:::this is the way the world ends:::

Month: December 2006 (Page 1 of 2)

Public Service Announcement!

I meant to post these before all of your New Year festivities.  I fear by forgetting, I’ve done everyone a terrible wrong.  I’m surprised they don’t make these articles mandatory reading in schools now-a-days.  I posted them here, because you need to know! 

Click on the thumbnails to read the full version.


Seriously, I didn’t realize things like this still existed…but when we visited Steph’s grandparents a couple of weeks ago, I found these in their local version of the “Mac Shopper.”  Thoughts, reactions, guesses?   


The last couple of days, I’ve been repairing a hole in our dining room ceiling, sanding, priming, and painting. Meanwhile, I’ve had on Minnesota Public Radio and occasionally CNN. Everything is abuzz with list of “The Top _________ of 2006” (fill in the blank with “celebrities,” “movies,” “songs,” “albums,” “newsmakers,” and so on). Most of these, I have taken some issue with–either because I find the selections mundane or because I realize I haven’t digested enough of the music, film, and general culture of the year.

But, this leads me to ask: any “tops” of 2006 you’d like to share and comment on here?

Here are a few, from me:

Top novel: Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (actually out in the U.S. from Graywolf Press in 2007).

Top poetry collection: Averno by Louise Gluck

Top movie: The Prestige

Top documentary: An Inconvenient Truth

Top song: “Hamburg Song” by Keane

Top political event: Democrats regaining Congress in November elections. Rumsfeld “resigns” shortly thereafter.

Top global events: Lack of global resolve over Darfur, Sudan. Continued unavailability of clean water to millions.

Top Minnesota event: The state sends first Islamic member of Congress to Washington in November election.

Top celebrity: Bono


And now, looking ahead, it must be asked: what do you foresee in 2007? This can either be predictions of important events or people, or it could take the form of personal New Years resolutions. It’s always such a reflective time. I’m reminded that the month of January comes from Janus, the Roman god of endings and beginnings, with a face looking backward and a face looking forward.

So, looking ahead now, here are a few thoughts and resolutions from me.

In 2007, I expect:

  • to see Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Rudy Guliani in the spotlight for the Presidential elections of 2008, as they all announce their candidacies. (I’m already surprised to see John Edwards announce his candidacy, and so early.)
  • a withdrawl plan from Iraq.
  • peacekeeping efforts deployed to Darfur, through a renewed United Nations.
  • the biggest seller in books, by far, to be the new and final Harry Potter.
  • the biggest movie, in terms of blockbuster status, to be the new Harry Potter movie.
  • to be exhausted by Harry Potter by this time next year.
  • additional evidence for global warming.
  • one of us to announce a child on the way.

Some of my personal resolutions include:

  • to eat vegetarian as much as possible, with only occasional fish when eating out.
  • to eat less, eat more healthy foods, drink less alcohol, and drink more water daily.
  • to exercise at the Y at least 12 times each month.
  • to post and comment regularly on the Hollow Men site, including a weekly literary/poetry feature.
  • to work to organize our house better.
  • to begin more sustained writing.
  • to be in better touch with family and friends.


Music Thursday: Part II (March and Dance)

Last night, Steph and I went to one of her friends’ birthday parties.  She was turning 50 and wanted it to be a memorable occasion — it definitely was.  She had the Marching Cobras come in and perform.  They’re spectacular.  At one point in the evening, the members ran up and grabbed everyone and had us dance with them.  Invigorating and delightful.  At the end, the girl who tugged us into the dancing beat hugged Steph and I and said “thank you so much.”  If you ever get the chance to see them, do. 

I had this funny feeling of coordinated choas while watching them.  Take a look at the video below and you can see for yourself.  Everyone is sort of doing their own thing, but together it is tighly coordinated.  Hard to explain….  If you watched one person doing it, it wouldn’t necessarily be very impressive.  Together, it’s amazing. 

The African-American marching band is fairly famous…it’s made up of young and old, thin and heavyset, and men, women and children.  It was like watching something happen that is simultaneously old and tribal and yet novel and urban.  Did I mention it was spectacular?  Click on the link above to go to their home page.  If you click through the link to YouTube, you can see more videos of them.  Here’s a video to see (though dimly) what they’re like performing:


On an additional note, I found this video a couple of days ago.  It’s been inspiring to me and I get chills every time I watch it (which is often, at least once a day since I’ve found it).  There’s a lot of hope I feel when I watch…sadness, too.  I wonder how long the locales Matt dances in will be there, and at the same time, I marvel in the wonder and diversity there is in the world.  We miss out when we think the American Experience is the cumulation of humanity.

