them off as the grumblings of the older generation.

Thing is, he was right. I am all of that, and I have suffered for my tendencies. Biology is not destiny, but I do carry in me the genes of my dad. In retrospect I am grateful and humbled that he would have been able to recognize himself in me, and that he would have cared. I only wish he could have spoken with me about it, and that I could have been open to his suggestions and counsel. Truth is, we were both probably too proud and stubborn to have done that, and the opportunity was lost.

In any event, while it is my hope and prayer that my daughters do not develop the same tendencies as their father and grandfather, I resolve to speak with them about such things. I can't be responsible for how they take what I tell them, but I am responsible to do all that I can to reach and teach them.

I do miss you, Dad.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Animal Planet

I witnessed something the other day that left me in a state, something that was natural as the prairie grass that grows alongside the country roads of this state, and yet was disturbing in the extreme.

I was out walking by the Minneapolis Convention Center when I saw a Grackle chasing a hapless Sparrow who had somehow run afoul of the larger bird. The Grackle would catch up to the Sparrow and peck away furiously at its head, and the Sparrow would tumble over backwards, get up and frantically try to get away on wobbly legs, but before it could take flight, the Grackle would be upon it again, pecking, pecking, pecking. It was a horrific sight.

I have no idea what the sparrow could have done to merit such a response, I wanted to intervene, but determined that it would not have been wise, and left it all alone. Still, I was shaken and disturbed by what I saw, and could only marvel at the fact that I haven't seen more of such displays.

Advice From Muzzy

I was standing in line at the supermarket the other day, found myself glancing over the magazines on the rack to my left, and was struck by the huge number so-called women's magazines on display, so I took the opportunity to leaf thru several of them.

As I glanced thru such titles as Cosmo, Marie Claire and Glamour, I couldn't help but notice how each magazine was chock-full of photos of beautiful scantily-clad young women, as well as several articles on such important topics as how to attract a man, how to seduce a man, how to keep a man, how to get over a cad, how to then find a new man, and the ubiquitous articles titled something along the lines of 'The 33 New Places To Touch Your Man,' 'The 13 Secret And Hitherto Unheard Of New Positions,' and 'Doggone It, Now, Just What's That Man Thinking?'


Okay look, for you all you ladies reading this: first of all, the gentleman S.O. in your life doesn't have 33 New Places you can touch him. He doesn't even 33 *Old* Places. He has maybe 3, including that one you already told him you'd rather *not* touch, and he's mostly fine with that.

Regarding those 'new' positions, he's almost certainly more than happy to try to figure them out with you, if you'd ask. It's not rocket science here. Experiment.

And as for what he's thinking: much as it pains me to say it, probably not much. He's likely either thinking about how he wishes he could figure out a new position with you, or he's wishing you'd stop asking him what he's thinking so he can get back to the the game, or surfing the web.

So stop trying so hard to figure him out. Really, he's not that complex. Keep him fed, let him hold the remote, make an honest attempt to laugh at his pathetic attempts at humor, and he's putty in your hands.

And while we're at it, I'm going to let you in on a little guy-secret: despite what the Wimmin's Mags want you to believe, he's not even that picky about how you look. I mean, he knows you're not a supermodel, yet he asked you out, went out with you for two years, married you, adopted your cat, and he's still with you.

Sure, he likes seeing pictures of really hot women, and no matter how much he might try to deny it, he did *too* have a little crush on Eva Mendes, just then. But that isn't any more real than your own little girl-crush on, well, Eva Mendes, so stop stressing out about that stuff, already. Of course he likes pretty women, but if he's at all into you it's because you are more than pretty enough for him. Okay?

So, my advice? Stop reading those women's magazines. Most of the articles are silly, and the advice in them about men is nonsense. You know it and he knows it, and the only ones benefiting are the publisher and advertisers. In the future if you *must* buy magazines chock-full of pictures of beautiful scantily-clad women, stick to the likes of Maxim and FHM. Your man will thank you, he'll be the envy of all his buddies, and that can only mean one thing: you're gonna learn some new positions. That's all I'm sayin'.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Music Monday - Three Songs

'Ain't No Sunshine'


'Killing Me Softly'
The Fugees


'Don't Give Up'
Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush


Beware The Tides Of July

I'm a melancholic, possessed of a spirit of melancholy: I think too much, brood too much, worry too much. It's something I've struggled with most of my life, and will probably take with me to my grave.

But even at that, there are times of the year that are harder than others for me, and this week is one of the hardest. July 25th is the anniversary of the day my father died in 1986, and July 28 is the anniversary of the day my sister died in 1966, when I was but a lad of 9 years of age.

I've written of both extensively in the past, so I'll refrain from writing up the actual events here and now, but I'll post (or repost) something more substantial on the days of those anniversaries. But I was just thinking about how the very act of remembering them triggers other memories, things that I'd either forgotten, or that I'm not even sure if I truly remember correctly. Of course, there's no way to fact-check those things. I can't ask either of the principals, nor is there anyone else to consult, so I'm left to wonder if I even actually remember some of the things I *think* I remember, in any case.

It's strange how the loss of a loved one can affect one's thinking, and feeling, and perceptions. I have to believe that my pervasive fear of rejection, my all-encompassing urge to play it safe, and my borderline-neurotic ongoing state of separation-anxiety all have their roots in my sister's death.

It makes sense.

A little kid loses his best friend and closest family member, which is hard enough, but if that same kid wasn't able to grieve that loss in a healthy way at the time - or at all, really - then the grieving just oozes out of the pores for a lifetime.

