Acting Up

My musings, thoughts, rants, and discoveries. - Scott Maddock

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Location: Redmond, Washington, U.S. Inc. (Formerly U.S.A.)

Allie's Journey

For the next several months this will be dedicated to information pertinent to Allene M. Maddock. Her care has been assumed by Hospice as of 06Apr12.

Please feel free to call or write her. If you call be patient and take time to explain who you are. Currently she remembers, but you have to help her focus so she truly knows who she is talking to at the moment. We have to do this too, and I frequently say something like, "Yes this is Scott, your oldest."

Her phone is area code two-zero-six, and the number is 216 3816.

Her Address:
Allie Maddock
c/o Queen Ann Manor
100 Crockett Street
Seattle, Washington
    98109

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pwoudlee Iggerant

Have you been to college? I've two Bachelor of Science degrees, one in biology from a Jesuit institution (Seattle University) and one in computer science from a state school (Armstrong Atlantic State University, part of the University System of Georgia, along with Georgia Tech). The faculty in the science and math departments of both universities tended to be conservative folks. Sure there are a few liberals, probably a percentage point or two more than you'd find in the white house about right now. Instructors in liberal arts did tend to be more liberal. Is this a big surprise or scandal?

To hear conservative pundits talk, liberal instructors are a big problem. They claim these people force their point of views on pliable and unwilling minds. This is so ridiculous it has hard to take seriously, much less debunk. Like the flat earth people. Orbital pictures are fake, light bends, making the horizon appear to be on a curve, the moon shot was an elaborate hoax, etc. They claim you must argue from the frame of their accepted beliefs -- impossible when a you can't even agree on facts. A circular argument to nowhere.

College students are grown ups. It's not likely some long haired professor is going to change their world view with classroom coercion. Quite the opposite, given that age group is still pretty flippin' rebellious. The only time in nine years as a student or instructor at the undergraduate level I saw an instructor apparently try to push a political bent on a class it was a right leaning Jesuit philosophy instructor, who I suspect was trying engender some debate.

Now, I did see students who thought college professors were trying to force feed ideologies to then. Every one of them was someone whose breadth of intelligence was limited (by choice or nature) or who had no imagination. Never were these instructors telling someone what opinion was correct. They were insisting students consider viewpoints they disagreed with, and investigate facts that on the surface did not comply with their position in making their case. For those unaccustomed to the concept, we said it is called "(critical) thinking." Doh.

Are the students and conservatives whining about these brainwashing liberal instructors profoundly stupid or lazy? Does it really matter? We are seeing the result of their arrogance of ignorance. It is destroying our country's liberties, reputation, safety, and dreams. The American Dream kind of dies an ignoble death when you assign all your assets, liberty, and privacy to corporate america -- this is one field, maybe the only where conservatives have shown a great deal of imagination. I never appreciated how many people fell into the whining category. If it truly is over 50% as w claims, is our destiny doomed to completely descend into the hands brutish and mediocre tyrants?

The democrats flounder because they can't find common ground for fixing problems which need to be addressed. The republicans rely on fear mongering to sustain their iron grip. The democrats now rely on our disgust with the historically unprecedented level of corruption the republicans are showering themselves with. Neither party is seriously promoting any change, rather they seem to be campaigning to control the corruption for their ends. Neither party seems to understand why most of their adherents are not fiercely loyal. Neither party can conceive of trying to actually represent the plebeians. Us, the plebeians, the people they are representing wonder why there seems to be no choices which are ethical or give a rat's ass about the average Joe when they go to the ballot box.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Thank You My Good Friend

I received a comment on my last post from Steve. Steve and David were my best friends and neighbors in elementary school. Shifting allegiances, quarrels, making up, and adventures. Everything pre-adolescent best friends generally do for and to each other. Their mother was a very special woman. While we were still in grade school she went back and finished college, got her teaching certificate, and I believe got her master's as well. A brilliant and warm human being, and an example for taking courageous life leaps without second guessing yourself. A lesson I still carry with me.

Growing up I spent a lot of time at their house, and Dorene became the only real mentor I've had in my life outside of my father. She gave me encouragement, advice, and a sounding board. Many of us have had an adult we valued and respected above all others in our childhood. Dorene was that adult for me. I didn't realize it at the time, but I often used her as a proxy mom. She was extremely perceptive and I'm certain she realized I was hungry for contact that my alcohol and medication dependent mother was unable to provide. That is certainly above and beyond what anyone need do for a neighbor kid. Never was there a hint of what she thought of my besotted mother. I can't imagine anything more generous.

