March 27, 2012

Son of a Biscuit

How's that for a non-profane title? It's all I can do right now to not break out into an incredibly obscene post, since my computer broke down earlier today. Apparently it's the motherboard and apparently it's a fairly common problem for my particular make and model of computer (an HP DV4). Naturally, it's also very expensive to fix. Of course, when we bought it from Office Depot a few years ago, we got the extended warranty, which would have been great if it were still in effect. But just like cops in movies who get shot a week before retirement, we all know that computers take a dump right after their warranties expire, and mine was no exception.

So, I guess I may be in the market for a new computer. Anyone have any suggestions? I'd also like to mention to all my friends who said they may come down this year (For example, Chris, Annie, and cousin Sarah, I'm looking in your direction) that it's about time you came for a visit, and I'd be eternally grateful if any of you could serve as a computer mule for me, since electronics here are a lot more expensive. Plus if you bring me a new computer, I'll let you join me in throwing big rocks at my old computer. Sounds fun, eh?!

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

March 20, 2012

Sitzbook: "Self-Reliance"

It's been a bit over a week since I posted anything, but it's been a busy week full of activity, not the least of which has been reading. I finished a few books this week, so that means it's time for another Sitzbook review! Today we'll quickly look at Emerson's Self-Reliance.

I got this book from Brad when we visited him in Iowa-- Thanks again for all the cool gifts, Brad! It's a short 75 pages, but it's not necessarily a quick read. It's best absorbed bit by bit, taking time to think about each part. In fact, the way the book is physically printed loans itself to doing just that. On every right page you have the actual text, and on the left page are two selected quotes, the first one from Emerson's book, and the second an interpretive or related quote from another person. It's actually quite nice but as I said, with so many "quotables" to deal with, it is indeed best left for a slower, more deliberate reading. In this case, I read the book mainly while eating breakfast over a few months, one or two pages at a time. That seemed pretty ideal.

Emerson's book is more of an essay, but it's got some good ideas, most of which I agree with, with a few qualifications. I do believe that we must be self-reliant, although generally speaking I also think that we are social beings, and that there's nothing wrong with "teaming up" now and then with other people. But I don't think that's something Emerson would have criticized; he seems more focused on not putting up with crap from mooches and other people who bring you down, and that's fine with me.

I selected two quotes that I liked. The first, from page 59, is about travel. It caught my attention because so many people (myself included) almost unconditionally praise traveling as a positive and mind-opening experience. Emerson does mention a few asterisks, if you will:

"I have no churlish objection to the circumnavigation of the globe, for the purposes of art, of study, and benevolence, so that the man is first domesticated, or does not go abroad with the hope of finding somewhat greater than he knows. He who travels to be amused, or to get somewhat which he does not carry, travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things. […] Traveling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from."

The second quote, on page 64, addresses so-called "progress" in society, and when coupled with Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma, which I also recently finished (review coming soon), it gave me a lot to think about:

"Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is Christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts. […] The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. He has a fine Geneva watch, but he fails of the skill to tell the hour by the sun."

Has anyone else read this book? Have you got any comments (not spam!) to share? If so, feel free to chime in. 

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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

March 12, 2012

Meat Loaf Monday: "Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself"

Welcome back to Meat Loaf Monday! It's been a few weeks, so I bet you're suffering from some pretty harsh withdrawal symptoms. But fear not, because Dr. Sitzman's got a hot Meat Loaf Injection for you:

Wow, what a great song! It's not written by Jim Steinman (the guy who wrote many of Meat Loaf's most famous songs), but it is written by Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx, which is also pretty cool. This is from a newer album, Couldn't Have Said It Better, but the song is classic Meat Loaf video eye candy. Just look at his gestures and body language: it's got sweeping arm movements, wagging fingers, closed-eye singing/bellowing, hurled chairs, and even the classic "shush" finger. And you get all that even if you mute the song. If you actually turn on the sound (very loud, hopefully), then you're in for a treat. 