With my dad's death it was little different, because I was already an adult when he died, and I had a better sense of what happened, but even with him, some two decades on, I'm filled with not just sadness that he died so young - at my age, really - but that there were so many things that I never got to ask him, things I never got to tell him, and that he never told me. I deeply regret that.

Of course, I have operated my life like most people do, thinking that I'll always have tomorrow to say the things I've wanted to say, to say I'm sorry to someone I've hurt, or to tell someone I care for that I love them, or to call up an old friend just to say hi. And thing is, for most of us, most of the time, it's true, we *do* have tomorrow.

But on July 25, 1986, and on July 28, 1966, my tomorrows ended for two of the most important people in my life. On those days everything changed for me, the course of my life was altered, and nothing has ever really been the same, since.

At the end of April of this year I was admitted to the Emergency Room at a local hospital with chest pains, wondering if I might be having a coronary event of the kind that took my father's life. It turns out that I had nothing more exotic than a bronchial infection from a chest cold.

But it set me to thinking: what if it had been my last night on earth? What things would I have most regretted having left unsaid? To whom would I most regret having not said those things? To whom would I most wish I'd have been able to apologize? Which relationships would I regret having left un-repaired? What would I think most important to be considering as I made my passage across the Great Divide? How should I live my life if I survived?

Good questions, all, and fortunately I didn't have to answer them for the final time that night, but they've been much on my mind, ever since. And although that experience didn't change my life completely, it's had an affect on my thinking, to be sure. Maybe that's one more subject to take up with my therapist.

Anyway, this week is *not* one of crushing despair, just one of garden-variety melancholy and sadness for me. So if you should spot me walking slowly thru the neighborhood in my long black coat, with my hands clasped behind my back, muttering to myself, offer me a cup of cold water, and give me a wide berth. I'm not quite mad, just a little upset, but do know that in the end I'll be alright. I guess I just have to remember to count my blessings. Don't forget to count yours.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Made Me Laugh

I was at the library this afternoon with my lovely daughters, when a young woman of perhaps 17 or 18 walked in with whom I assumed to be her mom, and began to peruse the DVD's just to the left of where I was standing.

The young lady was very pretty, to be sure, with shoulder-length dark brown hair, and was nicely-dressed for summer in designer jeans and a brown tee-shirt. But what caught my eye was something that was written across the back of her tee-shirt, something I'd never seen on a shirt before, something that left me laughing: the words to Psalm 56:1.

I thought it far too tacky - and perhaps even dangerous - to ask if I might be allowed to photograph her sartorial statement, so I made a mental note of it, and determined to Google the matter when I got home, hoping to find a photo of just such a shirt to post here for you, gentle readers.

Well, I didn't find the identical shirt, but I did, in fact, find one for sale with the same verse emblazoned across the front, and figured it would give you an idea of what amused me so. So, without further commentary, then:

Get yours here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Smashing Pumpkins

'Muzzle' (live acoustic)
Smashing Pumpkins


'Tonight Tonight'
Smashing Pumpkins


Smashing Pumpkins


Smashing Pumpkins


Smashing Pumpkins


'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'
Smashing Pumpkins


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Missed It

The big MOB Bash was held this weekend at Keegan's, and I had seriously considered putting in an appearance, but I ended up at a gathering at a friend's house. It turns out the former organist from my wife's church - and who was the pianist at our wedding - was back in town for a visit from New Zealand. It was the first time 12 years that we've seen each other, and I wanted to get the chance to hang out for a while. Well, I was on Daddy Duty and couldn't really go MOB'ing with the widdle wons in tow, so the potluck picnic with Mark won out. But I'll try to make it to the next gathering, I promise.

From The WTH Files

From Yahoo News:

Mom: Baby's talk got me kicked off plane

Thu Jul 12, 8:29 PM ET

A woman said she and her toddler son were kicked off a plane after she refused a flight attendant's request to medicate her son to get him to quiet down and stop saying "Bye bye, plane."

Kate Penland, of suburban Atlanta, said she and her 19-month-old son, Garren, were flying from Atlanta to Oklahoma last month on a Continental Express flight that made a stop in Houston.

As the plane was taxiing in Houston en route to Oklahoma, "he started saying 'Bye, bye plane,' Penland told WSB-TV in Atlanta. The flight attendant objected, she said.

"At the end of her speech, she leaned over the gentleman beside me and said, 'It's not funny anymore. You need to shut your baby up,'" Penland told WSB-TV in Atlanta.

When Penland asked the woman if she was joking, she said the stewardess replied, "You know, it's called baby Benadryl," referring to an allergy medication that can also be used as a sleep aid.

Read the rest here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Night Videos - A Fine Frenzy

'Almost Lover'
A Fine Frenzy


A Fine Frenzy


Friday The 13th

It wasn't all bad. But it was enough.

I didn't get to sleep until about 2:30 AM yesterday, just couldn't fall asleep. My left eye has been bothering me alot, and I'd taken an antihistamine to try to calm down the irritation, but it hadn't kicked in yet. Anyway, as a result it was well past 9 AM when I finally woke up today. That wasn't really a problem, since I'm off work today on Daddy-Duty, but I'd been wanting to be out and about with the girls by 10 AM, and trying to get them up and going is quite often like trying to herd cats. I was pleasantly surprised that we actually got out the door in time to make it to the Library by 10 AM, and were off having breakfast at MacDonald's by 10:20 AM. But that was the last time things went well for a long time today.

I had planned to take the daughters to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, as we hadn't been there in a while, and since my place of employment is right off the freeway on the way to the museum - actually within walking distance - I decided to stop at work and show my girls off to my co-workers.

That was where things began to unravel.

