January 12, 2013

New Website Address!

See, it's so similar that it's even the same color and this picture looks camouflaged! Oh, and the sidebar's now on the right. That's about it...
I've not posted lately because I have a new website! I know, I have about 10 websites that I mention here, but this is actually different, since it's actually THIS website I'm talking about! I bought the domain sitzblog.com and moved this blog there. Blogger has served me well since 2006 or so, but I decided I wanted a domain of my own. So if you want to keep following Sitzblog, that's the place to do it (you can also follow on Facebook, which will remain unaffected by all this...the links I post there will just go to the new site).

The new site is very similar, but you'll notice there's a big picture of me doing something stupid every time you refresh the homepage. Pretty fancy, eh? There's also a place to follow Sitzbook and my pictures, if you happen to do that. I'll be developing it more in the future, too. 

I'll still keep this blog around for the archived posts, and you'll be able to check out new posts on my other sites on the bottom left column, at least for a while. But I also got the domains sitzmanabc.com and cinematicattic.com, so those will also be growing soon, hopefully!

Thanks for everyone for following this blog, and I look forward to the next part of my journey!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

December 4, 2012

Sitzbook: Four Quick Reviews

Hi Everyone! Today I'm continuing my reviews for Sitzbook. My thoughts on the four books I'll review today weren't terribly comment-heavy, so I decided to do them in a quick, compressed format. Here we go:

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
The Good: This book is about Professor Randy Pausch, a man who was terminally sick and gave his famous "last lecture" to highlight how to really achieve one's dreams. You can read more here. It's a great way to think about what's truly important in your life.
The Not-So-Good: The book gets very personal at times, and Pausch occasionally comes off as having all the answers. I know that certainly wasn't his intention, though, and it's not like that sensation is overbearing or anything.
Should You Read It? Yes, possibly, but as I read the book, it occurred to me that this is the type of book everyone should write, since it's a great way to leave behind a record of our values, memories, and love. So read it if you want, and then write your own "last lecture."

Coming to theaters: Sitzbook: The Movie, starting Jason Statham.
Moneyball by Michael Lewis
The Good: I read this because I had the impression that it wasn't really about statistics and baseball, but in reality it was. I guess it's good in the sense that it makes statistics and baseball sort of interesting. The writing is also good, and one can identify with some of the people mentioned in the book.
The Not-So-Good: At the end of the day, it's still about statistics and baseball.
Should You Read It? No, just watch the major motion picture starring Brad Pitt, although that's not that much more interesting, seeing as it's also about statistics and baseball.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis
The Good: Like Moneyball, it was a free book from Amazon's Kindle Lending Library.
The Not-So-Good: It's about the roots of the recent financial crisis and it's really boring as a result.
Should You Read It? No. C'mon, I just said it was boring.

Earth (The Book) by The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
The Good: It's pretty funny in a few parts, and you can find the hardcover "textbook" version for a couple of dollars at a Barnes and Noble near you. Nice pictures, too.
The Not-So-Good: America (The Book) was quite a bit funnier in most parts.
Should You Read It? Yeah, sure, but maybe not from cover-to-cover, but rather just leave it in the john to read a page or two every now and then.

You'd think that reading two pages with so many pictures would be a breeze, but it took me quite a bit longer to read this book, per page, than one that's purely text.
So, that's it for today! I'll be back with more reviews throughout the week, and hopefully I'll get caught up. Thanks for reading!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

December 3, 2012

Sitzbook: "Casino Royale" by Ian Fleming

OK, so this will be a bit different. I just read this book last week and I wanted to review it for Sitzbook. However, a few friends and I just started a blog about movies and stuff like that, so I wrote a review there comparing the book and the movie. I'll reprint that in this post, but you can also check out the review here. The blog is called Cinematic Attic, and it's pretty fun! If you're interested in movies, books, and music (but especially movies, at least thus far), then check it out!

