November 2004 Archives

Forest for the Trees

I also got myself a tree this weekend. My dad and I went out to his Uncle Bob's tree farm, where we then found and cut down a perfect little tree.

When we arrived at the farm, all of the pre-cut trees were all quite large, so we got to ride out on the tractor trailer to the middle of the field of trees. Once out there, it dodn't take long to find one that was just right. Uncle Bob trims his tree twice a year, so they are all nicely shaped and without ugly bare spots. All I wanted was something no taller than me, and not too wide at the base.

It was a beautiful day, though frosty when not in the sunshine. It was the first time my dad and I have been together without a crowd since his heart attack, so that was nice. I did worry a little about the walk back from the field, since it was rather hilly, but he said it was just the right amount of excersize for the day.

Now the tree has been installed in my living room, and looks rather festive. Now I just need to add candy canes.


I've been helping to clean out my father's house, which has been rather overloaded in the past 10 years or so, with items from Irving Place, from my great-grandparents who originally owned the house, from the store that my dad briefly owned, and other sources of accumulation.

This weekend, one of the places I tackled was the basement. There was shelf after shelf of glass jars that my great-grandmother had saved for canning. Some of them still contain food (the oldest is from 1969--I haven't worked up the courage to touch that one yet, but I think it contains blackberries). The Bell, Mason, and Kerr jars are very nice, and will be spared my cleansing wrath, however the majority were old Miracle Whip, Skippy, Grandma's Molasses, and other commercial product jars. I had already started tossing out jars on my last visit and had sent about three bags worth to be recycled. This time around, upwards of 5 bags full made their way to the dump. It seems as though every glass jar that came into great-grandma's house made its way to those shelves. Lord spare me from that kind of thrift.


I'm very happy to see that there is a new movie coming out, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou--A Very Long Engagement. I don't know if I will like it as much as Amelie (that would be tough) but I'm still looking forward to it with great anticipation.

Come to think of it, the last movie I saw in a theater was Prisoner of Azkaban back in the summer.


It's been a boring week in Lake Woebegone. Nothing much worth posting about. I did have some crazy dreams last night, but all I can remember now is fragments, so it wouldn't do much good to try and write them down. I haven't even had time to find any interesting or unique websites to highlight.

I do hope things pick up a bit. Not in a bad way, though. Somehow, the last thing I need is for things to get "interesting" by having my car die or getting sick, or any other rotten luck like that. Between boring but content and exciting but awful, I'll go with a solid boring, thankyouverymuch.

A Little Too Specific

"The ideal candidate will have a bachelors degree in college Student Personnel, Educational Administration or related area (MS preferred) plus 3-5 yrs experience related to student life."

Say what? You can get a bachelor's degree in "College Student Personnel"? I keep coming across help wanted ads with more and more specific degree requirements, and everytime I see one I think, "You can get a degree in that? Who does that?" Whatever happened to general college degrees: english, history, sociology, poli sci, art, music....? I can follow a certain amount of specialization, such as degree in chemical engineering vs. a degree in mechanical engineering.

While I can understand that companies doing hiring have a wish list and want someone who is perfect in every way, someone who has all of the experience needed to jump right in without any training from the company (other than the location of the rest rooms and coffee pot), and who is willing to do it all for a very low price. Still, it shocks me to think of getting a degree that is so specific, unless there is a demonstrable long term need for people with that degree. I mean, we will probably always need structural engineers, molecular biologists, and even trombone vitruosos (though not to the same extent). But why would you get a college degree with a major that was so narrow that you were qualified for a position that maybe one other person in the country had?

Unfortunately, that was the only really good example from this week, but as I find others, I will try to remember to post them.

This totally made my day.

"... And so it's twenty years later, because it was that long ago that both of them were still themselves, and now I find myself surrounded by a whole nation of people like Mum and Dad, people whose faces are the only clues I've got. And I keep thinking that veils and turbans are the least important clues there are to understanding people, just like uniforms and skin colors. But over the months I've been here I've seen plenty of faces. I want to remember every one of them.

I'm probably a pretty bad soldier. Granted, I don't read and sleep on convoys the way one guy I know does, but still----I keep looking at the people we pass. Whose sister are you? Whose mother? Whose father? Looking at them sometimes produces the sudden and sharp feeling for losing my own. Looking at them sometimes makes me feel like even if you have lost your own, if you can aid someone else's, yours won't be totally lost to you.

On convoy days, we get up early, and start getting ready----lining up ammo and vests and helmets, stuff to do while sitting around concluding whatever business it is we have to do where we're going. It's monotonous. The humvees are really loud, so it's not like you can have deep discussions, either. You look out the window first out of desperation, then out of curiosity. And then, maybe, recognition.

There have been IEDS and VBIEDS along here recently, and yesterday morning, we had actually planned to take a different route because the main one was too dangerous. By some mysterious alchemy, the route was cleared, and so instead of going to Karbala, we headed to Najaf.

This is such an ancient country. Parts of it along the rivers seem almost primeieval, with the ten foot rushes and the fan-shaped palm trees. You expect to see a dinosaur, especially at sunset, when the earth is black and the sky is gold. Long stretches of it are lush, and then abruptly it changes to dry sand and dust. Fields of garbage pass by the windows in multi-colored heaps, and there's always a few stray dogs or people picking hopefully through them. ..."

My lord, that woman has a way with words. Please, someone get her a book deal when she gets back stateside.

