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.
 


all4


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"...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Republicans Call Senior Citizens “Inhuman”

The headline is sarcasm... sort of.  

Obama got in “trouble” today for making an off-handed joking reference to Mitt Romney putting Seamus the Dog on the roof of his car in a kennel some 29 years ago. 

  Here’s Obama’s exact words: “(Romney) said that new sources of energy, like wind, are ‘imaginary’. Governor Romney then explained his energy policy this way, and I’m quoting here: ‘You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.’. . . Well I don’t know if he’s actually tried that. . . I know he’s had other things on his car. . .” Of course, the line drew laughs and Republican outrage. 

Then, the media spent all day debating whether or not this was a gaffe, whether the outrage is justified, whether or not that kind of ‘teasing’ is okay & pointing out that 68% of Americans disapprove of strapping a dog to the top of your car. 

  Lost in all this is the substance of the context. For intents and purposes, YOU CAN DRIVE A CAR WITH A WINDMILL ON TOP!!! Not literally, of course, but in case Governor Romney hadn’t heard, there are these great new devices called ELECTRIC cars. You plug them in at night to an electrical outlet that can get it’s juice…FROM WIND!!! So, in that sense you CAN drive a car with a windmill on top, and with climate change becoming an increasingly more apparent and dire reality, we need to get more of these electric cars on the road! Instead, we’re talking about dog jokes.  

Reverend Sharpton had the best take on how, with Ryan entering, the race has turned to a discussion of Medicare. “The race isn’t about Obama, it’s about yo momma.” Awesome.  

What I find interesting about how the Ryan budget destroys Medicare as we know it, is how it’s supporters try to justify the change to all-important senior vote. They say over and over about how the proposed changes do not effect anyone 55 years or older. How can these seniors be so opposed to turning Medicare into a voucher system? It won’t effect them? It’s only us young whippersnappers who won’t be able to get Medicare! See, Republicans, American seniors are capable of a very simple human emotion, one of the very things that differentiates human beings from animals. It’s called empathy

  Now, if I were on cable news, I would say: “REPUBLICANS DENY THE VERY HUMANITY OF OLDER AMERICANS”.  

Point being, yeah, a senior whose on a fixed income with limited resources will oppose ending Medicare for people twenty years younger than them, maybe even after said senior won’t even be around, because they can imagine what it’s GOING TO BE like for the next generation because they are in that circumstance right now. I would even go as far to say that it’s even easier for a young person to vote in a way that’s against their own interests 20 years from now than it is for a someone twenty years older to vote those interests for someone else who will be in that position in 20 years. They can empathize twenty years down the road. 

  So, every time you hear a Republican try to appeal to a senior citizen voter by saying that NONE of the proposed changes effect anyone over the age of 55, what that Republican is actually saying is that seniors should just be selfish, heartless and not care about the next generation. 

Who cares if it’s screwing over your children, it’s not screwing YOU over, right? You shouldn’t have EMPATHY. You shouldn’t be a human being!  

I’m wondering if, under a Romney/Ryan regime, the “Grade B” eggs in my fridge would qualify for “personhood”?

Monday, August 13, 2012

What You Didn't Know About the 2012 Olympics

So the Olympics are over for another two years, and even with the 73,495 hours of TV coverage on 17 channels, I’ll bet you didn’t know most of these interesting facts about the Summer games. I blog to inform and educate!  


1. The sheep that were featured in the opening ceremony were each given carrot medals, then slaughtered for a communal mutton stew feast in the spirit of the traditional British cultural celebration of the closing ceremonies.  


2. Usain Bolt, the greatest sprinter in history, changed his name when he got serious about his sport. His birth name was “Norman Sloepolkipants”  

3. 85 countries won at least one Olympic medal. 119 countries won ZERO medals, and tied for last place.  

4. 204 “countries” competed in the games. There are 196 independent countries in the world.  

5. Michael Phelps loves swimming, but hates getting wet. 
   

6. Olympic athletes are tested for performance enhancing drugs, but even with Oscar Pistorius, an open “Bladerunner”, competing, there are no tests to determine whether or not any of the athletes are actually androids.  

7. Bob Costas won his 3rd consecutive gold medal in Olympic commentating. Here he is destroying Al Michaels in the finals of the “how to hold your microphone” event. Such poise. Such grace.
 
