3.16.2009

The Big Love Brouhaha

So, I guess I just can't help myself. I stopped blogging for a while during the end of the election cycle, in addition to the most recent Utah legislative session, because in both cases, and to one degree or another, things don't change, haven't changed, etc.

But this one makes me cringe.

Last night HBO aired the much-ballyhooed and berated episode of Big Love, wherein a character was portrayed participating in a Mormon temple ceremony. Mormons across the nation sounded the "no fair" cry, and HBO apologized for the ruckus. Then aired the episode. In a statement, the LDS Church tacitly endorsed a boycott of AOL and HBO, both Time Warner properties.

Now that it has aired (and I didn't see it, because I don't particularly care to subscribe to HBO), people have their shorts in a twist. When the scene was publicized a week or so ago, the immediate response was, "well, Tom Hanks obviously has an axe to grind." Which I'm sure is true. Hanks has gone on record before with regard to the California constitutional amendment being passed with the support and help of the 800-pound-gorilla LDS Church taking the forefront on the effort in both money-raising and feet-on-the-ground phone banking, etc.

I'm not going to get into the ethics or opinion of whether what the church did was right or wrong. Because it no longer matters in this context. And besides, most who know me, know where I fall on that argument.

However, I think that if The Church can't stand the heat, they shouldn't have stoked the fire. They leveraged the voice to which they had access, namely the ability to mobilize thousands of individuals, both in-state and out, and to raise tons of cash for the effort to defeat Prop 8. Hanks has turned the table, and done exactly the same thing: leveraged the voice to which he has access.

Hanks, who is an executive producer for HBO's controversial series Big Love about a group of polygamist Mormons, spoke out about the religious group's involvement in passing the California law, which bans same-sex marriage.
"The truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen," Hanks told Foxnews.com at the show's premiere in Los Angeles last Wednesday. "There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them."

A spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Kim Farah, took offense at Hanks's comments, telling FOX News, "Expressing an opinion in a free and democratic society is as American as it gets."

Now, in a exclusive statement to PEOPLE through his representative Leslee Dart, Hanks is softening his stance.

Last week, I labeled members of the Mormon church who supported California's Proposition 8 as "un-American." I believe Proposition 8 is counter to the promise of our Constitution; it is codified discrimination. But everyone has a right to vote their conscience – nothing could be more American. To say members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who contributed to Proposition 8 are "un-American" creates more division when the time calls for respectful disagreement. No one should use "un- American" lightly or in haste. I did. I should not have.
Sincerely,
Tom Hanks.
(attribution) Emphasis mine.

Bottom line for me in this whole melee is this: If The Church can use all its means in an effort, whatever that effort might be, and in the process, offend and disenfranchise a group of people, then Tom Hanks also has every right to use all HIS means to state his dissatisfaction. And The Church has no expectation that it won't endure some heat for taking their position. In whatever form it comes. If you wade into the water, you could get bitten by the crocodile. End of story. I await your cranky emails. :)

3.11.2009

Wonderful angular sofa

Furniture design has at least as much to do with design as it does with comfort. The best pieces find the elusive balance between the two. Sometimes, furniture is just so good lookin' that the ergonomic comfort is less important. I guess.

The Dr ST sofa, from Vincent Cadena, is like dessert: it's just TASTY! Love the legs.

3.10.2009

Got a spare $2.7 million? FLW's Fawcett House for sale

Completed in 1961, the Fawcett House, by Frank Lloyd Wright is for sale. Located on 80 acres in Merced county, California, the price seems inviting. Also interesting is the choice to put it on the market right now. I've noted in the recent past that there are only three reasons for selling an asset right now: Death, Divorce, or Debt.

But then again, buyers in this space are likely a little less influenced by market gyrations... but that's just my theory.

At any rate, the realtor has done a nice job of showcasing the home, with MANY photos, etc. You can see the entire thing here.

The design is not of the Fallingwater type, but more of what Wright became well known for in his homes in the Ohio period of his career. In addition to being one of the seminal modernists, he was also heavily influenced by oriental designs that repeat over space, and an overall oriental aesthetic concept of space and how we interact with it.

And that is one of the reasons I love Wright's work, along with so many other architects if his time: he took great pains to design homes for and around the client, how they live, how they interact with the space in which they live, WHAT THEY WANT... all of these concepts are basically afterthoughts in today's residential architecture, a result of home builders who went away from building HOMES, and instead build SUBDIVISIONS, and our subsequent acceptance of this as being okay.

I feel a rant starting, so I'll stop.

But you should go take a look at that house. It's beautiful.

2.05.2009

Caught in the act:

You know I have a tendency to post pictures when I don't have much to say. In fact, I have lots to say, with the state leg in session, hoping to legislate our collective morality, and the bloggy land and newspaper opinion pages afire with people making stupid comments and assumptions.

But I shall refrain.

Instead, this was us last night when we were caught watching Chuck in 3D:

There was an interesting conversation last week on Science Friday... talking about 3D technology. The conversation was about whether 3D would move to a more mainstream valid media entertainment method.

