Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sarah Silverman's Mouth

Sarah Silverman has a potty mouth (I'm sure even she will admit that) and it probably gets her in trouble from time to time. For some reason she was a speaker, alongside Al Franken, at the Democratic National Convention on Monday. I'm not entirely sure whether she spoke before or after Sanders made his remarks since I didn't watch much of the coverage and neither she nor Franklin are on the official schedule. My guess is they were introducing a scheduled speaker and were allotted a few minutes to offer their statements.

From a story on The Slot, Silverman spoke of her support for Bernie Sanders, which likely pleased those of similar mind in the crowd, then started saying why she would be supporting Hillary Clinton. This drew jeers and boos from die-hard Bernie fans. She tried to speak over them but they were, apparently, quite vocal. She'd apparently had enough because her next statement was, "To the Bernie or Bust crowd, you're being ridiculous" I saw a video clip of that comment and her attitude seemed to be one of, "You lost. Get over it!"

Well, Ms. Silverman, it's not that easy. It's obvious from the vocal reactions, emotional tears, and the walkout yesterday that there are some deeply dedicated Bernie fans. And those people need a chance to grieve. They have to come to grips with the reality that a person who they rallied against for so long and has had her share of controversies during the nomination process now represents their party as a presidential candidate. It can't be just put aside.

Don't get me wrong, I get where you were coming from. It's bothersome to be interrupted like that and frustrating that a situation that you've already come to accept is still being bantered about. You could have been less harsh in your comments. You could have given them something like, "I know it's difficult but this is our reality now. Let's work together to accept it and win this election!"

I'm just sayin.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bernie Goes Bust

If you follow me on Facebook it should be no secret to you that I support Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election. I guess I should say that I supported Bernie Sanders. Until last night, I held out a minor modicum of hope that he might still seek the Democratic nomination or might run as an independent, despite what he's said over the last few weeks.

Last night, I watched a few minutes of Sanders' speech at the DNC in Philadelphia. I was hit with a sense of finality when he said, "Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close." Many in attendance were hit with this as well. From the crowd came a mixture of cheers and sounds of dissent. I'm not sure what I will do in November but let's rewind a little.

I supported Bernie Sanders not because he was anti-establishment but because he was true. First, he eschewed corporate money and mounted an incredibly successful supporter-funded campaign. If real people just like me hadn't wanted him to run, his campaign would have fizzled before it really got started. He made it all the way to the convention. If he wanted, he could seriously contend for the nomination.

The second reason is his integrity. I'm not using integrity in the sense that he's scandal-free. Everyone has skeletons in their closet. What I'm saying is that, throughout his political career, his messages and goals have been consistent. He has always been for a fair wage. He has always been for human rights. He has always been in favor of education. He has always been for more equitable distribution of wealth. Okay, maybe you can point to some instance where one or more of these statements do not hold true but, overall, he's been fighting for the same things since he started.

My third reason for supporting him is his message. Do I agree with every goal he wants to attain? No, I don't. Do I agree with every method he wants to use to attain those goals? No, I don't. Do I believe all of his goals are attainable within a four-year term? No, I don't. The thing is, though, that he is the only one really talking about some of these issues. While many of the candidates have been hitting hot buttons of "christian" values, the sanctity of marriage, who should use which bathroom, and discussing hand size in relation to manhood, Sanders has continued to talk about raising the standard of living, bringing back the middle class, improving access to higher education, reforming the student loan system that's structured in heavy favor of the lenders, and no longer considering a business a person.

As Sanders gained momentum and there was a good chance he could win the nomination, Clinton started parroting some of Sanders' rhetoric, presumably to sway some of his supporters to her side: "See, I can do that too." Her inconsistency of message alone caused me to be leery of her but the email scandal is what really made me distrust her. Her use of an external server really doesn't bother me that much. There have been others that have done the same. Was it a wise thing to do? Certainly not! Utilizing a server outside the government network poses a technological security risk at the very least. If even one work-related email passed through that system then it poses a national security risk. That can all be handled internally and might be the catalyst for a formal rule change but that wasn't my primary focus. What caused my distrust was the deletion of a large number of emails from that system after the contents were requested by the congressional committee or the FBI or whomever requested them.