8. With Brazil hosting the games in 2016, transgendered athletes will finally be permitted to compete. 

  9. Carrie and Missy not only won a 3rd consecutive gold in beach volleyball, they also set a record for tiniest uniforms!  

10. There are so many popular world sports that AREN’T included in the Olympic games, i.e., baseball, rugby, cricket, softball, darts, UFC, caber toss and bowling, we really need to review some of the sports that ARE included. Team handball? Archery? Dressage? Really?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fun With Time Lapse Video

Two months ago, I had my cable & internet shut off for a week due to lack of funds. Last month, that time was down to five days. This month, I only had to suffer two days of no-media between shut off date and payday. Whoohoo! Next month, I’ll be current.  

There are some definite upsides to having two days off concurrent with no TV or internet (throw in no gas money to go anywhere either). My apartment has never been cleaner (I vacuumed, twice!). Every single item of clothing I own is laundered. I finished two books this week (which means I’m out of reading material and must go to the used bookstore today). Heck, I’ve even lost 15 pounds due to this summer’s austerity induced diet of cheeseburgers being replaced by homemade chicken & rice (well, Rice-a-Roni or it’s generic equivalent. Love that stuff). 

  I even had a chance to explore some of the lesser used functions of my video camera, such as the time-lapse recording feature. 

I learned squirrels and cats make for poor time-lapse subjects whereas sunsets are awesome. Enjoy! 

 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Return to the Return to the Ice Caves!

Had to break up Monday's travels into two videos. Here is the conclusion of my return to the Ice Caves of the Cascade Mountains.  

Any music experts out there, help me out. There are several "lead" instruments in the musical composition in this background music. I think they're primarily alto saxophone and oboe, but I can't be sure.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

To the Ice Caves via Lake 22!

Because my blog readers (both of you), can't get enough videos of me tromping through the woods...  

I really love the Cascade Mountains! From exploring their early history as a center for mining of dish-washing powder, to finding new, yet familiar places, I can’t imagine mountains offering a better variety of rugged beauty, geological interest, verdant foliage and hospitable hiking.

I went out on Monday on a return visit to the Ice Caves of the northern Cascades. When I was last there four years ago, a massive storm the winter before had covered the trail with so much blowdown, that I was turned back! 

Given that the trail to the caves was merely one mile, not much of a challenge, I decided first to hike to a place with the rather uninspiring name: Lake Twenty-Two.

I saw some surprising things on my hike. First off this sign:


It’s a sentence fragment. I didn’t cut anything out of the photo. What is it trying to say?!

 Then, there was the pika. Remember I used this creature in one of the “name that animal” blogs? It was quite a thrill to see one in real life.
 

This guy is of the American Pika species.

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tour d'Joko: King Tut of Seattle Edition

I’ve already written about visiting the King Tut exhibit here in Seattle with my sister and nephews.  I posted a slideshow with that blog because it was posted at the entrance “No Video Recording”.

You don’t think a sign would keep me from recording footage now do you?   Hrrumph.  It’ll take more than a sign to stop me!

As I also noted before, the King Tut exhibit was impressive, but anti-climactic. King Tut didn’t show.

The day with the family, however, had more to it, including me guiding them to Pike’s Market infamous Gum Wall and their treating me a Puget Sound cruise to Blake Island and the somewhat cheezy “Indian” performance at Tillicum Village. 

Enjoy the Tour d’Joko: King Tut of Seattle Edition-



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spontaneously CURED by the Not-King-Tut Exhibit!

My sole sibling, my older sister Deidre, is in town this week with her husband and my nephews, doing the summer vacation thing here in the great Northwest with friends of theirs. 

I had sort of vaguely heard that King Tut was in town, but had family not come to do the tourist thing, I probably wouldn’t have gone. Yeah. At rock concert ticket prices, it’s not something I would have done otherwise.  

Thanks, Sis, for buying my ticket! The King Tut exhibit was awesome!!! Seeing up close and personal gigantic 3000 year old statues from cradle of civilization, and a whole BUNCH of them, THAT was awesome. Once in a lifetime kind of thing since I will probably never in my life get to Egypt or Mesopotamia or Greece.  

