Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Recycled Memories at the Academy of Sciences

No Easy Task
I have been going to the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park for most of my life. I didn't go during the remodeling project, when they were downtown, but received a gift of a membership for xmas, and went down bright and early (so we thought) yesterday morning to get into the 'express entrance' line for members. This would of course speed us past the riff-raff in the ordinary line. This turned out to be only half true, as the member line was incredibly long, but nowhere near as long as the line of the regular ticket holders. By the time we got in, and oriented ourselves to how to get a planetarium ticket, it was already too late for a morning viewing. The line was already long for the rainforest, so we headed towards the back, where the alligators were.

The new location is in the back, near the rear entrance. It used to be larger, and right in front when you walked in. In those old pre-enlightened times, people would throw coins at the alligators and snapping turtles, as if they were objects of cosmic luck. I distinctly remember my late Auntie Jean, who was quite a character, getting one of the guards to poke an alligator with a long stick, so it would roar for us. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it really happened!

One thing I could never do as a child, was wander through the aquarium, take pictures with my iPhone, and simultaneously post them on Facebook! There's free wifi inside! The new Academy is pretty awesome, and I wonder when it will ever not be crowded. I think I'll just have to take a day off, on a Tuesday when members get in an hour early, rush into the line to get a planetarium ticket, then get in the line for the rainforest!

Even having lunch was a compromise. There were many separate, interesting looking food stations, all with their individual waiting lines. We had some great shrimp and pork spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce, but I'd like to try something different next time too. There's even a chi-chi restaurant called The Moss Room downstairs, but they were also totally booked!

It's highly recommended.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Psychedelic Santa

What's Santa listening to on his iPhone?

Now, I admit I like Santa a lot, and I also like Apple a lot. So there I was in Stonestown, checking out the Apple store, as I am wont to do, and there's Santa, with neon tube earbuds. I just had to snap a shot. I don't know if this Santa was specially made for Apple, or just something generic one picks up as the Santa Store, but I dug it!

It also give me a chance to tell all of you how much I wish the best for you next year, and to hold on to the Season of Peace vibe, that passes all too quickly.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Keith Olbermann's Prop 8 Editorial

While I continue to work on my song inspired by the wedding wars, Keith Olberman of MSNBC delivers this extremely passionate message. I used to dislike him when he was on ESPN, as I thought he was too cynical then. What a transformation he has gone through having to deal with the idiots and hate mongers of the modern cable news world.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fragile Hope

Feeling Better

I have to tell you that I worry for Obama, part of the package of hope I carry for him. While it was a resounding political victory, I am reminded that it could have gone differently. The economic meltdown definitely helped Obama shine in the public eye. If the collapse had held off until after the election, would this all be happening? It's not for me to say.

I can feel the possibilities whispering in my ear, shouting from my soul. The sobering reality that Prop 8 looks like it's winning shows the power of fear that still exists in our society. I guess what I usually do at a time like this is quote T. S. Eliot.
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Let us dance into the future.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Enough Already!

I can't take it anymore!

Will I be happy in 24 hours? Will I be angry? Will I be sad? Will I be all those things?

If they steal the election again, will I feel like moving to Canada? Certainly not to Alaska. If Prop 8 wins, how long do we have to wait for the generation of hate to die off?

If Barack Obama wins, will we be holding our breath, worried that every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Sara right-wing wingnut will be out to get him?

America could be so much more than it is right now.

Are you as ready for this to be over as I am?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sleight of Hand: GOP cornered and dangerous

Nothing to see here! Hey, look at that ACORN!
As the end looms, and the smoke clears, the GOP strategy seems clear. It doesn't seem like anyone on the Democratic side is taking a victory for granted, but McPalin's outlook is pretty bleak right now. So, from what I'm hearing and reading, the last strategy is outright stealing the election by reverting to 18th and 19th century voter suppression strategies.

