All posts by tim

Dismayed by Prop 8?

I just read this in a CNN article and was startled. Our attitudes are changing very fast:

A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 75 percent of respondents supported allowing gays to serve openly in the military, up from 62 percent in 2001 and 44 percent in 1993.

31% change in 15 years. My guess is that these marriage bans have a few more years of life and then will be overturned quietly and without much fanfare.

And yes, I\’m also as depressed as you that 1993 was 15 years ago.

Cooking FAIL!

Oh goodness. What a week already. Monday night lentil soup was on the menu. I find that I enjoy soups once they’re made, but I don’t really enjoy making them. So I dutifully boiled the soup. Then I was supposed to put it in the blender to puree it. I should stop here to say that I hate our blender. It looks pretty cool, which I’m sure is why we put it on our wedding registry. But it sucks. None of the pieces are particularly water tight. The lid doesn’t completely cover the spout, so if you turn it on a high setting with something fairly liquid you’ll get whatever’s inside splashing out of the lip. It’s awesome for making margaritas. You cannot have enough sticky syrup coating your kitchen.

But back to the soup.

The New PC

So, we were watching the election on CNN and I realized that we’ve now entered a new world of Political Correctness. The new minority group not to offend are conservatives. More specifically conservatives who use terms like the Main Stream Media, to describe non-partisan media outlets. Watching CNN on election night was ridiculous. They were constantly letting their Republican pundits talk. Constantly asking them for their opinion, even though a few were obviously delusional. They wouldn’t in any way analyze any of the elephants in the room. When Pennsylvania and Ohio went for Obama they asked the Republican pundits whether there was any way forward. They both replied that it was “hard”. Which was one of the most ridiculous statements of the night. Hard? Are we really at the point where we can’t even suggest that we don’t think it’s going to happen? Fox News was even reporting more honestly than this.

I think some of this was respect for people who hadn’t voted on the west coast. But some of it was just stupid. Conservatives aren’t going to start watching CNN because it’s ridiculously well-balanced. It’s always been pretty well balanced. There are a lot of people now who want entertaining news tailored to their bias. That’s fine. We have Fox News and the Daily Show. But when I want real news I don’t want silly pandering. I want you to report that it looks like Obama is going to win, when it looks like Obama is going to win. Otherwise you just look like ignorami who can’t do math.

A Truly Scary Halloween

So for those who came to our Halloween party on Saturday night and sat as we were buzzed by helicopters, we probably should have been in the house. Remember when I joked that if someone came in our back gate, it was probably a bad sign? Yeah, that joke was probably in bad taste.

One of the landlords in our neighborhood rents 4 properties out as sort of halfway houses. This particular home houses a woman we know is a prostitute and who has been seen smoking crack by many neighbors. While we were partying

Great T.R. Quote

Because of things I have done on behalf of justice to the workingman, I have often been called a Socialist. Usually I have not taken the trouble even to notice the epithet. … Moreover, I know that many American Socialists are high-minded and honorable citizens, who in reality are merely radical social reformers. They are opposed to the brutalities and industrial injustices which we see everywhere about us.

Don’t let Prop 2 be a knee jerk

So Prop 2 is coming up. It’s widly supported and I expect it will pass. I mean how could it not? It’s phrased in such a way that voters will always vote for it. Prop 12 – New Parks for Austin, Prop 13 – Keep Pedophiles Away from Children, Prop 2 – Stop Subsidies to Luxury Retailers. Who would vote against any of those? They’re all written to appeal to the knee jerk. And I’m speaking as someone who’s generally a knee jerk. I’m constantly fighting my impulsive knee.

But sometimes we need to talk about whether our parks department has the budget to maintain a new park, and whether our plans to keep pedophiles away from children might also keep non-pedophiles from volunteering with chlidren, and whether stopping subsidies to a certain luxury retailer might actually encourage more of the Big Box developments we know and loathe.

We seem to have a lot of the same people who were against the WalMart at Northcross against the Domain subsidies as well. What are you guys looking for? What sort of shopping would make you happy? The city spent a lot of time and got a lot of input and decided that the majority of Austinites wanted the city to look like Hyde Park. Homes, mixed with apartments all withing walking distance of public transit and stores.

So IBM starts selling off parts of the domain and the city comes up with a plan to start creating a new urban neighborhood. They give these goals to the investors building the project. They provide incentives to hopefully bring in tonier clients (and thus bringing in better tax revenue). Remember we as Austinites have a real incentive to get high dollar businesses in town. Every time we drive to Sunset Valley or Beecaves to shop those tiny cities get to drive down their property taxes. And Austinites get the privilege of paying for the roads that lead there.