So, here's my review from Cinematic Attic:

(She's not really purple, though. This isn't Star Wars.)

I'll try to write a short, fast review for this, but that's what I say every time.

OK, I just recently read Casino Royale by Ian Fleming for Sitzbook. It was OK; not that great, but also somehow addicting. It was published in 1953, and the (2nd) movie version came out in 2006, so there are obviously going to be some differences, especially in things like technology. But the movie was very different.

The main characters are the same, at least in name. You've got James Bond, Vesper Lynd, Le Chiffre, M, and Mathis. And there is a high stakes card game at a casino where Bond is trying to defeat Le Chiffre. That part of the movie starts about 1 hour into the movie, but what comes before that is absolutely different from the book. In fact, it's not in the book at all. Bond fights a guy on a skyscraper in Madagascar. Bond goes to the Bahamas to seduce some lady to get closer to her terrorist husband. Bond foils a terrorist plot to blow up a prototype airliner in Miami. 

All that is the first hour of the movie, and it's completely unnecessary. It's supposedly a set-up to help us understand the background of Le Chiffre and the type of people he runs with, but still, Fleming was able to establish all that in about two paragraphs. That's not to say it's not fun, since it is, but then after all that you still have a 1.5 hour movie to get through. The people who made the movie should have just stuck with the Casino Royale story, which is followed fairly closely after that point. There are some differences like location (book is France, movie is Montenegro), and the ending is completely different, but I also understand they needed to make it look cool and sexy, and it's a lot easier to watch an action scene than to read one.

Eva Green (center) and Daniel Craig (right) with a dog (front). I don't remember the dog in the movie, but he could have been the guy helping out the croupier.
So, which is better, the book or the movie? I'd say the movie, but only if you start at about 55 minutes in. They should have just used those 55 minutes and added them to the next Bond movie, because the rest of the story is well done. Daniel Craig is a great James Bond, although I must admit I've only seen a few Bond movies and don't really care that much about the Bond character. So, I'll correct that: Daniel Craig is a cool actor and I like how he plays Bond. I also like how Eva Green plays Vesper. Much stronger and confident, much less stupid and useless than in the book (again, it was written in 1953, so I realize times have changed).

I'd give the book 10 stars out of 17. I'd give the first 55 minutes of the movie 7 stars out of 17, and the second part 12 stars out of 17. 

Yeah, yeah, I know I should see the 1960s movie version, too, if I really want to compare these. But one thing at a time, guys. 

Have a good week, everyone!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

December 2, 2012

Sitzbook: "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon

Hi again! I'm back with another review, although this one will be mostly quotes. My brother gave me The Yiddish Policemen's Union for Christmas and it was, in a word, excellent. The story takes place in an alternate reality in which Sitka, Alaska, has taken in millions of Jewish refugees during the Second World War, thereby basically avoiding the bulk of the Holocaust. (In reality, this was actually a plan that was briefly proposed in the US Congress but ultimately came to nothing.) Anyhow, the story picks up in more modern times, when the city is about to revert to American/Alaskan control, since it had been an autonomous region before, basically controlled by the Yiddish-speaking Jewish community.

Still following? OK, the main thing though is that there are crimes, intrigue, mysteries and a strong "human" element in the form of the relationship between the (anti-)hero Meyer Landsmann and his ex-wife Bina. I don't want to give away anything, since I knew basically nothing going into this book, and that's the best way to approach this one. Just pick it up and let the story take you away. But I do assure you that the book is one of the best ones I've read this year, and even in the last two years, of Sitzbook. And I don't know exactly what I expected when I first saw the cover, but I somehow know that the book was completely different than what I might have thought it'd be about.

I'll give you a few quotes to show you what the writing is like.

