Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And at the top of the hour....

Ramblings Post #225
I'm about to say some things that might be taken in the wrong way. It happens. I'll live. But it's been a minute, I've been slapping letters on paper here and there and getting over a cold...or the flu...or the plague, so I decided to chime in. Something to do. Since gutting the transfer budget won't get me enough money to keep even one of my....never mind. A bit of rage quit. This isn't so much a rant as commentary. Edited down because halfway through I kinda answered a question of my own and didn't see the point of exposing my own ignorance. Or at least that much of my own ignorance. 

If the NBA player who came out of the closet had shot the ball like Jordan or Lebron, not only would there be no voices of dissent in the locker room, his fellow players would be ready to brawl in the street if you said anything bad about him. It's a team thing. That's just my opinion now, because maybe fervent religious belief is bigger than sport. But I'm from the south...where Roll Tide can be substituted for Amen under the right circumstances.

Jason Collins, former Celtic and Wizard, said "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."  I wonder if he'd done this in mid-season, when he had a team, what the reaction would have been. Don't get me wrong, doing this just after the season closed so it wouldn't be a distraction to the team was gracious on his part. But he's a free agent, he has no current locker room in which to stand. And he's 34, on the tail end of his career. He's a player in a professional sport because he hasn't turned in the required league retirement paperwork.

And by announcing it now he's also placed himself in a dicey position. As one commentator put it, he's a position where if he gets picked up next season, it could look like a publicity stunt. But if he's not picked up, it's because he's gay and discrimination is afoot. Rock and hard place. Now, by dint of the sheer number of professional athletes there have to be a few hundred gay men who suit up and play some "game" at the professional level each week. And teams replace those players all the time, for a variety of reasons. You see where I'm going with that. I'm just theorizing here, spitting out hypotheticals if you will.

On another note, another commentator I heard today also mentioned for some reason the "I'm black" part as being important. Why I don't know. As though he might be the first gay black person ever. Probably not. As though black people don't accept gay people. Um, yeah. We kinda do. Maybe I should have listened more, but I was getting a haircut at the time.

Now, as I said, I'm from the South. Where, if you can play football on Saturday with great ability, why it doesn't matter what your race or religion might be. Sport transcends if you will. Black, White, Indian, smart, stupid, crazy, it doesn't matter. So gay probably won't matter either. If you can play. It's unfair, but it's not new, its wrong in the same way that as long as we can remember the abusive high school jocks are treated as young gods because they can break a tackle on a fine Friday night. It's not crazy...it's sports. (via ESPN).

And since when is life fair?

Barkeep. Roll Tide.

(I'm not really an Alabama fan, I'm just trying to make a point.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Things I meant to comment on (up to speed edition)

Ramblings Post #224
The line is "life comes at you fast." Yes, I know it's from an insurance commercial, but that doesn't make it any less true. And as I understand it, that end of April has been, a least for the last few decades, a very busy time of the year. The Oklahoma City Bombing, the Columbine Massacre and now the Boston Marathon all happened in the latter part of the month. Spring brings new things...and not all of them good. As such a few things might have gotten short shrift, at least from my perspective. I just wanted to say a few things, about those and about those things which are dominating our outlook. 


At my internship down at the Courthouse I did my first hearing, eventually getting the charges dismissed for my client. Mostly what I had been handling up to that point were what are called "diversions", wherein the state offers counseling or community service for first time offenders. If you've ever been in court it's all the hustling and bustling the lawyers do from table to table. Occasionally, because circumstances vary from case to case, we have an actual hearing, and this time I was up to bat. In my case I had the law on my side, wrote out my argument before hand to keep it all straight and during kept my questions to the point. I also got a lot of help from one the better lawyers in the office. Still, everyone thought I did a fairly good job. Yay me.

Pat Summerall

Pat Summerall passed away, and I am sad. He was, for lack of a better term, John Madden's comedic straight man in the broadcast booth. The duo was so good it's the only reason I'd watch the film the Replacements again, as they do the game commentary. As far as announcer's go, Summerall was truly one of the greats, his voice carrying a certain resonance that gave the sport the gravity it deserved. For twenty two years, with his rambunctious partner doing the color, the man simply sounded like football.

Summerall and Madden - Football. Period.

Waco, Texas.

Fertilizer Plant explosion. Had this happened a month a from now, this would be an indictment, a litany of characteristic flaws in the "minimalist form of government" touted as needed by so many. This lesson will be lost in the media storm. Start with Texas' sudden request for federal aid for a disaster caused by a private company after their insistence that New York and New Jersey be denied aid after the natural disaster of Hurricane Sandy. This is the height of hypocrisy. Add to that everything from the sketchy inspections to the cartoon-ish and dangerous zoning, there are so many things wrong with this picture.

Zoning? We don't need no government enforcing no Zoning! We're smart!

A Boston Comment...

If the people who described the Boston bombing suspects as dark skinned...could perhaps define dark skinned, that would be nice. I'm just saying. Especially since in the photos I've seen the two suspects look like they wouldn't cause anyone to clutch their purse a little tighter.

