Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Curious Occurance

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I have these two plants that have been with me since the summer of 1989. They are called "Mother-in-Law's Tongues" so far as I know. I'm sure you're familiar with them--flat, smooth variegated leaves shooting up like swords from a common base. They are ubiquitous in offices all across the U.S., and I actually encountered some in the wild in a rainforest in Brazil, where I guess they are indigenous.

I came to adopt these guys while helping my dear friend, Mr. S., clean office buildings--a second job that helped to keep his head above water (He's a teacher by day!). We typically finished the evening by dumping the collected trash in the bins out behind the building, and on this night, as I prepared to toss the bags, I noticed these discarded plants among the rubbish. No pot. Roots exposed. Disheveled to say the least. And I took pity upon them. We've been together ever since!

My pair resides in urn-like pots and spends the winter months indoors and the rest of the year on my deck. And last year, after a relationship of 17 years, one of them bloomed! It was the most amazing thing—I’d never seen this plant bloom, didn't even know that it could.

And here it is blooming again. It’s like this gift, this acknowledgement, this intra-species “Thank you.” I know that’s crazy talk, but what the hell, sanity is way overrated!

Sunday Funnies #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
At first I thought that this must be a community only for those among us who are "Masters of Our Own Domains." But then I read the fine print: "IN THIS AREA 12pm to 12am."

Must be some kinda 'Brunch Bunch!" Cheers!

Sunday Funnies #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Fear of flying? Well, I didn't used to be!

Sunday Funnies #3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
So, it really was Adam and Steve? Hmmm... Go figure!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

What I'm Listening To #24

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A playful spirit with a versatile, polished voice. Natalia Fourcade gives voice to soft acoustical ballades and pounding techno dance anthems across the scope of this album. My favorite is neither: "Mirame Mirate" is just a wonderful alternative tune.

¡Muy Rico! Muy bien.

Our Latest American Hero #82

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
In the bloodiest Aprils of the war on Terrorism--A month that has seen a continued resurgence of deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq--this hero's story told by one of his teachers touched me deeply. Honestly, they all do....

Marine Cpl. Willie P. Celestine Jr., 21, of Lafayette, La., died April 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"Teacher On Marine’s Death: ‘We’re all hurting right now.’"

Cpl. Willie Celestine had a special talent for winning people over, despite an at-times mischievous nature. That's why the death of the Marine in Iraq this week is especially hard on his family and friends in Lafayette.

"The hurt may last for a long time," said his mother, Trutie Celestine, "but our memories of Willie will last forever."

That's true, not only for the family, but for many faculty members and friends who knew Celestine at Acadiana High School.

"I didn't teach Willie, and that makes it even more remarkable that I would remember Willie so clearly," English teacher Wanda Berthelot said Friday. "He was so gregarious that many of us knew him, liked him and talked to him.

"I remember him visiting the school in uniform before he shipped out. I know he's missed by his family, but we miss kids like that, too. We're all hurting right now."

Celestine, 22, had just returned for a second tour of duty in Iraq, a return that promised more danger.

"The last time I spoke to him was Saturday," Trutie Celestine said. "He knew how dangerous it was, not like the first time. They were at risk every time they walked out. He said 'They're trying to kill us all.'

"Willie didn't tell me, but he felt he might not make it home. He told his wife and friends 'If I don't make it' - something I'm just finding out today, and it hurts."

According to his mother, Celestine and his unit were returning to Fallujah from a four-day mission when their Humvee was struck by a missile.

Trutie Celestine added that her son died of head injuries, leaving behind his wife, Aporil, and 2-year-old daughter, Nevaeh - Heaven spelled backward.

"He left college to join the Marines to take care of his family," his mom said. "He was always trying to protect people. In my opinion, it's a senseless war, but he died doing what he wanted to do."

Funeral arrangements for Celestine are uncertain, adding to the grieving family's pain.

"They told me it would take a week to get his body back in town," Trutie Celestine said. "His platoon still has his body. I'm told that's how long it generally takes in this war. I was hoping he could be returned sooner, because I can't make any arrangements until I have my child's body."

Trutie Celestine took her son to the Houston airport "the day Hurricane Katrina hit" in 2005 for his initial tour in harm's way, which lasted nine months. Willie Celestine headed back to Iraq three weeks ago, and had been there for two weeks when he was killed.

"I didn't think he would go again this soon," said Trutie Celestine, who painted a picture of her youngest child as an athletic young man with a winning personality.

"Whatever he gave in life," she said, "he gave 100 percent. He started playing baseball at 5 years old, and people said he was one of the best they'd ever seen. He plays the game like he knows it. He plays to win.