Commercial break

Don't forget, as the holiday shopping season approaches, you can obtain many fine items from the Gallery Store at Cafe Press. After all, who wouldn't want to wow the other kids with a geniune "Flight" lunchbox?

Lost Lust List

Guys on the island who I would totally do without hesitation:

1. Naveen Andrews
2. Daniel Dae Kim/Harold Perrineau (tie)
3. Dominic Monaghan

Bug you online how? I don't have IM.

Interesting spam



CONTACT FAX: +44-87-0120-6263.

Dear Sir/Madam,


We are highly delighted to inform you that you have been found to be one of the
beneficiaries of the Estates of Late Princess Diana, the Princess of Wales.
Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 at Park House, the home her
parents rented on the royal family's estate at Sandringham. She died on August
31, 1997 when her new-found love affair with Emad "Dodi" Fayed, the son of
billionaire businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed, was abruptly ended by a car accident
in Paris while fleeing from paparazzi.

We are the executors of the estate of Princess Diana. This program is held on
August 31 of every year in remembrance of the noble life & death of Princess
Diana. In the announcement of the lucky winners for the prestigious PRINCESS
DIANA UNIVERSAL PROMO for this year, your email address was attached to ticket
number 13-2316-5086-477; with serial number A025-09 drew the lucky numbers
37-13-34-85-56-87, and consequently won in category A. You have therefore been
approved for a lump sum pay out of 5 Million (Five Million Pounds) in cash
credited to file REF NO. PDUP/67 AO916520567. This is from the yearly royalty
received from the British Parliament in furtherance of the objectives of the
foundation as was laid down by late Princess Diana. Your winning is also from
the international winners in the category A.

All participants were selected through a computer-generated ballot system drawn
from 100,000 companies/individuals from Middle East, Australia, New Zealand,
America, Asia, Europe and North America as part of our International Charity
Program, which is conducted annually.

Your fund is now deposited with a financial institution here waiting for your
feedback to effect the transfer of the funds. Due to the mix up of some numbers
and names, we ask that you keep this award strictly confidential from public
notice until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to your
account. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or
unscrupulous acts by some disgruntled participants of this program.

We therefore request you to forward your full names and address so that
we can update your file and refer you to the paying bank for immediate
remittance of the funds to your account. We shall also require you to forward
to us your telephone and fax numbers. As true custodians and executors of late
Princess Diana's estates, we have deemed it necessary to contact and inform
you of this surprise and lucky benefit.

At this juncture, we finally congratulate you and hope that you will eventually
become one of the friends and well-wishers of late Princess Diana , a woman
of distinction, who whether in good times and bad, she never lost her capacity
to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.

Thanks for your anticipated cooperation.


Stan Evans, Esq.

Apparently, not only am I a lucky winner, but coincidently, so are about 22 other people whose usernames at my very same domain are only a couple letters different from mine. Amazing!

Honestly, are some people really so gullible as to fall for this? I weep for humanity.



I can't fingure out what I'm doing with the copy of MT Blacklist that I donwloaded a while ago. I'd started getting it set up and then became convinced that I was doing it wrong, and am now at an impasse. It doesn't help that I'm using an older version of Movable Type. So, if the comment spam continues to exceed the actual comments, I'm going to have to turn the comment off again.

Into the Woods


Friday night, I had the pleasure of attending the second night of the Baraboo Theater Guild's production of Into the Woods at the lovely old Al Ringling Theater in downtown Baraboo. What a stunningly gorgeous place, and it shall been even more so once the restoration project has been completed.

The musical was very well done, other than a few technical glitches involving the sound, and a rather unfortunate choice in mask for the Wolf. It can be difficult for me to judge productions of Into the Woods, unfortunately, because in my head I always find myself making comparisons to the original cast production, with Bernadette Peters, Chip Zien, and Janna Gleason. Still, I was rather happy with what I saw. The cast was a mature one, which was not a bad thing at all. I've sat (and cringed) through very well-meaning high school productions that murdered the story. This was more in line with the MATC production I saw a few years ago.

I must note the Little Red Ridinghood, as played by Miss Gretchen Olson, was just the right mix of adorable and obnoxious.


Tonight, when I arrived home, I discovered that the Aurora Borealis was dancing across the night sky, visible from my front yard. We don't usually see them this far south, so it was pretty darn amazing.

Blacklist... giving me a headache.


Ever since Wednesday morning, it seems that everybody in Madison has been walking around in a bit of a daze. Our long nightmare isn't over yet. I really hope that when the depression wears off, we will get angry again and get back some of that pre-election drive.

We will need to commit ourselves to writing letters to politicians and editors, making phone calls and paying visits to our representatives. We need to remind them know that 49% of the voters in the country are not behind Bush and his policies, and that 51% is by no means a vast majority. We must urge the Democrats remaining in the House and the Senate not to roll over and let Bush have his way. They need to stand firm and defend us from his radical agenda.

We also must prepare, starting now, for the mid-term elections. We have two years to raise money, two years to seek out and encourage high-quality progressive candidates. We have two years to bring to continue to bring light the evils of this administration, and to educate others about them. We have two years, let us use them well.


I wouldn't say it before, but now I will with confidence: FUCK YOU, NADER!! I mean. this time you weren't trying to build a third party, you were just feeding your ego. Asshole.

And a great big GO TO HELL to you comment spammers. Bastards, the lot of you.

Spam, again.

| 1 Comment

Once again, the ratio of real comments vs. spam comments is leaning in the favor of spam.

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