Winston

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:22 pm
essentialsaltes: (yellowstone Falls)
I'm desolated to share the news that today was the right time to say goodbye to Winston. Of our cats, he was far and away the best-dressed, most gregarious, and least intelligent.



essentialsaltes: (dead)
Not only are you just not that good.

Not only do you annoy the gangster cinéaste at the start of Tampopo.



But you have also apparently partially dislodged one of my fillings.
essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
My grandmother passed away a couple days ago, some six months or so after grandpa, her husband of 70+ years, preceded her.

She was a warm, kind person, who nevertheless got her way most of the time.

I've got a lifetime of memories, and it would take forever to go through it all. Two that stand out from when I was much younger are

#1) her teaching me the song "Billy Boy" during a road trip somewhere.
#2) me pestering her with facts about the moon (because surely everyone is as interested in astronomy as six-year-old Mike is) and her pestering me back with facts about contract bridge.

Grandparents
essentialsaltes: (Cocktail)
I travelled out to Florida for the ceremonies. LAX to Nashville to Orlando. I think I spent more time waiting in line for my rental car than for the flight from Nashville. The wait was exacerbated Planes, Trains, and Automobiles-style. First someone comes back to complain about the bill. One of the three clerks disappears. Another person jumps the line to say that they left their jacket in the rental. The line went from slow moving to glacial. But I persevered, and then spent another 10 minutes figuring out how to turn on the headlights. Stupid American cars.

Zipped up the Turnpike and got installed in the hotel.

Next morning, our caravan got a police escort to take us to the Florida National Cemetery. I rode along with Danny and his girlfriend, Meghan. Their car was the analogue of the little kids' table. We were all held to a rigid schedule, but everything was done smartly with military precision. Many thanks to the Marine honor guard who conducted the ceremony. I teared up a little as they folded up and presented the flag to Grandma. It was a little curious that, as others fired the salute volleys, the Marine with the flag displayed and then inserted shell casings into the flag. For some reason I wondered if they were actually spent casings or not. Flag in her lap, Grandma said her last goodbyes.

Untitled

I scored a ride in the limo on the way back to where Grandma and Grandpa lived. There was a little lunch, and then the celebration of his life. Rick was the first of the family to speak, and he noted that from a document they found in the safe, Grandpa had been planning this event since 1962. He didn't want to be lying in a casket. He didn't want mourners in black. He wanted nothing more than a single spray of flowers and a photograph. And the people he loved. Last and most important, it shouldn't cost more than $250. We may have fudged that last part. But prices have changed since 1962.

Dad spoke as well. Barb didn't feel up to it. I didn't really feel up to it either, but I rose to speak. I wanted to honor Grandpa's peculiar sense of humor. He had a particular brand of grandpa humor. Deadpan, so you might not notice it. If you were lucky, he would wink to let you know he was pulling your leg. To be honest, he often would needle you with his humor. A little sarcastic, a little acerbic, a little caustic. Maybe more than a little. I had to explain to Veratrine, that he teased her not because he didn't like her, but because he did.

That was as far as I got before I got choked up. I wish I'd been able to continue to say, "After all, when I was just knee high to a grasshopper, this is the man who ordered frogs' legs and told me that he was eating Kermit. Who does that to a child? Well, Grandpa did. And I'll miss his humor, and I'll miss him."

I'm grateful to Uncle Rick, who whispered 'Good job' or something of the sort to me as I returned to my seat.

After the formal part, there was much talking and reminiscing. Here's Grandma with Paul Fate, who went to high school with Grandma and Grandpa.

Grandma & Paul Fate

Afterwards, we visited with Grandma for a while. At one point, I was bidden to examine some of Grandpa's jewelry and to take a few pieces. I found a pair of cufflinks that were just handsome. I also picked a pin commemorating Grandpa's status as a Life Member of the NRA. I may not be a huge fan of the organization as it is now, but the NRA of 2013 is different from the NRA of 19-- when Grandpa joined it. Grandpa was a coach of a high school shooting team -- back in the days when high school students could take their rifles to school with them. And finally, recognizing that I probably don't have the time left to achieve this myself, I also picked out a pin honoring Grandpa's 65 years as a Mason.