"He made up his mind to play football at Acadiana High in the 11th grade, weighing 110-120 pounds, and made the team. He broke his ankle chasing (St. Martinville's) Early Doucet. He also played basketball.

"Willie was special. He was the kind of child that makes you laugh, and he didn't stop until you loved him."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mission Accomplished?

Get active. Share this video. Discuss it with friends. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #81

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
How can 81 people represent over 3,000? How can we stand by and continue to let these patriotic Americans play the pawns for our demented President? There I said it. Explain that one to me, if you can.

I am allowing Kevin to represent his other 8 commrades in this tribute.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of nine soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Apr. 23 in As Sadah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their location. 
Killed were:
Army 1st Lt. Kevin J. Gaspers, 26, of Hastings, Neb.
Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth E. Locker Jr., 28, of Wakefield, Neb.
Army Staff Sgt. William C. Moore, 27, of Benson, N.C.
Army Sgt. Randell T. Marshall, 22, of Fitzgerald, Ga.
Army Sgt. Brice A. Pearson, 32, of Phoenix, Az.
Army Sgt. Michael L. Vaughan, 20, of Otis, Ore.
Army Spc. Jerry R. King, 19, of Browersville, Ga.
Army Spc. Michael J. Rodriguez, 20, of Sanford, N.C.
Army Pfc. Garrett C. Knoll, 23, of Bad Axe, Mich.

“Hastings Native Killed In Iraq”

OMAHA -- A 26-year-old Hastings man died in Iraq Monday while serving in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, family members said Tuesday.

Katie Gaspers of Omaha struggled Tuesday evening to talk about her older brother, First Lt. Kevin Gaspers, who she said was "probably the best person ever."

Family members say they were told Tuesday morning that Gaspers died when a suicide bomber attacked his base and the roof of a building collapsed. The military had not confirmed Gaspers' death as of Tuesday evening.

Katie Gaspers said the family couldn't yet confirm whether he was one of nine soldiers killed in a Monday suicide truck bombing in Iraq, the single deadliest attack for the 82nd Airborne Division in nearly 40 years.

At Gaspers' alma mater, St. Cecilia Catholic High School, 203 high school students and 174 middle school students remembered Gaspers Tuesday at their daily Mass.

"We offered our prayers up for the Kevin and the family," said principal Marie Butler.

Officials at the school learned about Gaspers' death Tuesday morning after his family asked that a priest be sent to their house.

Gaspers played football and wrestled for St. Cecelia before he graduated in 2000, and went on to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and participate in the ROTC program.

His football coach, Carl Tesmer, remembers his perseverance, dedication and manners.

Tesmer said Gaspers was a tough, hard-nosed linebacker who probably didn't weigh 145 pounds when he started playing. Gaspers lifted weights to become stronger, and he improved.

"You always remember the kids who give you everything they've got," Tesmer said, and Gaspers was one of those.

One of the things Tesmer remembers most about Gaspers is what a gentleman he was.

"America's just lost one of its finest citizens," said Tesmer, who corresponded regularly with Gaspers while he was in Iraq.

Gaspers was just back in Hastings a few weeks ago for a visit around Easter, Tesmer said.

"The military was what he wanted," Tesmer said. "He was proud to be part of it and what he was doing."

Gaspers had been stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C., before he was deployed to Iraq last August.

Gaspers is the 42nd U.S. service member with Nebraska connections killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since the beginning of military operations following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And Tesmer said Gaspers is the first St. Cecelia graduate to be killed in the Iraq war.

"It's a tough day with lots of tears," Tesmer said Tuesday.

Gaspers is survived by his parents, Pam and John Gaspers, and two sisters, 23-year-old Katie and 15-year-old Audrey.

Random Quote #68

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes. 1763 - 1837

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Oh My God!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The law of unintended sweet Stephanie Miller and Mooks!

After the firing of Don Imus by MSNBC, the station has been trying out replacements. And from Monday to Wednesday 30 APR--2 MAY, 2007 the cast of The Stephanie Miller Show out of Los Angeles will be filling in. I love this show! I wish Stephanie, Chris, and Jim only the best, but I fear the ways in which this transition will alter their format and content.

Remember Steph, TV killed the radio......

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Random Quote #67

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"The body is not a home, but an inn, and that only briefly."

--Seneca, Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD

[image: newly renovated Roman Courtyard Gallery at the MET in New York City.]

