Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bella - Movie Review

Clara and I saw this when it first came out - a sunny Saturday morning in Bricktown last Fall with a nice slice of pizza afterward, both of us glowing about the movie. Yeah, it hits close to where we live - it's pro-adoption but more than that, it's pro-Life, in the bigger sense of the word. Not perfect, I expect, but it's heartfelt so who cares? The girls liked it - Rachel had seen it in Spanish class and it had been her choice to see it again, and Emily, like Emily does, got caught up in the story and managed to not cry. Highly recommended, especially for people who think that Hollywood doesn't make good, family fare anymore.

Kung Fu Panda - Movie Review

The girls rented two DVDs on Saturday but I'll make separate posts for a quick review of each one.

The first up was Kung Fu Panda. Pretty good stuff. Not anything ground breaking but clever in its execution and some of the fight scenes defied gravity. It's hard to remember sometimes that someone somewhere sat at a computer and animated all of this. Nice little Zen message, too: today is all you have and you're already the hero you need to be. Everyone enjoyed it.

Next up was the luminescent Bella, reviewed in the post above.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Emily and Pepper's 4th Obedience Training Class

We laid off a week because of last week's career night but Emily and Pepper were back at it this week.



This week's lesson? The "leave it" command, and then some change ups in the pacing of the "heel" command. Lots of stopping and starting and walking fast and walking slow. They worked pretty hard for about 30 minutes and Pepper was ready for a water break. They finished up the next 30 minutes equally hard and both Emily and Pepper were tired when they were through.

Emily's doing a great job with Pepper. No cool tricks yet but that doesn't come until the next series of lessons. For now, it's still the basics.

No class next week. It's Thanksgiving!

Gas Continues to Plunge

Around here, at least. I filled up at $1.66:



Strange to be able to fill up and not crack $30. Not that I'm complainin'.

New Music

I'd signed up with eMusic some time ago - more than a year ago, I imagine, since that's where I got all of my Hem tracks for free, during a their sign up promotion - but soon quit when I couldn't find much of anything I wanted. I gave 'em another try the other night and found their selection just as limited and their downloading process just as clunky as before. (Though their prices are right! about 50 cents a track! Dang!) So I quit them again. Sorry eMusic. (And am I even spelling their name right? Ah, who cares?)

Back to the iTunes store then. One of my guilty pleasures is scrolling through the celebrity playslists and see what they recommend and over time I've put together a list of tracks I'd like to actually pay cash money for. So, whacky guy that I am, I actually purchased a few songs:

Alton Brown, from The Food Network, has a pretty good list, so I picked up Mexican Candy by The Iguanas from him. The coarse Sarah Silvervman had a surprising number of interesting picks: Wild Is The Wind by Cat Power and Must I Paint You a Picture? by Billy Braggs. Amy Grant led me to Shawn Colvin and I Don't Know Why. Finally, on my own, I got to Laura Veirs and her Cast a Hook. All great choices.

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Now playing: The Iguanas - Mexican Candy
via FoxyTunes
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Now playing: Cat Power - Wild Is the Wind
via FoxyTunes

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Now playing: Laura Veirs - Cast a Hook
via FoxyTunes

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Now playing: Shawn Colvin - I Don't Know Why
via FoxyTunes

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Now playing: Billy Bragg - Must I Paint You a Picture
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stampede!

Well, stampede of sorts.

When we were in South Florida last, we noticed the delightful figure inlays in the concrete retaining walls along the Interstate. In keeping with the culture of South Florida, they have dolphins and palm trees. Here in Oklahoma, we have our own figure inlays only they're of buffalo:




They're laid out on the panels so that you get a sense of movement no matter which direction you're traveling. The dual tones are a nice detail.

A nice reminder of just where we are.

Mad Max and the Meltdown

Daniel Henninger thinks the current financial crisis is linked to the trend of secularism taking over the country:
This year we celebrate the desacralized "holidays" amid what is for many unprecedented economic ruin -- fortunes halved, jobs lost, homes foreclosed. People wonder, What happened? One man's theory: A nation whose people can't say "Merry Christmas" is a nation capable of ruining its own economy.

One had better explain that.

Yes, one better. Click through this post's title for the whole thing - he makes a pretty good case. But the best part of his post may be the caption to this picture:

Mortgage-backed security survivor.

Ain't it the truth?

Lileks Gives More Oklahoma Shout Outs

Lileks' update of his restaurant site today includes the over-the-turnpike restaurant in Vinita, Oklahoma. I'd seen this before on the old version of his site and I've tried to find it before but couldn't. Glad to re-visit.

Click on the title of this post to get to his pages but, hey, while you're here, I might as well grab his images and post 'em and give you an idea of what you can expect.





