he’s coming for you

Big Pharma has their own version of the Orange Alert, and nobody deserves it Moore:

Some pharmaceutical companies are telling their employees to look out for the scruffy guy in the baseball cap. The Houston Chronicle reported Saturday that at least six drug companies have released internal communications telling employees to be wary of filmmaker Michael Moore.

I wonder if they’ll starting having Ali G alerts on the Weather Channel, too….

Let me tell you about the ride home

Seriously, you’re gonna like this.

Woke up this morning with every intention of driving to Washington DC to see my OTHER parents. (It’s the Broken Home Family Shuffle, y’all….) and Mrs. Dog was not feeling well. Based on my experiences of the past few days, I was thinking… “OK. Time to get this family off the road and into our own beds, ASAP. We have had blizzards, tears, nausea and vomiting, and stuff no decent person talks about, and we have enjoyed all of this holiday we can stand.”

So I called family in DC and said “Mrs. Dog is not well, we are headed home. This is not going to be our year to see everyone. Hopefully we’ll see you in January.”

We lit out about sunrise and watched the fog rise off of the melting snow, which is very pretty, and we hit 65 South in Columbus, Indiana. Mrs. Dog was asleep minutes after we had interstate under our wheels. She slept soundly for about three and a half hours, until we were south of Louisville, KY, somewhere near Bowling Green, whereupon she woke up, and we started talking about something or other. Addison was sleeping, splayed across the front seat with his head in her lap. Buddha was snoring softly in the back seat. Mrs. Dog’s eyes are very green when she first wakes up…

And THEN….

Rocketing directly towards us across three lanes of traffic came some idiot. They were in some redneck honkie-mobile like a white Pontiac Shitbird or a Cavalier and they were executing what I have heard called a “LA Freeway Lane Change,” which is where one looks up from the cell phone, takes a brief glance at the mirror and then goes for it- swerving across as many lanes as there are to cross.

Unfortunately, we were right in Shitbird’s blindspot, and Bird was headed for the same space we already occupied. Two pieces of matter, physics tells us, cannot simultaneously occupy the same space. ESPECIALLY at 75 miles per hour.
[Read more…]

This is kind of ruining my holiday bliss

Woke up yesterday morning with an odd feeling in my stomach. It turned into a full-on case of the “Jump-up-and-turn-arounds” stomach flu. I spent the day in my in-laws’ guest room and bathroom. Profoundly unpleasant, I must say.

One interesting revelation from all of this- apparently my body is full of green water. I had no idea.

We had planned on driving home from Indiana yesterday, but the only way we could have done that is if we drove in ten minute intervals. Not terribly practical.

SO… I think we are going to drive straight to DC tomorrow if my health continues to improve. Today hasn’t been so bad. Anyone with kennel tips for dogs in the N.VA./DC area, please let us know.

How quickly we forget

It’s cold here. I mean, it’s really cold here. There is a foot of snow on the ground that hasn’t melted in the four days that it’s been there, despite Addison’s best efforts to paint it all yellow and melt it.

Addison ran around in the snow for an hour, rolled in it, bit it, etc… then came inside and, I have never seen him do this before, crawled under a blanket and lay there shivering until he felt a little better.

The big guy has no such problems with the cold. He will lie out in the snow as long as I will let him. I think that he finally doesn’t feel too warm.

Sorry about the light posting. Two things- one is that I am on the road (yesterday we drove ten hours from 5:30 am to 3:30 pm) and internet connections are spotty, the other is that I got totally HAMMERED by spam comments yesterday, even using MTBlacklist. So I spent a big chunk of the internet time that I finally begged dealing with that. Ugh. There is a new revision out of MTBlacklist. As soon as I am not on dialup and using borrowed connections I am going to upload it and see what happens.

I hate spam comments. I really do.

Well, Merry Christmas, yo….

Hope everyone is safe, warm and well-fed this fine Christmas afternoon. Mrs. Dog and I decided to head for safer driving than we had originally planned. We were originally planning on driving to Indiana to her Parents’ house, but I-65 was still uneven going- we decided that being stuck beside the road was not how we wanted to spend the day. We have instead gone to my grandparents’ house in North Carolina, where my family has gathered for the holidays.

Dial-up, by the way, makes the Baby Jesus cry.

Good news was all over public radio as we got into town. Regular readers will know how concerned I have been for the economic well-being of my hometown. The big news is that Dell is opening a plant nearby in Winston-Salem. That’s 1400 manufacturing jobs for the Triad. Excellent, excellent news.

