Monday, November 26, 2012

ISLAND OF THE MISFIT POINSETTIAS

I read an article recently about Amercan's favorite Christmas TV specials.  The most beloved televised holiday pageant turned out to be "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965).  If you remember, the central theme from that story was the redemption of the bedgragled Christmas tree. 



 Charlie Brown's tree was laughed at and derided... as was Charlie for picking it. 

On Black Friday, one of my store's big promotions was the 99 cent poinsettia.  They were little ones.  Most of them were somewhat stunted and bedragled, scraggily red and green weeds with more than a little yellow and brown too.  Customers were cherry picking the best of these holiday rejects on Friday; most of the carts I saw early in the day had a pot or three or six.  By Monday, the end of the sale, the pickings were slim. 


They looked like rack after rack of Charlie Brown's Christmas Trees. 
 

My heart went out to them. 

Okay, when they got marked down to 25 cents each, then my heart went out to them.  I bought four, specifically looking for the most scraggily looking ones. 
 

They now line the back of my computer desk.
 


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I suddenly HAVE room on my computer desk due to replacing my deal desktop computer with the sleek laptop you see in the pics... 

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE ISLAND OF MISFIT POINSETTIAS!


Monday, November 05, 2012

I have started a new blog here on Blogspot to go with a new chapter in my life...

I invite you all to read:

http://leavingamerika.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day One of the Ukefest

I present to you highlights from the first day of the San Diego Ukulele Festival. As I mention in the commentary, it was an eclectic collection of musicians, a few of whom I have edited into this montage.

Be sure to watch to the end & hear Taimane Garnder. This weekend was my first exposure to Saturday’s headliner, and her performance was truly spine-tingling stuff.

Featuring: Taimane Gardner, Brittni Paiva, Ukulele Bartt, Derick Sebastian, Fred Thompson & Ukumania and Ercih Blasé and E-flat Trio.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

San Diego 2012

I come to you today after flying back from a fantastic vacation in San Diego. I went there to attend the San Diego Ukulele Festival, of which I will have more to write about later. Tonight, set to the music of Julia Nunes on a CD I picked up from the artist herself, I bring to you the pre-show, wandering around the Ocean Beach & Point Loma area.

High Five!


And 'ere is m'share from the weekly Seasons of the Ukulele contest. This week, we were assigned to sing about coffee or tea.

Monday, September 10, 2012

9.10.12: Cats, Rain, Ukes and Football

I cleaned my apartment this morning. At 400 square feet, this is a pretty easy task. That took half an hour. What to do with the rest of my day off?

It rained last night and into this morning. First time it’s rained here in Seattle since early July. Yeah, we are rain city, but not so much in late summer. It’s supposed to be clear for the next week or two, but come October, we begin 9 months of gray and drizzle.  

The rain this morning really bothered my cat, Bliss. Over the last month or two, she has spent 23 hours and 45 minutes a day outside. At times, I’ve almost felt abandoned! She comes in to eat, maybe spends five minutes getting pet, and then voom!, she’s either back out the open window or begging me to open it. 

  This morning, she sat on the windowsill in front of the open window. Each drip falling was like a personal affront on her world. She stared out the window like she's lost her best friend. After ruminating and anthropomorphizing the emotions of my cat, what to do next? I had all day until Monday Night Football. 

Aha! Some family pictures. I gathered all my stringed instruments onto my bed and took pictures.
 

They are left to right:
  • Fender accoustic guitar
  • Nameless tourist soprano ukulele with “Hawaii” printed on it
  • Lanikai baritone ukulele
  • Lyon strat-clone electric guitar
  • Nameless guitarlele picked up in grocery store parking lot
  • Mainland soprano uke
  • Oscar-Schmidt tenor ukulele
  • Marshall accoustic guitar
  • Wanguruwe, Hilo soprano uke

Another half an hour wasted. Hmm… Briefly entertained an idea where I would multi-track a video playing all nine of these instruments on the same song (that may still happen), made lunch and then took a nap.  

Waking up, I checked in at my company’s internal version of Facebook, a social networking site for my couple hundred thousand fellow employees. I posted this blog in the “Appliance Department” forum.  

Yeah, it’s sorta only relevant to people who sell home appliances for a living. 
 

I thought the juxtaposition of this ad with the FriendBurst logo on my homepage today was somewhat humorous…
 

Lastly, I made a random video. I haven’t been very prolific in video making this summer, but enough time has passed since I last made one of these, that I felt I could indulge in this semi-narcissitic taking advantage of my video editing software’s “auto create” function. Enjoy!
   
