luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Star Wars Against Hate)
I had a great Pennsic, right up until the end, when Draco the Honda Accord wouldn't start after not running for almost a week. And then I got him started and drove home, only to have him die again Sunday morning when I was driving the boy toy over to our local IHOP for breakfast.

Now I'm waiting for a new radiator and a new alternator. Those fixes will cost me almost as much as the car originally did (and I still haven't even *begun* to pay off the friend who lent me the money to buy it). I guess it's still cheaper than trying to buy yet another car. But I can obviously cancel any hope I have of getting anywhere near the path of totality next Monday.

Ah, well, at least I made it home before the car conked out. I have AAA Plus for 100 miles of free towing, but Pennsic is 300 or so miles from my residence, so I would have had to pay $800 for towing it back to my part of Greenbelt.

And what is it about my Pennsic attendance and violence? Three years ago, the last time I went to Pennsic, we had the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This year I drove home to greet the news of the white-supremacist rally and ensuing deaths in Charlottesville, Virginia. What is it with me and Pennsic and violence in the streets? Or is this just a sad coincidence? Certainly I deplore the alt-right white-supremacist neo-Nazi crap.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Star Wars Against Hate)
(Note: I don't know whether this will cross-post to LJ because I haven't accepted LJ's new TOS yet. We shall see what happens.)

Today makes the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I. Of course, the war has fallen out of living memory -- the only people who were alive back then and still exist were tiny children then. Of course we don't go around reenacting it much, because it wasn't full of "exciting" maneuvers, just a long, static, disgustingly miserable slog that was only peripherally relevant to our continued existence as a nation. (One could argue that we as a species did not learn a damned thing from that war because people are STILL using chemical weapons in Syria -- HORRIBLE.)

I honestly don't know whether I have any relatives who served in World War I. Once I found an online listing of WWI soldiers from my mother's hometown and it included a man with the same name as my grandfather. However, I have a hard time believing that my grandfather served. His first two kids were born in 1914 and 1915, then my Uncle Rene was born in September 1917, and my mother was born in September 1919. Do the math. IMHO, my mother looked more like her father than any of her siblings. So if he had served in any capacity, he probably remained on the home front.

Since my hometown's city hall was built in the 1930s, probably with New Deal funding, the community's memorial to World War I got pride of place in front of the main entrance. It's a granite obelisk with four statues, one on each side, one each representing the Army, the Navy, the Marines ... and the nurses. Yes. A woman with a calf-length skirt on a military memorial. I wonder why this is not more famous nationally.
luscious_purple: Boston STRONG! (Boston Strong)
Last night's news from Paris was certainly horrific. I changed the photo on the top of my Facebook page to an image of an old-fashioned postcard showing the American and French flags with the slogan "They Wave for Liberty." It looks like something printed up for World War I. I got it from a Facebook group called "French Canadian Descendants" (yes, I am in a whole lotta FB groups, just as I joined a bazillion LJ communities back in the day, even though almost all of them are dead now).

Today I got away from the sad news for a while and did something I've been wanting to do for more than a month: the boy toy and I went to see The Martian at our local multiplex. What a wonderful movie! Not only was it the kind of hard SF I like the best, but it was just so refreshing to watch a science fiction movie that was all about problem-solving instead of blowing up and shooting up "the others." Awesome!!! Now, of course, I really want to read the original book. (I also have a lot of respect for how the author, Andy Weir, crowdsourced the science while he was writing the book. Gotta think about how to do something like that in other contexts.)

(And, of course, I do have a few nits to pick about the plot, but in general it was one of the most "realistic" SF movies I've seen. And I've seen some awful stuff -- see, for example, Spacecamp. Bleah!)

