Sunday, July 31, 2005

thoughts on immortality

I have seen with my own eyes the Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her "What do you want?" She answered,"I want to die."

- Greek legend (hat tip T.S. Eliot)

Not having personally known any immortals, my images are all from popular culture, most prominently Highlander. In that series, you only became immortal once you die, so most of the characters died fairly young leaving a pretty non-corpse. What would have happened if you died of natural causes - say a brain tumour in your 90's? Would you have become an immortal then? Even if you now had the mystical ability to heal your ailment, it would kinda suck to be spend eternity as a decrepit old man. Would guess that you too like Sybil would wish to die.

Prompted by the reunion, I thought a bit recently that we should all get to experience 3 lifetimes. At the end of your life, you could look back on it & decide "you know at age 16 I wish I had _____ & my life would have worked out better" & program a few changes in your life to relive them. At the end of your 3rd lifetime, you could then see if your choices did truly give you a happiest lifetime. Of course if The Butterfly Effect was correct, it might take you 5 or 6 lifetimes for everything to come out right (and even that film on DVD had 4 alternative endings), and I would guess that at the end of 3 lifetimes, you'd still want a 4th or 7th or 10th to keep experiencing things

If you were immortal, would you end up sick of life as the character in The Seventh Sign? Always found that a bit hard to believe - wanting death even though you were eternally middle aged.

Now Hob Gadling seemed to be in a sort-of middle ground: a bit weary of life, but at the end of Sandman, still viewing death as "a mug's game". That seemed more believable - even an immortal has to get tired of life at certain points, has to be struck with a strong "been there - done that" feeling, but that wouldn't necessarily mean that death would seem preferable to you. Still I do wonder if each event in your life would be thinner - if any venture doesn't work out, no biggie since you've got hundreds of years in your future to make things right - and at some point, your life events just sort of blend together into some sort of ennui as Hob's seemed to be a sort of grumpy old man critiquing a Renaissance Faire for technical inaccuracies, but still refusing death's gift.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Sometimes it pays to be an Electrical Engineer

Had to increase the voltage to 7V (from 6.5v), but here is Friday Night Wine Blogging as it should be!

It has a blossom aroma - Ginger Haired Yank

Friday Night Wine Blogging (sans photo)

Unfortunately the camera's batteries are dead, so Columbia Crest Riesling - 2004 - will come without photo. Hopefully I can backdate appropriate photo tomorrow night.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Harry Potter spoiler alert

Well Jane's guess on who died was correct.

What is amazing is the dedication of the Harry Potter fans not to spoil it for others. How many people must have read the 6th book by now? 10 million? 20 million? Despite that I haven't heard 1 leak of who dies on any blog or article in the newspaper.

Will say that the book is a bit weaker than the past 2 structurally - no Dolores Umbridge & no Tri-wizard tournament to keep the excitement level high. I am wondering if Rowling's decision to keep writing after book 7 had an effect on this book - seems like too many twists and new mysteries were added to have the series end next book, so perhaps if next book was really going to be the last, it would not have been so leisurely paced.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Absorbed in the latest Harry Potter

so no spare time for blogging. JKR hasn't lost her touch as I'm already roughly 1/3 of the way through a book I received this afternoon. Will do best to finish it by tomorrow evening, and since I'm still feeling either wistful or melancholic will cut this short by posting two quotes:

You got your whole live to do something and that's not very long
- Ani DiFranco willing to fight

"You lived what anybody gets, Bernie. You got a lifetime." - Death of the Endless

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Still no Harry Potter

The book hasn't come in yet - shutterbug friend at worked flaked out forgetting his copy at home - while the CD's arrived at the library but not the book. Ginger Haired Yank won't let me start listening yet, so borrowed Rise of the Vulcans because I just can't force myself to start reading Collapse. Finally gave up on See Under: Love. Guess the flog myself through books approach just isn't worth it, though will give both Don Quixote & Proust one more attempt.

In Vulcans so far, it's interesting to read about cabinet officials before they become famous. Have no recollection of Rumsfeld in either the Nixon or Ford White. Recall Powell as Joint Chief of Staff, but no memory of Cheney as Secretary of Defence during the first Gulf War. Funny how some folks will be in administrations, but never come to public prominence until some odd confluence of events thrusts them to the forefront. Or will be far less hawkish in previous positions, e.g. Cap Weinberger pushing for Title IX under Nixon, or here Rumsfeld pusing for peace in Vietnam.