From p. 262, Landsmann is hearing some people speak Hebrew; the content of the quote isn't that amazing, but it does illustrate how great of a writer Chabon is, and how he's able to paint vivid images in the reader's mind:

“In the dreamy seconds that precede his loss of consciousness, the guttural language that Landsman heard Roboy speaking plays like a recording in his ear, and he makes a dazzling leap into impossible understanding, like the sudded consciousness in a dream of one’s having invented a great theory or written a fine poem that in the morning turns out to be gobbledygook. They are talking, those Jews on the other side of the door, about roses and frankincense. They are standing in a desert wind under the date palms, and Landsman is there, in flowing robes that keep out the biblical sun, speaking Hebrew, and they are all friends and brothers together, and the mountains skip like rams, and the hills like little lambs.”

This is from p. 362, when Landsmann's being held by American police officers:

“Landsman pisses away the next twenty-four hours in the hum of a chalk-white room with a milk-white carpet on the seventh floor of the Harold Ickes Federal Building on Seward Street. 
In teams of two, six men with the variegated surnames of doomed crewmen in a submarine movie rotate in and out of the room in four-hour shifts. One is a black man and one a Latino, and the others are fluid pink giants with haircuts that occupy the neat interval between astronaut and pedophile scoutmaster. Gum chewers, overgrown boys with good manners and Bible-school smiles. In each of them at moments Landsman sniffs out the diesel heart of a policeman, but he is baffled by the fairings of their southern and gentile glamour. Despite the smoke screen of back talk that Landsman puts up, they make him feel rattletrap, a two-stroke old beater.”

And finally, I just liked this quote from p. 64:

“Brennan studied German in college and learned his Yiddish from some pompous old German at the Institute, and he talks, somebody once remarked, ‘like a sausage recipe with footnotes.’”

This is half of the inside cover. To be completely honest with you, it's beautiful.
I obviously thought this was a great book, and above all else its most intriguing accomplishment is the ability to make the reader really ponder "What if?" The whole bulk of the story is also excellently done, but that underlying idea that there could have been a way to prevent so many people from dying, well, that's what made me think a lot more than the actual plot of the book.

If you've read anything else by Chabon and enjoyed it (like Wonder Boys or The Mysteries of Pittsburgh), you'll surely like this one, too. And if you've not read him, then get going!

Thanks for reading this, by the way! Have a great week!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

December 1, 2012

Sitzbook: "Lamb" By Christopher Moore

This is a dazed bird that crashed into the Formerly Crappy Casita.
It's got nothing to do with this post, but I didn't have any other pictures to illustrate this book.
Hello! It's been a while since I wrote a book review for Sitzbook, so I really need to catch up. As a quick re-cap, I've been reading a book a week for the last two years. At this moment, I still have 7 more to go before the end of the year, so December will be a busy month for reading. It will also have quite a few reviews, since another goal for my project this year was to write at least a short review for each book. I know that no one really cares that much about my opinions regarding any given book, but I do, and I like to look back on old blog posts to remember what I thought about things, including books, of course.

Anyhow, today I'll start to bring us up to speed by reviewing a book I finished a few months ago. To do that I'll stick with the format I stole and adapted from AnnaLisa, which will feature the categories of "The Good," "The Not-So-Good," and "Should You Read It?" But this time I'll also add a few quotes.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

The Good: Brad recommended this book to me and thus far, his recommendations have all been hits. It tells the story --no, it makes up the story-- of Jesus as a child and young man, as seen through the eyes of his childhood buddy Biff. It's a bit satirical, of course, but not in a disrespectful way. However, I realize that religion is a perennially touchy subject so if you don't like the idea of a Jesus who is different from the scripture you've read, then just steer clear of the book to avoid controversy. I thought it was quite funny, though.

The Not-So-Good: Actually I thought it was all well-written, and it made me want to check out more by Moore. Although like I said, if books that look at religion in a joking way bother you, don't read this one.

Should You Read It? If books that look at religion in a joking way don't bother you, then yes.

A Few Quotes:

"That's the difference between irony and sarcasm. Irony can be spontaneous, while sarcasm requires volition. You have to create sarcasm."