Our Latest American Hero #80

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Pvt. Michael J. Slater, 19, of Scott Depot, W. Va., died Apr. 21 in Taji, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle rolled over during combat operations. Slater was assigned to the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

(I was surfing the web earlier this evening when I came across an article about Pvt Slater which included that fact that he and his mother picked out his casket together in the event that he should die in Iraq. It was a very touching article in a West Virginia news paper. That was about 2 hours ago, and now I can't find hide nor hair of any such article! What's going on? The one that I did find I am including along with the annotation that it was "up-dated". In my previous surf I found several articles; and on this look only a couple.....) On a side note: In Russia today, it was announced that 50% of all news stories about Russia MUST BE POSITIVE. Das Vedanya!

"Putnam County Teen Killed In Iraq"
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2007 ; 06:16 PM
Updated Tuesday, April 24, 2007 ; 06:37 PM

Michael Slater was involved in a vehicle rollover accident.

WINFIELD -- A Putnam County teenager who was killed in Iraq is being remembered as a funny, giving individual who wanted nothing more than to be in the Army.

On Saturday, 19-year-old Private Michael Slater died in a non-hostile vehicle rollover accident in Iraq.

He had been there only a month when he was killed in a vehicle rollover accident.

"He had called me Sunday before, I could barely hear him, and he said I love you mom," said Patricia Slater, Michael's mother, adding the last words he said to her were pray for me.,

During a visit home last month, Patricia Slater said Michael sensed he might not make it back from Iraq.

She said her son was determined to succeed in the Army.

"It makes me feel better that he applied himself, and doing something he enjoyed, and he felt like he was part of a good program, and he was making progress," said Chuck Slater, Michael's father.

Slater was part of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

What I'm Watching #79

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Movies are complex critters and their personalities depend on lots of variables. Ergo we remember them for lots of reasons. "Big Night" ought to be remembered for the amazing ensemble of actors and their subsequent chemisty. The music is great, the sets perfect, the cinematography creative and subtle. But the ensemble! Bravissimo!

Cio e un gruppo stupefacente degli attori!

Mio favorito era ~
Mark Anthony
Scott Campbell
Minnie Driver
Ian Holmes
Alison Janey
Isabella Rossellini
Tony Shaloub
Stanley Tucci......

Okay, I can't decide! They're all my favorites: i.e. an amazing ensemble. Trovi un senso vederlo!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

What I'm Watching #78

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
In the current cinema in Theaters, I'm just as dollar short and day late to the party! But this one is absolutely wonderful.

Many things to love:

1) It's well paced and not TOO long (CARS!).

2) The characters are well conceived and well voiced, as individual characters.

3) The plot is complex, integral, and comprehensible.

4) It's funny!

5) It's uplifting.

And, 6) It holds surprises that seem as obvious as the nose on your face in hindsight! Love being genuinely caught off guard!

The Negatives?

1) The Art Deco future---echoes of racial supremacy from the 1920's/2000's--perfectly manicured lawns, politically correct lives....

2) Lack of minority characters of substance (re: #1) The only possibly black character was smart enough to run an orphanage; but was she black? I couldn't tell.

A great film, that danced at the edge of perfection. Disney!~ Step over the line, for heaven's sake!!!

Random Quote #66

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

~ St. Francis of Assisi, 1181 - 1226

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #79

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
To become a U.S. citizen posthumously, too.

Army Pvt. Damian Lopez Rodriguez, Tucson, Ariz. The Department of Defense announced today the death of three sailors who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died April 6 from enemy action while conducting combat operations near Kirkuk, Iraq.

"Pueblo Grad Killed In Iraq Is Awarded Citizenship"

Pfc. Damian Lopez Rodriguez was posthumously awarded U.S. citizenship Thursday, according to a U.S. Army news release.
Lopez Rodriguez was one of three soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division who were killed April 6 when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq. He was 19.

Lopez Rodriguez was born in Mexico and enlisted in the Army Sept. 14, 2005, the news release said.

The U.S. government historically has granted posthumous citizenship to non-U.S. citizen service members killed in the line of duty during wartime.

Under provisions in the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act, the citizenship is no longer simply honorary. It now includes benefits to the deceased service member's spouse, children and parents who hope to gain U.S. citizenship.

"Pfc. Lopez Rodriguez was a dedicated, honorable soldier who served this nation well," said Maj. Gen. Barbara G. Fast, commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, in the news release. "Awarding him U.S. citizenship honors the sacrifice he and his family have made for our country."

And I add, AMEN. May light perpetual shine upon Damian....

Spring "Break" From My Gardens #6

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Dutchman's Britches/Breeches (Dicentra Cucullaria) is a perennial favorite of hikers exploring the Appalachian Trail. But you can find wild examples of this plant in moist, woodsy places from North Dakota to New Jersey, and Quebec, Canada to Helena, Georgia. Although, they prefer more mountainous climes.

