Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oculine 10, 31.


What is this?

What kind of fruit are you craving right now?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oculine 8, 31.

- Entering week three of no job... distinguishing features between weeks and weekends begin to disintegrate. The weekend is when my friends are more available. And the week is when I can watch Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (but hopefully fall asleep before Poker After Dark, which is usually so boring that it keeps me up). Life isn't bad, though... I'm getting nibbles and interest. I'm sure that the job search will begin getting old at some point, but it hasn't yet.

This weekend I continued my job search. I also did a lot of research for my novel Urbantasm, including reading about the formation of minerals, and the early modern era in Western Europe, the colonial Americas, and Romania.

Coolest passage I encountered in my research:

The seventeenth century is considered the golden age of old Romanian literature. The remarkable works of literature and art during this century are manifestations of a Baroque sensitivity in the sense formulated by Edgar Papu: "The expression of a highly elevated reality, continuously under the threat of being crushed by stronger forces. As a result of this tragic situation, Baroque existence adopts a defensive position of an altogether special kind, defence through an explosion of splendor as a substitute for real power. Hence, the glorious splendor of the Baroque style."

I'm sure you've already heard plenty about Swine Flu, so I'll link to something silly instead. Moustachioed horse evades barbers.

How often to health and safety concerns inform your decision of whether and where to travel?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Event: David Letterman, the trenchant observer.

Monologue, as captured via the New York Times Laugh Lines blog:

How about those Somali pirates? So they bring one of the pirates to New York City so they can put him on trial. But he will also be doing some other stuff. Like, tomorrow, he’s going to ring the opening bell at the stock exchange. Friday he’ll be on “Rachel Ray” making Clams Mogadishu, and he will be the starting pitcher for the Yankees. Monday, he’ll be on the “Today” show singing “I Dream a Dream.”And Monday night, he’ll be sleeping with Madonna. That’s the full schedule.

But the Justice Department says they want to make an example of this Somali pirate guy. And I thought, really? In terms of making an example, I don’t think you can do much better than shooting the other three guys in the head.

And oh, speaking of things like that, classified documents that were recently released show that Dick Cheney, who a couple of years ago went nuts and shot a guy, ordered Khalid Shaikh Mohammed waterboarded 183 times. When do you suppose Mohammed caught on and said, "I know this is just horse play"?

But anyway, they waterboarded Mohammed 183 times, and thanks to the information they got from this guy, via waterboarding, we were able to capture bin Laden.

President Obama has kind of a happier outlook on torture. He says instead of waterboarding terrorists, he’s going to put them in dunk tanks.

But Dick Cheney is now criticizing President Obama, and he’s saying that his recent actions around the world are "disturbing" and "not helpful." Yeah, yeah, things were so much better when Cheney was president, weren’t they?

Do you remember Eliot Spitzer, who was governor of New York? He had to stop being the governor of New York because he enjoyed prostitutes. Well, now, he’s talking about running again for governor in 2010. He also said he’s looking forward to spending less time with his family.

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Concept: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

I've enjoyed the show so far. I think that there was a shared tactical understanding from the beginning that he couldn't outweird Conan, and Letterman and Leno have the cynical and the everyman roles down, respectively. Why not put a "nice guy" on Late Night? That's their strategy, I think.

In the first month or so, the interviews have been maybe a little fluffy, more than needed. The show's greatest genius has been in the audience interactive bit, for example, the "Shared Experience" bits where everyone discovered a snuggie under their seat (which seemingly subsequently turned the entire studio into a deni of Jedis). I also think that the show has made a varied and versatile use of the Roots, their band. It's the first time a hip hop outfit has been used in this capacity on any major late night talk show, and the Roots have the musical chops for the job.

I think that the Jimmy Fallon show will continue to grow on me the longer I watch it. But that doesn't mean I won't be looking forward to O'Brien's reemergence on the Tonight Show. And of course, props to Leno for all those free shows he's been doing for the unemployed.

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Body: The Litany of Mary

When praying the Litany of Mary, I've always been puzzled by the abundance of titles attributed to Mary. Many are evocative, but some seem almost inexplicable: "tower of ivory" and "seat of wisdom" and so forth. This week I was lucky enough to come across this website on the Litany, which was evidently composed during the Middle Ages at the Holy House of Loreto.

