August 3rd, 2006


Leaving on a Jet Plane

Did most of my packing last night, and am now all done except for the things that get tossed into the carry-on bag. Didn't go to either of the two gatherings on my calendar, because at the last minute I could not find the AC adapters I'd bought, so needed to hit Rad Shack. Turns out I had bought the wrong ones last time, so it's good I made the trip. While I was in the area, I also hit Walmart for a picture frame. One of my gifts is a 10-inch square of embroidered cloth, which I figured I would frame instead of just giving loose. Wait for the update when I discover whether it made it through unbroken. It's in my checked bag, which is a strong metal shell, and it's packed between a bedspread and my bathrobe. Walmart was unusually crowded, and of course I got into the line with the trainee cashier and extraordinarily stupid people ahead of me. The other lines were faster, but not by much. And of course the register chose my receipt to jam up on, with no manager in sight to fix it. Took 20 minutes all told.

I would have done this trip with carry-on only, except for needing to bring along a suit for the wedding. Collapse )The cousins have volunteered to hold onto that while I traipse around the countryside, since I'll end the trip at their place. What I've done is packed the presents, which are mostly cloth, and set on top of that a day pack which has my clothes and some sundries packed inside it. By the time I leave Brighton on Monday, the presents will have been given out, a few things which are packed alongside the backpack (because the suitcase won't close if they are inside it) will go into the pack. So will my laptop and the carry-on stuff. So for my train travels I'll be working out of a medium sized day pack.

At lunchtime I stopped by the Microsoft company store and picked up some pens and a Windows Vista baseball cap, and also a T-shirt which will go to my sister when I get back home. It's white letters on black cloth, and it says "elbitapmoc sdrawkcab" in mirror image, in a sort of child's handwriting font.

I've taken out the garbage, run the dishwasher, put out my clothes for tomorrow, topped off the cats' food & water, put vacation food blocks in the aquarium, put away the stack of CDs which were in a pile on my computer desk, plugged in the Sony music player to charge, ditto the cell  phone and bluetooth earpiece.

The question is, what am I forgetting? And will it matter?
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The Mel Gibson Controversy

We live in stupid times. Al Franken is a jerk. Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League, is a jerk. Merv Adelson is an even bigger jerk.


Their inane reaction to Mel Gibson apologizing.

For those of you who have not been following the story, and for those who have been relying on a single "news" source, here's the deal.

A week ago Mel was pulled over for speeding, going almost twice the limit on a 45 mph road. He was drunk. While he was being arrested, he said to the policeman ''The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,'' and asked him, ''Are you a Jew?''

The following day, he apologized for his ''belligerent behavior'' and ''despicable'' remarks. But that wasn't enough for Franken, Foxman and Adelson. So Mel got back on the soap box and made the following statement:

"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologise specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI (driving under the influence) charge. I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.

The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God's child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.

I'm not just asking for forgiveness.

I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one-on-one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing. I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realising is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery.

Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.

This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have. It's about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad."

I heard Franken on the radio as he was read this statement. Instead of taking it in the spirit it was given, he chose to pick it apart word by word, claiming it couldn'r be sincere because of the phrase "profess to believe". As if it meant Mel didn't really believe the tenets of his faith. You're a jerk, Al.

Foxman made noises on TV to the effect that he was content with the second apology, but then wrote an op-ed piece for a major east coast daily saying he didn't think it was sincere. You're a jerk, Abe.

And after the statement came out, Adelson took out a big ad in the LA times yelling for Hollywood studios to come down hard on Mel. Merv, you're a jerk.

Mel got drunk, said some nasty things which he may or may not have believed (people who are drunk do not necessarily speak their hearts, usually they just say stupid things like "Sure I can drive home safely"). He apologized. Twice. He's getting Professional Help. He's asked the people he offended to help him change at the deepest level.

And for those who were offended by his movie Passion of the Christ, and want to tag him as anti-semitic for it, think about this: He went to the trouble of doing the film in Aramaic. It was the language which supplanted Hebrew during the latter days of the empire of Judah, and some of the Old Testament is written in it. Yet I don't see any Jews making films in Aramaic.

I say Mel has gone above and beyond. I hope the courts treat him as any other first-time offender who owns up to, and sincerely regrets the offenses he committed while drunk.

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Hello from SFO

Got to the Park'n'Fly lot at about 10:40, waited 10 minutes for a shuttle (as a couple passed by empty without stopping). The line was not too long at the United counter - maybe 20 people ahead of me, but it was slow. The lack of people in line was made up for by entire families and their assorted luggage magically appearing when the individual got to the check-in counter. It took 20 minutes to get there.

The machine read my passport, told me who I am, and offered me more leg room for an extra $99. No thanks. Then it refused to assign me a seat. Apparently the plane is a continuing flight from LA, and they assign coach class seats at the gate, which sucks. When I booked my ticket, I know it let me choose my seat. So much for the concept of reservations.

It's now 11:50, the flight doesn't load for another 40 minutes. I wandered through the duty-free store, and somehow was not surprised that the prices were a good 25-50% higher than normal retail. Also walked through a travel stuff store, and they had the same adapters I bought last night for less than Radio Shack. Oy.

The loading gate is downstairs, and I'm there now in a booth which was set up to be a phone booth, but the phone was never installed. There's an AC outlet which works, and a counter top the right size for a laptop, and a nice bench to sit on. And the airport wireless is t-mobile, which I have an account on.

This is the part of traveling I hate. Waiting. I was up at the usual time this morning, but didn't have to leave the house until 10, so there was an extra hour of waiting there too. I filled it by watching some inane morning shows on TV, then firing up the playstation and playing Time Crisis 3 left-handed.Until my arm got tired, then I switched to right-handed. Went upstairs where the cats had repossessed my bed, and  brushed them with the undercoat brush.They both needed it, especially Pumpkin, who was starting to mat up a little.

The item I forgot to pack is a jacket, which I remembered just before heading out the door.