Friday, March 7, 2008

Much ado about nothing.

The nitwit patrol is out in Trenton this week, and I was once again reminded why I don't watch local news. This one comes from nitwit #1, named L.A. Parker, who works (allegedly) for The Trentonian, one of the local rags that publishes bird cage liner in Trenton, New Jersey. To wit...
TRENTON - Internet photos of a local school director who lives a second life as a biker chick for her boyfriend-boss are serving as eye candy for students under her supervision. Photos lingering on the World Wide Web of the 20-something Kelly Zimmerman, a former Titusville Academy teacher turned director of Lighthouse Academy in Ewing, show the hot divorcee in fine form and working a July crowd into a frenzy at Del’s July Fry in Englishtown.
The adolescent boys at Lighthouse Academy - an institution that serves male students with social and emotional problems - could see Zimmerman in an entirely different light as she struts in her bikini and black heels or watches as other bikini babes show off.
Cheeky snapshots of the well-bottomed Zimmerman have become a hot commodity for some students and Internet voyeurs
I went through 7 pages of Google images and 11 pages of Yahoo images and couldn't find the "cheeky snapshots". Lucky for me her photo was on the front page of The Trentonian, the holier than thou publication that seems to enjoy poking at people with a sharp stick. How did I see it? The local news, of course. NBC10 sent Harry Hairston, (a.k.a. Nitwit #2) one of their drone reporters to the Lighthouse Academy digging for dirt and found ... nothing. So, we were treated to two minutes of a newspaper front page and a lot of here say and speculation disguised as news.
I think it's great that the newspaper can write a story and not even know how old she is. "20-something". We're now supposed to believe that the reporter did his due diligence and dug deeply into the story. Judging by his vocabulary and writing skills, I'd say he didn't do either.
A Zimmerman critic who asked for anonymity called the director’s bikini performance “hypocritical.” “In several of the photos you can see that she is dancing in front of young boys. I don’t know if that’s the way she should be acting,” the critic said.
I'd question the anonymity of a critic who declares someone else to be hypocritical. Who are you and why won't you tell us your name?
One detractor spanked Zimmerman on ethics.
“They are supposed to be teaching their students to take responsibility for their actions, instead she blatantly lied. What does that teach children?”
I'm not sure what it teaches the children. What do you teach your children? If you can tell me your children never lie and take responsibility for their actions, then maybe their teacher isn't a big problem. Otherwise, I'd be willing to bet that you shouldn't be throwing stones.
Still, Ms. Zimmerman will likely surprise a few students who manage to find her photos on Internet Web sites.
It would surprise me if they could find them at all. The only photos I could find were the ones I cut and pasted from the television report which came from the newspaper, who we could say contributed to the frenzy by publishing them. Since when are newspapers in the business of making news?
By the way, should a professional writer (as L.A. Parker claims to be) be using redundant phrases like "Internet web sites"? Are there web sites that aren't on the Internet? And, web isn't capitalized either, nitwit. And what does "well bottomed" mean? Maybe Parker is a student at Lighthouse Academy.
What it amounted to was a girl (Zimmerman, presumably) in a two-piece bathing suit on stage in front of some other people. The fact that the newspaper calls it a "bikini" shows that they don't really know what a bikini is. But, bikini looks good in print, so why not curve the facts for a good story, right? Do you think she has ever worn that bathing suit on a beach? What makes that any different than a stage at a motorcycle-rider gathering?
I guess what we're supposed to take out of this story is that a school administrator isn't supposed to wear a two-piece bathing suit in public and (God forbid) have her photo taken wearing one. Meanwhile, the parents of these kids are allowed to do whatever they want. That makes good nonsense.
For the sake of a racy story, both NBC10 and The Trentonian have bought into the idea that school administrators are supposed to be held to a higher standard than the parents of the kids who are in the school. Suppose one of the other parents was a "bikini-babe"? Would the newspaper splash that on the front page? I'm guessing not.
It's about time we established some standards and stopped harassing people who - on their own time - are engaging in activities that are both legal and enjoyable to themselves and those around them.
Let's stop using words like "biker babe" and "hot divorcee" unless we are ready to hold ourselves to those same standards.
Chances are, she's a good administrator and I'd bet that up until this nonsense appeared in the newspaper or on television, nobody who sends their child to that school knew or thought anything different about Kelly. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that they liked her and thought highly of her. The TV reporter could only find one alleged parent who smirked at the story and didn't have much to say, which didn't stop the reporter from including it in his story.
Notice to all teachers, school administrators and people involved with children:
Stop. Stop whatever you're doing. Whatever it is. Drinking, watching porn, gambling (legally), masturbating, coughing, sneezing, farting, riding a motorcycle, wearing two-piece bathing suits, owning more than 3 cats, nude sunbathing or anything that may otherwise seem objectionable to the small numbers of people who may want to cause trouble for you because you're not supposed to be a normal person leading a normal life.
There are kids out there who need their parents to do those things so that they can later blame you for screwing them up with your rotten educational system.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Looking out my back door.

