Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Views of Mexico...

I said something a while ago about posting pictures from my trip to Queretaro.

I didn't have much time, and I did have difficulties with the camera. For one thing, I totally spaced on how to turn off the flash. It's a Cannon powershot - there's a button with a picture depicting a flash. You push it, the flash turns off. Completely beyond me, for several days. I blame the tequila.

Also, I had issues with battery life. I have these cool rechargable batteries from Energizer and the nifty little charger to go with, and the plug fit into the recepticle... but 14 hours later they still weren't charged all the way. So, I think I was having current conversion issues.... so I blame Mexico.

So this is the blurry picture I took of the really cool flowers blooming along the pool. The newest blooms were yellow and as they opened and expanded, they darkened in color through orange to red so the full blossom was a gradually shaded rainbow of yellows, pinks, peaches, oranges and reds. Beautiful!

Here's my room. I don't know why I always take pictures of my hotel rooms, but I do. I steal the room key too. I have a box full of 'em. Go figure. I really liked my bathroom.

These are pictures from a nifty restaurant we had lunch at one day. It doesn't look like much from the side of the highway, but it was beautiful inside.

Every freakin' morning, this bird would bath and play in the fountain. I tried every morning to get a picture of the bird frolicing in the water. This was the closest I got. "Frolicing?!? Surely you jest. I'm just sittin' here enjoying the morning. Leave me alone, picture-crazed tourist."

Queretaro is a cultural hub in Mexico - the constitution was signed there around (um, I think) 1917. One of the distingishing features is the Aqueduct. It was built between 1726 and 1735 to provide the city with water from springs... somewhere else. (Hey, it's not a history lesson!) Anyway, there are 74 arches of quarried rock, it's 23 meters high and stretches for 1280 meters. I have no idea what those flecks are - it was not snowing - but it was almost dusk and it would have been good to be able to figure out the flash.

This was supposed to be a picture of a nifty fountain in a park/courtyard in the downtown area. It's called the fountain of the dogs (or something like that) 'cause, well, there's dogs all around the base. Instead, here's some pretty pansies, and a dark blob that might, if you squint, be a fountain. *sigh*

I checked out the night before - one less thing to do in the morning = ten additional minutes of sleep. At almost midnight, I straggled down to the front desk to check out and found... a full mariachi band wandering around the lobby. How cool is that?

And finally, there was a huge Mexican flag billowing in the breeze outside of Queretaro and it just fascinated me - probably since I'm not used to being places where other flags are doing anything without ours nearby. This was shot through the window of a moving (down the highway, VERY quickly) vehicle, so this one isn't due to the camera or to me.

I was torn between REALLY wanting to go home, and really wishing to see more of the area. The way the supplier is behaving, I'm very afraid I'm going to get another chance at it.

Monday, June 25, 2007


This is the coolest thing. Pardon me while I totally geek out.

This is a color image of the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin. Founded around 1330, the Trinity-Ipat'ev Monastery in the old Russian Volga River city of Kostroma, northeast of Moscow, contained within its walls several old churches, including the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin shown here. Originally constructed in the sixteenth century, the church was demolished in the early Soviet period. This photograph may be the only color photograph ever taken of the church.

So, how'd they get a color photo of a church destroyed so long ago? Glad you asked.

It's called "Digichromatography." Between 1909 and 1912, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, with support from Tsar Nicholas II, completed a very ambitious survey of 11 regions of Russia. He took pictures with a camera of his own design (since lost) that recorded the images on glass plates. Our Library of Congress bought the plates from his heirs in 1948. The process of digichromatography enabled the creation of brilliant color images from these plates. At the time, he projected the images from the glass plates through red, blue and green filters to show a color image. How cool is that? He was hosting color slide shows in the very early 1900s.

He studied as a chemist, and devoted himself to the advancement of photography. His own original research yielded patents for producing color film slides and for projecting color motion pictures. The tours of Russia he and his team completed were done in a specially outfitted railroad car. To keep his images straight, he created albums to serve as photographic records of his trips across the Russian Empire. Each album is composed of contact prints--created from his glass plate negatives--which were mounted in the order in which he traveled.