The site is interesting because it links to a separate page on each of the Marian metaphors, usually in the form of a prayer, which helps to put these fascinating titles into context.

I'll have to watch out. It could become a time vacuum.

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Oculine 5, 09.

Yesterday, in addition to work/organization stuff, I went to the zoo with Sam for his birthday, and played with the gorillas. Later, the wife and I went to National Address with Sky. Otherwise, a pretty sedate day.


Do you tend to follow recipes closely, or do you change them up?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oculine 4, 09.

Winston Churchill Backed by Band of the Future.

Which historical figure would you like to vocoderize?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Event: Shrinking Flint.

NOTE: I am a member of the Flint Diaspora. I care about my hometown and continue to follow news there. These are the opinions and observations of a former resident.

This is the closest thing to positive press I've ever seen Flint get from the New York Times. Which is ironic, because the situation prompting such a drastic response is almost relentlessly bleak.

The picture today, however, is somewhat different.

Shrinking any city is a complicated process, with few examples of implementation and accommodated by few tested processes. Everyone, homeowners, businesses, municipal government, and civic institutions, is taking a risk. And yet, as Karina Pallagst so eloquently argues in the article, "some cities just don’t have a choice." The idea of shrinking Flint confronts a drastic problem with a solution that is both ambitious and rigorous in scope.

Shrinking a city is also a test of leadership. It will be politically unpopular among residents dislocated, and also within more stable areas forced to quickly recalibrate their balance of services and residents. It will require delicate negotiation and collaboration between unions, city workers, residents, and government. Not least of all, the initial expenditure will be massive. Even after clearing away as much red-tape as possible, the process of razing and deregulating square miles of a dense city will take a lot of money. Taxpayers will have to be patient with officials as savings slowly accrue over time.

I've often argued that a lack of municipal coordination was one of Flint's biggest disadvantages. Unlike the withdrawal of GM, it is undoubtedly the largest factor that residents have a power to directly change. The city's decline in the last fifty years was inevitable, but with government and local institutions providing a united front, a lot of the tragedy of that time could have been averted. Instead, we've seen infighting, corruption, and a rhetoric that has racially divided the city at precisely the time when citizens needed to come together.

In 2002, after the recall of Mayor Woodrow Stanley, I noticed that Darnell Earley (formerly the City Administrator) seemed to do a better than competent job of reconciling the many difficulties of his office. He certainly excelled the Stanley, Rutherford, and Williamson administrations of recent history. Now there would appear to be a similar pragmatism coming from acting mayor Michael Brown. What is it about Flint that the best leaders are those who don't actively want the job? Is it a lack of political ambitions, or an immunity against reprisals?

At any rate, given the power vested in the Land Bank, the recent cohesion of the business community, and meaningful investments by higher education in the city, Flint's leadership may have finally come of age.

If so, it isn't a moment too soon... in fact, it's a few decades too late.

But the New York Times article conveys both the gravity of the problem and the potential for innovation, even progress, to spring from definite misfortunes.

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Diary: Phenology: April 2 - 22, 2009.

I haven't been consistent in updating here, but minus my time in England I have been in Chicago. The first part of the month was uniformly chilly, typically in the thirties and forties. More recently, it's vacillated between chill and rainy days and humid and warm days. I love this vacillation, and the trees and plants are waking up daily.

I have noticed almost innumerable strains of birdsong when I walk down the street, often fighting over mating opportunities.

Even more innumerable squirrels.

Sap moving in a few trees.

My flowers, which I think are geraniums, are bright and pink in the windows.

The ice is gone from Lake Michigan (but certainly not from the North Atlantic).

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Diary: England and Aftermath, Part 2 of 2.

Here's what I've been doing since then.

The wife picked me up at the airport last Wednesday evening (wow, has it already been a week?) and we zipped home via the Mexican restaurant La Gallo Bravo. That night we started a nature film that we were too tired to finish.

The next day I was all ready to begin my job search take a few days off. I know, I know, early to bed, early to rise... in my defense I spent a lot of that time spring cleaning, and I haven't really had a "break" (aside from the occasional three day weekend) since I moved back to Chicago in December 2007. And even then, my "vacation" was spent moving from New York. So I felt I deserved this. Thursday's accomplishment? I beat Super Mario World. I also ate some delicious Peruvian ceviche.

