Thursday, August 30, 2007

What I'd Say


To the angry dude who was tailgating me at 60 mph on the freeway this AM:

'You moron.'

To the Iranian lady who runs the Cousins Sub shop where I had lunch today:

'Every time I'm in your store you make me smile with your friendly manner - and your Subs are the best.'

To soon-to-be former Senator Larry Craig:

'Give up the I'm-not-gay act, dude, cause you just sound pathetic.'

To the kids - including my own - in the McDonald's Play area:

'Why do you have to scream so bluddy loud like that?'

To Regina Spektor:

'Discovering your music was (and is) like falling in love: it makes me feel all giddy and does my head in.'

To all the people I badgered about Y2K:

'Sorry I was such a PITA about it all, but I really *did* think things might go kablooey. Will you ever let me live it down?'

To the lovely high school senior who spent a week with her sister and parents at a writing conference held at my college in May 1979, the year I graduated:

'It was fun getting to hang out with you and your sister during that week at the college, watching TV and playing pool during my work breaks. I remember thinking you were really sweet and pretty. I remember you being kind of shy and slightly embarrassed when I gave you a carnation in front of your parents, the night before you guys went back to North Carolina. And I remember really wishing you'd come to Minnesota the next year for university, and regretting not asking for your address so I could write you. And I'm sorry to say that I simply cannot remember your name.'

To the bicyclists zipping in and out of traffic - and up onto sidewalks - all over this town:

'I'll start respecting you when you start obeying the traffic laws of this great state we both live in. Yeah, I know, it's not easy to do when, um, well, uh, you own a bike. Yeah, that's it.'

To Apple president Steve Jobs:

'I get the distinct impression that you really are a pompous ass, but I still give you props for running the company that produces some of the coolest products ever made.'

To the smokers outside the building where I work:

'What's wrong with you people? Even if there weren't a receptacle by each door, it would still be just wrong to pitch your cig butts into the street!'

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Happy Face


From ABC/AP:



Poll: Family Ties Key to Youth Happiness

By JOCELYN NOVECK
The Associated Press

NEW YORK

So you're between the ages of 13 and 24. What makes you happy? A worried, weary parent might imagine the answer to sound something like this: Sex, drugs, a little rock 'n' roll. Maybe some cash, or at least the car keys.

Turns out the real answer is quite different. Spending time with family was the top answer to that open-ended question, according to an extensive survey more than 100 questions asked of 1,280 people ages 13-24 conducted by The Associated Press and MTV on the nature of happiness among America's young people.

Next was spending time with friends, followed by time with a significant other. And even better for parents: Nearly three-quarters of young people say their relationship with their parents makes them happy.

"They're my foundation," says Kristiana St. John, 17, a high-school student from Queens in New York. "My mom tells me that even if I do something stupid, she's still going to love me no matter what. Just knowing that makes me feel very happy and blessed."



Read the rest here.

Well, I Was Born That Year, Too


From US News:



1957—A Year That Changed America Culturally, Scientifically, and Politically



I Dream Of Genius


From Time:



In 2004-05, the most recent academic year for which the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) has data, U.S. universities awarded 43,354 doctorates--more than ever during the 50 years NORC has gathered the data. But the rate of increase in the number of U.S. doctorates has fallen dramatically since 1970, when it hit nearly 15% for the year; for more than a decade, the number of doctorates has grown less than 3.5% a year. The staggering late-1960s growth in Ph.D.s followed a period of increased attention on gifted kids after Sputnik. Now we're coasting.

To some extent, complacency is built into the system. American schools spend more than $8 billion a year educating the mentally retarded. Spending on the gifted isn't even tabulated in some states, but by the most generous calculation, we spend no more than $800 million on gifted programs. But it can't make sense to spend 10 times as much to try to bring low-achieving students to mere proficiency as we do to nurture those with the greatest potential.

We take for granted that those with IQs at least three standard deviations below the mean (those who score 55 or lower on IQ tests) require "special" education. But students with IQs that are at least three standard deviations above the mean (145 or higher) often have just as much trouble interacting with average kids and learning at an average pace. Shouldn't we do something special for them as well? True, these are IQs at the extremes. Of the 62 million school-age kids in the U.S., only about 62,000 have IQs above 145. (A similar number have IQs below 55.) That's a small number, but they appear in every demographic, in every community. What to do with them? Squandered potential is always unfortunate, but presumably it is these powerful young minds that, if nourished, could one day cure leukemia or stop global warming or become the next James Joyce--or at least J.K. Rowling.



Read the rest here.

ADHD News


From Science Daily:



Nonmedicinal Treatment Touted For Preschoolers With ADHD

August 22, 2007

Science Daily — Non-medicinal interventions are highly effective in preventing the behavioral and academic problems associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to a five-year study led by researchers at Lehigh University's College of Education.

The study, titled "Project Achieve" and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), was the largest of its kind focusing on children aged 3 to 5 who have shown significant symptoms of ADHD. It also involved researchers from Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pa.