I don't have to travel any further than my backyard and no higher than 90 ft above sealevel to enjoy this interesting plant.

On a whim I bought three of them last year on sale late in the season. They were beautiful, but I wondered whether they would make it. And now they are back just as full and beautiful as last year. Enjoy.

Spring "Break" From My Gardens #5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Many years ago, my ex- and I took a spring trip to visit friends in Leesburg, Virginia. The trip took us across the Potomac River via a car ferry, and I will never forget the carpet of Virginia Bluebells in all their azure splender that covered the bank of the river and enveloped the trunks of the trees. It was magical.

My first attempt at including this local Spring perennial in my humble gardens was not so blessed. They were fine the first year, and present the second, and then gone....

The blooms of this second attempt are again magical in their third season. They've also spread some and seem comfortable with their garden mates. In this image, the perspective almost suggests a "kiss" from the bluebells to a nearby celandine poppy (stylophorum diphyllum). And they really are the bluest flower I've ever seen.

Spring "Break" From My Gardens #4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
After nearly two weeks of uneasonably cool and often wet weather, Spring has returned to the Mid-Atlantic. All my perennials are flourishing. A few even blooming.

The flecks of pink in the mid-range of this picture are Dutchman's Britches, and the blue above the bird bath are Virginia Bluebells. In the background (now you see them in context), the pink and red of azaleas just starting to open can be seen. And amid the variagated interplay of greens are the sprouts of Phlox, Sedum, Wild Strawberries, Columbine, Adjuga, European Hawkweed, Celandine Poppies, and Pachysandra, to name the major "players."

What I'm Watching #77

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Mil Nubes de Paz cercan el Cielo (a thousand clouds of peace)" by director Julián Hernández will simply take your breath away. It is one of the most elegantly conceived movies I have ever seen. Señor Henández' sense of "Cinema as Art" takes cinema to a new level.

Filmed in black and white, and with such a tender ear for sound, the film is not simply a story revealed by actors, but an experience in which every noise, every camera angel, every piece of clothing, indeed, every light, every shadow is rife with meaning both metaphorical and profound.

The synopsis on the back of the DVD case might or might not peek your curiousity: (Gerardo, a gay teenager, roams the streets of Mexico City in search of someone able to reveal the secret, hidden between the lines of a goodbye letter from his ex-lover. In his journey through barren alleys and roadways, he is haunted by images: each masculine body he sees reminds him of his lover.) But the movie will so transport you to a place of such raw humanity, that when rereading the blurb after seeing it, you'll think, 'Really? That's all it was about?'

The lead actor, Juan Carlos Ortuño, as Gerardo was amazing in a role that required tremendous subtly. The supporting actors who waft in and out the story were likewise wonderful, I was especially touched the performance of Perla de la Rosa as Anna, Gerardo's mother.

Also, I'm going name a few of the others responsible off camera for the beauty of this film: Diego Arizmendi, Director of Photography; Carolina Jiménez, Art Director; and Enrique L. Rendón, Sound Director. Kudus to all.

My final thought, the film left me in tears, only I couldn't figure out if I was crying because I was happy or sad.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Witty Naughty Ad!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Eat more fruit"

"Give A------'s strawberry lube a try."

wink, wink -- blush, blush......

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What I'm Watching #76

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Old Joy" is an odd and stylized story of two friends who extend their bond during a mundane yet mystical trip to a rustic hot spring in the mountains of Oregon. There is a moment of revelation at the apex of the movie that we are taken to the brink of, and then denied access to. It leaves the entire meaning of the film to our imaginations.

Not for the concrete processors in our midst.

My 2 Cents

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I have really avoided this issue here on purpose. It's just too sad.

A state with lax gun laws only courts disaster, they can't blame others.

A nation where mental illness is stigmatized and blamed on the ill, can't act surprised.

Flowers don't grow unless there is water and sunshine. And mentally ill people don't commit mass murder unless they are left to there own devices and given access to the tools of death.

Deaths like these are by and large senseless. They are deaths like those all around the world (not just Iraq) that occur everyday at the hands of wicked, demented, pathetic souls. The Romanian professor who sacrificed his life in a vain attempt to stop the killer is the exception. No greater love has man, than to sacrifice his life for others.

The desire to bestow meaning on tragedies like this only leave us even more dispondent. For there is no "greater reason" for lives snuffed out in their youth, in their primes.