The next few days were filled with more video games, a lot more cleaning, gearing up for the big job search, nature documentaries, RPGs... but the high point for me was the nightwalk. I don't get to take these very often anymore, or at least I haven't made the time, but during much of my life taking walks at night was a way for me to resolve important issues and dilemmas.

In this case, not just the job search, but to take a personal inventory of my life and objectives. I will soon be published, and in the last year I have written for two periodicals and have published an arts journal. I worked in a skilled position requiring specialized knowledge. My resume has changed drastically in the last several months even. On the other hand, losing my job in this economy is an obvious up-front loss of personal financial viability. Fortunately, the wife is very impressive on this front. The long and short of it is that I'm in a position conducive to taking well-considered profitable risks, and I will spend the next several months doing so.

It was nice to come to this conclusion walking among the factories and foundries of Chicago's West Side, and then north along Lincoln Park West and Sheridan Road until I got home as the sun came up. I walked maybe thirteen miles, and every mile was beautiful.

This picture was from Google Earth (Panoramio).

Of course, I slept through most of Saturday.

On Sunday, I went to a reading salon that Lisa set up and read from Hungry Rats. It seemed to go over well, but the comment that particularly delighted me was, "wow, that was gory." The story wears shoes like "noir" and "experimental prose," but it's also meant to be the literary equivalent of a slasher film. Shocking gratuitousness is both easier and difficult in words than in literal images. But I digress...

During the last two days, I've launched my job search in earnest. I spent a lot of Monday at Borders researching the job market and focusing my objective. I want to get back into the writing/publishing industry if possible, ideally as a teacher or as a freelance editor. There are discrete paths that can be taken toward these goals with my qualifications, and I've chosen several that seem the most reasonable. I'll keep you posted.

In other news, I've been as busy as I usually am (sleeping six hours a night, roughly). I'm still doing some writing for the Chi·Town Daily News, spring cleaning. I have five months to wrap up my research for Urbantasm, so I'm doing a lot of reading for that... right now, background on the rivalry between Ford and Nissan (Halberstam's The Reckoning, which is a tome of a book), and the sixth volume of the University of Chicago's Readings in Western Civilization series: Early Modern Europe: Crisis of Authority.

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Oculine 3, 09.


Where is this?

Okay, who is the most famous person you've met if we now define "met" as "stood in a room with"?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Diary: England and Aftermath, Part 1 of 2.

The week before last was my last week of work at Northwestern. It was bittersweet, but each day we too busy to really stop and reflect. There were a lot of loose ends I wanted to tie up before heading out. Each of the doctors came and spoke with me personally, and Vicki and I went out to lunch with Pam, Steve, Andrea, and Dr. Rosenberg. On the last day, Mary brought in cookies she had baked and many of the techs brought in sweets and cake. I stayed until almost seven, cleaning and clearing off my desk.

This all coincided with Holy Week. So this week had started after Palm Sunday at St. Ita's and the wife and I also went out for Holy Thursday at St. Gertrude's. On Friday, I got to church, flush from my last day of work, and a little bit hungry. But it was a beautiful service. (As it turns out, I would miss the actual Easter vigil and service.) I walked the half-hour home afterward, luxuriating in that April spring coldness. I decided, however, to skip out on Sam and Bill's disco set. I had really wanted to attend, but it was already late and I had to pack to go abroad.

I put on good music and Dead Man's Chest and was up packing and cleaning until 4 in the morning. At 8 I got up and after downing a breakfast of bananas and fried eggs, I was out the door (a little late), and (after doubling back to check the apartment, because I was inexplicably afraid I had left the gas burner on) cut across the cemetery and grabbed the Larry bus. And I made it to the plane alright.

