Thursday, October 30, 2008

Zoom, Normal, and Wide Angle

I really liked how these shots turned out. I took them only seconds apart, of the sailboat against the beautiful evening sky.

It's hard to capture a single image that gives you the feel of a time or place, but when I saw these three viewed on my computer, one after another, I thought the sum was much greater than the parts. Viewed one after another, they give a good impression of how it felt to stand there looking at the scene.

Of course, these were taken on the Indian River Lagoon in Melbourne, Florida.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bush Derangement Syndrome in Science Fiction

I’ve still been reading some science fiction, but now that I’ve read through our library’s collection of what books look interesting to me in the genre, I think I’m coming to the end.

Maybe some of my mainstream favorite authors will have written a couple of books each in the last year or two that I’ve been reading mostly science fiction, and will rescue me.

What I wanted to talk about was something that always annoys me with reading, no matter who the author is that does it.

An analogy: Watch any Sylvester Stallone movie and you WILL see some prominent-to-the-point-of-annoying product placement. Watch “Demolition Man” and “Cop Land” and you will see and hear Marlboro ads built into the movie.


In books, the equivalent of this is when an author uses specific names of real people in a derogatory way in a work of fiction.

I recently finished reading "Coyote Frontier" by Allen Steele. It's set about 30-40 years after the landing of escapees from earth first land on the distant planet called Coyote.

The reason they took a space ship and slept cryogenically for over 200 years while traveling to Coyote is because in the mid-21st century, America is taken over completely by the religious conservatives and create an authoritarian state hostile to "dissident intellectuals."

In the book, Johnson Space Center outside of Houston has been re-named the George W. Bush Space Center, with people having forgotten it was once named something else. Those evil, Constitution-killing conservatives have just taken control and changed EVERYTHING.

Also, under this future, evil fictional totalitarian regime, the Kennedy Space Center is re-named after Newt Gingrich.

There is a "reeducation camp" in rural Georgia, that is called Camp Buchanan, after Pat Buchanan.

Then later in the book, a woman on Coyote who is middle-aged, and thinking back to her youth on earth, recalls having been sent to a place for teens who were going astray from the government's official doctrine, and this camp is Camp Schafly, after famous conservative woman Phyllis Schlafly. Mr. Steele didn't even spell the name right in his book.

The book was decently written, very readable, and an interesting story, but the references to this fictional future totalitarian America and pointing out people like that, were so obviously the author's opinions that he couldn't resist putting in the book that I almost didn't finish reading it.

Allen Steele has received various awards in the science fiction genre for his novels, so I was wanting to try reading some, looking forward to a potential author to watch for in the future, but I finished the book feeling that it was worth reading, but that the jabs at the "vast right wing conspiracy" stood out like a hard shadow against a white wall.

Naming the author's most hated conservatives in the text of a fictional novel brought the reader (me, at least) to the conclusion that he wanted to preach instead of writing a story.

He never got to preaching his viewpoint in other places, which allowed me to finish the book.

It just annoys me when a fiction writer adds his own personal viewpoint to a book in such a way as to make sure you know this is the author talking to you, and that it definitely wasn't one of the books characters talking to you.

The book cover says that Mr. Steele is a journalism graduate, and a former reporter, so it definitely fit with the way most of today's journalists lean in their politics, but it almost ruined the book for me in the way it jerked me from being in a character's head, then suddenly in the author's opinionated head for a minute because he couldn't resist an egotistical jab at the political right, and then suddenly back into the character's head.

I would expect such things from a beginning writer, not one with numerous award-winning published novels.

Bush derangement syndrome is rampant, and in some ways it's funny to watch otherwise sane adults turn insane over their hatred of President Bush, but it's another level of the syndrome altogether to allow it to make it all the way to publication in a fiction novel.

I know next to nothing about Mr. Steele, but he's definitely got Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Funny thing is, I personally think that a totalitarian state coming about in America is much more likely to happen under liberal control of the government. Just look at the unearned adoration given to Barack Obama in this presidential campaign. The man is given a pass on so many questionable areas of his past, while his complicit media take apart the life of Joe the plumber. Barack Obama is the epitome of the "empty suit," and he's not allowed to be confronted or asked difficult, penetrating questions.

We now know more about some poor schmuck who dared to point out Obama's socialist agenda of huge redistribution of wealth, than we know about the man who could very well be our next president. Obama's followers are much more likely to willingly submit to a heavy-handed government.