And, seriously, I'm hoping that this manhunt isn't a panacea for the masses, and that these really are the guys. Not that I  believe in any conspiracy to commit this act, I do however understand the need for national emotional closure. But in this case, well, really in any case, closing something out just to soothe our souls would be wrong. 

Makes you put all that ridiculous celebrity news that we get inundated with in context, don't it?

Barkeep. Shots. Just put 'em down until I say stop.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A comment about Boston

Before we get started, everyone have a cookie. Think of it as a little bit of normal.

Just damn.

Normally the Boston Marathon isn't on my radar. I know what it is, and respect those who go out and do it, but in my little sphere of attention it doesn't carry the same magnitude as a Superbowl or the Masters. And I might have spent the whole day not knowing it occurred.

Except this year a friend of mine was running. We'd gone to school down in Florida together 20 years ago (man that's a long time) and back when I used to go out often, unlike now, we'd run into each other from time to time. Our social circles brushed up nicely. So when she announced that morning on Facebook she was running, accompanied by photos of her number and everything, I actually decided to look in on the race. Why? On the off chance I'd see her stumble through the frame of one of the race shots...nothing more.

She finished at three hours and forty eight minutes.

The explosions happened just under twenty minutes later.

Luckily for her, she left right after getting her time confirmed, as she had to catch a flight back to Atlanta that afternoon. Otherwise who knows. Who knows indeed.

Sometimes we get to a mindset where tragedy happens far away from us, from those we love, from those we care about, from our friends and family. Then something happens, and we learn the wall is a lot smaller than we think.

And then, if we're smart, we'll wonder why we ever forgot how small this world really is.

May those in Boston in need find comfort in the arms of friends and family. Amen. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

And you thought YOUR number was high?

Ramblings Post #223
I spent the majority of my life in the South. I've spent a minute in the a few northern states, but all it really took were a few ridiculously cold winters, ones that lasted until Mid-March or even early May, to give me the impression that I would probably be spending the rest of my life needing sunscreen a bit more than a parka. There are certain offsets, but I happen to like sweating. Okay, a few life things are in flux, and maybe cooler climes are whispering...but given my druthers, Florida sure had my skin clear. I'm just saying.

From the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma clinic website...
In Atlanta, with the morning news you get things like traffic reports, although the same places jam up with traffic everyday. So what you actually get are accident reports telling you which places that are normally a traffic jam are really and truly jammed up on that particular morning. We also get things you may not get in your city, like Airport Security times. These are estimates of how long it will take you to get through the TSA inspection at the Atlanta Airport, which on bad days can be as high as an hour or more. And like everyone we get weather, only in Atlanta, they add something a lot of places don't. In Atlanta, they also let you know the pollen count.

Thursday, April 11, and it is 8,024 particles of pollen per cubic meter of air.

Let me put that in context. According to the National Allergy Bureau (I only just found out such a thing exists!) anything above 1,500 is high. And apparently the highest count ever recorded was just over 11,000. So, you might say that we're kinda up there.  In the winter time in Wisconsin, you can make snow angels? Well in Atlanta in the spring, you can make pollen angels!

And I think I have a...something. Allergies? When I was a kid my allergies were so bad I had to learn to sneeze through my mouth so as to avoid rupturing veins in my nose due to repeated attacks. But, knock on wood, my allergies haven't been an issue for a decade. Or maybe it's a cold? Me and the common cold are mortal enemies who have done battle through symptoms more akin to the flu many times, clashing from the Horn of Tallahassee to the broad Rock of Stone Mountain. I called out sick the last two days, as my current internship involves a lot of close interaction with the public. I'm fairly certain the regular bouts of sneezing would not have been appreciated.

Is it feed a cold, starve a fever? Get your allergies coconut? Spanky said something about raw honey and cinnamon. I just want this be over.

Barkeep, let me get a Comtrex Martini...do they even still sell Comtrex? That was my lick!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I liked the Black Panther

Ramblings Post #222
The comic book world is funny about black superheroes. Let's just say that the National Assoc. of Superpowered Colored People could, in my youth, hold their meetings in a living room. You had Falcon, Luke Cage, Storm of the X-Men and um...well, the Black Panther. Technically, you could have had that meeting at the kitchen table. Maybe even in the breakfast nook. There are more now, but much like when the only TV was the basic three and today there is cable...you have no idea. 

The Marvel character the Black Panther is a problem. He is his country's version of Captain America, but with a genius level intellect and the resources of Tony Stark's Iron Man. He's Batman from Africa. He is the strong intelligent black superhero.

And Marvel just snapped his neck like he was a character called Paste Pot Pete.

No wait, Paste Pot Pete got upgraded in one of those Spiderman titles to the Trapster, so in fact they killed the Black Panther like he was faceless character number #147. In the back of a second rate villain's title.

Really Marvel?

