Friday, August 27, 2004

I tell ya, I feel loved. Really loved. Just take a look at the important people who took time out of their busy schedules to send me personally autographed photos of themselves:

Kerry and Edwards holding hands - - GW leaning on Laura to look sober

Go ahead - click on 'em. Take a good look at the personal messages! I tell ya, I feel loved, needed, respected, and torn. Gosh! I can only vote for one of them. One of these nice men is going to be disappointed in me!

The part I can't figure out, however, is how I got to be "Charter Member of the campaign in California" for GW. Maybe I received that honor for all the kind things I've said about the president on this blog? It's so personal, how he's posing with his lovely wife instead of with that ugly guy who runs the country.

Actually, on closer examination, I'm not convinced that Bush actually signed this thing. Take a look at the signature - It looks more like "Gov Bill" than "George Bush." Do you think Clinton sent this to me as a joke?

The Kerry and Edwards signatures are certainly real. You can tell by the fact that they used blue ink to make it stand out from the printed portion. And how Kerry's pen seems to be low on ink. You'd think Edwards would let him borrow his, wouldn't you? Or, maybe Kerry's light touch is because he can't make up his mind whether or not he actually wants to sign it?

I've taped both pictures up above my desk so that I can stare at them every day for then next two months as I try to decide who to vote for. I'm just hoping Ralph Nader sends me a picture to, so I can collect the full set...

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Have you got Olympic fever yet? I thought I did, but it turned out to be just a little allergy thing. For the few hours I've spent watching, I'm enjoying the spectacle, but I'm just about done with it now. The opening ceremonies were brilliant, and there've been some impressive performances, but frankly, I've fallen asleep each night with the TV on waiting for something exciting to happen.

I believe the most exciting thing is that it's happening at all. Just a couple of months ago there were all the reports of facilities not yet built, and the impossibility of providing security. Once the construction was complete, I was not too concerned with the possibility of terrorism. As my father-in-law said during the opening ceremonies, "No matter what else you may think of Al Queda, you gotta believe they're not stupid enough to piss off the entire world in one night."


Leslie's back to work as of yesterday. Well, officially, as of yesterday. In reality we were in the classroom a couple of days over last week and the weekend getting it set up before the official return to work. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are all meetings and planning sessions; the kids come back to school on Thursday. Yes, it does seem to come earlier every year.

I may also be back to work full-time soon, as well. I did get one offer, which I'm mulling over (will most likely formally accept shortly), and I've been informed that I'm on the short list for another interesting position. After ten months of semi-self-employment it will be nice to return to a certain amount of economic security, and to seeing other people during the day.

It will be hard, however, to get used to actually getting dressed and showered before going to work, and losing the flexibility that the consulting provided. All things are a trade off. Were it not for mounting medical bills (remember that gall bladder surgery?), etc., I might have given the independent route a little longer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I have a new guru, and I feel much better now. My new spiritual guide is a five-year-old boy named Mason.

This weekend we went down to Bakersfield to visit an old friend who's living there, sharing a house with some family, including her little cousin, Mason, and a dog with obsessive compulsive disorder.

The dog is otherwise very sweet, but her OCD comes out in form of insisting that everybody throw her tennis ball for her to fetch constantly. Not a moment of down time. She just thrusts her face (stuffed with the ball) into your lap over and over, then moves on to the next person, over and over.

We were joking about the dog's obsessive behavior, but Mason didn't mind. He had no problem ignoring the dog's incessant demands. Finally, he explained how he does it. "It's okay," he said unto us. "You don't need to care." Suddenly the dog no longer bothered us.

In the few days since then there have been a few stressful situations, as there always are. And in each of them I just thought to myself, "Mason says, 'It's okay. You don't need to care.'" And then I felt much better.

So now I have a new mantra, and you can use it too. Feeling overwhelmed by something that's beyond your control? Done all you can, but the idiots are still all around you? Just about at the end of your rope?

Then repeat after me:
Mason says, "It's okay. You don't need to care."

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Today's post is a musical one. I've wanted to pick up the mandolin for years now, and Leslie just bought me one for my birthday (I've got a great wife). So... here's the first sample of what it can do (or, at least, what I can do with it):

Mando Piece One - find other recordings at Ken's Garage.

Monday, August 09, 2004

If Ralph Nader were a stock, the authorities would have to step in and stop trading before its plummet caused a crash of the entire market. The independent candidate will not appear on the California ballot, having only collected little more than half of the signatures required by last Friday's deadline. So far, he's only turned in completed petitions in 18 states.

Resorting to the sort of dirty politics that he's supposed to be running against, he's now in a last-ditch effort to convince the California Green Party to split with the national party and list him as their presidential candidate instead of David Cobb (whom the Greens nominated last month).

As last hurrahs go, this is turning out to be one of the most painful I can remember witnessing in a long time. Particularly so as I once so admired and respected this man who now appears to be as desperate and deluded as... as... - I don't know... maybe as desperate and deluded as W?

I'm still trying to come up with something a little more positive and upbeat, but for now my personal campaign slogan is, "Greens for Kerry; it's a decision we hope we can live with."

Monday, August 02, 2004

It's movie recommendation time again here at Ken's Blog, and this time I'm telling you to see the new re-make of The Manchurian Candidate.

I don't usually like, recommend, or even see, re-makes of classic pictures - especially ones as perfect as the original Manchurian Candidate. I have always counted the original among my top 10 favorite films, but for about 15 years now, I've been itching for an update (I've even sketched out a treatment or two for how to update it over the years).

The world has changed quite a bit since 1962, and gotten more and more Orwellian since 1984. The parts of the story that had to be over-explained to try and make it believable in the original are ordinary and accepted now, allowing the new version to cut back in those areas and to go deeper into the paranoia and the depths of the conspiracy. Even knowing how the story had to progress, and what the end result had to be, I was still riveted to my seat.

Yes, there are some changes. The character played by James Gregory in the original is eliminated, allowing Meryl Streep to assume both the Angela Lansbury role and parts of Gregory's. Liev Schreiber's performance is the closest to the original's Lawrence Harvey, but adding in new elements by picking up the rest of Gregory's duties. Kimberly Elise picks up the Janet Leigh role with modern overtones, and John Voigt gives the John McGiver role some balls. Finally, Denzel Washington does a stunningly brilliant turn at the lead originally played by Frank Sinatra.

The changes were enough to make it fresh, and add a few fun twists. But, where it counted, the story is true to the original, and as powerful as ever. The twists, I think, were necessary. In 2004 Meryl Streep can get away with things that Angela Lansbury (wonderful as she is/was) never could back in 1962. The changes also fix one or two of the minor holes in the original, although they do bring up one or two new lesser ones.

Leslie had never seen the original, but she also found it a powerful and compelling movie, and enjoyed the flow of the storyline, even if it did make one a bit tense at times. All in all, a tight updating of a classic that is not only timely, but is a great movie experience besides.

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