That said, there was one thing missing from the King Tut exhibit touring the USA right now, which is being billed as the LAST time EVER King Tut will come to North America, and that is, King Tut himself. See, this tour, unlike the famous one in the 1970’s that created a bit of a frenzy here in the USA and drew millions, does NOT actually include the remains of King Tut. In fact, they didn’t even bring one of the sarcophagi, burial caskets nor the infamous burial mask, seen in the picture here. The exhibit was still awesome. But you see, this awesomeness just built tension that lead to an anti-climactic end. 

Each amazing thing to look at created anticipation for that moment, like Carter back in 1922, when you would arrive in the burial chamber and gaze upon King Tut. Instead, after you see many of the impressive artifacts buried with the Boy King, you end up.. In the gift shop.  

What the heck?

  So, as I’m sure hundreds of asked before, I asked the security guard at the end of the tour, so, what the heck? No King Tut? No funeral mask?  

Oh no. The mask was damaged last time it came to the USA, so its staying in Egypt. 

  Hrrumph. I suppose it wouldn’t help sell the thing, but they should have called it “Awesome Egyptian relics! Many of Which Come From King Tut’s Tomb!”  

Now, before entering the exhibit, we were told “NO VIDEO RECORDING”, so instead of my usual video, I have instead, a SLIDESHOW of pictures I took on the tour… Enjoy!

   

I left a bit of myself behind at this exhibit. Literally. That nasty, huge mole on the side of my head that I blogged about, fearing it was cancer, simply fell off. No blood. No bump left behind. It just fell off. Don't know where it happened, don't know where that mole is now, but it's definitely near all these ancient Egyptian relics. I wonder if it had anything with all the 3000 year old religious artifacts I was surrounded by...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tour d'Joko Yellowstone Edition: The Final Episodes

In Episode 12 of the Tour d’Joko, Yellowstone Edition, I was preparing to leave the park, but could not due to the snowstorm that enveloped the park… on May 27th. The snowplows eventually cleared the road north, and off I was. 

Planning one final stop at Fort Yellowstone at the town of Mammoth, where I had hoped to see the famous Mammoth Hot Springs. Just as with Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon the day before, I skipped viewing a notable attraction because I could barely see ANYTHING, much less something that undoubted one would need to keep some distance from. Oh well. It will give me something to look forward to should I ever go back to the park.  
 
Then, it was off to Livingston, Montana, where an old high school friend of mine now resides. She was more than happy to drive me all over her little town which was quite enjoyable.
  * * *

 At an amazing little thrift store there, I picked up an antidote for the sparse and frequently infuriating radio in rural Montana and Idaho. I bought The Power of Myth, a six-cassette boxed set of Bill Moyers’ interviews with Joseph Campbell. I think it cost me $4. Nine hours of the sagacious Campbell for that low price? Has to be an all time record for dollars-per-minute-of-wisdom! You’ll hear some of Campbell as I conclude the journey…


   
Now that I’ve cataloged my 4+ hours of footage, it’s time to condense it into that ONE video left to be made, the professional-seeming one I set out to make at journey’s start.  

I hope you all have enjoyed watching this series even half as much as I've enjoyed making it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Murder? On My Boat?!?

Once again, I’ve enjoyed a bit of a resbit from the Internet. I'll catch up soon.
  Good News! I have once again been cast in a community theatre production! The troupe I’ll be playing with are the Driftwood Players, right here in the town neighboring my own in suburban Seattle. This last Monday, I auditioned for a role in their upcoming production of the stage version of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile. It was the third time I had auditioned for this theatre group.

  The first time was a bit more than two years ago, just days before the accident which changed my life. I got cast in one of the three lead roles in that play, but I could not participate due to more pressing, life-threatening issues. Ever since then, I’ve wanted very dearly to get into that theatre group, and although my second audition came to naught, this time, success! I’ve been cast in a rather minor role as Captain Montgomery McNaught, Skipper of the Lotus, the boat on which the play takes place.  

I don’t know the story of Murder on the Nile at all, but I did find this picture of McNaught on Google Images. 

  It’s funny how I almost didn’t get the part due to a really bad sequence of negligence on my part. So Monday was the audition; Monday night, I get a call from the director, inviting me to the callbacks. I remember distinctly telling him I’d be working on the night of the callbacks, but he said they’d go late and I could swing by after work at 9 PM. That meant I thought the callbacks were on Thursday.  

