Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince

Movie trailer has just been released. Yay!!

http://www.moviefone.com/movie/harry-potter-and-the-half-blood-prince/27063/main

Bag O'Glass with Irwin Mainway

After Corinne and the kids got back on Sunday, we immediately headed to a birthday party for one of Charles's friends. It was a great party with games, water balloons and wonderful food.

One of the games was a treasure hunt and involved clues and prizes. After tracking down all of the hidden clues, the kids discovered a "treasure box" full of toys. The kids each got to pick out a few of the treasures that they could then take home.



Charles chose a bag of marbles as one of his toys. I was thrilled, because I was an avid marble collector in 2nd-5th grade. Weird I know, but it used to be the cool thing to do at school. The bag looked to be full of plain jane cat's eyes, but was hard to tell with all of the plastic wrapping.



After eating cake, we went home and Charles opened up his bag of marbles. I was busy reading the paper when I heard, "Cool, there are jewels in here too!"



Jewels? "Hey, let me see that."



Sure enough there were some "jewels" in the plastic netting, if by jewels you mean sharp shards of glass, roughly in the shape of diamonds.



Apparently some of the mashers (larger marbles) broke apart into smaller pieces in the bag. I picked out the pieces and gave the rest of the marbles to Charles. Here's what the pieces looked like:







I know I should have been appalled or boycotting China or something, but I couldn't help but laugh. The whole thing reminded me of the Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Aykroyd as Irwin Mainway, who during the Christmas time tried to sell Bag O'Glass to kids.

We had a real deal Bag O'Glass. How cool is that?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Right to Privacy

Obama recently made a trip to Israel. As part of the trip he visited the Western Wall where it is tradition to leave a prayer in the crevices of the wall. Obama participated in the tradition and some schmuck stole the prayer and sold it to a paper.

This is fairly fucked up. Prayer is private for many different reasons.

Well, it turns out this isn't the first time this has happened. Apparently someone did the same to G.W. Bush when he was in Israel.

There are no boundaries, nothing is sacred.

All Is Not Cool at Cuil.com

A website made a pretty big splash today in the internet. It's a new search engine put together by some ex-Google employees. I don't know much more than that, so I decided to check it out for myself.

I tried to think of something random to search for and see how it worked. The first thing that popped into my head was "cows" for some reason. Here are my results:



There are number of technical reasons why this probably happened. A search for "Ole Miss" worked just fine. It's still funny though. I'll withhold judgement until they get a chance to deal with the huge amounts of traffic they probably experienced today.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Update and Such

Well, first off Happy birthday to:

Elise who is 3














Susan who is 21







Danny who is 30

and Jim who is in Chicago.

Lots of summer birthdays and good excuses to party.

Charles was grounded for lying. We had a long talk about what lying means and why it's bad. We grounded him for two days which meant he missed night swim at the pool. This was not fun for all parties involved, but no one said parenting was going to be fun all the time.

Corinne and the kids went down to Clinton this weekend to visit family that had come from Oklahoma. They left early to help with the cooking and cleaning, so I was unable to make it down with them.

So I had the weekend to myself to play some disc golf, drink beer, listen to bands, eat fast food and kill some fools on the xbox. It was altogether enjoyable, but I'm definitely glad to have the family back.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mendacity

This is one of my favorite words in the English lexicon. Lexicon is another favorite word. I have no idea what the official definition is for mendacity, but it'll forever be defined for me by "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof".

If you haven't seen this movie, do yourself a favor and watch it. It has Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman in their prime and is inexplicably enjoyable.

Mendacity. Something about lying and the hypocrisy that often accompanies it. It is a subject we're currently dealing with at the Jackson house.

Our eldest has been caught lying. Not just fibbing a little, but an active attempt at deception. He hid some food he didn't want to eat behind a dresser. When he was discovered, he attempted to lie his way out of it by telling more lies. Crazy, drunken crack addict type lies. People broke in and placed it there, no it was put there by aliens or it has actually been there for over 100 years. Amazing.

Now before everyone cringes, we're not going to be too hard on him. Corinne and I understand that being caught in a lie is part of growing up. Coincidentally, so is being grounded. We haven't figured out yet how to handle this, but I guarantee you it will be a measured and rational reaction.

