Tuesday, October 31, 2006

the best show on earth

"...India is the best show on earth, the best bazaar of human experiencs that can be visited in a lifetime...India will disolve your ideas about what it is to be a human being, what it is to be compassionate, what it is to be spiritual or conscious. Its people give new meaning to perseverance, courage, ingenuity, and friendship. India 's is a bewilderingly old culture, with myth and history so intertwined and layered that one knows immediately it cannot be known nor understood, only experienced." From the introduction to Traveler's Tales: India, edited by James O'Reilly and Larry Habegger

We leave LA at 10:35am, stop in Newark, then arrive in Dehli, if all goes well, at 9:15pm Nov 2. Rashmi has arranged for us to be met at the airport and taken to a guesthouse. We've started our malaria pills. I think we're ready. Can you ever be ready for India?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Diwali Celebration

We had a great send off tonight - the Anchorage Indian Cultural Center's Diwali Celebration. There was music, danicing, singing, a fashion show, and, of course, food. We got lots of advice about things to do in India. We leave for the airport soon for LA, and Wednesday for India.

AFN Meeting in Anchorage

Talking to friends in the Egan Center Lobby

The Alaska Federation of Natives has its annual meeting in October, generally in Anchorage. Last year, after feeling like Anchorage was taking them and the dollars they brought to town for granted, they met in Fairbanks. By all reports they were very warmly met there. The move seems to have worked because Anchorage did a lot of wooing to get them back this year.
This is where indigineous peoples from all over Alaska and their friends come to meet - to develop policy for Alaska Natives, to see old friends, to sing and dance. It's an opportunity most non-Native Anchorage folks fail to take advantage of. It is a great time to get to meet Alaska Natives from all over and to get past stereotypes and meet real people, as well as to welcome them to our town. There's also a great opportunity to buy Alaska Native arts and crafts and meet the people who made them.

Tsimshian Drummers

Friday, October 27, 2006

Special Alaska Cars

We don't see that many unique cars in Anchorage, but this one was parked down the street Thursday. Afraid you can't clearly see the Alaska wild flowers painted on the side.

You can also see we got our first few snowflakes. Not a pretty snowfall. Winter just marking his territory, letting us know he owns us til March or April, lest we forgot.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Live from Amritsar

We're going to India next week - I'm assuming I will find ways to keep posting from there, but if there is a gap that will be the reason - and so today we met with a Sikh friend to talk about our trip. While talking about visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar, he told us that every day "The Book" is ceremoniously carried into the Golden Temple at 4am and then returned in the evening. And - here's the interesting part - that ceremony is covered live every day by satellite! So we saw a tape of today's ceremony. Below is more about it from incredibleindians.com.

Amrit Vela
Amrit Vela means the pre-dawn moment. It is actually the time when the watch strikes four o'clock in the morning. The pilgrims wake up and start preparing for a serene early morning visit to the Darbar Saheb. After reaching the temple entrance, one must take off their shoes at the 'shoes counter'. The next step is to dip one's feet at a channel of running water. On the way to the temple, there are lined up flower stalls, for one to buy garlands or just fresh flowers for offering... (more on the Golden Temple here, it's the last article on the page. The picture above comes from this link.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Winter Nears

Listened to the leaves of the Mountain Ash raining in front of the house today.

And there was ice on the puddles.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Great Theater Town Anchorage

My daughter recently told me she saw a lot better theater and film in Anchorage than she sees in Seattle. Instead of having 30 choices every night, we have 3-10 (not counting regular movie theaters) or so. Still more than one can do. But of that number, most are pretty good. And often the venues are relatively small, so you are right there face to face with the actors.

Thursday, we saw Tony nominated Lisa Kron in 2.5 Minute Ride at Out North. The room holds, maybe, 100 people. We tooks seats in the front row. A one-actor piece, three spots on the stage, three different intertwined stories going on. A mock slide show of her trip to Auschwitz with her dad and the Dutch woman who'd lived with them when she was a high school exchange student; an annual family trip to a big amusement park in Indiana; and her brother's wedding. Ultimately it was a tribute to her dad who was sent alone to the US from Germany as a 15 year to escape the Nazis. Since my mother came to the US alone in 1939 as a 17 year old, there was a lot for me to relate to. And I'd had many of the same reactions while wandering through Buchenwald, that she had at Auschwitz. She played her father to tell one story of a kid named Lohman, the only other kid in his school class not to join Hitler Youth. Her dad wondered, "If I weren't Jewish, would I have the courage to say no like Lohman?" A question for us all to ponder carefully today.

Friday we saw Little Shop of Horrors at Mad Myrna's. A tiny stage, in a back room of a gay bar that was crowded with a little over 100 seats, a bar, a four piece band, and a place to store the grown Audrey II until she was needed on stage.. But we have great local talent, and Christian Heppinstal pulled together a great production. All the actors became their roles, with highlights by the dentist and both Audrey IIs (the puppeteer who was inside the giant plant and danced with real soul, and voice of Audrey who sang with real soul.)

We really are lucky to have such good stuff here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Finally Converted - Poetry - Sudoku

I finally took the hint and converted to the new version of Blogger. Didn't seem to affect anything negatively. In fact my View Profile counter seems to be working again. It had been stuck on 12 for several months, and now is up to a whopping 18.