The next day was weird; eastward flights usually were. I flew to Washington Dulles over Zanesville, hopped on a flight to London Heathrow. I sat next to a very kind Saudi man who was very talkative, despite the fact that together we knew about 20 words in common. He spent half of his vacation with his son in Manchester, and the other half in a Saudi village with his wife. "She has seven children," he told me. I was too fidgety to sleep, even though I'd deliberately avoided coffee and bought a whiskey to make me drowsy. The sun had risen over London Heathrow when we landed, and I found it to be one of the most unerringly complicated airports I've ever been in. Also, the authorities threatened to not stamp my passport because I didn't know the address of Catherine's parents where I was staying. Despite all of this, I made my connecting flight to Manchester and was met there by mom, dad, Cody, and Catherine's mom, Laura.

When we got to their home in Lymm, I finally fell asleep for a few hours, but got up in time for a delicious chicken dinner, and a walk/tour of the area. And this is when I rediscovered my camera!

Evidently this is a very old canal that helped to connect the early Manchester cotton works to the seaports at Liverpool. Lymm is a small town and this canal (filled with a ton of brightly colored shotgun boats) at one point crosses a road as the road crosses a stream. This is known as vertical variation.

Dad and Cody.

Caitlin and Catherine.

Who says stocks are falling all over the world?


Later that night, after some discussion of logistics, Catherine drove me with Caitlin and Cody to their flat just north of the city where I would be staying for the next two nights. We were hungry, and ordered a pizza, and talked about the things you talk about when you only see your siblings in person twice a year.

The next day I was too busy/distracted to take photos. After a slow start we got out to meet up for the rehearsal lunch. Sadly, my wife, grandma, and aunt were unable to attend, but my mom, dad, and sister were all there. On Catherine's side, there was her mom, dad, sister and her husband, and several other relatives. One of these, John, had a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of recent rock, and he gave me a mix of Muse. Cody and Catherine also gave me a CD by Elbow, which I've listened to several times since I got back.

We stopped off at the house in Lymm for some early opening-of gifts, then headed out to the Unitarian Church for some rehearsing. Auspicious signs.

In the last decade, my family has tripled in size.

Soon they will be able to say that the sun never sets on us.

Practicing for the first dance.

I told Catherine that I like this photo a lot.

After the rehearsal Cody and I headed back to his place alone. I took him out for Indian food near his place, and we stayed up for awhile. He didn't seem nervous... yet!

The next day was a slow flurry of activity. Slow because I think everyone was a little groggy, but flurryish because, of course, you're always waiting for the other shoe to drop. In my case, I made three obnoxious mistakes. The first (and worst) was that I had never worn a shirt with "French cuffs" before. So while I just thought it was a nice British fashion to wear your shirt sleeves a full inch below the suit, in fact, I looked like a big doofus until my dad pointed this out to me after the service. If anyone was upset about this, they didn't say so. Second, I left my jacket (and passport) at Cody's place. Third, the next day, I left my rented suit in the hotel room.

Given the chaos I've seen at any number of weddings (including a little at my own) this one went pretty smoothly. The flowers my mom had put together were absolutely gorgeous, the bridesmaid dresses were sharp and graceful, and I've never seen so many wonderful hats. Catherine was enchanting in his white and flower-embroidered dress. The church which (in a fit of Unitarianism) had clear panes was absolutely open and flooded with light. Cody and Catherine are both musicians, so the music was as full and significant as the vows and sermon. Also, my brother got a little vaklempt during the vows, but that's okay. His voice carried the depth of affection for Catherine, and her owns vows were reassuring and filled with their own care.

There's that saying about dogs resembling their owners, and vice versa.

I think we could say something similar about weddings.

This one was eclectic despite its modesty.

After the ceremony, we went outside for photos, grabbed a few drinks in the social hall, and headed out to the reception. Cody and Catherine had selected a museum restaurant; it occupied the seventh floor of a glass-enclosed triangular-shaped building and offered a magnificent vista of the Manchester skyline as it came to life and light. We were just a block away from the giant Ferris wheel, and my dad got some great photos. In addition to wine and hors d’oeuvres, there was killer swing music, a chocolate cake and a "cheese cake" (as in a stack of cheese wheels), a lot of talk about accents and travel, and Ian and I made speeches. To brag a little, while our speeches were very different in style, I think they complimented each other very nicely.

After this we went back to the hotel we were staying that night. I was exhausted. I checked my email and went to bed, though I stayed up for an hour to watch a documentary about a man who deliberately strands himself out on mountaintops and tries not to die of hypothermia.