The researchers, led by George DuPaul, professor of school psychology at Lehigh; Lee Kern, professor of special education at Lehigh; and Dr. John Van Brakle, chair of the pediatrics department at Lehigh Valley Hospital, studied 135 preschool students with ADHD symptoms. They evaluated the effectiveness of early intervention techniques in helping children decrease defiant behavior and aggression, while improving academic and social skills.

"Early identification and intervention are essential, but there has been a lack of research on how to identify and intervene effectively with these children during their preschool years," said Thomas Power, editor of the journal and program director with the Center for Management of ADHD at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"The investigation by Kern, DuPaul and their colleagues is the most ambitious study ever conducted of non-pharmacological, psychosocial interventions for young children with ADHD."

The results were significant. Using a variety of early intervention strategies, parents reported, on average, a 17-percent decrease in aggression and a 21-percent improvement in their children's social skills. Teachers saw similarly strong results; in the classroom, there was a 28-percent improvement in both categories. Early literacy skills improved up to three times over their baseline status.

"Medication may address the symptoms of ADHD," says DuPaul, "but it does not necessarily improve children's academic and social skills. And because this is a lifelong disorder, without any cure, it's important that we start understanding what tools and strategies are effective for children with ADHD at such an early age.



Read the rest here.

Virtually Real


From Techcrunch:



Virtual World Hangouts: So Many To Choose From

Mark Hendrickson
August 5 2007

The avatars roaming many online virtual communities may be cartoonish and their activities inconsequential, but the recent sale of Club Penguin to Disney for $350 million (with $350 million in earn out) demonstrates that the business of casual immersive worlds, or virtual hangouts, is not entirely child’s play.

Virtual hangouts are where people can engage each other using imaginary characters in imaginary environments. They have been around and popular in Europe and Asia for years. However, they appear to be gaining traction in the United States as of late. Some commentators even believe that the type of experience provided by these destinations could very well become integral to the forthcoming Web 3.0 era.

The newly released MultiVerse platform, which is designed for the creation of online 3D worlds, certainly anticipates a future in which developers demand the tools necessary to build niche virtual communities because such communities have gone mainstream.

Currently, virtual hangouts differentiate themselves by targeting particular audiences and providing certain types of immersive experiences.

Destinations such as Club Penguin and Barbie Girls cater to children and pre-teenagers with their simple user interfaces, basic games, and cartoon graphics. Other immersive worlds such as Second Life and Habbo Hotel shoot for a broader audience by providing more advanced chat capabilities, more realistic simulations of reality, and tools to design objects and surroundings. Then there is Red Light Center (NSFW), which targets mature adults to give them an altogether more explicit breed of entertainment.



Read the rest here.

Holy Terabytes!


From ARS:



New DVD-sized disc to hold 1 to 5 terabytes of data

By Jeremy Reimer
August 29, 2007 - 12:47PM CT

The optical disc revolution started with CDs and then moved on to DVDs, and we're in the midst of the next-gen battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Since the birth of the CD 25 years ago, we've gone from 600MB to a whopping 50GB of storage capacity on these little, convenient and versatile discs.

But for those who desire more space on a highly portable medium, a new technology from a company called Mempile in Jerusalem promises to blow these limits away. The company claims that they can store up to 1TB (1,000GB) on an optical disc with the same dimensions—only slightly thicker—than a regular DVD and will be able to store 5TB once the jump to blue lasers is made.



Read the rest here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Layla


From The Age:



Something in the way she writes

THEY say if you can remember the Sixties, you weren't really there. Well Pattie Boyd was there, and she remembers it all. Being photographed by David Bailey and Terence Donovan. Modelling clothes for Mary Quant and Ossie Clarke. Striding the catwalk with Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. Smoking dope at a party with Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon.

But what Boyd remembers most is being the wife and muse of two of rock music's greatest superstars, George Harrison and Eric Clapton. She remembers the party at which Clapton, her lover, confronted Harrison, her husband, and said, "I have to tell you, man, I'm in love with your wife."

And she remembers the even more bizarre night a few years later when Harrison and Clapton held a guitar duel — overseen by actor John Hurt at Harrison's stately home, Friar Park — to see which of the two deserved her favours. ("I just hid in my shell, pretending it wasn't happening," Boyd says today. "It's the way musicians behave. On reflection, I think it was really beautiful.")

But what Boyd doesn't need to remember are the three classic love songs she inspired — Harrison's Something and Clapton's Layla and Wonderful Tonight.

For the past 30 years, people have been urging Boyd to release her autobiography. Now she has. Wonderful Today was published yesterday. But Britain has already been seduced by two separate newspaper serialisations revealing, among other things, that Harrison had an affair with Maureen Starkey, wife of Ringo Starr, and that Clapton's alcoholism became so untamed and destructive that Boyd banned him from her bedroom long before their divorce in 1989.



Read the rest here.

This Is Not Good


From Forbes.com:





In Pictures: Worst U.S. Housing Markets

7. Minneapolis



Median home price: $227,100

Price change: -2.5%

The upper Midwest continues to feel the strongest drag from the housing downturn. Minneapolis prices are down from a year ago but are up from last quarter's market trough.