Our pathetically ignorant and soulless President had the gaul to suggest that these people where simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. This infuriated me. Since when is being in class on time, or at work when you're supposed to be there "wrong"!? Is George W. Bush trying to suggest that bullets are merely small metal objects and discharging them out of guns is a morally neutral, God given, and Constitutionally protected right of all Patriotic Americans? And when one of those bullets just happens to enter your body in a way that kills you; well, you should have been somewhere else? I'm sorry, he's a TOTAL asshole--incapable of comprehending the reality of this or any other tragedy involving death.

I have to stop my thoughts about Bush here.... My vestiges of Christian faith won't allow me to continue...damn you "grace"!

A final thought: As our nation grapples with this tragedy, we must also realize that this is only a small taste of what Iraqi's have experienced (AND ARE EXPERIENCING) day in and day out for just over 4 years now.... Can any of us imagine what it's like to live in a world like that?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What I'm Watching #75

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Fogi Is A Bastard"

This is a film made in Switzerland in 1998. The dialogue is in French. The story is about a young gay teen (16) Beni, who meets his punk rock idol, Fogi, at a concert and becomes his lover. Beni is a nice young man who desperately wants to be in love and leave his little homophobic Swiss Canton. Fogi is a bastard.

It's a very delicately crafted story which refuses to paint anything in white or black. It will leave you with far more questions than answers and the desire to process those ideas with someone else.

The Riddle:

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
How many really sexy models posing for the month of September in a breast cancer awareness/fund raising 2007 calendar does it take to change a light bulb?

And isn't one perfect!?

Support the cause whenever and wherever you can.

Friday, April 13, 2007

What I'm Watching #74

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A short film by Simon Chung, "First Love And Other Pains". A film that I had seen several years ago. A film about an April/August gay relationship--the young Chinese man, Mark, who falls for his older British English professor in pre-transfer Hong Kong. Together they explore and experience their desires and their demons. The result being redemptive and transformative.

It's a great little film. Hope you can find it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Our Latest American Heros #78

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army 1st Lt. Phillip I. Neel, 27, of Maryland [sometimes the DoD gets the particulars wrong: Fredericksburg, TX], died April 8 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using grenades. His death is under investigation. 

“Fredericksburg Soldier Killed In Iraq” Family remembers Phillip Neel as quiet, loving, wry

On his last visit home about a month ago, 1st Lt. Phillip Neel prayed for his enemies and cried at the dinner table for the souls of his soldiers.

He took Mac, the family's year-old yellow Labrador retriever, to the small waterfall on their Fredericksburg ranch and watched the dog dive in after a stick. He did a lot of the things he'd been doing since childhood before heading back to Iraq, family members said.

Neel was killed Easter Sunday in Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, after attackers hurled grenades at his squad, according to the Department of Defense.

"All of us are very tight," Neel's sister Kelly Foster said Tuesday. "With Phil gone, there's just going to be this huge, gaping hole that can't be filled."

The oldest boy among six children, Neel, 27, graduated from Fredericksburg High School in 1998. The family was not surprised when he enlisted in the Army and became a paratrooper. His father, Leroy, is a retired Army colonel.

"Phil loved jumping out of planes," Foster said.

She said her brother was too complicated to sum up in a few words. In childhood spats, Neel was the calm one who would end arguments among the siblings with sage advice. He was honest, she said, even when that meant telling her she'd looked better.

He was a lanky 6-foot-2, with brown hair and brown eyes, "and he was always in control of himself."

He wanted to someday get married, become a lawyer and practice in a small town, Foster said.

After his first tour of duty, Neel enrolled at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. There, his sister says, he worried that he would be kicked out early in his first year for too roughly pinning, hogtying and choking another cadet during a wrestling exercise. The other cadet lacked Neel's combat training.

His sister said Neel was a good student who earned no demerits. He was usually quiet and rarely the center of attention.

The day before graduation, at a practice formation, Neel decided to lighten the mood. He replaced the tall black plumes of his uniform's hat with a big fake crow and marched with it for half an hour, deadpan.

"Just motivating the troops, sir," Neel explained when an instructor questioned him afterward.

After graduation, Neel joined Fort Hood's 1st Cavalry Division, whose roughly 20,000 soldiers are serving in Baghdad.

Foster said her brother rarely talked about the war or the dangers he faced. On that last visit, his reserve crumbled, and he cried at the dinner table.

He told his family, "I pray every day for the souls of my men, because I know where I'm going, and I'm not sure they do."

Neel's last e-mail home was typical of the encouragement he offered his siblings:

"I hope you are all staying strong, because I know you are all being challenged by the things of this world. But it's how you deal with stuff that makes you who you are. Take care!