Amazing, huh? Lileks has more links, and more restaurants, so head on over to his place and give yourself a treat. You deserve it.

Obama Pledged Change, Picks Insiders

Change you can believe in:
President-elect Barack Obama promised the voters change but has started his Cabinet selection process by naming several Washington insiders to top posts.

Obama is enlisting former Senate leader Tom Daschle as his health secretary. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a well-known Washington personality, seemed more likely than ever to be his secretary of state. Clinton is deciding whether to take that post as America's top diplomat, her associates said Wednesday.

Obama is ready to announce that his attorney general will be Eric Holder, the Justice Department's No. 2 when Clinton's husband was president. Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, is another veteran of the Clinton White House.

That's from MSNBC so you know it's not just Conservatives that are noticing. Though MSNBC can't resist this:
Republicans sniped at what they saw as an unwelcome trend. Alex Conant, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said, "Barack Obama is filling his administration with longtime Washington insiders."

Right. We're "sniping" if we point out the obvious.

I'm not saying McCain wouldn't have done the same thing. Sure, he ran on being a maverick, and he likely would have chosen his staff from a pool of political hacks, like politicians do. But it's Obama who pledged the more mavericky administration and many people believed him and voted accordingly - at least, voters didn't believe McCain was capable of the change Obama promised.

Well, here's your change.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Set Loose The Hounds!

My sister, Toni, sends along this link to the place where her daughter, Shannon, works as a Farm Trainter and Professional Whipper In. Interesting stuff about what Shannon does and pictures of her doing it but there's some kind of Internet mojo working that prevents me from downloading them. Click on over and see for yourself.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Prince = Christian Conservative

Is Prince a conservative at heart? Sound like it:
Recently, Prince hosted an executive who works for Philip Anschutz, the Christian businessman whose company owns the Staples Center. “We started talking red and blue,” Prince said. “People with money—money like that—are not affected by the stock market, and they’re not freaking out over anything. They’re just watching. So here’s how it is: you’ve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this.” He pointed to a Bible. “But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re, like, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.”

When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’

Despite his naughtiness, I enjoy the funk of some of his music. It must be interesting how he reconciles his artistic vision with is faith.

Quantum of Solace - Movie Review

We'd tried to catch a Friday night showing of Quantum of Solace but a combination of opening night and a long dry spell of "guy" movies mad that an impossibility. We managed to catch a late afternoon showing on Saturday and we weren't disappointed. Er, at least, I wasn't. Clara's not the fan I am so liked it slightly less - the blurry, too-close edits of the chase and fight scenes left her a little queasy and she didn't like the theme song. I'm with her on the blurry quick cut editing but I liked the theme song well enough.

Daniel Craig's doing a good job making the character his own and the producers have made the right decision to go off on a grittier, more realistic tone to the series. So many of them have been made now, it's about time the franchise was shaken, not stirred, and I think this second installment is a worth followup to the first.

Paul McCartney to Release Experimental Beatles Track From 1967

Sorry, but this rabid Beatles fan can't get behind this:

(Paul)McCartney says he wants to release "Carnival of Light," a 14-minute experimental track the Fab Four recorded in 1967 but never released.

The band played the recording for an audience just once, at an electronic music festival in London. It reportedly includes distorted guitar, organ sounds, gargling and shouts of "Barcelona!" and "Are you all right?" from McCartney and John Lennon.

How many times have you listened to Revolution 9 on The White Album? Yeah, me neither. As all of us Beatles-philes know, this Carnival of Light track was a precursor to Revolution 9, and was unreleased for a good reason.

Still, that doesn't mean I'm not curious to hear it. Once.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

5 Myths About an Election of Mythic Proportions

The election may not have been everything you thought it was. A quick summary of the myths:

1.) The Republican Party suffered a death blow,

2.) A wave of black voters and young people was the key to the Obama victory,

3.) Now that they control the White House and Congress, Democrats will usher in a new progressive era,

4.) A Republican candidate could have won the presidency this year, and

5.) McCain made a huge mistake in picking Sarah Palin.

(Ouch. Number 4 hurts. The truth usually does.)

Click the title of this post to get to the more debunking of the myths.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NASA Restores Historic Photos of Moon From Space

The technology that stored these photos had grown outdated and we very nearly lost them:
Mankind's first up-close photos of the lunar landscape have been rescued from four decades of dusty storage, and they've been restored to such a high quality that they rival anything taken by modern cameras.

NASA and some private space business leaders spent a quarter million dollars rescuing the historic photos from early NASA lunar robotic probes and restoring them in an abandoned McDonald's.

The first refurbished image was released Thursday — a classic of the moon with Earth rising in the background.

Will that be the fate of all of these digital pictures we take today? Sometimes, paper is better than digital; we concern ourselves with that at my tax practice since we store much of our documentation electronically. What will happen to that stuff when the technology to read it becomes outdated?

