Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I just spent $80 to watch frickin' Project: Runway

My neighbors up the hall are moving into a new house. They gave me their old TV stand because they didn't want to move it and my TV was sitting on the floor. Since I was only moving my TV about a foot up (and a couple of inches to the right), I didn't think I needed to unplug it or anything. But when I situated it upon the shelf, the coaxial cable went taut and the jack to connect the cable to the TV snapped right off.

Not a big problem, I thought. I'll just plug the cable up to my old disused VCR and then run it through the RCA inputs and use it as a tuner. I get everything connected and discover that less than half of the channels are showing. It turns out, the VCR thinks I'm receiving the signal from an antennae and isn't set to autoprogram. I pick up the VCR remote and it's broken.

Only momentarily deterred, I get the TV's universal remote and the remote's instruction booklet and program it for my VCR. Once set up, all the buttons don't match the features. For instance, I can't get the tape timer to not display on the screen.

Now, I'm driving to Best Buy for a new universal remote. $13 later, I'm driving back home with a more richly featured remote. Now the buttons all appear to match. However, like the previous remote, the select up and down arrow buttons work fine. But the select left and right buttons, no matter how I rigorously I program the remote or how closely I follow the instructions, will only turn up or down the volume on the television. I still can't get the get the VCR to switch to cable or autosearch the channels. At this point, I see two choices: buy a new TV or buy a new VCR.

Cut to 24 hours later, I'm at Target, perusing their "selection" of new VCRs which totals exactly one. There are several VCR/DVD combo models, but only one solely VCR model. Fortunately, it's a decent four-head, hi-fi, auto-searching, easy to set up model. Unfortunately, it's $60. The cheapest DVD player is $27. There are two additional models priced between that and the VCR. Since when does a VCR cost twice as much as a DVD player?

Oh well. Faced with the choice of either spending $60 (plus tax) or not watching television, I pull out the Visa and mortgage a small part of my future for the pleasure. Once at home, five minutes out of the box everything is up and running again perfectly just in time to see the finale of Project: Runway (congratulations, Jeffrey).

The credit card has been seeing a lot of action lately, what with getting prints and framing for the show at Mediums and the occasional monetary shortfall. Fortunately, I'll have a bit of extra cash come mid-November when I get my first paycheck from Heifer on top of the cash value of my unused vacation time at Philander, so I'll be able to make a substantially more than minimym payment to the credit card company. Cash will be tight for a few weeks, but things are looking up already.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Republican or Democrat for Arkansas Governor in 2006? Does it make much of a difference?

Is it just me or does every attack ad A$a! runs on Mike Beebe make Beebe sound like a better and better candidate? By A$a!'s reasoning, a vote for Beebe is a vote for a Democratic wonderland.

In spite of the promised liberal utopia that will surely bloom within Arkansas' borders should Beebe ascend to the State Capitol come November, I'm still supporting the independent underdog candidacy of Rod Bryan, if for no other reason than to influence the issues for the major party candidates. Of course, the major party candidates are doing everything they can to hold the issues under their own influence, notably by refusing to allow independent candidates to participate in the official debates and public forums.

The latest polls have Rod showing at 3 to 4 percent, twice the support of the more established Green Party Candidate, Jim Lendall. While his entire level support is arguably within the margin for error in these polls, 3 to 4 percent is still a substantial showing for a guy who runs a record store and works in a bakery. His supporters represent voters that the candidate for neither of the major parties are speaking to or speaking for.

In 2004, the presidential election was decided by less than 1 percent of the electorate. In a hotly contested race, why are A$a! and Beebe willing to concede nearly 5 percent of the vote? Why do they give the third party candidate a platform by excluding him from the debate? Wouldn't the more sensible idea be for one candidate to parrot his talking points, or the other to debunk his platform, thereby defusing his candidacy? Hell, even letting him sit down at the grown up's table for the debates gives the other guys a chance to expose him as an amateur Mr. Smith Frank Kapra wannabe. Strangely, by snubbing him, A$a! and Beebe are actually giving Rod credibility. His ideas have to be pushed aside, ignored, unacknowledged (with allegations that they have intimidated media outlets from covering the Bryan campaign by threatening to withhold access to outlets who do cover third parties), lest they gain some credence with the electorate and threaten to force the local candidates off the national talking points.

I don't know if Rod Bryan is the right man to be our next governor. But I do know in our representative democracy he has a right to challenge the establishment. And I believe the other candidates have a responsibility to conduct a fair and open campaign that wins voters by their stand on the issues rather than using political bullying to exclude the underdog. I hope Rod continues his political career. I hope he lectures colleges and high schools about his run for governor and the citizen's duty to hold our representatives responsible for the actions they undertake in our name. I hope he runs for the state Legislature in 2008. I hope he continues to be a stalking horse for the Governor's office. And I hope one day, by his example, our elected officials are more responsive to the people responsible for placing them into office.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Big News

I am finally free of the insane asylum. I was offered a job Wednesday at Heifer Foundation, so on Thursday I put in my two weeks notice at Philander. The new job gives me a ten percent raise in salary to start. Plus excellent benefits. Plus a work environment that isn't passively-aggressively hostile. Plus, I'll be working for an institution who's sole purpose is eliminating hunger and poverty. I don't know if you're religious, but I, for one, am thanking God for this amazing opportunity.

Mute Math, etc.

Charlie James first told me about the band Mute Math back in the spring. Since then, I've read bits and pieces, heard some snippets here and there, and finally got the chance to see them Tuesday night. They played a hella tight show, great dynamics, lots of energy, great interpretation of their music from the studio to the stage. Definitely a band to check out if you want to see how the younger generation is interpreting U2, The Police, Radiohead, etc.

Jonzetta and Shiny Toy Guns opened the show. Jonezetta knows how to rock. STG kind of sucked. But the photos came out good.


Shiny Tony Guns