(Biff is talking about the gospels, which he has discovered in a hotel Bible while being kidnapped by an angel and forced to write his own gospel):
"Mark begins with the baptism, at thirty! Where did these guys get their stories? 'I once met a guy in a bar who knew a guy whose sister's best friend was at the baptism of Joshua bar Joseph of Nazareth, and here's the story as best as he could remember it.'"

"A wall is the defense of a country that values inaction. But a wall imprisons the people of a country as much as it protects them."

And to finish, this quote is actually by the author, in the acknowledgements section at the end of the book:
"Finally, this story was set in a dire time, a deadly serious time, and the world of the first-century Jew under the rule of the Romans would not have been one that easily inspired mirth. It's more than a small anachronism that I portray Joshua having and making fun, yet somehow, I like to think that while he carried out his sacred mission, Jesus of Nazareth might have enjoyed a sense of irony and the company of a wisecracking buddy. This story is not and never was meant to challenge anyone's faith; however, if one's faith can be shaken by stories in a humorous novel, one may have a bit more praying to do."

So! One more down, a lot more to go. Tell me if you've read this, or have any thoughts or comments. Thanks for reading, and have a good one!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

November 29, 2012

October 2012 Pictures of the Day

Well, it's almost the end of November, so I guess that means I should finally post my October Pictures of the Day. It was another busy month for traveling, and you can see the Leftovers here. I hope there's something in the set that you like:

Thanks for reading and looking, and enjoy the rest of your week!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

November 26, 2012

Veterinary Election Fun

I know you may have already voted once at the beginning of this month, but democracy is calling yet again, dear readers.

Heska (a company that works with veterinary drugs, among other things) is currently holding a contest for different animal-related programs and projects. The grand prize of $25,000 will go to the winning project. As you may know, my dad is a veterinarian, and one of the projects he works with is in the contest. He specializes in animal dentistry, so he often teams up with the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dentistry Foundation (PEIVDF) to help provide dental care to animals, especially wildlife rescue and zoo animals. I'll include a few pictures my dad sent throughout this post. It's a good cause, and you can help, too.

Tigers get cavities, too.

If you go to the Heska contest site you can read about all the projects and vote for the one you think is the best. You can vote once per day until December 10th. You do need to register, but it's a very fast process and it's just to make sure that you don't vote more than once per day.

I think the PEIVDF project is very worthwhile, of course, but all of the projects seem pretty cool and worth checking out. And if you do decide to vote, whether for PEIVDF or any other project, thanks for your time and for participating!

Lions, Tigers, and Bears --oh my!-- They're totally useless when it comes to flossing.
Let's give them a paw and help them get good dental care.

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

November 24, 2012

Oh, Son Of A...

After my anti-Black Friday rant yesterday, I felt a bit better. I'd said what I felt, and didn't have to think about it again until next year. Little did I know, though, that on my website, there was something strange and almost hypocritical-seeming at work:

My friend Brad sent me this screen shot, saying "I just thought this was ironic." Indeed, a Black Friday Deals ad in the middle of a rant against Black Friday. But I guess that's just how AdSense rolls, since it seems to find the content in blogs and tailors ads accordingly. Oh well. I guess it is ironic, and kind of funny even. One might even say it proves my point. 

Or maybe not. Either way, have a good weekend!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

November 23, 2012

A Brief Note To Black Friday: You Are Crap

By "you," I of course don't mean you, Dear Reader! I mean the very concept of Black Friday, which is so vulgarly capitalistic and basically just about crass commercialism. If it were any other day, I'd say discounts would be welcome, but not the deceptive kinds that many people are now associating with the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving--a holiday that is all about giving thanks and spending time with friends and family! Isn't that great? Well, it's not great for commerce, since you're not buying enough cards, decorations, or other crap.

