Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Stardate 62329.07 - Jess on BoingBoing

Jess' movie effort, Artemis Eternal, continues to receive props across the Internet. BoingBoing is the latest to highlight this grass-roots effort to make a truly independent film, beholden to no-one but the filmmaker (and of course, the audience!). ;-)

Please visit the article, and if you have not visited the movie yet be sure to watch.

The bandwagon is still gaining speed. Are you on?


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stardate 62326.13 - Artemis Eternal on TechCrunch

Jess' movie effort made the front page of TechCrunch. That is in addition to being featured on YouTube and MySpace. Momentum is on our side!

If you haven't watched "The Story So Far" video, please visit TechCrunch do so. If you haven't donated at least $1 to her filmmaking effort, please do so.

The bandwagon is gaining speed. Are you on?


Monday, April 28, 2008

Stardate 62324.48 - Loren Blows Bubbles

I know I still haven't put up the pictures from 2 weekends ago when we attended a birthday party, but here is a short video from that party where Loren was blowing bubbles (well, at least one!).


Stardate 62323.54 - Jess Highlighted on MySpace

I got rid of the MySpace account I used to have (too many people sending me join invitations in an effort to promote their local bands), but if you have one you may have noticed over the weekend that Jess' movie effort, Artemis Eternal, was highlighted (similar to what just happened on YouTube).


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stardate 62320.47 - Walk the Line

Cheryl and I watched Walk the Line Saturday night. This was a story about Johnny Cash, and won a lot of praise and some awards in 2005-2006. It clocked in at a little over 2 hours and we started it after 9PM, so it is a tribute as to how good it is that not old did we stay up until 11:30PM watching it, but also Cheryl stayed awake for the entire film.

The movie focuses on his start and early career, and I must confess that I knew nothing about the man and very little about his music. I found the movie to be quite interesting, and clearly it held my attention. We do agree with the director (mentioned during the "deleted scenes" extras) that the start was a bit slow (hence a lot of early deleted scenes), but we still give it two thumbs up.

Even if you have never really listened to the "The Man in Black's" music, you will still enjoy the film.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Stardate 62317.72 - Curt on the Tram

I was going to do a long post this morning about the birthday party we went to last weekend, but as I sat down to write Loren started saying, "I'm up! I'm up!" from her bed and then got out of bed and came out of her room. So I'm just quickly putting up this picture of me on the tram as we traveled from the playdate last weekend to the birthday party. Hopefully, Loren will take a nap today and I can get the birthday post up.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stardate 62313.00 - Movie Reviews

Cheryl and I watched two movies last weekend: Jesus is Magic and Munich.

First, Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic (which we watched first). This film is essentially a stand-up routine, with some skits around it. Parts were laugh-out-loud funny, but parts were not. Overall, it was not what I was expecting (I guess I was expecting either all stand-up, all skits, or some-type of film with a plot). I think the comedy / humor was uneven, and relied a little too much on shock value when a woman cursing and being crude is quite frankly not that much of a shock these days.

Cheryl watched it also and I am pretty sure she felt the same way, but we didn't discuss her actual rating for it. I give it a thumb-sideways. I probably laughed more than most people, but it is because I really want to enjoy comedy.

The next film we saw was Munich. This film is based on a book about the actions that Israel took after the assassinations of its Olympic athletes back in the 70s. I did find the film to be balanced, which was one of the director's intentions, although at the very end there was a shot of the two towers that I felt was a bit pugilistic. They didn't edit out a building that went up in the past 6 years (since we moved to NYC), but they intentionally put back in the two towers and ended the movie with that shot as the credits rolled. I felt like it was a not-so-subtle reminder of the terrorist attack here, and was perhaps saying that the Palestinians are "our" common enemy. It just took away from the balanced nature of the film to have that as the final scene. Additionally, I felt like some of the characters were a bit one-dimensional and it was very hard to understand motivations near the end for some of them. I know putting a book into a 2-hour movie is tough, but I just felt like it was rushed in terms of character development at the end.