The Repugnicans have been screaming bloody murder about voter fraud, trying to get everyone talking about ACORN, but the true cases of voter fraud are rarer than lottery winners. This is all just a smokescreen to distract people from what is happening across the country, all in the perverted name of the Help America Vote Act. Just like in Florida in 2000, several states are thinning out the voter rolls, and often more likely in poor and ethnic areas. According to the Steal Back Your Vote comic book, co-written by Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast, Republican lawyers across the country are challenging and intimidating voters. In their recent article in Rolling Stone, they wrote:
On Super Tuesday, one in nine Democrats who tried to cast ballots in New Mexico found their names missing from the registration lists.

A lot of voters are being challenged because their records don't match on the Drivers License database with the Social Security data. I was called to jury duty twice in one year, just because one list had my name spelled differently than another list. Maybe I won't be able to vote either! I just ran across this story about how certain Florida counties are refusing to go along with the real strict hassling of voters. This is out there to be paid attention to.

This has to bubble up to the top of the media consciousness soon, before it's too late. Please pass the word about this strategy. Enormous sunlight needs to shine into these dark ugly corners, if we are to preserve our democracy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Insert Caption Here!

according to the ABC caption:
Republican presidential nominee John McCain almost heads the wrong way as he leaves the stage after shaking hands with Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama after the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Oct. 15, 2008.
(Jim Bourg/Reuters)
So, what I really would like is for as many of you as possible to write your own caption for this photo!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Stake Through The Heart

Hunting for Vampires
OK, so I got this weird image/fantasy about the change this country could go through. It seems like lately the McCain/Palin beast has been all too willing to summon the dark demons of fear and prejudice in in their naked drive to keep the Cheneys of this world in power. I feel like the promise of an Obama presidency is so enticing, and will be such a positive step for this country, but these demons need to be quelled. My hope is that enough people will wake up in time to 'drive a stake through the heart' of this darkness, and will stay vigilant after the election to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The moment Bill Clinton was sworn in, he was under attack by these same forces. Just how much more could he have accomplished if he didn't have 'that weakness?' Can a President Obama summon the kind of unity needed to transform this country into what it could be? That's why we need to keep these demons in check, to not let them out of the box ever again. Yeah, yeah, dream on Geoff.

When I was doing a little web search on the phrase stake through the heart, a weird story popped up. Apparently, some real vampire hunters in Serbia dug up the body of Slobodan Milosevic, and rammed a wooden stake through the heart of the former dictator to stop him 'returning from the dead'. Apparently some people take the concept just a tad too literally!

One of the reasons I like Star Trek so much is that it presents a world where the decision has been made to leave institutionalized poverty behind, forever. It still exists on other worlds, but humans have left it all behind. Can we ever unite to such an extent? It seems unlikely in the face of so much entrenched self-interest, but hey...
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Donna Brazile Is Not Going To The Back Of The Bus

My friend Jeff Johnson forwarded this video from Donna Brazile that hits the nail on the head. I wanted those of you who aren't already on Jeff's list to see it too. This comes at the end of an 80-minute panel, and Donna just launches into this wonderful ad-lib. This is incredibly timely, considering the incredibly facsistic, racist rallies that Palin and McCain were whipping into frenzies on Monday. Donna's comments were this weekend, before the ugly incidents.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bluegrass Bikeride

Saturday in Golden Gate Park
I slept most of the morning, while Martha was away at a Peace Corps conference, and decided that now that the sun had come out, maybe I'd get on my bike, and head over to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, which has become such a huge annual affair in Golden Gate Park.

Once I got to the park, it was somewhat uphill, and even though I'm in better shape now, I was sure breathing hard on my way past the buffalo, and on to the western border gate of the festival. There were so many people, bike riders were asked to walk their bikes, so my ride turned into a walk. I could hear the sweet pedal steel of the Desert Rose Band, playing on the Star Stage. When I got close enough, I tried to take my picture, with the stage in the background. Now and then, my iPhone camera gets its brain scrambled when taking a picture, and it seemed somewhat fitting I should get this chopped-up image of me still huffing and puffing!

