Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Plugins Are Out of Date

As if. One of the many reasons that computers will never replace humans is they're stupid. I'll grant you some humans might qualify, too, but no human on this planet will point out you have toilet paper on your shoe repeatedly after one reveal. "You have toilet paper on your shoe." Done. The plugins message banner is there every time I do anything. I've just endured 10 days of trying to get my entry to the 3 Minutes in Lyon Film Festival ready to mail, using old technology. Deadline May 25. Late April I completed the prep work. Early May I filmed on good days. Footage extends, and I get better at shooting each day; learn to pan slowly, hold steady, stay out of the direct sun. All prepared, I attempt to upload the film to my middle-aged Mac. Nothing. Nada. I try bribes, small sacrifices to the film gods. Nothing. I get a pretty picture of a laptop on the camera screen and not a damn thing else. Okay. Back out with a still camera to recreate the scenes. Open iMovie, and grind my way through learning how to work it on the fly. I cut audio tracks, do flips, transitions, fades and titles. Meanwhile I have the yellow police tape about my plugins and their current status on every single tab I open now. Google doubles down with a reminder that it does not, will not, and absolutely refuses to, support my version of Firefox. It forces me to Dismiss twice on every entry into the realm of the untrainable Google. Meanwhile, back in Filmland, I finally get iMovie to cooperate somewhat, move the masterpiece to Quicktime, and view a few glimpses of brief encounters, some tracking lines that look like a printer gone bad back in the 1980s, and no sound. Back to iMovie, wrestle it into submission again, playback works, back to Quicktime, back to phantom movie. Check the internet for forums, nobody wants to talk about iMovie 4. Nobody supports nothin' as old as this. I hop some more hurdles, get a good result with Quicktime and hustle the DVD to the post office. Mailed. Done. Get an email the next day that the file is 16 kb and not readable. Load all onto a stick, go see the computer guy at the library. He tries, he prints a conversion plan for iMovie to MP4 files via Saturn, to whatever. No, the library does not have a Mac. Who's buying all the Apple stuff? Huh? I stop by the technology store in town with its gleaming new Mac in the window. Do they have a working Mac? No. Damn. I think they have a lot of nerve selling Macs without one in the shop. Back to the phone store because my new phone has seized over all the calls to the film festival guy who was nice enough to tell me that if I was having more trouble, call. Guy at phone store loads my stuff onto a new phone, and says that will be $79.99. I said what? no, that's not the deal the other guy and I talked about. Well, the other guy ain't here. Fine. Load the shit back on the malfunctioning phone. Good bye. Meanwhile, back in Filmland the festival director calls and tells me if I can load the film to youtube with an unlisted address, send him the link and he can see it, we're good to go. Rosemary calls during the upload process. She becomes the film birthing coach. Pant. Breathe. Hold breath. Stop pushing. We, together, are the proud parents of a .dv. Rosemary said congratulations! I wanted a cigarette. Meanwhile, my plugins are still out of date. So's my car. So's my phone. So am I. I'm going to put yellow police tape around all of us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

2012 Garden: Tomato Tombstone

Mom said life has 3 physical stages. One, you can do everything you want. Two, you can do everything, but you're going to pay for it. Three, you can't do anything. I'm sort of in two. On recent mornings, having worked in the garden for a few hours, getting out of bed is a slow process. The 1800 square feet of garden is a daunting breadth of ground to get the grass off, and get the seeds in. The onions and sugar snap peas, planted the weekend of April 21, have growth. That's exciting. The two varietals of spinach, golden beets, radishes, green peppers have not much to show yet. And I'm sore from all the weeding and shoveling and bending. I planted Bonny Best and Beefsteak tomato heirloom seeds in compostable cups. Tomatoes from seeds wasn't my first choice, but Dad remembers these plants fondly, and so I'm growing the seeds. This is an amazingly complicated undertaking. My idea of growing is 1) stick it in the dirt, and 2) pick the result. I'm hauling tomato plants in and out/up and down like kids in brainy baby programs. No temperature under 62 degrees. Not too moist, but not dry. Don't crowd. Too much direct sunlight and the seedlings will get leggy. Use a growlight with the leaves almost touching the bulb. For an hour a day, if there is no breeze for the plants to play in, use a fan. But direct sunlight is good, too, especially if there's a breeze. When the plants are 6 inches tall, separate into 2" containers. But don't touch the stems, and don't jostle the roots. Keep away from the leaves while you're about it.  And the soil temperature of the new pot must be the same as the old pot. Use a thermometer. Moisture level, ditto. Oh, remember the fan. And the moist, but not wet, but not dry. Did I mention the fan? And the growlight? I told Dad today on the tenth trip up and down the stairs toting a tray of tomato plants - it's the tomatoes that are going to get me. Dad said I put Lilies of the Valley on your mother's tombstone, I'll put tomato plants on yours. I told him just make sure the soil isn't too moist. Or too dry. Skip the fan and the growlight.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kennecott Eagle Mine: Get Out of Michigan