Anyway, I know all this 'cause the Library of Congress is hosting an exhibition. (And I stole heavily from their website for my information.) So go here and check out the cool picts!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Feminist Mystique?

I was wandering around the blog-o-sphere today and stumbled across this post from mom-101 regarding that dreaded f-word, feminism. Generally speaking, I consider myself fairly shallow, or in the immortal (?) words of Glinda from Wicked, "deeply shallow." Very deeply shallow. But her post resonated with me, for a variety of reasons.

It resonates lately because I have friends who have girl children. Have you tried buying clothing for girls lately? OMG. I have two friends who do not know each other who have resorted to making clothing to keep their girls from looking like two dollar whores. Last week, at the grocery, I watched a nine-year-old girl parade around the store in hip-hugger jeans, nearly 3" high platform heels and a tight crop top that said "tease" across the chest in glitter. The same day, I was shopping in a large department store and found a baby t-shirt, in the girls department, that had a cartoon cat on it with the words "bad pussy" underneath - in the GIRLS department. We sexualize our children practically from the time that they are toddlers, inundate them with sex and images that portray a female's worth solely on the basis of her looks, glamorize violence and crime against women, and call catty bitchiness entertainment (in everything from the news to "what not to wear" - it's pervasive in the media today) and then profess shock at teenage girls' angst over their body image, and their relative inability to support one another.

So on one hand, we have the images that are seen every day of gorgeous women who appear perfectly content to spend their lives obsessing over every lettuce leaf they consume, and buying diet water for god's sake, and never having an intelligent thought in their heads as they bounce from store to store in their beemers... and on the other hand we have the stereotypical "feminist" - strident, unattractive manhaters. Yes, I know it's not every feminist, not even the majority, but there's that vocal minority... so who do you think that a girl would chose as a role model?

Let's flash back to my college days for a moment. My experience probably (hopefully) isn't typical, but it's because of that experience that I still hesitate to call myself a feminist. In college, while attending classes for my engineering degree, I worked in the school of dance, theatre and arts administration. The Theatre women (Ooh, sorry, forgot. Womyn.) were the worst of the lot by far. They wore their feminist uniform of dark, shapeless clothing and ugly shoes, shaved nothing but occasionally their heads and lounged around the school office for a great part of the day whining about how oppressed they were and quoting really bad lesbian poetry at each other. They were not activists. They weren't trying to improve anyone's situation, not even their own, really.

I, on the other hand, was struggling through classes where I was the only female and the only one not invited over to the frat house on Saturday to play football, drink beer and collectively do the homework assignments. I had one professor tell me straight to my face that he didn't believe women belonged in engineering and he was going to find a way to fail me. I aced that class through sheer grit. I was never late to a class or an "optional" study session, I spent hours on his homework assignments and never missed a single question on the tests or the quizzes - and he still gave me a "c" - I had to bring all of my classwork to the dean of the college and pitch a fit to get the grade I deserved.

I was a member of SWE (Society of Women Engineers), and we were active in the community - tutoring inner city kids, mentoring girls in the area high school and visiting other schools in the region to talk about options in technical careers.

At the same time, I went to one of the meetings for some college version of NOW and was scorned because I wear pretty shoes, paint my toenails and wear sparkly jewelry. I couldn't join their club if I wasn't willing to conform to their standards of what a woman was. I left after telling them that I felt more oppression from THEM than from most of the men I knew. (And a rant for another day is why it seems to be okay these days to portray normal heterosexual men as complete idiots. One more of those commercials where some smarmy little bitch rolls her eyes at the camera over the behavior of her man and I may toss the set through a window.)

After one particularly grueling morning in the trenches, I went for a walk at lunch. I ended up stopping at a florist's and buying myself a small bouquet of spring flowers. When I returned to my desk, I put the flowers in a vase on the corner. The professor who was the head of the little feminist gang in the department came over and wanted to know who had bought me flowers. When I told her that I'd bought them myself, she trilled on about how brave I was. *blink* Excuse me? The florist was not a particularly scary person. She meant that she felt I was brave for not giving in to "society's norms" and waiting for someone to buy me flowers. *headdesk*

So, the people who should be leading the fight to stop the spread of this disease that tells girls that they should start dieting by age 12 and that they're useless to society if they aren't a size two and that good girls (or grrls) are the ones that cheat to steal someone else's "man" and so on and so forth have been marginalized by these whackos who think that all men are the enemy, but not as much of an enemy as the women who shave their legs, wear makeup or, may the goddess have mercy on your soul, have the audacity to be happy at home with their children.

