Thursday, June 28, 2007

MJ does it again!

There are many newsworthy things I could write about today. I could choose to write about my thoughts on the Supreme Court's ruling on the race-based preferences in secondary schools cases. I am not going to write about this. I posted my thoughts on the Seattle Times reader feedback page earlier today, since Seattle is one of the two school districts whose policies were in issue. You have to scroll down to get to my comment. Basically, to sum it up, I just point out that the real issue is the fact that the Seattle School District has such a tremendous disparity between the quality of its schools, and the fact is, some criteria has to be used to determine who gets to go to those schools. Using the criteria of a "neighborhood school" essentially discriminates against people who are too poor to afford a home in that school district, but it just so happens that it is okay to discriminate that way and not okay to utilize race as a factor. Is that any more fair? Absolutely not; and it is the kids who are banished to underperforming schools who pay the price. I think Florida gets it almost right, because it allows children who go to failing schools to be able to go to alternate schools. The criteria is based on school performance. I do also think that there is some benefit to diversity. I know I benefited from it at my high school.

Anyway, I said I wasn't going to post about that. Instead, what I want to post about is how excited I am that Brandon Wright was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats. Can I just say how much I love how that team is becoming the NBA's UNC? It is so exciting. I don't care how many games they lose, I support that time. I can't wait for them to play the Sonics this year. I will definitely be getting tickets to that game - and as a bonus, I get to see Kevin Durant playing for the Sonics! I can't wait.

I love Brandon Wright's skinny arms!

Still Crazy After All These Years

I know that I have blogged before about how much I love Paul Simon. With so many Paul Simon songs and albums, I have particular happy memories associated. Appropriate for the sentimental mood that I have been in as of late, last night I was treated to a fantastic television event. My favorite governmental institution, the Library of Congress, recently gave Paul Simon their first installment of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Music. Last night, the whole event was telecast on PBS, complete with some pretty spectacular performances. Who doesn't enjoy seeing Ladysmith Black Mambazo performing with Paul Simon again?

I frequently think that I was born in the wrong generation, because seeing all of those baby-boomers packed into that auditorium, wiping away tears, I couldn't help but feel like I was a part of the generation that first put a man on the moon. I wasn't. Nope, for the most part, my generation fails to recognize truly gifted songwriters whose vocabularies consist of more than four letter words. But that is also why few songs today can conjure up anything close to the degree of emotion that classic songs like "Graceland", "The Only Living Boy in New York", "The Boxer", "Under African Skies", or even "At the Zoo" can invoke in me.

I also have to say this, my new Most-Coveted Job prize is the job currently held by Dr. James H. Billington, the "Librarian of Congress." It is something to aspire to.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Our old Mississippi home

Some people have asked me, since I posted my blog about the sale of my parents' home, where my parents are moving. The short answer is: eventually to Mississippi after they finish their house there. The longer answer is: I am not sure where the intermediate location is yet, pending their house in Mississippi being completed.

The last time I saw the house in Mississippi it looked like this:

The outside is basically done, but the inside still needs alot of work. It took my parents a while even to get to that point, considering that hurricane Katrina in 2005 seriously slowed the ability of anyone in Mississippi to build a house. A year prior to this photo, the house looked like this:

Eventually, though, my parents will call Wathall County, Mississippi Home

Despite the sweaters, it is summertime!

So, I could post in detail about all of the activities that we did when Melissa and Mom were in town. But instead, I thought that I would just post so fun photos and state that a good time was had by all, even though the rainforest in Vancouver certainly lived up to its name, and it was unseasonably cold (even for Seattle) for my Floridian family.
NOTE * Pictures do not appear in the order that they were taken.

Melissa looks so tough in the hoodie in this picture. Don't mess with her Canada!

