Vacation in Miami and Key West last week!
Flight out Friday night to Miami. After the luggage, rental car, and check-in, we hit Ocean Dr. and camped out on the patio of a little place called The News Cafe at ~midnight. Drinks and tapas until 2 or 3 whilst people-watching.
Saturday we had to purchase beach gear that we didn't want to pack and then head to the beach! I had a horrible meal at Front Porch Cafe (Lisa's was good though), then off to find me a beach book at Books and Books on Lincoln (awesome book store! reminded me of Sundog Books in Seaside, FL), I ended up with the enjoyable World War Z. ZOMBIES! Beach was nice and hot. Toplessness was enjoyed as was the warm ocean water. Realized that with just the two of us, only one could go swimming at a time. :(
Evening was one of the best meals at one of the best restaurants I've ever been to in my life: Wish Restaurant at The Hotel. Glowing drinks at the rooftop bar with a beatiful view of the city followed by a meal on the first floor patio. We sat at a two-top next to a circular fountain surrounded by larger tables. Those were shaded by large umbrellas and the whole patio was surrounded by a garden wall of flowers and vines. The sounds of the fountain in the small space was perfect. The waitress was a songwriter that had just moved down from NY. Neat!
The next morning was checkout (+ a we-lost-your-car scare) and lunch at Versaille in Little Havana on the way out of town. I had some nice, strong Cuban coffee after and we shared some sort of sweet (Dolce Leche?) dessert. Road trip to Key West!
(Lisa at the Southernmost point in the US.)
Key West is a mishmash of bars and restaurants and walkin' around. Everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, we refreshed ourselves with frozen drinks at The Flying Monkey Saloon. Sqeeze bottle with cheap refills FTW.
Monday morning we went for a jog. It was my first real jog since I found out about my herniated disc almost two years ago. It felt sooooo good, and it was fun jogging with Lisa, but that combined with a half day of walking the next day put me in somewhat constant pain for the next couple of days. I still may try a 10k sometime and just accept that I'll need a week to rehabilitate.
(See, I told you. And some clouds on the drive back to Miami.)
Weather was perfect every day except Lisa's b-day on Tuesday. We spent that day walking around the city (*ouch*), saw the six-toed-cats at the Hemmingway house, and made a failed attempt to hit the beach when we thought the rain had stopped. We were wrong. I'd never read any Hemmingway, so when Lisa spotted a German translation of Der Alte Mann und das Meer in the gift shoppe, I picked it up along with the English version. Sentences are short and readable, so it will be a perfect exercise. B-day dinner was at Cafe Marquesa. Excellent food with an atmosphere inside similar to La Tavola in the Highlands.
(I was pitching him a story about kids in a rock band trying to stop an evil genius from taking over the world. He wasn't buying it...)
Final day was delicious breakfast at Croissants De France (logo: gecko eating a croissant), souveniers of coffee and coffee mug at Cuba Cuba, then a slice of key lime pie and final frozen drinks for the road back to Miami. In Miami we had some time, so we ended where it all began with drinks at The News Cafe. Ahh.
Lisa just reminded me that I forgot about our parasailing trip. We went on Monday in Key West and had a blast! Good group of ~10 people on the boat plus the two crazy guides from South Africa. Gettin' ready:
Smilin' at the Earth:
We got pretty high up and saw (1) a sea turtle surface and dive and (2) a porpoise or some-such animal swimming around. My fear of heights kicked in and it was really fun.
Two Mondays ago was a screening of The Lucky Ones [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] at Landmark. It's the first Iraq War film I'd seen--all seemed to be reviewed as pretty much crap--and it was much better than expected. Light-hearted with a balanced undercurrent of Serious Issues. Basically a road trip/buddy movie with three soldiers on a month leave and each trying to resolve some task originating from the war. One needs to reconnect with his wife after two years of deployment, another to return personal effects to her lover's parents, and the third to convalesce from a war wound. Rachael McAdams keeps the tenor of the film light through most of the picture. Definitely worth a rental.