This has opened up a deep longing, and at the same time, a deep satisfaction in me….


Music Thursday: Part I (The Traditional)

Okay, I thought I’d share a complete album with you guys again after so many months.  I just picked this up this week and heard it for the first time all the way through.  Particular songs got a lot of airplay on the radio, so you may have heard some of this.  I’ve really been digging this album is really good as a whole.  Enjoy!

KT Tunstall | Eye to the Telescope

01 Other Side Of The World
02 Another Place To Fall
03 Under The Weather
04 Black Horse and the Cherry Tree
05 Miniature Disasters
06 Silent Sea
07 Universe & U
08 False Alarm
09 Suddenly I See
10 Stoppin’ The Love
11 Heal Over
12 Through The Dark
13 Bonus Track – Immune (Live at Gaia)

Back in Elgin…

shattuck.jpg…and as safe and sound as one can be in Texas.

The highlight of the return trip was the Shattuck Windmill Museum in Shattuck, Oklahoma. We talked to a very nice women holding forth in the gift shop where we purchased a book titled, “Windmills and Windmill Weights,” a jar of plum butter and a mug.

If you are as crazy about windmills as I am (and I know you are) I strongly urge you spend a least an hour at the Shattuck Windmill Museum. That is, if you are ever traveling on or near US 283 through Shattuck in the Oklahoma Panhandle (and I know you will).

Good News from Botswana

healing.jpgPerhaps some of you heard this segment on NPR yesterday morning. I’ve been following the story of the bushmen’s fight for land rights in the Kalahari since early this fall when I read The Healing Land by Rupert Isaacson. I met Rupert, who happens to be an Elgin resident, a few months ago when he came to my book group to talk about his book.

Over many years the government of Botswana has been forcibly removing the bushmen from their traditional lands. The government has cited many reasons, including game preservation, better schools and better health care services. However, the pervading assumption is that the land is sitting on a fortune in diamonds. This week a court in Botswana ruled that this removal is illegal.

I hinted a some weeks ago that I was disillusioned with Amnesty International. This disillusionment stems from Rupert’s frustration with Amnesty’s unwillingness to take on the cause of DeBeers‘s (the diamond trading corporation) activities in the traditional lands of the bushmen. He had unconfirmed suspicions that acceptance of donations from DeBeers may have influenced Amnesty’s sluggishness. After my discussion with Rupert I have come to think that smaller charities working on specific causes may do more good in the world than behemoth groups like Amnesty, UNICEF, etc. These large groups must at some point compromise principle to politics whereas small groups can operate with more agility and focus. Until recently, I was regular contributor to Amnesty but even then I was wondering if I was just paying for more mailers asking for more money.

The offices of Rupert’s group, The Indigenous Land Rights Fund, are housed in his laptop, cell phone and all his contacts throughout the Kalahari. It would seem that this week at least, the little guys won one.

Double Your Pleasure Music Thursday

Okay, since I missed posting these yesterday, I am going to give you double the music from each artist.  Now on to the pleasure of another Music Thursday…

01 +- | “Leap Year”
02 +- | “Steal the Blueprints”

01 Band of Horses | “The End’s Not Near” (The New Year Cover)
02 Goldspot | “Float On” (Modest Mouse Cover)

And the best for last
(Or, in which I TRIPLE your pleasure!)

01 Maps | “Sparks in the Snow”
02 Maps | “To the Sky”
03 Maps | “Lost My Soul”

Hope you like the selections this week!

Speaking of Doppelgangers….

Someday I’ll write a serious post again but right now I’m basking in the frivolity of free time. One of our students just made me watch this. I pass it on to you.

If you don’t like this, blame Toby. He told me how to link to YouTube.

Engineering Wednesday

Thanks for the Rolomite post Toby! In my opinion the blog over-represents nostalgia and doppelgangers to the exclusion of engineering and science.

Here is my offering: The Fletcher Capstan Table.

[quicktime width=”320″ height=”260″]http://www.dbfletcher.com/files/dbfletcher_capstan_schwartz.mov[/quicktime]

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