I headed farther into the park to the Rooster Stage, and caught the very last songs of Nick Lowe. Before I got close enough to see, I could hear a solo acoustic guitar singing "I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll," one of Nick's classics. I was hoping that maybe Elvis Costello would join him at the end and sing "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding," a Nick Lowe song most famously done by Elvis. Elvis wasn't in the building, but my wishes were granted anyway, as Nick closed his set with a slower, tasty solo acoustic version. That was worth the bike ride right there!

At this point, I walked my bike (very slowly; walking a bike through a huge crowd is not so easy!) over to the Arrow Stage, where Jerry Jeff Walker was playing. Heard some nice tunes, such as the pretty Navajo Rug, Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother, and heard LA Freeway as I headed back home. Kind of nice to have these lyrics stuck in my head as I left the vicinity for the ride home:
If I can just get off of that L.A. Freeway
Without getting killed or caught
Down the road in a cloud of smoke
For some land, some land that I ain't bought, bought, bought
If I can just get off that L.A. Freeway
If I can just get off of that L.A. Freeway
Without getting killed or caught

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What About Now?

I'm sick to freakin' death of the underlying text of what passes for politics in this so-called Greatest Country on Earth. The news media simultaneously reports that many white voters think blacks are "too lazy, violent, and responsible for their own troubles." At the same time we hear some people think Obama is too elitist, too priviledged, too refined.

We hear whispers about how he's really a radical Muslim, while hearing about his so-called racist black Christian pastor.

Make up your freakin' mind!

I'm sick of basically getting the idea that America is "not ready" for a black president, while of course having to put up with comments about how he's not black enough. I don't feel like waiting. I've waited long enough. 8 years is more than enough. How's NOW work for you?

From Robbie Robertson's song What About Now:
There's gonna be a change of season
Indian summer look around and it's gone
Why you wanna save the best for last
We grow up so slowly and grow old so fast

We don't talk about forever
We just catch it while we can
And if i grab on to the moment
Don't let it slip away out of my hand

What about now
Forget about tomorrow
It's too far away
What about now
Close your eyes
Don't talk of yesterday
It's too far away, too far away
What about now

I'm coming out of the shadows
I'm getting of of this one way street
Blue memories they just gather dust
Leave them in the rain they turn into rust

Did you see the march to freedom
Did you ever see savannah moon
All the people walking in a line
Said to the man, is it my time?


In the walk of a lifetime
When you know it's the right time
I can't wait until the ship comes in
I can't wait starting all over again
The errors of a wise man
Make the rules for a fool
MP3 (with vinyl record scratch noises!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fox in the Henhouse

Wall Street Worries
Sure, there are probably people who shouldn't have been given home loans, and no, government shouldn't always be the solution for bad judgement, but the latest fiscal crisis is so much more than just a few bad loans to people in no position to repay them. There has been a massive deregulation of the finance industry by the same folks who have brought us privatization of almost everything.

Now, people by the score are losing their homes, their jobs, and their dreams, and all the government can do is defend executive compensation for CEO's of bankrupt firms? And oh, by the way, in case one is not that good with powers of ten, the $700 billion price tag is on a par with the cost of the Iraq war. So, it's not like I don't want the government helping us out, I mean, that's what government should be doing, right? But...do I trust the current regime with that many zeroes? I just don't have that kind of faith.

I will say that the potential is here for the biggest heist in history. Shall we give them a blank check?

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Winter Wonder Phobia?
If you know me, you know I'm a corny guy when it comes to Christmas. I like looking at gawdy xmas light displays, I enjoy watching It's a Wonderful Life, and I love endlessly listening to the Phil Spector Xmas album. But yesterday, while I was at Costco, and it's not even October yet, the sight of this Santa display freaked me out!

Talking about how early they commercialize Christmas is nothing new, and of course we all know Costco is simply putting things out in advance of the season, but it still freaked me out! Am I being unreasonable?

