Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Carol!

Hey everyone, it's my mom's birthday!

I won't tell you how old she is (mostly cause I don't want to do the math), but she's still a cutie, eh? She's a retired French and Latin teacher who now works part-time as a children's minister at the church I grew up in. She's been married to my dad for over 40 years (yeah, I didn't want to add those numbers up either). And together, they make a pretty sweet couple.

Carol loves art museums, traveling, reading, theater, jewelry, going to the pool, eating delicious food, going to movies, and cooking (or if she doesn't, she sure does it a lot). She also loves my grandparents whom she helps take care of. Here they are last month at their sixty-something-th wedding anniversary. Whoa.

And if that weren't enough, she also loves her three daughters...

But really, who wouldn't?

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thinking and Other Fun Things

I like interesting videos. Especially ones that make my mind go places it hasn't gone before. So today's post is merely a post of interesting videos I've watched lately. Most of them come via my friend who used to write haikus. Scan thru them and see if there's one or two that interest you...

This first one is a video posted by an Australian TV show that recruits ad agencies to sell "things" people would never really sell or buy for that matter like say "An invasion on New Zealand" or as this episode shows, "A Ban On All Religion." Wow. While I (and most of them) obviously think this is a horrible idea (and an assault on human rights), it was interesting to me to see the two angles the ad agencies took to "sell" this "product." Check it out...

This second is spoof on one of my favorite movies of all time, originally owned on VHS (though I do lack the DVD version - for shame!). It is the opening scene of Disney's version of Beauty and the Beast as told by a gay man. It is titled "Bonjour, Girl."

And then there's the counterpart, "Advice for Young Girls From The Little Mermaid" by Second City. Or what a feminist hears when she hears Ariel sing. "My best feature is my voice so I sold it for plastic surgery :)"

This final set of videos arrived in my inbox the same day that I posted my thoughts on literalism and the Adam & Eve story. I guess evolution was in the air. The first video is the Miss USA 2011 contestants and their responses to the question, "Should evolution be taught in schools?" The second is a spoof of this legitimate (if startling video) titled, "Should math be taught in schools?"

Because the first video is long, I'll recap for you...
  • Best Response: Miss Vermont.
  • Worst Response: Miss Georgia even though, yes, "we're smarter than ever these days."
  • Dumbest Response: Miss Indiana who thinks we should leave the decision "up to the government... leave [evolution] out of the equation." We don't understand what you mean either.
  • Most Ridiculous Response: Miss Kentucky who said, "You can't ever have too much knowledge on any subject but I do feel evolution shouldn't be taught in schools." Are you even listening to yourself.
  • Miss Missouri: I got bored. You don't represent me. Quit being so wishy washy and SHOW ME what you're made of.
  • Miss Texas: Really? Science is just "something extra for kids to know about"? Obviously the heat has messed with your brain.
  • And Miss Hawaii... What is "creationtism"?
The spoof is short. But awesome.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Donde Esta Yogi the Bear?

Or maybe it's Smokey the Bear. Somebody the Bear. We need somebody to help us bear this burden.

The fires in Texas, specifically in and around Austin are awful.

Just. Awful.

And super scary.

Friends keep calling and texting and messaging me, "Are you okay?" and "I know you tend to freak out anyway, so I can't imagine you in a natural disaster..." or "Is it near you?"

I and my home are okay, for right now, but fires are dangerous. This video is 50 seconds long. Look how much ground the fire covers in 50 seconds.

The fires here have been burning for 3 days.

We've lost (at the latest report) all but 100 acres of Bastrop State Park. That was one of the only shaded hiking parks in the central Texas area. A very unique place. Gone. Well, the park's gone. But the fire isn't. Check out this website showing where the current fires are located in Texas. And this one shows the smoke concentrations. The news reported that astronauts in the space station can see the Bastrop fire smoke.

So can we.

That is Austin's downtown skyline (yesterday) taken from Mount Bonnell in West Austin.

The last report I heard said that over 700 homes had been affected (destroyed) by the fire. The human casualty list is very low (only 2 dead I think), which is good, but it's still a really sad, sad story.

Here's a picture from today...

Crazy. You can't imagine what it's like driving on the highway, going to work or coming home from the grocery store and seeing the smoke.

The major parts of Austin that have been hit are Steiner Ranch (where many really rich West Austiners live), Bastrop as I mentioned, Leander, and today we added a fire on Parmer near Mopac.

The amount of land that has been burned by fire in Texas this year is equivalent to the state of Connecticut. CONNECTICUT. What? What's worse, our govenor, Rick Perry (who is running for President), cut funding to our fire departments 75% this year. Yep, this was not helpful. FEMA, please come quick.

On the other side of scary though, people are being so generous. We've had volunteer fire fighters, Bastrop had to evacuate an animal shelter, I've seen posts by people on FB offering up stalls on farms for people who are trying to figure out what to do with their horses, people opening homes and bedrooms, it's really great. And Facebook has been wonderful for that.

If you want to know how to help, there are lots of places to look...

If you live in the area...
  • Austin Pets Alive has most of the animals who were in the Bastrop shelter. Foster an animal!
  • KUT lists where you can donate items for victims of the fires. So does KVUE. (I've heard the firefighters need socks). My friend (and former student!) Anna Taylor made a google map of all the places you can donate stuff. You go girl.
  • The Distribution Center for displaced people in Bastrop has been calling for volunteers. So contact them if you're free.
  • And you can help by feeding firefighters Wednesday 3:30-6:30 at the Bastrop Civic Center too!
  • Or if you own a business, how can you help others? U-Haul is offering 30 days of free storage for fire victims!
Or you can call or donate money to...
Additionally, you don't have to be in the area, but there's a call out for lawyers too. If you can take calls and help answer victims questions, contact

Overall, the Facebook Central Texas Wildfire Recovery page seems to be really helpful for people wanting to help :)

So that's the scoop. I'm fine, but others are not.