For a long time after Clinton started to gain her lead, Sanders would not entertain the idea that he would not be the nominee. He was asked if he lost the nomination would he support Clinton and his response was that he did not intend to lose the nomination. He was asked if he would run as an independent and he saw no need to. At some point after Clinton "locked up" to nomination, as a result of shenanigans or not, she and Sanders must have had a meeting. I say this because almost overnight he put his support behind her and told the media that he would not run as an independent no matter the outcome. Then, in his speech at the convention, he spoke about student loan debt saying, "During the primary campaign, Secretary Clinton and I both focused on this issue but with different approaches. Recently, however, we have come together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America."

I know why he did it. The Republicans are not putting forth a united front and he wants to ensure that the Democrats do. I applaud him for that and I applaud Hillary Clinton for working with Bernie Sanders to put forth a united platform. I am disappointed that Clinton's choice of running mate was not Sanders nor Elizabeth Warren but I see a high probability that Sanders will be appointed to a position in the Clinton presidency where the two collaborate. At least, that's what I hope. Either that or I see Sanders ending up in a powerful congressional position to the same effect.

So, in all likelihood, come November, I will have a megalomaniacal [insert additional negative adjectives here] oligarch on one side, an entrenched politician who even the FBI thinks is shady on the other, and candidates from whatever tangential parties may show up on the ballot. I certainly don't want Trump to be my president. Without getting too opinionated, I do not feel he represents me or my interests in any way, shape, or form and I distrust Clinton to follow through on her promises. I would like to think I would vote for one of the non-major-party candidates but I honestly fear that doing so would tilt the election in Trump's favor - and that scares the hell out of me.

I don't know who, at this point, will get my vote for president in November. The only thing I can say for certain is that I will cast my vote then hope and pray that everything turns out okay.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Primary Fandoms

When I was seven or eight years old cable television either didn't exist or wasn't widely available. To watch television we needed an antenna and with that we could receive four channels: NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS. There were two times when television went straight to ultra boring - when the president was giving a speech and Sunday morning. It was Sunday mornings that got me interested in SciFi.

While Saturday morning was cartoon time for the kids, Sunday morning was for the religious. All three of the big networks played church programs. Now, this was before mega churches and video sermons. The programming that was on was the service from a local church. If you were lucky, there was more than just one camera sitting in the back of the sanctuary with a wide shot of the altar/pulpit. Considering we often left the television off on Sundays until after church, the last thing my eight-year-old self wanted to see was more church. As George Carlin said, "Church was a weekly reminder that there was something worse than school."

With church on the big three we usually turned to PBS. This is the only reason I know what Nova is and it is what introduced me to Star Trek. It wasn't just that it was often the only thing to watch on Sunday mornings that wasn't church, I really enjoyed it. I loved Star Trek so much over the years that there was a time that I could literally identify the episode, by name, and give you a full plot synopsis by watching no more than ten seconds of any part of any original series episode. Even if it was just a closeup of Mr. Spock raising an eyebrow. Yes, seriously.

Star Trek, in its many forms, has always held a special place in my heart, like a first love. If you asked me what my fandom was, my unhesitating response, for many, many years would have been, "I'm a Trekkie!" [side note: fandom is a recent expression. It's sort-of like cosplay. It's always been there, we just didn't always call it that.] I will forever refer to myself as a Trekkie (or Trekker, depending on my mood) but I've recently been taking notice of which fandom I gravitate toward most strongly and, to my surprise, it's changed.

Way back in 1977 there was this little box office sleeper that was quietly released to theaters called Star Wars. You may have heard of it. I think it was the first movie I absolutely had to see. There were so many incredible things about the movie theater experience back then but seeing the lines wrapped around the building (we mostly had single-screen theaters back then) had to be the most spectacular to my young self. If that many people wanted to see this movie at any particular time it had to be good.

I love the original Star Wars and will forever raise it up as an example of great film making. From the story to the characters to the then ground-breaking special effects (up to that point no one had left the model stationary and moved the camera around it to create motion) it's absolutely amazing. I watch it now and can see its rough edges but still marvel that George Lucas and his team put so many firsts in that production. They literally had to invent new ways of producing special effects, some of which are still used today.