Of the 6 vulcans covered - Powell, Armitage and Wolfowitz are all out of the executive branch, while Cheney & Rumsfeld have far far lower profiles in Bush's 2nd term than his first, and only Rice in her higher profile position as Secretary of State maintains the public eye so is this the Decline of the Vulcans?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Why paper diaries will always exist

With so many past memories brought to the fore, I've gone back to my old diary started while in the Peace Corps - some items should never go on line. A bit curious if I can find my North Pole diary (given by the tour organizers) or my old high school diary - that one will be tough to located.

Sorry now that I ever wasted any pages in either the NP or PC diaries for anything but personal thoughts.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday Night Rose Blogging

Toad Hollow - Dry Pinot Noir Rose - 2004

I have to say that I'm just not a rose fan. - Ginger Haired Yank
Don't they add sugar to white zinfandel? - Ginger Haired Yank
A complete waste of Pinot Noir! - Ginger Haired Yank (spoken while wrinkling nose & sticking out tongue)

An important question was answered tonight though - Rose goes better in a red than a white wine glass.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Still feeling wistful about the reunion

First it was too many painful memories bubbling to the surface. Now it's thinking about how much I enjoyed the company of a couple of folks last weekend that I either, never spoke to until after college graduation, or only recall asking some foolish questions as a freshman & then never talking to again in the almost 4 years I was there. Makes me feel like so many lost opportunities in my lifetime.

I had the wish that I could replay the entire 3 day reunion, only this time meet with different folks since I didn't have enough time to spend with all the folks that I enjoyed, or might have enjoyed.

Wonder if it's just my class that stays so close (at least 50% turnout for the reunion vs. 10% for the Ginger Haired Yank's or my sister's class at the same school had a 10 year reunion & that was it). For some odd reason, my class had at least ½ dozen dedicated alumni so they were ran the alumni association & were able to keep contact with enough of us. Guess it helps being a fairly small class (~100) & being a magnet school, so there's a certain cachet associated with my alma mater, but some odd confluence helped.

Well already looking forward to the 50th birthday party in 2 years & this time I'll study my yearbook in advance so will remember folks better.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

6 down - 42 to go

A bit too exhausted to put together the latest in my continuing 48 month series, so this is an edited version partly from the subsequent nights when I was a bit more coherent.

Actually a bit surprising how much momentum Bush lost this spring & how little he's regained it during the summer: Bolton's still not approved & Social Security's still dead in the water. Presently the attention's all on the Supreme Court nomination, which of course sucks out that much more legislative oxygen, which makes any of the reforms proposed that less likely.

Folks mention that a Supreme Court nominee is part of Bush's legacy, so for Roberts I'll guess that he will be another centrist as O'Connor & Kennedy are often called. Like Reason, I didn't care for his voting for the administration on the Gitmo detainees case, but the Supreme Court essentially gave a medium rebuke to the administration in the flurry of court cases, with the result being that a few more detainees including Hamdi were released, but as of today ~500 remain & only a few are being charged. Believe the bottom line if Roberts had been on the bench, would have been roughly the same including the chickenshit decision on Padilla.

Updating my metrics to judge Bush:

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Amazing the memories reunions force to the surface

Pulled out old yearbook to re-read friendly messages from 30+ years ago. Some funny now - "I don't think we'll see each other in the future" from a fellow who just invited me to his yearly Thoth party. Others have me searching my memory banks - hmmm, she wrote a nice note in my yearbook, so we must have been somewhat friendly, but have 0 recollection of her. A bit bummed that I had stored my yearbooks in a box in the garage which leaked, so freshman year largely-destroyed.