Oh, you remember the picture, don't you?



Beautiful!

Number 1 in Music Tune Widgetry

In case your wondering what comes up first in a Google search of music tune widget, it's this post.

In Korea, that is. The Googler launched his search from their and I have no idea why I'd be the number one hit. But there it is. Glad to be of help.

Stone Age Temple May Be Birthplace of Civilization

Interesting:

The elaborate temple at Gobelki Tepe in southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, is staggeringly ancient: 11,500 years old, from a time just before humans learned to farm grains and domesticate animals.

According to the German archaeologist in charge of excavations at the site, it might be the birthplace of agriculture, of organized religion — of civilization itself.

"This is the first human-built holy place," Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute says in the November issue of Smithsonian magazine.

I think it's not only telling that from the very beginning, humans felt not only a need to build altars to God but to recreate the environment around them in their own terms. Here's the accompanying picture to the article which shows a relief of a fox chipped into the rock:


Art, religion. They go hand in hand with civilization.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Video! Of Rachel's Color Guard Performance!

From the Westmoore Band Booster's website, I was able to download, then upload, the video below. It's 11 minutes long but you can use the slider doohickey thing (I know, I know: technospeak.) to scroll through it. Rachel's one of those in the turquoise suits, skittering around in the back somewhere. That's the only thing you'll want to see. All that other band stuff is just noise. Beautiful noise but noise nonetheless.

(I kid. The band really is good so watch the whole thing. Why, what else were you gonna do?)

video

Emily Goes to Career Night

No dog obedience training this week for Emily and Pepper. Instead, Emily had an opportunity to earn some extra credit points by attending career night at the Moore-Norman Vo-Tech. The catch: she has to interview three people and turn in her report as proof she actually attended.

It began at 6:00 and we got there a little before that. The traffic was already backed up at the four way stop outside the Vo-Tech - this was a Moore Public School promotion and, I suspect, the same thing could be said about the Norman Public Schools. We parked, hustled into the nearest entrance, grabbed a map, registered, and we were on our way. (We sort of knew our way around since Emily has attended some of the summer courses for the last three summers.)

Emily takes this interviewing stuff pretty seriously:

 


Let's take a step back and see who she's interviewing:

 


We thought the lady was a vet since this was the veterinarian's station but it turned out she was a physical therapist. Close enough. One down, two to go.

Emily talked to an AT&T rep and web-page designer and then we attended the reality check station, where we got to plan a budget and compare it to the estimated income her chosen profession would earn. Emily selected a vet and we estimated the salary too low - our budget had a monthly shortfall of over $500 - yikes! Emily thought she'd have to live in a cardboard box. But then one of the folks at the computer pulled up a more realistic salary estimate for a vet in Oklahoma and suddenly we were in the positive monthly income area. Yay!

Finished, we threaded our way back out. The crowd had grown almost impenetrable. The four way stop sign now had a traffic cop directing things. But Emily had earned her extra credit and the rest of the evening was hers. (Er, that is, after she finished her homework. It never ends, does it?)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

‘Leave It to Beaver’ Actor to Show Art at Louvre

Really, would you ever think to hear of such a thing?
Tony Dow, best known as the actor who portrayed The Beav’s big brother, Wally, in the ’50s TV series “Leave It to Beaver,” will have one of his abstract sculptures on display at the Louvre. Several sculptors from the Karen Lynne Gallery — including Dow — will have their works shown at the historic art museum in Paris as part of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition.

“Having something shown at the Louvre is about as good as you can get,” said Dow, who lives in Los Angeles, “especially when it’s a juried show like this where there’s a panel of judges who pick the pieces to be in the exhibition. I’m a little humbled by the whole thing but grateful nonetheless.”

Another pleasant surprise? Dow's graciousness about the whole thing. Doesn't come across at all like a pampered Hollywood type used to getting his way.

Firefox's Foxy Tunes Widget

When I'm using Firefox, Create Post box has a music widget that allows me to insert whatever tune it is I'm listening to.

Hmmm.

Let's try one. I'm not listening to Hem's Half-Acre but I'll look it up and see how this thing works.

There. Let's see what happens.

UPDATE - My, my. Isn't that interesting? You click on the link and it takes you to a page about the song and the artist, as well as lyrics. Hey, that's a pretty cool feature. I'll see if I can't use it more often for my music and iPod posts.

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Now playing: Hem - Half Acre
via FoxyTunes

Life Off The iPod Shuffle Mode

Since my experiment of working my way through my iPod via iPod Shuffle ended, I'm not quite sure what I want to listen to next. I'm using some of the playlists the iPod already creates - I've listend to my Purchases and Never Played lists but neither of those are very long. How about scrolling by Artist? Ben Folds was up first and though Songs for Silverman has some good stuff, I don't necessarily want to listen to the whole thing. But I did.