The next morning, things had slowed down just enough for me to remember my camera again, and take some pictures.

I love the guy in the background, who has that expression on his face that says, "damn, I'm photogenic!"

I was able to collect my jacket from Cody's, and with the help of Laura, I was able to return my suit. The whole family took me to the airport as a group which, while it might seem a small gesture, really meant a lot to me.

Flying west - into the sunset - is the opposite of flying east. It feels like the most natural thing in the world, and I end up feeling more, not less, rejuvenated. The plane, interestingly, flew literally right over Flint on its nonstop trip from London to Chicago. Figure that. Growing up I never thought of the jets passing overhead as crossing a third of the planet.

Here are some pictures of Canada's glaciers, Michigan's fields, and Chicago's sprawl. From the air. As for my impressions of England, I'll have to wait until I go back to visit. Everything was much to fast to notice much except for the left-hand traffic.

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Oculine 2, 09.

I'll be posting pictures of my trip to England, and its aftermath, shortly... it's too involved for a daily post.

"A lot of movies are about life, mine are like a slice of cake."
- Who said this?

Who is the most famous person you've ever met (let's define "meet" not as "stood in a room with" but "actively conversed with?"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Oneidine 21, 31.

- Today the wife is off to Michigan and tomorrow I'm off to Manchester (England) for my brother's wedding. Needless to say, I won't be posting until I get home, but when I do, I'll have plenty of pictures.


Which exotic new place would you like to visit this weekend?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Oneidine 20, 31.

LOST was amazing last night. I stuck around for the series premiere of the Unusuals, which was also fun.


If you were the mastermind behind a weekly serial drama, what title would you choose? What would it be about?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Oneidine 19, 31.

- Last night, all kinds of busy-ness. After work I had Tuesday Funk which was a large crowd of about 20. Then I met Amber, Joe, and Carmen at a piano bar. And got home by eleven. Today I am exhausted.


Where is this?

Do you have a personal journal for yourself?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Oneidine 18, 31.

Note: I will be able to blog each day this week, but because so much is happening at once don't expect much of substance. I can manage quotes and questions, though.

"If you're not big enough to lose, you're not big enough to win."
Who said this?

What's your favorite kind of ape?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Concept: Detroit Video

from ESPN: Detroit In The Spotlight

It plays a bit like a Bing campaign ad, but otherwise it's pretty cool. Magic Johnson and Mitch Albom are eloquent as always.

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Oneidine 17, 31.

I'll have to be brief, although this has been a very eventful week. I'll give the bad news first, and finish with the good. First, today I had a tooth pulled, and I'm going to need some work done on my mouth. That sucks. Second, my job has been eliminated due to departmental reorganization. As of next week, I'm unemployed and looking for work!

There is a silver lining though... perhaps this will be an opportunity to find work in the publishing or editing fields, which is really where my education and background would place me anyway. However, I loved working for the Northwestern Lasik Physicians, and if a similar position opened up elsewhere, I would happily consider it. Also, the wife started her job this week, and my brother and his wonderful fiancee will be getting married next week. I'll be traveling out to England to join them for the ceremony and reception.

The best news is that after years of writing and submitting work, I'm finally going to be published. My short story "Dash Against Darkness" will be published in the upcoming issue of the Santa Clara Review, a publication based out of the Santa Clara University in California. Believe I'll be shouting from the rooftops when that happens!

What a strange Spring.

- NEWS OF THE WEEK - Beward the perils of caffeine withdrawal.

Where do you think I should apply for a job?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Concept: New Link: "Reef Diaries"

Reef Diaries is the very young blog maintained by Red Mangrove Eco Adventures in Belize. My wife and I loved our honeymoon in Belize, and this sort of nature-oriented blog is always refreshing. What I think is so cool about Reef Diaries in particular is the thoughtful and circumspect treatment of the bull shark issue posted less than a month after the blog was launched. The writers treated the subject with seriousness and showed great respect for their readers; this is the only approach that allows those of us living in (for example) inland, cold, freshwater climes to appreciate the difficulties and challenges of the sensitive reef ecosystem.

I have added Reef Diaries to the sidebar, and you should check it out.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Oneidine 14, 31.


