Monday, March 30, 2015

Lent sacrifice, a heretic's POV

I've heard that a lot from people of late, because I've chosen to give up television (and Hulu/Netflix/Amazon Prime) for Lent.  With one morale related lapse (my house was down, so I ordered a Guardians of the Galaxy Night) and assuming my willpower won’t erode in the next 6 days, I’ll have done it.

But why? While most Lutherans (and I do still consider myself a Lutheran, albeit a heretic, and not ELCA) do observe Lent, I do not remember ever giving up anything for Lent.  Nor do I remember non-Catholic friends giving up anything, but Catholic friends, yes.  I remember a friend who gave up pizza for lent in High School, but then we were on a fieldt rip on a paddle wheeler, and all we had was pizza…

So why this year?  Well, part of it is a matter of Will.  I am a heretic, if a well read one.  I’m looking at old practices and rituals, to bring me closer to G_d.  I wanted to see if I could make a commitment to Him and myself, and give up something that is common and everyday.  It has been enlightening on many levels.

First few days were, of course, the hardest.  To (maybe incorrectly) use the term from Judaism, my yetzer ra, was trying loopholes. “You could watch Prime on the computer, that’s not breaking it…  Catholics eat meat on Fridays…” and I was tempted.  As I’m fond of saying, I’m a Hermit, not a Saint.  Then, it got easier.  I listened to audiobooks and the radio.  I've been listening to the Bible as well, I read more.  The temptation was still there, but I resisted.

The more I did, the more I realized what the purpose of the sacrifice was to me.  It started as proving I could do it, but it evolved into something more.  A realization that I didn't *need* what I gave up.  A separation from the distraction and the ensnarements of the mortal world.  Does that sound vaguely Gnostic?  Maybe, but I don’t know that I’m in a hurry to catch up on The Flash, Agents of Shield, or any of the other shows I enjoy.

I joked years ago, I gave up organized religion for Lent.  It’s not far from the truth, I left the ELCA years ago, in part because of their stance on Israel, and in part because they seemed to be embodying the worst aspects of a hierarchy.  Checking over the ELCA webpage, the repeating of the lies of Ferguson, their condemnation of Israel’s right to build in their own lands, and other official documents do not make me regret this choice. 

So this past Lenten season has gone from a challenge to a revelation, and has strengthened myself in a dark time.  He has again shown me the Way, and maybe a new view in the complexities of how His will, self-determination, and the promise of His Son all interact into one greater whole.  So while it is a time of great grief, amplified for me with the upcoming anniversary of losing Donna, it’s been a quite time of revelation as well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Long strange trip to Florida.

Well, that was a jaunt. We left at 8:45 Sunday morning, stopping just for gas and leg stretching. Rocky got bored after a bit and tried to crawl into my lap. The phrase, “Are we there yet?” was clear in his eyes.

If G_d was my copilot, and Rocky was sidekick, then Bear McCreary was on morale duty. Except for the We are the Fallen CD in the first queue, it was all Battlestar. If not for traffic, I'd have made it to Macon just on BSG. Thanks to traffic I came into the hotel parking lot to the sweet sounds of Caprica.

Slept well once the room got to “Ohio Habittable” conditions (meaning turning the AC up to full blast). We launched about 9:00 Monday morning, and got gas at a Kroger's. Felt nostalgic. Krogers, Supercuts, GNC store all in one strip mall. Could have been Ohio. :-)

Then things went to hell. More construction as we left G_d forsaken Georgia (No, really. We should burn Atlanta every 10 years or so.) First, more construction. Then the rain. Gods above the rain! In addition to my MPG going to hell, I got all the cloud cover of Ohio, with all the heat and humidity of Florida. Rocky isn't happy with all the thunder.

Fortunately the rain seems to have broken. I have to run tomorrow morning to get Beggin Strips and maybe some benedryl for Rocky. At least now that I have the correct GPS in the phone I can find my way back.

I needed a couple of pairs of shorts, so we hunted down the local Big or Tall shop.  Sheryl picked up a couple of shirts for dad and paid for mine.  So of course when I ran to get dinner I paid for it.  Yes they'll be mad.  They'll live.

Even though I left the big camera at home, I hope to get some photos. If not here, then on the trip to the Space Coast and on the way home.

Enough for now, more tomorrow.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Trust? I'd rather verify, thanks.

By now, most of my friends have (hopefully) read the articles about the Stasi-like levels of survelance on American citizens, by their own Government.  The official reply of the President of the United States is “Trust us, it’s for your own good.”
I wonder if they tested saying it is the “Shield and Sword of the Party.”
Obama said “nobody is listening to your phone calls.” Not surprisingly… this too is a lie.  And a strawman, of course.  No one was accusing the NSA of listening to everyone’s phone calls, but now we know they do ‘accidentally’ listen to our phone calls.
The big concern is “Metadata”.  This isn’t listening to your calls, it’s collecting data on who you call.  The New Yorker ran an excellent article on this.  To sum up, patterns can be drawn from who you call and where your cell phone is.  One example given is, your phone shows you at the oncologist.  It then displays calls of 15+ minutes length to your sister, parents, and your PCP.  What can be inferred from that data, gathered over the course of a couple hours?
Now apply this to other aspects of your life.  Are you a TEA party member?  Well they can tell who you call and how long you talk (assuming they don’t ‘accidentally’ listen in).  Then they can tell who the people you talk to talked to, etc. etc.
But “Trust us” is the answer to critics.
This is only half the story.  The other half is PRISM and its undisclosed relations. Unlike the suspiciously specific denials of the NSA on the not ‘intentionally’ listening in, PRISM *does* collect and gather information. As detailed here, among other sources, our e-mails are being read, skyping being monitored, etc.
What does this mean for the average innocent American?  Plenty.  Ever accidentally mistyped a URL and gone to a porn site?  Ever intentionally gone to a porn site? Ever sent your SO risqué pictures while he’s on a long distance trip? Ever ridden the bus? That data could very well be sitting in some server in Utah.
Perhaps most importantly, does this make us safer?  It doesn’t appear so, despite claims to the contrary.  The data on the Boston Bombers was there, and not acted on.  The data on the Ft. Hood terrorist attack was there, and not acted on.  But don’t worry, the government will be right on top of that, right after they get done persecuting Americans for their beliefs, leaking information on farmers to environmental groups, and leaking tax returns to political oppponents.

