Thursday, August 18, 2016

I go to a Trump Rally

Actually, the title is a lie. I didn't go to the rally. I stood out front of the entrance to see what I could see. I had a ticket to see Trump talk but I decided to go home and have dinner instead. This is what I saw.

Protesters chanting. The Black Lives Matter people were smart. They did not engage the Trump supporters who yelled at them. It was curious to see the reaction of Trump supporters toward the BLM protesters. The Trump people got way too angry. I witnessed one woman screaming, "You motherfuckers!" at the protesters. The protesters were doing nothing to warrant the level of anger displayed by the Trump supporters. I even heard one woman ask a friend of hers, "How many of them do you think are paid to be here?" One person yelled at the protesters that they should get a job. They bring their assumptions with them, I suppose.

The attitude of the Trump protesters disappointed me. Here we had young people expressing an opinion. Doing so while under the protection of the same Constitution the Trump people express devotion to. Trump supporters are so devoted to it that I saw several people wearing clothing that expressed an allegiance to the document. Why then, if you are so devoted to the words of the Constitution, would you direct derision and profanities toward people are utilizing the same freedoms you profess to believe in? You would think if you truly believed in the words of that document you would appreciate what these young people were doing. In my opinion, if all you are capable of doing in this situation is shaking your ass at these kids or yelling profanities then any declaration of support for our Constitution on your part is bullshit.
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This gentleman walked around with this sign. One woman got really mad at him because he wouldn't talk to her.
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This is one of the guys who got way too angry. He was making obscene gestures and shaking his ass at the protesters. It was not as sexy as it sounds.
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And then this guy showed up. His hat says, "Deputy." The top he's wearing has lettering on the back that reads, "Constitution Enforcement Special Victims Unit." Honest. Judging by how he was sizing up the BLM protesters he seemed miffed that the Constitution allowed those damn kids to protest. IMG_8764

See, no foolin'
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These guys were fun.
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This musician was singing songs in support of the BLM protesters. I'm kidding, she was singing a terrible, terrible song about how great Donald Trump is. The BLM protesters were drowning her out and for that we all should have been more thankful.
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After about 30 minutes the BLM guys moved across the street.
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Hey ladies, he's single! I don't know for sure, I am assuming.
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Probably the least offensive souvenir for sale.
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Definitely the most offensive souvenir for sale.
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This is the woman who was furious that the protesters would not engage her. This gentleman decided to hear her out. After a good twenty minutes of nonstop gobbledygook from her I am sure he regretted deciding she needed to be heard. I imagined him going home and going straight to bed and swearing off politics forever. Nothing is worth what he went through.
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Police were everywhere. They were bored.
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Trump bros!
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On the way back to my car I passed this group of teenagers who were promoting their Bump up the Trump (BUTT) project. I think it may be a music project. Or maybe they were just having fun, I'm not sure. I guess I could have asked. The Twitter handle they were using doesn't exist. They made my day.
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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bee Pooping

Today, while shooting slow motion video of bees on the bush in front of my house I caught a bee pooping. Slow motion bee pooping. Someone call science and let them know!

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Yesterday I called TimeWarner to cancel my cable/telephone/internet package. I wanted to cancel that bundle and just have internet along with basic cable. I had to call their toll free number because TimeWarner doesn't allow customers to change their service on their web page, that would be way too close to good customer service. I go through their interminable phone tree and choose, "service reduction." The first person to answer the phone seems to be pretty sure that the package I have is "an excellent deal." I agree with her. She tells me she has to put me on hold so she can see what my cost will be when I switch. I am on hold for almost five minutes. She comes back and gives me a price that is $50 more than I am currently paying (she had pretended not to understand which cable package I wanted). Once we straighten out what I really want she then tells me what I currently have is "really good deal." I agree again. I then say, regardless of that, I would still like to reduce my service. She seems shocked that after being informed twice of how good of a deal I have that I would still want to switch. I assure her that I want to continue with the service reduction. She then tells me that she has to transfer me to someone else who can do that. Essentially, when you choose "service reduction" from the phone tree the first person you talk to is there to convince you not to reduce your service. Before she transfers me she quotes me a price of $69 for internet and $20 for basic cable. I am then back on hold while she transfers me. I am on hold again for almost five minutes.

The next person tries also assures me I have a good deal and seems perplexed that I would want to reduce my service. I assure her I would very much like to reduce my service. She then says that before we start she wants to have me answer some survey questions. I tell her immediately that I do not want to answer any questions. She is very surprised at that. She is off script! As we move forward she tells me the price I was quoted was not correct and I can her derision, as if I deserve such service at that price. Finally, I am over this whole call. We are over twenty minutes now. I tell her to forget about the basic cable. I just want internet, nothing else. I think, at this point, she senses that any further stalling will be futile and we finally complete the transaction. I now have 200 mps internet for $90 a month. A fairly large reduction in costs. Total time wasted: 27 minutes. This should have taken no longer than ten minutes. When Google Fiber arrives I will be able to access 1000 mps for $70. I will be joining Google Fiber the day it is available.