Oak hardwood floors and original woodwork from 1920 fill this three-bedroom, three-bathroom two-story home which has a large backyard and abuts a park.

It is listed for $227,900 through RE/MAX Associates Plus.



Read the whole report here.

Cool Website


Hot100Brasil

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Fiona Edition




'Not About Love'
Fiona Apple

+++++




'O Sailor'
Fiona Apple

+++++




'Tymps' (live with Elvis Costello)
Fiona Apple

+++++




'Get Him Back' (live on Late Late Show)
Fiona Apple

+++++




'Extraordinary Machine' (Live on Today Show)
Fiona Apple

+++++


A Harsh Mistrust


I know I've been neglecting this blog for too long when I hear it calling my name, acting petulant and hurt for the lack of attention, wanting to know where I've been, and trying to check my collar for tell-tale signs that I've been visiting another blog. Well, I've just been really busy and tired, that's all. At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. I'll try to write a bit this weekend, then. Now, give me back the remote! Um, please?

Pretty Cool


Found this in Blogger today:

3, 2, 1, Action!

Today we are releasing video uploading to Blogger! This feature allows you to upload videos and create a video podcast with the same ease that we currently provide with photo uploading.

When you go to the Blogger post editor, you'll see a new button () next to the image uploading one. Just select a video from your computer, wait a few minutes for the upload and processing to occur, and voila...

To learn more about video uploading and see an instructional video on how to create a video podcast, go here.
Tina [8/24/07 11:32 AM]




Might have to use this feature.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Night Videos - The House Of Love




'Christine'
The House Of Love

+++++




'Beatles and Stones'
The House Of Love

+++++




'Shine On'
The House Of Love

+++++




'I Don't Know Why I Love You'
The House Of Love

+++++




'Gotta Be That Way - (Mogwai Remix)
The House Of Love

+++++


Thursday, August 16, 2007

We Remember


I have recently written alot about the 35W Bridge collapse of a couple of weeks ago because it's in my hometown, and it's been much on my mind. I'm still stunned that it happened, and emotionally devastated by it. Others may not understand why I'm so affected, and to be honest, I'm not sure I fully understand it either, but I am.

Thing is, this story is ongoing.

From WCCO's website this afternoon:



Remains Found At Bridge Site Identified

(AP) Minneapolis Human remains were found in two vehicles taken from the wreckage of the interstate bridge collapse since Wednesday evening, officials said Thursday.

The remains weren't immediately identified by officials, but family members and friends of two of the four people still missing said they had been notified that their loved ones had been found.

If confirmed by officials, that would raise the confirmed death toll to 11 in the Aug. 1 collapse.



Anyway, I went out on my lunch hour today for a long walk, from near the Convention Center on the south end of downtown, all the way over to 35W and 8th Street, then back over to the Metrodome, down to the riverfront and back. It's a good long walk, and as down and anxious as I've been feeling, the walking does me good.

As I passed the mound in Gold Medal Park, next to the new Guthrie, I decided to climb to the top to see what I could see of the remains of the bridge. Because of the trees blocking the view, only a small portion of each end was visible, but I found something I hadn't known about, and didn't expect: a small memorial to the victims of the collapse.

There were candles, and various kinds of banners that had been signed by hundreds or thousands of mourners. I signed one simply with the words 'We remember' and recorded my initials and the date. I only had my cell phone camera on me, but I snapped a couple of pictures of some of the many other banners, which I've linked here. (The one on the left makes up in emotion what it lacks in correct spelling.)

While I was reviewing the makeshift memorial, I noticed a man with a large video camera photographing not only the banners, but me, as well. As I was getting ready to leave, I asked him who he was shooting for, and he identified himself as being with KSTP, Channel 5. Apparently he had been one of the station's photographers at ground zero on the night of the collapse, and had been coming back regularly to do follow up stories. I'll have to watch the KSTP news tonight, to see if I'm on.

(Fortunately I was wearing my big dark sunglasses, because my eyes were welling up with tears the whole time I was on the mound. Somehow I was barely able to hold it in until I started to descend the opposite side of the mound from where the KSTP photographer was, because I really didn't want to break down on camera and end up on the nightly news like that. Yes, I know tears are okay, and real men cry – I have nearly every day since August 1st - but I still don't want to share my private grief with the rest of Minnesota.)

You know, I've wondered how many thousands of others there are in the Twin Cities just like me, who didn't know anyone who was on the bridge on August 1st, who didn't even know any of the first responders, who are merely inconvenienced in their morning commute, and yet who find themselves at least on the verge of tears - as I have again and again - every time they read a story about it, let alone visit a memorial, like I did today.

I've also wondered how long the grieving goes on with something like this. I mean, I know that grief is normal when one has experienced a loss, and can take a long time to work through the process. See, I can get my head around grieving for a dead relative, or the loss of a friendship, or the end of a love relationship, because as devastating as those things can be, I’ve been through all of them before and I know what to expect. But this is especially disorienting because I never would have expected it might affect me like this, and I have no idea how long I can expect this to go on.