The foundering continues.

More Books I'm Not Reading

I'm trying to find another mystery writer that I can follow with the same zeal I do with Lawrence Block but I'm not having much luck. I've already cast aside the books I checked out from the library on Saturday - I'd gotten pretty far - 70 pages - into Robert Crais' The Forgotten Man before I decided I just didn't care how the mystery turned out and I only got a few pages into Michael Connelly's Echo Park before I couldn't care less about it as well.

Sigh.

Well, I'll get back to the library eventually and see what I can find. Maybe I'm just too entrenched with my favorite authors and don't really want to try something new. Or maybe my tastes are just too discerning.

Yeah, I'll bet that's it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Veteran's Day

Clara was off so I took off as well and we took Mack and Helen out for breakfast at The Waffle House to honor Mack for Veteran's Day. (Mack served on a minesweeper in the Pacific during World War II.) The very least we can do.

Nice breakfast, a nice visit, and a beautiful fall morning. Mack wore his Navy reunion hat to commemorate the day and we'd put out our flag at home just before we left for the same reason.

Not many Veteran's Day's ahead of us where we can enjoy their company. I'm glad we took the time and I'm glad they agreed to go with us. I think they were, too. Hope so, anyway.

An Appreciation of Michael Crichton

By John J. Miller:

Mr. Crichton, who had just turned 66 when he died of cancer last week, was a pop-culture phenomenon. Perhaps for this reason, many critics refused to take his books seriously. When they bothered to read them at all, they complained about cardboard characters and preposterous plots. They regarded his novels as highly putdownable -- that is, worthy of putdowns.

Yet selling more than 150 million novels is nothing to mock. Mr. Crichton's success certainly owed a lot to skillful storytelling. At the same time, he aspired to be more than a mere entertainer. Mr. Crichton was fundamentally a novelist of ideas -- a public intellectual who wrote potboilers. He took on big subjects, such as bioengineering and climate change. He wasn't afraid of slowing down the action to teach a scientific concept. When he wanted his readers to understand something, he would devote a couple of paragraphs to explaining it.

I've enjoyed a lot of Crichton's work and I was surprised, and saddened, to learn of his passing. I've yet to read his latest - I'd picked it up from the library shortly after it came out and couldn't quite get into it. Though that was more my problem of not finding much interesting to read than Crichton's.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

McCain Sticks Up For Palin. Finally.

Realy, there's no excuse for McCains late-to-the-game defense of Palin:
Former U.S. presidential candidate John McCain on Tuesday shrugged off criticism leveled at his running mate, Sarah Palin, saying he expects her "to play a big role in the future of this country."

The Republican senator from Arizona rallied to the defense of his vice presidential pick in an appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," his first television interview since losing his White House bid to Democrat Barack Obama a week earlier.

This kind of thing makes me wonder if mayb the right person for the job has, in fact, been elected.

A Suprise Tax Hike?

This doesn't look good:

. . .Dan Clifton, superanalyst at Strategas Research, has noticed that Speaker Pelosi is pushing for a permanent refundable tax credit on payroll taxes paid. Clifton thinks that tax credit could be paid for by a five percent surtax on higher income taxpayers. "While this achieves the same goal of raising the top tax rate, to achieve the permanent middle class tax cut, the 5 pct. surtax will fall on top of the higher income tax rates after the Bush tax cuts expire (39.6% + 5%)."

So we could end up with a top rate of 45 percent, higher than the top rate during the Clinton years. . .

My Nephew's Blog

Hey, visitors, when you're through browsing here, why not mosey on over to my nephew's blog? He's being schooled this semester in Australia and his adventures down under are the very definition of amazing. Makes you wonder how he finds the time to study.

Visitors

I'm up to 413 visitors - last time I noted, about two months ago, I'd had only 75 - and I'm glad you all have dropped by.

The most popular post is this one, which logs our last day in Disney. Don't know what's bringing people to it. The next most popular is the main page, so the Emily Winehouse post is beginning to fade in the rearview mirror.

I'm getting visitors from all over. I haven't figured out how to publish a screen grab but a map of my visitors would show you they're coming mostly from the United States but I'm getting a few from Europe and South America. As soon as I figure out how to do that, I'll do that.

In the meantime, and once again, I thank you for coming by.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Housekeeping

Just a housekeeping note or two about some changes I've made:

In addition to changing the fonts, I've added some color to the blog's banner and the post dates while sharpening up the blog titles. It makes for an easier read, I think.

I've also coded the HTML to make the blog titles a link to any articles I send to Blogger. If you don't see a highlighted link, try clicking the post's title.