As I grew up much, no, most of my critical thinking was nurtured by this wonderful lady. I don't see things as black and white choices. I question beliefs continually, especially my own. I had other influences which encouraged me to think independently. None so much as Dorene. I had a couple classes from her in high school. The most challenging and engaging classes I had. I had to work harder for grades in her classes than the other kids, and I of course bitched about it. We both knew I loved and respected her all the more for it.

For the sake of privacy, I'll not mention her last name. I grew up calling her Mrs. ******, and I always thought of her that way. Even when I was an adult and finally learned to address her as Dorene. It has a very special meaning for me. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Last night I saw Waiting for Godot with my friend and ETI classmate, David. On the way into the theatre I saw Rachel in front of us and called to her. We all sat together and I again had the pleasure of introducing two good friends. We grow up and move on. Still, we think back on increasingly infrequent occasions. On one of those occasions a year and a half back I thought of Dorene, and wrote her a letter thanking her for being such an integral part of my life.

Last night immediately after seeing the play, I was touched to find out she had died and to hear she had received and valued my letter. She knew me as a somewhat clingy child, who rarely had more than two good friends at any one time. I'm much different from that child -- I can no longer count how many good friends I have or understand why I would want to in the first place. My regard for Dorene though, has not changed.

I'm shedding a lot of tears at the moment. I'm sad my mentor has passed on. I'm grateful I feel the loss. I'm sad it has been fifteen years since I saw her. I'm glad I wrote a letter.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Reentry

As soon as I got to Freehold yesterday my nerves went away. I suspect it was mostly excitement, and the adrenalin and such which goes along with that magically turned into the old habitual feelings of trepidation. Not all magic is good.

One of our ensemble members decided the program wasn't where she needed to go. I was really excited it seemed like everybody was returning. I wasn't the only one, it visibly bummed quite a few of us.

Things are very busy at Freehold at the moment. Classes are starting, and the Studio Series is under way with all the rooms and audiences which go with it. (I'm bummed I forgot and missed the first week's production.) It is generally wonderful stuff and I likely had acquaintances in several of the shows. Each week is a production roughly two hours long, usually consisting of five to ten short pieces. Some have very well-trained and experienced folks, others people earlier in their path. While there may be a piece or two that are not riveting, there are usually several transcendent pieces of work. For anyone in this area, I'd certainly recommend it.

With everything going on at Freehold, finding rooms is a challenge. Yesterday our class was at the theater at Northwest Actor's Studio, which I always figured as a competitor to Freehold. Next Tuesday we will be at the theater at Hugo House. Good thing there are a number of suitable venues within a couple blocks of Freehold.

I'm hoping to see Richard III Friday at Seattle Shakes on Friday, so maybe I can see this week's Studio Series on Saturday. It's not getting much good talk in the community, but people ARE talking about it. It is done in contemporary settings, so I figure the Shakespeare snob factor has something to do with it. Misha Berson from the Seattle Times didn't seem to care for it, which generally means a show is good in my experience. She seems to have a predilection for lavish production values and a dislike of shows which get you personally involved.

I'm happy to be back in class, though my internal clock is out of whack right now. Maybe going to the opera with my niece tonight will mellow me enough to allow me to reset that pesky clock. I'm already thinking about my schedule in seven day a week terms again. Trying to figure when I have time to do all the little things I really want or need to do. So, I'm getting back in the groove.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

On My Way

Yikes! Class starts back up this afternoon. It just hasn't seemed real, even with all the homework. It never felt like it was looming, but I'm all a flutter now. Big fellow like me all a flutter. Sounds pretty silly to me, but butterflies know no bounds. New classes too. Acting has evolved into Acting/Verse/Text/Scene Study for six hours a week. We also have tutorials for an hour and a half a week. No idea what that will be, and I'm wondering if it will include everybody, some, or just one person at a time. Not the latter I hope.

We also have a three hour audition class on Sundays. At this point that one makes me the most nervous. Just the whole audition thing I suppose. I generally enjoy auditions, but I certainly don't enjoy them when they're pending. I think I'd adapt an old saw and say, "The only good audition is a finished audition."