Work for the unemployed. Nice Christmas present, huh?

Hopefully that will lead more companies to open plants here. I would love to see everyone here working. With that in mind, I (unironically) wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Come, all ye Faithful

Following Travis’ (♀) link to the Salon article, we discover this tagline:

Battling the homosexuals, liberals and Jews, Bill O’Reilly and friends are making America safe for Christmas.

As I said in her comments, they left out “…when he’s not sticking things in his butt.”

The article goes to say

Fresh off Republican wins in November, O’Reilly and company have ratcheted up the rhetoric. Mixing a kernel of truth with a grab bag of unconfirmed anecdotes, as well as some outright falsehoods, and then repeating the dire warnings, they’ve helped manufacture the impression that a tidal wave of anti-Christian activity, fueled by Democrats, is threatening to drive Christmas underground in America.

This is, of course, not news to anyone that has been paying attention. It’s kinda astonishing that this thing could sprout legs, though. I can picture the meeting at the Heritage Foundation where they cooked this one up. A bunch of guys in ties sitting around a table, plumped up and drowsy from Prayer Breakfast sausage and pancakes, and Melchior says “Lets get this out- Democrats hate Christmas!”

Balthazar: “Heh. Indeed.”

Gaspar: “It’ll never fly. Who could ever say that with a straight face?”

Melchior: “Oh, I think I know someone brazen and stupid enough to pull it off…”

And a Talking Point is born in a manger, somewhere underneath a starry sky….

While we’re on the subject of consumerism

My No Sweat order has arrived. I got four t-shirts, a hooded sweatshirt, a stocking cap (which looks SO MUCH better on Mrs. Dog that I surrendered it immediately) and a pair of the No Sweat shoes.

The quality on all of the stuff is first rate. The hoodie is butter-soft and No Sweat’s extra-large is indeed extra-large, so it doesn’t do that horrible thing and ride up in the back, leaving your bare back to hit that cold car seat (argh!). The drawstring for the hood is my only complaint about the hoodie- it’s a braided poly-cotton fiber- not the smooth cotton/lycra that I am used to for a hooded sweatshirt. A tiny detail, I realize, so I am going to unconditionally recommend it with that tiny caveat.

The t-shirts are 100% cotton, made in the USA by Union workers. (Right on.) They are lightweight jersey fabric and breathe well, as opposed to the denser weave of a Hanes Beefy-T. They shrank exactly as much as I wanted them to in the first wash. The long sleeve shirts fit under the short sleeves shirts comfortably, like the kids go for these days, I hear.

The shoes are downright cool. While they resemble the legendary Converse (now owned by Nike) Chuck Taylor All-Stars, upon closer inspection the resemblance is largely superficial. The rubber seems to be of a higher quality- the cap toes are slightly larger larger than the Chuck Taylors and the toe-box is a little wider. They retain the narrowness of the Converse heel and they have the same lack of support of Chuck Taylors. This is not an athletic shoe, but they are comfortable and they look very sharp and they come with something that the Chucks absolutely do not- the people who made them have health insurance. Beat that.

Another brief caveat or two- while the sizing information on the Sneakers says that you should order the next size down from what you usually wear, I have found that the ones I got were a little small. I normally wear a sz 12, ordered sz 11, and they are a little tight on one foot. It’s not so severe that I noticed before I had worn them too long to return them, and I like them enough that I am going to probably give this pair to my twin-brother-with-slightly-smaller-feet, and order another pair.

The other caveat- if you let your significant other open the box if it comes while you’re at work, plan on losing a few items. This stuff is really, really NICE.

P.S.- it’s not too late to give No Sweat Apparel for Christmas- you can go here and give an instant email gift certificate. No Sweat has an E-Card generator that will deliver itself in an email on the day that you select. It’s not too late to shop for a better world…

Greasel, Diesel, Soyotas and Sticking it to Osama

Right now, with $3000 I could put three light duty pickups in the road that would all run on Biodiesel without any modifications to the engines. (with the exception of placing a $10.00 fuel filter in line before the factory fuel filter. Why? From the Biodiesel.org FAQ:

Can I use biodiesel in my existing diesel engine?
Biodiesel can be operated in any diesel engine with little or no modification to the engine or the fuel system. Biodiesel has a solvent effect that may release deposits accumulated on tank walls and pipes from previous diesel fuel storage. The release of deposits may clog filters initially and precautions should be taken. Ensure that only fuel meeting the biodiesel specification is used.)

