Rebel Without Ability to Read

Do you need an explanation for cuteness? alright, today was Crazy Hair Day today at the pre-school. My idea of just cutting random bits of hair off was vetoed (but really if I saw that, that person crazy). I gelled it up with two different brands – something and Bed Head for the jeans and a white t-shirt, mod / Bowery boy / 50s style look. IMG_3042




I Saw You


Eddie sets himself up for working on his Pinewood Derby car. It was satisfying to get as far as we did in one night – the car is literally taking shape.

Jack Sings – You Are So Beautiful To Me

Last night at dinner Jack broke into song, looking a little at me but mostly at Carrie:
Imagine the sweetest little boy voice ever, slowly singing, accompanied with a shy smile, ending with self-applause (and applause from parents a beat later).

“You are so beautiful I see.
You’re everything I see.
You are everything to see.
You are so wonderful I see.

I had no idea who sang it originally, or how he got that song in his head. I was a little too stunned to remember to ask. I found out it was Joe Cocker and the actual words are below. I have now bought the song to put on my iPhone.

You are so beautiful
To me
You are so beautiful
To me
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so beautiful
To me

You are so wonderful
To me
You are so wonderful
To me
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so wonderful
To me

You are so beautiful
To me
You are so beautiful
To me
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so beautiful
To me

Jasper Stark – 11 months old today

Almost a year old. Yep, that time flies fast.

These photos are Jasper this morning. He sits up. He kneels and stands up all over the place now. He does not walk, yet, though when he pulls himself up on a chair, on an ottoman, he will stand for 30 mins or so.

He waves now if you wave to him; he claps his hands, he claps his feet. He has a sly smile. He laughs a lot. He sleeps less. A lot less, so much so yesterday the daycare remarked on. “He seems to .. not sleep.” He has big eyes, big feet. Lightning quick grabbing glasses. Likes his crawling freedom. Over the weekend we took a picture of him looking an awful lot like his great grand dad J.R. Anderson.

Jasper J.C. Stark, 11 months old today. :D We’re celebrating with a BBQ in your honor in February.



This is me in a Poker Tournament

I could never play competitively for one reason; I would strangle the motherfuckers sitting there playing with their chips nonstop. Are you a fucking bored 5 year old that can’t sit still for 10 seconds or is this actually a strategy to annoy people? If it is, then I should be able to use my strategy of breaking your fucking fingers to shut you the fuck up.

Or, of course, I could ride that wave of white noise to victory.

Learn Music With Two Sites. Then Rock. Or Strum. Or Whatever.

You can learn music using these two websites together, just sitting at our keyboard. Right?

This one tells you the basic of musical notes and reading music.

This one is a Google Doodle that can let you hit the keyboard letters for the right notes A B C D E F G

It’s Hard to Find Good Metal

Gun Shy assassin is the podcast / site I just found. I’m going to plug in the podcast in a few minutes (picked at random #13) but the site is so full of enthusiasm I recommend it to find some jewels. No one can like it all, but there will be some guitar crunches, symphonic vocals or actual meaningful lyrics that you won’t forgot. – Gun Shy Assassin

Buy Weather-Proofed Windows or Proof Them Yourself?

The sun – you can’t live with too much of it, you can’t live without it.

We wanted screens so we could open our windows and doors at night to let the cooler air in. A year later after we first thought of the idea, we did something about it. In Arizona it doesn’t get that cool at night in the summer. This is obviously an understatement.

At night, in Phoenix for at least two months of the summer the temperature doesn’t drop below 85 degrees. In Seattle that’s the almost panic-inducing high during the day. In London that’s a heatwave that tests the mad dogs.

Arizona is home to some of the hottest summer weather in the county – it’s like staring down the sun – and keeping homes protected from the heat and sunlight can be a bit challenging. But we were just looking to stay cool as it got cooler. So this summer we went to Ace Hardware and measured out a couple of cheap screens and frames. They do the job. The cats – and now dog – stay in at night and we get a welcome fresh air breeze.

But doing that got us – ok maybe just me – thinking of grander things we can do. Weather-proofing means keeping the house a comfortable temperature – whether beating back Jack Frost or keeping your foot on the throat of the pits of hell’s heat.

It starts with the window frames.