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
        "Henry V" (5.3.44)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Random Quips And Thoughts

Do you ever have funny thoughts about people you see all the time? There is a fellow with a sour demeanor, and a slight accent. I want to say to him, "Pierre, it is still legal to smile in this country. Hurry before it's too late."

Does anyone call the GOP the Republican Guard?

Will we ever again see good cartoons like Johnny Quest and Loony Toons? Futurama?

Insurance scammers should start hanging out in parking garages. Pretty easy to step in front of a car going well over 30mph in the Expedia or Microsoft garages -- if you work there it is hard not to. It seems yuppies have trouble understanding the difference between a parkway and a driveway. Admittedly they are not aptly named.

If you have secret courts issuing warrants without any real oversight, how weak must the eavesdropping justification be to necessitate the need for conducting illegal spying on US citizens?

Why is Tigger my favorite character in Winnie the Pooh, maybe in all of children's literature?

Now that our local scam artist, Doc Hastings from Eastern Washington, has been implicated in the Abramoff and DeLay scandals will the GOP have second thoughts about having appointed him to chair the ethics committee, which was done to punish the previous GOP chair for daring to admonish DeLay?

Why does being on the salt water or near it make me ache deep inside? Do I miss the sea or do I miss my childhood house? I feel like our old tomcat, the patriarch of the family pride of house cats, who used to sit at the top of the slope in our yard and just watch the beach and Puget Sound from seventy five feet away. Late one night I heard the screech of brakes and of a struck cat. The next morning I found Papa Cat's body lying at the beach's edge, looking almost comfortable, as if he decided to die gazing upon the sea which more than anything else in the universe he loved and feared.

One of the freshman congressman for Washington state is Dave Reichert. His claim to fame? It took him over twenty years to catch the Green River killer. His office finally submitted evidence that was a decade old for DNA analysis, a technique which was nearly as old as the evidence. Would that have been considered acceptable had the victims not been (or assumed to have been) prostitutes?

Classes start up tomorrow, and I'll be back to 80 hour weeks. I think I'll have all the homework done, except for watching the long version of Branagh's Hamlet, as I couldn't find it anywhere except used on Amazon. It's on order so I'll still get to see it, albeit a week late. I saw his version of Henry V last night, I've read the four Shakespeare plays aloud (neat experience), and will have watched the first four episodes of John Barton's Playing Shakespeare. (Produced by the BBC and Royal Shakespeare Company.) I'll still have time to read The Tempest and do the required scene analysis for the first Voice class session on Friday.

The idea of impeaching Bush is moving towards the mainstream. The democrats and 'liberal' media are still being overly cautious, but it is something.

On Wednesday I'll be going to the opera with my niece again. I'm looking forward to that in a big way. This time I don't expect to be in intense pain.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Unknown Friends

Four aviators from one of my alma maters, VT-86, were killed. It touches me, but certainly doesn't enrage me like the War By Greedy Cowards, er, war on terrorism. These were people training for an exciting type of mission, and their deaths will form the peers who knew them. It sharpens the danger and excitement, and makes you aware of your mortality and more professional in your job. I wrote about the mindset of dealing with this kind of tragedy and grief in a healthy and productive way in a one act play. It's one of my projects on the back burner, rewriting it for one of the people who want to produce it.

There is anger though. The T-39 they were flying was supposed to be getting transitioned out of service when I was in flight school in 1985-6. Thank you Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II for taking such good care of the troops. Fuckers. It reminds me when one of my friends, Dennis Lowry, was killed during flight school in a T-2, which was long overdue for replacement, but hadn't been thanks to cutbacks and diversions driven by Carter and Reagan.

It doesn't matter which party you talk about, safety for the military is not a big deal. (I could spank that silly bitch, Clinton. If she really cared about body armor, she would have done something about it before it became a media feeding frenzy.) Neither the democrats tendency to stand down troops or the republicans tendency to increase manning mean much when it comes to safety. I didn't mind flying incredibly old planes once I was trained, but you should have dependable aircraft for the training squadrons. The older planes we flew in the training squadrons were dependable ... once. When they were well less than twenty years old.

Hell, we knew it. It wasn't like we were marched out to the flight line under duress. We would have flown poorly patched ultra-lights. We wanted to zip around in ways they don't let civilian fliers. I don't know one person who dropped because the planes were too old. There were drops, but that never figured into it. More the lifestyle, academic, or physical aspects. There were actually a few who washed out because they couldn't get over violent motion sickness. The point, is getting newer training aircraft won't improve recruitment, just the survival rate.