To which I responded, "********* I hope not." I was in my car at the time, so I was allowed to swear outloud.

It was a gimmick in the 50s, the 80s, and now it's the same.

I would throw up if I had to watch more than 40 minutes of anything in 3D. Still waiting for that first 3D porn movie though. On second thought... I'll pass on that one.... take an eye out... okay, on to other things...
Here's a picture I took from my computer's web cam the other day... what can i say - I was bored at the time:













Here's what the mountains look like when the smog is thick as mud in the valley below, where all of us normal folk live:

No, that's not me... some moron floated by just as I was taking the pic.






I think I should have a blog topic category that says, "Nothing at all. Nothing to see here, move along, back to your homes now..."

1.15.2009

Cravings:

About now, I'm craving the smell of freshly cut grass and the feeling of warm sun on bare feet. How about you?

So, in the interim, check out this Flickr group, called, of all things, Modern Landscaping.

And yes, I'd pretty much KILL for one of those Eichler houses. Like, way.




Grabbed from one of my favorite places, Grassroots Modern.

One further economic thought:

Further to my thoughts about economic recovery, here is a thought about the housing mess. While there are many facets to the problem, and therefore several solutions will need to be addressed, I think this a good solution for a portion of the problem.

In short, there are huge numbers of people who are living in their houses, and who want to continue to live in their houses, but are experiencing a set of similar circumstances. They are under water, i.e. the home is worth less than the value of the mortgage attached to it, they are in a subprime, adjustable loan, they have the ability to prove their income, but don't have enough savings to pay the difference between their mortgage and the new value of their home, and are therefore locked into a bad mortgage situation.

Therefore I humbly submit: for deserving borrowers (they live in the house, seek to REMAIN in the house), have them qualify (prove income documentation) for a fixed rate, 40-50 year amortized loan at a rate they can afford, and modify the note, or originate a new one. Participation in the program would have to require a period of time where the borrower would be required to stay in the home after the note is modified.

This program would be sponsored by Fannie/Freddie, and would therefore be considered to be "Agency Paper." Which would allow the instruments (which now will PERFORM at a much higher rate - typical to standard A-Paper loans) to be sold on the standard secondary markets where Fannie and Freddie live, and lenders would be open to modifying or originating a lot of these types of loans. Essentially any market in the country that has had an active residential construction market over the last 7-10 years will have a multitude of these types of borrowers.

There are also undeserving borrowers in this situation. They will not, and should not, be helped out of the mess they made for themselves. They bought the house on a nasty interest-only, or negative amortization loan, with only one goal: speculation. They possibly have more than one home in this situation, or at least have a credit history that shows this type of activity. During the process of discovery, there will become apparent several nefarious activities, and they should be prosecuted as well - these include mortgage fraud (by both/either the borrower and the mortgage originator), appraisal fraud, realtor fraud, builder fraud (like mortgage kickbacks), etc.

Those people will, and should, be held 100% responsible for their actions.

1.08.2009

Economic Recovery 101: a layman's view

I consider myself to have a somewhat firm understanding of general economic principles. I'm no economist, but I understand how credit greases the skids of the general economy, and how it affects us all. From my point of view, there are a few very simple, though big and far-reaching, things that we must see in order to bring the economy out of its nose dive:

1. Far reaching and permanent tax relief for both businesses and consumers. Payroll taxes are extreme. They've had to be that in order to support a continually growing and bloated government bureaucracy. Payroll and business taxes need to be reduced permanently. This will help businesses, "producers," and individuals, "consumers." More money for both will help both in the short term and the long.

2. Far reaching and permanent cuts in useless government spending, pork legislation, and useless, nonperforming programs and departments. This is needed to offset the tax relief. Finding places to cut should not be hard, but it will require equal measures of balls and political capital expenditure. I believe the incoming administration has a mandate for both.

3. Restoration of business and consumer access to new bank credit under favorable terms. This is the biggie. It requires that banks be compelled to lend the money they have already been given, which they are not doing. It requires that consumers and businesses be compelled to borrow ethically and responsibly, which they have not been doing. There should be no 100% financing of ANYTHING anymore, as that model has proven disastrous. The banking system was used as a no-doc hard money lender where the only required attributes for getting a loan approval were a credit score and the ability to put fog on a mirror. This cannot happen again. Bank money must go to deserving businesses and consumers who have skin in the game. The SBA is not a venture capital firm, there are plenty of those in the speculative market. Bank money should be used to create performing assets with proven documentation.

One could easily say that the packaging of home loans into Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), as happened in the past few years, was the impetus from which all these other problems have sprung. But careful consideration reveals that the real problem was irresponsible lending criteria put in place for irresponsible individuals to get loans who otherwise should not have been qualified to own a cardboard box, let alone a house. Banks originated these loans with seeming impunity because they had already entered into forward commitments to sell MBS packages made up of vast numbers of these loans to other investors, thereby alleviating themselves of the long term accountability of the pool's actual performance - it was somebody else's problem, the bank made the short term profit. We all know what happened to the buyers of those pools - they generally no longer exist, or at least you and I, through government intervention, are the major stockholders now.