Wednesday night, on my day off, I get a call about 9:30 from the director asking me what my ETA was. Had I re-considered? What? Callbacks were Thursday, this was Wednesday! No, he told me, they were waiting just for me. DAMN! I’ll be there in 15 minutes!

  It was a day off. I had not showered. I threw some shoes on and began looking for my keys. Damn! Where are my keys?!?! Arrrgh!! Time is tickin! The keys should be right HERE where I always put them!! I searched and searched! I looked everywhere! Looked in refrigerator. The Trash. Under the bed. Nowhere to be found! After 20 minutes of this, I called the director and explained.

He said no problem. They has seen enough at my audition and offered me a part. YAY!!!

 Earlier that day, I had sat in the front seat of my truck after running errands and spent some time reading mail. For the first time in 20 years, I locked my keys in the ignition of my vehicle. 

Yannow, the extra $4/mo I pay to my insurance company for roadside assistance really has paid off! 

Rehearsals start next week.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Atlas Invisble Revisited

Five years ago today, I posted the video blog you'll see here. I re-post it today because I want to get back to doing this kind of thing. The day before this was made, I was going through some old papers and I happened across some lyrics to a song I had written some 12 years prior entitled "Atlas"... 

I remembered writing the song. I remembered what it was about. I remembered the person whom I had written it about, someone who from my POV, seemed to want to take the entire world upon his shoulders, at his own expense. Hence the title, Atlas. After a dozen years, I had no recollection of the actual chords to this Atlas song, so I needed to re-write them! 

 At the time, I was a loan officer for Countrywide Home Loans, and spent every third weekend being the on-site mortgage consultant for folks looking to buy a condo at a place called Marina Bay in Richmond, CA. When I left Marina Bay, I just wandered and video blogged, with the goal of finding a cool place to sit down and songwrite.

 Imagine my surprise when I found myself, by chance, on a boulevard called "Atlas Road".  

The "Invisible" part comes from the name of the techno background music, "Invisible" by Fischerspooner.

 

Friday, July 06, 2012

IS IT... CANCER?!?

Until today, I had not seen a doctor in over three years. I suppose that’s a good thing; I haven’t had any urgent medical needs in that time. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m all that well. I’m 50 pounds overweight. I get winded easily. I’m in my 40’s. Most significantly, I have lots of skin problems.

 I have both sobhoerric dermatitis and psoriasis. In fact, my psoriasis, for the last 15 years or so, has been somewhat of a bellweather for me as it pertains to my personal wellbeing. See, although psoriasis is a mysterious disease with no definitive cause and no real cure, it is generally accepted by the medical community that mental conditions like stress can aggrevate the symptoms of the disease. When you’re not right in your head, you’re not right on your skin. 

Multiple examples of this exist in my own personal history. For example, when I left my ex-wife, my psoriasis got a lot better. My legs and arms which had been covered in plaque psoriasis miraculously got a lot better when I divorced myself, literally, from a stressful situation. Ten years ago, I was able to justify a prescription for medical marijuana because it eased my stress, and therefore, my psoriasis. I don’t smoke pot any more, and I don‘t think that makes me any more stressed out. In fact, I think that weed is a temporary fix for anxiety, but as it demotivates and suppresses DOING things in life, I think it ultimately leads to conditions that INCREASE stress. 

In the last year or so, my psoriasis has gotten a lot worse. Here is my skin telling me what my conscious mind tries hard to deny: something ain’t quite right in my life. As for what that is, I’ll deal with in future blogging; this blog is a rant about doctors.  

I HAVE AN ANGRY MOLE (I NEED TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE ALLCAPS. MY “SHIFT” BUTTON IS HAS JUST NOW STUCK ON MY KEYBOARD, AND I CAN’T GET IT UNSTUCK). IT’S A MOLE I’VE HAD MY WHOLE LIFE, AND IT WAS JUST AN ORDINARY MOLE ON MY TEMPLE. ABOUT A YEAR AGO, IT STARTED GROWING. UNFORTUNATELY, IT’S RIGHT IN A SPOT WHERE IT IS PRONE TO GETTING HIT BY MY EYEGLASSES WHEN I PUT THEM ON. IN THE LAST COUPLE MONTHS, THIS MOLE HAS EXPLODED AND BECOME A REAL NASTY PROBLEM. WHAT WAS JUST AN ORDINARY MOLE IS NOW 3/4TH’S OF AN INCH IN DIAMETER AND 3/8TH’S OF AN INCH DEEP. I LOOKED ON WEBMD FOR PICTURES OF SKIN CANCER AND MY ANGRY MOLE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THE PICTURES THEY SHOW THERE! OMFG!! I HAVE SKIN CANCER!!! GOTTA GO TO A DOCTOR!!!! 