Wish I had the acumen to really understand this financial crisis. I understand the criminality (CEOs act recklessly, get paid off) and the philosophical implications (corporate socialism where executives reap the profits but taxpayers suffer the losses), but I don't see where it's going or where I should "redirect" my monies. *economic sigh*
Couric's interview of Palin was painful. Money quote at the end after being asked the question three times and avoiding it twice:
I'll try to find you some [examples of McCain pushing for more regulation] and I'll bring them to you. For a group of supporters allegedly skilled at discerning concrete content from empty rhetoric, they sure are bonking on this one.
Letterman's excoriation of McCain and his announcement that he Chooses Not To Campaign. Man, he was angry. Best line:
are we suspending [the campaign] because there's and economic crisis or because the poll numbers are sliding? He's sayin' what we're all thinkin'! Although I haven't trolled the conservative sites, I'm expecting to see a contingent of supporters complain that the candidates shouldn't be campaigning so much and should be solely performing their jobs as Senators (and Governor). I understand-but-disagree-with the demands that politicians stop spending so much time fund-raising (unfortunately, they ain't gettin' the money any other way and the poorer candidate looses), but communicating your platform to the people is an important part of this thing we call president. Excellent counter-argument to that: McCain's speeches have been closed to only the most loyal of followers, so it ain't exactly getting your message out.
Talk Like a Pirate Day and I get this in the mail:
From: "Capt.Brian Morgan" <email@example.com>
Subject: United States Marine Corps In Iraq
I am desperately in need of assistance to evacuate the sum of $10,570,000: firstname.lastname@example.org
Captain Morgan?! Pirating money?! And we're headed to Miami and The Keys tonight?!?! Oh I have to follow up on this one...
Got my new MP3 player yesterday: the Creative ZEN 8 GB media player. I'd gotten it 'cause the prices dropped, probably in response to the new iPods. Spec-wise, it fares well in comparison with other players, nothing outstanding but adequate, but makes up for it in price ($100 for the 8 GB unit). What sold me was the physical size, the screen, FM radio, and price. Possibly most interesting was the ability to finally extract files from the device. I'm rarely an early adopter, and so this is replacing my 256 MB iRiver player (!). It's probably no longer the norm, but once you copy a file to the iRiver you can't copy it off. It's in effect write-only, probably because of some copyright bullshit. Beyond the move from 256 MB to 8 GB, it's nice to finally abandon that dead-end approach to the technology.
My (very) first impressions: solid feel, beautiful screen (still need to get the screen protector, but we'll see how it holds up to fingerprints), clear and intuitive interface. Had to purchase a separate package of accessories (car and wall chargers, armband, and rubber case) from a 3rd party. I'll be exercising with it this evening and either listening to mei or Performance Today on WABE. Have no idea when I bought the iRiver, it's been at least five years, but I hope this lasts at least a few years before I itch to upgrade.
Goofing off, mostly. Saturday night, dinner at Cakes and Ales in Decatur. Excellent menu, right-sized portions. Highly recommended. Comfortable and intimiate space. Sunday was the Atlanta Arts Festival. A little warm, but the trees helped and it wasn't nearly as oppressive as when I bought the ducks-riding-a-wiener-dog print at Virginia Highlands Summerfest. Three purchases: First up was a print of robot heads by Geoffrey Aaron Harris:
I had my robot evolution t-shirt on, so we were kindred spirits. His painted robots were awesome too and may eventually find themselves next to the robot heads. Next up, two prints from Daniela I Ovtcharov:
After purchased, we realized that there was a third in the set:
This was Lisa's favorite, and we immediately regretted not completing the set while there.