For the first two minutes The Meat goes a bit nuts, as he is prone to doing, but as I said, only a bit. But then around the two-minute mark, Patti Russo jumps in with her Betty Rubble dress and uses her hooker boots to kick your ears in the nuts!!* Couple that with Queen-esque backup singers (wearing capes and gold lamé bikinis!) and Meat Loaf's Black Trench Coat of Power, and you've got yourself the makings of a legendary video, my friend. 

What else can I say? I guess I do indeed have the right to remain silent.

*If you ever wondered what your earlobes were for, now you know.

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

March 9, 2012

February Pictures of the Day

We're already about a third of the way into March, but I realized I'd not put up the Pictures of the Day from February. So, here they are:

Hope there's something in there that you like--have a good weekend!

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

March 6, 2012

Marijuana, Medical and Otherwise

If this leaf gets you worked up, then you're probably not smoking it. (Image)

I recently got an email from my friend Brian asking me if I was related to Shawn Sitzman. Brian had seen Shawn's name on a National Geographic channel show and wondered if the two of use were related, seeing as there aren't too many Sitzmans lurking about. I am related to Shawn Sitzman; he's my cousin. Here's the picture of him on National Geographic's site. The interesting thing, which I had no idea about, was that the show was all about medical marijuana in Colorado, and it focused a lot on Fort Collins.

I guess this is what happens when you leave the country for 5 or 6 years. It seems like I'd heard that medical marijuana had become legal in Colorado at some point, but I didn't know much more about it than that. Apparently there were legal dispensaries in Fort Collins for several years until last November, when a ballot measure passed to shut them all down. I don't know too much more about what's going on, but evidently patients with a medical marijuana prescription can still get it filled in other places, but not in Fort Collins.

The National Geographic show seems to be part of a larger series that is still in the process of being released, and there are only a few 2- or 3-minute video clips on the site so far. Still, it caused different emotions in me. My first and main reaction was: "What in the world is wrong with the voters who passed the measure to close the dispensaries?" Even if I didn't have a cousin who relied on the drug for pain relief, I would still have been opposed to the idea. I could understand if they had been trying to get rid of methamphetamine, cocaine, or heroin... you know, drugs that are actually dangerous and don't have much legitimate medicinal use, but marijuana? Really?  

Agriculture still isn't based on the honor system. 
Properly stow your crops, numb-nuts! (Image)
The argument of the people who wanted to close the dispensaries seems to have been that they didn't want hippies or junkies coming to town, or some such thing. But the people getting marijuana in the video didn't look like hippies, they seemed like sick patients that were having a pretty crappy go of it. Plus, any town except Singapore is going to have junkies no matter what, but when I think of "people who smoke a lot of pot," I don't think of junkies sleeping and pooping in the street, I think of people in a living room eating cereal, watching TV with the sound turned off. Although the show did present both sides, there were a few parts of the video that make the whole pro-medical marijuana side seem a bit... well, high. Like the guys who had planted the marijuana plants outside their house, next to a public sidewalk. Seriously, what kind of idiot would do that? Of course high school and junior high kids are going to take leaves from your plants, you morons. It's free pot. That's like storing an open safe full of money next to your mailbox. You can do it, but you should only do so if you're exceptionally stupid.

The other reaction that I felt was disbelief that marijuana is still so vilified in so much of the world, yet alcohol gets off with nary a mention. You may know that I drove a university bus at CU-Boulder for about 6 years. From that experience, I can guarantee you that if there was a belligerent passenger who wanted to fight me and/or other passengers, or who threw up on the bus, or who yelled obscenities at other riders, that that passenger was drunk, not high. High passengers were even arguably even better than regular passengers, since they just sat quietly and looked out the window.

And that's the people who aren't using the drug for medicinal purposes, but if we then consider the people who rely on marijuana as a medicine to get through the day without constantly feeling excruciating pain, then it's even harder to reconcile the voters' decision with the reality of the situation. If the people of Fort Collins wanted to get rid of the junkies, they should have closed down the bars and liquor stores (which I also would have opposed... if people want to get high or drunk, I could care less, as long as they don't bother me or anyone else when they do so). It's just a shame that people who actually were benefiting from the availability of medical marijuana will now have to go elsewhere to literally ease their pain.

Any thoughts?