Every choice you’ll take on has its pluses and minuses. It’s not so difficult, just a lot of variables.

If you look for weather-proofed windows which match well with the Arizona climate, vinyl is one of the best fits. It offers great energy efficiency in terms of both hot as well as cold weather. Proper installation prevents air from leaking and it is practical for the not so picky home owner. It’s low maintenance and since Arizona is not given to extremely wet weather during the year there is no need for homeowners to worry about water and moisture issues. The downside is, vinyl does not age well in over-bearing heat.

Selecting the Glass
Glass construction is one of the most important considerations in determining quality weather-proofed windows. First, never entertain the thought of purchasing single-pane windows. It’ll save you money but really it will not. Even if you plan to move out of your home soon, single-pane glass is a negative for people thinking of buying.

The windows you’ll want to buy are vacuum-sealed, argon filled and double-paned. Even though we wanted to save a lot of money I often go for the medium option – nothing stupidly expensive, but never – or hardly ever – the cheapest option either. With cheap windows you really do not save money i the long run.

Don’t Forget the View
Now having said double-paned is the way to go, this will not work if you have a spectacular view of the Superstitions or any other scenic reminder of this great world. In this case you can install, I found out, picture windows that have gas-filled interiors or over-sized casement widows.

But in many homes, what works to increase the charm of a Phoenix home is shutters. Close them up during the day and your house stays – largely cool. This depends on the materials the house is made of, of course, and how much thought has been put into energy efficiency during construction.

Other Options
There are other options besides replacing windows, though these can look bad pretty quickly. Solar films and solar screens remove a lot of light – and almost all UV light – from the equation and is EXTREMELY economical. But from what I’ve seen, try it on small bathroom windows, skylights or other, largely out-of-the-way panes that no one looks through much and can’t be seen from outside either. They do provide a sense of privacy.

We only rent right now so we wouldn’t be paying for any of this. But if we want changes, doing a lot of the research ahead of time will increase the chance we get something we like.

Cub Scout Trip, Shame About the Pictures

Bug had his first Cub Scout camping trip over the weekend. Dad had his first camping trip in … oh, quite a while. I can’t quite remember the last time but it might have been the firefighters camp out in Omak.

But, since I keep on forgetting my camera, all i have are these four from my cellphone. They are in chronological order: 1) The borrowed tent, just after being put up 2) Bug reading in said tent a few hours later 3) The dawn the first morning. 4) How bug ended up sleeping, the second morning.

We never checked if there were missing parts to the tent we borrowed from someone at Vertical Measures (hi, Jenn). We got it up in record time in the beam of the headlights.

We never checked if there were missing parts to the tent we borrowed from someone at Vertical Measures (hi, Jenn). We got it up in record time in the beam of the headlights.

For some reason it was about 11:00 and Bug wanted to read a book by flashlight inside the tent. He did for a coupe of minutes then said he was tired.

For some reason it was about 23:15 and Bug wanted to read a book by flashlight inside the tent. He did for a couple of minutes then said he was tired.

On the first morning of Cub Scouts Camp. I took a lot of photos because I woke up at 6:10.

On the first morning of Cub Scouts Camp. I took a lot of photos because I woke up at 6:10.

Bug moved around at night, though into quite sure how he did this. He should've been cold, he did not complain.

Bug moved around at night, though I’m not quite sure how he did it to this extent. He should’ve been cold, he did not complain.

You Signed Up for This – and Other Bullshit Reasoning

Whenever someone criticizes a company that they have investment in (time, energy, connections, etc.) for changing something, you hear one or often both of two things. 1) It’s free, quit yer bitching 2) This is what you signed up for.

In other words, you have no right to complain…

… what are you a customer or something?

While I have some small (minor, tiny, barely there, infinitesimal ) sympathy for the 1st point, the second is always bullshit. Let’s say it’s iTunes. You start with Version 1. You get through versions 1-5 and you even take the time to look at the User Agreements or at least read summary’s of what has changed. You can deal. Bu then there’s something that says (this didn’t happen but) they will be releasing all your music choices to a public information area (Ping) so people can find their friend’s music choices. But they offer an opt out where your name won’t be attached but your music list will be.  Or anything not bought in iTunes won’t be available for others to see. Whatever.