Silver smelting killed my great-grandfather Viktori. Mining chemicals killed my great-uncle Arno. Both died before their 48th birthday from the effects of silver and nickel mining. I know my family grieved for these two men. But that was before I was born. Now I grieve for the damage, pollution and corruption of silver/copper/nickel mining in our world today. Viktori worked at the Deloro Mine sometime between 1904 and 1910. The mine closed, but Canada is still working to clean up the site; the terrible destruction perpetrated by the mine company for the time it was in operation. There has never been a silver/nickel mine that did not pollute its environs. Never. N E V E R. Kennecott Metals (a division of Rio Tinto, world perpetrator of mining earth pillage) is building their Eagle Mine without all the federal, Michigan and local permissions in place. The Salmon Trout River, unique breeding habitat for coasters, is about to be irreversibly polluted. The Yellow Dog River watershed is going to be ravaged. The local population has been denied their ancestral rights to tribal holy grounds. Judges have reversed decision back and forth until the only ones who can keep any damn thing straight are the legal buzzards working for Kennecott and Rio Tinto. Kennecott continues to claim they are environmentally responsible which they have never been. Never. N E V E R. Kennecott has convinced locals that this mine will add jobs. 100 jobs. For 5 years. Maybe. And 100 years from now we will still be cleaning up their shit. Kennecott is now digging the mile long decline tunnel, the ore extraction method called long hole stope mining. This is a more profitable way to extract ore because it's worker free. Did you catch that? Worker free. Where's the jobs, lying Kennecott Metals? Note the lighthearted lies about commitment to returning the area to stable and productive conditions. What the hell does that mean? Lies and damnable liars. Today Huron Mountain Club has finally stepped up and filed a federal law suit against Kennecott Metals because the super-rich families who started the Huron Mountain Club are richer than the rich guys who own Kennecott Metals.This is now not just about the 1% - this is about the .50% vs the .50%. Thus begins what I'm going to call the swinging dick ballet. We will be seeing more acts in this ensemble piece in the near future as the field of combatants in the top 1% battle for financial center stage. In this case I'm cheering for the Huron Mountain Boys because, when the Club was established in 1889 it was a hunting and fishing club, however exclusive, and if the Salmon Trout coasters, and the Yellow Dog Watershed peoples get to live harmoniously with nature after kicking Kennecott the hell out of Michigan, I'm all for that. We need to stand up and be heard about the degradation of our planet, and ourselves. Keep it simple: say it loud. This is my planet, and I will use my voice to keep her healthy, even if I suspect no one who can help stop this terrible destruction is listening.