*sigh* Just my opinion...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Feline Timeline...

I developed pictures - 8 rolls worth - in February, and today I loaded them onto my hard drive. So, a history in pictures...

In the beginning, there was Sophia, and she was queen of the newspapers and it was good.

Then I went home for a weekend and encountered fuzzy visions of cuteness and it was good.

Then I brought a fuzzy vision of cuteness back with me...

and much hissing and snarling ensued. And nay, it was not good.

But gradually, things improved. First, the interloper was studied.

Closer inspection...

Eventually a wary coexistence was achieved.

Gradually, the climate warmed. Maybe this small thing wasn't all bad.

And then they were united against a common enemy: the move.

The Peanut isn't ever going to be one of the great thinkers of the cat world...

But that makes it easier for Sophia to plot to take over the universe in peace.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Curses. Foiled Again.

Yes, Thim, it's still brown. Dammit. Apparently it didn't like my attempts to change it and it waited for me to leave and then reverted. It was blue - briefly. And the bloggie-visitor thing isn't working like I wanted it to either. AND my spacing's all screwed up. Again. I'm an engineer, dammit, I KNOW I can figure this out. Well, hopefully. Grumble, grumble.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


So here I go again, screwing around with my layout. All I wanted to do is update my blogroll. Yeah, then I was tempted from the path of knowledge and led into the darkness. Okay maybe a bit dramatic. But that reciprolling *sounded* easy. *sigh* I may never get this thing back to what I want it to be.

Aw well, I was getting sick of brown anyway. Wish me luck!

1966 vs 2006

Ahhh, the good old days... although I have to admit that when I first saw the title, I thought it was a comparison of GTO models and I was all set to spit fire at whatever idiot thought there was ANY way whatsoever to compare the 2006 to the 1966 model. Anywho...

It's amazing (and sad) at how much things have changed in only 40 years...


Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack

1966 - Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.

2006 - School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.


Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1966 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody arrested, nobody expelled.

2006 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charges them with assault & both are expelled even though Johnny started it.


Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.

1966 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by principal. Sits still in class.

2006 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.


Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his father's car and his Dad gives him a whipping.

1966 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2006 - Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy sent to foster care and joins a gang. Billy's sister is told by state psychologist that she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.


Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some headache medicine to school.

1966 - Mark shares headache medicine with principal, because he also has a headache.

2006 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.


Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1966 : Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2006 : Pedro's cause is taken up by state democratic party. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway, but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he can't speak English.


Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.

1966 - Ants die.

2006 - BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.


Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.

1966 - In a short time Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2006 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison.


Is something wrong here???? Hello America!!?! Wake up!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Things That Make Me Go Hmmm. Or WTF??

Have you been following the news story about Mr. TB, aka Andrew Speaker? There's got to be a back story there. Does it seem odd to anyone else that some random guy ends up with some rare, bacteria resistant strain of TB... and his brand new FIL just happens to work at the CDC... studying strange and rare strains of TB? Might be a clue about your welcome to the family. I'm just sayin'. And I saw an interview clip the other day about how he's got tapes of conversations saying that he wasn't contagious. And other clips about how he didn't know he was sick. Um. Okay. Isn't ironic that he, a personal injury lawyer, is asking forgiveness from all of the people on those planes and in those other countries that he may have put into danger? I think it would serve him right if they all sued him. Every last one of them. Hurry up and have children. We need more like you running around. Also, I feel so safe about our borders - the border guard scanned the passport and an alarm popped up - don't let this guy in, contain him, don protective gear and call for help and what does the guard do? Lets him in. Yet they stole a pair of safety scissors from me. *headdesk* Glad security is on the job. I feel much safer now. Really.