Watched an old video of Phil Donahue smacking down Bill O'Reilly. Something I learn every three months when I'm lured into watching a BO smackdown: his show has no redeeming value. No truths are revealed; no insights are gleaned; no contradictions exposed; no facts are upturned; no entertainment is delivered. Even when he's portrayed on his own show as an ass (something I'm biased to enjoy), the experience leaves me with nothing. Ya know when you watch a completely worthless movie? How after the hour-and-a-half-or-two-hours you just feel like an empty, nauseating cigarette ash? That's his show.
And yet some people thrive on it. One group, those gun fetishist pseudo-libertarians, simply enjoy the appearance of dominance that O'Reilly provides. If you're economically weak and are--let's say this charitably--less than well equipped to understand the world around you, you're going to hitch your wagon to the angry agression of the first person that you feel can take out your enemies. When that person then tells you who your enemies are, all the better! Another group watches him as a kind of Dadaist theater, and yet I can't even enjoy it as that. Absurd should surprise you; his show is more like futurist nihilism.
All this time, and I still don't get it.
Correction on Palin rumors via FactCheck.org. First, I'd like to quibble about their statement that these rumors come from
dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages. Yes, they most likely do come from there, but if I look back to my post from 4 Sept, I see that one of those assertions comes from an article on CBS. And oddly, if I look further, that article has been removed by CBS. [ updated ] Apparently, it's from a set of articles that periodically get removed. I just copied it from Google's cache and put it here.
I understand that FactCheck.org may have just been pointing out a fact of sourcing, but people could-and-are-likely-to infer that this scurrilous internet has once again led them wrong with invective and hearsay. Currently, the most blamed entity for all of the ills in the world is the media, second in line is the internet. Instead of rumor-mongering, we could look at the example of blogs and see that (1) 99% keep their content and run updates and corrections (this is probably the first rule of blogging), (2) mine in fact leads a trail back to one of the sources, and (3) the MSM, in contrast, will rewrite history and unperson articles they don't want to be remembered for. Make that: will try to rewrite history.
Getting that out of the way, here are the corrections with my comments:
Palin did not cut funding for special needs education.- The Alaska government PDF files pointed to by the original CBS article did not represent the actual budget.
She did not demand that books be banned from the Wasilla library.- From the clarifications, she still appeared quite ban-hungry to me. And the fact that some of the books
weren't even in print at the timeis a canard: I own many books no longer in print, and I suspect that libraries are no different. [ updated 11 Sept 2008 ] ABC News story exposing the book ban issue and addressing the falsehoods being reported. Go librarians! I'm reminded of the CT librarians that got the NSL and fought it. We don't need more of this type of suppression of information.
She was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party.- Her husband was. Not all that interesting, but notable. And this rumor was started because
The party's chair originally told reporters that Palin had been a member.No malicious fabrications here, move along.
Palin never endorsed or supported Pat Buchanan for president.- Meh. Not that interesting a rumor and it was perpetuated by Buchanan.
Palin has not pushed for teaching creationism in Alaska's schools.- Another "she was for it before she was against it." Her original statement contained the monumentally boor-headed statement
Teach both. ... don't be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides.Bzzt. There's only one side to this science discussion. There are many shades to the sociological issue of what people believe in, but that wasn't the question at hand. As I've said elsewhere: Teach holocaust denialism and let the kids sort it out; teach YEC and let the kids sort it out; teach Chariots of the Gods and let the kids sort it out. No. Teach what we know and point out the limits of what we know, then let the kids grow up wanting to discover those missing answers and push human knowledge forward. Don't sideline their potential curiosity with lies.
As far as clarifications go, I appreciate what FactCheck.org has done; the clear presentation of facts is invaluable. That being said, the content of some of those clarifications is still not-quite-non-damning for Palin. My primary concern is that the spread of inaccuracies--all of them originating in MSM reporting--will be used to unfairly target other information on the internet. I see too often a quick dismissal of data found online, as if the existence of some bad data taints all. Next to every Seymour Hersch there's a Bill O'Reilly. Check your sources.