These vast pools were sliced and diced, in an effort to minimize the risk, but it was a giant ponzi scheme, and it came crumbling down as we all know now. The effects reached farther than anyone could have imagined. And banks stopped lending money to ANYONE for a long time.

To thaw that market now will require that the government step in to provide capital to the markets, as they did on Dec 30th, putting money back into the hands of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Much more needs to be done now. But it's a start. Freddie and Fannie now have an outlet to sell well-performing asset pools, giving them cash to buy more of the same from banks and lenders across the country in the future. This needs to continue. The same type of intervention will also be required in markets that are not collateralized by real estate.

Obviously, lenders are requiring more documentation from their borrowers, that aspect of the problem has been solved by the market. There are loans to be had, money to be borrowed, and banks are generally requiring a complete and fair picture of both the borrower and the collateral now, as it should have been all along. Given time, this will help stabilize the real estate markets, long since overpriced and overbuilt. That adjustment will continue, but will hopefully become more stable this year. And some folks need to understand that "The American Dream" is not a right.

And there it is, observations on the economy from a guy who's just trying to get by out here in the crappy real world, and wondering if things will "really" change. Let's hope so.

1.05.2009

Kids: You can't take them anywhere

Over the Christmas break we planned to take everyone to see the BodyWorlds exhibit. I promised I wouldn't point at any "swimming suit places" and giggle like a little girl.

But I forgot to extract the same promise from the children.

I have a feeling this little picture is going to end up on somebody's Facebook page.

A Bright Spot

In reading what I wrote in a stream-of-consciousness kind of thing a couple of posts ago, one could easily get the impression that I am about to simply jump off the roof. Such is not the case. There are, however, some people I'd like to THROW off the roof, but that's another post for another day.

That said, I do REALLY appreciate sunny days during the winter. That really lifts my spirits, and I took advantage yesterday by having a quick ski at Solitude. I took this pic on the way down the mountain.

So, moral of the entire story: when it's cold and gray, it's easy to get down and be very pessimistic about lots of things. So try to find the sunshine. And here's the other thing - it's great to complain about stuff - but I also need to do what I can do make things better, at least for myself and the people I come into contact with. And this world would be a lot better off if I did more of that, and if you did too.

So, do something good for somebody, even if it's just telling somebody you love them or appreciate them. And have a little hope.

I haven't started reading any blogs yet, from my hiatus, but I will judiciously choose to start that again soon, making sure it's in balance with the rest of my life.

Things retailers don't like:

So, I'm standing in the Eddie Bauer store at a local mall over the weekend. I wanted a couple of new plain T-shirts, and I like the Eddie Bauer ones.

I walk in there, and their long sleeve ones are on the top shelf. No problem, thinks I.

So I reach up and grab the right size off the pile on the top shelf. That's when the fun started. As I pulled it off the pile, the corner of it grabbed the ALUMINUM signage, which was apparently just SITTING on the shelf. Without warning, down it came, and I swear, it tried to decapitate me. I was lucky to escape with a gusher across my already prominent brow.

In addition to the humiliation of a sign falling and hitting me, the SOUND that an aluminum sign makes on the floor apparently makes the employees believe I have tried to steal something. The moron attendant came trotting over TO MAKE SURE HIS SIGN WAS OKAY.

So what did he say to me, you ask? He said, "I need to go get my ladder..."

Are you kidding me? Did you SEE WHAT YOUR SIGN DID?

Apparently they don't like it when the signage gets moved. My bad.


Dear 2009: a million-word brain dump

Dear 2009:

Do me a small favor, will ya, and turn around and give 2008 the finger on its way out. It was very unkind as it wrapped up its presence in my life.

I'm no fan of the last part of the year we call the "holiday season." It actually starts around the end of September, in a way. Like clockwork, I wake up one morning and hear the Canada geese honking their way over my house, on their way to a better place for them, and leaving me here without even an offer to take me with them. While that might sound snide, it really begins something in me that makes things more difficult to deal with.

That honking in the morning signals shorter days, (usually) a slowdown in my work, and the inevitable calculations of whether I am meeting my goals for the year, and knowing that time to meet them is running down. The weather gets cooler, life gets slower, days get shorter, and some of the things I love to do go on the shelf til the snow melts, and I get a bit more irritable with the people around me, those whom I can least afford to piss off, really. Realizing this, you would think I would be able to see it coming and make provisions for its inevitable arrival. But like the three little pigs, I don't, and it hits me on the side of the head every year without my being able to get my hockey helmet on. You would also think that being from a place that has shorter days, colder weather, and longer winters, would make me more resilient to this sort of thing - again, not so much.

Then comes Thanksgiving, a time I really do like - it's a nice reward for making it this far, and I get to have and/or cook some good food, and generally relax a bit for a few days. But then comes the day after Thanksgiving, and all the good vibes get flushed down the toilet in the wake of the shopping frenzy that hits starting then, and going through the end of the year basically without check.