Friday, September 19, 2008

10,000 Electric Guitars Were Groovin' Real Loud

Irony Indeed!
After years of making lots of noise (after all, one of my screen names is basstooloud!) it's only fitting that this should happen to me. I offered to host the guitar jam club for another teacher after school today, and this guitar army descended on my classroom.

This clip is 22 seconds long. Imagine an hour of this!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ramadan Sunset Dinner

Break-fast dinner with the Muslim Student Union
Tonight we had the pleasure of sharing a meal with Muslim and non-Muslim coworkers and students at the school I work at. We were invited to share this meal during the month of Ramadan, where practicing Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for an entire month. It was a simple gathering, the first time I had attended such an event. In what was a cosmic coincidence, it was a beautiful clear sunset in the land of Daly City, where fog rules most of the time!
We were treated to a tasty meal, and all had a good time.
One woman spoke briefly about the event, and how it brings one closer to God, and also how it brings awareness of other people around the world who do not have enough to eat.
I share this event with you mainly to see if anyone else has attended such a meal before.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lucy in the Sky

Lucy 1992-2008
Today has been a very sad day. We've known for a while that our 16+ year old foxhound Lucy was nearing the end. Intellectually, I know she was a pet, an animal, and not a human, but that doesn't make it very easy to find the right time to say it's time. We took her to the vet today to go through it together, and I miss her. She was a loved one indeed. Looking through pictures afterwards, I could see her presence woven through fabric of our lives, changing as we changed.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gag Me With a Spoon

I Couldn't Resist

I watched a little bit of the Repugnican convention tonight, and tried not to yell at the TV too much. There sure were a lot of white people at the convention, telling us proudly they were putting "Country First." It is clearer more now than ever that this campaign will rarely stray into the field of reality; lies will be told, big lies, and lots of them.

The GOP is revving up its putting down of the "Mainstream Media" at the same time that said media is brown-nosing its way through its coverage. Reality distortion indeed. I could only take so much of Fred Thompson's classic serving up of 'red meat' to the assembled multitudes, and went out for a bike ride. When I got back Joe Lieberman, ex VP candidate from 2000, was shilling for McCain. Ugh.

So, all I want to do is leave you with this classic pose of 'the maverick' John McCain taking a nap on monkey boy's shoulder.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Bradley Effect

The Nightmare of Race in America

Is it possible that we have been rope-a-doped by the Karl Roves in this country? Tantalizing us with a once-in-a-generation politician, leading us to believe America was ready to elect someone who was of mixed race heritage.

I'm not going to give up. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but we need to gear up for an effort effective enough to overcome what became known as the Bradley effect. In 1982, Tom Bradley, the black mayor of Los Angeles, had a significant lead in the polls, and the exit polls as well, but still lost the race to the dweeb Deukmejian.

I don't think some of the voters in the primaries that voted for Clinton just because she was white will ever vote for Obama, so the strategy must be clear.

Obama must win over new voters, they must turn out in record numbers to make up for the racist turnout. McCain's keepers will not leave a single dirty trick unturned. They will lie about anything, as long as it sticks until November 4. I don't think we can shame any of these racist voters into changing their minds; we just need to outnumber them. I know we must face many hardships in our life, and no matter what happens, we must go on working for a better world, but I gotta say, the thought of losing this election is so disheartening, it's unthinkable.
Don't let anyone tell you politicians are all alike, or even
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
It makes a difference. You can make a difference. We can make a difference.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fired Up and Ready to Go!

The Time is Now Indeed!
November 4th is not that far away. I don't know if this is a sprint to the finish line or not, but I know that if you think there's been too much slime flung at Obama so far, you ain't seen nothing yet!

They will stop at nothing, no lie is too big. Look at what they did so far: Trying to simultaneously spread innuendo that Obama is somehow a Muslim, while at the same time trying to put the albatross of his former Christian pastor around his neck. Make up your mind, is he some kind of Muslim terrorist, or a black Christian extremist? You can't have it both ways.

