Wednesday, October 29, 2008

just in time

Two days before I was going to chuck Time Warner, KXAN and my local NBC affiliate are back on the air.  Just in time for sweeps, though no new Chuck or Heroes this week, I now can watch in beautiful HD some of my favorites.  Too bad, I was looking forward to getting more preferred HD channels.  I guess I will wait and see if it is still worth it until the beginning of the year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

madison ave and her men

Last year, American Movie Classics (AMC) created a television show called "Mad Men".  From a third rate network, the show took the summer season by storm.  The second season ended this past Sunday. Almost every aspect of this show is impressive.  The production is at the top of the list, making perfect visualization of the early sixties culture.  The plot and premise center around an advertising agency on Madison Ave and highlight the social part of the business just as much if not more than the actual business itself.  And the characters.  You can almost feel each one slowly committing that opening song suicide with every drink, affair, and lie.  The show is a wonderful blend of amazing television.  That is why is so hard for me to say how much effort it takes for me to watch it.

Maybe it is the time period.  I did not grow up in the sixties and find it very difficult to even try to think they way they do.  In the show, Marilyn just died, the Cuban crisis is just warming, men are expected to look pretty and sleep around, and girls are meant to look pretty and say nothing.  The characters have a drink in their hands one out of every three scenes so it is amazing how they got anything done. That being said, the advertising part of the show really draws me.  Don, especially, makes it look all too easy but the rest  of the team's suave business savvy is outweighed by their closed minds.  The costumes are wonderful, gallant men wearing hats and most women sporting the Jackie look.  But it hurts to watch the women dressed in  stockings and heels all the time and showing their big hips.  And then there are the characters.  Not one of them connects with me.  It feels as if they are all living a lie and Don works on a slow spiral into nothing.  If I have one fault it is that I need a hero and there is not a character on the show which can be called a hero. 

So why the long commentary?  I just think it interesting that I continue to follow this show.  I know I do not like it but I also know that it is very good television.  I know that I will be depressed but I continue to get involved in its characters.  I believe that I have found its purpose, to experience a maddening time through the eyes of the men on Madison Ave.  And after the finale of the second season, I felt it a little more cohesive.  Finally some good decisions  were made rather than ones that helped Don get through the day.  The agency has taken center stage and Don has reconciled what he wants from his family. I can not believe that I wonder how things will change when all the lies come out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

bowl and cup

A friend at work is a thrower, that is she makes pottery. She is taking a class and I asked for a small bowl to eat my oatmeal at work. The amazing part of what she gave me is the shapes. They both also have some great colors, the deep royal blue. Thanks, Nicole.

my orchid

I do not have a very green thumb. And I typically stay away from caring for living things. However, when I lived in North Carolina someone gave me an orchid. And for some reason, or maybe because I left it alone, it flourished. For reasons I will not go into, I could not bring it to Texas but I told myself that I would get another one. I see them in the grocery stores but worry about investing.

Yesterday, I was at the Farmer's Market listening to the New Orleans Jazz Band of Austin and saw an orchid vendor. She told me that lack of water and non direct bright light is essential to keeping the orchid alive and well. She said that since I get direct morning sun, I could come home from work and put it outside. It would eat up all that light and I would only have to water it maybe once every two weeks. Well, the yellow green one drew me. It still needs a pot and a stand but for now Elora, as I have named it, has a new home.

Friday, October 17, 2008

postcrossing pictures

I have not received any extraordinary postcards recently but my favorite site just got better by adding photos in your respective profile.  No more flickr for me. Here is mine if you want to see what I send and receive.

drop those articles

For the better part of ten years, I have been working around people whose first language is not English.  It has always fascinated me to listen to them speak in their native language.  The weird thing is, that when I am around them, I tend to speak English like them.  I drop my articles and typically use the present tense when other tenses should be used.  One of these days, I will not speak correctly at all.

Monday, October 13, 2008

death of the seasons

Two of my most followed anime finished their respective seasons this past week, the eighth of Bleach and the third of Naruto: Shipp┼źdenBleach was on a non-manga story line so it was fine with me. I was not very attached to the characters and the eventual death, even voluntary, was neither impressive nor touching.  Naruto, however, hit hard.  First, I knew what was going to happen because I read way too much.  Second, the person who killed this character was extremely scary.  Third, as in typical anime fashion, the build up was unbearable.  Seriously, I was balling by the end only to have my boss' boss call me about work.  Talk about bad timing.  Anyway, it goes to show how more powerful Naruto is, killing off a major character while Bleach has to resort to one that is not part of the normal story line.  I will work through the grief and move to the next episodes.  Still, I know of more major character's death in Naruto before the end of it all.  I am really not looking forward to that one.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I want my NBC

Because of a dispute between the local NBC company, KXAN, and Time Warner in Austin, the channel has been removed from the lineup.  This means no "Life", "Heroes", "Pushing Daisies", or "Chuck".  The link shows you how to get these shows through   Everything except "Pushing Daisies" is available but usually the day after.  It is not the easiest to hook up my pc to the tv so watching on the big screen comes by downloading and watching on my xbox.  Eitherway, I do not get these shows in HD.