“You can trust us,” Says Obama.  I prefer to follow Reagan’s mantra.  “Trust, but verify.”

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Technological aside

Amazon's free app of the day today was the SAS Survival Guide.  I grabbed it and was amused.  "Gee," I thought, "this would help in the zombie apocalypse, clear up until the battery in my kindle died."

Then I thought.  "No way..."


This just amuses me.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wonder Woman pt V - And Steve Trevor…

Alas, poor Steve.  Writers never seem to know what to do with him.  If a cast without any men is called a ‘sausage fest’ what is a cast with no men?  A Lesbian Spank Inferno?
So Steve provides the primary male component to a mostly female cast.  Yay diversity!  But who is Steve Trevor?  He is in some ways, the hardest character to get a handle on in an ensemble, harder than Diana even.  You don’t want him to be just comic relief, or (ironically) reduced to a Damsel in Distress for Diana to rescue ever week.  Likewise, the show’s based around Wonder Woman, and not called “Steve Trevor and his breastacular friends,” So he can’t save the day every time. Balancing his role and gender in this is a tricky act, and one many writers have failed on.
My Steve Trevor is in his 40’s, a career officer.  While he can, and will, be overwhelmed by the things he encounters weekly, he will be almost unflappable in a British way.  Think of Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, played by the amazing, and sorely missed, Nicholas Courtney
Clearly this is going to cause tension between him and the rest of the cast.  And clearly he’ll change his viewpoints over time.  He may be able to protect Etta and Donna, but Diana?  Seriously?
Aside, stealing from James Robinson’s wonderful Earth-2 work, the word ‘Superhero’ doesn't exist on my show.  Instead any sort of costumed being is called a ‘Wonder’ as Wonder Woman is the first more than human character seen.
So who plays Steve Trevor?  He’s going to be the eldest of the cast, a man in his 40’s.  In my dream world, it’s Chris O’Donnell.  He’s matured a lot as an actor, and he works good in an Ensemble, like NCIS.

Up next?  The big girl herself, and the one person I think can play her.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Wonder Woman IV - Who is Donna Troy?

For those of us who are familiar with the comics, this is a loaded question.
A little background to bring people up to speed.  Back in the Golden Age of comics, Wonder Woman would have adventures with her younger selves, Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot.  The comics were clear that they were Wonder Woman at previous stages of her life. Editorial forgot that little fact, and thus was Wonder Girl became a full-fledged character.  Really.
Unfortunately the character has suffered from the sketchy background.  Many attempts have been made over the past 40+ years to give her a background rather than ‘teen Wonder Woman’ with mixed results.  Donna has been tossed into limbo with the DC reboot.
So, the original question remains.  Who is Donna Troy?  In my series, Donna’s still an orphan, in her teens.  Her mom is Etta, rather than being a foundling discovered by Diana.  She would quickly develop a sort of hero worship for Diana, leading to some friction between Diana and Etta.  She also would be the one to play off Diana’s lack of modern culture, allowing for some humor.  If Donna is working on school work, and says “It’s Greek to me.” Diana would be the one to straight-faced say, “No, that appears to be English.”  Donna does not have (initially) any superhuman powers, though the idea of her ‘borrowing’ artifacts to give her powers for an episode are not out of reach (this would also be a nod to Cassie Sandsmark’s original origin).
So who plays Donna Troy?  I’ve two people in mind, given that the role (and actress) would invariably grow older.  If we want a younger Donna, I’d cast Kiara Glasco.  This young actress blew me away in Copper, and I’d love to see her in a more heroic character.  For a more mature Donna (late teens) I’d cast Hanna Leigh.  This 17 year old caught my attention in an episode of Body of Proof, and her ‘innocent to psycho in 10 seconds’ act made me want to see her in a regular role.  With Ms. Glasco, I’d likely tease her getting superpowers (including the Cassie Sandsmark reference above) and stretch out the tease over a few seasons, to let the actress mature.  With Ms. Leigh, I’d go with her being exposed to the Amazon’s Purple ray at the beginning of season 2, and ‘officially’ make her Wonder Girl in season 3.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Equal protection.

Watching a thing on Pot growing in California.  I don't smoke it myself, and I'm not in California, but I am bothered by the mentality of the California cops on the show.  "I can't bust you, but I can bring the feds in and bust you," is wrong. Growing drugs, food, making items etc, for yourself shouldn't be a Federal issue, and I am upset at the idea of state police calling in the feds because they can't prosecute people they disagree with.  Especially in California, where they make an effort to impede the feds in their actual duties.  "I don't like you, so I'm going to call the feds to bust you if you can't." flies in the face of "You're breaking the state and federal laws, and we're going to keep them from arresting you."