You might call me one who is afflicted with some seasonal affective disorder. But I don't think that is it, really, it's not the time of year itself, or the shortening of the days, the more infrequent presence of freshly grilled meat in my life, that is the issue. What is the issue, is what this time of year brings. Or, more to the point, what it brings OUT. What it brings out in people. I'm sure you remember the story of the young fellow who was TRAMPLED TO DEATH at a Walmart on the day after Thanksgiving. Stories like this happen every year. That this one was at a Walmart, perhaps my favorite corporate nut-punch recipient, just brings it into even better focus. Stories like this turn my stomach and make me want to scream until every nerve in my body is a jangled mess. I am mostly ashamed of what our society has done to itself. And that it all happens in the spirit of the "holiday season" is even more sickening to me. There is no way to frame greed so that it takes on a palatable taste. The country, and, by extension, the entire world, is in a steep recession right now because of greed. Any way you turn it, it all comes down to greed. One only has to venture out at 5 AM on "Black Friday" to have that driven home in spades. (no pun intended.)

Several years ago, ThatOneWife and I decided to venture out at that time on that day. We went to a local electronics store to get some MP3 players for a few of the kids. As we waited in line to get in, things got pretty dicey and as more activity inside the store was apparent, the crush of people became pretty fierce. Then the yelling started, people pushing into line, and then everyone just shoving to get in as the doors were unlocked. Mrs. ThatOneGuy got pinned against the side of the door briefly, as everyone there turned into knuckle-dragging neanderthals, shoving their way into the store to get their hands on the goods - gotta get that $70 DVD player, at all costs, apparently.

People pushed and shoved, were general assholes. People picked up STACKS of the DVD players, like 5, 6, or 7 of the damn things. It was a disgusting display.

Since that time, it has only become more of a sport, that Friday shopping. And I have only become more disgusted by its practice. Add to the pile those who are more interested in the "receiving" than the "giving" and I get a pretty good headache...

Our entire way of life runs on greed. Get that credit card, get that interest only loan so you can get that bigger house, get that Hummer to put in the garage. Need a boat? Hell yes, you need a boat - THIS boat. And the greed doesn't all belong to the consumer either.

And speaking of neanderthalery, how long is the Entire World going to sit here (using our $70 DVD players) and watch Israel, Hamas, Palestine, whatever, et al, bomb the hell out of each other in the name of God, fighting over such a rotted piece of dust and broken concrete as that called Gaza? As far as I'm concerned they should put up a fence electrified with a billion volts, and instead of calling it the Holy Land, call it The Land Where Nobody Is Allowed To Live. And it's not just isolated to that place either. Similar stuff happens in places like Darfur, Rwanda, Russia, China, Iraq/Iran/Pakistan, and here too. I am alarmed at some things I read about the president we have just elected. The Magic Negro? Are you kidding me? Are you really a person that subscribes to the values of a past and uninformed CENTURY entirely? Have we not really progressed that far after all? I don't care what your political philosophy is, there isn't room for that kind of cave-man ideology.

I guess the whole point to this entire venting of my spleen is to say that I am so sickened at this time of year by the constant greed and lack of humanity, here and in other places, that one can easily lose one's faith in the entire human race. It seems we are less "divine" and in fact our more common denominator is wolf-predator. That it happens under the microscope of this time of year speaks unfortunate volumes.

So, by making it this far, you are possibly thinking what an absolute SAINT I must live with. And you would be right. She understands, and I really try to not take things out on those around me. I mostly succeed, most of the time.

Soon, things will get better, I will get a better job, and begin to finally reinvent myself, and be ready for along push that will put me in a better frame of mind.

12.27.2008

In temporary hibernation:

Sort of like what my brain has felt like lately.


12.24.2008

By way of an explanation:

It's probably time I woke this thing back up, and put myself back out there a bit.

I crawled into a hole a while back, for several reasons. Most notably, the company I was working for basically vaporized in my hands. You may ask, was there no warning? And I would say that there was, and I chose to ignore them. The warnings were not big, they were small. But more to the point, I was made aware of a couple of situations and business practices, or philosophies, which I was previously not aware of.

Vague enough for you? How bout this: No matter what they say, or tell you, don't work for felons. Because past felons are much more likely to be future felons. And now I've worked for both.

So, putting that in the past, and moving on. I've made a conscious choice to NOT be employed in the real estate field, where felons, morons, crooks and creeps seem to conglomerate.

Moving to what then? Well, that's been an interesting thing, really. Many people have told me over the last few years that I should be writing seriously. I'll make it clear that I don't consider THIS to be serious.

In a former career I was a writer. One of my first professional jobs was as a Technical Writer. I've also had jobs that entailed graphic design, packaging design, and marketing writing. I've been successful at those jobs, and I've generally made the decision to move back in that sort of direction. That decision has been a bit of a meandering one. As I began to look for a job, I noticed lots of tech jobs out there. Knowing that I have no actual tech training or education, I knew that wasn't for me. But many of those companies also have need for Technical writing, and other kinds of writing support.