I lost out on a parking spot right by my building, and had to park a couple of blocks away, and as we were entering the building I noticed that my cell phone wasn't on my belt where I thought I'd remembered putting it. I assumed I'd just left it in my car, and we went on about our business. We walked around, said hi to my boss and few others, and left to make our way to the museum, but when we got to the car, there was no cell phone.

I decided to drive home and see if I might call it, maybe it had fallen under something in the car, but when I did, not only did I not hear it, but after several rings it was answered by a woman who asked if I was the guy who'd lost the cell phone. I responded that I was, and she asked where I lived. I didn't tell her, and offered to come to her workplace and pick it up, but she equivocated. It seems she'd picked up the phone in Minneapolis, but worked in downtown Saint Paul, but told me that she would be in a meeting all afternoon, but that she couldn't just leave the phone with the receptionist or guard at her workplace (for some reason she couldn't explain), but was willing to drop it off at the downtown Minneapolis police precinct station the next day. WTH? My BS Meter went off the charts right about then, and I just finally hung up on the woman.

I logged online to VirginMobile's website and saw why the bee-with-an-itch wasn't being straight with me: she'd been making calls on the phone since the minute she picked it up off the sidewalk. I tried to suspend the service, but couldn't do it online - it would only swap one phone for another online - so I raced to Target, bought another phone and came home, but couldn't get the website to transfer the service. I then had to spend another half hour on hold with Virginmobile, only to be hung-up on as soon as they answered. I called back and finally got through to a rude and surly young man who did help me get the service switched, in spite of himself.

(I checked again, and saw that the thieving biddy had continued making calls both in town and out-of-town for the next hour after I'd called her. In the end she used over 90 of my prepaid minutes on about 20 seperate calls, that bee-with-an-itch. Oh yeah, did I mention that she's a bee-with-an-itch? A thieving bee-with-an-itch? But hey, lady, if you're reading this, just know that I have some horrible herpes lip virus, and that I loved to lick that phone. And that's my story, and I'm stickin to it.)

By then it was time to race across town to drop AE and LK off at their little cousin's house to play while I had my eye exam, which took a lot longer than I expected it might. Since I wanted to get back and relieve my sister-in-law of the girls, I decided to come back later and actually order my new glasses then. I raced over to my Brother and Sister-in-law's house, picked the girls up and returned to the eyeglasses shop.

But while I was working with the young man to get the glasses ordered, LK started to howl. I thought she was just being a brat, but she convinced me that there was something going on with her foot. After looking at it, I was convinced she had a really nasty sliver, something that seemed to me like either Mommy or a doctor would have to deal with - this Dad doesn't deal well with such things. Since Mommy was at work all day, we made our way to the Now Care Clinic, where we waited for a good half-hour until LK was seen by a rather nice doc, who determined he couldn't get the sliver out without doing a wee bit of cutting. I was a flabbergasted that LK didn't freak out, and was actually fairly good about it, giggling the whole time.

Anyway, it's time to sleep, and I'm still PO'd about the phone thing.

Oh yeah, did I mention that that lady who stole my cell minutes is a bee-with-an-itch? And that I'm going to file a police report for theft of service? And I'm going to turn in the list of 20+ phone numbers she called? I know, nothing is going to come of it with the police, but what goes around comes around, and if there *is* such a thing as Bad Karma, I have to think that it's avenged seven-fold against those who jam up others on a Friday the 13th. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mining The Past

Lifted from an old Livejournal post:

2004-08-14 01:000

Current mood: tired
Current music: Rick James - Superfreak

When LA got home from work this evening I rushed down to the Highland Park Half-Price Bookstore to get in on their semi-annual tent sale, only to find they'd closed up the tent in the parking lot a few minutes early. But the store was still open, so I managed to spend a little cash money inside. After I left Half-Price Books I went down the street to Barnes & Noble to pick up a couple of magazines and then strolled down the street to check out the Highland Fest events that were still going on.

Most of the booths had already closed for the night, but up the street a small carnival had been set up, and a band called Boogie Wonderland was playing 70's and 80's hits originally made famous by the likes of the late Rick James, Kool and the Gang, The Commodores, Pat Benatar and Kiss. As good as Boogie Wonderland was, it was actually more interesting watching the audience, while they enjoyed the music.

As I stood at the back of the crowd and took in the sights, I noted:

Groups of teenage girls in the bloom of youth, way too young to have ever seen or heard of Kool and the Gang, in tee shirts and pleated skirts, sporting various shades of pink, calling each other on cell phones, flirting with young boys and sizing up their rivals.

One of the more whimsical sights I witnessed: a small group of girls, none of them older than 15, joined by another young girl, a friend of a friend, who shook hands with the alpha female of the group with the wary look of prize fighters shaking hands before the big match.

Two girls down in the front of the crowd, by the stage, sitting on the shoulders of their S.O.'s, faux swing-dancing with each other, twirling about in a rather well-choreographed version of the real thing.

Three other teen-age girls pogo'ing madly to "I Just Want To Rock And Roll All Night," in their own private mini-mosh pit.

Young couples, obviously in love, snuggling and holding hands, swaying and shimmying in time to the music, not together long enough yet to have become jaded with each other, but long enough to be utterly comfortable with each other.

Older couples, who'd clearly grown up on the songs being played - from the way they mouthed the words to every song - and very much into *their* music, looking rather pudgy and clumsy as they tried line-dancing to "Brick House."

Still more pudgy men and women, smoking various varieties of tobacco and cannabis, attempting (in vain) to not spill their cups of malt beverage, as they bobbed and weaved along with the rest of the crowd.