In the evening, the family went to dinner at an Italian place. Dad raised a toast to Grandpa and the family, and the meal was great. I had a very good 'goodbye' with Grandma at the end. Although I could have rushed over in the morning to see her the next day, I think that was the right way to leave things. I saw some of the other family at breakfast, and then drove back to Orlando for my, ultimately successful, ordeal to get back home.
essentialsaltes: (atheist teacher)
PZ linked to an article that features some hilarious/sad multiple choice questions from Accelerated Christian Education, a Texas-based provider of homeschool curricula. As the blogger (or rather, the blogger's mom) notes, it's not the creationism, conservatism, and Christianity. We expected that. “It’s the crapness!”

I mean, you're allowed the occasional stupid/funny multiple choice question/answer, but there seems to be an awful lot. A select few:






"The correct answer, for those puzzled, is piano tutors. It’s not that ACE doesn’t believe that sports coaches or librarians can touch students’ lives. The point is that the exact sentence “Piano tutors can touch the lives of their students” has previously appeared in the PACE, and the student is expected to remember this. Verbatim regurgitation of previously seen material is the entire point of the ACE system."



essentialsaltes: (essentialsaltes)
My grandfather passed away, quietly, earlier today. I find myself with too much and too little to say.

He lived a full life, a long life, and one filled with family and friends and experiences all over the world.

Somehow I feel certain this is how he would like to be remembered (even if the California Raisin costume showed off his legs better).

essentialsaltes: (Psychic)
So before I dig into the boring stuff about me, first check out this neat article on "How to Humble a Wingnut":
First, people were asked to state their positions on a series of political issues ... They were asked to describe their position on a seven-point scale whose endpoints were “strongly in favor” and “strongly opposed.”

Second, people were asked to rate their degree of understanding of each issue on a seven-point scale. The third step was the crucial one; they were asked to “describe all the details you know about ... going from the first step to the last, and providing the causal connection between the steps.” Fourth, people were asked to rerate their understanding on the seven-point scale and to restate their position on the relevant issue.

The results were stunning. On every issue, the result of requesting an explanation was to persuade people to give a lower rating of their own understanding -- and to offer a more moderate view on each issue.


Okay, now look back at me. Some of you in Facebooklandia saw snippets (or more) of my participation in an evolution/creationism thread on Tony's page. I know Tony only through the internet, as one of the more reasonable people on one of those many Christian forums I've been kicked off of. Anyway, he's in Alabama, and his friendslist has a somewhat different composition than mine. So it was interesting foray deep into Redstatia.

And curiously it came on the heels of another mini-kerfuffle on a Christian forum that I haven't been kicked off. But this time, it wasn't religion or evolution, but parapsychology. It started with Dean Radin, but quickly moved over to Rupert Sheldrake, and the he-said/she-said war between Sheldrake and Randi. And then, one of the posters says, "Rupert Sheldrake kindly agreed to weigh in on this controversy."
While I have no way to confirm that (skeptic that I am) I can at least say I was having a discussion with pseudo-Sheldrake.

And now most recently back on FB, my best friend from high school(*) approvingly posted Sheldrake's 'banned' TEDx talk. Mainly to annoy Prime, I make it a point of principle to never watch TED talks, so I don't have any opinion on the matter. But it did make me look at my friend's profile page, and what did I find, but that a few months back, he made a half dozen creationist YouTube videos. I don't have the heart to watch them.
essentialsaltes: (Dead)
Multiple correct solutions to the Smithsonian puzzle have been entered. Mine is not among them.

Alas, I gave up too soon on picking apart the final acrostic this past weekend. I thought the final clue was needed, but it wasn't. Several people apparently deciphered it over the weekend, and I only arrived at it this morning, an hour before the last clue was to drop. Some of them solved the puzzle, but that hour wasn't enough to get me to the answer. Nor were the ensuing hours. I still haven't solved it.

This might be the answer for all I know, but I don't know why. Nevertheless, it still seems appropriate.

