Saturday, December 26, 2009

Finding Inspiration

If you're reading this then you survived another Christmas Day. Good on ya. I managed to cook steaks to a lovely medium rare and open a bottle of champagne without loss of life or limb. Or property damage. Dinner was my now traditional Xmas Nachos. All in all I'm quite content with how the day went. I am currently contemplating going through my closets and boxing up all the clothes I don't (or can't) wear and donating them to charity. It is Boxing Day and I am in the mood to give onto others. I'm also in the mood to purge.

Yesterday I got a tweet that sent me on a journey that was quite inspirational. Brian J. Smith who plays Matthew Scott on Stargate: Universe posted a link to the following video:



I like classical music. Don't listen to it enough any more. I'm particularly fond of Ludwig from the beet farm. There are times when I end up sobbing while listening to the Moonlight Sonata. I feel both exhilarated and sad when I hear the "Ode to Joy". To me Mozart's music is always saying "look what I can do." and Beethoven's says "This is how I feel."

What a person "gets" from music of any kind is unique for each person. Our experiences, feelings, background and culture all play a part in whether or not we like a piece of music. That leads me to another video I found after watching the one above:



Yes it is a bit long but well worth the time. I'd never heard of Evelyn Gleenie before but now I think she's just amazing. I had no idea she was deaf until she mentioned it. Just amazing. I think she is right that we all experience sound in many ways, not just with our ears. Thinking about it now I feel that our ears are just the easiest way to listen to sounds.

After the Evelyn Glennie video I started watching more videos from TED. I was especially impressed by Mae Jamison's talk about connecting the arts and sciences. I wish I hadn't been labeled as "artistic" or "imaginative" when I was a kid. I'm sure all my teachers expected me to do something creative (writing) as opposed to important (cancer research).



What I'm listening to now:
Evelyn Glennie: Her Greatest Hits

Next up:
Benjamin Zander: Beethoven: Symphonies No. 5 & No. 7

Some links you might find interesting:
Evelyn Gleenie
Benjamin Zander

Monday, December 21, 2009

Billy Idol Christmas





I'll bet you didn't know that Billy Idol made a Christmas album. I was quite surprised when I stumbled upon it last year. I really like Yellin' at the Christmas Tree. Some of the other songs are a bit too smarmy for my taste. I guess if you have to listen to Xmas music you should listen to something that give you a laugh.









Saturday, December 19, 2009

Favorite Christmas Show Title



The hour long show is the band singing songs from their album of the same title. Unfortunately the show doesn't seem t be available on DVD but you can by the CD.

Barenaked for the Holidays

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

International Animal Rights Day

Oreo's law will save animals.  Visit petsalive.com/oreoAnyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I have a soft spot for animals. I will retweet every tweet that asks for someone to adopt an animal before the shelter kills it. I will support any cause that takes care of the animals man has mistreated or abandoned. I will stand up against any agency that kills an animal in its care before every avenue to save it is tried.

I love animals. I also eat meat. I don't find a contradiction in that. I don't like seeing images of thousands of chickens that live their lives in crowded cages. I don't want to see how cows and pigs are slaughtered. I'm not stupid I know that an animal had to die for me to have a burger. I don't have a problem with hunting either as long as it's not for "fun". My rule of thumb is "kill what you eat and eat what you kill".

What would happen if we all stopped eating meat? We'd have a an animal population problem in a manner of months. We'd have to sterilize most of the animals or they'd eat us into extinction. And who would look after all the animals? It's hard enough to get people to be responsible for dogs and cats. I can't see people stepping up and helping out that pig who no longer has a farmer to feed him.

I try to eat free range and drug free animal products whenever I can. I eat wild salmon as opposed to farmed. I put my money where my conscience is. I would love it if everyone else did the same but I'm not going to hold my breath.

I'm not a big fan of using animals in research but I know that it's the only way we're going to find a cure for cancer or AIDS or any number of diseases. I do not condone animal testing for cosmetics or any other commercial product. I don't want a rabbit to be harmed or die for my hairspray. Here's a link to the Cruelty Free Shopping Guide that I use. I do not condone or support any group that breaks into or firebombs medical research labs. I won't be a part of terrorism.

I am against anyone who abuses animals. I don't care if they run a puppy mill, a dog fighting ring or if they're just your everyday asshole hurting anything weaker than him. I think we really need stronger punishments for people who abuse and neglect animals. I think we need to be a voice for animals but I don't believe in getting violent or crazy. I will admit when I first heard about heard about Oreo my first reaction was to hope someone throws that guy off the roof of a building. Part of me thinks that if abusers got the same done to them as part of the punishment I wouldn't have a problem with it.

I puppy raise for Pacific Assistance Dogs. I love every dog that comes through my door. The idea that I am doing anything to hurt these dogs is just insulting. I recently found out that PETA is against animals with jobs. If they had their way we wouldn't have guide dogs for the blind, service dogs for the physically impaired or assistance dogs for deaf people. There wouldn't be bomb dogs or drug dogs or rescue dogs. There wouldn't be therapy dogs or seizure dogs. I have seen how happy dogs are to work with their people. These smart dogs would be bored if they didn't have a job. Most people who work with these animals know how special they are and take care of them. If I ever saw anyone abusing a working animal I would get in their face and wouldn't rest until that animal was removed from their care.