One thing that irked me as an aviator was calling an airplane crash a mishap. A mishap sounds like an apt description for spilling your soda while playing bridge, not a crash where your friends are turned into debris lining and littered around a smoldering crater, or smoking hole as we used to say. Is it just me, or does mishap sound like an insulting euphemism?

You know, I still miss it. The flying in particular. That is why I'm considering going for my private pilot's license as a break after the intensive conservatory training is finished. I'll try to train pretty aggressively, so I can get it quickly. When I see my old pictures of airfields we were approaching or departing, or have a window seat on an airborne greyhound there's an ache. Like the feeling when I'm away from the boards for too long. Now there's a dream. To die while flying an airplane when I'm in my 90's, on the way back from having worked in a film or major stage production. Hopefully there'll be a skilled co-pilot so I don't ruin a perfectly good airplane.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Get Back On Track

My roommate Aaron is back in town for a bit. Last week he was on his way to catch the ferries he commutes on to get from Denman Island to Vancouver Island, then to the British Columbia mainland. He got a call that his contract was not being renewed. For his last contract he didn't get notice until he came to the office.

This is actually pretty good for Microsoft, which from the experience of myself and the contractors I know fair notification is rarely used. What do you think Microsoft would do if you left without notice? I learned to start looking for work when my contracts were extended. They typically do that just before a budget meeting to be sure you're available, then go to the budget meeting, and if they don't get the budget they'd hoped for contractors are summarily dismissed the next day until budget is found.

The one time I left Microsoft for a better opportunity -- a contract for twice the hourly rate -- I gave three weeks notice to be sure there'd be time for a pass down, and I had to negotiate with my new employer to do that. The longest notice Microsoft has ever given me is 2 days, though in that case my manager agreed to let me stretch the remaining billable hours over another couple days. I told Mike I really wanted to work the following Tuesday and Wednesday, so my contracting house which was taking well over half of the billing rate for overhead would not get out of my paid holiday for Labor Day. He told me to go for it.

The special situation which started during my last few contracts was the Accenture extortion machine. I even had one contract where I worked for Solutions IQ (a bit better ethics than average), on a vendor project for Accenture, at Microsoft. I called myself a whore once removed, since I had significant overhead taken by both contracting houses. Like I was paying a pimp, who was working another pimp's territory who also demanded a cut. You see, the hiring manager wanted me but was afraid to offend Accenture so I was hired indirectly for the contract.

Accenture used to be Andersen Consulting, but once Mr. Andersen got himself indicted they thought it best to change their name to obfuscate that bit of their history -- their story is different if you check the link. The name is about all that changed.

Steve Ballmer happens to be a bigshot at Accenture. There was a perception among managers he was also a major shareholder, and Accenture must be given preference, unless they wanted to be on Ballmer's bad side. I don't believe it was the case then or now, but some Accenture folks darkly hinted at it, and hiring managers decided discretion (favoritism) was the best course. While it most probably is not true, it was perceived as true, which gave Accenture massive leverage in getting better billing rates from Microsoft while jacking the overhead way up on the contractors. In effect allowing further gouging of both Microsoft and the contractors. I've not contracted at Microsoft for a couple years, but it sounds like this perception is growing.

Well, let me jump off this tangent. Aaron is back in town for a bit, and I just ordered his Christmas present. One of those things you would rarely if ever get for yourself, but would love t enjoy. New York bagels. You've got to order a lot to reduce the shipping to only 50%, so I did. I got four dozen, 6 each of eight different kinds, a slicer, and several spreads. I'll share a few with friends at work, and leave the rest for Aaron. Well, he'll have first choice, as many will go into the freezer while they are still fresh. He's from Massachusetts, and grouses occasionally about not being able to find a decent bagel out here. Well, I've had one of these before, and they are good.

Aaron, told me he was bringing a guest with him, which I'm guessing is Sonya his wife. It will be fun to see her again, though sadly she can't eat wheat so I'll have to remember the great gift idea I had for her in the last couple days. I can picture myself thinking about it, the time of day, where I was, but not the actual freaking idea. Maybe it wasn't as good as I thought.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Catching Up

It's been a busy few days. Lots of tedious, unrewarding, time consuming work at the office. I tell myself I'm getting it out of the way before classes start back up a week from today and the 80 hour weeks resume. It's been a good recess.