Tonight I munched on homemade popcorn (the movie-theater stuff is way too expensive) while watching an hour-long YouTube video of Andy Weir, Adam Savage, and Chris Hadfield talking about The Martian. Now I'm listening to the Democratic debate while the boy toy watches Doctor Who in the other room. I'm following two live blogging/tweeting websites: Media Nation and Slate. Certainly Bernie Sanders is firing off some zingers....
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Not much accomplished today, it seems. Ran a couple of errands, waited for the exterminator to come to do the bimonthly bug spraying. The boy toy did three loads of laundry. I started to read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I've read a lot of nonfiction lately, because of my freelance work, and so I thought I'd read something a big classic yet suspenseful.

Late in the afternoon I first read some Facebook mentions of the bombings in Paris, so I flipped on CNN and the BBC. So sad. I really, really hope that there are no more attacks. And I really, really hope we on this side of the pond don't end up ramping up the security theater as a result. Yes, I want to be safe, but can you imagine going through TSA-style rigmarole to enter a shopping center or subway station?

I've never been to France, but I identify with it in a distant sort of way because of my French Canadian heritage. Also, until I was 6 or so, our neighbors across the street were an older couple from Marseille. I called them Auntie Ray and Uncle Leo, even though they were no kin to us. ("Ray" was short for Raymonde.) They had two kids who were almost grown by the time I was born, as well as a yappy little Pomeranian named Frou-Frou, the first dog I ever met. Auntie Ray and Uncle Leo moved back to Marseille, but they came back for a visit some years later -- I think I was in college by then. I'm sure they are long gone now.
luscious_purple: Lithuanian map and flag -- "Proud to Be Lithuanian" (lithuanian map and flag)
The first LJ Idol poll is up:
I'm in Tribe 2.

Also: Happy Restoration of Lithuanian Independence Day! (Yes, Lithuania is the little country with two Independence Days.)

Still completely boggled as to how that Malaysia Airlines jetliner could simply vanish. It's not that small a plane. You'd think there would be some debris field on the surface. WTF.
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
While I was out enjoying myself yesterday, and thus not sitting in front of a computer or TV screen, the shooting at the Mall of Columbia (Maryland) happened. As you probably have heard by now, a young man with no prior criminal record shot two people dead before turning the gun on himself. This all went down about 20 miles from where I live (although I wasn't even in Maryland at the time).

For a pretty accurate summary of the way I feel about this crime, read this. So far, law enforcement officials have yet to figure out why this person killed two others and himself, other than the mere fact that he could.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
I was out for a walk around the neighborhood lake when the news broke about Nelson Mandela's death. Now, as our president just said, he belongs to the ages. Rest in peace, good man, and may your memory be a blessing to all future generations.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
... when I was reminded why the windows in the future educational center in the Very Prestigious Institution (the project that I am working on for the V.P.I.) are blast-proof. Something about high-value targets across the street and all that. Especially high-value on April 15 every year.

Seriously, I am still heartbroken over yesterday's Boston Marathon bombings. Despite 20 years in the Maryland suburbs of DC, I still consider myself a Massachusetts person who happens to be living down here. If you know me in person, you have probably noticed that I tend to get prickly when somebody disses the Bay State in my presence.

So, even though the cynic in me wants to say "gee, every night in American cities at least three people die in drive-by shootings and that does NOT make huge banner headlines," I grieve for the dead and injured and have nothing but disgust for the coward(s) who planted the bombs and (presumably) took off before they exploded.

I still lack Internet at home, so I have to get out of here for the evening, but here are links to a couple of wonderful essays about the deep affection for Marathon Mondays: Dan Kennedy and E.J. Dionne. I too remember standing in Kenmore Square or along Brookline Avenue to cheer on the runners -- first the elite, then the average Joes and Janes who flocked (or staggered) by a couple of hours later. (One summer I also sublet a room in an apartment about a block from the second blast site. Crappy building back then, but tony location.)

