Friday, July 30, 2004

The brother is coming...

Tomorrow is going to be an interested day. I'm going to be heading back to St. Louis to pick up my brother so he can spend a week and a half with me up here in Charleston while he's on vacation from his job.

Good thing he's picking up the most of the gas going to and from!

It should be an interesting visit though. I don't think he's been here before, and the only other time he came to visit me when I lived away from home was a week in eastern North Carolina when I lived in Rocky Mount, NC, in 1994. People there couldn't get over the face we were twins and stuff like that.

We'll probably head up to Champaign at least once or twice while he's here, depending on work schedules for me and stuff. Still, it should be a very interesting visit. We'll see how it goes.

More later....

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

You get some unusual colors in a tornado...

We had a pretty big storm pass through town last week - tornadoes, heavy rain, lightning, thunder - everything the weather can pound on central Illinois in the summer.
 
I had some inkling something was up listening to the radio on my to work last Tuesday. There were reports of tornadoes on the ground, large hail, high winds, things like that. I figured if it was in Bloomington and Champaign, it'd soon make its' way to Charleston-Mattoon.
 
Boy, was I right.
 
As the storm clouds gathered, all the folks I work with went outside to check things out. I joined them - man, what a sight! All sorts of strange colors in the sky, dark rotating clouds right over us (with some very good rotation, I might add), even the sounds of a funnel cloud (the familiar fright train sound) in the distance.
 
Frightening, yet fascinating at the same time. I'd NEVER seen anything like this before. I've had a childhood phobia about tornadoes that must have continued on into adulthood, yet at the same time, it's so fascinating to watch.
 
I remember an article in Playboy about 20-some odd years ago about storm chasers. I think the premise for the story was that tornadoes are Mother Nature's way of saying "up yours!"
 
I don't know if I'd go THAT far, but it was fascinating to watch.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Sometimes you just never know what life will dish out

So I'm goofing around on-line this afternoon when I hear a knock on the door of my ICQ client.

Not that's unusual - I have all for major IM clients (Yahoo!, AIM, ICQ and MSN) and I hear stuff all the time. So I open up ICQ and see someone's name lighting up.

I think it's someone I haven't talked to in a bit so I send the person a message. Turns out the person I thought was on wasn't.

I take another look - and my eyes get THIS BIG!!!

It was an old on-line girlfriend of mine who I hadn't heard from in at least 3-4 years!

When I got my computer, I immediately looked up her old information from ICQ (after downloading ICQ) and put it on my buddy list on there. In the back of my mind, I was hoping someday she'd see it and say hello.

What happened wasn't too far off of what I thought might happen.

I said to her hello and she said hello back. Then I asked her if she remembered my handle from a pioneering chat area called the Webchat Broadcasting System (WBS for short).

Things quickly went uphill from there.

She couldn't even believe it was me at first, that's how excited she was when she realized it was me.

We had always gotten along very well. Even though a lot of my chatting with her (and other friends I had met on-line) was intermittent because I had to use computers in cybercafes and libraries (except for a brief period when my brother and I had a home Internet connection thanks to an old Charter product called WorldGate, which was a lot like what used to be known as WebTV) in those wild, wooly early days of the Internet, every time we saw each other, it was just amazing.

There were times when we just knew what the other was thinking or feeling and found the right words to help each other or make things a lot better.

Then, for whatever reason, I guess we just basically drifted apart, as Internet buddies sometiems do, I suppose. Or, as John Lennon (I believe) once said, real life is what happens when you start making plans (or something along those lines).

But I never forgot about her or never stopped thinking about her, how she was doing, what she was up to. Even though she's married with three kids and I'm still stuck in what seems like almost-terminal bachelorhood, I'd venture to guess we still meant a lot to each other.

Then came today.

It was like old times. The conversations (there were three, as we switched over from ICQ to AIM, then again after she had to leave for a bit) were great. We caught up with each other and found out what we'd been doing the last three years. When I told her about my 2001 knee surgery, I could almost hear a cringe coming from her. When I told her about the things I've gotten involved with, like community radio, the Unitarian Universalist church and the anti-war movement, she sounded very proud of me.

I guess we're still the two same good-natured, big-hearted people we've always been. No matter what happens, this woman will always have a very special place in my heart and soul.

And I bet we'll have a lot more to talk about too - after all, three years IS a long time between conversations!

Like I often say - you just never know where life is going to take you.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Just signed up to link friend's blogs...

Just signed up for Bloglinker and linked a few friends blogs to it - Gordon, Matt, Ajay and Ran. Not sure how to put those links onto my site, but if someone else has any ideas, please let me know!

Anyone else who wants to link to my blog, let me know - I WILL return the favor, of course!

Not sure where this will lead...

Got an e-mail from one of the journalism profs (and a good buddy of mine) at Eastern the other day - there's an opening for a sports writer at a smallish seven-day daily in Jacksonville, IL., not all that far from Alton and maybe a couple of hours from St. Louis.

I at least sent an e-mail to the sports editor there inquiring about it - certainly no harm in checking it out anyway. But it's got me thinking about my own employment situation.

Sometimes I wonder if I made a mistake coming back to my old college town to take a job. I'm not far from Eastern's campus - maybe about three-quarters of a mile - but it's like light-years away from when I first came to EIU 20 years ago next month.

Part of it, I'm sure, is just me getting older. But I sure don't relate to the bar scene here as I did when I was a student. The bars, for the most part, are the same - but the clientle is so much different.

I pretty much stay home now on weekends, for the most part, these days, unless I feel an absolute need to get out of the apartment. But my looks and graying hair must give me away in a student bar - townie!! (For the record, I guess I must be, even though I wasn't born and raised here.)