Family groups of Dads and Moms and young kids, trying hard to not lose track of each other, enjoying themselves but looking frustrated, the older kids appearing to want to get away from the rest of the family.

By around 10:15 pm the band had ended its set and the fireworks had begun. They were neither the best I'd seen, nor the worst, but made for a pleasant ending to a pleasant outing.

In years past, when I have been alone in a crowd, I have often felt a sense of solitude and loneliness tempered with a twinge of sadness. I felt none of that, tonight. It felt nice to be out in the cool evening.

It *was* a nice night.

Mental Floss (Some Shrinkage May Occur)

As I was going thru some old journals of mine this past week, I read some entries that recalled conversations I had several years ago with a friend about the nature of mental health and wellness. My friend had been on a journey of self-discovery at the time, helped along by therapists, and had gained great insight into herself and her conditions. In addition to her counseling, she was also going to Alanon, and taking Paxil for her anxieties, but in spite of it all, she was still massively unhappy.

Her pain was real. As a child she suffered traumas and neglects, growing up in a dysfunctional home, with a father who was an alcoholic and a mother who was emotionally abusive. But I found it rather disconcerting that she seemed utterly fixated on the emotional abuse she experienced as a child, and seemed mired in Anger Mode. Again and again, as we'd talk, she would bring up her childhood and the pain that still haunted her, seemingly stuck in an endless feedback loop of rumination, self-loathing and self-pity.

Lest I sound excessively harsh, I understand perfectly well what she was doing. I've been there, and at times I still do it, myself. I have suffered many years of low-grade depression laced with anxieties, ADD, and some OCD-like tendencies, and have had several episodes of severe depression, replete with the kinds of self-esteem issues with which my friend had been dealing. When things have been at their worst, I have been barely functional, a walking basket-case.

In fact, it all got so bad about twenty years ago that I sought succor from a series of counselors and therapists, taking the MMPI, reading book after book, spending hours in therapy considering what I thought my problems might be, only to leave each therapist's office frustrated and angry. Every one of them had a slightly different method, and all of them took a relatively passive approach to addressing my needs. The common thread was that they wanted me to discover - over and over - the roots of my pain. So time and time again, under their guidance, I'd delve into the past, but it felt like wandering some kind of mirror maze, on and on and on, with no resolution, and in the end I only felt more hurt and lost and hopeless.

Begin digression:

If you've been reading this far, you probably have a question: yes, I have tried medication, several different ones, in fact, and nothing has really helped.

I can't say that there isn't a med out there that might help, but I simply haven't found it, and I've pretty much given up on medication. Thing is, for me the side effects have usually been as bad or worse than what I was going thru that led me to try them in the first place. I was told I should wait some 3-6 weeks for the therapeutic benefit to kick in, but I was never able to tolerate it that long. I guess I'm just extra-sensitive to the meds. Also, it hasn't helped that the Pscych Docs I've seen haven't been particularly kind or attentive. The Clinical Psychologists are trained to be caregivers, and the Psychiatrists are trained to dispense medications, and in my experience it's rare to find a Psych Doc who has strong patient skills.

Anyway, what I said about no longer trying medication is mostly true, but with a twist: I recently got a script from my Internal Medicine MD for a low-dose of an old-school anti-depressant which I use off-label for gut pain, and I can't say that it helps me with anxiety issues, but I feel it has helped me sleep somewhat better when I *am* going thru a period of excessive anxiety.

In the end, the thing that's helped me the most, really, has been exercise. I try to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, with at least a half-hour of that being aerobic. Study after study shows that for mild to moderate depressive episodes, as well as for anxiety, there is a very real benefit that accrues to the patient from doing regular exercise. When one is feeling down, sometimes that's the last thing one wishes to do, but for me it's imperative that I keep at it, as it's the only thing that gives me any physical relief to my symptoms when they flare up. And, hey, it's good for the heart, too.

End digression.

Finally I was told by yet one more therapist, after our first visit, that he felt there was nothing he could do for me, that I had obviously learned all the jargon and lingo, that I was full of psychological insight, that the missing link for me was to go out and live my life. He said I was unlikely to ever be fully well, but that if I stopped picking at the scabs of my pain, I might at least get better. He further told me that if I didn't ease up on the counseling, I could well end up becoming a professional patient, learning little and accomplishing even less. Ouch. I recall feeling a flash of anger and resentment, as it felt to me that he'd pronounced me hopeless. It felt incredibly unfair that he would say that, and I went so far as to lock myself in the men's room after that session, and cried for nearly 20 minutes.

But upon reflection I realized he was right. At that point in my life I *was* becoming a professional patient. I *had* learned all the right terms and words, and had even done alot of hard work in self-discovery. What I had not done - and none of the other therapists had tried to get me to do - was to just get on with the business of living. Truth is, while it is possible to get better from a physical or emotional injury, it is often the case that one never gets completely well, and that one sometimes must just learn to walk with a limp or a cane, as it were.

And you know, there is a measure of Zen-like peace that comes from embracing the fact that one's wounds are real, that they will heal somewhat in time but that scars will remain, that there will likely always be remnants of the pain, that one might not ever fully recover but that our scars are part of our humanity. And I do believe it, even if I don't always feel it. Like most people, I *do* carry scars of old and recent hurts, and I'm unlikely to ever completey well from those wounds, but in time things do get better, if not well.