LONG I thought that knowledge alone would suffice me—O if I could but obtain knowledge!
essentialsaltes: (Psychic)
One of the founders of CSICOP, Paul Kurtz, has died.
essentialsaltes: (Diversity)
Saw the sad news of Don Cornelius' probable suicide.
Back in the day, Soul Train used to come on right after some cartoons on Saturday morning, so I sometimes kept myself glued to the tube to see the Jackson Five or whoever else was on the show, giving me a glimpse into that parallel musical universe that was generally much better than the disco-infused one that surrounded me (but not as cool as the acid rock & metal & (dare I confess it?) KISS that I really dug as a kid).
Now for story time. I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but my hypothetical reconstruction goes like this. Mom is at a loss for what to buy me for my birthday. She sees me watching Soul Train grooving to the live performance. She asks me or assumes I really dig it, and buys me the album. This is how I came to own the Ohio Players' Fire, with a cover that it would be many years before I could fully appreciate. It was the Seventies.

Wikipedia has a somewhat awkward list of non-black performers that appeared on Soul Train. Whereas Bowie would be welcome anywhere in the musical universe as its rightful lord and master, it is hard to understand the reasoning of having Michael Bolton on Soul Train.
essentialsaltes: (Balrog)
From the annals of improbable research, a link to the sad story of the elephant destroyed by fire in Dublin in 1681.

It may not require close and complete reading, but I was struck by the matter:
Moreover the Circumstances of time and place were unfortunate; for the Booth wherein the Elephant was kept, took fire about Three a Clock in the morning, on Fridat the 17th of June; upon this the City being alarm'd, multitudes were gathered about the place: And when the fire was extinguished every one endeavoured to procure some part of the Elephant, few of them having seen him living, by reason of the great rates put upon the sight of him. To prevent his being taken away by the multitude, the Manager, Mr. Wilkins, procured a File of Musqueteers to guard him, till he should build a shed where he might securely disjoint him, in order to the making of a Skeleton.


It was too pricy for most Dubliners to see the Elephant, so they were making away with chunks of burnt elephant as trophies. Humans. Typical.

RIP

Dec. 28th, 2011 08:35 am
essentialsaltes: (sad)
Another one of those memorable classic film actors that you didn't know was still alive, has died.
essentialsaltes: (Quantum Mechanic)
The 2011 Ig Nobels have been awarded. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about the Igs as they have evolved is that nearly all of the awardees attend the ceremony nowadays. If you studied beetles mating with beer bottles, or used a tank to smash illegally parked cars, you damn well have earned your spot in the limelight.

The Fermilab Tevatron is shutting down. For good. Today.

For twenty years and more it was the smashingest smasher in the world. Its major trophies were the detection of the top quark and the tau neutrino, filling out the leptons required by the Standard Model. The dingus has now been superseded by the LHC, but it served us well.
essentialsaltes: (Mr. Gruff)
"While working at the hospital, Murray Seidman met and befriended Thomas, a patient in the psychiatric ward"
essentialsaltes: (Patriotic)
At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.


'The Urge to Splurge' from Newsweek starts off with a bang:

"No interest until 2014," read the massive red sign outside Big’s Furniture in Henderson, Nev. It beckoned Diane Lewis to the store’s year-end liquidation sale. “I had to pull in,” she said as her sons frolicked on mattresses nearby. “We really need to get us a new bedroom set; their old one is kinda beat up. If we can get that financing deal, we can make it work.” As with most in this hard-hit region, the economy hasn’t been good to Lewis, whose husband just got a new job after being laid off for eight months.

They’re two months behind on their mortgage, “but we’re gonna catch up,” and she figures the family probably owes about $20,000 on various credit cards. “I know I probably ought to wait a little longer,” said Lewis, a hairdresser, “but this is a pretty good sale, so I think we might buy something if they’ll approve us. I mean, 2014 is a long way off, you know?”
essentialsaltes: (Secular)
To meet the challenge of maintaining the Holocene state, we propose a framework based on 'planetary boundaries'. These boundaries define the safe operating space for humanity with respect to the Earth system and are associated with the planet's biophysical subsystems or processes.

The state of the Earth

Or just click the earthy to see how we're doing:
essentialsaltes: (sad)
But more importantly... Sky Saxon of the LA psychedelic band The Seeds passed away yesterday.



And here's a good place to jump off on an interesting Wiki-trail: "In the 1970s, Saxon became a member of the Source Family religious group, a Hollywood Hills commune led by YaHoWha who gave Saxon the names Sunlight and Arlick. In 1998, Saxon orchestrated the release of a 13-CD set of the psychedelic tribal music recorded by the commune's band Yahowha 13 during the 1970s."

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