Of course, none of this makes any sense to any newcomers. To you, everything looks as it always has. But if any of you are coming back after the changes and you've been wondering why things look different, well, that's because they do.

The Great Debaters - Movie Review

We avoided the election returns by renting the DVD of The Great Debaters and even if the election had turned out differently, I think we made the better viewing choice. A true story of the debate team from Wiley College, it's a sports-movie style treatment of an academic team. And since it sticks to the style of sports movies, you won't be surprised at the ending. Director Denzel Washington may be juggling a few too many sub-plots but overall he pulls it off nicely. I like southern culture, despite the history of civil rights abuses - really, wouldn't it be nice to have a movie about the south that didn't shine a negative light on this? - but I think the movie does a good job of showing how things probably were. Yeah, it's convenient the team never seems to argue a point it doesn't agree with but, well, what're ya gonna do? Overall, a good one.

(And, interestingly enough, the character played by Denzel Washington, Melvin B. Tolson, has an Oklahoma connection. He later became a professor of some renown at Langston University and he's buried just up the road in Guthrie.)

The Changeling - Movie Review

Clint Eastwood's Changeling is a good period piece that's also a cracking good suspense movie without any car chases and only a few shots fired from a gun. Based on a true story of the disappearance of a small boy during the late '20s in Los Angeles, Eastwood's portrait of the era never lags during its two plus hours. A little too slick in places - the placards of the protesters look a little too well constructed and, if I'm not mistaken, I think I saw some of the same ones in two, separate scenes. But that's a quibble. Eastwood gets fine performances from his actors and the look of the film appears spot on. Not his finest but good enough.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rachel's CODA Audition

On Saturday, Rachel had her annual audition for CODA. Which meant it was also our annual tradition of going to the CODA audition and then going to Starbuck's and Petsmart afterward.

With all of her Color Guard activity these last few months, Rachel had little time to practice hard. She steals a few moments of practice here:


(I'm sitting down the hall to give her her space, man.)

They were nearly two hours behind in on their audition times. Finally, they called her in:




But she didn't make it. Dang. Well, Rachel hasn't made it these last few years she's been auditioning so it's nothing new. She still has OYO and she points out she prefers orchestra over band anyway. A positive spin on the outcome? I dunno. But she didn't seem too bothered by it so neither was I.

Off we went to Starbuck's. Pumpkin spice lattes for both of us and a blueberry muffin for Rachel and blueberry coffee cake for me. The difference? Rachel's was a muffin-shaped, mine was cake-shaped. See?

No Petsmart this year - we've got Pepper and Lucky now and the reason why we'd visited before was to look over the rescue puppies. Instead, Rachel opted for a trip to the library. She'd never been to the new downtown library so that's where we went. She spent some time browsing the science and history shelves while I checked out they mysteries. We both came away with a couple of nice stacks that should keep us busy for a while.

A great day. I'm glad Rachel allowed me to be a part of it.

iPod Shuffle Post #D'oh!




Yep, it happened: I went to fire up my iPod for this morning's session and found it was chugging along on its own. It had somehow reset itself and begun playing and it was already up to track 250 or so.

Sigh.

So, what to do, now?

I don't think I'll take up this project again. The downside of trying to get through my entire iPod is having to put off listening to some of the things I want to listen to. Oddly enough, with the freedom of giving myself up to the control of the shuffle, I gave up the freedom to listen to anything else. So committing to any one plan means giving up freedom and I don't want to do that. But I do want to find a way to track what it is I've been listening to and comment should the mood strike me.

I'll play it by ear. (Heh.) For now, though, this experiment's finished.

Put on a Happy Face

Fred Barnes joins Tom Coburn in telling Republicans to buck up and do the right thing in this post-Obama world.

Seems to be the consensus out there.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wildfire

We were driving to Norman this evening and listening to 104.1 FM, where they're having a 70's weekend. They played Wildfire, a song I haven't heard in like, oh, forever. Beautiful, still, and I wondered what the story was behind the song.

Well, clicking on the link will tell you what Wikipedia gave up for me so no need to quote it here. I'd known that Michael Murphy - sorry, Michael Martin Murphy, because of his small work in the movies - had been admitted to the Cowboy Hall of Fame here in Oklahoma City, and I knew, too, his cowboy song tour comes through town fairly often. He's 65 now. And if he had done nothing but Wildfire in his career, that would have been enough. Lucky for us, he decided to do more.

Tom Coburn Tells Conservatives How We Should Live in an Obama World

The unmistakable mandate from the 2008 elections is one that applies to both parties in equal measure--it's time to define a "new kind of politics" not just with our words but with our actions. If anything, a "new kind of politics" means elected officials putting aside their careerist aspirations in pursuit of solutions that work.