In the last couple of years, I *have* started seeing a therapist again, but he has made no bones about trying fix me. He practices a blend of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with alot of active listening, and while no topic is off-limits in his office, he seems mercifully unconcerned with uncovering 'the roots' of things, and would rather try to get me to pay attention to the here and now. I see him every month or two to just talk about things, to talk with a non-judgmental professional who can help remind me to change the things I can change and to let go of the things I can't change, to try to do my ruminating with someone who can keep me focused on the matter(s) at hand. I have no illusions that seeing him is going to make me well, but it does help make me a bit better, and on alot of days that's enough.

Anyway, I wasn't convinced that my friend really needed more and more therapy. or at least, I wasn't convinced that the kind of therapy she was getting would necessariliy help her further. She seemed to have learned all the psych jargon that her therapists wanted to hear out of her, but she still appeared to be hanging on to the very real wrongs that were done her in the past, hoarding them so as to be able to continue to lay claim to a victimhood that, to my view, had long lived out its usefulness. In the end, at nearly 40 years of age, she seemed stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for her life to begin.

Over the years my friend and I have drifted out of each other's lives, and I haven't had any communication with her in some time. I don't know how she's doing today, but I do hope things are better for her, and that she's found some measure of peace.

Yet Another Dream

Okay, I'm not turning this into a dream blog, but I woke up with yet another one on my mind this AM, and I wanted to write it down while it was still fresh.

But first, a short digression.

I have had several recurring dreams throughout my life. Here are but three:

1) I realize I am late for something that has already past, or nearly so. For example, I suddenly remember that I've forgotten to go to class, and it's the end of the Semester. In other words, I registered for the class, but just never went. Of course from that comes all manner of unfortunate consequences, not the least of which is that I don't graduate. That dream isn't necessarily that far-fetched: I missed the final exam of a Freshman Class in college because I forgot about it until that day after. And I missed a flight back the Twin Cities from Joplin, Missouri because I'd misread the airplane ticket. So, this is based in reality.

2) I am in a crowded room at some kind of function, and I know that someone is there whom I would very much like to see and speak with, oftentimes an old flame, or an old best friend, or sometimes someone new in my life with whom I would very much like to connect. I somehow know they are in the room, and I can almost see them, but they are almost always hidden in shadows, or behind a pillar, or somehow obscured from view. And every time I am about to actualy be able to see them and to speak with them, someone comes between us, or they turn to walk away, or they are just getting into a car, or the scene just dissolves into grey. Whatever the circumstances, I'm forever missing them by Just.That.Much. There's always a sense of futility, of failed opportunity, of a deep abiding sadness at being unable to make a connection that I've wanted for so very long. Then again, I must say, in many respects that feels like the story of my life.

3) I am living in a crowded house or apartment or dorm with people I didn't chose to be with. This, of course, *did* happen my first and second years of college and I didn't like that, but I've always hoped and prayed that those days are long behind me.

Okay, my dream: last night it was a variation on nuumber 3.

It seems that I was living post-college in an apartment and one night I came home to find that I was now living with a bunch of other guys who'd moved in, all of whom happened to be in a rock band, and who kept bizarre hours. Now, I must tell you, this would be the worst of all possible worlds for me. I am afflicted of ADD, and cannot concentrate with too much commotion going on around me. (At least my daughters go to sleep at night.) These guys were coming and going at all hours, without regard for clocks or me. I felt like I was sinking into a depressive madness, with no control over my situation, when I woke up, shaking. I mean, WTH? It's not the first time that kind of dream has happened, but I just wish it would stop, already. Meh.

Anyway, I suspect that the a good shrink would have a field day if I kept a dream journal for them, but then again, he/she can just read my blog. Knock yourself out, Dr. Freud.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Music Monday - Atomic Kitten

'Eternal Flame'
Atomic Kitten


'You Are'
Atomic Kitten


'If You Come To Me'
Atomic Kitten


'Amazing Girls'
Atomic Kitten


More Strange Dreams

I had another strange dream last night that really spooked me. In the dream I'd sent a furious fusillade of an email to someone actually near and dear to me, something that I could only imagine would wound them deeply. It seems that in the dream I'd been massively hurt by this person, and had written some things in a fit of pique, things that I'd intended to write to blow off steam, but would never have wanted this person to see. And, as it happened, the email was sent inadvertently and there was no way to recall it, and indeed, I was horrified when I realized that there was no way I could even reach this object of my momentary vitriol before the next time they would check their email. Irreparable damage was about to be done to my relationship with this person, but oddly, instead of the subject matter standing out in my mind, it shriveled and shrank and receded to the point where I couldn't even say clearly what it was that I'd written. Actually, I did know, but it was less a kind of head knowledge than it was a kind of heart knowledge, a second-sight, a prescient thing - but even so, it was all indistinct and hazy, as was the identity of the likely soon-to-be-seriously-offended party. In the end I was able to discuss the matter with my father - he's been dead now over 20 years, so go figure that one - who warned me to make things right with my friend at all costs. I set out to do just that, but everything just went into a slow dissolve, and then I woke up with great fear and trembling. Very strange.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

From The WTH Files

Okay, look, I don't wanna make fun, here, but, oh well, yes I do.

I've been watching a wee bit of the Live Earth experience tonight, and I know that alot of these folks are serious and sincere about wanting to help save the world, and all, but this do-good feel-good exercise reminds alot of a mommy thrashing her kiddie's butts to send the message that violence isn't acceptable.

I mean, imagine the insane number of BTU's of energy being expended to get the word out to the some 2 billion viewers that, um, they are, let's see, wasting energy. Migawd! I can't imagine any of the true believers see any shred of hypocrisy in all this. But look, that's human nature, to pontificate and not see the dodgy contradictions. We all do it on some level. Yes, you, and me, too.

BTW, I read in the International Herald Tribune that everyone's favorite Madonna produced an estimated 485 tons of carbon dioxide in four months on her last tour.