Come back to the Northwest soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

You Cannot Go Home Again

I actually have alot of things that I could post about today. I was going to post regarding my Mom's and Melissa's recent trip to Seattle to visit. However, that post will have to wait, because my Mom called me with some pretty major news today. Our home in Pensacola sold. I am pretty sad about this, if for no other reason because I was hoping it would still be on the market when I went home to Pensacola in September so I could say a proper goodbye to my childhood home. Oh, and also so I could enjoy the pool. Unfortunately, this will not be the case, as the house closing is set for July 31.
Thus, I would like to take a moment and pay homage to my family home on Timber Ridge Road.

We had other homes before we moved to Pensacola. When I was born, we called a trailer park in Starkville, Mississippi home.

I have to be honest; I remember nothing about life in the trailer. I know that during severe thunderstorms we would go park the truck under highway overpasses because my Mom was afraid of tornadoes, but that is about it. We didn't stay there very long. When Dad completed his degree from Mississippi State, we moved to Columbia, Mississippi and an actual house (that was rented). We were not there for very long.

Mom and Dad bought their first house outside of Monticello, Mississippi.

I actually do have recollections of this home. I remember playing Barbies in the living room. I remember the big fireplace in the family room.

I also very distinctly remember the white fence that enclosed the pasture on our property. It was where our horse, Pete, called home. Sidenote - last time I checked, Pete was still alive! After Ma-Maw passed away, Dad gave the horse to someone else who last reported Pete was still alive.

When I was four years old, my parents announced we were moving to Pensacola, Florida. For the better part of my life, that has been the place that I have called home. The first time my parents took me to see our new house on Timber Ridge Road, I remember looking in one of the sliding glass doors from the back porch. My dad pointed inside to the small door underneath the stairs, "That will be your room, Leslie," he joked. It didn't become my room, but a place where we stored Christmas decorations, and our flannel board stories collection. That house became our home (with the exception of an eight month stint at the Mint Hill house in North Carolina).

That same back porch from which I first viewed "my room" became the backdrop for new Sunday morning photo sessions.In 1984, we made what was probably our favorite investment in the house by adding the swimming pool. It seemed as kids, we just instinctively knew how to swim.

We also liked it when Dad would throw us in the pool.

The diving board to the pool also proved its utility in other ways; it also was a great place to stand in our dance recital costumes for pictures.

In general, when I think about backyards, our backyard in Pensacola will always come to mind as what a back yard should be. It started out almost completely shaded by trees. Building the pool took down some. Successive hurricanes took down many others. Nonetheless, my favorite Live Oak trees made it through and still stand. It might have lacked a garden, but in addition to the pool, it had a basketball court, a trampoline, and at least a few dog houses. As more and more trees came down, the lawn grew and grew, becoming too large for a push lawn-mower. Our dogs loved our back yard, although it wasn't until Ralph came along and started swimming that a dog took full advantage of all that the backyard had to offer. His digging also caused some stress to my parents, obsessed with having a nice backyard and also not having tremendous holes in the ground making lawn mowing more difficult.

The front yard was so heavily wooded when we originally moved into the house that one could not see the house from the street. Hurricanes through the years took out most of the tall pines, but most of the live oaks made it through. Mom and Dad planted more and more azalea bushes through the years as well. The front yard and porch also became a favorite picture backdrop.

It was a good picture spot even when one sister was sad because the other sister was able to hold two Cabbage Patch dolls, while she only got to hold one.

In later years, the front yard still was a favorite family photo spot.

Inside our house, as teenagers we would complain that we couldn't get enough privacy. The rooms of the house were large and open. Nonetheless, the rooms were a good setting for many activities:

Observing crazy dogs tearing on Christmas wrapping paper rampages.

Riding Barbie Big-Wheelers where they ought not to have been.

And of course practicing the clarinet while exhibiting unfortunate middle school hairstyle choices.

The simple fact is, our Pensacola home will always be synonomous with my childhood. There are too many memories to go into greater detail here. I could go on and on about the backyard cook-outs, the high school Final Four parties that ended with me in tears, the holiday celebrations, the creepiness of the wooden stairs creaking late at night, the storms we made it through, etc. etc. etc. It is just too much.

654 Timber Ridge, you will be missed. You were the setting for the soul of our family.

This means I have alot of emergency contact information that I will need to change.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I don't mean to brag...