Back to the lies. I have a personally issue with lying. I used to do it a lot. When I was in the first through third grade, I started lying about homework and just about anything I could think of that would make my life easier. However, it never helped, just made things worse. The lies would stack on top of the lies until I felt so much guilt, fear and pressure that I thought a giant rock was crushing me into the bottom of the ocean. It was horrible.

I vaguely remember one night staying up after not doing homework for weeks trying to cope with everything and completely breaking down. There was no more room to lie and I was trapped. I started crying to my dad trying to explain everything and the sense of hopelessness I felt because I was so far behind. He was patient and let me stay up all night to work on as much as I could. I remember sleeping with an incredible sense of relief offset by small twinges of guilt. Never again, I told myself. I will never again be a prisoner to guilt.

I still lie. My lies are different then before, they're much more acceptable, but I can't say that I don't lie, that would be an unacceptable lie. I tell my kids about the tooth fairy, I tell them that I'll always be around. There are certain truths kids just shouldn't be told.

So how does one teach a soon-to-be 6 year old the difference between good lies and bad? How do you teach them that their life will be much happier if they don't lie; if they live up to the consequences of their actions and put out the small fires before they become raging infernos, they won't cry themselves to sleep one night because of something completely preventable and inconsequential?

Parenthood is complicated sometimes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Up All Night, Sleep All...

Well, never. I'm not going to be sleeping all day, that's for sure. 6 cups of coffee will solve that problem. You'll have to forgive this blog post ahead of time. It's mainly for my sanity, which might be entertaining, bust most likely will just be confusing.

This happens sometimes. Shit, I mean. It happens. I can't sleep because of it. My brain is working in overtime trying to figure out my position in life. It's like God's version of GPS stuck in my cranium somewhere. "Turn Right in 1 mile"

When this happens, my life becomes a puzzle with a picture of a chessboard. I have to arrange the pieces a million different ways to make them fit. Once I think I have the border done, I can start moving bishops and rooks.

I think I found all the corners tonight, while talking with Corinne. But damn if the board is not an ugly mess. It's going to take a lot of concentration and decision making to figure this one out.

I tend to second guess myself when I try and predict the future, but I also tend to be correct. I know that I'm closest to the truth the more panicky I become. I'm usually pretty early, but almost always see the writing on the wall well before the paint is dry. This can be both good and bad. Timing is everything in life and really nothing is certain, only probable or improbable.

Confused yet? It'll make more sense in about 5 months. For now, I've got to consider the possible and how it is probable.

There is hope. I can't forget that. There is always hope. With work and grace, once can accomplish much in the time between now and the inevitable. I need to remember that. I can and will make a difference, I just hope it's enough.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How Do You Know When Oil Prices Are High?

When airlines start asking their customers to help protest oil speculation.





I received this email today from Northwest Airlines asking me to join them in protesting the rapidly rising oil costs which they attribute to speculators. They want me to join this site:

http://www.stopoilspeculationnow.com/


I haven't signed up and I'm not sure if I will. I find it sort of suspect that a corporation would ask me to protest another corporation like this. I guess the idea is that if I blame the oil company, I won't blame the airline for raising my rates.


It just seems weird to me that this is how they approach the problem. During the old Dot Com bust days, when I received odd emails from a company, it usually meant they were headed towards bankruptcy very rapidly. It was a sign of desperation as they would try anything, no matter how unconventional, to save their company.


Northwest is supposed to merge with Delta, but now I'm wondering if there isn't something going wrong with the merger that would cause them to send an email out like this.


We'll see.


Now for some Friday fun. Here's a cool image of a company that's doing well despite the shitty economy.


http://projects.flowingdata.com/walmart/

What Has Two Thumbs and is Above the Law?

This guy right here!


Not to make this a political blog, but I really couldn't let this one go without some sort of comment. Plus I thought the joke was funny and it took me a while to find a picture with GW giving two thumbs up, not one.

:WARNING: Not kid friendly and by reading this you'll probably end up on some sort of list since the NSA is monitoring what you're doing. :WARNING:

Yesterday the Senate passed an amendment to FISA, an act that essentially prevents the US Government from spying on American citizens without court orders. This is all part of the checks and balances thing we learned about in school.

There are a lot resources on the web for more info, so Google it to learn more details.

The long and short of it is that the Act was outdated and needed some revising. But in addition to revising, the US government slipped in a couple of pieces that gave retro-active immunity to the President and major telecom companies that helped spy on American citizens without court orders.