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

750 Free United Miles

I recently ran a few posts about frequent flyer miles (here and here), and I mentioned some of the travel and miles blogs that I follow. I won't mention them much more in this blog, since that's not what this blog is about, but I just wanted to call your attention to the types of offers that can be had for very little effort.

The Frugal Travel Guy recently posted that United was offering 750 miles for people who signed up for the MyPoints program. The program basically sends you emails about different offers (so you should use your "special" address for unimportant do have one, right?), and if you decide to stay in the program, you can eventually exchange MyPoints points for United Mileage Plus points. The actual program isn't terribly amazing in my opinion, but 750 points just for signing up will give you more miles than a Denver-Omaha flight, and it's free. (The Points Guy gives a good explanation of how to effectively do this.) Plus, you can simply cancel later if you want to.

I'm just mentioning this to show that if you invest a bit of time and effort, you can easily get a free trip... or more.

Happy travels!

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

March 4, 2012

Temporary Iowegians and Sitzmans Galore

Out of 37 pictures, this was the best one.

Not that the world needed more blogs, but... well, there are now three more blogs in the world.

I started one called "Temporary Iowegian" today. I did it because Brad said that he expected a full blog to come out of our visit to him and his family, and of course I'll be happy to oblige the whim of an old friend. So you can check that out if you want (I'll also likely mention future posts there on this blog).

Also, if you happened to notice the "My Blog List" box in the left column you may have noticed two new Tumblr blogs. Tumblr is basically another blogging format, but more for pictures and videos and stuff that people rip off from other people's sites. I use it to post interesting links, pictures, and videos I come across that don't really have much to do with anything else. 

In any case, I started one ("My Tumblr"), and I also started one with my sister Di and brother Paul ("Sitzman, Sitzman, and Sitzman"). If you are on Tumblr, I think you can follow them, or else you can just check them out whenever you want. The siblings one is cooler, though, not only because it sounds like the name of an inbred law firm, but also because we three take turns writing about stuff. So if you like any of us three Sitzmans (or if you hate any of us... you know what they say about keeping your enemies close), then you should check out that blog.

Thanks for reading this and any of those blogs, and have a great rest of the weekend!

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

March 3, 2012

Sitzbook: "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"

This will be a fast review (at least I think... it seems I say that for every Sitzbook review, and then most of them turn out to be huge). But I've not got a lot to say about this book.

I read the first two Harry Potter books in 2001 (yes, 2001, not 2011), but that's as far as I ever got on my first attempt. The second one just wasn't good enough to catapult me to the third one, and eventually I started seeing some of the movies, as well --I think I've seen up to the fourth or fifth one-- but then I just started getting confused. I liked the first book well enough, and the movies I saw were OK, but I still got the feeling that if I had read the books, everything would make more sense.

Last year I found out that Lucy had all the books, and they were in British English, as she was quick and proud to point out. For an Australian, she sure has a puzzling affinity towards British stuff. I think they may call that Stockholm Syndrome, but that's a topic for a future post, I suppose.

In any case, Lucy loaned me the first book, which I quickly read last year. I decided that if needed, at least some of the H.P. books would make for quick reads on my book-a-week itinerary, so I've tried to not get them all at one time, in case I need to pad the list with fast, easy books near the end of the year.

So, how's this one? Meh. It's not as good as the first, that's for sure. It's got the magic and the wizards and the Hagrids and whatnot, but one gets the feeling that J.K. Rowling must have been as surprised as everyone else at the success of the first one, and it doesn't seem as this book was really fleshed out and made part of the "bigger picture." It hints at things that I'm assuming will come in future books, but just barely. 

And I really hate the "house elf" Dobby who visits Harry on a few occasions. For some reason, he just seems horrible and grating, but I guess maybe that's what happens when you read books written for kids? There's also a lot of snake-related crap and as you may know, I don't dig that at all. 

Of course I'll still continue the series because I know that all the books and movies are beloved by a generation that seems to have been born just after me, but after finishing this one, I got a bit of nostalgia for 2001, when I didn't feel terribly compelled to keep reading, and when I told myself I could probably just see the movie versions and be OK.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for reading, and have a great new week!

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