So, I've been at least somewhat successful in tracking those down, and getting interviews. Problem is, there are lots of applicants for everything, and even the three or four times I've made it to the last round of interviews, I haven't pulled it out in the end. I am hopeful, however, that that will change soon. It's been a while since I interviewed for an "actual W-2" sort of job. I am, however, very motivated to find exactly that.

In the meantime, I have landed a fairly suitable gig in the writing arena. I provide writing for a company that does search engine marketing. My job is to provide keyword-rich content for client web sites, which provides backlinks, etc, improving the authority with which the clients are viewed by Google. Page rank is king in this arena, and those top three search engine results spots are highly sought after. I help get that done.

It's not awesome, by any means, from a money standpoint, but I am covering the gap right now, and aggressively seeking a permanent situation that pays better than what is happening right now.

I few weeks ago, I told a person I know, a good person, a friend, that I was trying to get into a more technology-related job, and out of real estate, and she mentioned that I needed to get networking again, and get the blog up off the ground, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and generally be a geek.

I have resisted the twitter thing, and up til now have found absolutely no use for it whatsoever. But I now find myself with a Twitter account, and if you're inclined, you may follow me there, as I enumerate the ongoing travails of finding a real job, managing the stress of not actually HAVING one at this point, and just the general goings-on in my head. That account is @ThatOneGuy801, if you care.

So, in a nutshell, yes, I am still living, and there is much more to be said, but that shall come at another time.

Certainly, there is more to come. I have things to say about the election as well - which is also one of the side reasons I went dark here for a while - I promise to explain.

Talk soon.

9.25.2008

Untitled

"Untitled"

That's what famous artists do when they can't think of a title for their painting. And me.

So here's a coupla pics then:

"Somebody" thinks she's simply a hairy human. Who likes steak. This is where she hangs out when there's cookin' afoot. She always thinks one of them is for her.



























I didn't know ThatOneWife was taking pictures that day. Shoulda sucked in my gut more. But at least my belt is visible. Just sayin.

And my own flavor of political commentary. Just in case you wondered where I stand.







9.09.2008

Look Ma, No Hair!!

Yeah, that's right, I chopped my hair off. Time to face the reality that is my noggin. Actually, the shape of my head is not as goofy as I thought it was, and that was the reason I kept longer hair up til now. Oh well, it is what it is. No botox there, safe to say.

Anyway, I mentioned that we were going to the Al Green concert at Red Butte last week. That picture is from there. We quite enjoy going to those concerts. They are not without the drawbacks though. One of those drawbacks is that if you want a decent place to sit, you have to get there AT LEAST by three in the afternoon. That can be a problem sometimes. One of the other problems is that when you DO get there at three or before, you are forced to sit in line on a dusty road, in the BLAZING sun until they open the doors at 6. That's the hottest part of the day. Not fun. It's odd, they did a MAJOR remodel there for this season, but neglected the fact that their patrons, the ones who are keeners and pay to come to their concerts, are forced to sit out there without shade for a number of hours. It's not too bad at the beginning of September, but it is a BITCH at the beginning of July.

Anyway, on to the concert. I had not ever been to an Al Green concert before, in fact he mentioned that he had never been to SLC before. It was not quite what I expected. It's what I imagine a Neil Diamond concert to be like - never been to one of those either... it's more a love-fest of ladies rushing up onto the stage or tossing various articles of clothing at the stage, than it is about the music. His new album is quite good though, they say it's like the Al Green of old - soulful, bluesy, and heartfelt. But for the concert, the music was almost an afterthought. Lots of roses, lots of bouncers on the front of the stage, a couple of guy-dancers, etc. The set was short, and the songs were not that awesome, in musical terms anyway.

It was entertaining, but only secondarily for the music. We enjoyed dancing around a bit, and it was a lot of fun, don't get me wrong, it just wasn't a show that showcased much musicianship. Beforehand, I actually wondered if we were going to be preached at, but that was not the case, thankfully. Unless you count the preaching in the language of love, I guess. Anyway, it was really fun, we had a good time and it was really nice to get away and go to it - I needed a chance to get away from the day-to-day crapola, and that fit the bill nicely.

Anyway, it's a BONUS PICTURE day for you. First up, nice tan, no? And second, ribs, anyone?

9.02.2008

Invasion of Privacy (yours)

Hi. I consider it no coincidence that I have played better golf since buying these. My most recent handicap revision shows me (temporarily, I'm sure) at a 9.9 handicap. Officially a single-digit handicap. Down from 13.4 earlier this year. The evidence is clear. Actually, it's black with lime-green printing on the waistband.

I'm just sayin.

It's been a busy few weeks... my oldest kid has arrived home safe and well from two years in Fiji, and we jumped on perhaps one of very few remaining chances to get everyone in the same place and in the frame of mind to have their picture taken. Worked out pretty well, I think. Reiterating the simple fact that I have no eyebrows. A cruel injustice indeed.

