Below are the 40 most recent journal entries recorded in the "elthar" journal:
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Anime update, on One Post Wonder|
o/` Still Alive o/`|
Still around, still kickin', still busy as anything. Still mostly on Facebook, but I'm experimenting with Ello and boutell
's One Post Wonder; I'm @squiddhartha on both. Still reachable via the usual methods. Still lazy.
Hey, LJ, been a while. I check in every now and then. Here's a little "Howdy" that isn't crossposted to Facebook or Twitter or anything.
Life is good. Busy as always, but mostly busy with things that I want to be doing. My family is mostly well, though we suddenly lost my father-in-law last summer, and my own father is about to turn 90 and he's increasingly frail every time I see him. I wish I could follow that with "but he's as sharp as he ever was," but he really isn't, which is painful to watch. That's part of why I'm not crossposting, my relatives are on Facebook but not LiveJournal and I just had to vent ever-so-slightly where they can't see it.
Took today as a genuine do-nothing-productive play-video-games-and-watch-anime Day Off. Felt good. Dinner's ready and I haven't eaten much today. See ya 'round!
Where I am and what I'm doing|
I've succumbed to the easy lure of Facebook for my day-to-day 'cute kid saying or interesting link' journal needs. Find me there
if you like.
And as of today, I'm launching a gen-yoo-wine blog
for talking about Serious Stuff, since I don't like to pick fights on Facebook.
I won't say I'm giving up on LiveJournal altogether (cue Airplane! joke), but obviously I haven't been around much. We'll see.
One might think that a reasonably clever fellow, such as myself, with a penchant for wordplay, would take less than, oh, 25 years or so to realize that the title of Trading Places is a pun.
One would be wrong.
I didn't particularly have plans for tonight... but buying a new extension ladder and going 20 feet up a neighbor's tree to rescue a cat was definitely not on the agenda.
People a bit older than me remember where they were when they heard about the Kennedy assassination. People a bit younger than me remember 9/11. I'll always remember being at the CU UMC manning a table for the fencing club on January 28, 1986, when the news about Challenger broke.
To this day I have never watched the footage.
And now, a picture of our cat|
Since the true purpose of the Internet is cat photos...
I used to call myself a "Christian sympathizer." But the actions of many Christians make it difficult for me to have much sympathy for them any longer.
I hasten to add that I know many fine people who are Christians, including some of my best friends in the world. This is not surprising, since although the US is in no sense a "Christian nation," it remains the majority religion by far. I'm quite certain that the vast majority of people calling themselves Christians (as well as the majority of people calling themselves Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, or whatever) are basically good people. And that fact made me hesitate to share the links I'm about to, for fear that my friends would feel I was indicting them.
But then I realized that the sort of people who are indicted by their own words and actions in the links I will share are not the sort of people who are my friends, and my friends are wise enough to recognize that; and hesitating in that manner is exactly the wrong reaction, the reaction that those who abuse their religious privilege would want.
So, first, an explanation of the Jessica Ahlquist story
and some "Christian" responses
to it. And, second, a long and painful image
illustrating the sort of recent events that have pushed me to no longer remain silent about religion.
And now you will understand if you see me wearing a t-shirt that reads "Evil Little Thing."
We got a cat a couple of weeks ago. Similar to when we got our current dog (now over a year ago), and for that matter when we got Samson the Enormous Doberman back in the day, I was appropriately dubious at first, since (as usual) it's a hand-me-down/rescue situation, and I wasn't sure how well the wee beastie would fit into the family.
Turns out, he fits in perfectly. He's full-grown but not too old, I'm guessing 3-4 years old, and an indoor/outdoor cat; he lets himself in and out through the dog door, and thus far has always returned in one piece. He's really friendly, and has a tendency to cuddle up with me at bedtime, then shift down toward my feet, then disappear for a while, then return when my alarm goes off in the morning. So, it didn't take long for him to make friends with me, and for that matter with the rest of the family. Though the dog will sometimes bark at him in the back yard, trying to get him to come down from the kids' fort to play...
I browsed the Wikipedia article on cats today to figure out what to call his color pattern and breed, and as far as I can tell, he's a Turkish Van -- which explains why he likes to play with water.
So. Yeah. Cat.
A candidate's faith|
There's a great big article on the front page of cnn.com right now headlined "Mitt Romney's faith."