Again, Cheryl saw most of this one, but was falling asleep near the end. I think she would agree with my thumb-sideways rating.


Stardate 62312.26 - YouTube Feature

Jess' movie on where we are with Artemis Eternal is featured on YouTube. If you didn't watch it when I posted it here (and even if you did) please check it out again!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stardate 62310.51 - Political Parties

With the election nearing, I've been thinking about politics lately--especially political parties. Since neither the Republicans nor the Democrats completely match what I believe, I started doing some third party research and ran across this site. Who knew we had so many political parties? Looking through the list I found several that at first glance, seemed to match my views better than either of the two main parties:
I voted for Ross Perot (once) of the Reform Party, but Buchanan seized control of the organization in 2000 and it became too conservative for me. If there was ever an opportunity to establish a true, viable third party it was early in the history of the Reform Party but Ross squandered his political capitol by turning out to be a nut job.

I am a fan of environmentalism, and so the Green Party also appeals to me, although I'm pretty sure Ralph Nader lost the election for Gore and so we've ended up with this horrific 8-year period where the current administration continues to shred the constitution, run up huge deficits, and engage in an un-winnable war. And I'm about more than just environmentalism.

The Independence Party's mantra of "Socially Inclusive and Fiscally Responsible" is appealing, as they are pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun rights, and fiscally moderate. That pretty much sums up my beliefs. But they have been pretty limited to just Minnesota, and are not really national in scale.

The Libertarian Party also seems matches several of my beliefs. The Libertarians are neither left nor right, believing in total individual liberty (pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and anti-gun control) and total economic freedom (anti-welfare, anti-income tax, and pro-free trade). They espouse a classical laissez faire ideology which, they argue, means "more freedom, less government and lower taxes." But they seem to always support the Republican candidates, and in doing so are picking (supposed) economic freedom over individual liberty.

I've been a fan of the Moderate Party for some time, but they only have a single candidate in Illinois and they don't really seem to be making any traction on a national level. But I like their platform, and I feel it comes the closest to matching my personal beliefs:

  • Government Spending and Taxes - Supports lowering federal spending and paying down the national debt without compromise to individuals, families, and seniors of American citizenship currently in need of Federal assistance. Supports a simplified tax code, including the Fair Tax or Flat Tax. Supports closing tax loopholes for corporations.
  • International Relations -Believes that the United States must return to its primary role as international peacekeeper. Believes that although the United States may disagree with other nations' politically and/or socially inhumane ideologies, where those nations have not directly threatened American security, we do not have the right to preemptory invasion. Believes that the United States must seek economic and diplomatic recourse in bringing corrupt and inhumane governments to justice before the world court, resorting to military recourse only in coalition with other nations in an action sanctioned by an international governing body.
  • Defense -Supports a strong national defense. The safety and security of the United States is of utmost importance, including securing our borders. Supports sensibility with regards to defense spending, including, but not limited to, the following:
    • Maintaining a balanced defense budget.
    • Auditing federal contracts as necessary to ensure proper billing.
    • Avoiding conflicts of interests in awarding government contracts.
  • Environment - Supports protection of our environment to ensure clean land, fresh air, and pure water for ourselves and for future generations. Opposes sprawl development by encouraging smart planning, livable neighborhoods, and historic preservation. Supports alternative sources of energy that can individually or collectively meet demand and are also environmentally responsible. Supports public transportation to lessen dependence on the automobile and improve the quality of our land, air, and water.
  • Religious Freedom - Supports the separation of church and state as the guiding principle that truly guarantees and enables religious liberty for all Americans.
  • Firearm Responsibility - Supports the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. Recognizes that any firearm ownership requires responsibility for the same. Supports the enforcement of those laws currently in existence that penalize citizens who use firearms in the commission of a crime. Believes:
    • That education in the proper and safe use of firearms is fundamental for all new and underage firearm owners. We therefore support legislation that encourages citizen education in firearm safety and use.
    • That both firearms dealers and gun owners have a responsibility to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals. We therefore support legislation requiring background checks on all firearm purchases.
    • That firearms dealers and private individuals who distribute arms to those citizens deemed unfit for ownership because of prior felony conviction, declared mental incompetence, or deficiency in education on proper firearm safety and use, are in effect acting irresponsibly. We therefore support legislation penalizing those firearms dealers and private citizens who act in such an irresponsible manner.
    • That parents, as the primary role models and shaping forces in the lives of their minor children, are accountable for the actions of their minor children. We therefore support legislation that holds responsible any parent or guardian who allows their minor children illegal access to their firearms.
  • Women's Reproductive Rights -Supports a woman’s right to choose, but is hopeful that the decision to go forward with the termination of pregnancy would be made only under the most extreme circumstances such as rape or incest, or if the life of the mother is otherwise in danger. Does not support the termination of pregnancy in the third trimester except under circumstances in which the life of the mother is otherwise in danger. Supports the minimization of pregnancy terminations through education (to include birth control and abstinence) and through greater access to birth control.
  • Recognition of Unmarried Partners - Supports the creation of civil unions to provide economic and familial benefits to mutually consenting adult couples. Opposes any Constitutional Amendment which sacrifices legal recognition of the committed relationships of consenting adult couples on political, economic, or religious grounds. Although we understand that the federal government must at times, in the interest of the American people, pass legislation limiting our personal liberties, we feel this legislation should only be passed through laws and the government should never use the constitution of the United States to restrict personal liberties.
Too bad we're stuck with only 2 parties capable of actually winning a national, Presidental election, neither of whom represent me. How about you? If there really were more than 2 people who could win, would you stick with Republicans and Democrats or shop around?