That’s painful but you like their adherence to privacy and keep going. Then, they say, GOOD NEWS, we’re going to make your user experience better. We are introducing 25 different filters for you to work with and you can opt-in privacy for each of them. If you do nothing, it’s all out there.

Fuck that. A lot of other people say fuck that and Apple retreats and says, well, OK, if you don’t do anything everything will be private. Good company, they got it.

Then three years later they casually make a mention – or more likely someone accidentally finds out – that a lot of that information IS out there. This forces Apple to say, yeah, sorry but we’re also going to be attaching your name back to all that data and well, sorr-y, we’re just a company.

Fuck that. But, you signed up for it and if you don’t like it you can go somewhere else. After all, it’s a free organization tool. Sure, except now it’s part of your life and really, no, there isn’t a great alternative.

Perhaps you’ve seen through the charade here but substitute Facebook for any mention of iTunes or Apple above and you come to Facebook’s announcement today that people can find you by name even if you don’t want them to and had previously deliberately stopped this ability.

Great. As you say i don’t have a right to be pissed as a customer? Because I am a Facebook customer who is tired of having to spend so much time just to protect privacy – something that shouldn’t have to be protected from the very company who should be helping me out on this front. Just read this section of that linked TechCrunch article:

To be fair, the “Who can look up your Timeline by name?” feature was likely misunderstood by lots of people. At first glance, you might assume it means that strangers can’t find your profile. But that’s incorrect. There have been lots of ways to navigate to your profile, like clicking your name on a photo you’re tagged in, finding your name in a friend’s friend list, or combing through Likes on a mutual friend’s News Feed post.

With the roll out of Graph Search, the avenues for sniffing out someone’s profile grew exponentially. Basically every piece of personal information (and soon the content you post about) could bring you up in a search.

Even in that short paragraph it shows you the level of effort needed to protect details. Or, more importantly, kids details. you thought you were safe, but then whiiiip, that carpet gets pulled out from underneath you. Should we asked to abandon this tool that has become part of our lives. And by many reports, even if we do , even if we deactivate our account, a large entirety of information stays up.

How does one truly opt-out once you’re in. People who have trusted get screwed. People who were never trusting, are OK, but who wants an Earth full of people who believe everything is untrustworthy? Trust no-one is a catchy phrase for the X-Files and generally a sentiment to be applauded. But how much of your live do you need to change every-time someone or some company shows a total lack of respect for you – yet you have, in some way, become dependent on them. I could call and e-mail and mail my far flung friends. But that isn’t shared conversation.

Finished Game of Thrones Book 1

I finished it with the birth of dragons at 21:21. It’s personal.


Creating and Adding Friends to Google+ Circles

Not as easy as it should be.

I got there but when I created “Playing Cards” it added 143 people. I thought, cool, how did it do that? Then I created Journalism’s Future Circle and I thought, uh-oh, it’s the same 143 and how did they get picked? Three minutes later I found out how to remove them from the group. I was just sticking within the Google + environment to figure it out; to see how helpful it was.

It’s not as easy as it should be (but already Facebook can suck it. :D )

It took a few clicks, pretty much anti-intuitive – to get to the page that helps: “Chose the people in “your circles.” This is where I first found out about how to create circles. Then I had to guess and click on “Learn more about circles” to see a link to “Removing people from your circles.” The first instruction baffled me for a little bit: 1. Place your cursor in the top left corner for the Google+ main menu. Click People.” I didn’t really have an idea where the main menu was, having tried to navigate around Google + exactly zero seconds.

At this point I saw a Discover tab which I hoped to go to soon and at this point I wondered why Google had thought adding 143 people – all of my contacts with Google+ accounts – was a good idea. Especially when I then realized that I would have to delete them out of the circle ONE BY ONE. Or delete the circle, which I didn’t want to do for fear it would say it was a duplicate or mess things up further.

I got lost for a little while adding classmates to Following or Acquaintances or friends – just a handful. I found someone who owes me money – about $900 for rent in college.

That discover tab is pretty pointless. It points you to celebrity and big names, thus perpetuating their celebrity and bigness but not actually being useful. You’d think with all their algorithm expertise they could search better to help find better people. You know, like they do with ads in your Gmail inbox.