And, as quoted on the MTV News website:

Brittany also expressed criticism on the You R Here blog. And, as someone who is pursuing a Bachelors of Science degree with a major in Environmental Policy and Planning at Virginia Tech, she had the goods to back it up. "I am 100 percent for making the public aware of the environmental crisis that we are facing, however ... I am asking you to calculate the ecological footprint of running each of these concerts. Look at the resources used; here are just some of the factors that needed to be included for the ecological footprint: fuels used in transportation for everyone who attends the concert both to and from it; pollution caused by all the transportation; energy from hotel rooms that people were staying in; energy to actually run the concert: bathroom/water, electricity for the lighting and sound, trash from concerts that would be either put in a dump or landfill."

Anyway, I don't blame rock musicians for getting caught up in this thing, really. They are emotional types with more energy than sense. But most of them aren't people you'd want to babysit your kids, so why would you let them advise you on matters of science and social policy?

Well, you don't, cause Al Gore - the organizer of this whole extravaganza - is there to do that for you. But just don't imagine for an instant that his agenda is about saving the planet. It seems obvious to me that his mission is to use this 'crusade' of his to rehabilitate himself in the public eye, and to avenge his humiliating defeat in the presidential election 7 years ago.

Don't believe me? I just watched the former vice-president and senator tell the TV audience that we have 3-5 years to save the Climate unless this movement - the one he happens to be spearheading - gets the changes made that he endorses. Okay, fair enough. What else might you expect him to say?

But then came the kicker: when pressed, he laughed off the idea that he might be thinking running for president again, telling Ann Curie - and I'm paraphrasing him here - that he doesn't *plan* to run, but then again, well, he doesn't have time to think about such things right now, and there is that small smidgen of a possibility.

WTH? I nearly spilled my drink. This guy can't even lie convincingly. He should at let the concert lights go out before saying such things. Mark my word, he is going to try to catch the wave of publicity off this thing and ride it to a political comeback. Clinton and Obama, watch out!

Look, I'm as much in favor of a clean environment as the next guy, but the Save-The-Earth movement reminds me of a fundamentalist religious sect, complete with an apocalyptic end-times eschatology that has more in common with the Left Behind books than with any science I learned as a young pup. But what really scares me are the politicians who will use this issue to manipulate the public into voting for them.

But hey, in the end, the doom-sayers may be right. We may all be headed for The Great Disaster unless we let them lead us out of the morass of our puny blindness. But I'm skeptical of anyone - on the right, left or the middle - who wants us to believe he or she is guided with such great convictions to do great things, and who then wants to be elected so as to use the taxpayers' dollars to implement their grand schemes. I'm just sayin'.

But hey, thanks for the great concerts, Al.

Post Secret

From the Wikipedia:

PostSecret began as an art installation for Artomatic 2004 in Washington, D.C.

The idea of the project is simple: completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they have never before revealed. There is no restriction on what the content of the secret must be, only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before. Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams.

Since Frank Warren created the website on January 1, 2005, PostSecret has collected and displayed upwards of 2,500 original pieces of art from people across the United States and around the world (international readers have also been known to send in postcards).

The site, which started as an experimental Blogspot and is updated every Sunday with approximately 20 new pieces, has a relatively constant style, giving all "artists" who participate some guidelines on how their secrets should be represented.

Read the rest here.

Aussie Cabbie Blogger

Interesting blog, from his bio:

One-Line Bio

Hi. I'm a 52yo Sydney born resident. Where once I was a draftsman, survey technican, landscaper and groundsman, these days a dodgy back has me driving taxis by night, blogging till dawn and sleeping by day. Welcome to the world of a night cabbie.

Check it out here.


From the Wikiversity:

What is Wikiversity?

Welcome, newcomers!

Wikiversity is a community for the creation and use of free learning materials and activities. Wikiversity is a multidimensional social organization dedicated to learning, teaching, research and service. Its primary goals are to:

  • Create and host free content, multimedia learning materials, resources, and curricula for all age groups in all languages
  • Develop collaborative learning projects and communities around these materials
Learners and teachers are invited to join the Wikiversity community as editors of this wiki website where everyone can edit the pages. The community portal lists information about many aspects of Wikiversity.

In case you were wondering, I checked and found that it's part of the larger Wikipedia empire. Take a look.

Ped Meds Questioned

From Science Daily:

Ped Med: Pediatric treatments questioned


SAN FRANCISCO, July 6 (UPI) -- Recent research casts children in a new medical light that illuminates the error of some doctors' ways.

In one study, reported in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, neuroscientists employing special scanners measured brain activity that provides direct evidence that even premature infants -- long thought incapable of such feeling -- can suffer genuine pain.

The investigators determined a newborn displays more than just a reflex reaction when his foot is lanced for a routine post-birth blood test.

"We undertreat pain in children, regardless of the severity," said Dr. Cheston Berlin, professor of pediatrics and pharmacology at Pennsylvania State Children's Hospital in Hershey, who was not part of the study.

On the flip side are cases with too many hands reaching for the medicine bottle.

"We're overutilizing many drugs, like those used for the common cold or bacterial infections," said Dr. Charles Prober, associate chairman of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

That applies to medicines on both sides of the prescription aisle.

For one study, published in the Harvard Health Letter, coughed up some findings that may be hard to swallow for a nation that shells out $3.5 billion a year on over-the-counter products that purport to stifle hacking.

The money could be better spent elsewhere, the researchers proposed, pointing out guidelines from the American College of Chest Physicians suggest many of the "active" ingredients in cough remedies may be about as effective as a sugar pill.