Well, in any event, I’m sure it’s going to be a while, because here I am, two weeks later, writing this blinking back tears in my eyes, trying to keep from breaking down altogether. Yeah, I'm sure it's going to be a while.

View of the mound in Gold Medal Park with the 35W bridge in the background.

Monday, August 13, 2007

This And That


I had intended to write (and write and write) here over the weekend, but I've been a bit out of sorts with a bad cold for nearly two weeks now, and I just have lacked energy and motivation.

Anyway, to catch up:


+++++


Mo’ Money

Last Wednesday 8 year-old AE and 4 year-old LK went with their maternal grandparents to a special church camp designed just for grandparents and la jeune filles. They left early in the AM and came back on Friday midday, and from all reports the outing was a grand success.

While they were away, Mrs. Muzzy and I decided to head out the Mystic Lake Casino - known affectionately to those who've lost money there as Mistake Lake - in the southwest metro suburb of Shakopee. We used to go a couple of times a year to the various casinos located on Indian Reservations within driving distance of the Twin Cities, but it's been at least five years since we've been to one, since before LK was born.

Anyway, we ate a late lunch at the casino’s sumptuous buffet and settled in for an afternoon of gaming. Mrs. Muzzy played only the Jacks Or Better poker machines, and after a couple of hours had managed to lose $10. I, on the other hand, burned thru some $40 in the same period, on a combination of slots and poker machines.

I had already been feeling quite ill that day, and was close to being ready to leave when I decided to play one last slot machine, a 2-cent one that was a little deceiving, because the Max Bet on those machines ends up being several dollars. I fed in a $20 bill and hit the button to play all lines, for the maximum wager.

Lo and behold, the thing started flashing, flashing, flashing, and I saw the total credits racking up, higher and higher, to nearly 9000. I thought to myself that, well, $18 wasn't going to make up for what I'd lost, but that it was better than nothing. But my math skills must be rusty, because it was only when I hit the button to cash out - which plays the sound of coins falling, even though it only gives a paper ticket - that I noticed that it was for $180, not $18. I was stunned.

I usually end up going home from Casinos with nothing in my pocket to show for it, and here I was about to leave with a wad of cash. I went and found Mrs. Muzzy, who was off playing in another area, and she agreed that we ought to quit the premises while I still had the money, and even though I felt rotten, I left with a bit of a glow about me.

(Of course, even a stroke of good fortune couldn't quell my propensity for worry, as there are always plenty of other things to stress about. And that I do. Sigh.)

Anyway, gambling is an interesting phenomenon. It is present in nearly every society, and most people *do* like games of chance, even if they don't wager money. In fact, most adult and children's games fall into that category, where rolling a die determines if the player advances or not. A coin toss is used to decide which team will start a ball game, and even the Bible tells us that the apostles of Yeshua cast lots to determine who the successor of Judas Iscariot would be. It seems to be in our bones, like the human race's taste for mead or wine.

Yet it's also widely reviled, and for good reason. Like so many of our appetites, gambling can become an obsessive thing, consuming life savings and ruining marriages, friendships and careers. I question my own ability to keep the hounds of greed at bay. Like with alcohol, I think I can handle it, but I don't want to be cavalier, as I am the kind of personality who could become consumed with it. Thus far I think that I've been control my lust for winning, but I guess I just need to be cautious.

Anyway, I took the money I won this past week at the casino and bought an entry-level Epiphone guitar and a small entry-level Crate amp. They aren't the very best, but are both quite good, considering I got the guitar, amp, strap, winder, and case all for under $200. I've wanted an electric guitar since forever, and I have already enjoyed playing it quite a bit. Maybe I'll record something or other and post it here for the teeming dozens who read this blog.

(Of course, with my ongoing issues of seperation-anxiety, you gotta know that I was barely able to contain the fretting and worrying while my girls were away. I kept poking my head in their rooms, looking around, just to make sure they weren't really there. I really, really, really missed them, and I'm very glad they are back safe and sound.)

+++++

A Bridge Too Far

I've written of my state of mind this past week or two after the 35W Bridge Collapse, and I'm a little sheepish to admit that it's gotten to me as much as it has. After all, I didn't know anyone who died, and I'm only one of millions in the metro area who have been merely inconvenienced by all this. Why should I be so fragile?

Well, part of it - I think - is that my sister died in a drowning accident when I was 9, and my best friend died in an auto accident when I was 24. This disaster combined both elements, and I suspect that the images and thoughts of what transpired keeps dredging up emotions that I'm usually able to keep at bay.

Just one example: when I read on Friday that the rescuers had finally recovered the body of the little Somali-American toddler who died when she and her pregnant mom went into the river, I just broke down crying, and ended up having to lock myself away in the WC at work until I could get a grip.

Thing is, I'm quite a softie, and I often (over) react to things. I get wounded far too easily for my own good, and am prone to all manner of neuroses and paranoias, but this is above and beyond the usual for me. I really do think I'm skirting the edge of a depressive state with it all, but then again, maybe it's just a normal state of grief. And even though feeling like I'm on a hair-trigger makes me think that maybe I'm losing it, perhaps that's okay. Maybe I should stop stressing so much about stressing.