The city also provided incentives to build affordable housing (again something the electorate has been overwhelmingly in support of), and $1 million dollars to help get local businesses into the development.

Sometimes we have to make decisions. Do we use some of our tax dollars to ensure we don’t get more big box stores and have affordable housing? Or do we just hope and pray that developers will magically stop building the kind of shopping we hate (but go to anyway) and build the type we like?

And let’s not forget that Prop 2 was sponsored by a real estate investor (Brian Rodgers). There don’t seem to be a lot of people asking him what he’s getting out of the bargain. As a real estate investor is he planning on creating mixed-use developments like The Domain without the assistance of the city? Or is he just planning on building more suburban strip malls and big box retailers?

My Weekend of Death

On Saturday night we went to see the Rubber Rep’s “Casket of Passing Fancy”. It’s a fairly simple theatrical experience, where you are given a list of options and you are expected to choose one. These “offers” are for a personal experience. Once your offer has been chosen it is yours alone and no one else can have the same experience.

I was the second person in the audience to chose. My offer spoke to me – “Who wants to taxidermy an animal that was picked up off the road just today?”. There was something about that offer than made me think I wouldn’t get a second chance at it in my lifetime. My hand went up quickly. I was given a narrow plastic bin. It was quite heavy, and whatever was inside was wrapped in a black shroud. I was escorted to a small table lit by chandelier and blindfolded. After a few moments the blind fold came off. I was introduced to my domestic who was wearing a hunters cap and vest. We discussed her “methods” of taxidermy. “Shellackadermy” she called it. Much simpler. Our animal was a small toad. We covered it in several coats of shellac attaching it to a board. We discussed where in the house to hang it. I suggested my workshop. It was built in the sixties and has peg board. It’s screaming for taxidermied life. And I knew I wouldn’t be able to convince Julie to put it on the mantle.

Once we had a nice layer on the toad, I was provided with a wood burning calligraphy tool. I mentioned that perhaps we shouldn’t be using heat on a shellacked board. So my domestic thoughtfully rummaged around and found a new piece of wood for us to use as a label. I burned the name we had decided upon for the toad (Vernid) into the label, and then we shellacked the label to the mounting board. We discussed ways in which the mounting could be improved. Perhaps a montage with Matchbox cars to mimic his untimely death?

It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, and even though I was done quickly I hung around for another 30 minutes or so to hear about the experiences of others. I cannot recommend this experience highly enough. You can see what you’ve missed on Rubber Rep’s blog. Then you should go purchase your tickets. The offers are going quickly. Don’t let someone else claim yours.

I do have to say that Julie and I had trepidations about how weird this would be. We were frightened that we would find the experience uncomfortable. But we found that for us, and pretty much everyone we talked to it was a joyful experience that was really fulfilling. And because there are so few offers, you can bet that people will be talking about their experience for years to come. Don’t miss out.

On Sunday I began reconstructing the stage in our back yard. The surface was a solid piece of decking with no holes drilled for water drainage and it was starting to give when anyone other than toddlers walked on it. I unscrewed the first piece of decking, lifted it off and was startled to find an equally startled opossum under the deck. He scurried under the next piece of decking. We repeated this dance until all the decking was removed and he had to find a new home in our neighbors yard.

As I was working on rebuilding the frame I made a gruesome discovery. Right next to the opossum’s nest was an opossum’s skull. And hipbones. I had discovered the opossum’s spine and some fur by the fence a few weeks earlier. I had been ignoring it since it was decomposed past the point of smelling, and who wants to pick up possum carcass? I did not realize that possums ate their own, but I guess that’s part of what it means to be a scavenger. Gruesome all the same. I picked up all the pieces and put them in the bag. I posted about the fact that I was having a weekend of death on the Rubber Rep’s blog and offered the skeleton and I immediately had an offer. The skeleton was picked up by a certain arts editor on behalf of someone else at around 3pm today.

Quite the weekend. I’ll try to get a picture of Vernid for those who are interested.

McCain Irrational?

No, I think he’s being completely rational. I think he believes he’s going to loose so he’s going to screw the economy to ensure that Obama is a one-termer. Think that’s impossible? Remember, we’re talking about Republicans, they’ll do anything to win.

Moscow isn’t close to Alaska

New York City is only about 300 miles farther away from Moscow than Anchorage, Alaska. And due to the way the earth spins New York is a bit closer by plane (you hop over the north pole and use the earth’s spin to make it only a slightly longer trip than flying to London).