OK. I'm climbing off the soap box now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thanks Everyone

Losing Rosie so suddenly just shocked us to the core.

I appreciate everyone's kind comments.

I can think about her and talk about her without crying now, but we all miss her terribly.

To use a popular psychology term, the "dynamic" of the house has totally changed.

The other dogs act differently now, and of course, we just flat-out miss having Rosie around.

She was one of those dogs that just made us laugh without playing or her trying to be funny. Just the way she did things was funny.

For example, whenever one of the family came into the house, while the other dogs got excited and barked, Rosie would express her excitement to see you by turning in about 10 circles. The circles were ALWAYS left-handed, or counter-clockwise.

It was funny to see; it was as if instead of going on a run like some dogs do, she would spin in place, to the left.

She was the mother to two of the poodles we have, and when they got upset or felt insecure, they'd come to her and slowly roll over in front of Rosie in submission, and have their face right in front of her's. Then she would lay there and lick their closed eyes, and it would soothe and calm them down.

They've seemed out of sorts without her there to give her what we came to call "eyeball sugar."

Just a couple of the many things we miss about Rosie.

Anyway, thanks againg for the kind comments.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Goodbye Sweet Rosie

I took the above photo this past weekend, two days before her death, because I thought she looked cute in her "Everyone Loves A Redhead" t-shirt.

Rosie: July 1999 - October 2008

Monday night, when I got home from work, I found that one of our poodles, Rosie was very sick.

I won't go into detail, but will just say that in a matter of a few hours, she went from normal to dying as I held her for her final breath.

We are all stunned and heartbroken still.

Rosie was a true lap dog. She loved nothing more than being in one of our's lap.

In December of 1999, Lovely Wife found an add for her on the internet. A person in Dothan, Alabama had a red poodle for sale.

I had just sold some camera equipment and bought an acoustic guitar for playing at church, and with the money left, we went to Dothan and bought Rosie.

So when she wanted to be held, I would sweet talk her with the story of how Mama found her on the internet, and we took a trip to Dothan, Alabama to get her.

She was four months old when we got her, and had been in a crate so much that she had no idea how to play like other dogs. She never did learn to like and want to play with squeaky toys and balls like our other dogs do. But if we got on the floor to play with the dogs, she would sometimes get worked up and play tug-o-war with a toy.

But most of the time, as we tried to play with the dogs, she'd come and get right up against you just wanting to be petted instead of playing. So we'd have to love on her with one hand and tug or throw toys with the other and the other dogs.

This hurt is still way too raw to write much right now; her sudden sickness and death has us all still in shock.

The reality is that, when you have a pet, you will most likely outlive them. But nine years is not that old for a miniature poodle. She should have had at least five or six more years and her passing has left a gaping hole in my heart.

I love you Rosie. I always will. And I'll always remember you, to my own dying day. From now on, one of my great desires will be to see you again someday in heaven.

I'll sit and hold you as long as you want, and I'll have little bites of cheese to feed you, I promise.

I miss you so much.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Poor Leonardo

I know; I'm pathetic.

Lots of work, and I've just completely lost it on the blogs. It's hard to get back into the groove.


Now that I decided to write something, what should it be?

McCain vs Obama? Obama scares me a lot, and McCain scares me somewhat less than Obama. I think McCain is going to win in a squeaker, but then it will be the 2000 election all over again with the law suits to have the judiciary decide the election. (Gore had a 10 point lead at this point in 2000 and then lost, Obama's only a few points ahead, which I think will disappear on election day.) I don't feel like writing about that, it's too depressing.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Nah. I hate rap music and I refuse to talk about rap "stars."

Britney Spears? She's looking better these days, and even was quoted as saying she didn't know where here head was last year when she went through her bald phase, and attacked people with umbrellas. So I'll leave her alone too.

I already poked Lindsay Lohan in the eye with a sharp stick a few weeks ago, so not that.

But this week, some really big news happened.

Remember Leonardo DiCaprio? He used to be an actor? Was in that Titanic movie?

After the success of Titanic, it was believed that Mr. DiCaprio could do no wrong.

But this weekend, he had a new movie open at theatres, and his movie was beaten by a movie about a Chihuahua called "Beverly Hills Chihuahua."

Now, new movies always have their best week on opening weekend, and although Mr. DiCaprio's "Body of Lies" was in a distant third place on it's opening, and theoretically, best, weekend, "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" was number one at the box office for a second weekend.

Man. That's GOTTA hurt. Beaten by a pretend talking chihuahua.