"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, it to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."
—John Adams


Monday, April 21, 2008

Stardate 62305.57 - Sunday Playdate

On Sunday after the gym we went to Ariana's house. Ariana and her parents visited us back in February. Loren had a great time playing with Ariana's two tricycles - one for inside and one for outside! (There may be one in Loren's future.) We also got to watch the Pope's motorcade go by across the river on the FDR drive, and the police boats keeping watch in the East River.


Stardate 62304.81 - John Adams, The Series

I've been watching John Adams, the mini-series on HBO, for the past month or so. I have found it to be most excellent. I should have posted about it earlier, as this past Sunday was the finale. I'm sure they will either show it again or put it out on DVD pretty quickly, however. I am always amazed at how little US history I really know well, although my last US History class was in 11th grade so I really shouldn't be so surprised.

I think this was very, very good. My only complaint is that I was a little confused at how some of the personalities were portrayed (especially Franklin and Jefferson). They just didn't mesh with my memory, but I assume these folks have researched history more throughly and more recently than I.

Cheryl started the first one, but this was a lot of television for her to commit to over a long period of time. If we had it on DVD I'm sure she'd watch the whole thing.

One thumb up!!!


Stardate 62304.13 - The Poke's Coming!

Unless you are on a media blackout, you know that The Pope was in NYC over the weekend. The street in front of our building, providing easy access to the FDR Drive, was frequently closed for 10 minutes at a time and used as his private road throughout the weekend. Subsequently, we saw his motorcade a few times (although we only had the camera with us one of those times). The motorcade moved pretty quickly, so this was the only shot Cheryl got of the Pope's vehicle.

Whenever we were out and Cheryl said something about the Pope coming or the Pope being here Loren would respond, "The Poke's Coming!" or "The Poke's here!"


Friday, April 18, 2008

Stardate 62297.21 - Loren Sings her A-B-Cs

In this short video from a few weekends ago, Loren sings her A-B-Cs while looking through an A-B-C book.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stardate 62294.23 - Sutton Place Park

Cheryl wrote earlier about stopping off at Sutton Place Park at the end of 57th St by the river for Loren to run off some energy on the way home. I went down on Wednesday evening with Loren's sand toys and met them at the park. I also brought the camera. For a day that hit the mid 60s, it was pretty chilly in the shade in the park. We didn't last too long before we were ready to go home. Cheryl left first with the stroller and most of the sand toys while Loren played at the statue. Then Loren wanted her sand toys and when I told her they were gone with Mommy she whined and whined and whined all the way home.