But after visiting my sister and finding that she gets way more HD channels than I do, I am seriously considering moving to another company.  In Austin, in my area only Time Warner provides cable.  I would have to move to Dish Network or Direct TV.  I could also use an antenna but my tv does not have an internal antenna so an external one would be pricey.  I also signed a stupid two year contract with Time Warner and the fees for canceling is going to be about on month's worth of service.  It is reasonable to say that I am disappointed and hate having to go through the effort of researching and hooking up a different system.  After the work is done, though, it looks like Direct TV is the winner.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

state quarters comes to an end

Speaking of states, 2008 is almost over and that means that the ten years of state quarter releases also comes to an end.  As of this post, I had about six plus the ten for 2008 left.  I have since received one of the earlier quarters and three of 2008 so I still need 12.  But the Alaska coin just went into circulation!  Hey, if you find these, cough them up would ya?  I hate to have an incomplete collection.
  • 2005 West Virginia (Philadelphia Mint)
  • 2006 South Dakota (Philadelphia Mint)
  • 2007 Washington (Philadelphia and Denver Mint)
  • 2007 Utah (Denver Mint)
  • 2008 Oklahomo (Philadelphia Mint)
  • 2008 New Mexico (Philadelphia Mint) 
  • 2008 Arizona (Philadelphia Mint)
  • 2008 Alaska (Philadelphia and Denver Mint)
  • 2008 Hawaii (Philadelphia and Denver Mint)
Now onto $1 presidential coins and $10 presidential wife coins.

Austin City Limits Festival

Austin has two major music festivals, though there are several smaller ones in and around the Austin area.  South by Southwest (SXSW) , which is also a film and music festival, is held in March and The Austin City Limits (ACL) is held in September.  The ACL is a full blown music festival spanning a motley of music types, over 130 bands on eight stages across Zilker Park  and drawing 65,000 people.  So why would I, resistant to loud music, the heat, and crowds of people attend this event?  Well one should always try new things and this, especially, should be experienced.  Also, I live very close to the event itself now and taking the shuttle was too easy to pass up.
Well, it was hot and very dusty as we have not had rain in a while.  And sometimes there were so many people that we could not move.  But since I had prepared both physically and mentally while taking advantage of the shady areas of the festival, I was not miserable and I did not even get burned.  Highlights of the festival for me were Swell Season, Raconteurs, Blues Traveler, and a new favorite Belleville Outfit.  The locale was the best part, a scenic view of the city and Barton Springs just across the street.  My trusty wrist band getting me in and out with no problem. Something signicant about this festival was the amount of effort into being green.  There were recycle bins everywhere there were garbage bins for those necessary bottles of water.  They encouraged others to collect recyclables and gave prizes for full bags.  All the vendors were encouraged to sell food which did not require utensils and utilized biodegradable or recyclable containers.  The food was fantastic, a choice from the popular local restaurants rather than just burgers or pizza, though of that it was good too since it was all local.  It was all very impressive.
I am not saying I am going to do this every year and having just returned from another trip, my exhaustion level was pretty much at a peak.  But having done it once and really enjoyed myself and the music is enough to appreciate it and seriously consider another offer of a three day ticket.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

partners in math

Okay, so I am pretty good in math.  I am not sure I am such a good teacher but I heard it takes practice.  And I do not have a lot of experience with children unless you count my intermittent time with my nieces, who are probably the greatest kids on earth.  Add all of that up and it does not make me a very good tutor.  However, I have always said I should give back what I could.  So this year, I signed up with Partners in Math, part of the larger Partners in Education program in Austin.  Every week, several of us from around the city go to our respective elementary, middle, and high schools and work with groups to help them with their math.  It is helpful that you have the same students every week, that you are in a group of about three kids, and the teacher is in the room with you and prepares the activity.  My first lesson was just an intro lesson where we got to know each other but I am not sure I did so well.  I hope, with practice, to be a better guide.