I remember 10 years or so ago, the concept of Black Friday didn't even exist. They just called it "the day after Thanksgiving," and yes, everyone knew it was the busiest shopping day of the year. But that was out of necessity, since so many people have jobs that require them to work 5 days a week, so a Friday where the kids got off school and the folks didn't have to work did indeed provide a chance to go shopping. 

But it was shitty. Every mall and every store was packed with every other idiot that decided to go shopping. That's why they started calling it Black Friday, since it was "black" as in "all the light has gone out of my life, since I'm here trying to find bargains at Sears when I could have stayed home, relaxed, and digested turkey on my day off."

But it seems like it's been just in the last few years that Black Friday became a big thing. A big, shitty thing, and I'm here to say I don't like it. The worst part is, it's even come to Costa Rica. But here they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so the whole idea of it doesn't make any sense whatsoever. And the discounts here are something small, like 10 or 15%. So they have "viernes negro," but no one knows why it's called black, nor why everyone's going to overpriced stores on this one day. It's all filler and no taste, which is even worse than Black Friday in the US.

I realize that it's too late to do anything about it this year, but next year I think I'll participate in Buy Nothing Day. I can't say I did this year, though, since I paid for a Chinese class and then went to the supermarket to buy some noodles and ice cream. Dammit, I'm still in consumerism's claws!

Anyhow, Happy Black Friday! (See how bad that sounds?)

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

November 22, 2012

It's The Great Turkey, Charlie Sitzman!

Well, it's Thanksgiving again, and I'm out of the country yet again. That's a bummer because Thanksgiving is great. But at least we'll be celebrating a bit in my class this evening --I even made some pies and everything!

My students and I have been doing a bit of research and a few lessons related to Thanksgiving, and so of course I came across "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." I used to watch these Peanuts holiday specials almost constantly as a kid, or at least I think I did (and my mom seemed to confirm it). I had showed my class "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" to less-than rave reviews, so I'll not be showing this video tonight (I will, however, show a Simpsons Thanksgiving episode). But if you've not checked out the Peanuts' take on the holiday, you really owe it to yourself to see how weird these specials actually are. Here's the Thanksgiving one:

Now, if you actually made it through that, good for you. However, if you didn't, rest assured: it is fairly bizarre in parts. You can definitely see that the kids of the day must have really loved Snoopy, since in both this video and the Great Pumpkin he's got a few scenes of a couple minutes each where he just does things that don't really move the plot forward at all. You'd have a hard time finding that in today's cartoons (especially if you consider Great Pumpkin, which has got a 1- or 2-minute scene with Snoopy where he's apparently hallucinating that he's a World War I flying ace...yay Halloween!).

The Thanksgiving one does have a great scene with toast around 8:20, though. Gotta give it that. Toast is possibly my favorite food. It's just so versatile.

Plus, having actual kids do the voices gives both videos an eerie touch, and the dialogue is also very high-level stuff that even I need to listen to closely to understand. So in that sense, it's not even aimed at kids, necessarily, but then who is it aimed at? The thing that I think is weirdest about this one, though, is Snoopy and Woodstock's dinner at the end. Dude, Woodstock the bird is eating turkey. Isn't that nearly cannibalism? 

Anyhow, don't get me wrong: I love Thanksgiving (like I said here a few years ago), and I think it's great. But as we enjoy our dinners and time with our families, let's not forget the hardships our forebears had to suffer in the 1970s and 80s, when there were so few high-quality Thanksgiving-themed TV specials to choose from. And me? I'm just thankful for my patient mom, who had to put up with us watching Peanuts-themed holiday specials for the last three months of every year!

Happy Thanksgiving!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

November 18, 2012

More Trip Pictures

I've finally finished uploading pictures from our October trip to Europe and New York City. The slideshow below has my favorites (hence its name), but there are quite a few more from each section of the trip, if you're interested. You can check them out by going right to flickr, or through the links after the slideshow.