So, adding people to Circles is NOT as easy as it could be. It could be because of the subjects I chose, Playing Cards and Journalism’s Future. I concentrated my efforts on the first one and I found companies, but harder to find people. I did not just friend anyone who mentioned paying cards, but those who I thought would enjoy and even benefit from any news and posts I did about paying cards. And vice versa; I didn’t want to hear from people in that group unless it was about playing cards. One reason – I didn’t know who the hell they were and I have enough information on board.

Meanwhile, though I like the idea of hangouts – and the page that says which ones are LIVE RIGHT NOW, they occupy way too much real estate on my Google Plus page. I want them to disappear and just be a tab at the top, because honestly, they do not need to be there.

[edited for typos 10/10/2013]

Bradley Manning’s Statement After Sentencing

This is a statement from Pfc. Bradley Manning following his sentencing to 35 years in prison on several charges related to releasing state secrets. I do not know if he wrote it all, but to me it seems well thought out. I do wonder if there were other ways to go about it effectively. I think he is a modern-day hero:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based intentions, it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Jasper Stark at 6 Months

197I could put a slew of photos here but I’m organizing those, still (of course).

Today Jasper Stark turned 6 months old .He celebrated by trying carrots for the first time and made his usually range of cute-tastic faces – ad kept going. He has no food dislikes, yet. He ate with brothers Eddie and Jack who have lovely, expressive faces as well.

Jasper is amazingly cute. It is a complete honor to watch him grow up and I am cherishing every second because I know in a blink of an eye he’ll be 1, 3, 5 , 10 ….








Everywhere We Go – The Unit

Ah, I’ve been humming and starting to sing this for a few months now and then I stop because I don’t know all the words. Then I resolve to look up the lyrics and then I forget. But I remembered less than a minute ago:

(Leader sings a line and all repeat)

Everywhere we go-o
Pe-ople want to know-o
Who we a-are
And where we come from
So we tell them
We’re from [name of town]
Mighty, mighty [town]
And if they can’t hear us
We sing a little louder

(Repeat, get louder each time until you reach your limit)

And if they can’t hear us
They must be DEAF!!!!

WordPress InBound Writer, Due for Testing

The WordPress Inbound Writer plug-in, courtesy of a find by someone at work, looks like it would quickly work to improve site rankings. But, as is usually my first thought, how does creativity suffer? In other words, surely it continues to pull from the same sources. I mean it looks like it could actually help with college papers, as well.

I hope to try it out in the next few days at a different site. If you’ve played with it, how did it work for you?

Replacing the Battery on a Buick Century

My battery could not be resuscitated this morning. After a short illness it died at 6:55 this morning.

I was trying to hold out until payday because these super-sucker, super-charged boxes are expensive $135.36). But it was not to be. Ever since last Wednesday, (August 6), the future demise of the AAA battery has been “manifest destiny” personified. That’s when I stopped at the YMCA to drop off Bug for his swimming lesson (and to stay there with mom and Smacky). I went back out to the lot to drive away and get an Exersaucer (no really) (but damn not one that effing expensive) and the car just ticked at me when I turned the key. That’s when I remembered I’d turned on the internal lights a few days ago to check, uh, something. You’d think they’d just go off or something with doors closed but apparently some dim bulb put that design together.

But hooray, Carrie and I happened to be parked right next to each other. Yessss! This is when I also discovered or re-discovered that Carrie did not have jumper cables. Noooo!! Driving Carrie’s Equinox, I got them at Autozone- $29.99 for the 12-foot ones. This is “significant” because I then had to move Carrie’s car very close as, of course, the batteries were the furthest apart possible. I coulda got the 16′ ones for $39.99.

In the Arizona heat, I navigated exactly where to put the clamps on the very weird Chevy battery set up and got it going. I persevered and got the Exersaucer for Jasper to bounce around in. Side note, he was very excited and bouncy when he was put inside a couple of days later. Except I went to a Babies R Us that turned out not to be the right one where we had pre-ordered for pick-up. There’s a Toys R Us, less than a mile away from it that was the one I should’ve gone to. Both times, in both lots, it felt like the battery was not going to excite its electrons. But both times it grinded and grrrrinded away and lit the fire.