Stardate 62293.14 - Loren's Second Haircut

Cheryl has been trying to grow out Loren's hair, rather than cutting bangs, because once you cut bangs you are committed to them. As a result, it has been some time since Loren's first haircut. After seeing the pictures of Loren working the puzzles, however, Cheryl decided it was time for a trim (but no bangs!). This time we took the camera (last time was spontaneous and Cheryl had to use her phone camera to capture the moment).

And here is the final result!!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stardate 62288.93 - Loren and Magic

Here are a couple of pictures of Loren loving Magic because "he's a sweet kitty!".


Monday, April 14, 2008

Stardate 62286.40 - Leaving, On a Jet Plane

On Sunday we had Vlad, Inna, David, Sabine, and Hans Joseph over for dinner. It was the first time any of them had seen the new place. Sabine and Hans Joseph are leaving for Australia at the end of the month - moving there, actually. So this was the last time we could get together with them before they go. We tried a group shot at the end of the meal, but with 2 children in the picture it didn't turn out the best. Oh, well.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Stardate 62279.99 - Home At Last

Friday was a delightful day to fly on an American Airlines MD-80. I was out in Illinois all week for work, having left on Monday when there was no indication (of which I was aware) that travel on American was about to go Tango Uniform. All week I kept an eye on the news and the cancellations, and I was concerned when the Thursday version of my flight was canceled. I was also concerned when only one flight all day Friday made it to NYC. A couple made it to Chicago, but the legs to LaGuardia Airport (LGA) were canceled.

All day long my flight continued to show as on-time, however, so I got to the airport a good 2.5 hours prior to departure in case of problems. Then 45 minutes prior to departure, the text messages began. First, we were delayed 15 minute to a 7 PM departure. Ten minutes later, another 20 minute delay. Ten minutes after that, another 15 minute delay. And 40 minutes later, our original departure time of 6:45 PM was now 8 PM. Luckily, we were told, at this point the plane was en route from Dallas so it was clearly one that had been inspected and certainly nothing could keep us from LGA now.

I think it was 8:30 PM (Central Time) when we took off, but we were told by the Captain that we'd be at LGA at 11:15 PM. Then, around 11 PM it became obvious that we were circling. The Captain came on and told us that conditions at LGA were "below minimums" and we would divert to Kennedy (JFK). LGA is a 10-15 minute taxi ride to home, while JFK is more like 40 minutes. We finally landed and got to the gate at 11:30PM. Turns out we were the lucky ones, as other planes bound for LGA were diverted to Connecticut and Philly.

Almost an hour later, our luggage finally arrived at baggage claim. By this time, there were 50 people in line for Taxis, so I was was cursing under my breath and about to get into the line when one of the many illegal car service people asked me if I needed a car ($65 is the price he quoted me to get to Manhattan, which is $10 or $15 more than a Taxi ride). Faced with a 20+ minute wait in line, I took him up on his offer and we were off to Manhattan. At about 40 miles per hour. He was one of the slowest drivers I've ever ridden with. I seriously think I would have done better to wait in the Taxi line. Additionally, he went the wrong way off of the Queensboro Bridge and had to go a few blocks out of the way in order to get back around to our place.

I finally was home and in bed at 1:20 AM Saturday morning. But at least I got home.

I will say that the employees of American Airlines remained very professional throughout the evening, and we had many off-duty flight attendants on our flight trying to get to work. Believe me, they were just as inconvenienced as the rest of us were, but everyone kept their cool.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Puzzle Mania

Loren and I are having a fairly uneventful week while Curt is in Illinois. I am busy at work and overcaffeinated--not downing espresso at 6 pm or anything like that, but a second cup of coffee in the morning or a Diet Coke at lunch, which is enough to lead to a vicious cycle of staying up too late at night and needing a little extra caffeine again to be functional the next day.