I know, it's a cheap rip-off of that Creedence song, but that's what the photo is, so give me a break.
On my drive home from the gym, I listen to Kids Corner, the local public radio show that is supposed to be for kids (hence the name) but I find it kind of relaxing, and the music they play is a welcomed change from the adult-oriented-rock (the so-called AOR) that gets played on so-called adult radio.
Kathy O'Connell (the host) had Derrick Pitts from the Franklin Institute's Fels Planetarium on the show, talking about the evening sky and which constellations we would see if we looked outside during the spring, which I hear is coming soon. They call it "Deep Space, with our Sky Guy Derrick Pitts". It's a kids show.
He also told us that on a normal evening, approximately 10 objects enter the Earth's atmosphere and flash across the sky like meteors. If we look up, at any given moment, we have a pretty good chance of seeing something streaking across the sky.
I took the camera and the wide-angle lens out on the wood deck and pointed it at Orion, my favorite constellation. What, you don't have a favorite constellation?
Sure enough, something streaked across the sky. I'm guessing it's a meteor or a particle of some satellite that I was lucky enough to catch with the camera. It couldn't be that I'm in the flight path of Philadelphia International Airport and it's merely a passing jet. No, that's not it at all. It's a meteor streaking across the sky, luckily burning up in the atmosphere before it reached the ground. (Click on the picture and it will expand)
Meanwhile, the cat has me worried.
Lately, he's been sitting in the kitchen staring at the stove as though there was a small animal in there - or a meteor. Whatever, it's creeping me out. I go looking for him, and there he is sitting in the kitchen staring at the floor in front of the stove. Don't believe me? Here's a photo to prove it. Just like the meteor, it's inexplicable.

Weird right? I thought so too.

Ten ideas you can't possibly use.

I’ve realized what my perfect job would be. Writing advice columns with answers so obvious that my cat could think of them – and I’d get paid for it. In other words, telling you what you already know. On my 1040 form, under “occupation” it would read “Dispensing useless information.”
Here’s the latest example from Yahoo, under the heading “10 Tips to Cut Car Costs.” It sounds like must-reading, right? After all, oil is at $105 a barrel, so we can all use some helpful tips. It's copyrighted by The Kiplinger Magazine editors - probably because it's so stupid that nobody at the office wanted to put their name on it. I couldn't resist - **click**.

