Archive for the ‘Personal’ category

Million Buckley March

September 13, 2009

We Were All There

Well, not really. But the title of Ed Driscoll’s blog entry was so enticing, that I just couldn’t resist highlighting it.

I didn’t even realize that there were so many of us. Our name, I reckon, is legion.

Now if you’re wondering what it is I’m talking about here, then let me explain. A few people got together to stage a little protest yesterday, the kind that DC sees every so often.

How I Got Chucked Into Submission

August 17, 2009

And Not In A Very Nice Way, Either

I’ve gone on record writing superlatives about the TV show Chuck. It’s become my favorite. If you decide to follow that link, you’ll find all of season 1 and most of season 2 available on-line. Watch the pilot and any other episode, and you’ll see. Watch the last 6 episodes of season 2 and you may come away thinking you’ve seen some of the best TV ever made. Really.

But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about today.

I’ve been a contributor (not in a small way, but by no means the largest) to the NBC boards for the show (under Community and Message Boards, you’ll find many posts written by me as Bucko27, but there are many tens of thousands of posts there. Happy hunting!). The boards have been active, and were extraordinarily active by the end of the show’s second season. They were active again in July during and after the San Diego Comic-Con, where the cast and creators made an appearance. Appearance? They brought the house down.

What happened next was – complicated.

Show creator Josh Schwartz let go a tiny tidbit of information about the direction of next season that made some fans reach for their pitch forks. He intimated that there was going to be some sort of love interest to complicate the romance brewing between the (main) characters. Well, some fans assumed “main” and others didn’t and some got very upset. The boards were full of rants and raves and predictions that this was the end of Chuck as we know it. It gets more raucus. Show writer Ali Adler creates a video and posts it on YouTube to calm down the broken hearted fans, and that seems to work.

But as you can see, her video is gone now, for “violating terms of use.”

It gets more complicated. Something called a “script side” was released, which contained show spoilers that seemed to confirm some of the biggest fears the fans had. The side itself seems to have been deliberately released by either the shows creators or by the shows owners (Warner Bros.). The boards were once again ablaze and I was one of several posting about the direction the show seemed to be taking (but in a very general and congenial way). That was enough to get me “moderated”. That is, my posts are held in limbo until a moderator reviews them to make sure they’re not in violation of the rules.  Who did this?  It was one moderator in particular.

Okay? Not really. There’s several reasons why placing me in moderation limbo was not justified, but I’m not going to argue that here. It turns out that many others were effectively banned from the boards too. The list includes, not only some personal friends (who are great writers and fans, btw), but also names like DarthRazorBack and Wendy Farrington.  The names may not mean anything to you, but Darth is no minor player, and has done more to promote the show than anybody outside of the cast, with the possible exception of Wendy.  Wendy is more responsible than anyone for the Subway campaign that was credited with saving the show from cancellation in April, and those photos are of the cast thanking her.  IOW, I’m in fine company. Oh – Here’s DarthRazorBack’s take on the matter.  He contends that the same moderator who put me in purgatory, who banned him too, also got YouTube to remove Ali Adler’s video.

And what’s happened to the boards of late is – not awesome. To be honest, some have carried on a conversation quite nicely in my absence (ahem!). But where once there had been many hundreds of posts a day, at one point this week the number of posts had dropped to a handful. Single digits.

I’m not blaming NBC for this tempest in a medium size teapot. It certainly doesn’t stop me from being a fan of the show. But I will contend that one moderator has really botched this one. Badly. I doubt that it’s a good strategy for anyone to insult the show’s biggest fans in NBC’s name.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

August 16, 2009

Besides Job Hunting, That Is…

This, my friends, is a butterfly.

Or is it a moth?

Or is it a moth?

Well, maybe not. Maybe it’s a moth. All summer long the best regional park in my area is showing, yet again, it’s regularly hatched extravaganza of wings and colors, called Flights of Fancy. It used to be called a butterfly museum, but we found out that they lied about some of those insects.
Not all butterflies are created equal. Some are orange.

Orange Butterfly

Orange Butterfly

…and some most certainly are not.

Not Orange.

Not Orange.

Some are just blurry. Quantum mechanical, I think.

A Quantum Butterfly

A Quantum Butterfly

Sorry ’bout that, chief. I’m not quite the photographer my brother and nephew are. Christie Brinkley never did return my calls, you see. Let’s try that again.

Smile!

Smile!

And with a better color.

Show off!

Show off!

They’re all hungry little dickens’.

Yummy

Yummy

And this guy wanted a lift home.

Hitching a ride

Hitching a ride

Feeding time at the butterfly zoo.

Chomp!

Chomp!

Okay – blurry, but caught in mid-flight!

Airborn!

Airborn!

Time to rest.

Take a Bow

Take a Bow

All in all, not a bad day.

Land Of The Free

June 21, 2009

Still?

Years, yea, decades ago, I had a “Social Studies” teacher (I put “Social Studies” in scare quotes intentionally) who left an impression.  J.T. is no longer with us, having died relatively young.  And that’s a pity.  Although a lifelong democrat, liberal and supporter of teachers unions, I suspect that despite our diametrically opposed viewpoints that we would have had great respect for each other and our positions.  Let’s say he was a liberal in a classic sense, which is indistinguishable from mainstream conservatism today.