Sunday I wrote a recipe blog and didn't post it. Second time this week an entry has been written but finding time to post and proof held it up. I mixed Sunday's left over pasta and sauce for dinner tonight, and it reheats very nicely. Wish I had a lot more. Sunday I was working on some other projects, including prepping crock pot ingredients for Monday morning. Worked out well, giving me a home cooked meal after thirteen unexhilarating hours in the office. Easier, but not so tasty as my Sunday creation. I wonder if I tried using my own seasonings...

While I was cooking and such this weekend I was doing homework. I read most of Romeo And Juliet aloud on Saturday, and Sunday all of Richard III. Tonight the first half of Julius Caesar. I'm on track to finish that and Othello well before class starts. Just got an E-mail from our voice instructors, and I'm to read The Tempest too. Damn good thing for maybe the first time in my life I was actually ahead of schedule on homework.

So, the rest is what I wrote on Sunday. Making this timeline something like Memento, sans the great plot, suspense, and dead people.

---- Sunday ----

Mmm. I got a wild hair yesterday and bought some produce and beef with an eye towards making a pasta dish, with the little shell pasta. It came out a little different, but lots tastier than I'd initially envisioned. Most everything in my kitchen is different from an idea's inception as it evolves, and when it is better, well that's frosting. If I have a vague resemblance of what I did the next time round I can build on it, but some of the surprise is lost. Still, so I remember the basics of this one...

I cut up and sauted five vine ripened tomatoes, which were medium sized, about two inches in diameter, in a good dollop of olive oil at medium low heat with some salt. When about 3/4 of the liquid was reduced away I added two chopped and deseeded red bell peppers. I got a small package of fresh basil and one of chives (one ounce each), and minced 2/3 of it and added it with the peppers. [Next time I may saute the peppers first, as they take longer to soften and reduce than I expected.] I added a little balsamic vinegar and some dry vermouth. Then, I added about a tablespoon and a half of old oregano and a teaspoon or two of fresh ground pepper. I also added a couple pinches of chipotle red chili powder. I couldn't find any red wine, and I think the dry vermouth was a serendipitous substitution. I set this aside to simmer while I prepared the second part of the sauce, putting the lid on the pan when a good deal of the liquid had boiled off.

Again I had a good dollop of olive oil, which I put on at medium low heat while I cut up one pound of a surloin tip roast. I sliced across the grain, then into 'slivers', averaging an inch and a half long and a quarter inch a side. Pretty rough as raw meat isn't always cooperative. I put the meat immediately followed by nine chopped garlic cloves in the pot with the olive oil. I turned the heat up just a touch past medium then diced and added half a yellow onion. Once most the onion bits were translucent I added half a pound sliced mushrooms, and mixed in a way to break up the larger pieces. Once the mushrooms were mostly translucent I added the tomato mix from the other pan. The rest of the basil and chives were minced and added, to provide an aromatic presence for them. I added some anchovy paste, and some of the sun dried tomato paste which also comes in a tube, about an inch and a half (1 and 2 tsp respectively) of each. They are great, especially the anchovy paste, for making soups a bit heartier, and I figured this mixture needed it. I added a little more salt to taste (be sure you do this after adding the salty pastes), and started heating the water for pasta.

The mix was allowed to simmer while I cooked the pasta, which took about twenty minutes, and the heat turned off when the pasta was put in the colander. A few minutes later, dinner.

I cooked the tomato stuff separately at first for a couple reasons. I think it comes out tastier, but that may simply the the 'made it myself syndrome'. Also it allowed me to simmer the tomato and pepper portion longer, then add the rest later so I could simmer and tenderize the meat mixture for about half an hour, while blending and mellowing the flavors. I think you could probably cook it all together, but I like doing it in a couple parts so I can taste test the separate bits for what I want to achieve before they are all tossed together, and so I can do more saute cooking. Mixing it all together gives you more of a stewing process.

While I was doing this I was reading Romeo And Juliet aloud, sitting down or pacing the kitchen. So the tomato and pepper mix had a good deal of time to saute and simmer, which made that part come out pretty much the way I'd hoped. The end product reminded me of a beef Burgundy, but had a lighter consistency and a sharper, lighter, and to me, a more pleasing flavor.

