Monday, March 26, 2007

The Many Faces of Meg

This is Meg, who thinks her mother is eccentric.

She drinks rather alot of Starbucks. Mothers, be warned.

Meg as Victoria's Secret model.

Meg and friend as fish. (Succesfully)

Meg as hippie-dippie. (Successfully)
You may well ask what the "real" Meg looks like. You've seen it. Yup, pretty much...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Six Weeks Ago

Six weeks ago, life looked like this:

Today it looks like this:

And this:
I'm happy.

Warm Fuzzies

Local news item:

Since the 1800's, the Dalmation and Firehouses have gone together. Now a Lafayette man is making sure every fire station in Lafayette, has the symbol on display.
The black and white spotted dalmation is synonomous with fire fighters and their stations. Until recently only one Lafayette Fire House had a dalmation. Jack Ruckel wanted to change that.
"And then I got thinking, well that ain't right so I'll buy one a month and so I just enjoyed doing it that I started buying one a week in two months time I had all seven of em, every station has one," said Ruckel.
Lafayette Fire Station Seven displays its dog next to the flag pole. Sergeant Mike Schwartz said tradition of the dalmation and fire service dates back more than 200 years.
"It started in the 1800's on the east coast when the carts were horse drawn and one of the guys had a dalmation that come to the engine house with him and it would sit in the middle of the horse drawn cart and bark at the horses to get em to go a little bit faster and it's been a tradition ever since," said Schwartz.
Ruckel said he respects the job firefighters do, and just wanted to do his part.
"I got a lot of respect for em because they put their life in danger everyday and I appreciate it. This is just a minor thing that I can do," Ruckel said.

I'll bet I know why the dog was barking. It was simply excited. it doesn't take much to excite a dog, and Dalmatians are not known for intelligence. Who wouldn't be excited on a pump cart, publicly and glamorously galloping down the street at breakneck speed? We all have a llittle toddler in us, don't we?

Well, I do, anyway.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gotta Wonder.

I have a number of news sites that I check every day, among them FOX news and CNN. The former especially has had me wondering what has gotten into the management. Then I realised it's probably not so much the management as it is the ratings war, of course. In any case, I do wonder about some of the video these sites provide.

Today, CNN's video included video of the crash scene of a car in which a driver's face was impaled on a pole. There was also video of the Steffey case. ABC, which I almost never check anymore, features model Naomi Campbell doing sanitation work.

Who watches this stuff? And why? Don't y'all have something better to do?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Worst That Could Happen

The year was 1988. The diver ascended the ladder to the concrete platform, taut with confidence borne of years and years of training coupled with natural ability. Just scaling the ladder would have been a problem for many, but it was as natural to him as climbing into bed at night.

A million eyes around the world fixed on the diver as he gathered himself into intent purpose at the edge of the platform, meters above the water. He rehearsed the dive, visualising it in his mind, reminding each muscle to call up the sensations of the perfect movement, to perform with the exactitude of clockwork. Confident of the beauty he could elicit with the dive, his body tensed for a second, and he sprang into space with joyful and taut discipline.


He'd miscalculated. His head hit the unyielding concrete platform edge, an obscenity embedded in grace. So unprepared for the jolt, he didn't feel it at first. All there was time for was confusion before he hit the water. The dive was lost. Somehow he hauled or was hauled out of the water and was able to gather his wits. Afterward, he apologised. "It's a shame that anyone watching this should have had to see that...especially children....I'm so sorry..."

That was Greg Louganis at the 1988 Summer Olympics men's diving championships. He recovered and managed to distinguish himself in spite of the horror, but as it turned out, a whack on the head became the least of his problems.

But that whack is the kind of thing that replays itself again and again, before it ever happens, in the minds of many parents of a child about to be launched off the concrete platform of home into the wide world. After 18 years of shepherding a child through the obstacle courses of life, and bringing them to a point where they can even think about ascending the ladder to that platform, you can't imagine the pride as they poise themselves to perform in public. When the child gets to the launching place, a parent knows it is because that child is meant to be there, and the parent had this precious opportunity to be a major part of it. After so much practise, so much training, so much heart poured into this one launch, failure isn't invited to the party, but it can crash the scene anyway, and no one is ever ready. All you can do now... is watch.
Someday, you watch the faces of parents at their childrens' graduations. You'll see relief and pride, but you'll see a certain vigilant alertness about their expression. They'll look like Secret Service agents at a party for the President. Always watching. High-fives and thumbs up and smiles....but parents will just never give up watching.
Sobering update, later in the day: Wade Steffey's parents' watching has come to an end, most likely. A body was found this afternoon in a heretofore double-locked high-voltage power room in a campus dormitory. Please say a prayer for his mom and dad...this is exactly the sort of nightmare of which I speak. Wade's been missing since January 13, and the last place he was seen was in the vicinity of the dorm, trying to get in after hours because he needed his jacket. There are going to be alot of questions to answer, but I can only say, God have mercy on him and especially on his parents. And if this isn't he, may mercy rest on whomever it is and their loved ones.