Look, I realize it's impossible for anybody to get elected in this country these days without being at least a little bit noisy about your religion -- which is wrong and unfortunate but fixing that will be an uphill battle. And you've gotta be some flavor of Christian. (Because Jesus was an American, dammit!) But from where I sit, Mormonism is no more insane than Presbyterianism or Catholicism (or Islam or Hinduism). The question in my mind is, which candidate is more likely to act in violation of the First Amendment and try to legislate religion or morality? And the answer is "the Republican," every time.
So I won't be voting Republican.
Will I be voting Democrat? Tough call. Obama has been disastrous on civil liberties; the only reason I don't regret my vote for him is considering the alternative, particularly as regards foreign policy. I'm getting tired of voting for the lesser evil, though, so I may write in Cthulhu.
Coming out as an atheist|
So apparently today was National Coming Out Day
, which makes it as appropriate a day as any for me to crank out a post I've been mulling for some time.
Here's the deal: I am an atheist. I used to beat around the bush with phrases like "semi-Taoist agnostic" or "Christian sympathizer," but the simple truth is that a lifetime of study, observation, and contemplation have led me to the firm conclusion that supernatural phenomena do not genuinely exist. There are no gods, no devils, no demons, no angels, no unicorns, no fairies, no shoggoths, no psychic powers, no flying saucers. And the simplest word for articulating this stance is "atheist." ("Skeptic" might also work, but has other connotations as well. Some folks like "freethinker" but that's not as widely used.)
Some fraction of the people reading this, particularly the ones who've known me the best or the longest, will be thinking, "Well, duh.
" Some others might think, "An atheist? But he's so nice
." And some others might be thinking, "So? Why make a big deal out of it?"
Well, the reason for coming out and saying it is similar to the reasons LGBTQ folks have for being open about who they are. It's easy to dismiss a group or its members when they're faceless, nameless, and nebulous, a non-specific "them" who act "that way" and believe "those things." It's much harder to do it when you're talking about a friend, neighbor, or colleague. And in recent months and years, groups who've had the audacity to post billboards saying things like "You can be good without God" or "Don't believe in God? You're not alone" have met with complaints, protests, and vandalism, and individuals who have complained about religion in schools have been ostracized, disowned, and even received death threats. LGBTQ people and atheists have in common the fact that many people (and in some cases the same people) see their very existence as illegitimate. And the atheist crowd is getting increasingly vocal about the fact that that's not okay, and I support that.
So, the purpose of this entry today is not to go into detail about the reasons for my atheism (though they are many and I would happily elucidate in other contexts) or to invite anyone to "save" me or to convince anyone else to give up their own beliefs. It's simply to say out loud, "Hey, atheists exist, and are not all bitter nihilists, and in fact can be kinda nice, and whether you knew it or not, I'm one."
Great googly moogly|
Number One Son turned FOURTEEN today. (Which means this picture is 9 years old.) And I think he's grown another inch in height, I had to perceptibly tilt my head back to look up at him this morning.
I reflect that I am extremely fortunate in the fact that I can listen to my eighth-grader practicing his violin -- his third year of playing -- and find it not merely tolerable, but outright enjoyable.
Just call me Dusty|
I just finished washing off the arena dust from this morning. I went down to my parents' place to be the announcer for their neighborhood's equestrian FunDay, with barrel races and egg-in-spoon races and whatnot. At the scheduled start time, there was exactly one (1) rider there, but after a while more showed up, and by the end of the event, just before 1 PM, we had over a dozen. Now I have Announcer's Tan (well, Burn) on my right arm and the right side of my neck, since I utterly failed to consider sunscreen. (Naturally, I was wearing my faithful announcing fedora, so my head's all right.)
Everybody thanked me for my assistance, though of course from my perspective I didn't do anything amazing. Just another example of something looking easy... after you've invested a ton of time and effort into getting decent at it.
For background music, since my phone is conspicuously short of country music, I punched up Pandora's Classic Country station. Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline -- good to go!
What's in a name?|
At the behest of my wife, since I've begun cross-posting (most of) my LiveJournal entries to Facebook, Google+, and sometimes Twitter, I'm going to no longer use the given names of my family members. I do have nicknames for them, so you'll start seeing me refer either to "my first-grader" or to "Piglet", "my teenager" or "Squirtle", and "my wife" or "Stella" (from her derby name "Stella Example"). Those of you who already know their names can adapt, I'm sure.