Monday, January 09, 2006

And On A Lighter(?) Note

I came in this morning and got some water from the kitchenette. Someone had left a brand new, unopened apple caramel pie on the counter for people to snack on. I did manage to resist the damn thing. It was one of the scrumptious Costco pies, and huge. Three or four more calories and it would have collapsed under it's own weight, existence coming to an sudden end as it was swallowed in the wink of an eye by the birth of a black hole. Since the cataclysm was narrowly averted, back to my first coming upon the tempting and sinister pie.

I walked into the kitchenette, looked at the giant pastry tempting me, and quipped, "It looks like someone had buyer's remorse." The woman who was in the kitchenette at the same time laughed, though I was worried as it sounded like she choked on her coffee a bit.

My brother gave me a daily desk calendar. Today's quote was pretty fun.
I know we've got state and local authorities who are here. I appreciate your service. For the local authorities, my only advice is make sure you fill the potholes. Empty the garbage. Answer the phone calls.
          George W. Bush
          April 20, 2004
          Speaking in Buffalo, New York
          Calendar comments: Once again, heaping respect on the locals.

Bush Has No Doubts About Cheney

Starting off with my weird brand of humor that nobody else gets. Sharing it is either an exercise in self-indulgence or letting you see too far into my thought processes. Why would w have no doubts about Cheney? Is it because he is just as morally bankrupt, or because he really is that stupid? I thought it a funny headline the moment I saw it, and still like my interpretation better for entertainment and truth.

Now for the darker side.

Cheney goes to the hospital again, and my feelings remind me of Pat Robertson. Not in a good way either. Pat prays for death and tragedy to befall his others, and publicly gloats and shamelessly displays his ecstasy when it seems those ill wishes are granted. I don't pray often. Prayer is not something I feel should be trivialized by constant prattling for everything you can possibly think of praying for -- it becomes pro forma like brushing your hair. Asking for God to hurt others is evil and tremendously arrogant and ignorant in my book. Doesn't make me a modern-day mainstream christian. My God is a compassionate one.

I can't pat myself on the back that much. I saw the news this morning, and felt saddened when I saw Cheney was released from the hospital (for a reaction to drugs for a foot problem). I don't make a habit of wishing people ill. On the other hand I do not find Cheney's good health something to celebrate. So, I don't pray for evil people to meet with tragedy (rather that they are overcome), but I feel disappointed when tragedy does not befall them.

How different am I from Pat? I like to think we are a universe apart, but I have to consider our differences may be more a matter of degree. I believe he whores the concept of faith to apply bigoted judgments instead of searching his soul. Am I more restrained, or less straightforward? More compassionate or wishy-washy? I give myself good marks, but there is a little voice, "Hey Pat may sincerely wrestle with these kind of questions, and simply come to different conclusions." My blinders are my sense of right and wrong, and make it very hard for me to accept that is in the realm of possibility. Ironic, eh?

Could it be my willingness to truly try and understand different opinions is what really sets apart the so-called left and right in this country at this time? Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of self-styled liberals who are unwilling to investigate and understand the right. In my experience that close-mindedness is more typical of self-styled conservatives. It is their credo. The boss says don't ask questions about Iraq / personal liberties / privacy / Medicare / corporate tax cuts / etc., just do what he wants or you're a traitor. This symptom of "You're with us or you're against us", is what keeps us apart, and until both sides are truly willing to ask hard questions and make actual sacrifices the GOP meltdown will only be a changing of the manipulators pulling our strings.

Friday's Rant

Where to begin? Abramoff is going to cooperate with the prosecution, or that is the expectation. Three questions come to mind. Third, do all the politicians, republican and democrat who are racing to return some of the lucre from Jack Abramoff, really expect anyone to trust their ethics now they have waited until old Jack was all but sentenced?

Second, Abramoff boasted about providing over $120,000 to Bush, early in the campaign. [If I find any of the references to this I'll link them.] He is listed as a Pioneer by the campaign which means he provided at least $100,000. So why is the Bush campaign only giving $6000 to a charity? What kind of mockery is this?

Thirdly, what charities? The Brown Shirt Republicans? Neocon think tanks? The fund Kenneth Lay is promoting to prove he is a victim of malicious prosecution? What about the Indian tribes the man ripped off? I have to admit it is a stupid thought, since I strongly suspect his racist comments about the folks he was ripping off are widely accepted in the conservative ranks, and I'm including the pseudo-democrats who took his money, as the only ones I've noticed thus far have a history of being too supportive of w and big business.