Point of clarification-
Biodiesel is not fryer grease. It’s a motor fuel. Once again, from Biodiesel.org FAQ:

What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is the name of a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. It can be used in compression-ignition (diesel) engines with little or no modifications. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.

Is Biodiesel the same thing as raw vegetable oil?
No! Biodiesel is produced from any fat or oil such as soybean oil, through a refinery process called transesterification. This process is a reaction of the oil with an alcohol to remove the glycerin, which is a by-product of biodiesel production. Fuel-grade biodiesel must be produced to strict industry specifications (ASTM D6751) in order to insure proper performance. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. Biodiesel that meets ASTM D6751 and is legally registered with the Environmental Protection Agency is a legal motor fuel for sale and distribution. Raw vegetable oil cannot meet biodiesel fuel specifications, it is not registered with the EPA, and it is not a legal motor fuel.

Biodiesel is, at present, about 14¢ a gallon more expensive than petroleum. That is, of course, with a tiny fraction of the infrastructure that the petroleum industry has in place. If/when Biodiesel catches on and becomes more ubiquitous, I think that you will see that number drop as Biodiesel providers start trying to compete for diesel consumers. Plus, well, it’s made from stuff we grow here in the US. So, we reinvest in domestic infrastructure, revitalize the American family farm (if there’s any left) and we reduce emissions in vehicles.

What’s the downside? We don’t get to go to the Middle East and play BOOMBOOM with billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money any more. This is only a downside for that segment of the population that makes a lot of money when people start blowing shit up, of course.

It isn’t as clean burning as hydrogen, but read that first sentence again (I’ll paraphrase)- with three grand, I could put three Biodiesel burning vehicles in the road by the middle of January. We have the Theoretical vs. the Practical, the abstract vs the real, right now solution.

Imagine- rather than putting billions of dollars a year into the hands of extremists in the Middle East, that money ends up in the hands of American farmers.

Wanna buy a truck? I know a guy…

and back to the heavy

When I was in Italy working on the screenplay, I met an English writer (of Asian ancestry) named Pervaiz. Pervaiz and I spoke at great length about his travels, being raised and educated in England while his family is from Kashmir. Fascinating guy, and really funny, too.

Today he emailed me the letter he has sent to the Birmingham Post (that’s Birmingham, UK, not Birmingham, AL) about the cancellation of ‘Behzti,’ a play that has been shut down after a violent protest of the staging of the play there in B’ham.

I am disappointed that I cannot watch Gurpreet Bhatti’s play ‘Behzti’ (Dishonour)as a result of the Birmingham Rep’s decision to cancel the run because it has offended members of the Sikh community. I had been looking forward to seeing a new piece of theatre by a writer I recently met but whose work I am not familiar with. Why this disappoints me is that we live in a time when there is a sore need for stories that question hypocrisy and abuse of power.

As someone committed to making theatre in Birmingham the events of the last few days worry and anger me in the extreme. Recently I directed a solo performance piece by a Sikh woman writer performer. A few evenings ago a close friend who is a Sikh, a believer and secular, pointed out that the play I had worked on could have ended up in similar  trouble if it had been touring longer.

Does it mean that in future I have to worry about offending potential members of the audience when working on a show. Or that I can no longer be involved in making plays that take reality and remould it , in time honoured fashion, for dramatic effect in order tell stories that move, challenge and provoke an audience.

It is true that ‘Behzti’ has caused offence to a vocal section of the Sikh community which has cried out that it gives a distorted view of Sikhs. The play set in a gurudwara (temple) has a key character who, the main cause of the controversy, is  a powerful debauched corrupt administrator.

I refute the assertion of those who are offended and their supporters that in the contemporary world debauchery, killings, sexual abuse and jockeying for power never takes place in Christian churches, Muslim mosques , Hindu mandirs (temples) or Sikh gurudwaras(temples). All you have to do is read regional and national newspapers with care to know that religious institutions  are not above worldly corruption.

Ultimately Behzti is a work of fiction and should have been judged as such. It is the job  of artists to hold up mirrors to our existence in order to enrich our understanding and experience of life. Sometimes they make us laugh with joy and sometimes they makes us cry in relief or frustration. To stop artists from producing visions they can share with us because we might be disturbed or offended by what they show us is like blaming the messenger for the message that is being delivered.

I unavoidably watch plays with two sorts of passionate thirsts – one of the child of who fell in love with theatre and the other of a theatre director running a small touring company.Unfortunately neither of these thirsts will be satisfied this evening . Yet I am even more convinced in my belief of defending the right of someone to say something I may disagree with.

Pervaiz Khan
Artistic Director
Duende Performance Company