Actually, if you read here often you know that from time to time I will post a "self-portrait" of us at some event or concert or whatever. I'm sure there will be another to add to the collection this week, as we are going to the Al Green concert at Red Butte tomorrow. Very looking forward to that.

And if you would like a little bit of a different perspective on our self-portraits, or if you would simply like to have a laugh at our expense, check this out. Man, I am a total gomer. The painting is sitting in our living room over the mantle, waiting for a suitable frame and a permanent place to hang. Kurt over there is the MAN. Interestingly, I knew him when he was a wee tot, and every year at Thanksgiving, his family would pile into the car and go to the newest Disney animated movie, opening that day. He had an eye for art at a young age, and I have to beleive it is something that brings him a great deal of satisfaction. And, it's a handy tool of torment and ridicule against his family and acquaintances.

8.29.2008

BREAKING: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tapped for McCain VP

News outlets are reporting that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is to be named as McCain's VP pick.

What do I have to say about that, you ask?

It seems like a low-brow, pandering pick aimed at attracting the jilted Clinton Dems who wanted a woman in The Office.

The question is this - is that really going to work? Does McCain think women will flock to his ticket, particularly women Democrats who feel jilted at Obama's pick and process? Is that really what you women are willing to do, you who are unhappy with the Democratic ticket? Do you care more about a woman, ANY woman, in the Whitehouse than supporting a philosophy of policy? Are you a member of a political party, or the Party Of Women? Because if you're just a Party Of Women, that really means you would vote for a woman using the Nazi Party platform, or the Communist Party, or whatever else. Because gender is the only thing that matters? Please make McCain be wrong on that assumption. Be better than that. Please be bigger than that.

Isn't it time to support a platform of policy rather than gender? Because if it's not, why don't you just support the idea of taking the vote away from males, and allowing only the females to vote?

Kind of crazy to me, I think.

On to another note, now that I have that out of my system. I would have paid a lot to be at the DNC in Denver this week. I would have loved to see Teddy Kennedy deliver his speech live and in person - it feels to me like a passing of history before my eyes. I think I am older than most who read here - I was born just a couple of months before JFK was assassinated, and I have always felt a sort of connection to that event, and the Kennedy presidency.

Okay, enough of that - you can flame me if you want. Whatever. But tell me what you think of Obama's pick. Remember when I picked Biden as my candidate in May 2006, before he had even announced his candidacy? I like him. A lot. He's not afraid to bloody a nose or two, not afraid to say that we should be enforcing the laws we have, rather than trying to solve problems by enacting new laws. He's not afraid to call "Treason!" when he sees it. He's not a millionaire rich boy who has no connection to the middle class. He is the middle class.

Okay, so there you have my political thoughts in a nutshell. On to other things - we spent a long weekend away last weekend to play some golf before the summer ended and school started up. It also happened to be the last weekend of summer rates in Mesquite, where, if you dare, you can play golf in 110 degrees for half price or better. We had some great times with some friends, saw a show at the Shakespeare Festival, and at Tuacahn, played four rounds of golf, met some great new people, drank some wine, sat by/in the pool, and generally had a great time. We played 36 holes on Saturday - that was perhaps the hottest day of golf I have ever experienced - by the time we got to the last nine, we were the only ones on the course, and I was wearing a wet towel on my head like Malibu Barbie.

To top it all off, I bested my personal low score on Sunday morning before we came home, posting a 75, to better my two 78s played earlier this year. So all in all, a great weekend, and a nice refresher to get back and down to the task at hand.

Unfortunatley, we forgot the camera at home, and therefore this post has more text than pictures. I'll try to do better next time.

8.19.2008

On being a uni-brow

See those two hairs there? yeah - those two. They belong neither to the right nor the left. They are volunteers. No mater what I do - pluck, pull, shave, jab, tweeze, whatever... they just come back.








Stubborn little volunteers.


GAAAAHH!!!

8.07.2008

I rest my case:

Follow up to a couple of comments....

Never been seen together, at least not as far as Google knows, but the resemblance is striking nonetheless.










8.05.2008

A picture post, if you will:

A few weeks ago, we went to The Police concert. It TOTALLY lived up to the hype. My ears rang and my voice was husky. We were close, and even if we weren't, there was a massive HD screen behind the trio that showed everything that one would have needed to see.

Elvis Costello opened, and he was great as well. Louder even than The Police ever got, and that's saying something, because they also got pretty loud.

Really, there is a lot more to say here (particularly about the drumming of Stewart Copeland) - but as you know, I'm generally without words right now. Suffice it to say, ThatOneWife says it's perhaps the best concert she's ever been to, at least in a very long while. And I would have to agree.

AND, when Sting has a few days' growth on, you could put a pair of wiry glasses and a black mock turtleneck on him, and he would be Steve Jobs.

Just sayin.






8.04.2008

Sometimes the subject is in the background

The little dude in the background wishes he was our kid too. I have no doubt of this.

This is the youngest of our usually-stampeding herd. He's a pretty swell kid, like the rest of them.