 SO TODAY I WENT. $45 CO-PAY JUST TO TALK TO A DOCTOR. WTF? FORTY FIVE BUCKS MAY NOT BE A LOT AS COMPARED TO THE VALUE OF MY LIFE, BUT HOW SHITTY INSURANCE IS THESE DAYS AS COMPARED TO WHAT IT WAS IN DECADES PAST IS PARY OF WHY I HAVE NOT SEEN A DOCTOR IN 3 YEARS. THINGS ARE REALLY TIGHT IN JOKOLONDOLAND THESE DAYS, AND $45 IS A WEEK’S WORTH OF GROCERIES. I SPEND THIS MONEY, AND I DON’T EVEN GET A DOCTOR. INSTEAD, I AM SEEN BY A LICENSED NURSE PRACTITIONER. OKAY, I’M SURE LNP’S ARE CAPABLE OF DEALING WITH ALL KINDS OF THINGS, BUT WHEN I’M WORRYING ABOUT THE “BIG C”, THAT’S DIFFERENT. 

 AS IT TURNS OUT, ALL MY $45 COPAY BOUGHT ME TODAY WAS A SLIP OF PAPER TO TALK TO A DERMATOLOGIST. DAMMIT, I COULDA SAID THAT FROM THE BEGINNING! I AM MISTER NASTY SKIN! I DID NOT NEED A REFERRAL TO SEE A SPECIALIST! `

I DID, AT LEAST, GET SOME CONSOLATION. MY LNP WAS VERY FORTHRIGHT IN EXPLAINING THAT ANY MOLE-RELATED PROBLEMS ON THE FACE AUTOMATICALLY GET REFERRED TO A DERMATOLOGIST DUE TO THE RISK OF SCARRING, SHE DID AT LEAST TELL ME THIS AFTER EXAMINING MY ANGRY MOLE: 

 “THERE’S NOTHING THERE THAT SCREAMS OUT MALIGNANT SKIN CANCER” 

WHHHEW… THAT’S SOMETHING AT LEAST. 

 I’LL UPDATE YOU FURTHER NEXT WEEK WHEN I SEE THE DERMATOLOGIST AND FIGURE OUT IF I CAN GET MY KEYBOARD OFF CAPSLOCK.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

NAME THOSE TRACKS! Yellowstone 12

Yellowstone Episode 12 takes us into my last day at the park. I was ready to leave, but found myself snowbound early that morning as the road to the north gate of the park had yet to be plowed. Six inches of snow had fallen overnight.
Here I write, on the 4th of July, as the rest of the country is enduring the hottest summer on record (it’s still 55 degrees and cloudy here in Seattle), maybe these snowy images from a mere 5 weeks ago will cool you down.
I appreciate a lot of different kinds of music from lots of different decades, but I think the music that came out during the late 80’s & early 90’s has had the most impact on me. The music that emerges when you’re in the 18 to 21 years of age range is the music of “your time.” It’s strange to think that the Nothing’s Shocking album is now almost 25 years old… The haunting melody of “Summertime Rolls” was perfect for the eerie solitude of my return to the Norris Geyser Basin. There’s also a certain irony to video content versus the lyrics… 

 
So… Can you name that animal? I know it might have been hard to judge scale on the video, so I’ll just add that the tracks were about the same size as those of from a medium sized dog.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Unbearable Whiteness I'm Seeing - Yellowstone 11

As I sat in my van on the edge of Yellowstone Lake, with white-out conditions blanketing the park with snow, I was kinda bummed out. My ongoing quest to see definitive signs of the caldera was being thwarted. Already that morning, I had to bypass without seeing one of the area’s most famous sites: The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The road to Canyon’s prime viewing sites had not yet been snow plowed, and even then, visibility was down to dozens of feet. I looked out on the water and could not see the other shore.

 Then… the sun came out. 