Have you heard about the Cuban book that the Florida school board is discussing banning? First off, banning books or anything else just p*sses me off. But the reasoning behind this ban is that the Cuban Americans are all up in arms 'cause the book isn't political and doesn't bash Castro. "To many in this heavily Cuban-American community, "Vamos a Cuba" ("A Visit to Cuba") is extremely offensive because it lacks any criticism of the country's dictator Fidel Castro or his communist government. That's why the Miami-Dade County School District will ask a federal appeals court Wednesday for permission to remove all 49 copies of the book from its libraries. ...In seeking to remove the book, the board overruled the decision of two academic advisory committees and the county school superintendent. Frank Bolanos, a former school board member who championed the district's fight to remove the books, said the board is right to pursue its appeal. Bolanos, who stepped down last year to run unsuccessfully for state Senate, said the case highlights the need for more give and take between school district bureaucrats and parents over what is appropriate for children to read. "It sort of pits parents against a school system that seems to think it has absolute right over what's given to our children," he said. But another parent, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Miami-Dade Student Government Association challenged the removal in court. "Access to information in libraries with all points of view — libraries serving as a marketplace of ideas — that is the heart and soul of what the First Amendment is all about," said Florida ACLU director Howard Simon. "This is very dangerous ground the Miami-Dade School Board is treading on." I'm sort of scared that I agree with the ACLU, but here's the thing from my point of view - you have the right to decide what your children read. Not what my children read. *growl*

Oh, and here's a more personal WTF?!? My dad, as I think I've mentioned, is retiring from the really big tire company. Because I'm senile, and lazy, I don't remember and have no intention of looking to see what I've already posted about this. But, they were supposed to send a letter. Instead, they posted something on a bulletin board saying something like "Dear valued employees, Everyone who wanted to retire is going to. Your last day is May 31. Have a nice life." Then, for the party for everyone, they sent around a sheet. "Dear valued employee, Please join us for punch to celebrate your pending retirement." So Dad, always the most easy-going of individuals, decided that if after 47 years, they couldn't be bothered to put his name on something, he wasn't going to go to their party. His last day was supposed to be Thursday night, since he works the night shift. Their little punch fest was Thursday morning. Wednesday night he went in and they asked him to stay after to meet with a vendor. (They scheduled him for nearly 80 hours DURING HIS LAST WEEK.) Anywho, the vendor was a trick to get him to the party. Then the HR people came up and said that he doesn't actually get to retire for another three months 'cause they need him to train his replacements. They haven't actually hired said replacements yet. Good to know that they've got their sh*t together, isn't it?

And, here's another personal WTF - dedicated to my brother. While I love him, he's an idiot. This spring, he finally split with his girlfriend. I liked her, she was alright but they dated for almost 2 years, and for almost a year and a half of that, he's said he wanted out. But that's not what's got me all stirred up now. He was flirting around with this girl at his work. We'll call her S2FS (for skanky two faced slut, a term of endearment to be sure). S2FS is married. With a two year old. She chased after my idiot brother, claiming that her marriage was a sham, her husband didn't pay any attention to her, they slept in separate bedrooms for 10 years, yadda yadda yadda. She called. She emailed. She left the company they had in common, invited him to her going away party and neglected to tell him that he was the ONLY one she invited. So on and so forth. He told me about all this around this time. I christened her the skanky 2 faced slut at that time and inquired how someone whose husband hadn't touched her in 10 years ended up with a toddler. I told him to just say no, he didn't need THAT kind of noise. The idiot got involved with her anyway. After four weeks, he was "in love" and thinking forever. Then her cell phone bill arrived at her house. And her not-involved husband correlated her calls with her "working late" and "acting weird" and confronted her. Sounds like someone who doesn't care, doesn't it? The long and the short of it is that she told my brother that she couldn't communicate with him anymore 'cause her meanie husband won't let her and threatened to take her child away. My brother is more upset over this than the end of the 2 year relationship. I think part of the reason is that he's not getting any sympathy from me, or mom. My parents tend to be pretty conservative. I'm not, but I do not poach. Ever. It's a thing with me and knowing that my brother doesn't seem to have a problem with it has really affected the way I look at him. Yeah, I know. HE's not the one married and therefore not the one breaking a vow. I don't care. Keep your paws off that which is not yours. It's common couresy if nothing else. So, WTF is wrong with him??

And lastly, why am I still at work at 9:30 at night? What is wrong with me? Hmmm?

(NOTE: link to the article I was quoting above is here.)