Of course the republicans say things like "We don't hate our [any color but white] brothers! They change their culture of dependency. Until they mature we will guide them, direct them, and watch over them so they don't hurt themselves or us." This is a paraphrased from what I have heard so many conservative people tell me. I'd say condescending to an entire ethnic culture is racism, sneakier and more obtuse than we saw with Jim Crow, but no less divisive and demeaning.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Light's On, But Nobody's Home

For years light bulbs, incandescent and fluorescent, did not last long in my house. It turns out the power line leading to the house was shorting in a tree which caused power fluctuations (or starvation). Luckily the tree didn't catch on fire and the short was before the meter so I wasn't subsidizing arboreal shock treatments.

This is all leading to a dull event.

I have a vanity fixture in my bathroom, one of those bars of five 40 watt bulbs, which went through bulbs at a terrific rate. The further to the right, the shorter the bulb life. It's been on the same two bulbs since the power line was fixed about six months ago. Somehow it became a milestone of sorts. Once the bulbs were replaced I'd start another limited cleaning and junk purging around the house. I bought new bulbs on New Year's day.

On Tuesday I took out the dead bulbs, dropping last one. It landed in the sink with a muffled pop. There were a few big pieces of glass, but it was mostly sand grain sized shards. Great. I left it there until the next day. I was running late for work and I wanted to let it dry, so I could sweep out the broken glass without it sticking to everything. It still surprises me the bulk of the bulb broke into such tiny pieces. The new bulbs went in last night after sweeping out the sink. Now, will I really have a cleaning fit this week? Will the new light bulbs and the New Year's resolution propel my ass into activity or procrastination?

The moral of the story? I don't know. Check your power lines if light bulbs and electronics seem to be dying too often? Scott's a dim bulb?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

It's Not My Job

My father was an attorney, and is a retired superior court judge. As a result I BOTH enjoy lawyer jokes, and defend lawyers all the time. The public perception of the legal profession took a nose dive, after it was ruled the bar associations could not prevent lawyers from advertising. I don't believe this increased the number of shysters, rather the small percentage of ambulance chasers are now highly visible.

The American Bar Association just rated Alito as "Well Qualified." What a joke. It deeply bothers me he chose to betray the agreement he made to not hear cases dealing with Vanguard. I expect w to pick an overly conservative jurist, and as much as I don't like it, I can't fault someone for simply having opinions I find distasteful. I've written before how it angers me neither party seems to consider breaking one's word to be a problem. I consider it lying. It seems the ABA doesn't see things my way either, so I sent a snide note to their ethics staff, titled "Excusal for Recusal."
Suppose I agree to recuse myself from any cases involving the bank with my personal account. Does it really matter if I break the agreement and take such a case? What, if any consequences should I expect?

Now suppose I promote myself as a professional organization which serves as an ethics guardian, and for political reasons give a glowing recommendation to someone who has broken a similar agreement. Does that demonstrate a lack of ethics on the part of my organization, my profession, or both?
The group I wrote to is meant for questions coming from attorneys so likely it will be categorically ignored. Doesn't matter, it was mainly a vent. Though I am not an attorney myself, I resent it when the profession is needlessly smeared.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

America, It Makes You Proud Disappointed

I have no comprehension of how anyone can trust w and his minions. I realize people do trust them, I just don't understand how anyone can have blinders big enough screen out the systemic and systematic corruption of the GOP.

Remember the Clinton witch hunt? Hundreds of millions of taxpayer money spent by the republican controlled senate and house, and not a whiff of corruption. Just prevarication about the president's personal life, evasions or lies to questions about his sex life which had no business being asked. Now we have all the corruption and more, which the republicans accused the democrats of being steeped in. Admittedly there were a couple democrat scandals in the 90's, but they pale in comparison to the numbers and magnitude of what we see today. The republicans control both houses and the white house with strangleholds, and still can't suppress the flood of their dirty deeds coming to light.

Speaking of the dysfunctional capitalism/consumerism partnership the conservatives have brought us...