So the next day it did start, barely and that’s when I knew it would have to be replaced, soon. I didn’t turn off the car when dropping off Bug and it worked. The weekend, the car stayed in the driveway and I meant to start the car Sunday. But didn’t. So Monday, by some miracle I still can’t fathom it started. And after work, by some further miracle as it took at least two minutes to get it live and charged, and died twice as I thought I had it going, I was able to drive away. I hustled in and out of Fry’s after driving mostly home and it started up fine.

Not so much this morning.

I took Bug and Smacky to O’ Reilly’s with me. They decided they wanted every toy car in the place and a few other things. Nope. “Oh daddy, that battery is really expensive.” Yup. They got home and everyone drove away. It turns out I had all the right tools AND I knew where they were. The Buick Century manual DIDN’T actually show how to replace a battery. I was fine except I had forgotten the bottom screw actually held the battery in, so I went briefly to the Internet and with this Car Care Kiosk video, I realised my oversight.

I was in a hurry, so no photos available. I screwed everything back in place and it got me to work.

Welcome to the Super Start National Battery Ride to the End. Now I just have to go back to O’Reilly’s and bring my old battery in for $15. Sounds like a deal, because I don’t want it but I do want it disposed off so it won’t burn the hair off squirrels.

Why Transformation Seems So Appealing

(I invited someone else here to write about what I always thought was a cool program. Say hello to Eliza Stone who was just really enthused about this show she’s followed for awhile and what it meant about “shedding your skin” and new starts.)

By Eliza Stone

If you were to watch Face Off, you’d notice a few minor format changes over the years. Judges have come and gone, and the grand prize vehicle has become progressively higher end, going from a Toyota Camry Hybrid at season two’s ending to a mouthwatering Fiat 500 at the close of season four.

One thing has remained constant: This show is like no other on television. Yes, it’s essentially a makeup/makeover show, but the freaky sci-fi and prosthetic special effects dynamic makes Face Off a transformation show of a whole other sort. Still, the seed of this show’s appeal is the fact it concerns transformations — otherworldly and bizarre and the better for their absurdity and originality.

The show’s host and judges are all industry experts with tons of collective experience in prostheses and freakish makeup. The contestants are also highly skilled, each with his/her own strengths and weaknesses.

Getting a ringside seat to the behind-the-scenes aspect of movie makeup and prostheses simultaneously demystifies the process while arousing more questions with each new layer peeled back or put on. This is abundantly clear when you watch Face Off online.

For the viewer, watching people and things transform so dramatically and so quickly is another part of the fascination. The theme of transformation, whether embryo to newborn, man to werewolf, ugly duckling to swan, or poor geek girl to rich hot actress, is a compelling theme woven into nearly every part of Western and Eastern culture.

Indeed, the popularity of transformation via surgery is on the rise. According to an infographic posted on the website of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, cosmetic procedures were up by 5% last year, totaling $14.6 million. Streamlined noses, Barbie silhouettes, and perfectly straight and white teeth are becoming the new (desired) norm.

But there are everyday transformations that are equally compelling: Each night we go to bed, surrendering to the transformational power of sleep. We go to the salon and to the mall, hoping to find new inspiration for the changes we’d like to manifest in our lives. We closely follow the various transformations of our favorite celebrities, marking their weight loss, their new haircuts, or their successful graduation from rehab.

R. Buckminster Fuller once said, “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” Fuller, an inventor, designer and theorist, was well aware of the mechanics and inner workings of objects, energy and concepts. The hope of betterment and transcendence a caterpillar represents might have seemed to Fuller a metaphor for all the unlocked potential hidden within each atom, indeed within us all.

Also, that the butterfly resembles no part of its previous incarnation suggests that evolution and material/spiritual rebirth have nothing to do with fancy beginnings. It is the undertaking of any transformation that unleashes individual agency into the world, the mark of authentic power and, ultimately, sublime beauty.

Perhaps this is why so many people are fascinated by transformation, both as an idea and as the premise for a reality show competition? To watch Face Off online allows us to witness how profound it is to create a wholly new outward, and inward, reality. Each week, contestants do more than merely create grotesque makeup effects, they are also inadvertently creating new professional avenues for themselves.

Just competing on the show gives contestants tons of exposure. Winning is more than the sweet $100 grand; it grants the winner entree into the world of pro makeup artists. The networking and financial opportunities are quite respectable. More than faces, contestants transform their lives and careers, making Face Off a riveting, quintessential example of transformation.