As great as it is and as great as it was I still identified myself as a Trekkie. Maybe because the fandom never got saddled with a catchy name, I don't know. What would you call a Star Wars fan, anyway? Star Warrior? Star Warian? Skywalkerer? At any rate, my placement of Star Wars as my number one favorite lasted maybe a year or two after its release if it ever was on top. I eventually settled back into my old, comfortable, Starfleet mindset.

In the early '80s PBS, yet again, introduced me to this odd little show from England called Doctor Who. I know it wasn't another Sunday morning find. I think it may have aired on Saturday afternoons. Anyway, Here was this show about this quirky guy with bushy hair and a looooong scarf around his neck traveling through space and time in... a British police box... that was bigger on the inside. This show was not some highly-polished, big-budget production. On the contrary, it looked quite cheap. But that was part of its charm. Being interested at the time in television/video production it was fascinating to see how they used ordinary objects and materials in unusual and unexpected ways.

I lost touch with the show when the local PBS stations started shuffling the schedule. It was also around that time that I really started to take an interest in girls. The latter was likely the reason I didn't fly my geek flag quite so high anymore. I lost track of The Doctor and eventually heard that the show had ended in 1989. It wasn't such a hard blow for me because I'd missed out on something like four doctors by that time and I'd settled comfortably back into my Trekkie seat in 1987 with the introduction of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

With a steady diet of Star Trek movies and television and Star Wars sequels I'd put The Doctor on a shelf to gather dust. I kept him around, to be sure, and when people asked I would politely tell them, "Yes, I know of The Doctor and enjoyed the show very much." I really didn't give him much thought until 2005 when BBC America, a channel that didn't even launch until 1998, announced that they were bringing it back.

By this time I'd done away with my self-consciousness and flew my geek flag as high as I could. I was uneasy about this rebirth (or should that be regeneration?). Would they maintain the spirit of The Doctor? Would the stories be any good? Would The Doctor be any good? I watched the first episode with trepidation. I didn't want to hate it but so many rebirths of so many shows had failed miserably. I needn't have worried. When I heard Christopher Eccleston utter the phrase, "Hello, Rose. I'm The Doctor. Run for your life." in that Doctor-esque calm and whimsy I was hooked again. This time, I don't think I've missed a single episode (thank God for DVRs).

As I look around my desk I see four Star Wars figurines, some The Walking Dead Funko pocket pop!s that I got in a grab bag, a Captain America Funko mug I won at work, a Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head, and a space marine action figure from Starcraft. Scattered about amidst all of that is a six-inch vinyl TARDIS, three postcard-sized pictures of the TARDIS (one looking in to the control room, one with the doors closed, and one with a cat peering inside), a photo of me stepping out of the Tulsa TARDIS, and a Funko pocket Pop! of the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker). But it doesn't end there. My current vehicle is a 2014 Jazz (darker) Blue Dodge Charger with a vanity plate that reads TMTRVLR (TARDIS was already taken). I think it's safe to say that I've changed my primary fandom from Trekkie to Whovian.

Live long and prosper, may The Force be with you, always know where your towel is, and Allons-y!


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Meatball Sandwich Casserole


Meatball Sandwich Casserole

You will need:

! bag of frozen meatballs (I use Mama Lucia Brand, personal preference)
1 jar of marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce if there isn't any marinara on hand
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Italian blend cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 loaf of fresh Italian bread, sliced

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400. Place entire bag of meatballs in pot with sauce (I also add garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste) and cook over medium heat until warmed completely through, about 10 minutes. Stir as needed to keep meatballs from sticking to pot. Once heated through remove from heat. Place meatballs in the center of a 9x13 baking dish, layer mozzarella and Italian blend cheeses over meatballs topping off with the Parmesan. Take the slices of Italian bread and line the pan all the way around with them so that they are kind of keeping the meatballs toward the center of the pan. The bread slices will be standing up in the pan as shown in the picture. You have creative freedom here with the bread...you can lightly butter and garlic the bread prior to placing it in the pan if you prefer or even brush lightly with olive oil and garlic. The choice is yours. I have made it plain and as noted above and all are delicious!

Place in oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven, serve and enjoy!