Last night after dance/music practice I had mixed feelings while watching CNN: I was proud to see photos from my favorite college newspaper shared on the news network, but saddened at the occasion that brought it about.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
On the National Geographic channel, I'm watching some guy (from Medford, MA) who makes his own robots. One of them is designed to fetch a can of beer out of the fridge and another goes around and puts out small fires. Gee, don't invite the latter one to Pennsic! I'm imaging the thing rolling down Cariadoc's Way and extinguishing fire bowls and tiki torches left and right.

In the last few days, I've gotten word that the Denny's in my town and the California Tortilla in College Park have both closed permanently. I'm sure that a few people have lost their jobs, and I'll have to drive farther if I want to eat at other Denny's or Cal Tort franchises. Dang. The Denny's was particularly convenient when our neighborhood had a power outage but that shopping center was brightly lit.

Dunno what to say about the Penn State situation that hasn't already been said. Just ... eeewww.
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
I'm talking about Gadhafi/Khadafi/Qaddafi/however you spell his name, of course. (I'm just channeling the old "Saturday Night Live" joke about Generalissimo Franco.) Still, as reports went back and forth this morning over whether the dictator was dead or only captured, I half expected him to pop again, like Whack-a-Mole.

As with previous bad guys who have met their end (see Bin Laden, Osama), I know I'm not supposed to rejoice in any human's death, but I'm sure as heck not sorry. Pan Am Flight 103 was personal for me in at lest three ways:

1) My friend A.P. immigrated to the U.S. on Pan Am Flight 103 -- three months before Lockerbie. The night of the bombing, she thought the flight number sounded familiar, so she dug her suitcase out of the closet and looked at the baggage tag. Sure enough. Probably even the same plane.

2) One of my co-workers in 1998 was in tears because there were so many Syracuse University students on that plane, on their way home from a fall semester in London. My co-worker had been one of those returning Syracuse students just two years earlier.

3) A few weeks later, I found out that the Flight 103 purser had lived in the town I covered (remember, I worked on a suburban newspaper back then). So guess who had to write the story. It's always depressing to talk to the bereaved, even when they want to talk to the reporter.

I just hope that Libya can now rejoin the community of nations as a reasonably free state.
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
I was just updating my professional blog and Twitter feed about this week's laser conference when I saw all these tweets about Osama bin Laden. So I put CNN on and am awaiting Obama's address.

I certainly can't say I'm sorry to hear the news. A family at my church lost an entire family of neighbors on the plane that went into the Pentagon. One of my friend Judy's other bridesmaids (Judy being the only person I've ever been a bridesmaid for) lost her first husband in one of the Twin Towers (she just remarried a few months ago).

I'm really waiting for some official confirmation here....
luscious_purple: "avoid heralds" (avoid heralds)
When Charles and Di got married in July 1981, I lived in a tiny one-room apartment with no TV, so I couldn't watch the royal wedding, whether I wanted to or not. So of course I wanted to see this one.

Even though the VCR in the bedroom doesn't have a remote, so I can't program it (and I don't have a DVR), I thought I'd get the recorder set up with an old videotape so that at 4 a.m. all I would have to do was hit "record" and start taping CNN. But there were a couple of "ER" episodes from 1999 on the tape I selected, so of course I had to watch those, because that was such a darned good series. So I got barely any sleep before the alarm went off at 4, and after I hit the "record" button, I found myself going to the living room and switching on BBC America, which doesn't work on the bedroom TV for some weird reason. It was great to watch the British coverage -- hardly a word of commentary during the service, while I'll bet the Americans kept up a running patter. And NO commercials. I watch a fair amount of CNN, so I have heard all the current CNN commercials a zillion times.

I dozed off on the sofa for a bit once the royals were parading back to the palace, but then the boy toy woke up earlier than I had expected, in order to cook bangers and mash for the occasion. So I don't think I'll stay up too late tonight. *yawn*


Dec. 18th, 2010 03:37 pm
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
The Senate has joined the house in repealing DADT.

About freaking time.

According to the NY Times alert, the final vote was 65-31, not even close.


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