NOTE TO GOOGLE: These are pseudonyms for other people, not myself! Back off! And it's sad that I feel the need to emphasize that.
Graham's first-grade class went to the Butterfly Pavilion on a field trip yesterday, and he came home with a small green rubber tarantula. What did he name it? "Weber."
Go northwest, young man|
On my way to Portland, Oregon for the WFTDA West Region Playoffs. My league is seeded third, and if we hold to that, we'll advance to the championships -- which we are hosting, so that would be nice!
Milestone from last week: my first-grader lost his first tooth!
Okay, the gate has cleared out from the previous flight, time to get my seat assignment...
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.
Tags: via ljapp
A day of labor|
Well, no, I didn't labor all day -- hung out in bed 'til noon, in fact. But I did get out and mow the lawn, and helped Darla move the weightlifting cage from the basement to her truck, since she's going to loan it to her Crossfit gym. And tonight I still need to get all my ducks in a row for next weekend's Nan Desu Kan
-- most of my regular staff couldn't make it this year, so I've got a bunch of fresh recruits, and I need to give them a little extra info up front. Plus I'm giving my "Japanese In 60 Minutes" panel for the first time in a few years, and need to brush the rust off.
We went down to my folks' place for a family dinner yesterday, and my sister showed some pictures and movies from her recent teacher-oriented trip to Hawaii; she had some souvenirs for us as well, and Graham cradled his plush sea turtle in one arm, raised his small wooden tiki in the other, and said "Look, I'm the Hawaii Statue of Liberty!"
"When I'm a genius, I will invent a backward-aging ray, and turn you into a little boy and you will go to school with me. And my mom will buy you a backpack."
So THAT'S what I'm doing|
Whilst commenting on rfrancis
's journal, I realized that LJ is the place where I talk out loud to myself. So just view my blatherings here in that light.
Dear iPhone game developers:
If your game punishes me for not paying attention to it, for instance by allowing items I've built or ordered to go stale if not handled in a certain time frame, I will not play it. I can't afford to be held hostage to a phone game. (I'm looking at you, Tiny Zoo.)
Also, if your in-game currency is nearly impossible to obtain other than laying down hard money, to the equivalent of tens of dollars for a single item, I will not play it, because I am not insane. (I'm looking at you again, Tiny Zoo.)
I've known this day would come since the day he was born... Since school started last week, it was time to put Owen up against the doorjamb and measure his height, and he's now a quarter inch taller than I am. (At the previous measurement, in March, he was still an inch shy. Yep, an inch and a quarter over the summer.)
Once upon a time, there was paper, and I would go through fits and starts of keeping a journal. I'd buy some kind of blank book, write in it every day for a period of time, then the frequency would drop off, and the book would wind up on a shelf. Sometimes I'd fool around with practicing real cursive (I generally scribble in a cursive-y print), or use the journal to play with some cool new pen I'd bought, or conversely buy myself some cool calligraphic pen to inspire myself to write.
Then came the web, and I made a few half-assed stabs at home pages, or anime reviews, or even a blog, but none of those efforts ever got any traction.
Then a bunch of my MUDder friends found LiveJournal, and it was Good. I posted pretty regularly here for a number of years, and built up a community of both folks I'd known beforehand and folks I only knew (and in some cases still only know) through LJ. Eventually it became too much to keep up with on a daily basis, and my reading dropped off, followed by my posting, but every few months I remembered to toss up an "I'm alive" post, or come by to specifically read a friend's journal, and maybe glance over the ol' friendslist while I was at it.
As my LJposting ramped down, along came MySpace, which in terms of aesthetics is the armpit of the Internet, but people I knew from roller derby were there so I signed on up. And Twitter showed up, and again, derby lured me over there, but who the heck can drink from that firehose? MySpace faded away as people migrated over to Facebook, and I followed along.
And that's when things got a little odd, as I started discovering not only derby people and the MUD crowd, but con people, and high school people, and even family. I went ahead and changed over from my derby name to my government name, like I was "supposed" to. But Facebook feels closer to Twitter than to LiveJournal, and while I've tossed on a few little snippets of "here's what I'm doing," I've never felt like, y'know, writing anything of significance. That's what was great about LiveJournal; for whatever combination of reasons, I was equally comfortable tossing up little amusing snippets and long biographical or philosophical screeds. (The snippets were usually more likely to generate long comment threads than the screeds, go figure.)