A side salad goes nicely with this quick meal!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Overthinking Technology

I came to Kansas City this weekend for two reasons. 1) The 31st is my dad's birthday. 2) The KC RenFest started this weekend. While at the RenFest yesterday I purchased a CD of The Jolly Rogers, a "band of five guys who share a few common traits – a love for maritime music, an unreasoning fascination with the fantasy of Golden Age pirates and, above all, a very warped sense of humor."

Being as I'm not at home, my resources are limited. I brought a netbook with me so I have no optical drive available to use with it. I was trying to determine a process I could follow to get the music onto my iPhone so I could listen to it in the car on my way home. Step one was to convert the CD to a digital format. There are at least three computers in the house with optical drives that I can use to rip the CD. Once that's done I have a flash drive I can use to transfer the files to my netbook.

I proceeded withe step one and had the files on the flash drive. It was then that I realized that, even though I transfer these files to my netbook, how do I get them into my iPhone? This isn't my primary computer that I usually connect to my phone. I wonder if this netbook has Bluetooth? Would the iPhone even recognize the music if I just dropped the files onto it?

Then it hit me... ... ... ... the car has a CD player.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Barrier

A friend of mine who has definite physical limitations told me something this weekend. She used to say she had no regrets but she revealed to me that she had recently started feeling that she regretted not trying out for the pom pom squad in high school.

In the moment, she had watched the routines and the physical requirements and had decided that she just wouldn't be able to do it. She imposed an automatic limit upon herself without ever trying. She might not have made the team but just trying would have pushed her beyond the boundaries that she thought she had. And maybe, just maybe, the team would have worked to include her despite her limitations.

This brought home a thought process I've been going through. I was actually talking, out loud, to someone about this and said something about understanding my limits and staying within them. As I said it I knew it was an excuse. I knew it was bullshit. I knew the limits were of my own making. I knew it was a barrier built by fear.

As I think about what I said I know I'm holding myself back. I see the fence in the distance and feel I can't climb it and turn away. The truth I know is that the fence is not that high and there are gates. There may be a gatekeeper of some sort but the gates are all along the fence.

The funny thing is I also know that beyond the fence... is another fence.

My last post may have sounded discouraged but I'm not. I think about finding my greatness every day. I examine the barriers, I examine the paths, and I examine the possibilities.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Fear And Anger

I am looking for my greatness.
Will my star shine bright or will I let it continue to be dim?
I am afraid.
If I hold back I will waste potential.
If I try too hard I may burn out and end up as a black hole.
I hold myself back.
I lie to myself that the resources are finite and I must not use them up. There is only so much I can use.
But when I lie I only increase my own resistance. I excuse myself from trying.
I know that the resources are replenished with each attempt - successful or not. Failure is always an option.
But I am afraid.
I want to throw everything into the fire and let it explode in spectacular fashion but it doesn't work like that.
Like gunpowder outside of a bullet it fizzles in a brief, anticlimactic poof.
I do not like the slow burn.
I want to see the elephant devoured not eaten one small bite at a time.
I am frustrated by my desire for quick results.
I fear I will lose interest and walk away from my greatness without ever knowing it.
I have done many things that I thought would grow if I only gave them attention only to find I'm not very good at them.
I try something else and it, too, withers.
Why do I stop when things get difficult?
Why do I never practice?
I took piano lessons for six years and never got past the simplified versions of the sheet music.
I want things to come naturally, to just happen. I know it doesn't really happen like that. All examples of greatness are stories of hard work and dedication.
I am afraid.
I have taken the next step in my perceived evolution and have failed miserably. More than once.
I like the low-hanging fruit but I'm truly not afraid to climb the tree... if I can see how to reach what I want. The fat, juicy, ripe fruit at the top of the canopy is so far out of site that I don't want to reach for it for fear of getting to the top only to find sour fruit or none at all. All the time ignoring the spectacular view.
I'm going to climb. I don't know where I will end up.

I started trying to write something prophetic here. An organized, insightful revelation of my thought processes so far. I took the first step, why not just take the second? The truth is it's not organized - as you can see. So this was just a stream of consciousness thing. I stopped where I did because I was starting to get angry with myself for telling myself it is better to have false, inaccurate limits than unreachable goals (that really aren't unreachable).

Maybe next time I should make a list of my accomplishments. A list of the things I know how to do, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Maybe that will help me see that I'm shining brighter than I think I am.