Coburn has a reputation for being a straight-shooter so it's good for Conservatives to listen to him.
However, contrary to the visions of some on the left, the election was hardly the end of conservatism. The president-elect did not seek an ideological mandate, nor did he receive one. This election was unquestionably a change election, but unlike in 1994, the mandate for change was not organized under any particular ideological banner like the Contract With America.

Coburn's not conceding anything and neither should the Republican party. But as loyal Americans, we Conservatives should give President Obama the respect his office deserves and do what we can, without compromising our beliefs, to see that he succeeds. We owe it to the country.

I'm On The Radio

The Internet radio, that is. I have a client who has a syndicated radio program with an audience above a million about business and he interviewed me for a segment. I'm afraid he didn't have much to work with but Chaz, ever the professional, managed to pull me through it.

Click here to listen to me hem and haw and stammer and stutter my way through 15 minutes of advice about home-based businesses. You'll be informed. And thrilled!

iPod Shuffle Post #13

671. The Association Requiem For The Masses
670. U2 Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of
669. Sting If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
668. Bach Mass in B Minor
667. Santana Maria Maria
666. Peter Gabriel Kiss That Frog
665. The Beatles All You Need Is Love
664. The Beatles All My Loving
663. Barenaked Ladies Get In Line
662. Don McLean Dreidel
661. Hem All The Pretty Horses
660. Beck Jack-Ass
659. The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
658. Moby First Cool Hive

Track 671 is piffle when you compare it to Track 668. (Then again, everything is piffle with you compare it to Bach so maybe that's unfair.) But track 671 starts with faux classical voices and turns into some 60's treacle about the common man and anti-war and other 60's themes. Dated, to be sure, and unserious.

The iPod shuffle had a theme of farm animals going there for a while with tracks 660 and 661 but it gave up. I wonder how many other titles I have with animals in their titles.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rachel's Recital With The Oklahoma Youth Orchestra

You can't see her - she's waaaay in the back - but here's Rachel and the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra with their first recital this past Sunday:



I've got video but I can't post it, of course. Something to do with the Sony format. It's beyond my blogging skillz to figure it out.

Their program was about 30 minutes long. All highly complicated classical music, the more thrilling to hear because these kids sounded so good doing it. The violin soloist alone played a full 10 minutes by memory and during rehearsal he seemed able to drop in at will at any measure the conductor wanted.

An amazing afternoon. They have another concert coming up in February. We're looking forward to it.

Emily and Pepper's 3rd Obedience Training Class

Emily's third class. She's getting a little pre-class workout here.


Tonight's lessons: heeling turns, the random recall, and heel. Though haven't we learned how to heel already?

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

UPDATE: The class went very well. Emily's good with Pepper and Pepper follows along for the first part of the class but the class is an hour long and Pepper's attention and enthusiasm starts to fade. Still, I think she and Emily are doing just as well as anyone in the class, and better than most.

iPod Shuffle Post #12

657. Red Hot Chili Peppers Fortune Faded
656. The Lovin' Spoonful Darlin' Companion
655. Paul McCartney & Wings Daytime Nightime Suffering
654. Nanci Griffith Tell Me How
653. Eurythmics Who's That Girl?
652. Wilco Wishful Thinking
651. The Band Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
650. Paul McCartney & Wings Every Night
649. The Beatles She's Leaving Home
648. Jackson Browne Lawyers In Love
647. James Taylor Bittersweet
646. Hem Stupid Mouth Shut
645. Billy Joel This Is The Time
644. Alison Krauss & Union Station New Favorite
643. Hem South Central Rain

Two tracks - 643 and 646 - make this a great session.

Track 647 brings me back to my back-to-college-to-earn-my-accounting-hours-to-sit-for-the-CPA days. Part of the soundtrack I'd play to and from school. CDs back then. CDs! And that was only a few short years ago. Already life before iPod seems quaint and strange.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post-Election Stock Slump

Uh, oh:
The stock market posted its biggest plunge following a presidential election as reports on jobs and service industries stoked concern the economy will worsen even as President-elect Barack Obama tries to stimulate growth.

I've been advising that the stock market will settle down after the election; I still think it will, so this may not necessarily mean anything. Yet. Still, it's ominous that this is the biggest drop following an election. It's not getting much press - and for good reason, considering the other news behind it - but I wonder how the news would be covered if McCain had won.

My advice remains the same: diversify and invest for the long term. Try to ignore the day-to-day news.

November Weather

It's been unseasonably warm for November but that may come to an end. A cold front's coming but it's been windy and warm all day, just like Spring. And just like Spring, the approaching front looks ominous.


This is looking north from the parking lot of my office building. The clouds look full of tornadoes to me, though that's unheard of in November, right? Right?