Enjoy Part Eleven of the Tour d’Joko - Yellowstone Edition. 
 
Some video notes: Okay, who out there caught the play-on-words of this episode’s title “The UnBEARable Whiteness I’m Seeing”? What am I referencing? 
Fallen timber can be quite slippery when covered with fresh snow. I really fell hard on my hike; I’m lucky nothing broke. 

Looking back, I really had an itchy trigger finger when it came to my borrowed bottle of bear spray. Almost used it on a particularly scary looking squirrel. 

Honey badger don’t care? Bison! Now Bison, he don’t care!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Good Googily Moogily! Yellowstone X

Is the Tour d’Joko- Yellowstone Edition losing some steam? Well, I don’t know, but I am compiling the clips I’ll need for making the official “final production” which we’ll see sometime in July. For now, I bring you part TEN, a jaunt in the snow along the shores of Lake Yellowstone. Not sure why I picked this audio, but it's kinda fun.

In this episode, I find the caldera, AGAIN, contemplate snow & find my next campsite, where I am asked to perform at the aphitheater on opening night!!
 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fast, Furious and Fortune Telling

Tonight, I want to talk about the “Fast & Furious” scandal, which has been vehemently brought to our collective attention by the House Oversight Committee and one Daryl Issa here in these last few weeks. 

Make no mistake, of all of the fuck ups, mistakes and things done wrong in this massive apparatus called the US government, either by institutional flaw or simply poor judgment, this failed Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms program is but one of many. To recap for those new to the topic, “Fast & Furious” was an attempt by ATF agents to crack down on multiple levels of the flow of firearms to the Mexican drug cartels by monitoring how the perfectly legal massive sales of assault rifles and other weapons in states like Arizona ended up in the hands of organized paramilitary criminal syndicates in Northern Mexico. 

At this point, it hasn’t yielded any tremendous results, but going after criminals in another country is inherently difficult, particularly when law enforcement officials in THAT country can’t get these guys. That said, the conservative right wing took a whole ’nother tack on this issue, culminating in the AG of the USA likely being indicted for contempt of Congress tomorrow. Without a doubt, Rep. Issa’s assault stems from opinions he publicly endorsed just a few months back, and which derive from nut-case, Tea Bagger, reactionary extremism. Issa thinks that Fast & Furious was enacted without any chance of success for the very results that such a failure would engender. More guns in the hands of these criminals would lead to more gun violence which would lead to more pressure for gun control laws. In the mind of Daryl Issa, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, Fast & Furious was actually a diabolical attack on the 2nd ammendment  

This tin-foil hat conspiracy theory may get traction amongst the Fox News faithful, but in the larger community, it’s not enough to engender the kind of Watergatish outrage the Republicans are hoping for. Consequently, a second argument has been developed parallel to the NRA bedlam. One of the guns that ended up in Mexico killed a Border Patrol officer. The mainstream alternative to the anti-2nd-Ammendment conspiracy outrage is the simple fact that the Obama administration allowed guns to “walk.” In it‘s fruits, the strategy was a bad idea. 

That may be right. That said, the whole strategy of letting guns “walk” into Mexico in hopes of later tracking them was thought up by the Justice Department of GW Bush and has since been killed by Obama’s Eric Holder. Then comes today’s news in the form of THIS ARTICLE (IMPORTANT!!! HISTORICAL!! read it!) from Fortune Magazine. Not the NY Times, the Huffington Post or some other liberal enclave. It’s from Fortune fucking magazine! 

See, what I find most interesting here is not that we’re talking about a few hundred firearms here while the Mexican government estimates that 2,000 guns make their way into Mexico from the USA every single day, nor that ATF agents could NOT arrest even obvious straw-men gun buyers in the state of Arizona. Instead, it’s that these kinds of lax gun laws exist in one of our border states! From the article:
Customers can legally buy as many weapons as they want in Arizona as long as they're 18 or older and pass a criminal background check. There are no waiting periods and no need for permits, and buyers are allowed to resell the guns. "In Arizona," says Voth, "someone buying three guns is like someone buying a sandwich."