One sad recollection. One friend was killed shortly after college. Wonder if he would have shown up - many non-school spirited types did including a few surprises. Would have been nice to show him that I turned out o.k. Such a waste to think of a 23 year old killed, by a driver running a stop sign in the morning, while bike riding to a job at the Mushroom. Had to rummage through the yearbooks for his photo since he never had individual portraits taken - finally found 3 group photos in our junior year.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Back from exhausting 30 year reunion

Saturday night was the highlight - Wax Museum closed so we had to leave, then Ritz Carlton bar closed so we had to leave, then to a dive bar but 1 gal wanted a more upscale dive bar, so finally kicked out of Pat O'Brien's at 4 a.m. Even I was ready to crash by then.

Figured that only the lightweights would be at Rock N'Bowl, but the 2 folks that I dropped off around 4:30 a.m. both were already there by the time we showed up an hour late - pretty impressive. Still haven't fully recovered since it took too damn long to get luggage & taxi, so heading to bed now. If I get group photo will post.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Amazing the pain stress can cause

TMJ symptoms abated, but still amazing to think that nothing's "wrong" - no herniated disc, no torn meniscii, no cancerous cells - despite that the symptoms include the sensation that someone is sticking an ice pick from the inside of my skull through my ear drum - very debilitating. The dentist suggested Xanax, but decided to recall my Pranayama training.

Well off to 30th High School reunion (OG SNOCLAF), which should be a great stress relief, but time to get back to yoga classes when I return.

I'm gonna stay 18 forever, so we can stay like this forever/and we'll never miss a party 'cause we keep them going constantly/and we'll never have to listen to anyone about anything/'cause it's all been done and it's all been said/we're the coolest kids and we take what we can get The Hell out of this town find some conversation
Soco Amaretto Lime - Brand New

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Reading hagiography

Since the used book store via Amazon never sent the trashy autobiography that I was expecting, I ended up skim reading the Shah's widow's hagiographical treatment of her husband. To summarize:

First mention of SAVAK details how some humane general made the decision to allow Khomeini to go into exile, which Khomeini repaid by having him executed when he returned to power.

A Persian friend from work (left Iran in '86) lent me the book, and can easily understand how she enjoyed it - but for a non-expatriate, would recommend Persepolis I & II. A superior story teller with good narrative sense & artistic ability.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Disfunction of the week

TMJ - A very common focus of pain is in the ear. Many patients come to the ear specialist quite convinced their pain is from an ear infection.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Friday Night Wine Blogging (Luigi edition)

French Colombard - Carnival NV

Ginger Haired Yank - What do you smell?

Taryl Cabot - Bubble gum. Octopus.

NOTE: Today's WSJ had an article on bubble gum & Octopus martinis. The wine does go well with Leon Russell soundtrack.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Crying

London calling to the zombies of death/quit holding out and draw another breath - the Clash

I don't have anything to add to the torrent of words released today, so will link to the two posts that put me in tears
Perhaps now is therefore not the most inappropriate moment to do something which under ordinary circumstances would be decidedly un-English; viz, to express my real affection for the country in which I have chosen to live. It has become, in a way I never expected it to, home. Oxblog's Patrick


And that's because we're better than you. Everyone is better than you. Our city works. We rather like it. And we're going to go about our lives. We're going to take care of the lives you ruined. And then we're going to work. And we're going down the pub.

So you can pack up your bombs, put them in your arseholes, and get the fuck out of our city. - London Review

and the unfilled small wish that I shared

A WISH....If I could have one small wish for today, it would be for the blogosphere on both left and right to refrain from political point scoring over the London attacks. Just for a day. Isn't tomorrow soon enough to return to our usual arguments? Kevin Drum

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Learning HTML

Well my expected trashy auto-biography didn't show up, so had no option but to take Dave's interactive HTML tutorial recommended by Rick. A bunch of blather to start off - actually gobs of ads all the way through but TNSTAAFL as they say - but after a few pages of site recommendation, the meat of the matter:

< b > for bold
< i >for italicized
< font size=+2 > for Large font
< font size=-2 > for Small font
< p > is the opening tag for a paragraph
< u > for underline
< a href="" >for links
< ul > to create a bullet list
< ol > to create a numbered list

Ok, that was taxing, but I may even bookmark my own page for next time I need some quick tricks for leaving comments. Will start with colours tomorrow night & keep concatenating to this posting.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Guilty pleasure

Had to chose between an HTML on-line tutorial, reading the Shah's widow's autobiography or flesh eating zombies - not that hard of a choice in the end. Will try to self-motivate & pick up a few more HTML tricks tomorrow night.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Listmania: Notable films that haven't aged well

Dr. Strangelove
Phantom of Liberty

Seems to be a common practice amongst bloggers to create lists & re-seeing critical faves from decades ago, prompted this posting.