Watching Obama speak tonight, the possible pain of having another election stolen from us fills me with dread. I have been clapping out loud, with only Martha, Lucy, and BB here in the room with me. The hope of having someone like him as our president is overwhelmingly attractive.
We cannot turn back, we cannot turn back.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do, how to get involved, but I have to do something. It is not an exaggeration for us to ask ourselves
When the time came, when history called on us to do our part, how did we answer the call?
We have to answer the call, we have to answer the challenge.

Let Freedom Rain on Dobson

Apparently, that right-wing idiot James Dobson tried to get his followers to pray for rain, torrential rain, to come down upon Obama and the assembled multitude at Invesco Field tonight. The weather here and there is beautiful, and I know it really doesn't mean anything, but i couldn't help but borrow this image from a very interesting post in the Daily Kos today! Check it out!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Power of Love, not the love of power

Jedi word tricks indeed!
I missed the beginning of Bill's speech, so I don't know what I missed, but I heard enough to feel like he sealed the deal.
I was fortunate enough to hear this great line:
"People around the world have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."
I don't know if he plagiarized this line, but it still sounds great. The title of my post is a quote from a May Moore song, Bohemia, and I've always loved these lines:
Late afternoon is a time to dream
I like to listen to Coltraine's 'A Love Supreme'
Then I leave my rented room and I walk
Through the fading light down streets that talk
I always meet someone I could call a friend
Prejudice is something we must transcend
Coming into season this world will flower
With the power of love, not the love of power
To quote/warp Rachel Maddow from last night's speech, I really have to agree that
Anybody who could be persuaded would be persuaded by that speech.
At this point, anyone who doesn't want to get on board the O-Train has their own reasons.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No way, No how, No McCain

Did she stick the landing?
I think a lot of people were holding their breath tonight, to see how Hilary's speech went down. I guess I'd rate it about a 93% effectiveness rating. I don't always like her style of speaking, sometimes it seems pretty forced, but tonight she really connected a few times.
Sure, there were plenty of platitudes, but she hit paydirt when she said "No way, no how, no McCain." The audience erupted, acknowledging a great phrase, which really made the point. I was most particularly moved when she quoted Harriet Tubbman:
If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If they're shouting after you, keep going.
Don't ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.
Response at times was so overwhelming, it somewhat obscurred some really good lines from being heard clearly, like:
My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for President.
The pivotal part of the speech, where she delivers the Spockian message that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, drove it all home:
I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?
So, what did you think?

text of speech

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Old Top 5 Desert Island Trap

This is ridiculous!
I was reading my future son-in-law's father's blog about his 5 favorite albums, and thought I'd give it a try. What a hopeless task. I've already changed my mind in the time it took to post this! This is one of those tricky mind games, isn't it? Well, if you don't mind, please leave your list of top 5's in the comments!

The Beatles Rubber Soul
How does one choose a favorite Beatles album?

Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland
A world within a world. The guitar will never be the same.

Grateful Dead American Beauty
How can this one not be there?

Love Forever Changes
Is there an album I've listened to more times? Hard to say.

Fleetwood Mac Then Play On
Peter Green's last hurrah before his long strange trip got really strange.

Yeah, yeah, I know these are all from the late 60's to 1970, but hey, what can I say?

Doggies Redux

The Tail End of the Party
Martha and I had band rehearsal until 5, but rode our bikes immediately afterwards to attend the La Playa Block Party, whose promo poster said 10AM - 6PM. When we got there, all that was left was the inflated bouncy play structure for the kids, and Mannie, Moe, and Jack sitting on their trailer. We noticed the posted signs from the city said "No Parking 10 AM- 5 PM."
So...it was Martha's turn to pose with the Doggies!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mt. Rushmore?

The Dog Days of Summer

<--click to enlarge

If you were riding down the street, and saw this assemblage of canine iconography, and you had a camera in your pocket, wouldn't you stop to take a picture?