Freedom Of Speech

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Commuters on their way to O'Hare Airport in Chicago were greeted (for about 15 minutes) by this exercise of our First Amendment right:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Presidents come and go, but the Constitution stands for everyone's protection. It is the highest expression of an intelligent and free people and inspite of all the lying and pure evil that has occurred under the auspices of George W. Bush, the Constitution remains the envy of world.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Snowy Easter Cleveland

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
It's been cold around here for about a week now, but it could always be worse! This from my dear friends in Cleveland on what their Easter Sunday looked like.

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful....."

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Feet

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Okay, I just love this photo. But it also happens to be of Savion Glover, the dancer who choreographed the computer animation behind the little penguin in the film, "Happy Feet".


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
To yesterday's post re: the four British soldiers killed in Basra on April 5, 2007. One of them had a friend in a high place....

"British Soldier Killed In Iraq Was Close Friend Of Prince"

LONDON, England (AP) -- A British female soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq was a close friend of Prince William, a spokesman for the royal family said Friday.

Second Lt. Joanna Yorke Dyer, 24, was among four soldiers killed when a British patrol was attacked early Thursday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

William, who is second in line to the British throne, met Dyer while both were at the Sandhurst military academy, family spokesman Patrick Harrison said.

"Prince William was deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of Jo Dyer's death," said Harrison, press secretary for Prince Charles, William's father.

"Jo was a close friend of his at Sandhurst, and he is very much thinking of her family and friends right now. They are in his thoughts and prayers."

William and his younger brother, Prince Harry, are both officers with the Blues and Royals, an elite cavalry regiment. Harry, third in line to the throne, is to be deployed to Iraq, the Ministry of Defense has said.

Dyer's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Mark Kenyon, said in a statement that the soldier was "a talented and energetic officer who was determined to make the most of her deployment to Iraq."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Our Latest American Heros #74-77

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Aren't American's at all. They are the British. And they represent the last vestage of anything that ever resembled a coallition in this utter dibacle of a "war" on a phantom and personally adventagious "enemy" of our FRAT BOY president. Where in all of this and/or when do we start to cry? And once we start, how do stop?

[Clockwise from left to right, top to bottom}

Cpl. Kris O'Neill (holding one of his two sons, Adam); Pvt Eleanor Dlugosz; 2nd Lt. Joanna Yorke Dyer; and, Kingsman Adam Smith.

May light perpetual shine upon each of their precious souls.

Vive le Eiffel Tower!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The Eiffel Tower has been called many things like:

1) "this truly tragic street lamp" (Léon Bloy),
2) "this belfry skeleton" (Paul Verlaine),
3) "this mast of iron gymnasium apparatus, incomplete, confused and deformed" (François Coppée),
4) "this high and skinny pyramid of iron ladders, this giant ungainly skeleton upon a base that looks built to carry a colossal monument of Cyclops, but which just peters out into a ridiculous thin shape like a factory chimney" (Maupassant),
5) "a half-built factory pipe, a carcass waiting to be fleshed out with freestone or brick, a funnel-shaped grill, a hole-riddled suppository" (Joris-Karl Huysmans).

But we all know why it holds such an iconoclastic place in both French culture and international architecture.... "suppository"?, as if!

Bon Soir!

What I'm Listening To #23

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Cher! Diva extraordinaire! Who the hell wouldn't want to look like she does at 60!? (I know, not a face or a body created by nature!)

Yet, this latest album--not new, just latest--is 100% kick ass. Something else to admire about this sextagenerian. When my mom was sixty, the high-light of her day was the crossword puzzle and a dip into the latest grocery store check-out Harlequin romance novel. It kept her mind alert/interested, but otherwise nothing about her was kick ass.

Recommended uses for this CD? Exercise and Housework. It'll put you a pace to cardiovascular health. Cheers!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Random Quote #65

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep need meet."

~ Frederick Buechner, 1926 -

Friday, April 06, 2007

European Advertisement

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
So what came first, the Hotdog or the Catsup? And what is being advertised?---I mean the catsup or the dog?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Spring "Break" From My Gardens #3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A photo of the voluptuous tulip magnolias with my front yard in the background. I took this on Tuesday when the high reached 83. Today was windy and cold!

I still managed to plant a hedgerow on the side yard beside the sun porch, but only got two bags of mulch down before I was just too cold to want to do any more.

There's always tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

March Casualty Statistics

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Our Latest American Hero #73

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Queens GI Killed In Iraq"

April 4, 2007 -- A soldier from Queens was killed in Iraq when he was struck by shrapnel from a truck explosion, his family said last night.

Army Spc. Brian E. Ritzberg Jr., 24, of Long Island City, died Monday, according to the Department of Defense.