This interaction with TimeWarner was educational. I had read about the frustration others have felt doing what I was trying to do. I was prepared for the runaround but it was still frustrating. The operators I was talking to were trying to get me to do one of two things, reconsider my decisions by attempting to convince me I had a great deal or have me end the call out of frustration. I did find it a little sad that this is where we are with some companies. It is a running joke that that the cable company is going to jerk you around on the phone. We expect it. This is their business model. They want to Upsell you and then resort to subterfuge in order to keep you hooked.

It's disappointing that TimeWarner couldn't view me as a longtime customer (which I am) who was disappointed with the services he was receiving for what he was paying (which I also was). If I told the manager of the local Showmars that was no longer going to eat as his store because I thought the food and service weren't worth my patronage he would ask me what they could do to improve my experience. Timewarner when faced with the same situation resorted to tactics that were designed to make me feel like I was the problem. I am not a customer to them, I am a revenue stream that once they receive they treat as theirs. It's not the public's fault the way cable works is ass backwards. It's your business plan, Timewarner, that requires bundling. I'm done paying for TV channels I don't watch. Until you have a menu, like Showmars, then piss off.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Turtles and a Heron

As part of our quest to see turtles a couple of times a year Melanie and I took short drive to McAlpine Creek Park. The park has two ponds. One is the more traditional cement ponds you see at a lot of parks. There is a second pond beyond it that is full of logs and stumps. I knew it had to be full of turtles. It was. Not only was it full of turtles it had tadpoles, fish and a blue heron. Not bad for the middle of a big city.

We saw this guy first. He was lounging on a dead tree on the surface of the front pond Turtle at McAlpine Creek Park

This small turtle just crawled out of the muck to get some sun
Turtle at McAlpine Creek Park

The blue heron wading and hunting
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Finally, the log with a shitload of turtles. I count 14. This is three photos stitched together. This log floating in the middle of the lake was a turtle resort
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Knox Phillips

Another thing I learned while listening to Guralnick's biography of Sam Phillips is that his oldest son, Knox, did some producing in the late 60s and early 70s. He did some work with a local Memphis band called the Jesters. They cut this great tune called Cadillac Man.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Mystery Train

For the last couple of weeks I have been listening to Peter Guralnick's new biography of Sam Phillips. I was familiar with a lot of the recordings Sam Phillips made. I had heard the Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Howlin' Wolf and Jerry Lee Lewis stuff. I was unfamiliar with the large number of blues artists other than Howlin' Wolf that Sam Phillips had recorded. I didn't know that he started his recording service and eventual record label exclusively to record the black musicians in the Memphis area because he thought they were not being given the deserved opportunity to express themselves as artists. He was sure that through recording this beautiful music that the music could break down the barriers between black and white Americans.

I have been pausing my listening to the audio book a lot to listen to music I had not heard before. My Google Music account has come in handy in the last couple of weeks. One track that really stands out is the original version of Mystery Train by Little Junior's Blue Flames, a song recorded by Elvis late in his Sun stint and part of the last Presley single released by Sun. According to Guralnick, Sam Phillips considered Mystery Train to be the best work Elvis recorded at Sun but he asserted that Elvis' version of the song was not as good as the original. Little Junior is Junior Parker. There is so much music out there to discover.

Give Mystery Train by Little Junior's Blue Flames A listen, it is a perfect song. I have been continually impressed over the last couple of weeks while revisiting and discovering the recordings made by Sam Phillips, by just how great these sound. He built his studio with only the assistance of one other person, his assistant Marion Keisker and was barely getting by but recorded songs that will be listened to hundreds of years from now. I think he may have accomplished his goal.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Few Photos

Here are a few photos I took recently. Moss sprouts! I was walking with my dad and sister on dad's land in northern Michigan and came across some moss next to a large rock. I got down close with my camera and saw the moss was sprouting. I wonder if you can eat moss sprouts?

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There was also reindeer moss in this field. It's actually lichen. If deer eat it can humans?

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You can kind of see in this picture how much of that lichen is covering the ground here. It was everywhere.

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This is lichen on the rock next to where I took the photo of the moss sprouts. Delicious?

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This is me at sunset standing all cool and shit. This spot next to my dad's house on top of a hill that has an incredible 360 degree view is one of my favorite places in the world.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

You can probably spend a whole day reading reviews and general observations on the new Star Wars movie. This one is mine.