Monday, March 12, 2007

This Happens Almost Every Year.

And it never fails to amaze me:


Spring in Indiana literally arrives overnight!

I'm not complaining.

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's Amazing How Tasteless An Intelligent Man Can Be.

And it nearly always makes me nearly die laughing.

An Episcopalian minister friend who is an assistant to a Bishop was describing an office worker's diffculty in moving. She's very petite, but very determined and savvy and had a good deal of heavy furniture to move. When she had to unload things, she sent someone to hire some, as he put it, "little brown men"-- Peruvians from an immigrant section of town-- and thereafter he referred to them as "her little brown men" who got the job done in under an hour for very little money. Just the way he told the story you could tell he was having a good time with being so un-PC.

Last night I was drifitng slowly off to sleep while Rich was asking me mildly silly questions about an upcoming dinner with a Muslim we'd met. I told him I need to find some halal chicken. "So what makes it halal?" he mused. I didn't really want to answer as I was much more interested in falling asleep, so I just said, "I don't know....they mumble prayers over it and ask it forgiveness for having to kill it ..." Rich thought about that a moment and then said, "And what does the chicken say? Does it yell Allahu Akhbar! before they chop off its head?"

I laughed so hard I woke up and had a difficult time getting to sleep after that.

I did finally get to sleep and dreamed about the Space Shuttle being launched in the middle of the city, and being frightened of the launch flame, trying to get far enough away in time. It seemd odd to me that they should place observer seats right under the exhaust cones, and then warn people to get away in just enough time to avoid being vaporised. And I wondered about the effect on surrounding buildings. Note to NASA: This will need a harder sell.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thoughts on Chicago.

For the past two days, Rich and I have been in Chicago, where he gave a paper, and I played.

To me, Chicago means museums. We were staying in a hotel near Michigan Avenue, and to most females, the obvious activity is shopping. And there is alot of shopping one can do; however, this seems like a fruitless way to spend my time, since 1. none of the fashion gets close to anything I would wear, and 2. even if I liked anything that's for sale, I couldn't afford it, not even on sale. Lord and Taylor is having a liquidation sale, and even with 75% off some things, I couldn't find a good excuse to buy a thing.

I did, however, duck into a fourth floor closet in a building on Oak Street, where I found two delightful little old Jewish ladies running a knitting shop. Bought a couple of circular needles I haven't been able to find anywhere else, and had a nice long conversation with one of them. She spoke in a heavy accent, and told me she had been born in Ukraine. This is the sort of person I love to talk to...ladies like this are living novels of experience. I could have sat there all day talking to her about Ukraine-- which she says is not as pretty as the United States ("Well, there's New Jersey," said I. And she dipped her head and said, "Yeh..there is New Jersey.")

From there I went to the bus stop where I could have stood all day waiting for the #10 bus that the concierge told me would take me to the Museum of Science and Industry. After about ten minutes I asked a man who was also standing there how often the #10 comes by. "Never, at this time of year," he said. Then he asked me where I needed to go, and I told him. The next thing I know he not only tells me what bus to get on, but gets on with me, and shows me where to get off and what bus to take from there. That kind of thing hasn't happened to me since we were in Prague, so I am happy to report that the manners of the big city may finally be catching up with the Eastern Bloc. He could not have been nicer. Oh....and it just so happened that he was an off-duty bus driver. Or an angel, maybe.

The MSI is only open for five hours a day, but I hadn't been there since going with DW last year to see a medical imaging exhibit. At that time I realised I'd never seen the place and made a mental note to get there ASAP. But you have to get the bus if you don't drive or take a (very) expensive taxi. But one of the things I wanted to do was get a foothold on the CTA bus system, which I did. Anyway, the MSI was a wonderful place. My favorite exhibit was in one of the stairwells, sections taken of a human body at varying levels. It was an amazing sectioning job, and extremely instructive. I also went to an Omnimax show on the human body which was pretty good too. And when I came out of that museum, I realised that I was finished as a medical illustrator. I've long missed the boat-- should have pursued computer graphics years ago. But it's all right, after all. If I had done that, my family life and travels most likely would not have been as wonderful as they have been-- and I wouldn't trade those for a sparkling career. Not even in a Chicago museum. And of you know me, that's saying something.

Today I went all the way down to the Adler Planetarium on the bus, which was easy-- no transfers. I only had a couple of hours but it was worth every penny of the $20 I spent to see two of the planetarium shows and a bit of the museum. If you're in Chicago and you don't see the Adler, you've missed something very good.

Chicago is a neat place. It's ethnic and not quite so high-powered as New York, though I have no desire to learn how to drive into the city. Rich can do that; or I'll take the train. I'm proud of myself for learning how the bus system works. Several years ago, I learned how to see what I wanted to see in a foreign country. I even got lost in a city in China once, and discovered it wasn't so bad. That was an important experience to have, I I figure that if I can find my way back to home base in China, I can most likely do it in whatever city I find myself in the US.

I just need enough time. Like the monkey with the typewriter.
(Note: None of these are my own pictures. The weather was pretty foul.)