Update - Well, it turned into a real Spring storm all right: wind, rain, lightning, hail, tornado warnings. Didn't let up until nearly 10:00. But no harm done and now it really looks like Fall around here: the bright leaves on the trees have been stripped off revealing the broken and shattered branches from last year's ice storm.

Video of Rachel and The Westmoore Color Guard

I'd promised to post some video of Rachel's Color Guard performances but that was when I was confident I'd be able to find something uploaded on Youtube and I could steal it from there. Well, I was wrong. The only videos I could find were from last year. Drat.

Ah, but all isn't lost. From the Westmooreband.com, the Band Boosters site, I bring you this. It's a video of the Westmoore Marching Band's performance at the Putnam City Classic back in September. I can't guarantee the link will work so you may have to go the site itself and I sure as heck haven't been able to figure out how to imbed the video in a post. (I could do that stuff from Youtube.)

Anyway, Rachel's among the Color Guard moving to and fro and tossing their flags in the air and catching them. She, and they, are very good.

Post-Election Blues

Congratulations to President-elect Obama. Not my pick but my President now and we'll just have to look to the next race if he doesn't work out.

It turns out, Emily may have been the most disappointed of us. She watched the returns last night - we opted for a DVD - goodness, that means I should post a review! - but she dutifully reported the results the best she could. She lamented the media bias - when McCain was ahead in the early returns, the media pooh-poohed, but when Obama took over, well, look out, the inevitable had begun. Emily has a life of misery ahead of her being a Conservative. Poor girl.

I'll try to be as fair as possible in my postings about Obama. He deserves at least that. And, who knows, things may actually work out.

Let's get on with things, shall we?

iPod Shuffle Post #11

642. James Taylor Ananas
641. Norah Jones Nightingale
640. Paul McCartney & Wings Man We Was Lonely
639. Bonnie Raitt Spit of Love
638. Robert Palmer Simply Irresistible
637. Los Lobos Viking
636. The Beatles Nowhere Man
635. The Pogues South Australia
634. Sting They Dance Alone
633. Garbage Cup Of Coffee
632. Glenn Miller Orchestra Indian Summer

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008

We arrived at the precinct only 10 minutes after opening - the church parking lot was already jammed and though there was no line out the door, the precinct workers had set it up so that any line that formed would wind down the various halls of the church. By the time we found the end of it, it was clear we weren't getting through it soon. So we opted for later in the day.

Which turned out to be a good idea. Still crowded but far less so and things moved pretty quickly.

I wanted to get a shot of the crowd but ran into an old co-worker and spent the time catching up. I did get a shot of my ballot though, before I spoiled it with my vote:



I'll leave who I voted for a mystery for -

Oh, all right. I voted for McCain. Big surprise, right?

It felt good to have done our democratic duty. People all over the world die for this right and here we're able to do it without giving it too much thought. We're blessed to live in a country like this, no matter who wins.

Vote As If Your Live Depends On It!

Because it does! Whoever you support, get out there and vote for 'em.

iPod Shuffle Post #10

631. Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris Donkey Town
630. Five For Fighting If God Made You
629. The Band Life Is A Carnival
628. The Beatles The Long And Winding Road
627. Dave Matthews Save Me
626. The Beatles One After 909
625. Bob Dylan If You See Her Say Hello
624. The Band I Shall Be Released
623. The Band Knockin' Lost John
622. The Beatles Don't Ever Change
621. Beethoven Sonata Op 13 in C Minor
620. Sting Forget About The Future
619. Jack Johnson Fortunate Fool
618. Billy Joel I Got To Extremes
617. Don McLean Wonderful Baby
616. Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris Beyond My Wildest Dreams
615. Gorillaz Latin Simone (Que Pasa Contigo)
614. Beck The New Pollution
613. Ceu Roda (Bombay Dub Orchestra's Grateful Dub Radio Mix)

Track 613 was one of those given away by Starbuck's not too long ago in their iTunes promotion. A good track but I have no idea how it differs from the regular mix. These re-mixes get kind of silly, don't they? If you wanted to release a different version, why not release that version and not the others? (Yeah, yeah, I know: marketing. It's like the iPod. Apple invented a great little gadget and then they sell it to you in a kajillion different versions.)

Track 617 I used to sing to the girls when they were babies because, well, they were wonderful babies.

Track 625 comes from my favorite Dylan album, Blood On The Tracks. Looks like I was wrong. I do have other Dylan albums on my iPod. I just don't know how many.

Joni Mitchell Turns 65

I've got a few of her tracks on my iPod and when they come up on the shuffle mode it's always a treat. You'll find a good analysis of her recording career here:
Joni Mitchell turns 65 years old on Friday. As a milestone, reaching that age doesn't mean what it once did, but any opportunity to celebrate Ms. Mitchell and her work is worth seizing. Gifted and fearless, she remains among the finest singer-songwriters of the rock era, a title that doesn't quite accommodate the breadth of music and the audacity of her career. As David Crosby told me when I called him last week, "In a hundred years, when they ask who was the greatest songwriter of the era, it's got to be her or Dylan. I think it's her. And she's a better musician than Bob."