Now, to watch the Raiders and Chargers. I spent 8 years living in San Diego and 7 years living in Oakland… I have been both a Charger and a Raider fan in my life. I’m now a Seahawk fan. I have no idea who to root for!!! How was your day?

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Feelin So Much Better I Could Cakewalk Into Town

As I’m sure is the same with many of my working class friends, we budget our expenses based upon a paycheck that comes every two weeks. The financial month is 28 days. The actual month is 31 days. Consequently, every so often, we get a “three paycheck month”… this is one of those for me. As of today, all my stringed instrument valuables are out of hock! Feels nice to have a Hell full of guitars and ukes again. 

Whilst I was waiting for my guitar to get out of the back, I spied a uke hanging on the wall. It was in absolutely NEW condition. Lanikai is respectable brand I had heard of. It came with a case!

“I’ll give you fifty bucks for it!”

That didn’t work. I ended up getting it for $65. No tax. 

   
I love it. It’s a beautiful uke. The case alone is worth $65.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Obama and Romney are the Same: Really?

Since we’re in the heart of the presidential election season, and I am a supporter of Barack Obama, I am going to continue to blog politically, this one a direct follow up to a comment I received in my last blog. Here's what Just Jeff commented: 
 

I respect his opinion, but it's not one I've not heard before. No ardent Romney supporters comment my blog; there are very few enough out there. Lots and lots of folks who will vote for Romney (or Obama, for that matter) just consider their choice the lesser of two evils. They don’t really support the guy, they just think that since there’s not much difference anyways, they might as well vote the way they’ve usually done, for the party they think they support.  

Well, this blog is addressing the “there’s no difference” believers. To those who say that Romney and Obama are the same, that they both serve the same corporate masters, that they wish Ron Paul had been nominated, well... it didn't happen. Sorry.  Now what? Ron is not launching a 3rd party campaign.  He's been careful not to criticize Romney.  If not Gary Johnson, then between Obama and Romney, if you think they're both the same, how do you decide? I want to point out to you in 26 points how your two remaining candidates differ. Alphabetically. They ARE different; from A to Z. 

 The A to Z of how Obama and Romney differ.

  A: AFGHANISTAN. Can you remember less than a year ago when the last US troops left Iraq? As a peacenik liberal, I was very disappointed that Obama announced that his “withdrawal” in 2009 would leave 60,000 American troops in country. Then, bam!, what seemed like out of the blue (but was actually in accordance with agreements we’d made with the sovereign powers in that country), we up and left, entirely. Oh, how Romney called this a mistake by Obama to leave Iraq. Point being, we have a similar agreement with Afghanistan for the year 2014, wherein we’re gone. Shoulda done it 10 years ago, but that said, based on how Romney viewed to protocols with Iraq, I doubt he’d leave the Republican’s favorite war just because some piece of paper told him to. Difference A: in his second term, Obama will get us out of Afghanistan like he did Iraq. Romney will not.  

B. BIRTH CONTROL. Romney has stated on television that he supports a “personhood” amendment that would outlaw the most popular forms of birth control (like the pill) as well as invitro fertilization. Romney also supports an employer exempting itself from the law of the land when it comes making sure that your company-supported health insurance provides coverage for perscription-only birth control (the pill, for many women, the only perscription they take). Difference B: Romney is anti-Birth Control

  C. COAL. Recently, Romney himself said Obama was on a “War on Coal”. Well, I’m not sure if that’s 100% true, but I sure hope it is. Sorry my brothers in West Virginia and environs, Coal is 19th Century fuel that we cannot support in this world of global warming. We need to do everything we can to get OFF coal, not just because it destroys entire mountains and watersheds through "mountaintop removal", but because it is the worst carbon offender when it comes to fuel sources. Heck, why not just go ahead and support wood-burning power sources?!? Difference C: Coal policy, for which we’ll take Romney’s word. 

 D: DIVERSITY. Let’s face it, the Republicans are the party of white people trying to defend white privilidge. Sure, there are lots of people of color who support the Republicans for their social or fiscal conservatism, but ever since the “Southern Strategy” of Nixon (and leave it to a guy like Tricky Dick to come up with this), a large part of the Republican strategy for winning national elections is to prey upon the fears and prejudices of the white majority. Fear of “The Other” is a natural human tendency, rooted deep in our primal concern for our tribal allegiances and fears that those strangers who look different than us will knock us out of our supporting territory. The Republicans have overtly tried to tap into that fear for 40 years in their attempts to procure power, kinda ironic for the party of Lincoln. The Democrats, by and large, are for overcoming the primal fears of our ancestors and moving forward to embrace the strength and vigor of diversity. Difference D: Romney courts those who fear those who look different; Obama looks different. 