Wait, what?

That's correct, the US government has been spying on Americans without a court order.

Shortly after 9/11 GW began giving authorization to the CIA, NSA, FBI, ETC. to spy on anyone they thought might be a terrorist. This is good, except that someone should have checked them to make sure they were really doing their job and had good cause to spy on the Americans.

That someone is normally a judge or a court. Apparently that process is annoying and GW decided to skip it completely. That more or less violates the 4th Amendment, but hey who really reads that thing anyways.

In order to spy on people, the government needed some help from Telco companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest. The list is bigger, but you get the idea.

So these companies were all presented with requests to allow the government to spy on people via phones, email and Internet. Most scratched their head, because hey such a request should have a court order attached. Where was the court order? Oh we don't need those anymore, we promise you it'll be OK, the President says so.

Most of the companies agreed and let it happen. One didn't (Qwest) and maintained that such action would be illegal and in violation of the Constitution. They were right, but that didn't stop the government from leaning on them. However, because the NSA didn't want it to get out that they were doing this, they couldn't really force them. So Qwest never did break the law, while everyone else happily complied.

So since 9/11 the government has been spying on American citizens without any checks or balances and in complete violation of FISA and the Constitution. They denied repeatedly that this was happening, while they were actually doing it and didn't come out and admit the truth until some true Americans started telling the truth.

This is bad. Really bad if people realized what was going on. So what happened yesterday? Well the senate passed an amendment and the President will sign it shortly that said, "all is forgiven".

Wait what?

Yep, the President has been violating our Constitutional rights and is about to sign a bill that says that it was all OK. In addition, he's going to save the asses of the telecom companies that went along with him and give them immunity as well.

It's utter and complete bullshit.

Well what kind of impact does this really have, you ask yourself. Well basically the FBI, NSA, CIA can monitor your phone, email and Internet usage anytime they want now. Later if they're asked by a court, they have to say they did it because they thought you were a terrorist, but that's all way after the fact.

It's bullshit.

Now the fun part. Who do we blame for passing this shit? Everyone. McCain supports it and Obama voted for it. Politicians at work protecting politicians and campaign money sources. Ugghhh. I love America, but damn I hate politicians.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

China, More Prepared Than the Boy Scouts


China has been massively preparing for the Olympics with new stadiums, pollution laws, weather control and anti-terrorism squads.

But I really wasn't expecting the flame thrower.

The anti-aircraft missiles I can somewhat rationalize, but a flame thrower? What exactly will that be used for, except to maybe re-light the Olympic torch? I literally laughed out loud when I saw this picture.

The irony of course is that they are going to such great lengths to maintain control in what is already an extremely oppressive country. I have trouble believing that we would ever see an anti-aircraft missile battery in America for the Olympics and yet our odds for needing one are probably significantly higher due to our comparatively lax laws.

All of this reminds me of how great this is going to really be and how backwards America can perceive things. China's hosting of the Olympics should be applauded and encouraged not boycotted and belittled.
I understand they have some serious human rights violations, but it's events like this where foreigners are welcomed to their country that will ultimately lead them to democracy and freedom. Not bombs or sanctions. Interaction and communication.
Also, I'd like to plug the blog from which this picture originates. The Big Picture is really great. Apparently the LA Times has a Big Picture blog as well. Boston's is better.

Exodus, Movement of the...

TV.

We've never been big TV folks at the Jackson household. This is actually very odd, because I grew up watching a lot of TV.

However, due to circumstances and lack of money, Corinne and I never got big into the TV experience. We started out with an old 19 inch TV that barely received PBS. We had that TV until 2005 when I used some Christmas and birthday money to buy a 27 inch Panasonic.

After our last move, we decided to get DirecTV. It's been like crack. We had access to everything and a DVR that could record anything we missed. However, like most relationships the bloom eventually fell off and we realized that we were watching a lot of TV. TV time was replacing talking time and becoming a way too convenient babysitter.

So for the last few weeks Corinne and I have been kicking around the idea of turning off cable and moving the TV out of the living room for aesthetic reasons. I couldn't really bring myself to do it, but I came home last night to discover that Corinne had gone ahead and cut the chord.