This isn't turning out to be your average "animal rights" post. I'm sure most of the others written today will disagree with me on most points.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Blasts From The Past - Isis

You never know what is going to make an impression on you. In 1975 I was 11 years old when Isis first started airing as part of the Shazam/Isis Hour. I discovered a bunch of episodes on YouTube lately and have come to the realization that the show was really goofy and I don't mean the fashion.

Every episode had a lesson. Sometimes the lesson was stated by Isis talking to the audience at the end of the show but usually it was worked into the last conversations between the main characters. Not exactly thrilling television by today's standards. The issues the show dealt with weren't controversial. The plots were simplistic but how complex can you get in a 1/2 format with commercial breaks?



In spite of the simplicity the show stuck with me. Isis was the first Egyptian deity I'd ever heard of and she remains my favorite. A kitschy television show started a lifelong interest in Egyptology. I would have gone into archeology in college but the closest (and cheapest) university didn't offer those kinds of courses. I'm looking forward to turning 65 when I can go and take archeology classes at UBC for free.

Isis was the last Egyptian deity to be worshiped. Her last temple at Philae was closed in the sixth century. There are remains of her temples in Rome and London as well as many other cities. In a way, she's still being worshiped as the Virgin Mary. Many Egyptian depictions of Isis and her son Horus are similar to the way Christians portray Mary and Jesus.

I'm sure the creators of the Isis TV show never expected their Isis (and her raven Tut) to change anyone's life. My love for all things (ancient)Egyptian has lead me to some strange places. I only went to the movie Stargate because it used Egyptian mythology. I read everything I can get my hands on. I watch every documentary on the History channel (there are a lot). I collect images and nicknacks of all shapes and sizes. My Egyptian art address book is from the Cleveland Museum of Art (I've never been to Cleveland). I have bookmarks in the shape of sarcophagi. My pencil case is a sarcophagus from New York. I have a scarab necklace purchased at the Luxor in Las Vegas. Those are just the things I can see from my desk.

I love everything about ancient Egypt. The art, the religion even the politics. I can't seem to get enough. The great thing is no matter how much I read or see there will always be more. And it all started with a silly little TV show.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Xmas Baking

For some reason I am craving all the Xmas goodies I used to eat when I was a kid. I make a mean shortbread cookie but I want something even better. Below is a recipe that was made two or three time each holiday season when I was growing up. Enjoy


No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
  • 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter


In a medium mixing bowl, stir together butter or margarine, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13" baking pan.

In the top of a double boiler over hot (not boiling) water, melt the chocolate chips with the 4 tablespoons peanut butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spread on top of the mixture in the baking pan.

Refrigerate for about 1 hour before cutting into bars.

Makes about 24 but yield depends on how big or small you cut the bars/squares.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day

Today is always a sad day for me. I started having sex in the 80s (yes I'm that old - get over it) and a fun time was had by all until 1985 when Rock Hudson died. That's when AIDS became real for me and my peers. All of a sudden sex could kill.

A friend of a friend was the first AIDS patient in my hometown. They put him in a half finished hospital because, at the time, they didn't know how the disease was spread. So there he was, on the outskirts of town in a huge building with only a couple of nurses wearing masks for company. Not that they wanted to get close to him.

The list of people who could get AIDS seemed to grow every day. Gay men, intravenous drug users, hemophiliacs, straight women, straight men, babies of infected mothers... the list just kept growing. All of a sudden people had "risk factors". Gay? Move to the front of the line. Had sex in New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco? Move right up the line. Drug addict? Up you go. Bisexual? Yes, you too.

For an assignment in university I went to the local STD clinic to get tested. The process took hours. I kept moving up in risk factor lottery - what? I told you I had fun. I had to listen to a nurse talk about safe sex and demonstrate how to use a condom. Then I had to talk to the doctor. Everyone was so serious. AIDS was a big deal. Unfortunately when I'm in a tense situation I have a tendency to laugh and make jokes. This worried the people in the clinic. Maybe if I'd kept my mouth shut I'd have been out of there much faster.

After a tense couple of weeks, my test came back negative. I shall forever be thankful that I dodged a bullet. So many others weren't that lucky. There came a point in the 90s that I didn't want to answer my phone because every call was someone telling me that someone else had died. So and so OD'd. So and so killed himself. So and so was just diagnosed. Happy shiny people who were there and then all of a sudden they were gone. Around that time I ran into a friend who had been a model in the 80s. She told me that EVERYONE she had worked with was dead either of AIDS or a drug overdose.

Then AIDS went away. Not really. The new drugs were helping people to live longer so the disease didn't seem as bad as it once did. The media moved on to bigger and better things. Most people just stopped thinking about it. They might see something about World AIDS Day once a year but then they forget about it.

Unless you live in Africa. There an estimated 15 million children have become AIDS orphans. Little girls are raped because the men believe that having sex with a virgin cures AIDS. 22 million Africans are living with the disease. 1.5 million die every year. Most are dead within five years of diagnosis. People are dying because they don't have access to the drugs the West has. (Source)

I guess you can see why the first day of December gets me down. I'll probably spend the day listening to my Queen albums and toasting Freddie Mercury and all the other people who aren't here any more.

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