The LaPlaya Block Party is next weekend, and the three Doggie Diner heads, Manny, Moe, and Jack, are part of the stars of the show!

Rescued by East Bay neon contractor John Law, these doggies appear in the annual San Francisco St. Stupid's Day parade on April 1st.

Link: Check out the Doggie Diner page for some interesting background.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Milli Vanilli Caper

It's Showtime!

In what should come as no surprise in this American Idol world, the producers of the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing opted to use the voice of one little girl, but the 'performance' of a cuter little girl with better teeth for the public show.

As AP put it:
Yang Peiyi, a 7-year-old with bright eyes and a smile made crooked by the stubs of her first grown-up teeth, was heard by an audience estimated in the billions during Friday night's ceremony, singing "Ode to the Motherland."
But they never saw her face.
Organizers passed the song off as being sung by Lin Miaoke, another perky schoolgirl who donned a sparkly red dress and soared on wires above the 91,000-strong crowd at the Bird's Nest stadium.

I guess it depends on how you feel about lip-synching. I would say that most of the time when I've seen those bloated half-time shows, it seems like the performers are lip-synching anyway. I don't like that either. I guess the problem here is a colossal case of gilding the lily. When we were watching the ceremony with some friends, we all pretty much said the same thing:
I would hate to be the next nation hosting an Olympic Games; nobody will ever top this!

Performance after performance elicited oohs, ahhs, and gasps from us all. Did someone think we would make fun of the little girl with the adult teeth growing in? Was it that necessary to be that perfect?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Review: CSNY Deja Vu

It's Deja Vu All Over Again!

Let's cut to the chase here. This movie will only play one more day in the Bay Area, and after that, you'll have to wait for the DVD. Martha and I went to see it tonight at the quirky Bridge Theater, with less than 10 people in the audience. So, you kind of already know if you like Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and you probably already know if you are a fan of Young's savage/raw style of guitar. Tomorrow (Thursday July 31) is your last chance to experience it in a movie house. So...GO!

Now, back to the 2-bit review
This is not a concert film. It does document the 2006 CSNY Freedom of Speech tour, but there is lots of archival footage of older concerts and older wars. The premise is that Neil Young got journalist Mike Cerre to be an 'embed' journalist on the tour, and report positive and negative responses with unblinking honesty. Mike has already put in multiple tours as an embedded journalist in Iraq for ABC News, and there is a surreal touch of constant screen shots of the LWW Network, in CNN drag, running crawls across the bottom of the screen of war casualties, just like the stock quotes you see on TV.

The movie is quite emotional, and there is much tension as the tour heads towards the South. In Atlanta, it all boils over when the band starts singing "Let's Impeach The President." A significant number of the audience boos, and flips the band off. The embed reporter interviews many of these people as they are leaving, and it's pretty brutal. Definitely not PG.

There's any number of extremely emotional moments. Archival footage of Young singing "Ohio" was pretty intense for me. I loved hearing some of "Wooden Ships," a song I still dream of playing in church one day, and "For What It's Worth" sounds timeless, even though the song was originally written about the teenybopper riots on Sunset Strip.

The movie features a lot of war footage, and focuses on many veterans and their families. Like I said, this is far from a standard concert film. But I don't think anyone should be all that surprised. I wonder about those angry fans in Atlanta too; did they never listen to the lyrics back in the day? How can anyone be surprised that they would be against the war in Iraq?

BettiI would like to take this opportunity to thank our friend Betti Caramucci for reminding me that the movie was in town, and also that it would be closing after only one week. I don't think Betti is a CSNY fan, and probably just heard it was an anti-war movie. Bless her heart!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Miracle of the Neon Tetras

The Miracle of the Baby Fishes!

A good aquarium community is in balance, where the fish have enough food to eat, and the plants have enough fish pee to eat, and so on. Sometimes I'm successful at maintaining a healthy community, and sometimes I'm not. I'm not sure how often the teenager we hired to take care of the dogs fed the fish; I'm not blaming anyone, I just don't know.