Of course having so much one-on-one time leads to some special...let's call them bonding moments for me and Loren. This morning I treated her to breakfast in the cafeteria at work. I had the nerve to eat a bite of her croissant, normally not a problem but this morning she decided it was not at all acceptable: "I need it back! Spit it out!" At the top of her lungs. With tears. "Loren, it's already in my tummy. I can't give it back." "NO! I NEED IT BACK!", lifting up my shirt to see if she could get it out of my tummy that way, as all eyes in the cafeteria turn our way. She kept up the tears all the way down the hall to school. Not really a tantrum, but definitely impressive drama.

There have been some nice moments too. We finally had some warmer weather, and on the way home a couple of nights we stopped off at Sutton Place Park at end of 57th St by the river. It has a gorgeous view of the Queensboro bridge, a sandbox, and a statue to climb on. For whatever reason we had never explored it before. A nice place for Loren to run off some energy before going home.

Loren has really gotten into her puzzles lately, and in fact I don't think she's played with any of her other toys during the mornings and evenings this week. She wanted to try her farm jigsaw puzzle for the first time last weekend , doing it over and over with Curt until she could do it by herself. So we bought her a new zoo puzzle with more pieces, and she's almost got that one mastered (except for the side with the giraffe, where the pieces are quite similar to one another). She must get the puzzle gene from Nana. I'm sure Nana and Kracker will be thrilled to have a new helper with their 1000-piece jigsaws : )

Here also are a few pictures from gymnastics last weekend, and from our lunch outdoors at Republic on Union Square after visiting the Greenmarket.

Let's hope American Airlines gets its act together and Curt makes it home from St. Louis tomorrow!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Stardate 62264.51 - Blast from the Past

Today an old college friend of mine, Ellie, was in town with her husband, parents, and two children (Rachel and Drew). We probably haven't seen Ellie and Buck in 10 years. Ellie and I worked together in the Honor System back during our days at Virginia Tech, and were in at least one class together.

We met up at Central Park to go to the zoo. When we first planned this day for the zoo, it was supposed to be 60 and sunny. Instead, it was 40s and overcast. The kids still enjoyed the zoo, and it was a nice visit. For some reason, Loren didn't want to wear her coat for most of the visit (you'll notice she is lightly dressed for the weather). Drew and Rachel did a good job of shepherding Loren around, and Loren interacted really well with them (especially considering they were several years older than Loren). After the zoo we ate a quick lunch in the zoo cafe and then we returned home while they went to get ready to go to a show in the afternoon.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Stardate 62260.50 - Loren Spells Her Name

Loren takes a break from reading The Economist to spell her name for the camera.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stardate 62253.09 - Words of Wisdom

A long, long time ago (10+ years) I cut the following from a church bulletin (I think it was a Unison Prayer of Confession). I thought it was pretty wise, and I've kept it around. Today I'm almost recovered from the stomach virus, but since I'm sure you don't want to see pictures of that fiasco (not that we took any), I thought I'd share this today. I have no idea if it was taken from something famous, or just put together by my old minister or the Presbyterian Church.

Forgive us for being sidetracked by things of little consequence, lest we miss the road signs of our purpose and destiny. May we not be so enslaved in a monotonous rut that we miss the spell of a sunset, a strain of lovely music, the song of a bird, the sweetness of love. Help us weigh what is important, for our worth is measured by those things about which we busy ourselves.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Stardate 62250.09 - Stomach Bug

Loren and I were knocked out by some type of stomach virus starting Sunday night. She woke up vomiting between midnight and one, and continued on and off for the next few hours. I was ok until Monday morning, and for the next 16 hours I felt like I was constantly on the verge of throwing up (although I never actually did). I didn't have anything to eat or drink all day Monday, although Loren was pretty much recovered by mid-day Monday (was asking for food and milk). I'm still not at 100% today, but I am much better than yesterday.

Poor Cheryl had to stay home from work all day on Monday and take care of two sick babies! ;-)


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