His father said Ritzberg, a military police officer, had just been home on Feb. 21.

"Basically, he thought it was pretty safe in Kirkuk," he said.

The father said Ritzberg was inside a compound when a truck loaded with explosives and driven by a suicide bomber hit sandbags. "A piece of shrapnel got him," the dad said.

The elder Ritzberg said his son had thought about an Army career "but after being in Iraq, he wanted out." He planned to work in computers or as a cop.

"He was just a very good kid," his father said.

On his MySpace page, Ritzberg wrote that family was the "most important thing life has to offer. When the world turns its back on you they will always be there."

"My Sweet Lord"

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Perhaps you've heard the story of the chocolate Jesus sculpture slated for exhibition in a gallery in New York City? How outrage over the concept killed it? Well here's what all the fuss is about.

And it's hard to know where to begin in commenting on this one. Conservative Christians by and large prefer to ignore all things sexual (no doubt contributing to there general anger at life and desire to force others into their puritanical little box.) So first off there is the issue of his penis. To this I say, it appears to have been God's choice to give the Savior of the World a cock. Denying it would seem at least some form of blasphemy.

Second there is the chocolate thing. Christ has been successfully and prolifically portrayed in various type of stone and wood, also metal, and concrete; and perhaps most ubiquitously of all--plastic. But chocolate? Something edible? Something leaning toward fetish in the minds of some chocoholics. Hmmm... Over the top?

Here's what this says to me: What is the true nature of Jesus Christ? What is the true significance of the feast of Holy Communion? (And given the timing) What has Easter become?--a festival of confectionary (and most notably chocolate) delights? I do find this work of art extremely provocative. And it's almost the very definition of post-modern art to provoke the viewer. To actually make the viewer think and question their sense of their world and all of the ideas that contribute to it's infrastructure.

Is this Sacrilegious? That's a good question. And it's really at the heart of what those who successfully closed down this exhibit's thinking was. And here's where I really want to be pristine in my thoughts. I do not think that anything is sacrilegious. That anything offends the God of Unconditional Love. Because that God understands ALL things. And we are at best, confused children in that God's mind. That God needs us to be that God's defenders, like we need ants to develop the ability to mindlessly serve our every need. That God has chosen to love us, because that God is NOT HUMAN. And that God was so utterly NOT Human, that only someone who was human could represent that God's presence amongst us. An act that no mere human could hope to accomplish, and thus we were given a Messiah. Jesus Christ the hybrid, the man/the God in one package.

These are incredible, miraculous, incomprehensible ideas from a God that is just that good. And why a chocolate cock would piss off such a God is beyond me! Only human fear or arrogance could drive anyone to think that such a God needs any one of us to defend God's reputation. Thank God, that God's love IS UNCONDITIONAL.

Congratulations To Mr. Gay U. K.

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I love that a police officer can participate in this contest and find himself support by 50 members of his police unit! FIFTY!? Not even in San Francisco could you find such support...or perhaps, ONLY, there. And the other thing I love is British humor. The third paragraph in the article is as tongue-in-cheek cheeky as anything found on "The Vicar of Dibley," "Faulty Towers," or "Are You Being Served!" Cheers!

"West Yorkshire Constable Crowned Mr. Gay U.K."

A policeman has been crowned Mr Gay UK after parading in his uniform and stripping in his underwear to secure the title.

PC Mark Carter, 23, who had the full backing of West Yorkshire Police, said he was "over the moon" after picking up the award, billed as the male equivalent of Miss Great Britain.

He is expected to have a year of personal appearances and photo shoots ahead of him after beating off 25 other contestants in the final at Blackpool's Flamingo Club to win £5,000 worth of prizes.

He said: "Two years ago I used to cry myself to sleep at night, I was so daunted by the prospect of coming out, but when i did, it was the best thing ever.

"I was so happy I could finally be myself. I thought telling people I was gay would mean no one would want to know me, but at the Mr Gay UK final, I had more people together, supporting me, in one place than I've ever had in my life."

The policeman, who lives in Bradford but works on patrol in Huddersfield, had earlier told how his main reason for entering the competition was to "change the public perception of the stereotypical gay man."

"I am happy that people will be able to see that there are police officers who are gay and we are not necessarily the usual people that they see on TV programmes like Big Brother," he said.

"It will be good for other young gay men to see someone like me who has been successful in a professional job like policing."

PC Carter joined the West Yorkshire force nearly two years ago after completing a degree in sports science.

He said his colleagues had given him tremendous support over his sexuality.

"I didn't tell them straight away but one day somebody asked me and I told them," he said.

"I was nervous about how my colleagues would react but they have been absolutely brilliant."