He recognized me as having a conservative bent even as far back as 1970, when I was busy figuring out how to radicalize my fellow high school students and resist the draft. I never succeeded, btw.

I bring this up because he first introduced me to a pearl of wisdom that I have never forgotten.  We’re always ready to trade our freedom for a feeling of safety.   Of course we are.  People don’t (or shouldn’t) mind that when they buckle a seat belt.  And people reflexively support curbs and outright bans on cigarette smoking in public (and sometimes in private) places.  But is there a point at which we stay “stop” to this?

Homeland Security has instituted a requirement that private aircraft operators seek government permission each time we propose to take off if we are planning to depart for Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. We must provide advance detailed information about where, when, and who, including the names, social security numbers, addresses, etc., of all persons who will be in the aircraft. The justification for this, they say, is that we, our spouses, family or friends might be on their mysterious and top secret “No Fly List.” The most significant aspect of this is that Homeland Security has indicated that this is a preliminary step toward their ultimate objective of requiring this data submission prior to EVERY aircraft takeoff in America, regardless of destination. Keep this in mind as we continue.

It is important to understand that this requirement breaks entirely new ground. While ENTERING any country requires formalities, never, ever, has it been necessary to seek and receive government permission to LEAVE America, the “land of the free,” much less to travel within its borders. And never, ever, has it been proposed that such permission is somehow necessary to preserve “national security.” This is a requirement only previously seen in Iron Curtain dictatorships.

It’s only one data-point.  Add it to the complaints that gun owners have had for years, that smokers have had for decades, and that businesses have had forever.  The question is legitimate – Are we regulating ourselves out of our God-given rights?  Have we already?  I know the mechanism by which this is done – it’s done one baby step at a time.  What I don’t know, is why.

The 0.1 Second Brushoff

June 19, 2009

Ohhhh – This Hurts!

From PhyOrg.com, another reason to be so glad I’m married to the AstroWife…

Our brains get a first impression of people’s overriding social signals after seeing their faces for only 100 milliseconds (0.1 seconds). Whether this impression is correct, however, is another question. Now an international group of experts has carried out an in-depth study into how we process emotional expressions, looking at the pattern of cerebral asymmetry in the perception of positive and negative facial signals.

Hummm… Back in my bachelor days I noted with some chagrin that most women I saw in the grocery store spent much more time considering loaves of bread on the shelves than I ever saw them considering men in the local bar.  Well, me, anyway.

That’s when I stopped going to bars.   So glad those days are over.

Diana Krall – Live

June 17, 2009

And Wonderful!

Jazz may be an acquired taste, but right now these no better way to acquire it than to listen to Diana Krall’s music.  Last night I had the privilege of seeing her perform live at the Meyerhoff Concert hall in Baltimore.  What a night!

I wish I had taken notes – she started with I Love Being Here With You,  (made famous by Peggy Lee), which allows each of her quartet (guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Jeff Hamilton) plenty of room to display some musical fireworks.  She then continues with Sinatra, Nat King Cole, a Gershwin piece, and even a tune done originally by Julie London. But when she covers Sergio Mendez’  So Nice (you know the song even if you don’t think you do), magic happens.

And it kept on happening for the duration. Krall’s studio productions sometimes seem a bit cold.  As much as you’d like to have this very attractive woman singing to you, it’s always feels much more like she’s singing for you and your date. But live, Mrs. Costello is very engaging and warm to the audience (especially when describing the musical preferences of her 2 year old twins, which tend, she says, towards “Itsy Bitsy Spider”).

By the time she does her torch song, you are in a bar, she’s at the piano, the lights and the mood are right and you know you’re going to find someone.

The audience was amazing too.  As a group, they were surprisingly knowlegable and sophisticated about the music, even getting the musical jokes.  It took about three beats for the audience to recognize Krall’s signature piece, Frim Fram Sauce, and show their appreciation.  Listen – When an audience waits until the final echo of a fade, and only then explodes into applause, that’s when you know the performer has them.  That happened last night.

Free Fallin’

June 15, 2009

Stumblin’ and Tumblin’

I haven’t blogged much about bicycling this spring, but I’ve been doing my share (which, fortunately, isn’t much for old men…) Weekend before last I took my first real fall.

Note to self: When looking over your shoulder, don’t start to turn before checking traffic. Changing your mind will cause you to skid.

And fall. Only my ego got bruised and my elbow scraped. My helmet did bounce off the ground, though.

But I managed to get the strut to which the de-railer is mounted somewhat out of alignment. Not to worry, I thought. I can adjust it. Right? Um… Children, don’t try that at home. Did you know that a good bike mechanic is worth his weight in gold in 14 states? Anyway, I messed up the alignment and the fine tuning of the de-railer, and the bike is in the shop for a few more days. Lesson learned! De-railer adjustment is a black art, who’s practitioners begin their magic with the sacrifice of small electronic appliances while chanting a mystic canticle in Olde English.

Tour-de-cure 100 mile start.

Tour-de-cure 100 mile start.

My hat’s off to the astro-bro, who completed the “Tour-de-Cheektowaga” and lived to tell the tale. That’s him, next to Lance Armstrong.