Checking blogs yesterday, I landed on one that featured poetry. I realized how hard it is in today's world to stop and take the time to appreciate poetry. We've learned to scan everything quickly and move on. But good poetry requires we stop and read carefully, and reread. Enjoy the words and imagery, not just quickly grab the content and move on. So I stopped and read more carefully and since there were no comments, composed a sonnet to convey some of these thoughts. It was much more fun than Sudoku (I finally went to a Sudoku site last night too, trying to figure out whether the 1 or the 4 is the easy rating, since my struggles with sudokus aren't consistent with the rating). Had to look up sonnets again to remember the rhyme scheme. If you really want to see my sonnet, you can go to Star Sequence. Since I incorporated phrases from his poem, it wouldn't make sense without also reading Old Women among the Stars. It's the first comment.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dances With Films at Out North

We went to Dances With Films at Out North Theater last night. We got to see six short films from this LA Film Festival. Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent, the festival founders, were there to answer questions. It was an interesting set of films. "Shift" the Grand Jury Winner, was about a young 'Korean-Jewish' actor who takes a night shift job at a mailing company managed by a Chinese and with an interesting ethnically diverse set of employees, who are given bad new every time pizza is delivered. You can see the Audience Award winner by clicking Dirty Mary. But a warning - the sound and video got separated the first time I tried it. The second time I found that when it did that I could stop it and it started back ok.

Also more moose today, while out jogging. When I detoured through the trees to avoid the cow on the trail, I almost ran right into the bull with a good rack hidden in the woods.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tree Trimmers

Looked out of my window to see the tree trimmers tonight.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Alaska Apple User Group Meeting

Tonight we went to our second meeting. They have a library of books and dvd's to borrow and books to review. If you review, you can keep the book. So looking through the pile I found "Naked Conversations: How Blogs are changing the way businesses talk with customers." Since one of my purposes on this blog is to learn more about blogging and what it means, I took it and committed to a review.

The book is about the impact of blogs on businesses. Their argument is that blogs totally change the way businesses and customers (as well as employees, vendors, etc.) communicate. This is threatening to those who want to maintain centralized control and the risk management types, but the benefits of putting a human face on the organization and allowing customers to talk directly to employees (while the rest of the world can watch) way outweighs the risks. Also threatened are the traditional PR types.

I've read two chapters and learned a lot already.

Didn't know about Technorati or PubSub. Two blog search engines they suggest businesses use to keep track of who's talking about them, what they are saying, and joining the conversation.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

25 Peeps

As I said in a previous post, I sent in a picture to 25Peeps. This is the site with 25 pictures and people click on the pictures and go to their blogs. Essentially a way to advertise your blog. The webmaster, in Germany, has some sort of point system based on how many people click on a picture and how many people click back to 25Peeps from the blog. He adds a few new pictures a day, dropping out the pictures with the fewest points. So right after I sent in my pic - the one in the shaggy mane post - I checked out the changes in his pictures. After a few days, there didn't seem to be much of a change. About two weeks of no changes, I emailed him and he replied promptly that he'd been sick and would start again. Well, the last few days have seen massive changes of pictures. Eventually mine should get up there. Looking at the ones that stay a while, I've found they have very prominent links back to 25peeps. So I'll try to set up a post for the day I get posted. Meanwhile I offer this little tidbit on what I'm learning blogging. Also I'm finding some interesting blogs. I'll try to figure out how to set up a side bar to link a few of the best.

By the way, my counter in the Profile section seems to have died. Anyone have any ideas on how to turn it back on?

Monday, October 09, 2006

No Bias Policy - Maguire's Firing

Today's NY Times reports on the firing of Paul Maguire from Reuters because his book about Ann Coulter was deemed to violate their trust principles. I don't know what went on behind closed doors, nor have I read the book. But I have looked at their trust principles. Actually, that's confusing too. The link actually goes to their editorial policy and that has a link to their trust principles. The editorial policy includes, "We are committed to reporting the facts and in all situations avoid the use of emotive terms." The title of the book is "Brainless:The Lies and Lunacy of Ann Coulter." Perhaps they consider "Brainless" an emotive term. But this is not something Maguire did for Reuters.

It also says, "We do not take sides and attempt to reflect in our stories, pictures and video the views of all sides. We are not in the business of glorifying one side or another or of disseminating propaganda. Reuters journalists do not offer their own opinions or views." It would seem that their policy 'takes the side' of objectivity. But what happens when a reporter objectively analyzes someone's argument and finds it to be lies and lunacy? I understand the logic of the policy, but there comes a time when that sort of reasoning castrates the press To take everything at face value, to not question what people are saying, is to give standing and credence to lies and lunacy. . At the extreme, as appears to be the case here, reporters should treat logical falacies, lies, distortion of truth the same as truth and logic. To do otherwise, it would appear from this action, would entail bias. There used to be a fairness doctrine in broadcast media. While it is legally gone, a distorted version of it still exists - the idea that there are alwasy two or more sides to a story. Often there are. But sometimes, one side is clearly right and the other side is clearly wrong. (No you shouldn't make that judgment immediately, but in the case of writing a book about someone like Ann Coulter, we can assume Mr. Maguire has had time to reflect.) Being evenhanded by giving equal time to lunatics, or worse, to people consciously trying to distort the truth, is a perversion of the idea of even handedness. Like Fox's Orwellian claim to being Fair and Unbiased.

Furthermore, I find Maguire's firing to be part of the chilling affect on the media which has hampered good reporting that might have prevented many of the misguided policies of the Bush administration.