That's no small praise, and reason enough for me to look for more of her stuff to add to my iPod.

Obama and The Tax Cut Issue

Larry Kudlow discusses how Obama may have swiped the tax cut issue from McCain:
Well, for almost two years Obama has talked about cutting taxes for 95 percent of the people. McCain has no such record. And even though McCain has launched a strong Joe the Plumber investor-class tax-cutting surge in the last days of the campaign, it may not be enough to significantly impact Tuesday’s voting results.

This is bad news since Obama has some pretty strange views on taxes. Just look at his recent explanation for the decline in third-quarter GDP. He calls it “a direct result of the Bush administration’s trickle-down, Wall Street first, Main Street last policies that John McCain has embraced for the last eight years and plans to continue for the next four.”

Is Obama really blaming the Bush tax cuts for this recession?

After the bursting of the tech bubble and the 9/11 attacks, George Bush lowered tax rates across-the-board for individuals and investors. For five years the stock market rallied without interruption — the longest bull market without a correction in post-WWII history — while the economy expanded for six years, a bit longer than the average post-war recovery cycle.

And Obama wants folks to believe that tax cuts caused this downturn? Not the credit shock? Not the Obama-supported government mandate to sell unaffordable homes to low-income people and the pressure on Fannie and Freddie to securitize these loans? Not the oil shock?

No one to blame but McCain on this. McCain's got the better plan but you wouldn't know it by him.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ebert Tells Us About The Pot And How To Use It

I have much to criticize when Roger Ebert strays off the movie critic's reservation but his latest post about how to use a rice cooker is, well, let's just say he's on fire:
Now you have your oatmeal. You can substitute any grain of your choice. Even amarath, seen as the favorite side dish in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor." I like to use low-fat Silk soybean milk. Use what you like. Have a small or medium chopping block and a nice knife. Slice into smallish pieces the fruit of your choice. Any fruit except something like watermelon. I shouldn't have to be telling you this. Slice your bananas, your peaches, your applies, pears, plums, apricots, strawberries, your Kiwi. Throw in your blueberries, your blackberries, your boysenberries, your this berry, your that berry. Drop in maybe a couple dried prunes. No, stupid. Not all the fruits at once. We're making breakfast, not fruit compote. Let's say two fruits together are nice. Bananas and peaches make Peaches 'n Cream. Mmmm! . . .

Let's make some soup. Assemble your ingredients. Throw them in the pot. Add enough water to make it soup. Slam down the lid. This watched Pot boils. Click to Warm when the soup looks about right. If it looks undercooked, add a little more water and keep going. You will also learn to add the ingredients in a mixture in the reverse order of how long you think they'll take to cook. For example, dried beans first. Even let them sit in water and Warm for awhile. If you're in a hurry, throw them in and boil them. The hell with them. Never put in meat and chicken so soon it will overcook. There are no rules. You are Aunt Mary. The last ingredients into the Pot should be the things you like still a little crunchy, like frozen peas and corn.

Stews. Like soup only with less water, Albert Einstein.

Read the whole thing. Then get yourself a rice cooker.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

1.95 Gas!

We haven't seen this since we drove to Washington D.C three summers ago.




No guarantee it'll stay this low and, of course, low energy prices isn't necessarily good news for us here in Oklahoma. But, hey, enjoy it while you can. It may not come around again for a long, long time.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween 2008

Halloween fell on a Friday this year, the weather was warm, Daylight Savings Time was still in effect, so it all added up to a later-than-usual evening for us. That was okay: Clara had laid in the candy supplies and we could weather quite a trick-or-treater storm before things got desperate.

Rachel had her parties to go to so that part of the evening remains a mystery. This may be Emily's last year to go out; she and her friend, Jillian, decided to go together.

Emily went as the Queen of Hearts:



Another pose, with dog:

Jillian was some sort of goth fairy:


Jillian's mother and Jillian's toddler brother went with them and they covered quite a bit of ground. They stopped by our house twice and by the second time they were quite exhausted; they gratefully took Clara up on her offer to drive them home so I did.

They came in waves. The first bunch were the young ones from the 'hood. We no longer recognize any of them but there were a few we did. A new generation has taken over and that's good. Next came what Lileks has dubbed the carpetbaggers: trucked in swarms from some other neighborhood, older and only out for the candy. Not unusual but funny just the same.

We closed it down around 10:00. Rachel rolled back in around 11:30. No pranks. No mishaps. Another Halloween for the record books.