Referenced from Reddit. That was really neat!
Pre-McCain, several minutes of video showing 9/11 carnage (oddly, sans Bush), then Olbermann gets off this:
I'm sorry, it's necessary to say this and I wanted to separate myself from the others on the air about this. If at this late date, any television network had of its own accord showed that much videotape, and that much graphic videotape of 9/11, and I speak as somebody who lost a few friends there, it, we, would be rightly eviscerated at all quarters, perhaps by the Republican Party itself, for exploiting the memories of the dead and perhaps even for trying to evoke that pain again. If you reacted to that videotape the way I did, I apologize. It is a subject of great pain for many of us still and was probably not appropriate to be shown. We'll continue in a moment.
(If so, your browser can't pass Acid3...)
Your charm has inspired an [sic] secret admirer. (For Lisa!)
Your troubles will cease and fortune will smile upon you. (For me. Not too shabby.)
Links of note (alpha ordered):
She is energetic and hardworking.) and professional (
During her mayoral administration, most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings, which had given rise to a recall campaign.).
Washington elite,as if any media questions about her positions and McCain's vetting process should have been off limits. In mocking tone, Mr. Simon declares:
[S]peeches are true windows to the soul ... [u]nless they are delivered by Barack Obama, that is. In which case, as Palin said Wednesday, speeches are just acloud of rhetoric.
So, where do we go with this? Sarah Palin has so much not going for her, I was beginning to doubt her surviving the race... until I heard the RNC conventioneers testifying in terms that would embarrass the exaggerated caricature of a gushing Obama supporter. Where the Democrats split on Obama/Clinton for far too long, Republicans can certainly fall in line with whatever the party offers them. Dogmatic adherence to your overlords FTW.
What's on- and off-limits in examining Palin? Can we talk about her attempt at book banning? Her exorbitant earmarks for her tiny city while denouncing earmarks? (Sure, that's business-as-usual in Alaska, but should we then ignore her contradictory statements on it?) Her references to the Iraq war as
god's will? (Isn't it that kind of talk that got us into an illegal war with a sovereign nation?) Her promotion of abstinence and creationism teaching after both have been proved pointless, to say the least, un-Constitutional to be more precise? (Abstinence policy does not work; creationism is religion; this is science.) These all seem like actual debatable issues to me. They mark her policies during her period of executive experience, experience that is undeniably short and narrow in scope because many of her responsibilities were relegated to an assistant. Are the many locals who consider her a less than optimal choice to be disregarded because local politics makes enemies?
And what of the duplicity of the indictment of Obama for the actions of his church and the avoidance of attack on Palin's (Pentecostal!) church? Or the focus on Edwards' caddish behavior but not on McCain's equal-to-or-greater-than unscrupulousness? Or Palin's limiting of public funds to assist pregnant teens while working to limit their choices in avoiding pregnancy?
And finally: what of your personal life is fair game (soccer mom; hunter) and what is off limits (at-home failing of a policy she tries to force onto others)?
While talking about wanting to travel to Kilimanjaro, a co-worker made a side comment that the ecology around the mountain is changing because of global warming. A second co-worker scoffed that he didn't believe it. Sometimes, I just don't want to argue with crazy, so my reply was simply that I chose to throw my lot with 99% of the world's scientists. His response: I haven't studied it, I just don't believe in it. Some are reporting on Palin's many lies in her speech, but I have doubts that truth will cut through to the willfully and proudly ignorant.
Very short and unfocused practice last night, but I feel good that I didn't go completely lazy and blow it off completely. Working on a section with left-hand chromatic runs that--when I'm not completely focused--just don't fall right and I end up stumbling over every measure, with no advance by the end of the session. Blargh. The runs don't have the obvious structure of tonal sections, and so finding their structure w/r/t the right hand melody and the intended harmonic rhythm becomes the block. Sometimes bad is interspersed with good, so tonight will be the breakthrough. ?