Which do you better resemble temperamentally, a chimpanzee or a baboon?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Concept: New Link of the Week.

This article by the Chicago Reader is awesome! It almost makes me pardon their superficial one-sided canning of the 2016 Olympics bid. Also, I directed a play that went up in the Trumbullplex.

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Event: A hundred Wagoner loads of thoughts will not pay a single ounce of debt.

"Here’s the part I find odd. Now, the government didn’t ask any of those Wall Street C.E.O.s to quit. Isn’t that kind of a double standard? I mean, if you build Cadillacs, you’re screwed. But if your chauffeur drives a Cadillac, you’re O.K. Whew!"
- Jay Leno

Two or three days ago, I forget what it was, the news was packed dense with details on the travails of Chrysler and GM, and most of this focused on the ouster of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner. The Danziger cartoon above encapsulates some of the ironies of the current situation; a career-long affiliation and decade plus executive tenor coupled with an inability to move product. In fact, this is a constant theme in the books I've been reading on the American auto industry: the inability of the executive financial class to reconcile public demand with a speculative market. For a half-century their strategy has favored the latter, and so their decline in actual market share was foreseen and, once started, ongoing.

What I've noticed in the Free Press and among many Michigan politicians (and, surprisingly, late night talk show hosts who usually like to castigate Detroit and the Big Three) is the increasing tendency to contrast the disparity between the treatment of Detroit and that of the New York financial firms. After all, who has been ousted there? There's no question that, at least where the corporate class is concerned, bankers have retained more autonomy and have received less scrutiny than manufacturers, despite the fact that the mistakes made in the financial sector have been by far the worse.

But the ideas and contradictions embodied in the Leno quote are where things really start to get interesting. It prefers conflation by industry over separation by class, which runs somewhat counter to reality. It's actually a pretty funny joke, but not quite correct when we get down to things. Those who "build Cadillacs," that is, the autoworkers and management, are likely to be subject to forced contract renegotiations in the upcoming weeks and months -- in bankruptsy court if not out of it -- and this is where the force of contrast is a source of dark humor. But then Leno also assumed this slight applies to Wagoner personally: "Now, the government didn’t ask any of those Wall Street C.E.O.s to quit." The former GM CEO isn't hurting these days. He received something of a $20 million severance package, so in the words of our president he's "doing fine," he'll "still be affluent." To put it a little differently, in the Danziger cartoon, our sympathies ought to be with the bedraggled dealer who has worked hard to push his unwanted vehicles, not with a hapless and besuited Wagoner.

I don't share the sympathy of the press for GM's former CEO; he had a decade worth of chances, and while he tried harder than some of his predecessors, he didn't try hard enough. The disparity in the government's response is telling, and has more to do with politics than with our economic health. This week is important as the G20 summit will determine whether we will continue to push our economies through aggressive spending (per the US) or whether we will instead pursue aggressive international financial regulation (per the EU). The fact that this is only posed as an either/or proposition shows how unequal governing forces have been to the economic crisis so far. The fact is, we need both.

In the U.S. where we are enacting broad spending programs and will need to enact more, there is no injustice or impropriety in the government's demands on Chrysler and GM. However, we need to see more oversight of the financial sector, and when it comes, it should be in terms as strong as and stronger than the chastisement the auto industry has received this week.

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BODY: Soothe, by the Smashing Pumpkins.

I think that for many of us the lyrics to Soothe by the Smashing Pumpkins represents the possibility, if not the ideal, of what we can realistically hope for when it comes to dealing with ugly situations in the past and present. Look at these words as applying not to a person, but to an event or a situation.

Hold me, hold me again. Hold me, hold me again.
When will it start to sway?
When will it start to almost break you?
Hold me, hold me again. Hold me, hold me again.

I don't miss you, and I don't wish you love,
but I forgive you and I don't wish you away, away, away.
It'll almost break you, almost take you,
almost break you, almost break you up.

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Oneidine 13, 31.

New York Times: Micheline Maynard.

Other than your own, which country on your continent (for Australia and New Zealand, consider Oceania) most intrigues you?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Diary: Phenology: March 26 - April 1, 2009.

In the last week, I have noticed how cold and snowy it got again! Snow, as a surprise... a sure sign that it's almost spring.

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