Here are the links to more pictures from the individual parts of our trip:

I hope some of them are interesting--if not, you can't say I didn't try. Thanks for looking and reading, and have a great week!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

November 16, 2012

What To Do When You Get An Election

Something tells me that's not his real name. Or the real date.
Well, more than a week has passed since the election in the US. Whether you liked the result or not, it's over. Thank God. I know everyone wants to put all the campaigning, the onslaught of media coverage, and the relentless commercials out of their mind for as long as possible (4 years, ideally), but I had some thoughts to share. My ideas here aren't about the results, but the process. If you don't feel like reading them, that's fine, but let me live in my fantasy world for at least a few more paragraphs.

The main reason I'm even writing this is because I've observed other electoral systems in other countries. I've lived in Germany and Costa Rica for various elections and noticed some differences in how they Take Care of Business. No system is perfect, and of course ours in the US isn't perfect, either. But I think that we could still take a few ideas from other systems to make ours better (and vice-versa, frankly). So, in no particular order, here are my thoughts about...


1. Make it easier to vote. In general, really. In Costa Rica --and keep in mind this is considered by some to be a "third world" country-- people don't even need to register to vote. They have a list of people, and on election day you simply go to the closest polling station and they cross your name off. That seems much easier than the registration process I have to go through in Colorado. And actually, if you think about it, why do we even have to register? If it's really a democracy, shouldn't the assumption be that everyone should get a chance to let their voice be heard, if they want it heard? 

On the other hand, if someone doesn't want to vote, I'd say that's his or her business (or loss, if you want to see it that way), and I wouldn't support laws like in Australia that fine non-voters. To me forcing someone to vote is just like trying to eat soup with a fork. I honestly have no idea how this particular metaphor works, but that's just the image that came to mind when I thought of electoral officials trying to force apathetic people to care about an election. If they're not inclined to vote, let them be lazy, I'd say.

2. A Tuesday in November? Really? In many countries (again, including Costa Rica), elections are held on Sundays and/or Saturdays, and the election day is basically treated like a holiday. No one who wants to vote should be prevented from doing so because he or she couldn't get time off work, because they had to take care of the kids, or because of inclement weather.

3. Keep promoting mail-in and internet voting. This election I voted by mail, and the previous one I voted by overseas absentee ballot (it was sent to me here in Costa Rica, a small miracle knowing the Costa Rican mail system). I think both of these are great steps in making the election more inclusive and accessible, but they could help kick it up a notch with online voting. If I had voted as an overseas voter this time, I could have actually voted by email, but I would have had to sign a statement that I accepted my ballot wouldn't be secret or private. I didn't care as much for that, plus I spent a lot of time in Colorado this year, so I just voted by mail. But still, why can't anyone vote by internet, and securely, too? I recognize that would require a verification regime, so that could indeed make things more complicated. But if Estonia can do it, why can't we?

An additional benefit of both online and mail-in voting is of course that you don't need to wait in long election lines. In all the elections I've voted in, I never had to wait in line terribly long, but one time in Colorado I did have to wait about an hour and a half. It's not tragic, but for some people a wait time like that could prove a deal-breaker, especially if they had to go to work, pick up kids, or wait in crappy weather.

My most-recent mail-in ballot.

4. Limit the money. This idea seems to enjoy support from most sides. The money being spent on all types of campaigns, from President down to Dogcatcher, has become astronomical. And it doesn't even seem to make that much of a difference in the end. The only thing I did notice is that every 4 out of 5 commercials I saw in Colorado in October were about the election. At least if we limited the amount of campaign funding, the campaigns wouldn't be able to afford to annoy me as much.

5. Get rid of the electoral college. Seriously, it's confusing as hell and not even most Americans know what it's all about. And have you ever tried to explain it to a class of English students in a foreign country? Don't.