Buy a Used Car. Genius! Or, you could just keep your new car, since technically it’s used now.
Buy a Sipper, Not a Guzzler. This one is particularly useful, since the writer figures that we don’t know that big cars generally get worse gas mileage than smaller ones. They even go so far to provide math...
Drive 1,200 miles per month in a car that averages 18 miles per gallon, and you'll spend $187 per month (at $2.80 per gallon). Drive a car that averages 25 miles per gallon, and you'll spend $134 per month -- a savings of $53 per month, or $636 per year.
No more calls please, the Nobel Committee has determined it’s prize winner in the Math category.
Re-shop Your Car Insurance. Another smooth one. Can you save money by getting cheaper insurance? You betcha. The Jeopardy category, “The Fucking Obvious” for 100, Alex.
Join Your Coverage. Here, they tell us to join our homeowners and car insurance policies for a discount. That’s great, but didn’t you just tell us to shop our car insurance?
These next two I’ll group together, since they’re too stupid alone to matter. Raise Your Deductible and Drop Your Comprehensive and Collision. Raising your deductible only saves you money if you never make a claim. It also costs you money if you have a minor problem that a lower deductible would have helped pay for some of the costs. Dropping your comprehensive and collision coverage is a cheapskate move that you can only do if you own your car outright. Otherwise, it's just less coverage, which is almost no coverage, which would obviously save money. There's an idea! No insurance. Instant money-saver. 11 Tips now.
Shop Around for Gas. Sure, spend a half hour driving around looking for a cheaper gas station or drive further to get to one. Either way, you’re wasting gasoline to save two cents. For a 20-gallon tank, is it really worth the potential 30-cent savings to drive around and make yourself nuts? Unless it’s a ten-cent difference, it isn’t worth the trouble. Besides, if you already bought that “sipper” they told you to buy, a 10-gallon fill up isn’t worth the trouble.
Use a Gas Rebate Credit Card. Sure, get a rebate and pay 18% interest. Do you think the card companies are in the business of giving away money? Pay cash and get it over with.
Use Public Transportation. Great idea. If you happen to live within walking distance of a bus or train station and work within walking distance of a bus or train station. I don’t know about your part of the world, but here in Southern New Jersey those are two giant variables. For instance, I looked into it to get from home to my office ... I’d have to catch a bus at 5am, transfer twice, get on a train and take a shuttle 2 more miles to get to work by 7:50. Then, I’d repeat that in reverse to arrive home – roughly at 8pm – just in time to get a snack and get to bed so that I could be up at 4 to grab the bus to get back to work. Nice life. No, thanks, I’ll take my car.
Car Pool. There’s an idea, if you happen to have the same sort of variables that it takes to make public transportation work for you. That is, a co-worker that lives nearby and keeps the same hours as you, never stays late and is pleasant enough to commute with every day. If more people start car pooling, businesses are going to get irritated because nobody wants to work late.
The fact is, all of those things are money-savers to one extent or another. The fact that gasoline is $3 a gallon makes them slightly more sensible than when it was $2, but by this time, don’t you think we’ve already exhausted every money-saving idea? The only thing I'm left with is to get rid of the car altogether, thereby saving money on gasoline, maintenance and insurance. I didn’t need an article to point out obvious solutions to a problem that is bigger than any obvious solution. Face it, we’re screwed and the oil companies know it. The last thing I need is another article with useless information.
Unless you want to pay me to write it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

One missing and one found.

I left one photo out of the group that I posted yesterday. This is Monk's, at 16th and Spruce. There are at least 3 regular readers who are intimately familiar with this fine establishment. And no, I didn't go in. It was too early. If I had gone in, you never would have seen that nice shot of Rohm and Haas, which attracted attention from at least one person from the home office. Hi Pat, how are ya? First - turn off the lights, you'll save energy. Second - if there's anyone in there working after dark, send them home. It's a one-way street. You're getting rich off them, they're not getting rich off you. They have families and people to care for.
Tonight, I watched a great performance that was largely overlooked by the greater movie-going public. It was probably overlooked because the greater movie-going public was not exposed to this film. Generally, we are exposed to junk like "Semi Pro" and "Be Kind Rewind" while great films like "Away From Her" go virtually unnoticed. Thanks to the good people at Netflix, I am not among the ignorant.
Julie Christie won the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actress, and I would say that they made a fine choice. "Away From Her" is an extraordinary film that had me emotionally involved from the start. Besides Julie's great performance (reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman's "Rain Man") it features another great character by Olympia Dukakis. I remember seeing "Steel Magnolias" and writing a review of it for a class in college. I thought she stole the film, and every scene with her made the film better. Such is the case here.
Director Sandra Polley does a great job of weaving the past, near future and present together until they finally resolve themselves into the present as we watch Fiona's (Julie Christie) husband Grant (Gordon Pinset) adjust to life during and after Fiona deals with Alzheimer's disease.
It's a sad film, but sometimes sad is the way things are. There are some great lines, but mostly it's a realistic portrayal of how a man with some guilt in his life deals with the declining health of the only woman he has ever loved.
There's an interesting twist at the end, but I don't want to be the spoiler so I'll let you rent the film and decide for yourself. At the very least, you'll realize why Julie Christie is such a great actress and deserved the Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Watch the deleted scenes and tell me if you would have included at least one of them, even though the film is an hour and 50 minutes. Don't let that scare you. It's worth every minute of your time. I highly recommend it, but don't blame me if you cry through most of it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

When the going gets tough, the tough take photos.