By 2009 the Sinaloa drug cartel had made Phoenix its gun supermarket and recruited young Americans as its designated shoppers or straw purchasers. Voth and his agents began investigating a group of buyers, some not even old enough to buy beer, whose members were plunking down as much as $20,000 in cash to purchase up to 20 semiautomatics at a time, and then delivering the weapons to others.
I’ve heard from other sources that some of these straw purchasers were unemployed and on food stamps but would regularly plop down ten figures to buys guns. Guns they used to do what? Hunt the Arizona Jackalope? Here’s the thing: It is ONLY because of Rep Issa’s attention to this matter that I became aware that is perfectly legal for any Arizonan to buy 100 AK-47’s or other non-hunting assault rifles at a gun store without any restriction other than criminal history, and then step out into the parking lot and sell those guns to whomever they wish. See, the ATF agents might have WANTED to stem the flow of guns to the Mexican drug cartels, but they couldn’t! These guns weren’t “walked” into Mexico by permission of the ATF; the ATF was powerless to stop them! 

This lax law in regards to guns lead to the death of that Border Patrol agent & the loss of thousands of lives south of the border in Mexico. That is an expression of a law that needs to change. Yes, I myself, one of millions who have the potential of actually understanding the facts behind Fast & Furious, am significantly moved towards supporting tougher gun laws due the facts of this case. 

I am the original, “crazy” conspiracy theory become manifest. I wanted stricter laws on guns before, but this case makes the need that much more self-evident. I never would have thought this way without the attention brought to F&F by Daryl Issa. Without the right-wing outrage over trivial minutae, I would have never even known about the bigger picture here, manifested by Fortune’s article today

Congratulations, right wing nutcases! Through your attention to F&F, you have created, or are beginning to create, the very anti-gun sentiment you so feared. Not because of violence caused by the guns themselves, but simply by highlighting absurdly lax gun laws that already existed in these border states. 

The ATF didn’t need to “let guns walk”, as the Fortune article pointed out today, instead, the guns were walking all by themselves, and thanks to laws endorsed by the NRA, there was nothing the ATF could do to stop it. 

Be careful what you crazily prognosticate: it may come true.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Calderapalooza!; Blizzards, Bisons and Bears, Oh My!

Try to read this blog as if you were hearing one of those cliché radio commercials for a monster truck rally (compete with cheezy echo effect)…

Spring!!!  
Spring  
Spring

Amateur!!! 
Amateur 
Amateur

Geology!!!
  Geology 
Geology!


Live from the backcountry of north-central Yellowstone National Park, Joko Londo Films brings you the ongoing search for the National Caldera Championship!!
!
CALDERAPALOOZA!!!


Tour d’Joko - Yellowstone Edition: Episode 8
 
Oh, but we’re not done yet! Yup, this blog is a two for one!!!  

In Episode Nine, I encounter bears!!! Lots of different kinds of bears. Yup! Grizzly bears, black bears, Chicago Bears, Discovery Channel Bears, Yogi Bears and gay Bears. Then, I ask myself that eternal question which plagues every human being throughout their life, but only certain circumstances bring it out to be vocalized: “WHAT AM I DOING ?!?!”  

Lastly, at the end of Part Nine, I encounter perhaps the most pernicious, diabolical & scariest creature of the whole tour…

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Most interesting Mud in the World

BACK TO THE TRIP!

One the third day of the trip, when the morning snow turned into hail (which shows up on the camera surprisingly well), I wasn’t sure how much caldera-hunting I was going to be able to do. One thing I heard that I could count on faithfully was… Old Faithful!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Mas Joko

I decided to take a little break today from Tour d’Joko video making to compose a vanity video. Yes, that’s what my “random videos” are.. Me making a video about my favorite thing, me. This one goes even further in that it’s set to song called “Mas Joko”, which is Indonesian for..hmm… “Older brother Joko” would be the direct translation, but “mas” is used like we would use “Mister”, except a little more informally… Perhaps “Dude Joko”…  

That’s the thing about trying to translate a language that is used half way around the world in a culture that is so different from modern Western culture… So much of it doesn’t translate properly due to the cultural context.