In fact, the scientists advised, those who do find relief in the cough-and-cold section of the supermarket may be experiencing nothing more than the so-called placebo effect.

"We're overusing OTC preparations (although there is) not a lot of information they're doing a lot of good," Prober said. "Watchful waiting is the best strategy for colds and the like, but other strategies have not much utility."

Read the rest here.

Do You Feel Lucky? Well, Do Ya?

From the San Francisco Chronicle:


7/7/07 seen as fortuitous for weddings and lottery tickets

Julian Guthrie, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, July 7, 2007

It's been hailed as the luckiest day of the century, a time to take chances on love and lottery tickets and all things uncertain.

That day is Saturday -- July 7, 2007, a.k.a. 7/7/07 or 777.

More weddings will be held Saturday than on any day in recent history, experts say. Hotels are offering commemorative 777 packages, a pizza chain is giving away 777 pizzas, a state lottery is offering 7,777 prizes, and an insurance company is pitching a "wedding protector plan" -- just in case the numbers aren't so perfectly aligned.

"We've never seen anything like this in terms of weddings," said Kathleen Murray, deputy editor of, an online wedding planner that has registered 38,000 weddings for Saturday, more than three times the average number of nuptials on any given Saturday in July.

"We're also hearing about more and more businesses across the country that are responding to this date," Murray said. "Ninety-eight couples are getting married at 7 a.m. on different rides at Six Flags. Seven couples will marry in the lawn and garden section of Wal-Mart stores. And Vegas is really getting in on act."

As numbers go, seven is a big one. There are seven days in a week, seven notes on a musical scale, seven colors of the rainbow, seven wonders of the world and seven deadly sins. Catholics celebrate seven sacraments and seven virtues. Buddha was said to have walked seven steps at birth. And in Islamic tradition, seven symbolizes infinity.

"The significance of seven connects to traditional metaphysical themes," said Jack Fertig, a San Francisco astrologer and syndicated columnist. "It's the pre-Copernicus model of seven planets and seven heavens and this sense of everything being completed in seven days."

Yet, as for the once-in-a-lifetime occurrence of triple 7, Fertig is astrologically unimpressed.

Read the rest here.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Amiel Edition



'Be Your Girl'




'Round and Round'


'Obession (I Love You)'
Fan Video 1


'Obession (I Love You)'
Fan Video 2


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Poetry By DT

I once obtained permission from DT to run some of his poems in a fanzine I was publishing at the time. He was a singer in a rock band, and a poet of some renown. I was in awe of his talent. I don't know if he still writes poetry, but these from nearly 20 years ago are fine examples of his work. I'll post more later.

After All Calamity

After all calamity
Collision and distress
Comes the spell of peace
Spreading drowsy like a shadow
From its hiding place
In the ceiling corner
Of our room.
Hush, just after dusk
And all the neighborhood is lit.
This is strange enchantment
When the dishes are washed
And a neglected radio
From down our street
Still whispering to itself,
Caressed the block
With its endless
Murmur, long after the noise
Of angry voices has been forgotten.

Ever After

She had been cutting garlic and
I could smell it on her fingers
when she touched my face.
I believe we were like children
In a fairy tale except
that in our ending,
we lived less happily
than ever after.
It is strange
the way that rich scent sobers
me now like stiff news and drains
the smile from my countenance

I Love The Heavy Rush

I love the heavy rush
Of blurring and passing
Like demons wailing, wailing banshee
They explode out of the black air
In a smear of light and wind
Gusting a scream of steel
And spirit.

Reaching out I could
Touch the speeding side
Of passion but am frightened
Even exhilarated by this
Angry flash blaring
Rumble roar deviltry
Which leaves me shivering
In its wake, listening
After the fading prairie howl
Only crickets
Still sound

Things I'd Say (Or At Least Wish To)

To the young man in the hoodie and with the iPod on the bus:

"Your taste in music is for crap, and I'd rather not have to have to hear it, so would you please turn that thing down?"

To the woman with the toddler at the bus stop:

"Would you cool it with the loud profanity on your cell phone? What kind of example do you think you're setting?"

To the young Ashley Simpson wannabee at the mall:

"It's a good thing that you don't have a bad body image. Really. But could you wear a top that covered your budgy belly? It's just not attractive at all.

To the co-worker speaking derisively of members of a kookie religious group:

"Look, I actually agree with you on this one, but I also think your religious group is kookie too, and I don't say it out loud. Besides, aren't you worried that someone in earshot might be offended?"

To the gorgeous twenty-something woman in the brown short-shorts with the amazing legs standing at the street corner, waiting for the light to turn, talking smack with a friend about some other woman:

"Yes, you're every bit as stunningly hot as you think you are, but your snotty attitude towards other women makes you ugly."

To the buff guy in the wifebeater at the lake:

"You know, if you're gay, I suppose it's all cool, but if you're not, I just want you to know that, well, you look like a South Beach reject."

To the bus driver who snarled at me when I asked for directions to the cross-town line:

"Dude, it's your freaking job."

To my daughters:

"No. Why? Because I'm the Daddy. And yes, I still *do* love you."

Makes Sense To Me

From Science Daily:

Chronic Insomnia Can Lead To Anxiety And Depression, Study Suggests

July 3, 2007

Science Daily — Everyone has an occasional night of bad sleep. For most people, insomnia lasts only a few days and goes away without treatment. However, factors such as stress can cause a higher level of insomnia that may last for several weeks. This kind of insomnia may not go away on its own, and can lead to both short- and long-term health problems if left untreated. According to a study published in the July 1st issue of the journal SLEEP, chronic insomnia can increase one's chances for developing anxiety disorders and depression.