A couple of days ago, I noticed 3 teeny little fish with bright blue stripes. You can see the small fish in the lower right hand corner of the photo, in comparison to a White Cloud Mountain minnow (hardy enough to survive my care.) The minnow is a little over an inch long. There were no adult neon tetras to be found! The adults apparently perished after laying the eggs. I never even could tell if I had male and female neons in the tank. I have never successfully raised any egg-laying fish (live-bearing guppies don't count!) This is really weird. Things look real disastrous in the tank, but here they are, three baby fish that should have been eaten days ago by the bigger fish! I have no idea what will happen next. There must have been some weird combination of conditions to yield this result, and I don't know how long I can keep the babies alive. If any of you know anything about neon tetras, please let me know!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Review: Mamma Mia!

Meryl Streep's Joyous March Through the ABBA Catalog

IMDB link

We went out to the movies last night as part of Martha's birthday celebration, to see the film version of the musical based on ABBA songs. On one hand, it's about as well marketed as anything can hope to be in a theater world dominated by The Dark Knight, since Mamma Mia is generally skewed towards female viewers, but it cannot escape the shadow. I think crowds are smaller than they would be otherwise.

And just like the stage play, the audience is part of the show. For some, ABBA is anything but pleasant. For me, I think it's a form of perfect music, perfect Euro-pop. The movie is full of ABBA classics, and with the possible exception of when Pierce Brosnan tries to sing, one can't help but sing along out loud. This is where it would have been nicer for us if the theater had been packed. Perhaps it was because it was a Monday night, perhaps because it was Daly City; I don't know. If I could make sure I was attending a sold-out show in the City, I would see it again in a minute. I see a future in ABBA parties at home when the DVD comes out!

Roger Ebert, who didn't care for the movie much aptly puts it this way:
The plot is a clothesline on which to hang the songs; the movie doesn't much sparkle when nobody is singing or dancing, but that's rarely.
Meryl Streep is quite an accomplished singer, and Pierce Brosnan, is, er, not.

Bottom line, if you like ABBA, go this weekend, on a Friday or Saturday night, when large crowds are most likely. That is unless Batman has taken over all the available screens!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Danger! Family Vacation Photos ahead!

Who really wants to see travel pics?

So, one of the oldest clich├ęs is being stuck in a friend's house, watching slides of their family vacation. I understand, so I've come up with a more voluntary way to see some pix from our travels in Kauai. I started a new blog at:


where my random iPhone pictures are thrown up as I take them. The only text is the title. I'm not going to send announcements out for every little picture, so, if you want to see some occasionally interesting pix, check it out. If you've been here or are interested, leave a comment in the regular place.

You'll see the 4 posts just prior to this one are this kind of thing, before I setup the new location. I'd be curious if anyone looks at them.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Oh, By The Way...

<--Grace and Peter up at Richardson's Grove back in 2003

Sometime in 1975 Martha and I visited my parents down in Cupertino, and sometime during dinner, I casually let it slip that Martha and I planned to get married in December. It was a great gag, and we replayed a version of it later with Martha's parents.

We're flying to Kauai tomorrow on a family vacation, and Grace and Peter are already there. Grace called today to make plans to meet tomorrow, and at some point, simply said "Peter proposed to me last night."

I guess turnabout is fair play. I am pretty surprised, and am running pictures through my head of Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin playing Father of the Bride. I'm trying hard to not be real obnoxious. We'll see how that goes!

Smoky Sunset 2

Smoky Sunset

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Review: The Love Guru

They Call Him Maurice

Martha and I came home a day early from a short getaway (car trouble) and went out to see a movie. We were going to see the new Indiana Jones movie, but due to a schedule change, went to see The Love Guru instead.

If you like Mike Myers' lowbrow form of humor, you should get a kick out of this. It's not going to endear itself to anyone with overly thin-skinned sensibilities. It's pretty much offensive to everyone! Also, I don't recommend you see it with your children, your parents, or anyone else who you don't want to see you laughing at an inappropriate joke.