Joan Didion once described Dr. Strangelove as a 1 joke film & once the joke was known the clock started ticking on whether the audience would lose interest before the film ended - easily 30 minutes of filler for a film without that much substance.

Phantom of Liberty created a strong impression in high school - my first exposure to a plotless film that floated from character to character. The scene leaving the strongest impression was an assassin shooting folks from atop building, with the folks dying caused no panic, then the assassin is tried, convicted & set free. Now post-Malvo, it's impossible to find any humour in the sequence.

Nashville's plotless ensemble no longer works. Altman could use that format successfully in M*A*S*H because the war provided the plot - surviving being in Korea was enough - but here Nashville as Altman's Highway 61 drags on without much point. Only the life imitating art aspect of having a glasses wearing character with no real motivation shoot a famous musician adds any poignancy - impossible not to think of Mark Chapman at the end. If you want to remember life in the 70's, this is the film: made in '75 the year the US experienced its humiliating withdrawal from Vietnam; the year before we replaced feckless insider Ford with feckless outsider Carter; the year after Nixon's resignation; the year after the first gas crises....getting bummed just hitting the high points from that era.

Better end with a positive list, so favourite 2 quotes from movies:

The first film's fairly easy to name, but curious if my movieholic co-blogger can name the one on the bottom.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Test post

Trying to learn HTML coding a bit better - other folks, e.g. transience, know all the good tricks so when they leave comments they use italics or Bold or links - so here's a first shot. Will ask the Ginger Haired Yank to help if i fail.

unknown 'em'

Another blogger nicely responded to my request for how he inserted a link into a comment with an example using his blog so let's see how it works out.

Guess I'm a bit curious if other bloggers learned by taking a class, online tutorial, or just asked more experienced bloggers as they had a desire to learn.

HTML Test Posting to start in 4....3....2....1

POST POSTING: ok, "em" somehow means italics - boy is that intuitive & the forward slash means end command. In the add comments section Blogspot states you can use i, b, & a with brackets but then doesn't tell you what the heck they mean or that you need to close the argument!

The technique for adding a link that scrawlville supplied didn't work (i asked when he inserted a cool link to Amazon tunes window in his comment on asmallvictory). Hmmm, any bloggers out there who spot this & have any guidance to offer, please drop off a comment.

FINAL UPDATE: It worked - if I just eliminate the quotation marks Gabe supplied, the link works just fine, but still open to any other cool HTML tricks that other bloggers might want to supply.

POST FINAL UPDATE: Trans supplied the following code, to provide strikeout strikeout

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Do other nations get inflamed over court cases?

Will have to ask my co-blogger, but very curious if:
  1. other countries have so many court cases that are so well known & still inflame passions and gratitude years later
  2. the famous US court cases known abroad?

Obviously the #1 case that still inflames passion is Roe v. Wade, but most Americans have a passing familiarity with Dred Scott, Brown v. Board of Education, and Plessy v. Ferguson, or recently with Lawrence v. Texas, Ashcroft (Gonzales) v. Raich, and Kelo v. New London.

Sandra Day O'Connor's recent Supreme Court resignation provided the impetus for this posting as it struck me that I've never heard of an iconic court case from another country despite knowing that other nations differ from the US on capital punishment & gay marriage & medical marijuana. Do other nations not place as much power in their third branch of government? Are the court cases not as seminal? Are there any other nations on the planet that devote a fraction of the expense, energy & passions on Supreme Court nominations?

Will be curious to hear back from Die Kola Kocht as spokesman for the entire European Union.

Final note: Continue to be impressed by Wikipedia - the best example of the ideal of what the internet should provide for mankind: an open data repository kept amazingly current - Sandra's Wikipedia entry already updated 1 day after her retirement announcement.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Friday Night White Wine Blogging

Chateau Ste. Ginger Haired Yank - 2004 Riesling

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