Anyway, as I said the day after the collapse on this very blog: I'm okay but I'm (still) very much not okay.

+++++


Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This?

Not to play up the melodrama, but as I mentioned last week, I’ve also been rattled recently by some rather vivid dreams. In truth, they aren’t that much different from the common garden-variety weirdo dreams that I’ve had in the past, nor do I always dream such things every night, but they seem to have been turned up a notch or two in intensity. Or perhaps it’s just that I’m processing them thru a new and different grid, in light of recent events. I dunno.

Last night there was a variation on a recurring theme of badly-experienced reunions, in which I traveled a long distance to attend a High School Reunion at the actual boarding school in Brazil where I lived during 11th and 12th grades. But both the journey and the event felt like a kind of Mirror Fun House, in which nothing was what it seemed.

I was forever missing a bus or a plane. I kept showing up at the wrong room or dining hall. I couldn’t seem to find my bedroom or bed, or even the loo. I’d make some intimate revelation to someone I thought was a close friend only to discover - when they looked at me with surprise - that I'd never met them before. I’d be at an event in a crowd of people but unable to find someone I just *knew* was there. I’d wander off to do some sightseeing but couldn’t find my way back to the school.

Everything, everything, everything I did, or said, or touched seemed to go wrong. It was utterly disconcerting. I was sure I was on the cusp of going mad, and by the time I woke up I was in shambles.

All I really wanted – both in the dream and once I was awake - was a hug and reassurance that I was going to be okay, but instead I just got up and tiptoed down the hall to the shower, so as to not awake the rest of the house.

Like I said, that dream is merely a variation on a theme, one I've had many times before, but they haven’t felt as vivid for a long time. I want to think it's all the just the random firing of random neurons, but probably not. I have to imagine a good deal of it is from my subconscious, because those types of insecurities have plagued my mind and my waking self-talk for years.

All day, every day, I will say and do things without malice aforethought, but then second-guess myself into a kind of hysteria, imagining every possible dire consequence to what I’ve said or done, then beating up on myself for having been so stupid. Even though that kind of feeling and behaviour has waxed and waned since I was a kid, it's never been far from the surface, and it's caused me no end of distress in my life.

But then again, I *have* to be able to try to get some work done, and I *have* to be able to take care of my daughters, and I *have* to be able to go to the store to do my shopping, so I guess I must have somehow found a way to sublimate it all, stuffing it down into the side-pockets of my mind, where, like a chocolate bar left in a hot car, it all comes oozing out into my dreams, my vivid dreams.

Damnable dreams.

+++++


The Paradoxical Commandments

There's alot of stuff that gets passed about on the interweb: pics of cute kittens, jokes, aphorisms, and I find most of it annoying. But someone sent this one to me this past week which I found quite compelling. I think I really need to let these words sink in. So, instead of sending as an attachment to everyone on my mailing address list, I'm reproducing it here, without further comment:



- - - The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith - - -

1. People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered (including me). Love them anyway.

2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

6. The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the littlest people with the littlest ideas. Think big anyway.

7. People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

9. People really need help, but may attack you if you do help them. Help them anyway.

10. Give the world the best you have and you will get kicked in the teeth. Give the best you have anyway.


+++++


Indeed.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Night Videos - George/Katie Noonan Edition



'Time To Begin'
Katie Noonan

+++++




'Special Ones' (live)
George

+++++




'Spawn'
George

+++++




'Breathe In Now'
George

+++++

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Perchance To Sleep


It's 6 AM and I'm really, really, really tired.

I woke up in a coughing jag last night after being asleep about an hour and a half, and couldn't ever get back to sleep. I was dog-tired, feeling utterly exhausted, but simply couldn't still my mind enough to sleep again. It might have been the combination of cough syrup and Sudafed I'd ingested at bedtime, but usually adding a tab of Benedryl seems to help, and last night that did not do the trick.

It was more than just the coughing, though.

I also woke up possessed of the same kind of plain-vanilla feelings of anxiety I so often get in the AM's, the sense of dread and fear that I've struggled with on and off during much of my teen and adult life.

Some times there are very definite situational and existential triggers, things that I know will bring that feeling on, but at other times it comes on out of the blue, without warning, when I wouldn't have expected it. But after much reflection I think I've determined that it's nearly always something that leaves me feeling a lack of control over things.

For example, I hate riding in cars when others are driving because I feel like I have no control over the situation. Even anticipating riding with someone on a trip or to the mall leaves me feeling anxious. But of course, I know the control I imagine I have is an illusion, really, since there are any number of external things that can impact my drive, things that are completely out of my control: other cars, bicycles, cats, falling bridges.

Thing is, even though it's far and away not the only matter weighing heavy on my mind right now, I suspect that a good deal of what was getting to me last night had to do with the 35W bridge collapse. This whole past week since the disaster I've felt on edge, nervous, scared, even more than usual. Even though I didn't know any of the injured or dead, it's still feels like a gaping wound on my psyche, and I don't have a bandage for this one.