Where I am right now, from a blogging perspective:

Just a note:


When the sign on the Alpine Slide says SLOW DOWN, you should do that.

Just sayin'....

7.14.2008

7.12.2008

Have a COW:










Or maybe have a calf?











My best feature. I earned these the hard way about 25 years ago as a missionary in Denmark. In those days, and in those Scandinavian countries, the missionaries stuck to the apartment areas, which were predominant anyway. The design of those apartment buildings was such that there are MANY outside doors, each with its own address. As you walk in, there are 2 doors on the first floor, 1R, and 1L, right and left. Then up the stairs to 2R, 2L, this goes on for four five, even six floors - you knock on only two doors per floor, then walk all the way down, go 30 yards down the street to the next address, same building, and start all over again. Day in and day out, month in and month out. Yes, those calves are earned.

Funny - I played with two of the kids in a three on three basketball tournament about 3 years ago. We did okay, winning our fair share. One of the boys' friends who was playing on a team with his own dad, came up to him and said, DOOD, your dad has MASSIVE calves!! How did he DO that?

Yep, earned the hard way.

On another note, we went to the inauguration of Red Butte Gardens' new amphitheater last night with two of the kiddies. Playing was Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. The picture of him is from a bit of a distance, so it's a little grainy, but you get the idea. We were there, he was there, they played good music, we drank things, and enjoyed the good music. The end.

7.10.2008

Bringing Product to Market:

You know the Murphy's Law about how the Jelly side of the toast always lands on the floor. And you know the law about a cat always landing on its feet.

I'm working on a product I'm calling Cat-Toast. Maybe Feline Fried Bread? Tabby-Toast? Hairless Wonder Bread? Something like that.

We'll see how it goes.

On another note, in addition to the Boob Bowl, I like the wall-mounted Boob Bar as a conversation starter.












I think there is merit there, just trying to figure out what it is right now.

And on even ANOTHER note, I would like to relate to you an observation:

I was duped into going to Lagoon on July 4th. Being duped into going to Lagoon happens to me about every third or fourth year. I am not a fan of this place. But generally the kids like it, and I acquiesce every once in a while.

What can I say, sometimes I bend, people.

Anyway, I get within 500 yards of the gate, and I feel a strange sensation in my back pocket - an odd magnetic pull on my wallet. As I get closer, the feeling turns into a full-on vacuuming sound as the place sucks the money directly from my pants.

So, as I said, I had not been there in a few years, and every time I go there I swear I'll never set foot in the place again. I generally loathe the place.

So we go in and ride a couple of rides with the kids, and find a place to drop our stuff to wait for the fireworks, sending the kids off to be more daring than I was willing to be. By this time I have sustained a mild whiplash, the mechanical equivalent of a kidney punch, and a general loss of sensory function as a result of more-than-I-like centrifugal/G-forces. "I'm getting too old for this" was the direct quote from me to ThatOneWife. She concurred with my assessment. Oh, and I was also subjected to a hamburger that both looked and tasted like the underside of a manhole cover.

All of that I could live with. But here's the kicker. I'm a bit of a people watcher. A societal observer, if you will. And here are my findings: the place is filled with wife-beater wearing teenage thugs/gang-bangers-in-training, general trailer/white trash, fat mexican slobs/sluts masquerading as Puerto Rican Princesses to appeal to the above-mentioned thugs and bangers, Keystone Light drinking Nascar fans, and fat people in DIRE need of a shower, haircut, and/or some major personal maintenance. Many of these groups are NOT mutually exclusive either.


I'm just sayin'.

7.07.2008

Again with the fireplaces....

Here, have one - you know you want one...










Also, this try seems to have worked out a little better than last time.













That is all for now.

6.24.2008

Back with a Bang

Starting to get back into the swing of things here. And getting back to posting, mostly regularly. We're in the middle of an office move, and things have conspired to keep me out of my regular routine, and busy all at the same time.

I took some time to undertake a fairly large home project as well during the time away. Here is a before and after picture for you:
Yeah - pretty gross and embarrassing....











Much nicer....










You can see the entire photo set here. If you care at all.

In other news, I haven't been taken out of the golf schedule. It seems we get to play a couple of times per week, most weeks, which is nice. Other days, it's time on the driving range to pursue change and improvement. That has paid off nicely for me. Over the weekend I finally broke through my 80-stroke barrier and carded a well-played 78. Yes, you read that right, a 78, besting my previous lifetime best by 3 strokes. And I did it while dribbling my first tee shot off the hozzle about 30 yards, making a double bogey on the first hole. All in all, I hit 8 of 13 fairways, and took 34 putts - with only one three-putt.

The glaring thing about my stats was that I only hit 7 of 18 greens in regulation, so that tells me where I need to spend my range time for sure. I've changed my swing this year, using my wrist-load to try to get more club speed, and committing more to the shot, as opposed to trying help the ball more than I should. That "commitment" (mostly to the follow-through) makes better club speed, but can be disconcerting at impact and follow through. But the practice has paid off - my drives are going farther, straighter, and are doing so with about 20% less effort than before.