Long ago, far away, when I was still wet behind the ears, American products were superior. Made in America was nearly synonymous with quality and durability. We were the land of quality, even in the automotive realm, where we created low maintenance vehicles, with respect to the rest of the world. Lately I've been calling America the land of "almost good enough." We'd rather save $5 on something that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, than pay the $5 for something that is twice as durable. My disdain for the American consumer bit me in an ironic way.

I have a two or three month old Sony DVD player for my downstairs television. It gets a lot of easy usage, as I turn it on most nights for a lullaby movie. It is sometimes left on for an extended period. It died Monday morning around 4AM, a few minutes after I turned it on. That afternoon I put on a movie upstairs, where I actually watch movies instead of go to sleep by them. This DVD player is a Sylvania, which is a 9-12 months ole. Not brand new, but it doesn't get used much. It's motor died ten minutes from the end of Goldmember. At least I'd seen that movie before.

Two DVD players, and their motors apparently died less than a day apart. Kind of reinforces my disgust at the quality of products available in this country. I don't even think these make the "almost good enough" cut. They'd have to last more than a year for that distinction. I took apart the DVD players these replaced, and both had motors about the size of the tip of my little finger, though not as big around. Pathetic. Typical. I won't even bother with these, figuring they continue the trend to shoddiness.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Getting Off On a New Foot

Disagree with w and a CIA operative is immediately outed in retribution, to the detriment of national security. An investigation into the leak was delayed and stonewalled by the administration, and ultimately assigned to someone they thought would not be inconveniently tenacious, in so blatant a manner you wonder what it takes for democrats to pull their heads out of their alimentary canals. A whistle blower leaks the almost certainly illegal domestic surveillance orders by w, and an aggressive investigation into the leak is immediately launched. At least a few democrats are asking what the motivation behind the leak is. w uses the press to smear and extract retribution against those who don't blindly follow the line, and uses the attorney general to hunt and persecute anyone who would expose his crimes.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is having increasing trouble thinking we're the good guys and we pretend to be incredulous. In years past we would label as a tyrant any other national leader who acted in this way. Today, if we even question w's actions we are accused of treason. Will the new year show us anything new? I'm sure it will, only the direction has yet to be determined.


I thought this was funny and frustrating. I visited New York for the first time, and managed to choose the one time in the last 25 years when the trains and buses weren't running. The following week I took another four day trip, this time to Duncan, BC. On the way back the Victoria Clipper, which I like riding, turned around because of rough seas and loaded us on buses. Having grown up on the water, and doing lots of fishing in a ten foot aluminum skiff year round, I found the ride enjoyable, but the green skin and tightly clutched waxed paper bags indicated I was in the minority. Instead of getting home about 9PM, I arrived 3AM. They gave us half off coupons for our next trip, which in my case will cover the extra I had to shell out for a taxi.

Yesterday I went up to my stepsister's for New Year's. I figured the third trip of my vacation would be lucky regarding transportation, and it was, sort of. Had a great visit with her, my brother in law and their friends. We played "Apples and Apples" for hours. A fun low stakes game, which we chatted around, and all won a game. Dennis won two. No problems driving either way, and I left Bellingham half past midnight, getting me home at 2AM this morning. I'm sort of in a jet lag situation thanks to the Victoria Clipper trip and the holidays, so maybe this qualifies as my three bad transportation events. I'm going for the idea of things happening in threes, instead of third time's a charm. I didn't wind down and go to sleep until 4 AM. It may be a little rough getting up for work tomorrow.

My niece Delaney, who is about a year and half old, and Laurel Ann made me a delightful present which I brought home. A snowman made of heavy hose or socks. Mom operated the glue gun, and Delaney directed the show. When I get my camera back I'll post a pic. I find it a happy making decoration. It is cute in a way which makes me smile. It will be on top of the tv long after the season is over.

I brought materials and made a batch of the Indian mango faux ice cream for New Year's. Approximately one part pureed mango, two parts sweetened condensed milk, and one part cream all mixed together. Then I freeze it in the little dixie cups. I'm thinking a little lime or lemon juice next time might bring out the mango flavor nicely. It's very rich and easy to make and has been a hit everywhere I tried it. Though a lot of work is required to purge all those calories.

Their friends, Greg and Steph, brought the makings for gyoza, and those not making the faux ice cream were stuffing the gyoza's. Dennis made creme brulee's earlier, so we filled up on lots of gyoza's and very rich desserts. A lot of satisfied "ahh's" were heard.