I drove that bridge nearly daily, some thousands of times over 30 some years. I used to live just blocks from there, even stalled my car out on that bridge once. It wasn't a work of beauty like the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, but it was part of the fabric of my life, and now it's been rent asunder, and is going to take a year or two to even be rebuilt. It truly is a disaster of massive proportions, right here in my town.

I don't mean to be excessively melodramatic, but it really has gotten to me. I don't even think I can find adequate words to explain the feeling, but if I were to try, I'd say that it's a bit like a car siren that's gone off in a locked car in the middle of the night, and there's no way to get at the switch to turn it off. It's just there, confronting and disturbing, and always on.

And another thing: traffic congestion in the Twin Cities was already some of the worst in the nation, and now it's horrific: it took me 45 minutes to get to work yesterday, when it normally used to only take about 20. Look, I know it makes me sound petty to be complaining about my commute when there were real injuries and deaths last week, but it's something that is going to eat into my life for months and years to come.

(And then there are the dreams, too. I don't remember all the details, but on the nights during the last week when I've been able to sleep I've been having falling dreams, just falling, falling, falling, punctuated by dreams where the entire natural order of things is turned inside out, with large jungle cats roaming the city streets, and dreams of being a kid being left behind on a class trip. Sheesh! Paging Dr. Freud...)

So anyway, I never got back to sleep, just tossed and turned for the rest of the night until I finally got up a bit before 6 AM, and took to my laptop to write and post this. And now it's 6:30 AM, time to shower and go take on the day. Oh yeah, this should be good.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Music Monday - Live Edition



'White Flag' (live)
Dido

+++++




'It's Been A While' (live)
Staind

+++++




'Nothing Compares To You' (live)
Sinead O'Connor

+++++




'Read My Mind' (live)
The Killers

+++++




'Don't Dream It's Over' (live)
Crowded House

+++++


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Quiz Thingie


I'm not tagging anyone, but feel free to steal for your blog



1. Your name spelled backwards?

yzzuM. That was easy.

2. How would you describe yourself?

What was the name of that Denis Leary song again? Okay, just kdding. I'll say shy and socially awkward.

3. Are you a fast learner?

Not really.

4. Type of music you dislike most?

Wagnerian-style opera.

5. What message is on your answering machine?

Dunno, something that Mrs. Muzzy recorded, can't remember exactly.

6. Have you ever ridden on a moped?

Neh, but I when I was a young teen I would ride a neighbor's really small Yamaha road bike, just an 80cc engine, about the same size as a moped, but probably more powerful.

7. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?

Lemme quote Dr. Phil here: 'Are you nuts?'

8. What's your favorite restaurant?

Fogo de Chão.

9. What is your idea of fun?

Hanging out at the zoo with my hunny-bunnies.

10. Have you ever been in a school play?

Yup, but only in high school.

11. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?

Let's see, that would be from iTunes today: Regina Spektor's remix of her insanely-great song called 'Better.' Except that it's not.

12. Ever prank call anybody?

Yup, back in college, called some freshmen girls, told them I was with a radio station and if they could identify the 'mystery sound' they would win a prize. My room mate held the other phone over the loo as he flushed it - for the mystery sound, you see. Hilarity ensued.

13. Ever get a parking ticket?

I have. I've speeding tickets, too.

14. Furthest place you ever traveled?

Farthest from where? I was born in NJ, and grew up in Brazil. That question doesn't really work for me.

15.Last time you swam in a pool?

Lordy, it's been a while, since maybe 2002? Now, when's the last time I *pee'd* in the pool?

16. Do you have a garden?

Yes, maintained by a former neighbor who sold his house and moved to a condo, and he misses getting his hands in dirt.

17. What's your favorite comic strip?

Easy: Dilbert

18. Do you get angry easily?

No, but when I do, look out.

19. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem?

Which one? I know all of the American, most of the Brazilian.

20. Bath or Shower, morning or night?

Shower, every AM.

21. Best movie you've seen in the past month?

I don't know if I've watched on this past month. I have a bunch stacked up, ready to watch, though.

22. Favorite pizza topping?

So many toppings, so little time... I'll go with Pepperoni. No, wait, Canadian Bacon. I changed my mind, Four-cheese and olives. Okay, I hate pineapple, but pretty much any other will do.

23. Chips or popcorn?

Popcorn. But I love em both.

24. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?

Yer kidding me? Fugly Muzzy?

25. Orange Juice or apple?

Love em both, but these days I'm partial to Not-From-Concentrate OJ.

26. What color lipstick do you usually wear?

WTH?

27. Have you ever smoked peanut shells?

Nup, but I did try smoking a joint rolled with crushed Eucalyptus leaves in 8th grade. A hint: if you're gonna try it, don't use notebook paper, my dear homies.

28. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine?

Went out with Mrs. Muzzy to Fogo de Chão last Saturday night, but if you read this blog you already knew that.