I reached 2 of 5 par fives in two, and narrowly missed 2 others, landing just to the right of the green, pin-high each time. Before, I haven't been long enough to consider going for the green in two. There are also two 200-yard par 3's on the course, and I played well there too, where before I would spend a lot of time wondering which club was going to get me to the green. Instead, I was wondering which club would give me the best stopping power and playability once I got there, and that was rewarding as well.

In other golf news (sorry to the regular non-golfing readers...), we took the time a couple of weeks ago to go to the Champions Challenge. It's a charity event hosted by Johnny Miller. Usually he draws a pretty good field to his event, and this year we decided to go, because Jack Nicklaus was going to be there, along with Annika Sorenstam. Given the fact that Annika has announced her retirement, and Jack just isn't going to be playing for that much longer, we decided we needed to go.

I haven't ever been to an event where there are tour players, and this was a good event right here in our back yard. Ian Baker-Finch was there, along with a few other notables, and we just really wanted to go this time. It was cool to see Annika close-up, and she was by far the biggest draw at the event, carrying the biggest gallery along with her. It's a two day event, and we walked most of the first day, and sat for the second day. We started out at the first hole on the second day, watched everyone tee away, then moved to the ninth green, then to the 18th green to watch everyone finish up. A fun couple of days, drenched in hot sun.

Tale of two hats:
One of the highlights - for me at least - was getting up close to Nicklaus, and having him sign my hat. He's the best player ever to lift a club, and it was very cool to see him play. Although he doesn't move well, he still has very obvious elements of his old swing, and it was cool to see him play for sure. And did I mention that he signed my hat? Yeah, cool.

The other hat story comes to us from Indiana. A year or two ago I found a guy who posted old 80's music videos. Every day. Many of them were a pretty good blast from the past, and he took requests. It was pretty fun. He went (and still does go) by the moniker OneHungMan. While I can't vouch for any of that, nor do I plan to be able to in the future, he is a very nice guy who cares about a lot of things, while still being able to make a joke and have fun. We struck up a conversation and before long we discovered we both loved the frustrating game of golf. He's a better player than me, carrying a single-digit handicap, with mine in the low 13's. (though I'm hoping to see mine go down a bit if I can string together a couple more decent rounds in the next couple of weeks.)

He's given me good advice and encouragement along the way. It's hard to link to his blog because it's private now, because he doesn't want to be outed at work - he sometimes vents, shall we say. It may also be private because I once sent some beer to him, along with a tshirt, at work, and I may have offered a couple of clues to his co-workers as to his online identity. I feel bad about that, because now he's private, and only a few get to enjoy the fun videos.

We've talked a lot about real estate too. That's when I learned that he goes away for a week or two every spring to the PGA event in Florida, The Players Championship. As he got ready to go this year, I didn't think much about it, but right as he was leaving, I sent him an email saying that if he had a chance to pick me up one of their cool hats, that would be really cool. He picked me up a hat, and sent it along in a package after he got back from Florida. He asked me a couple of weeks ago if the hat has made me a better player. I have to admit that I have not worn it to play in, and I'm not sure I will wear it. It's a pretty nice hat, and I'm not sure I will be able to get another one, so until I do, I think I may keep this one nice, as opposed to sweaty and stinky. But I can say that I LOVE the hat, and it was a much-appreciated gesture. Thanks man.

6.19.2008

No, not dead. Yet.

A brief hello, to let you know I will be back it is shortly. Too bad, you say? Tough.

In the meantime, enjoy this little tidbit. 3+ minutes of musical excellence. This young individual has mastered more than the notes.

Hat-tip goes to my bro, who facebooked it at me.

Enjoy.

5.30.2008

Iron Man's House

Yeah, have you seen this movie yet? We saw it a week or two ago. Rather enjoyed the movie, enjoyed tremendously ogling the architecture of Tony Stark's house. I wondered if it was real, and if so, why I've never seen a picture of it, or where it might be.

So this leads to the inevitable internet search.

It seems the house, as you see it perched on Point Dume, is a fabrication. However, it was very reminiscent of John Lautner's Elrod House, many pictures of which you can see here, and which was featured in the Bond film Diamonds are Forever.

And speaking of retro-mod architecture, have you seen the ad for the new CBS series Swingers yet?

Interesting indeed. Besides the somewhat surprising subject matter of the network show, I am looking forward to seeing the architecture and interior design of places on the show. While shows like That 70s Show are good for remembering the pedestrian design pieces of your childhood and mine, I think this new show will be good for seeing some new interpretations of higher end 70's era design.

So, I'm setting the Tivo for that one, beginning sometime in early June. It reminds me of the HBO series that came and went right after The Sopranos went away. Tell Me You Love Me. Lots of naked bodies, not the least of which was Sonya Walger. All sorts of hotness there. Anyway, that short lived series had two architects as its main characters, and they lived in a wonderful uber-modern home where much of the show took place. Eye candy on all sorts of levels.