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Army of the Stuffed

Today’s New York Times story, “They’re Soft and Cuddly, So Why Lash Them to the Front of a Truck“, is a delightful sociological study of why stuffed animals adorn some trucks. Reporter Andy Newman asks, “Why do a small percentage of trucks and vans have filthy plush toys lashed to their fronts, like prisoners at the mast?”

He describes the bunnies and other stuffed critters as “soldiers in the tattered, scattered army of the stuffed: mostly discarded toys plucked from the trash and given new if punishing lives on the prows of large motor vehicles, their fluffy white guts flapping from burst seams and going gray in the soot-stream of a thousand exhaust pipes”. 

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Mittens and Shoes

This afternoon, on what turned out to be an uncharacteristically summer-like day, I walked toward the veterinarian’s office to see if Mittens the stray survived her fender bender. Turns out the real bender—chug-alug-lug—was the man who first came to our door about the car-struck cat. He walked back from the direction of the vet’s, in socks. No shoes! Sure the day was warm, but not for going down the street in socks.

Turns out he drank up overnight and someone stole his shoes and jacket, or so he claimed, during a blackout. “Could you help me out?” he pleaded. I felt somewhat entangled because of yesterday’s goodwill with the cat. The guy said he couldn’t go back to his “woman” without shoes. I decided to be generous, and gave him a good pair that I don’t wear anymore. He took the shoes and disappeared. I had my misgivings, because sometimes some people take advantage of generosity. 

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Mittens

Some days, people give me hope. About an hour ago, my wife rapped on my office door—sliding glass that goes from the basement into the backyard—and said, “Come here. There’s something I’ve got to show you”. Her body language suggested more, so I responded to the urgency.

A car had hit one of several feral cats that maraud the neighborhood. I had chased this animal, grey with white paws (mittens), out of the backyard whenever it stalked the wild squirrels. Now, the animal lay prone in the street, panting and meowing. 

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The Chair

In the winter of 1996, the World Wide Web had drawn big attention, but few businesses opened online shops. I placed an order that thoroughly amazed me, and later disappointed, because this one outfit did so well and I’ve rarely seen such good service since.

My family lived in northern Maine, returned home for what would prove only to be an 18-month adventure. I needed a new chair for my office, and the local stores sold selection that, well, failed to impress. Catalog ordering meant three weeks to delivery, according to the local office supply store, and I was too impatient. 

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The Housing Bubble Pops

Serious are the signs that the housing bubble has started rapid deflation here in the Washington, D.C., area. Summer 2004, my family chose not to purchase a house in Bowie, Md., because, even then, I was convinced that housing prices were way over-inflated. Since, I’ve warned plenty of people the end would rapidly come.

Earlier, I expected the housing bubble to stay inflated into 2006, but Hurricane Katrina’s widespread economic rumblings appear to have put on the squeeze. As recently as October, New York-market deflation forebode coming trouble. 

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The Five-Year Plan

Lots of people are probably digging under rocks trying to uncover what will be the next, big, earthshaking technology trend. I won’t say, but I will offer an observation about reading the signs.

The first CD players started selling in the United States in 1983. By 1988, CDs surpassed vinyl records’ popularity (See Wikipedia, Gramaphone Record). Another two or three years would pass before music CDs reached mass-market dominance.

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Copyright, Copy Wrong

I don’t see how the Bush Administration’s proposal to stiffen copyright laws synchs with the intentions of the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Last decade’s Copyright revisions were bad enough and prostitute the whole-purpose concept of public domain. My concern is bigger than copyright expiration. These laws designed to protect intellectual property, particularly with the Internet and digital distribution as justification for revision, increasingly are threats to free speech.

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It’s Miller Time No More

Earlier today, the New York Times officially dismissed reporter Judith Miller. In a to-the-point, bare-most-of-the-facts story, Times reporter Katharine Seelye writes of her colleague’s departure. While the Times and Miller “reached an agreement yesterday that ended her 28-year career,” it was a dismissal, as far as I’m concerned. The story carries tomorrow’s dateline.

I cheered for Miller when during summer she went to jail rather than give up a source. But since, oddities emerged about her involvement in the CIA leak case, her real reasons for going to jail, and her eventual testimony before a grand jury. 

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Girl in the Window

I am debating whether to keep the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens. My main reason for choosing the lens was the f/2.8 (and, of course, the “L” glass). I sparingly use flash and wanted a lens more suited to this shooting preference.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, I took the lens out at dusk for some difficult shooting. The picture here is of my daughter, goofing off through her parents’ bedroom window. I had to adjust this image quite a bit, using Apple’s iPhoto to change the brightness, contrast, and exposure.