Now we have Google+. It has some good points, to be sure -- a pretty clean user interface, good performance, and it's under active development. But not everybody is there, and then there's the whole issue of requiring "real" (by which they mean "real-sounding") names, and that's had enough electrons spilled over it that I don't need to add any more, other than to note that the debate ironically comes along just as I'd adapted to the idea of using my real name for Facebook and even inter-league derby announcing.
So. What to do?
I happened to go back to LiveJournal the other day, and found myself reading through a couple years' worth of my own journal. ("Hey, I like the way this guy writes!") And I really enjoyed the memories it brought back to me, and after all, what is the point of writing anything resembling a diary or journal if not to record memories that are worth saving? Sure, Twitter's good for amusing aphorisms or links to web articles, and blogs are fine for political diatribes or whatever, but in the end, I find that LiveJournal feels more like a journal.
So chances are that I'll continue to do what I'm planning to do with this post -- write it on LiveJournal, and cross-post it to Facebook, Google+, and in some cases Twitter. That's the best way I can think of to be inviting to the people I know on all the various services, yet still be comfortable on my "home" service. And if it ends up bringing people to my LJ who would never have looked at it before, well, that's the whole idea of social media, right?
Graham: I am Ordian, alien soldier from the planet Morgia! I locked you into a small spaceship! Ten minutes! 10... 9... 8... 7 6 5 4 3 2 1! Blast off! WAH HA HA HA HA
For many years, I had the privilege of working with a great man, Dr. Joachim Kuettner. To even attempt to list his lifetime achievements would take longer than I have right now, but among other things, he worked on the Mercury and Apollo projects with Werner von Braun. Dinos may recall me referring to "Distinguished Scientist Guy"; derby folks may remember that at Western Regionals in 2009, I disappeared for a couple of hours to attend his 100th birthday party.
Word has just reached me that he passed away last night at the age of 101. I can't honestly say it's a surprise, but it's very sad. I think it only proper that I dedicate my performance tonight in The Philanderer
to his memory.
Peace to him and his loved ones.
Yeah, I'm alive|
I've been utterly swamped lately, and it's mostly my own fault. I've got to pull back from some of the things I'm doing, and as soon as I get through performances of the play I've been cast in
, I will.
After three years of studying voiceover and then stage/camera acting, I've landed exactly 0 paid voice gigs. Time to face the music and give it a rest. I've got a career, and a dang good one, in computers, and that's keeping food on the table and the roof over our heads. I actually made a lateral job move about 6 months back, but it's still within the same institution where I've worked for nearly 25 years, so I'm well within my comfort zone. I've enjoyed the acting studio work, and it'll always be a part of me, but I've got to put it on the back burner.
I'm not planning on giving up roller derby announcing, or amateur voice acting -- those are less demanding on my time. In fact, for the latest on what I'm up to there, check out http://rfrancis.livejournal.com/697938.html
. And if I ditch the acting classes, I get my Monday nights back and I can get back into Tae Kwon Do, in which I've been slacking off.
The boys are doing well; Owen's officially a teenager now, with all the pluses and minuses that go along with that. (His voice is starting to be alarmingly low-pitched...) Graham's in kindergarten, and starting to read; his language is still not as well-developed as his contemporaries', but it's made great strides in the past year, and communicating with him is a lot less frustrating, particularly since he now grasps the concept of "why." (He just ran into the bedroom with a piece of toast, proclaiming, "My toast is ALIIIIIIVE!")
Darla's gotten heavily into Crossfit and Olympic-style weightlifting, as well as pursuing her interest in agriculture. At this rate I foresee us moving to the mountains and starting a ranch by the time the boys are off to college. By then I'll probably be ready to leave tech management behind and become a teacher or something, but who can tell what will happen in a dozen years?
Everybody's on Facebook and Twitter these days. I am too, of course, but I find it about as impossible to keep up there as I have on LJ these past few years. Yet when I feel the need to talk about what's going on with myself, I feel drawn back here... it really is my journal
, in some sense. (I've been so inactive here, though, that I've let my paid account lapse. If I find myself picking up in activity again, maybe I'll reinstate it.) On the flipside, most of the people I'm interacting with nowadays, from derby and NDK and so on, plus a bunch of old high school friends, are over on Facebook. Maybe I'll link back here from there. Oh, hey, turns out LiveJournal's made that easy to do. Bonus!
