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A Matter of Perspective

We spent July Fourth with friends in Fredricksburg, Va., which is about 70 miles south of Washington. I had hoped to take fireworks photos, but we got stormed out. So I settled for pictures in the bathroom, instead.

Our friends have a skylight above the john, which gives a great view of the clouds while doing your business. Of course, the crooning strains the neck. But gazing at cloud formations is kind of relaxing, even in the WC’s confines.

I’m amazed to hear men talk on cell phones while sitting on the john in public toilets. So, I figured that carrying in my Nikon D200 wouldn’t be any more offensive, considering that I would only be taking pictures. The door was open, folks. 

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‘To The Republic for Which it Stands’

Today, America is 230 years old, more or less. I suppose it’s a question of counting from the declaration of independence or the actual gaining of independence about seven years later.

I’ve learned that too few Americans, or others living here, truly understand the Republic established by the Founding Fathers—nor have many living today read important documents like the Declaration of Independence or Bill of Rights. The latter document should be mandatory reading by everyone, given actions taken by the current administration against its own people (For the record, I am politically independent and do not side with either party. I voted for this president, so my criticism doesn’t come from partisanship). 

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Cancel Me, Cancel You

Ah, the power of the single voice, amplified by the reach of the World Wide Web. Today’s New York Times story, “AOL Said, ‘If You Leave Me I’ll Do Something Crazy’“, once again highlights the power of the Web, particularly Weblogs or content-sharing sites like YouTube. Randall Stross’ story is also a tell-tale account of how difficult can be account cancellation.

The story starts with a Bronx man’s 21-minute phone call seeking to cancel his AOL account: “Vincent Ferrari, 30, of the Bronx…recorded the five minutes of interaction with the AOL customer service representative and, a week later, posted the audio file on his blog, Insignificant Thoughts. Shortly thereafter, those five minutes became the online equivalent of a top-of-the-charts single”. 

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Superman’s Story

Well, Roger Ebert didn’t like it. New York Times found plenty to fault. EW was much kinder, as was Rolling Stone.

I liked “Superman Returns“.

Whenever a movie follows a successful franchise—whether on screen, on stage, or in print—the hurdle is raised high. And sometimes, reviewers can’t let go of how things were done in the past. They compare against expectations, such as in the case of “Superman Returns” the performance of Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. 

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Whom We Remember

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 86th birthday, if she were alive. She died about 10 years ago, while my family was on 18-month hiatus back home in Northern Maine.

My wife wanted to celebrate, in part, because not enough birthdays were spent together. I saw the small remembrance as opportunity to express continuity of the generations to our daughter. My daughter never met her older grandmother (my mom—the younger grandma—is 64, but, sssh, don’t tell her I said so). 

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The Fox and the Hares

Well, you know you’ve been out of town and out of touch, when there are 5,523 new posts to read via RSS. Oh my! Among them: Jean McDermott has an update on the feral rabbit hunt, lest the vermin—ah, cute furballs—defoliate Alaska. I blogged about part one of her bunny adventure the day before her most recent update. How’s that for timing?

So, writes Jean: “I successfully caught six baby rabbits over Memorial Day weekend. Three black ones, two gray ones, and a tortoise color fawnish one. Let me tell you, baby bunnies are extremely cute”. But she resisted petting the lot, to avoid terrifying them to death. However, the cuteness overwhelmed the folks over at animal control. 

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Time Enough for What?

Are we all really so busy, that “the act of canceling a meeting or dinner date can constitute the most precious gift one busy professional can bestow on another”. That’s apparently the way of the modern business world, according to story, “Pencil It In Under ‘Not Happening’“, appearing in tomorrow’s New York Times.

“In an overscheduled world, are there any words more lovely than, ‘Can we reschedule?'” writes Alex Williams. I won’t deny that some cancelled meetings are cause for celebration. The Times quotes psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell: “With cellphones and BlackBerries, people are too reachable. We sign up for too much. So when fate intervenes, it’s better than found money. It’s found time“. 

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Oh, Joe of Little Faith

This evening, I stopped into Penn Camera to pick up that spare Nikon D200 battery ordered about a week earlier. I waited behind a guy spending big on a digital camera, although it was uncertain if he understood what he was buying.

Thomas Hawk might appreciate this: A Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens, Canon Speedlite 430EX flash, memory card, and some other stuff I couldn’t quite make out. The buyer seemed somewhat perplexed by the $5,500 total. I thought, “It’s what you pay for a full-frame sensor”. Turns out, Canon rebates would put more than 500 bucks back in his pocket—$300 off the 5D. The camera is practically a steal at $2,699 after rebate. 

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Francis’ People

I am quite surprised by the number of homeless people here in San Francisco, at least in the area around my hotel. I’ve seen more homeless or beggars (for money) in two days than a whole year back in D.C. The number of people is staggering.

Some folks are characters, and they know how to turn coins or greenbacks. One panhandler has an eye for tourists—or at least confused people, of which there are many. He roams Geary street (and perhaps elsewhere) asking bystanders if they need assistance finding something. His hope, I think, is that the help he gives will be returned in favor. He’s friendly and endearing. You want to give him money.