I really enjoyed the movie, it gave me the thrill I was expecting when the first bad movie of the prequels was released. Like Jon Scalzi said in his much better review, it felt good just to sit back and enjoy a Star Wars movie as just a fine space romp, which is all they really need to be. Even if you aren't a fan of the Star Wars universe this is a movie you can just enjoy as a blockbuster science fiction movie.

A few things that stood out to me:

The stormtroopers are people behind those white helmets and this movie shows us that. They are not mere cannon fodder. They are now cannon fodder with souls. They still can't hit a hero with a blaster shot but they do try. Early in the movie there is a scene where stormtroopers are loaded into a transport for a mission and there is actual tension. What a great idea.

Not everyone here is coming back


The blaster fire is different. Blaster bolts seem to have weight now. They have mass. More "pop," if you will. I don't recall if that was the case in the prequels, since I have yet to watch any of them a second time, but in this movie if you get hit by a blaster bolt you go backwards. Especially if you get hit by Chewbaca's weapon. There are a couple of nice gags in the movie about that. In the original trilogy the blaster weapons were not unsatisfactory, these are just better. The weapons in this movie look like weapons, not toys.

These guns look dangerous


There was a lot of Han Solo. If you like Harrison Ford you will enjoy this movie. Ford has more screen time in this movie than in any of the other Star Wars movie. Han Solo is still a rogue, still partners with Chewbaca, still a hero and still funny. It's not unfair to say Ford is the best actor from the original trilogy and in this movie he is allowed to show that. He brings needed gravitas and humor to the movie. When he says the Force and the Jedi are real it feels more real because it came from Han Solo as played by Harrison Ford. About halfway into this movie I would have been just as happy if Han, Chewie and the two new young characters had turned the Millennium Falcon around and gone on to their own adventures as smugglers. That probably would have been a better movie.

Fastest hunk o' junk in the galaxy


It has plot holes you can fly a death star through and it doesn't matter. The need to fill holes was one of the problems with the prequels. What are the odds of this heroic person meeting that heroic person and then running into a couple of legendary characters, one of whom may be related to the other? Astronomical! Who gives a shit? How did Indiana Jones survive on that submarine? No one cares. This type of movie doesn't need a plot that makes sense. It needs heroes you care about, funny dialog and fight scenes and special effects that kick ass. These movies require plot holes, I expect them.

The world's biggest plot hole and I don't care


There is a lot of nostalgia. Almost too much. The plot is very much inspired by the first Star Wars movie and that isn't bad. The first Star Wars movie is great because it is just a big mess with great action scenes. The magic of that movie is that the plot was not original and much of it was "borrowed" from earlier movies. So, this new one borrowing from the first big borrower works. The scenes where each of the original characters is introduced really work. The right mood is struck each time with a perfect touch of humor added during one scene. I wonder how these scenes will play to younger viewers who watched the original movies first at home. They haven't had over half a lifetime to create the emotional bonds with these characters like us old people. They are probably rolling their eyes while grandfather in the seat next to them sniffles when Han and Leia drown in each others eyes. There are a few times, though, when too much of the plot of lifted directly from the first Star Wars movie. It's a small quibble because everything else is so great, the dialog and the action. No complaints. So we get another even bigger death star, again, no one really cares. Just blow that bastard up and save the galaxy. For now.

Han holds Leia before he goes off to stomp some ass

Saturday, December 05, 2015

A Trip to Pyramid Point

Yesterday Allison and I took a jaunt to Pyramid Point. The trail we took goes about .6 miles up to a bluff that overlooks Lake Michigan. And the trail is almost entirely uphill. About 2/3 of the way up, I was feeling it. The view at the top of this bluff never gets old. The visibility was excellent yesterday. There was, however, a wall of fog a few miles out. It's odd to be that far above a fog bank. It made the horizon look blurry. I thought the first few photos I took with my phone were not in focus.

A stump provides a nice foreground. You can barely make out North Manitou Island on the horizon. The fog is obscuring the island.

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Allison and her dog, Yuki. Or Zen Yuki. Or Dookie. Something like that.

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After walking back down the hill we went to a nearby beach. The beach faces the west and the late afternoon late autumn sun provided some amazing light.

This picture has probably been taken a gazillion times.

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Sometimes you have to lay down in the sand in order to get that shot you want.

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This picture has also been taken a gazillion times.

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This was cute. When I got too far away from them Yuki started barking at me to come back. I was a couple of hundred yards away when he was doing this.

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I also took a panorama from the top of the bluff. It turned out pretty good, I think.

Pyramid Point Panorama 1

Friday, November 20, 2015

West Bay Panorama

On the way back from Meijer today I stopped by West Bay to take a few pictures. I may be cold and windy this week but it is still beautiful out.

West Bay Panorama