So, anyway. Alive, yes.
"My robot minion isn't going in the potty!"
Of scientific illiteracy|
From the front page of cnn.com:
"The Hubble Space Telescope was put into orbit 20 years ago to capture images of deep space. An initial lens problem was fixed, and the orbiting observatory continues to provide stunning images of the universe."
Mirror problem, people, not lens problem. You've had twenty years to figure this out.
One more piece of evidence for the pathetic state of science reporting in this country.
On the plus side, go HST!
In the news!|
Here's a Canadian news bit on the icebreaker I was on in March, including one photo I took!
Just for the record... yes, I'm alive and well, and the family is fine.
I've been in one of those phases where it takes all my energy to do what I'm doing, with not much left over to chronicle it. Which I suppose is ironic because that's when things ought to be chronicled.
This year I've had two business trips, one a two-week trip to Toulouse to work with Meteo France, and one a two-week cruise on a Coast Guard icebreaker in the Bering Sea doing data management support. At some point I ought to sort through the hundreds of pictures and make some albums or something.
As always, helped out with StarFest this past weekend (earning my 25-year veteran pin in so doing). On the cards I printed up to give to the guests so they'd have my cell number, I put "Computer guy", "Voice actor", "Tae Kwon Do instructor", and "Roller derby announcer", which in a nutshell is what I've been up to lately. (Note: it does not say "Successful, well-known
voice actor." :P Roller derby, however, is going very well, as the Denver Roller Dolls are now playing at the 1STBANK Center, and our next bout on May 8 will be awesome as the Texas Rollergirls are coming to play our all-stars. #2
leagues in the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, folks!)
Um... all for now, I guess.
A vignette, repeated nightly|
elthar: Graham, time to get ready for bed
Graham: I can't get ready for bed, I'm tired!
Of Beetle Juice|
My day as reported on Dino|
You say "agh gah bah feh buh doh"
You say "So we have a big workshop next week"
You say "and I'm in charge of my facility's booth at it"
You say "and they were supposed to be doing booth setup at 5 today, and Darla was supposed to be home from doing massage at 4, so everything's okay, right?"
You say "Except Darla didn't get home until after 6"
You say "so I scampered in to the building but nobody's there and it doesn't look like anyone's set up any displays"
You say "so I came over to my office and of course everyone's long gone from here and I'm all :/"
You say "so I guess I get to haul my ass in at 7:30 Monday morning to set crap up"
You say "I hadn't realized until a day or two ago that I needed to provide not only the content for the booth, but the system to run it on"
You say "but fortunately I was able to re-borrow my old laptop that I'd just handed over to the sysadmins to refurbish for somebody else"
You say "and I can spare my absurdly huge monitor for a couple days"
You say "Now Darla and the boys are on their way to the mountains and Darla's all bummed that she killed my schedule but I can't easily call her to tell her everyone else flaked too"
You say "the one bright spot: I have leftover RIBS in the fridge when I get home"
A happier occasion|
Happy 15th anniversary, Darla!
The end is nigh|
Our doggie hasn't been eating much lately, so Darla took her in to the vet today. The prognosis was... not good. The vet was shocked to see how much weight she'd lost, and he thought that she was showing signs of cancer. If she were a young dog, it might make sense to treat it aggressively, but at 15 years old... He gave us a narcotic to help ease her pain, but... we're going to take her in on Monday, as a family, for her final vet visit.
Time is of the essence|
There's just not enough time to get it all done.
(Doggie update: we're getting some food into her and she seems to be improving. Fingers crossed.)
Our "puppy" Astra is fifteen years old now, and while she survived an incident last fall in which she managed to scrape much of the fur and skin (and some flesh) off her tail, in the past couple of days she's suddenly developed some serious difficulty moving around, hobbling with her aft port paw curled under and barely able to move her hind legs.
If she doesn't show some improvement in the next day or two, we'll haul her into the vet, but at the moment it's not looking very positive...
A vignette in two scenes|
DARLA: Graham, lick Daddy on the nose.
ELTHAR: Graham, lick Mommy on the nose.
DARLA: No, lick Daddy.
ELTHAR: No, lick Mom -- euuuuuuuurgh!
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