She had caught Charles acting in some violent manner and decided that shows like the Power Rangers were to blame. This became the proverbial straw and just like that it was over.

Last night we tried watching some shows we had on the DVR and hadn't gotten around to watching, but they all sucked. This only re-affirmed our decision.

This morning I woke up early and turned the TV on with a slight feeling of hope that maybe DirecTV had messed up and we'd still get the Simpsons until I had to ship the DVR back. That was quickly squashed by a black screen and a little box saying I hadn't purchased this channel yet.

C'est la vie. The babysitters are going to hate our guts.

Monday, July 7, 2008

We Are Family

Family seemed to be the theme this weekend.
Corinne's Grandparents celebrated their 60th anniversary in Jackson. The Kelly Kids put on a good party and all of the kids, grand kids and great grand kids showed up. It was an impressive sight.
Their family isn't huge, but it's definitely bigger than mine. I always enjoy watching everyone and catching up. They're good folks and I'm looking forward to the next gathering.
My family has returned from camping and sun-bathing on the beach. We met in Jackson and drove back together. The kids seemed completely unfazed by the fact that they were gone from their house and their dad for 10 days. I suppose that's better than the opposite situation. I'll post some pics of the camping trip later.
Corinne is in a lot of pain caused by an abscessed tooth. She's been to the dentist twice and a ?gum? specialist once. This morning the dentist told her she'll need an emergency root canal, or it could get really dangerous. She's been a trooper, putting up with a lot of pain and taking care of the kids for the last week. Wednesday is her next appointment and hopefully everything will get better from there.
I'm glad to have them all back and am quite ready to quit my diet of beer and chicken tenders.

Edit: Pictures as promised.










Thursday, July 3, 2008

Yea! July 4th!

July 4th is an under appreciated holiday. There are a lot of great things that make the 4th of July one of the top three holidays of the year.


1. It's during the summer. The summer is awesome and any good excuse to party during the summer is awesome.

2. We celebrate it by blowing shit up.

3. It's about America. As much as we bitch about America, it's still better than most if not all countries out there. There's a reason people are willing to live in a shipping container for 2 weeks to try and sneak into this country.

4. Lee Greenwood.

5. No work!

6. Barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon, potato salad and beer.

I love it all.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

8 Years of Marriage, a Recap

I met Corinne at a coffee shop while in college. She was working there and I was studying some Shakespeare. Sounds dorky, but true. We use the book for a booster seat now. She was wearing a Phoenix Suns t-shirt and I used it as an excuse to talk to her.

There was definitely some chemistry and I remember very clearly thinking that there was a girl I could marry. I had no intention of marrying her and no clue why I thought that, since marriage wasn't usually the first thing that jumped to mind when I saw a hot girl.

The next few months were wonderfully awkward as we danced around the notion that we may actually love each other. We eventually admitted that we did indeed love each other and the relationship went from there.

It was never completely easy. We're both hard headed and pretty damn sure we're both right all of the time. Honesty is as important as compassion and understanding when you're in a relationship.

We married on June 24, 2000 despite everything and everyone. We were young, stupid and still in college, but when you've decided you've found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, why wait?

Being young and married presented its own problems. Balancing school, work, life, money and marriage was incredibly difficult. Looking back, I'm not sure how we did make it with so many factors stacked against us, but we did.

The move to California was good for us. Isolation in a city of millions brought us closer together. Our marriage blossomed as our family grew.

We were premature again and had Charles in 2002. We were the second youngest couple in our birth class and people assumed we were married because of the pregnancy similar to the high school kids who were the youngest couple.

Once again we made it, despite the distance from family and the stupidly high cost of living in California.

Settling into our new family roles, we decided that it was time to go home and we managed to move back to Oxford.

The last few years have been less trying as the first ones. Our lives have been blessed and our family has grown. We're much better at fighting now and it usually takes only a few hours to work out our differences.

Shit. I don't know how to frame this summary without being cheesy or making lame ass metaphors. It's true, love is like a rose. :)

I realize now that marriage is not about trying to recapture that giddy feeling you have when you kiss someone for the first time. That part is wonderful and will make you surprise your wife with a kiss when you remember it. But marriage is about those feelings tempered with time and adversity. It's about looking back and realizing that it was your partner who helped you get through everything. Our history together defines our marriage now. 8 years of good and bad is what will keep us together through the next 8 years.