The study, conducted by Dag Neckelmann, MD, PhD, of Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway, was based on data collected from 25,130 adults from two general health surveys. Dr. Neckelmann found significant relations between the longitudinal course of chronic insomnia and the development of anxiety disorders and depression. Compared to the group of participants without chronic insomnia in both surveys, the group with chronic insomnia had increased associations to having developed anxiety disorders and depression.

Read the rest here.

Fourth Of July Recap

Mrs. Muzzy had to work yesterday so I took the girls to Grandma and Grandpa's Saint Paul neighborhood Fourth of July parade. AE has peanut allergies, and since we are friends with the woman who heads up the largest Food Allergy advocacy group in Minnesota, we got to march in the parade under their banner. It was a beastly hot day, some 90+ degrees, and the parade route was not in the shade, but fortunately it only lasted 15 minutes, tops. Since our group was smack in the middle of the parade, there was still plenty of action happening behind us. After we got to the end, we sat in the shade and watched the rest of the marchers and cars and firetrucks come past. The girls got a kick out of that, and I was glad for them.

Afterwards we headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house for a picnic lunch of brats, hot dogs, baked beans and watermelon. Mrs. Muzzy's sisters and their kids (one each) were there, as well. After lunch the girls played a while, and then we came home. AE and LK went over to their little friend's house to play in her wading pool, and I rested from the heat. In the evening, after Mrs. Muzzy came home from work, she and her parents and the girls went to see fireworks at a local park, while I just hung out at home, doing some blogging.

Anyway, that was the day that was, a warm but nice summer Fourth of July.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Muzzy's Poem

Now this is culture:

Another rhyme in just four lines
And this time just as well
I asked for a ticket to heaven
But was given one to another place

22 Years Ago

From the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library:

Message on the Observance of Independence Day, 1985

July 3, 1985

The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 marked both the beginning of a new nation and the start of a great epoch in the history of political affairs. That day in Philadelphia, a Republic was born based on the idea of liberty for all. The Fourth of July is America's birthday celebration, but it is also a day of importance for anyone who believes in freedom.

The Declaration of Independence opened government to the people as never before. Each individual was acknowledged as possessing certain inalienable rights. And these rights in turn enabled our people to take part in their political system. Here was a true revolution, embodying the idea that government required the consent of those it governed. Overnight, Americans were acknowledged as citizens of a free land where they had once been only colonial subjects of a distant monarch.

To this day, this eloquent document detailing the rights of man and the concept of individual liberty is as moving as it is timely. It continues to hold profound meaning for us. We should remember the words of John Adams when he wrote of its signing to his wife Abigail as, ``the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.''

This Independence Day, 1985, let us be guided by the wisdom of that great American statesman and of all our Founding Fathers. As we commemorate 209 years of liberty today, let us pray for God's blessing and His help in safeguarding the precious legacy of the Declaration of Independence.

Ronald Reagan



Cartoon courtesy Cox&Forkum

More On The Story From C&F

4th Of July - Shooter Jennings

From Adam Eason

From Adam Eason:

Seven Steps For Single Most Intimate Experience You Can Have In Your Mind:

"Breathing in synchronization with another is the ultimate in physical oneness."

Breathing with your body in the way I am going to explain today can be practiced at any time and any place, though I find it much more profound an experience when I am in a quiet, relaxed environment and I am a firm believer in having as profound an experience as possible as regularly as possible - I mean, why settle for mediocre, average or regular, right?

The main aim of this technique is that it also brings forth a sense of euphoria, deep relaxation and physical feelings that are maybe not experienced as much as we would like in our daily lives.

Ok, so just follow these simple steps:

Step One: In the comfortable place you have chosen, sat with your arms and legs uncrossed and not touching each other, take a slightly deeper breath and as you exhale it slowly, allow your eyes to close and imagine stepping inside your mind. To really make the most of this technique, go get my self-hypnosis book and learn how to take yourself into a deep hypnotic trance at will. Alternatively, get settled, just tune in to the moment, notice the thoughts you are thinking and just be an observer of your experience.

Without directing your mind in any way, just engage in the moment and watch your thoughts, hear the sounds and engage in that moment while you settle.

Step Two: Breathe deeply. When I say breathe deeply, this is not necessarily a bigger or a larger breath, it is a deeper one - imagine it relaxing you, be aware of it, tune into it. As you inhale deeply, begin at your feet, and then breathe in through every pore of your body, all the way up to the top of your head. Really tune in to every moment of that inhalation and enjoy it gloriously!

Really imagine breathing in through every pore of your body working your way up through your body with your awareness as you slowly inhale. Fabulous feeling isn't it?

Allow yourself to then feel relaxed throughout your entire body as you then breathe out through each pore right down to your toes. So you inhale with your awareness coming up from your toes, in through each and every pore. Then you exhale, just as slowly, from the top of your head toward your toes, out through each pore. Get the breathing nice and rhythmic, steady and as slow as it comfortably can be.

This is essentially body breathing. With each breath that you breathe in, imagine the breath feeling heavier and deeper. Again, this does not mean bigger or larger, just a breath that goes deeper inside your awareness. Tune into and feel your body with each breath, zone in to each cell as you move your breath upwards and downwards. Using your internal dialogue, tell yourself that you are more relaxed with each inhalation and exhalation. It's important to be aware of your breathing throughout this entire technique because the breathing is the actual experience.

Take all the time that you need to really tune in to the fact that you are breathing with your entire body. Some people just spend their time doing only this and enjoying breathing with their body.

Read all the steps here.