Lately, it's been Blogger Block around here, with nothing interesting to say, hence the weekend without a peep and the subsequent minor rant about the primary yesterday.
I haven't been out with my new D40 on a real photo safari in a while, so on Monday night I decided to force myself to hang out in Philadelphia and wander around with the camera and my trusty mini tripod. The first thing that caught my eye was a flower bouquet herd at the Spruce Market on ... anyone ... Spruce Street. It's across the street from our Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the place the Philadelphia Orchestra calls home.

This one took a few minutes to set up, and just as I was ready to push the button a van pulled up in front of me. This was location choice number two. The rap on the Kimmel Center is that it's a cold building with a glass roof that looks up into space. From the street it's difficult to know where the entrance is, and just as difficult to know if you should go near the thing. It's not a great place to house a musical group that has issues attracting people in the first place. But it's our foreboding musical palace, and we love it.

This is a little fire escape on Latimer Street between 15th and 16th Streets. Latimer is one of those streets that, if you find yourself driving on it, you're lost. The city is full of them, and they are usually full of trash dumpsters, fire hydrants and the back entrance of some restaurant.

I liked the geometric pattern. It probably makes some comment on my psychiatric profile or something. Don't tell me because I'm not interested. I just liked the stairs.

I'm big on contrast, and I was intrigued by the row of bikes sitting on the sidewalk on Broad Street with the "no parking" signs and passing traffic. Obviously, I'm easily amused. I'm not sure where all these people work (or live) but bravo to them for biking. We're looking north toward City Hall.

Once the sun went down, I started losing light and energy. I started wandering toward Independence Hall (yes, it's quite a walk from 16th and Locust) and spied this interesting light pattern on the Rohm and Haas building on 5th Street.

One neat thing about the D40 is the color balance menu, which allows you to correct for lighting as it changes during the day. Pretty good for an entry-level digital camera. Now, what do I do with that bag full of filters?

Bonus points for patriotism if you know what this building is. Passers-by watched in stunned silence as I laid prone on the ground lining this one up (with my mini-tripod) and waiting for a passing car or two. Ten second exposure at f11 for the geeks.

Around the corner from the Hall is Washington Square which has a statue of ... anyone ... George Washington, lit by some sort of eternal flame. I was able to snap this one doing the same face-down bit just prior to some homeless girl wandering over to lie on the marble bench. The sign in the foreground says to stay away from the flame.

For our final history lesson of the day, we find out what happens to an historic building when the National park service takes over. It's called the Graff House. The house of Jacob Graff, brick mason, located at the southwest corner of Market and Seventh Street, Philadelphia, was the residence of Thomas Jefferson when he drafted the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson rented the entire second floor for himself and his household staff. Where Thomas Jefferson once stood now stands a trash can.

The trash can is emptied once weekly.

Monday, March 3, 2008

After a short break, some politics.

Today's Jeopardy category: Desperation
Answer: "For some people this election is about how you feel, it's about speeches," Hillary Clinton said. "Well, that's not what it's about for me. It's about solutions."
Question: What does somebody say when they are not a good speaker?
It sounds like Hillary is a little peeved about the Kennedy-esque traits being attributed to Senator Obama. It’s true, if not a little irritating, to hear people comparing his campaign to the hopeful (albeit na├»ve) spirit of the 1960s-era John/Bobby Kennedy campaigns.
I think it’s partly because people want to believe that he can change the world. Whether he can remains to be seen. My inherent cynicism is making me doubt it – just a little.
It’s a nice idea though. It’s full of hope, and people need hope, especially when they don’t have much else. Gasoline prices are at record levels, the price of wheat is ready to jump so high that a simple sandwich will cost much more than it does now and we’re fighting a war in Iraq that most people can’t explain.
Barack Obama is coming along at politically the right time. Just as Jimmy Carter was born out of the corruption of the Nixon administration and John Kennedy was born out of the stoicism and military discipline of Eisenhower, along comes Barack Obama on the heels of perhaps the biggest clown to ever occupy the office of President.
The good news is that it cannot get much worse, and Americans are seeing huge upside potential. Stuff like that can get a guy elected.
Now, define political logic - an oxymoron if there ever was one …
TOLEDO, Ohio -
Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested Monday she'll press on with the campaign after Tuesday's crucial primaries, arguing that momentum is on her side despite 11 straight losses to rival Sen. Barack Obama.
They say that men are good at reading maps because they are the only ones who can make an inch equal a mile. If that’s true, then politicians can similarly extract momentum from 11 straight defeats.
Tuesday will be interesting. Texas, Rhode Island, Vermont and Ohio.