In a lot of ways, I don't think like the typical Charleston townie, but you couldn't tell that to some of the frat-boy and sorority-queen types I've run into. Won't get into details here, but suffice it to say I wasn't particularly treated very kindly.

There's a few other things I could get into (mostly work-related), but I think I'll keep them to myself for the moment - you never know who might read this (not that I particularly care personally) and with the corporate mentality of "get rid of any critics" running rampant these days, best not take chances.

If I could, though, I'd rather work back in St. Louis. Been looking in the Post for some work up my alley but haven't found much. Guess the job market must be tight there as it is everywhere else.

To quote Linda Ellerbee..."and so it goes."

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

Went to see it at the local multiplex Saturday night.

My main thought?

RUN - DO NOT WALK - TO SEE THIS FILM! It likely could be one of the most important films of the year, if not the past several years.

Michael Moore nails it on the head, exposing some things about the Bush family and their ties to the Saudi royal family even I didn't know (and I knew much, thanks to constant reading of various web sites like BuzzFlash (http://www.buzzflash.com) other sites.

In a lot of ways, it's a typical Mike film - parts of it will make you laugh, parts of it will sadden you and parts of it will anger you. Supporters of Mike will love it, opponents of Mike will hate it (and if you look at some of the vitriol being pushed out the last several weeks by the far right, it just seems to me that they can dish it out, but they can't take it).

I saw the film at the late show (9.30 pm) at the Kerasotes Showplace 8 in Mattoon, IL. A lot of folks were filing out of the room as it was ending. Couldn't tell what was on their faces, but I'm sure they were moved by what they say.

I made it a point to ask to see the manager and thank her for having the courage and the guts to show this film. I think she appreciated it but told me it wasn't her call. She did tell me there were about three protestors against the film when it first was shown (I think) the previous Wednesday night.

Of course, some of the folks I work with dismissed it. The ME laughed (with a "you silly fool" kind of smirk) when I told him. Of course, he recently wrote in a column that we need a James Bond-type to wipe out all terrorists (and I guess anyone else who he sees as "different" from his world view).

There were, I counted, about 25-30 folks inside the auditorium watchng the film. There were some sounds of anguish and disbelief when there was a scene of a public beheading in Saudi Arabia, of scenes when American troops were "poking fun" at dead Iraqis ("Hey, Ali Baba still has a hard-on!" one "soldier" was heard to say) and at scenes where Iraqi civilians had various body parts blown off or were badly burned by napalm.

*sarcasm mode* Yeah, God Bless America! *sarcasm mood off*

The worst part was an interview conducted with a mother who had a son killed in a Blackhawk helicopter crash in Iraq. She was from Mike's hometown of Flint, MI, and had encouraged her kids to enter the military as a way to get to college. She felt she was a patriotic American who initially saw war protestors with disdain until, she said, she realized they were against the policies, not the rank-and-file soldiers.

After her son's death, she realized just how stupid Bush's war was and, while on a trip to Washington for a conference, paid a visit to the White House grounds. There she saw an anti-war person and mentioned what happened. Just then, someone else came up and tried to rip both of them new ones - even after she told her (in tears and in her face) what happened to her son.

She finally broke apart right in front of the fenced-in gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It was gut-wrenching, heart-wrenching and I just wanted to reach out to her and give her a big hug and let her know her son, wherever he was, was all right.

As I put it when the final credits rolled, "If we don't rise up and get rid of the SOB in November, we're all screwed!" (I actually didn't say "screwed," but you get the idea.)

If you don't see this film and at least come away thinking about what's really going on...

I didn't need Michael Moore telling me we need to get rid of the Bush Cartel in the elections, of course, but it sure reinforced it - with a shot right to the gut.

Too bad some people either can't - or won't - get it.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Just another lazy Saturday...

It's kind of a dreary Saturday in early July in east-central Illinois - rainy, humid, gray all over...a dreary day to be sure.

Got the a/c cranked up in my apartment (really a glorified sleeping room, but for $250 a mont, everything included - not too bad). Even when the temperatures are fairly nice, though, this place gets pretty hot and humid - I guess because it's a second-floor place that goes almost directly into the sun.

Going to go see Fahrenheit 9/11 tonight at the local multiplex. I'm surprised there hasn't been any more publicity about it around here and I don't know why, though I have some ideas.

We're giving more publicity to a couple of washed-up country music artists (Joe Diffie and Ronnie Milsap) at a Fourth of July thing in a local park that's going to be so full of phony patriotism, monster pickup trucks and an audience (despite the prescence of a major university) that may have 50 teeth and an collective IQ of 125 than to a film that already has broken every record for films of its kind because management obviously disagrees with its tone?

Give me a break.

Anyway, there'll be a review of it in the next couple of days...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

And I thought this blogging thing would never catch on!

Did some surfing last night and ran into the blog of a couple of friends of mine I met through the civic group Metropolis St. Louis. One blog had links to other blogs started by other friends of mine from Metropolis.

If I can figure out how to link to them, I'll do that, plus I'll also see if I can get them to link to me. Anyone wanna tell me how to do it?

Also found out something interesting as well - Michael Moore's latest film, Fahrenheit 9/11, is playing right here in good old Charleston!

Yea! I can go see the film WITHOUT having to drive up to downtown Champaign! Gonna go see it this weekend - and thank the manager of the place for having the courage to show it!

Better let some folks I know it's down here as well if they want to come down and see it. Too bad there's not a more organized progressive community here in Chucktown like there is in C-U. I think the poltiics around here tend to be rightist, so far as I can tell - not atypical for the townies in a smaller college town like Charleston.

Of course, a full review will be coming soon - details as they become available!