29. Favorite type chocolate bar?

Well, my favorites have always been Brazilian chocolates, Diamante Negro and Galak, but these days I'm really into Ghirardelli 60% Cacao squares. And it's so good for you!

30. What do you hate about yourself?

Hate? That's a strong term, but I've never really liked anything about my looks, and I wish I weren't so prone to anxiety and depression. Other than that?

31. Are you a good cook?

Let me see, can I say this in one word? Nobleepingway.

32. What is your source of inspiration?

I am rarely inspired, but my daughters give me hope.

33. Have you ever won a trophy?

Uh-huh: best Halloween costume in 7th grade.

34. Sprite or 7-up?

Okay, I'll say either, but I prefer Cherry Coke or Pepsi.

35. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work?

Is an apron considered a uniform? Otherwise, no.

36. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy?

Sudafed PE - crappy concoction, that Pseudo Sudafed.

37. Ever throw up in public?

Yeah, alot on airplanes as a youngster. It's embarrassing when you're a kid, but worse as an adult. About three years ago I puked in my car, in a parking lot, in full view of a lady whose car was parked nose-to-nose with mine.

38. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love?

Well, I gotta say 'true love' here, don't I? But how about being a millionaire who finds true love? That's always a good thing.

39. Do you believe in love at first sight?

Dunno about love... I think that in lust at first sight is much more likely.

40. Ever call a 1-900 number?

No, but vaguely recall being at a friends house once when he did. Does that count?

41. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital?

My SIL and my niece, shortly after the wee one's birth.

42. Can exs be friends?

I dunno. I'll say yes, but it's not always easy.

43. How often do your trim your toe nails?

When they start snagging my socks.

44. Would you, could you, on a train?

I would not, could not, on a train. Wait, what are we talking about here?

45. What is in your purse?

Okay, I *do* carry an over-the-shoulder bag with alot of what wimmin carry in their purses - except the Tampons and Midol and those pin-sticking vodoo dolls of their exes: library book, cellphone, iPod, fold-up umbrella, mini sewing kit, half-eaten Snickers bar, that sort of thing. I'm just sayin'.

46. Favorite thing to do before bedtime?

Well, after my cookies and milk, I brush my teeth and say my prayers, read a wee bit, and then it's out with the lights.

47. What keeps you ticking?

Caffeine, of course, my drug of choice.

48. What would you rather be doing right now?

Rather than doing a quiz thingie? I can't imagine anything more fun than doing this right now.

49. What is one thing you are grateful for today?

That I was able to tuck my two hunny-bunnies into bed just now, and kiss them goodnight.

50. What message do you want to send across in this lifetime?

There is a God. Life is short. Appreciate the good things. Let the rest go.



I'll Do It Tomorrow


From Procrastinus:



Measure My Procrastination

Procrastination is pervasive, and it concerns us. At least 95% of us procrastinate at least occasionally and about 15-20% of us do it consistently and problematically. Also, there are historical records of people procrastinating going back at least 3,000 years. Unfortunately, very little is understood about why we put off doing until later what we think we should actually be doing right now.

To address this need, researchers at the University of Calgary have been exploring the problem of procrastination. To continue this work, we need you and people like you to complete the following study. You will get some feedback about your procrastination at the end and what you can do about it.

This feedback is based on research we and other researchers have previously conducted over the last thirty years and should be quite accurate. You can choose to exit the study at any time, but you will only get your feedback by answering all the questions. With your participation, we should be able to continue to improve our understanding of this common but somewhat mysterious phenomenon.

All the information you give is privacy protected and anonymously computer-scored. You are the only person who will be physically able to connect your score to your name. If this research interests you, please click the button below.



Measure yours here.

Bridge Collapse Photos


Worth a look: Tim Davis' compelling ground-level photos of the 35W Mississippi River Bridge Collapse.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Big Eye In The Sky - Bridge Collapse


From Big Eye In The Sky:



360 degree aerial panorama over the collapsed I-35W bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, MN.

This was shot the morning after the collapse when there was a TFR (temporary flight restriction) over the bridge, and I had to fly significantly higher than I normally shoot, so you won't be able to see much detail in the bridge. I may be able to do more at a decent altitude when the TFR is lifted.



View the panorama here (needs Quicktime).

Friday Night Videos - Debate 08 - Obama Girl vs Giuliani Girl




Thursday, August 02, 2007

I'm Okay, But Not Okay


I wanted to put up a quick note here to let the world know that I'm okay, but that's not at all true, I'm very much Not Okay.

I'm not as Not Okay as the many unfortunates who were on the 35W Mississippi River Bridge when it collapsed yesterday, and their families and friends and co-workers, but still, I'm Not Okay.

I have been in the grip of the grippe for most of this week, feeling achy, tired, nose running, sneezing, coughing - you get the picture - but I came into work downtown yesterday anyway. I was in a daze most of the day, and didn't get an enourmous amount of work done, but I did make progress on some projects that were on my desk. Several times I had tried to summon the energy to leave early, but just didn't feel up to the drive, but I was actually feeling just a wee bit better when I left to go home at around 7 PM.