PC Carter, who has never modelled before, qualified for the final after entering the Birmingham heat of the competition on the spur of the moment during a night out in the city with a friend.

To his own surprise he won, and the next day had to tell his commanding officer that he was Mr Gay Birmingham.

He said: "The police are a disciplined organisation and I wasn't sure how my bosses would feel about me competing to be Mr Gay UK."

Luckily they were supportive, and 50 officers went to cheer him on in Friday's grand final, where each contestant was interviewed on stage about their likes, dislikes, hobbies and job in front of a panel of judges that included Su Pollard and Anita Dobson.

PC Carter's charm and good looks stood out, and he was picked ahead of a town planner from Brighton and a sailor from Plymouth to be named the country's sexiest gay man.

Organiser Terry George said: "Mark is a great example of a young gay man achieving his goals in life.

"If anyone assumed it was just bimbos who entered competitions like this, then Mark is proving them wrong."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spring "Break" From My Gardens #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Blue and beautiful.

Our Latest American Hero #72

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Pfc. Anthony J. White, 21, of Columbia, S.C.; assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died March 25 in Baqubah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations. Also killed were Sgt. Jason W. Swiger, Cpl. Jason Nunez and Pfc. Orlando E. Gonzalez.

"S.C. Soldier Dies In Suicide Bomb Attack"

COLUMBIA, S.C. — An Army tank mechanic from South Carolina was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq, his father said March 27.

Pvt. Anthony White, 21, was one of four U.S. soldiers killed in the blast March 25, said his father, Harry White.

White is the third South Carolina soldier to die in the Middle East war effort within the past week. “He was killed on the spot,” White said.

His son was a 2003 graduate of Richland Northeast High School and played on the varsity basketball team.

White, 50, said his son followed in his footsteps, training as a tank mechanic and joining the famed 82nd Airborne.

It took his son two years to get through basic and advanced training as a mechanic at nearby Fort Jackson and train as a parachutist, he said.

“I pinned his jumpmaster wings on him. Now, I’ll put those wings on his coffin,” White said.

White, who works as a civilian mechanic at Fort Jackson, said he retired as a command sergeant major after 29 years. “It was like father, like son,” White said.

White said his son’s body had arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Del., and was expected to be sent to South Carolina in a matter of days.

“I hope we can have the funeral sometime next week. I want to bury him. I want to start healing,” White said.

Army Pfc. Joey T. Sams, 21, of Spartanburg was killed last week after he was pinned between two vehicles while serving in Kuwait, the Pentagon said. The death is under investigation.

Also killed last week was Army Sgt. Adrian J. Lewis, 30, of Mauldin, who died in Ramadi of combat wounds, the Pentagon said.

Sams and Lewis were members of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga.

What I'm Watching #73

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles" is both the title of a Chinese Folk Opera, and a metaphor for the relationship of a father and his son. Diagnosed with liver cancer, the son who harbors profound resentment over his emotional abandonment refuses to allow the father to visit him in the hospital. The son's wife, Rei, intermediates by giving the father a copy of his son's film project--a documentation of Chinese folk opera. Then the father decides to film a performance that the son was not able to as a gift to his dieing progeny. And in doing so a world that is utterly foreign to him opens up, challenges, and ultimately quickens his very humanity in ways that he had never imagined.

This is a 5 star film.

Monday, April 02, 2007

It's Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C.

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Went down to the Mall/Tidal Basin to enjoy the cherry blossoms and....HONESTLY what was I thinking? The place was as busy with tourists as a neglected slice of watermelon is with ants at a mid-July picnic! And the traffic, you don't want to know! Nothing short of a taxi, or a tour bus, or a sinless life could have gotten me anywhere near to the major attractions: The Jefferson Memorial, The Washington Monument, or the FDR Memorial.

I ended up traversing the length of Ohio Avenue around the Tidal Island. This picture was rendered at a great location, some distance from the monument. The day was nearly perfect, but my timing was off. Clearly I need to arrive in the area closer to 7 AM to find parking, and not 10 AM!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

We ALL Need To Do Our Part

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
And we all CAN make a difference.

My home has around, 1800 sq. ft. and in its 3 stories (basement, ground floor, second floor), there are 48 light bulbs. I have thus far replaced 12 of them with LED bulbs. I am committed to replace all of them with these better bulbs: these more energy efficient cadre of light bulbs.

It would cost me upwards of $300 to make a carte blanc total change, so I have chosen to make the change over time with a sense of urgency. The bulbs use less energy, last a lot longer, seem to give off the same if not more lumination. It's all win-win. Join me. Let's be winners all!