 I copied and pasted the lyrics to Mas Joko into the Google translator website and it spat out this:
Ouch ouch .. Mas Joko kissed my cheek
Ouch ouch .. Mas Joko touched my lips
I love you, he said
Rich crab, he says
Goose bumps all over my body would
Imagine eating uncomfortable Mas Joko
I can not imagine sleeping soundly Mas Joko
Mas Joko .. (ta 'u' u ')
Mas Joko .. (ya 'u' u ')
burning love, burning rinduku
The sleek black mustache
I do not lose heart memangdangmu (wuelleh wuelleh ..) Myriad of handsome men
Mas Joko just love my darling (ah uh ..)
So… that didn’t make much sense, now did it? Here’s my translation of the same lyrics:
Oooo… Oooo… I was kissed by Mister Joko
Oooo… Oooo… My lips were touched by Mister Joko
I love you, he says
You’re so rich, he says
I get goose bumps all over
I can’t eat without Mister Joko
I can’t sleep without Mister Joko
Mister Joko…Mister Joko
My love is burning, my longing is burning for you
With his sweet black mustache
I do not lose heart when I’m with you
Of all those handsome men
Mister Joko, I only love you
Back in the mid-80’s when I first lived in Indonesia, they had no laws whatsoever about music copyrights and piracy and such. Consequently, there was a world-wide ban by the musicians of the world against the word’s 5th most populous nation. No one went there because their albums made no money. As a consumer, back in the brief golden age of the cassette tape (after the LP, but before CD’s), it was paradise. Imagine being able to buy any record you wanted, professionally done on cassette for about $1...  

Then again, that’s not so hard to imagine. In the age of file sharing, I haven’t paid one penny for a piece of music in over five years…  

In any case, it's kind of poetic justice that 25 years later, through the internet, I could rip off and pirate the hardwork of some Indonesian videomaker.

  Enjoy the Dangdut music, the pop music of Indonesia. Dangdut may sound a little odd to Western ears, as it is based on ¾ time, not 4/4 time…

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hot, Steamy Holes. Tour d'Joko Yellowstone Edition: Episode Six

My goal for this Tour d’Joko, Yellowstone Edition, was to make it as close as possible to an actual commercial production. You’ve yet to see the ripest fruit of that effort, but I’ve related some details about problems with government permits, bad weather and faulty or missing equipment, challenges which studio made stuff I‘m sure deals with all the time. One other detail I shared with more produced videos was trouble paying for it all. The most pressing and highest expense was rather simple math: about 1500 miles round trip, truck gets 15 miles to the gallon, gas costs $4/gal… After food, park fees…checking account balance is… Oh my. I needed to make a choice. Pay my bills or go to Yellowstone. Well. I couldn’t re-schedule the vacation time. This trip was vital to my mental and creative health! What bills could I push to next month? Hmmm… My cable and internet company sorta brought you these videos by not getting any money from me in May. This is also why I have been offline since last Saturday. 

A week with no television or internet was weird. I listened to a lot of AM radio and polished off two books, one of which I mentioned before, Undaunted Courage, the story of Merriwether Lewis. 

  Did you know that within a few short years of completing his famous journey, Lewis, in the depths of debt, alcoholism, depression and drug addiction, took his own life? Rather poorly too. He tried shooting himself in the head and only grazed the scalp. He finally killed himself with a self-induced gut wound, which has to be the worst way to go. As much as his journey was an inspiration to this very Tour d‘Joko, his death is a reminder for my everyday life. 

One issue I struggle with as I reach the middle point in my time on this planet is regrets over what I have accomplished. What do I have to show for my time here? What will be my legacy? When I think about it, it’s depressingly scant. Lewis accomplished more than but a handful of people in history, but was unable to control his addictions. This cost him his life. 

  I may never own a house. I may never have kids. I may always have to choose between paying my internet bill and going on a trip. That said, one accomplishment I do get to achieve one day at a time is staying sober, and I can be proud of that. That was something Lewis, for all his resolve and undaunted courage, could not accomplish.  
Oh yeah, and Lewis never did what I’m doing right now, edit his journal into something people can enjoy. 

  Here is Part Six of the Tour d’Joko - Yellowstone Edition: Hot Steamy Holes.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

An Elk Is Born! Yellowstone Edition - Part Five

So where is the “documentary quality” video I promised I would make at the outset of my Yellowstone jouney? Patience. I am earmarking specific clips that are Discovery-Channel-worthy as I go through this process of combing through some 4+ hours of footage.


This little vignette will forever hold a special place in my heart. I was a mere 15 miles into Yellowstone when I came across this broad plain with lots of bison and solitary elk momma with her newborn calf…