As I was exiting the parking ramp, the attendent warned me to not try to take 35W north, and I assured her that I wouldn't, since it was under repair and several lanes were restricted, that I would take 94 east to 280, and home from there.

It was then she told me with an ashen look on her face that the 35W Bridge across the Mississippi had collapsed. She proceeded to tell me that it had happened just about an hour before, that the whole thing had fallen, both north and south bound lanes, bank to bank. At first I thought maybe she might be doing some kind of Punk'd show, but I realized she was utterly earnest.

I turned the radio on to WCCO, which broadcasts out of downtown, and listened in astonishment as the announcers described what had happened. It felt surreal. I'd been indoors all day, had closed out my web browsers, trying to work, and had simply been out of the loop. It's my guess that people in New York and Tokyo knew about what had happened before I did.

(Indeed, a cursory glance this AM at websites from around the globe indicated this was front-page news as far away as Brazil, China, South Africa, the UK, Malaysia, Australia and Russia. As I'm writing this, Google News has 3266 articles listed from all sources on this story.)

While all this was going on I took a call from Mrs. Muzzy, concerned that I was okay. She and the girls were at her sister's house for supper, and had just crossed the bridge less than an hour before it came down. Of course, I have crossed that bridge thousands of times, in both directions, and have even walked the footpaths that run under it on both banks. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 140,000 vehicles per day used that bridge.

Anyway, at first I figured I'd just take the 3rd Avenue Bridge across the river and head home, but by the time I'd passed the police station, I could see that the road ahead was nothing but gridlock, with dozens of police cars and emergency vehicles trying to jockey their way through. It was all the more disorienting because there were thousands of baseball fans streaming toward the Metrodome for last night's Twins game.

(The authorities decided against cancelling the game, since that would put another 20,000 cars out onto the streets at a time where the emergency vehicles were already having a hard time manouvering.)

I finally realized that I needed to regroup. I figured maybe I'd go park over by the Stone Arch Bridge and walk out onto it, to see what I could see. Of course, everyone and his brother had the same idea, but oddly enough, I found an open meter about two blocks away, plugged it with about 30 minutes of quarters, and set out on foot for the Bridge.

There were thousands of people lining the stone bridge, trying to figure out what they were seeing: nothing. All I could see was the familiar sight of the 10th Avenue Bridge with its majestic arches, but in front of it, nothing but air and thick plumes of black sooty smoke.

I struck up a conversation with a young man and a young woman who claimed to have been able get right up below the collapse on the north side of the river before they were told to leave by the authorities, and they described what they'd seen: cars smashed, cars in the water, cars still on the spans, and people being hustled off the ambulances. They told me they'd seen no obvious dead, but that there had to be many casualties, as it was apparent to them that there were a number of cars submerged, and that the occupants had to have drowned.

(As of this AM there were only 4 confirmed fatalities, and close to 100 people treated at area hospitals, but that fatality number has been inching up throughout the day, and reports indicate 30 people 'unaccounted for,' whatever that means, with an untold number of cars resting of the river bottom. I have to imagine it will take days to do a complete census, and that the death toll will be at least 20-30 before the tallying is done.)

In the air hovered a half-dozen news 'copters, as well as one that looked military or police, and the whole time there were emergency vehicles trying to work their way through the crowds on the Stone Arch Bridge and the 3rd Avenue Bridge. Of course, while all this was going on, thousands of people continued to stream in towards the Dome for the game. Like I said, it all seemed surreal.

Off to the northwest I could see storm clouds gathering, with rather intense-looking bursts of cloud-to-ground lightning, and I decided it was time for me to quit the place. I got back in my car and inched my way through the crowds and cars to the Warehouse District, intent on taking the Plymouth Avenue Bridge across the river, and then East Hennepin to home. This turns out to have been a good plan, for once I'd cleared the Central Business District, traffic was quite light. All in all, though, it was nearly two hours from the time I left work until I got home.

There were, of course, several messages from family members and a friend, wanting to know if I was okay. I called them back and let them know that, yes, I was okay, and so was my family, but the truth was that I was very much Not Okay, and I am still Not Okay today.

What happened here yesterday was a catastrophe, and it's only by a stroke of fortune that deaths weren't in the hundreds. Witness the school bus with 60 kids that had just barely made it across before the collapse. The real story is that anyone escaped with their lives, and yet many dozens did, albeit with physical and emotional wounds that may never heal.

As for me, I'm just a bit player in this drama. Mrs. Muzzy had traded off her Wednesday shift as a nurse at the downtown hospital to work on Monday, so she wasn't even working yesterday. She and the girls were not on the bridge when it went down. As far as I am aware, I don't even know any of the injured or dead.

And yet don't think for a moment that this doesn't affect me, psychologically, emotionally or even in the day-to-day grind of living. Even now, I can barely write these words without wanting to break down crying at the thought of what happened, that it could have happened to me or mine, that it did happen to so many, and in my city.

So, yeah, even though I'm okay, I am very much Not Okay.