 E. ENERGY. Every president in the last 40 years has said we need to ween ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil. None have succeeded. At least Obama supports things like ending the tax subsidies for big oil, something the Republicans oppose. Stopping oil pipelines due to environmental concerns also shows that Obama is not a slave to the oil interests. Sure, our current president could have done better when it comes to a progressive energy policy, but certainly a Republican like Romney would have done worse. Difference E: Energy policy



 F: FREEDOM: One very valid concern I’ve heard from several they’re-both-the-same friends is Obama’s continuance of Bush-era tendencies to allow for civil rights abuses within the USA. Many point to the NDAA from earlier this year as an example of how our government now has unprecedented ability to arrest, detain and oppress American liberties. Now, no one is saying these oppressions are actually HAPPENING. Unlike the Bush presidency, where we wire-tapped, monitored and actively broke the freedoms of American citizens, the Obama Justice Department has done LESS to impinge upon American freedoms whilst perhaps increasing their ability to do so. Sure, the executive branch has become even more powerful under Obama. Do we really want to turn these expanded discretionary executive powers over to the likes of Romney? Would he be so restrained? As most of this national security team are remnants of Bush-Cheney years, I think not! Difference F: Obama has not abused American freedoms  


G. GDP. Do you remember what people were talking about back at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009? Personally, I remember a conversation with my parents when people were fearing that the big company I worked for was on the bring of collapse. They told me I could move into the basement it everything fell apart, which seemed like a distinct possibility. We were on the very edge of the complete collapse of our economy due to the policies of the Bush Administration. Romney is proposing going back to those policies. It’s really difficult to credit someone for preventing something that might have happened but did not, but however much flak Obama has received for not shepherding a robust recovery, the kept our country from collapsing into the abyss of a 21st Century Great Depression. He kept me out of my parents’ basement. He’s grown our GDP for 3 years straight after seeing it decline at that critical transition 4 years back. Difference G: Gratitude, with me being thankful he kept me from losing my job.  

H. HEALTHCARE: How can anyone claim that the two candidates aren’t any different when the challenger openly declares that one of his priorities is to undo the most significant legislation passed under the incumbent administration? We’ll leave aside all the similarities between Massachusett’s Romneycare and Obamacare and just take Mitt at his word that he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He wants to allow for insurance companies to reject clients for pre-existing conditions. He wants to repeal the ability for young people to stay on their parents’ plan until the age of 26. He wants to allow for lifetime caps and allow insurance companies to drop people when they get sick. He wants to abandon the idea of state exchanges, wherein citizens who cannot get insurance from their employer can buy reasonably priced policies through the power of their strength in numbers. Sure, the ACA was not all it could be, but it was a step in the right direction and Romney wants to get rid of it. Difference H: The ACA.  

I. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: It seemed like during the Bush years, we saw footage on TV of street protests burning the American Flag as weekly events. From Morrocco to Mongolia, nobody liked America. In recent years, when we’ve done stuff like invaded Pakistan to get bin Laden or just had stuff happen like American soldiers accidentally, or South Carolina preachers purposefully burning Al Qu’ran, there have been the occasional DOWN WITH AMERICA protests, but all in all, no one will deny that our respect, influence and standing in the community of nations has improved under Obama. Now, some might say that’s not even important, we shouldn’t CARE about world opinion, but I’m not speaking to them. Furthermore, although we can’t say what a Romney presidency would produce in that regard, but if it’s anything like his recent foreign jaunt, I’m scared. Difference I: The World love Obama; Romney pisses people off.  

J. JURISTS: One of the most important roles of the President is to nominate Supreme Court Justices. I think it is somewhat sad that the judicial wing of our government has become so predictable based upon the political leanings of its justices, but given this climate of impartiality, who gets appointed next is of major importance. Who can deny the importance of Supreme Court decisions on our everyday lives? Obama’s two nominees have purported themselves well. You may not think Obama and Romney are all that different, but whom they might nominate to the Court certainly will be. Difference J: Jurisprudence.  

So... That is A through J.. a little more than 1/3 rd of the way through the alphabet. I'll be back for more, or if you feel so inclined, rebutt my argument with K, L, M, N, or P with how the candidates are, as I've heard so many say "The Same"...