A Three Story Life-The Wayback Machine

The Wayback Machine was a device used by Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman to visit history. Peabody's Improbable History cartoons were a feature of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, a genius Jay Ward enterprise. Peabody, here, Mr. Peabody said to start, and we would then happily journey back in time. In our house, The Wayback Machine begins with that's like... or I remember. If Dad says I remember, there will be a tenuous connection to what we are talking about in real time. If it's that's like, the anecdote will have little or nothing to do with now. Many conversations include these two episodic references. I think older people talk this way because long-term memory is most readily accessible. Humans like to have self-relatedness. We all like to talk about ourselves. But the non sequitur recurrence makes it head spinning to keep up during a crisis that needs attention. In the midst of household problem solving, it's downright hard. It confuses me, it confuses people from outside our house who are participating in what's being discussed. Maybe it's common to try to explain what we did 45 years ago that may or may not have led us to where we are now. But information revealed in this way doesn't clarify anything for the listeners-it makes getting through a sticky wicket that much gummier. Today I said a dozen times, let's focus on the here and now. We moved into the 80s fairly quickly, but never did get out of that troublesome decade altogether. Do we all do that? Dad tells anecdotes to me as though I was not there when the story unfolded. This behavior is particularly perplexing because in every other way his cognitive function is fine. He just won't switch The Wayback Machine off, especially if we're confronting a situation that requires present tense attention and a rapid solution. I think those of us who are stuck in the past tend to stay stuck. Everything is a reflection, living is not done in the present. Problem solving is solving problems in the past. Alternative outcomes get reviewed repeatedly in private, until the past is a wheel in a cage. There must be some brain function that allows a successful conclusion from the past to stand in for what's going on now. I'm over analyzing this. I need more present and accounted for behavior in dealing with situations, because our lives right now contain serial situations. All I know truly is it is not possible to count your blessings when the wheel of self-analytics is going full speed, and I have great sympathy for my father. It has to be exhausting not to have blessings in the now to count.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Welcome to Earth, Lawson James

Friday morning I was roaming Taurus horoscopes. My great nephew would be a Taurus and I know nothing about The Bull, and was curious about the son beloved Bianca was going to deliver soon. While I was reading, I felt as though someone was leading me, coaxing. My niece had told her doctor that she did not want labor induced - she said her son should choose his one special day. It was an elegant, mature, fantastic statement, and I admired her, more than I do already. So I began to believe that Lawson would choose his day. His mother gave him the power. I chose to honor both the giver and receiver, and believed in Lawson as his own human being, and felt strongly that Friday was the day he would arrive in the world. I went upstairs and told Dad what I'd found. That Taurus is a determined, contented, solidly good human being overall. And Scorpio is the best parent for a Taurus child: they both like cuddling, hugging and touching. Bianca loved to be held when she was a baby. (Later I would tell my sister that was why Bianca was born 2 months early - she needed to be a Scorpio parent to a Taurus son.) May babies are contented and charmed. Taurus doesn't like to be pushed. Dad said he dreamed that Lawson was born on Friday. That was more confirmation, so I called my sister, the about-to-be grandmother. Couldn't reach her, but know that's not unusual. I knew, though, so I went to the ultimate source of all information - Facebook. And there it was - left for the hospital. Called my other sister because I don't have texting, and I know Carol texts, and forgets I don't. Susan called then after receiving a text message - he's here. I saddled up. First thing - I needed to find The Story of Ferdinand to bring to the new reading dynamic duo - the newest, minutes old - a Taurus. Found the hardcover at a Barnes & Noble near the hospital (the first book I've bought at a Barnes & Noble, so that's new, too.) Bianca has all the books I ever gave her, in pristine condition. I love that. But I also know I bought two of many, because I wanted the baby and toddler to be able to chew, maim, stand on, and throw books, too. Just so long as the child touched the book. Now Bianca will share her books with her son. And I have new books to get for Lawson James. I wandered through the children's book section, looking for familiar cloth, bath, chewable books, but found nothing. The familiar early books, Bianca already has. I touched favorites, remembering. All of Eric Carle. Good Night, Moon. I did not find Jan Pienkowski, but I know Bianca has many of his books. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom I can hardly wait to read to Lawson. And Owl Babies, although I can do Percy's part by heart - I want my mommy! I did happily discover On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman, and it's a beauty. So I wrote on the flyleaf of Ferdinand to both Bianca and her son, and wrote on the flyleaf of Nancy Tillman's book to Lawson himself.  And as Carl, the Henry Ford West Bloomfield volunteer was escorting me to the labor and delivery floor, and I was giddy with all this wonder, I said to Carl, he's 3 hours old, so he can read, yes? And Carl smiled and said, soon enough. On this glorious and singular day of Lawson's birth, my sister and I sat on the couch in the birthing suite (how cool is that?) and Carol asked, so, what is Friday's child? And I said, loving and giving.