On one hand, it's just a lot of gags, piled up one on top of another. But some of them are very cleverly linked, with a delayed payoff later on (his name Maurice for example!) The opening scene is a musical number featuring Mike, a sitar, and some beautiful Bollywoodesque babes in Dolly Parton's "9 to 5."

I don't really want to say much more, as you'll have the most fun if you just go and see it. Avoid the trailers, which will just tip the hand of the gags. Get your money's worth!

Mariska Hargitay indeed my child!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Waiting for the Other Shoe

The Barbed Wire is Rusted

In this crazy world where the obvious is anything but, it was great to see the ecstatic response on Gavin Newsom's face to the logical decision it was unconstitutional to deny people the right to marry, regardless of their sexuality. Sure, tomorrow may bring all the kooky right-wingers down from the hills, and right on schedule (every 4 years, during the presidential election) but today, it's a beautiful feeling, sort of like "Don't stand in the way of Love."


Don't Stand in the Way of Love.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Very, Very, Urgent

I don't know a lot about these TED talks; I have seen one or two before. In this relatively short speech, Al Gore delivers a warning and a challenge to us, and he looks pretty intense about it all. I would encourage you to set aside a few minutes (about 27!) to watch this. If you have a pretty fast computer, press the full-screen button (to the right of the speaker icon) to enlarge the picture:

I have shown the Inconvenient Truth DVD to my freshmen Earth Science classes because I believe it's good science, not just a political issue. Many students have already been shown the video by their history teacher, or maybe the substitute teacher, but I wanted them to see it from a science point of view.

talk is short, and to the point:
  1. we don't have much more time to act
  2. we can change things if we do act
  3. this will be the defining challenge of our time.
Please consider what he's saying, and if you do agree, spread around the knowledge of this talk. You can access the original at http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/243 or at a stand-alone page I created (which strangely works better at full-screen mode than the original) here: http://ggould.com/blogstuff/Urgent_Al.html

Thank you for your time, and I hope you'll share with the rest of us your thoughts below.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Timelessness of MLK's speeches

In the Name of Love

Last Friday, we observed the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. It's a somber occasion to remind us of a great loss, but also an opportunity to look at what King was doing in his last days. I want to mainly give credit to another blogger, digby, and ask you to read his blog from Friday, which deals with MLK's speeches near the end of his life. My thanks to Mike Groh who turned me on to this excellent piece. In closing, I would simply like to print an excerpt from a speech against the war in Vietnam, delivered exactly a year earlier, which closes digby's blog post. Jeez, you think they might be relevant today?

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My First Friday Night

Foraging in the Food Court

This last Friday night, we went out for dinner and then on to an opening at the Museum of Modern Art.

Returning to Westfield Centre (Sonja just got a job at Bloomies!), we went back to the food court for dinner. This gave me a chance to retake the picture of the dome, without the lights. It's still quite beautiful, just different.

Before my recent awareness of my blood pressure, there were too many choices, but now I was nervously trying to minimize my fat and sodium intake! What a surprise, no low-fat, low-sodium outlets in the food court! I settled for some salmon and veggie chunks on a skewer!

On to the Museum!

Martha is a member of the SFMOMA, and she gets invited to these openings where crowds of trendy people gather to view cool things. This time it was the opening of an exhibition of Lee Friedlander's photographs. We also went up to the 5th floor to see Olafur Eliasson's trippy exhibit, which in many ways was like some of the perceptual exhibits at the Exploratorium, done up large and art museum sized! When we stepped out of the elevator on the 5th floor, we were flooded with a pure yellow light. It was pretty strange, and made you look like some zombie out of a cheezy B-movie. Hard to believe the color of light could have such a strong effect on how you feel.

All in all, after all the time in the hospital, and self-focus, it was nice to get out for a few hours. Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive. I go back to work tomorrow!