I mean, I really don't mean to brag, but Meghan O'Rourke, I totally beat you to the idea of the ridiculousness of diamond engagement rings years before you published your Slate article. I already published the same idea in my Letter to the Editor in the Daily Universe.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Je pousse un cri

"Paris Je T'aime" - I saw this movie a week ago, but it has been stuck in my head all week. Almost all of the vignettes made me want to return to Paris, for varying reasons, but the one that has been particularly stuck in my head is the one with Natalie Portman. There is some line in there to the effect of that she liked to scream, sometimes because she had a reason, but sometime for no reason at all.

I keep thinking about it because I think those lines pretty much sum up how I have been feeling as of late. I can't be done with my job soon enough, which makes me want to scream. But that isn't enough. What it really is, I think is the following: lately I have this extremely precise feeling that I am meant to do something much greater with my life, and up until now, I have just been taking the easy way with everything that I do. Now, it has caught up with me and I just want to scream.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Moderate This Wolf Blitzer!

In honor of the fact that the Presidential campaign season has already begun, even though it is almost 18 months away, I thought that I would start posting every now and again my contribution to the political "blogoscape." What better day to start than after watching the Republican Presidential Debate on CNN last night?

ISSUE OF CONCERN: English as the National Language - Last night, all of the Republican candidates indicated that they believed English should be the national language. Well, John McCain had some concerns about Native American languages, but aside from that, he was fine with English as the national language. Interesting, that no one pointed out after McCain raised his concerns that English was a language brought to America by immigrants, and that really, only Native American languages are indigenous to this land. Anyway, instead pretty much the candidates stated that the English language was under attack by immigrants insisting on speaking Spanish and never learning English. Here are my thoughts: Since when did America become the savior of the English language? Shouldn't that be reserved for, say, England? Secondly, the English language is under attack. But, it isn't because too many people are speaking Spanish or some other language. Nope. It is because we Americans speak English so poorly these days. I know I make grammar mistakes every now and again, but did Elementary School English teachers just stop teaching grammar completely? Also, why is it that most Americans' vocabularies consist almost entirely of four letter words? The number of curse words in the English language may be expanding exponentially, but our use of the rest of the words in the English language is more and more diminishing. That is the real issue. Maybe more foreign languages mixed with English can increase our vocabularies again. If I ever hear a candidate get up and discuss the need for Americans to expand their vocabularies and to use proper grammar, then I will know that I have found the candidate for me.

CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT: TOM TANCREDO - What I want to know is this: Who elected this guy to office? Seriously. Was it a joke? First of all, I can understand people that are against offering some path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers in this country. I don't necessarily agree with it, but I can understand where they are coming from. What I don't understand is someone who is against all forms of immigration and who thinks that there should be a moritorium on legal immigration as well. And beyond that he gets goofier, and goofier, and goofier. Also, for someone who is so anti-immigration and so pro-English as the only language, he sure has a non-English name. I mean, I don't think there were any Tancredos on the Mayflower. It turns out, its Italian! Southern European, eh? That doesn't sound so first wave of immigration to the New World to me...

In any case, Tom Tancredo may be the candidate for you if:

1. You are a person who enjoys hanging out with your old trusty rifle down on the southern border to threaten off any Mexican daring to cross that border; or you enjoy emptying out those water coolers in the desert because it is better that a mother from El Salvador die of dehydration in the desert than make it to that job as a housekeeper in Orange County, CA.

2. You think that anyone who comes to this country should "forget their past" and assimilate, assimiliate, assimilate. That is an order! You have no freedom to keep any of your previous identity. In fact, you think we should assign people new "American" names at ports of entry. Welcome Ramon Martinez! You are now Beauregard Lee.

3. You have long wished to redefine citizenship only to include people who are just like you.

4. You think an income tax is for commies.

5. People never take you seriously. And you think they will be sorry for that one day when you have the power to strip them of their US citizenship and deport them to Honduras! Enjoy the banana plantation bucko!