I don't read comics like I used to, they had gotten to formuliac and rusty in many ways. And it seemed like the artists I liked enjoyed doing work on stories I didn't care to read. But I actually started reading the Black Panther series when it came out.  The Africans were depicted like, i dunno how to describe it...like "people". There was no use of dated slang or the accompanying paper thin one dimensional characterizations that so often seem to plague non-white characters. And the people of his country weren't living in huts on the African savannah, but in modern cities and with technology that looked just like that in every other comic book. It was on some levels nice to see that maybe when kids picked up a comic they'd get a better version of Africa.

But no.

Okay, it's a comic. People come back from the dead all the time. So maybe it's not the end of the world. Still, that a major character...who worked with the Avengers, defeated the Fantastic Four and served as one Captain America's pallbearers when they killed him off...well, you see my point. Death in comics isn't forever. Usually. Still, dying behind a villain like Ultron? Ugh.

Black people dress up like Superheroes too, if you give them a good reason.

 Barkeep, a fine African Red wine to soothe my troubled spirit, for the possible loss of one of my heroes.

Monday, April 8, 2013

This game I should still not be playing (again...)

Ramblings Post #221
Things I need to stop doing: indulging in the odd snack, eating ice cream sandwiches in particular, putting off a serious exercise routine, putting off learning a foreign language or two, putting off yard work, playing Dwarf Fortress. Yes, I still play the game, because it's a challenge. It is also time consuming, aggravating, in many cases futile and in more than a few cases generally frustrating. But alas, here we go again.

I'm back to the Fortress. I need to stop playing, as a game can take hours out of the day watching the little fellas run around accomplishing nothing. I really should be reading up on Georgia Law just in case the curve lets me actually pass the Bar. I'm doing some interning now, three days a week which will teach me the actually being a lawyer part of being a lawyer, so I need to focus. But I also need stress relief, because with any new experience comes stress.

And so I play the Fortress.

I've gotten decent at it lately, learning to pick my embark sites better, becoming a Mountainhome regularly, going over the population cap, getting down to level 100 while mining. I by no stretch of the imagining would I consider myself "good" at this...too many flaws as least as I perceive them. But like a lot of things I'm not good at I persevere, until I get better. 

Things I've learned..

- Set everyone but the Miners to Mason right after you pick the spot, don't waste the points during setup.

- I don't build into cliff sides, I find a nice flat spot and dig out a channel...then surround it on with walls and gates (bridges). Then by placing fortifications on the tops of the walls, a couple of squads of archers can hold off a invasion easily.

 - Speaking of Archers...you need them! I'll setup an "expendable" squad first, but then Archers. Train them for three or four years. A good set of Archers can end an invasion from battlements in the first few volleys. 

- As soon as you hit stone, start building the walls, before your dwarves have other things to do. I generally go with an inner wall, then an outer enclosure. Once I've got a thirty or more, then I start getting fancy...walls for the pastures, walls for above ground fields, etc.  

- My initial setup includes extra seeds, so I can set up two farms to start...which makes the food supply last longer.

- I start with two dogs and two cats. They breed, supplying me with dogs that later can be trained for war animals and cats which wander, and act as an early warning system for ambushes. And, if you get desperate, can be used for food.

- I generally change the first names of all the characters, it just makes it easier for me to track them. All the first characters names start with A, the second wave B, and so on.

These aren't tips for the newbie. Newbies should just concentrate on keeping folks alive. And don't forget the water.

Barkeep. I'm spending way, and I mean way way too much time on this. I need a drink. And a sandwich.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Odd Quotes

“Learn to be quiet just as you learn to talk, because if talking guides you, being quiet protects you. By being quiet, you attain two characteristics: you are able to take knowledge from those more knowledgeable than you, and you are able to repel the ignorance of those more ignorant than you.”
~ Abu adh-Dhiyal

Saturday, April 6, 2013

And so we said Goodbye...

My Aunt died.

She was a grand lady, who constantly was after me to get married, since it was apparently my turn or some such nonsense. She always gave of herself, her time, her energy, always with a laugh or smile just for you when you visited even as she dwindled, sickness overtaking her. She was the person that was worried about you and was ready to help, even when she was doing less than great.

My Aunt died.

It sounds like such a simple phrase, until you realize all that goes with it. She was someone's mother and grandmother. Someone's wife. Someone's sister.  Someone's daughter. Someone's neighbor and co-worker. Someone's dear friend. And my Aunt.

My Aunt died.

She suffered from Lupus, a terrible disease, but she had battled it so well I think that we'd all forgotten just how fragile she was. I guess I assumed that she'd always be there, and now I'm ashamed of all the times I could have dropped by just to visit, but did not.  I can still hear her voice in my head, teasing me about getting grey hair or doting on one of grandchildren.

She's gone now, and I will miss her. Very, very much.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Odd Quotes

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living, I want to know what you ache for. It doesn’t interest me how old you are, I want to know if you are willing to risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine. It doesn’t interest me where you live or how rich you are, I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and be sweet to the ones you love. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments of your life.”

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer