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April 21, 2016

It rained this morning in Minneapolis. A legend died.

Prince died in his home in suburban Chanhassen. An artist, guitarist, singer and songwriter, Prince had an unrestrained style that at times mixed Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Little Richard but was uniquely his own.

He wrote his own music, wrote music for others, and stood up for his beliefs. He was 57.

Music Association: Prince - Purple Rain
Twin Cities Calendar: April 21-22, 11pm-7am Prince memorial block party, First Avenue (free)
Twin Cities Calendar: April 30, 1pm-6pm  Prince block party, Sabathani Community Center, 310 E 38th St, Minneapolis (free) - wear purple

commercial review
Waste Not, Want Not
April 14, 2016

I subscribe to a philosophy of waste not, want not. It is an absence of wasting and wanting.

It helps me enjoy the now -- this moment -- with focus. I enjoy being. I am part of nature. Repair improves upon what is, internally and externally.

This philosophy does so much with so little. It is a trail to a positive attitude. It is a path away from climate change. {Climate change side note: Sir David Attenborough discusses the undiscussed, undercurrent multiplier of climate change.}

Waste not, want not is so much an ingrained part of me that I sometimes forget about the commercial world. I don't watch much television, and I usually mute the commercials. A recent Sprint commercial slipped by the mute-barrier by involving visuals and reading. I know!

Reading: normal for foreign film subtitles, weird for commercials. The ad said, “How it feels to get a new iPhone every year,” and then a woman dances. I don't get it.
Zero stars.

How it feels to get a new iPhone every year

Music Association: Beatles - Can't Buy Me Love
More Information: Union of Concerned Scientists - Climate Deception (pdf)

movie review
Batman v. Superman
March 26, 2016
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
The Batman v. Superman movie opened with a man and woman climbing outside a destroyed skyscraper in a post-apocalyptic Chicago.

After about six minutes, the movie theater realized it started the wrong post-apocalyptic movie. I find the easy mistake hilarious.

Post-apocalyptic movies have been around since The War of the Worlds, but post-911 over-reacting Hollywood thinks each blockbuster needs more toppled skyscrapers than the last. And that's the world of the Batman v. Superman movie.

Apparently the movie takes place after the carnage of the last Superman movie, which I didn't see.

I'm a fan of Superman, but I didn't recognize Superman in the trailers enough to see the last movie. Here's the Superman basics: he's super and at heart a man -- a good guy. Warner Brothers and DC Comics, the filmmakers and publishers of Superman, forget these simple details these days. Either Superman is powerless or not raised by good people or not a good guy. And for some reason, Clark Kent is a newspaper sports reporter.

The Batman v. Superman movie takes the Superman confusion and uses it to reboot Batman, vaguely. Taking the movie at face value, Bruce Wayne becomes Batman (spoiler?!?) after the destruction of the last Superman movie and has no aversion to using guns.

In real world terms, the reason Batman didn't stop 911 was because he hadn't decided to become Batman yet. Oh. What?

So it's not that "criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot," it's that alien invaders are a superstitious cowardly lot? So why does Batman need a mask?
Criminals or terrorists or aliens are a superstitious cowardly lot
Both Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor are spurred to stop Superman due to the destructive events of the last film. Both kill and steal to obtain what they need. Because the filmmakers have given Lex Luthor the personality of the Joker, we know he's the bad guy and supposedly Batman is the good guy.

I didn't see Batman v. Superman for either Batman or Superman. I went to see it for Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman stole the show.

Can the filmmakers keep her a good, strong character with her caring as her greatest strength and her greatest weakness? We'll see.one star

Music Associations: Colin Hay - Overkill & REM - End of the World

February 3, 2016

I'm a shoveling machine
   a snowplow on legs
keeps me moderately lean
   carrying snow like shovels full of eggs.

In the course of snowy urban events
   snow placement decisions
empty snow shovel contents
    in best snow drift divisions.

But when the obstacles are cleared
   and snow can be thrown distances
My adrenaline gets all weird
   and I throw snow without resistances.

Music Association: John Legend (for Bruce Springsteen) - Dancing In The Dark

Happy New Year
Spectacular CAAM Chinese Dance
February 2, 2016

The CAAM Chinese Dance Theater presented “One Earth, One Home” at The O'Shaughnessy last weekend.

The twelve dances celebrating the Chinese lunar new year were a spectacular combination of the dancers, costumes, music, and special effects.

The dancers rose from the mists of River Town Life to open the show, followed by 32 Geese and their effective costumes and choreography. The motions and goldfish-like costumes in Tales of Good Fortune created flowing fins swirling across the stage.  The balance of man and nature was beautifully illustrated in the Fisherman and His Ospreys. The winter blizzard dance in the Brightest Flowers was a marvel of winter dancers and Hollywood-surpassing special effects, telling the story of two sisters who saved their 384 sheep during a Mongolian blizzard in 1964.

The Golden Peacocks were the pinnacle of the show. They were absolutely outstanding -- a fantastic mix of dance and costumes!

Choreographer Lili Teng, dance instructor Ying Li, the dancers, and everyone else connected with this production should be proud of their achievement. Well done!

CAAM Chinese Dance - golden peacocks

Music Associations: Adele - Skyfall & David Bowie - Let's Dance 

Less-Wintery Winter Carnival
February 1, 2016

The 2016 St. Paul Winter Carnival was fully carnivalling this past weekend.

I was near Rice Park explaining a set of parking signs to a couple and swung by the ice sculpture contest at the State Fairgrounds.

If it weren't for the wind, it would be balmy. The sunshine and the warmer-than-freezing temperatures gave the ice sculptures a less sharp, less permanent look.

2016 St. Paul Winter Carnival ice sculptures

Music Association:  Gwen Stefani - We're Cool

NFC North Division Champions
Vikings 20 - Packers 13
 Minnesota Vikings
January 4, 2016

Last night, the Minnesota Vikings won the NFC North division by beating the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field with a score of 20 to 13.

Field goals started the game. The Viking's Blair Walsh got three. The Packers got three, tying the game early. The Vikings got another three. The Vikings got a touchdown and another touchdown. Then in the third quarter, the Packers seemed to have taken over with ten unanswered points. Some heart-thumping late-game turnovers from the Vikings kept the Packers holding the ball but the Vikings defense kept them from scoring.

Despite all the Packer praises from slurring-commentator Chris Collinsworth, the Packers just couldn't beat the Vikings again.

Way to go Vikings!

Music Association: Carrie Underwood - Sunday Night Football

movie review
Hunger Games - Mockingjay 2
December 14, 2015

Weeks ago, I saw the Hunger Games movie franchise finale, Hunger Games - Mockingjay 2, and I said nothing.

It was a contractually obligatory film with all the heart and passion of a contractually obligatory film. For weeks, I haven't wanted to talk about the film. I still don't. Instead I will quote Jennifer Lawrence from October 2015 regarding gender inequity in the movie industry.

When it comes to the subject of feminism, I’ve remained ever-so-slightly quiet. I don’t like joining conversations that feel like they’re “trending.” I’m even the asshole who didn’t do anything about the ice-bucket challenge — which was saving lives — because it started to feel more like a “trend” than a cause. I should have written a check, but I fucking forgot, okay? I’m not perfect. But with a lot of talk comes change, so I want to be honest and open and, fingers crossed, not piss anyone off.

It’s hard for me to speak about my experience as a working woman because I can safely say my problems aren’t exactly relatable. When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need. (I told you it wasn’t relatable, don’t hate me).

But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.” At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being “difficult” or “spoiled.” This could be a young-person thing. It could be a personality thing. I’m sure it’s both. But this is an element of my personality that I’ve been working against for years, and based on the statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue. Are we socially conditioned to behave this way? We’ve only been able to vote for what, 90 years? I’m seriously asking — my phone is on the counter and I’m on the couch, so a calculator is obviously out of the question. Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t “offend” or “scare” men?
Jennifer Lawrence in 2015
A few weeks ago at work, I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-bullshit way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, “Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!” As if I was yelling at him. I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.

I’m over trying to find the “adorable” way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that. I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard. Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I’m sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share. Again, this might have NOTHING to do with my vagina, but I wasn’t completely wrong when another leaked Sony email revealed a producer referring to a fellow lead actress in a negotiation as a “spoiled brat.” For some reason, I just can’t picture someone saying that about a man.

Music Association:  Am Radio - I Just Wanna Be Loved

November 19, 2015
updated U.S. History Timelines
After six years of history, I finally updated my U.S. History Timelines. Sorry about letting history get away from me like that. I hope people continue to enjoy them. 

Music Association: Pink Floyd - Time

Vive la France
November 14, 2015

Destruction is easy.
Creation is tough.

Making things better...
brightening people's days...
making the world safer...
shining a light in the darkness...

That takes effort.
That's what has value.

Terrorism is the pinnacle of bullying
the very top of the bottom
and it only fuels the fires it fights.

Love should always be
the beginning and the end.

Last month, Jewel signed a copy of her book Never Broken for me and I wished her, “may all your hopes and dreams come true.”

I'm on chapter 11. I will fully review her book when I finish it, but in the meantime I will tell you, so far so good, which is a wonderful thing to say about any life story. Waiting in the wings, is I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.

For either woman, life is no picnic. Both women have chosen to create rather than destroy. They continue to inspire through their strength and bravery in the face of adversity.

May Paris and Beirut heal and feel waves of the world's compassion washing away the hatred and the blood-stained streets and theatres.

Music Associations: Jewel - Everything Breaks & Beatles - All You Need Is Love

Buy their books on Amazon:

Terrorists are a superstitious cowardly lot.

You shouldn't have signed it.

The Vikings Grounded The Chargers
The Vikings Unfastened The Bolts
The Vikings Dodged The Chargers!

September 27, 2015

Minnesota Vikings 31 - San Diego Chargers 14

The Minnesota Vikings grounded the Chargers passing game and dodged the Chargers defense to win at the cloudlessly sunny TCF Stadium.

Also, Adrian Peterson's wife, Ashley, gave birth to the couple's second son Axyl Eugene Peterson at about 9 in the morning. Peterson was at the hospital and back in time for the noon kick-off. Peterson rushed 20 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns in his 100th Vikings start.

Double congrats, All-Day, way to rush!

Minnesota Vikings dodged the Chargers

Adrian Peterson gets a defensive hug from the San Diego Chargers

Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader

Music Association: The Babys - Isn't It Time

Hopes and Dreams

small world
September 16, 2015

Music is important to me, but so is cellular biology.

Oh, the cellular biology stories I could tell you:
  1. Once upon a time, there were five or six kingdoms covering all life. Then a great re-shuffling occurred in the dark days of disco. With a wave of the hand and a sway of the hips, the kingdoms were gone, and the three domains (archaea, bacteria, & eukaryote) were full of life.

  2. Remember when you ate something, and it made you feel like something was taking over inside of you? That's what happened 1.8 billion years ago, give or take 200 million years. There was this hungry archaeon that ate bacterium, Pac-man style, but it didn't digest the bacterium. The bacterium was too big. The bacterium decided to get even bigger and become bacteria. It was the big moment for all bigger than single-celled organisms...

  3. Cellular Babushka™ -- the nesting dolls that make science fun! Inside the cellular membrane is the endoplasmic reticulum. Inside that is the nucleus. And inside the nucleus is the nucleolus. What could be more fun! Best of all, the Cellular Babushka™ is safe in water because it's mostly water! Order yours today.
People are reading DNA today (making sense of God's margin notes) from the nucleus DNA. Others looked at mitochondrial DNA and agree that it is clearly alphaproteobacteria. And others are looking at the cellular membrane itself -- the cytoskeleton (the Pac-man) to discover which archaea did the original eating.

Thijs Ettema from Sweden's Uppsala University reported in the May 14, 2015 issue of Nature that he and his colleagues found a single-celled match to the cytoskeleton DNA. They found archaea under the Greenland Sea (off the coast of the Norwegian island of Svalbard) at a volcanic vent called Loki’s Castle. They named the archaea, Lokiarchaeota.

So there seems to be ancestral Lokiarchaeote in all of us.archaea pac-man

Music Association: Sherman Brothers - It's A Small World

appliance review
Dry Idea
August 31, 2015

I think my dryer is broke. N.

Broken. My dryer has money. Loose change. Laundered money. That's not it. I think it is solidly broken.

It's making weird noises. Sometimes it sounds like it's doing imitations of other appliances. It was sounding like a lawn mower starting up. Now a shaver. A rock tumbler. A shaver in a rock tumbler. It sounds like a leaf blower tied to the propeller of a plane. Now it's a can opener in the microwave.

The dryer is throwing around more loose parts than an Ikea convention.

I think my dryer is broke. N.

broke n dryer

Music Association:  Jimmy Ruffin - Broken Hearted

movie review
July 25, 2015

Nothing spoils a movie like great expectations. Minions is the spin-off movie from Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, and it's more despicably bad than either of the other two movies.

The problem is that if you establish a whole species of characters who talk in a kind of gibberish with near-English and near-Spanish, you can't have them suddenly speak clearly and distinctly, just because you are concerned the audience isn't going to get what is going on.

If you establish a whole species of characters who do their own things and are easily distracted by emotional responses, you can't set them out on a quest.

The continuity police should have arrested the movie with continuity police brutality, early-minion style.

The overall problem with Minions is the creators felt obligated to have a Plot with a capital P, which led them to having to introduce a quest and clear-language and making the minions... I really don't want to have to say this... serious. The movie even had a part-time narrator.

The movie theater I saw Minions in about a week ago was half-full of kids and parents expecting a fun movie. The movie trailers got laughs. The movie kept audience attention but only received a few laughs here and there.

Not every movie needs a plot. Not every movie needs clear language.

Minions cartoons are like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons. They were funnier in the beginning.

Rating: two minions out of five
Music Association: Pharrell Williams - Despicable

Iran Deal - no nukes

Historic Iran & World Nuclear Deal
July 15, 2015

The nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the world powers limits Iran's nuclear abilities and opens Iranian facilities to inspection. It's a big deal.

Not huge, but big.

The agreement is against nuclear bombs: nuclear bombs are bad. No more lines being drawn in the sand. Iran and the world powers are talking again, as they should. Iran belongs on the world stage and in the global economy. Congress should ratify the agreement and talks should begin with Iran about ISIS, Syria, and human rights violations.

But this nuclear deal is not huge. In order to be huge, the nuclear threat would have to have been a serious threat.

Several years ago I listed the historical threats:

The Iran Threat

As reported here in February 2012 and August 2012, Israel and the U.S. have been crying wolf [sources: 1, 2, 3] for years about Iran nearly having the bomb:
In 1984, the British defense magazine, Jane’s Defence Weekly said “Iran is engaged in the production of an atomic bomb, likely to be ready within two years.” The article based their estimate on the minimum time for West German engineering firms to complete one of two unfinished  nuclear reactors at Bushehr.
In 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini said Iran needed atomic weapons to win the Iran-Iraq War.
In 1992, Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999, according to Shimon Peres, then Israeli Prime Minister.
In 1992, Iran was 3-5 years from producing a nuclear weapon, said Israeli parliamentarian Benjamin Netanyahu.
In 1992, the CIA said Iran would have the bomb in 2000.
In 1996, Iran would have nuclear weapons by 2004, according to Ehud Barak, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In 1997, Iran President Rafsanjani declared that Iran "hates nuclear and chemical weapons. 'Yes, some say we must have the atomic bomb,' says an Iranian official. 'But we can't afford it. The political consequences are too much trouble, and it's expensive.'" But the U.S. believes Iran will acquire nuclear weapons in 8-10 years. 
In 1998, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld reported to Congress that Iran could build an intercontinental ballistic missile, that could hit the U.S., within five years. The CIA gave a time frame of 12 years.
In 2002, President Bush said Iran was aggressively pursuing weapons of mass destruction.
In 2005, a National Intelligence Estimate said Iran is moving determinedly toward a 2015 nuclear arsenal.
In 2009, a U.S. Senate report by John Kerry said, "There is no sign that Iran's leaders have ordered up a bomb. But... Iran has moved closer to completing the three components for a nuclear weapon: fissile material, warhead design and delivery system... Deadlines have come and gone with Iran and so have predictions about when it might have a nuclear weapon."
In 2010, Iran was scheduled to have its nuclear bomb in March of 2011. (The Stuxnet attack began in June 2010.)
Now the talk is that Iran will have nuclear weapons between 2013 and 2015.

It's always just around the corner.
Israel wants to stop Iran. They may attack Iran. Emily Alpert at the Los Angeles Times put together this great list of Israel To Attack Iran headlines:
August 2004: The New York Times, Sharon on the warpath: Is Israel planning to attack Iran?
March 2005: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Israel has plans to attack Iran, says London Times 
December 2007: The Daily Beast, What Will Israel Do? 
February 2008: Haaretz, Pentagon: Israel increasingly likely to attack Iran 
May 2008: The Daily Star (Lebanon), As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon 
July 2008: The Atlantic, Will Israel Attack Iran?, ABC News, Will Israel Attack Iran?
April 2009: Salon.com, Will Israel attack Iran? 
August 2009: Talking Points, Will Israel Attack Iran This Year?, LA Times, Expect Israel to hit Iran without warning
April 2010: Middle East Post, Will Israel attack Iran? 
August 2010: The Week, Will Israel attack Iran in the next three days?
November 2010: The Atlantic, Will Israel Attack Iran by Christmas?
November 2011: Chicago Tribune, Will Israel bomb Iran?

So yesterday's announcement of the nuclear agreement with Iran is big and is historic, but it's more about bringing Iran back to the world stage.

Music Association: Flock of Seagulls - Iran So Far Away
Music Association-Association: The most recent episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee featured Steven Colbert. Colbert and Seinfeld launched into several music associations within 17 minutes.

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