The point is, it's a weird system that most people say isn't very fair. If you're promoting a democracy, "unfair" and "confusing" are two adjectives you'd probably prefer not be attached to your system. I actually do understand (somewhat well) how it works, but I still think it's stupid. For a national election, why not just let the popular vote rule? You may know the "fun fact" that four former presidents have been elected through the electoral college, but lost the popular vote. That just doesn't make sense.

6. Introduce proportional representation. Either that, or some kind of threshold a party needs to reach to govern, like 65% or something. Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, one thing's for certain: almost half the country disagrees with you. Plus, there's the old adage that voting for a third party is throwing your vote away. I do agree that you should vote your conscience, not your fears, and all those other sayings, but seriously, do you really think that just two (2) political parties can represents the wishes, needs, and beliefs of an entire country?

If we had a system that implemented proportional representation, we wouldn't have to deal with the downsides of a winner-take-all system. The main downside of course is that if a party can win a presidential election with 50.1% of the votes (and yes, even less than that, as we all know), then there's still a huge swath of the country that will feel their voice isn't being heard. 

Imagine, for example, that in order to govern a country, a party had to get 65% of a vote, or to form a coalition with another party to reach that percentage. Or it could be 60%. Or 70%. In any case, it would encourage political parties to work together to make decisions and to get things done, while also enabling a larger percentage of the population's voice to be heard.

So, those are my ideas. I know that some of them --actually, most likely all of them-- will never be implemented in the US in my lifetime, but a guy can dream, can't he? Of course, I'm not a political scientist, and I've never studied these topics seriously. I therefore realize that some of these ideas may come off as impractical or even stupid, but this is just a sort of brainstorming device for me. But if an armchair political hack like me can sit back and come up with these six ideas in a few minutes, surely our greatest political minds can come up with more, even better ideas. After all, if the founders of the country talked about forming a more perfect union, it seems like we should at least be able to get rid of some of the most obvious imperfections. 

What's your take? Do you think any of these ideas would work? Do you have other ideas? I'd love to hear your thoughts or other input in the comment section.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend, and don't forget: Vote (well, at least in 2016)!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

November 14, 2012

For Your Consideration

My brother Paul recently worked on this music video by the group Train:

He's a filmmaker, and he usually works with sound and general production. He said that for this video, he was a "Unit Production Manager." I asked him what that was, since I wasn't sure, and he said that he was in charge of securing crew, equipment, food, and permissions on a short notice. In any case, that sounds a bit more interesting than teaching the use of present perfect modal verbs yet again, so I'm a bit jealous that he's gotten on a career path that sounds a bit more fun than mine, at least at the moment.

Also, Train is a fairly big name group. I know they did the "Soul Sister" song a few years ago, and I think they did something like "Drops of Jupiter," but that may have came out right when I moved countries and didn't listen to as much music. Still, the point is that I've heard of them, and that they're big enough to film and play at Red Rocks, so that's pretty cool. The original link Paul gave me was through the Country Music Television channel, but since that link didn't work for me in Costa Rica, I embedded the one above. I also thought it was interesting that they're apparently "country" enough now to be on that station. Then again, the definition of country may be changing, but I still know this: Toby Keith sucks.

So, good work, brother, and may we see many more videos and movies that you were involved with!  

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

November 13, 2012

Pee Es

Your pee is a goal just waiting to be scored!
(I took this picture in the Schweiz back in 2006)
Last week I wrote about why I pee on my lawn, and how you can, too! I tried to explain urine's fertilizing abilities, although I obviously possess absolutely no knowledge about chemistry, physics, or astrology (nor do I know which of these fields of study could explain why pee makes grass grow).

Nevertheless, it appears that urine is even more powerful and valuable than I imagined. You can check out this article on Gizmodo if you don't believe me; basically, a few teenage girls from Nigeria have created a generator that runs on urine. You can check out the link or their references yourself, but I think the take-home message here is abundantly clear: 

Keep those empty pop bottles handy, since it's time to start hoarding your urine! 

Thanks for reading, and have a good one!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook