Saturday, October 14, 2006

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment # 133: Heroes Of Free Speech

"If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter."

-George Washington

Weekend Assignment # 133: Share with us a person or persons who you think is a model for free speech in the United States. It can be one of the Founding Fathers, another historical personage, or someone who is living right now. Yes, this is slightly more work than the usual Weekend Assignment, but you know. Free speech is worth it. For those of you in the UK or Canada, you can nominate someone who represents free speech in your own country, or pick someone from the US.

Extra Credit: A favorite controversial book (it doesn't have to be from an American).

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

I put a great deal of thought into this weeks assignment, considering all the folks I feel truly champion freedom of speech. From newspersons, to artists, to folks who encourage literacy. I even considered and admire many different bloggers who share their thoughts on all kinds of tough issues, and ask their readers to share openly of their opinions. But there are many ways to speak your mind in this country, so I went with one of the most affective ways freedom of speech has been used, music.

I think it really came into it's own, as a celebration of free speech, during the Vietnam war, when the popularity of anti-war songs came into social prominence. One of the most effective songs of the time was probably, Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction."

The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'

But you tell me over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe your on the eve of destruction

Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
If the button is pushed, there's no runnin' away
There'll be no one to save, with the world in a grave

And you tell me over, and over again my friend
You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Eve of Destruction

There were other songs, that reminded us of what we had lost, such as Dion's, "Abraham, Martin & John," as if we could forget. Music fills our lives with messages to remind us of memories, or to jar us into political consciousness or to simply make our days seem a lot less stressful. It encourages us to share our feelings and perceptions of life. Music is one of the most powerful mediums of free speech, and like all forms of communcation, it comes with responsibilites. It was those early artists, who paved the way for groups such as the Dixie Chicks to share their political thoughts with their audience, through their words and their music. So, I think I will go with musical artistry in general, and the artists who try to make a difference with their music, as an example of the perpetuation of freedom of speech. Be it through hymns, war songs, anti-war songs, childrens songs, or love songs, music encourages us to speak what is on our minds.

Extra Credit: "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," by Maya Angelou. Based on the early years of her life, it is part of her personal collection of 5 autobiographical volumns. "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," is about her early life, to about age 13. She wrote the series, in part, to remind others to not give up during difficult times. I will never understand the wisdom in book banning, or the attempt to quell the personal vision or truths of another. Sigh.

"In The City"
San Francisco, California
October 11th, 2006

Changing Times: Goodbye Tower Records

"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change.
If you're in a good situation, don't worry it'll change."

-John A. Simone Sr.

Sigh. I suppose everything eventually changes, but does it always have to be the really niftiest parts of my childhood? Gone are most of the walk-in music stores, and now one more giant, perhaps one of the last great music store giants, Tower Records, is closing it's shop on Jones/Bay/Columbus, after 38 years. What a great location, right at the edge of North Beach, and what an awesome bit of San Francisco history it was a part of. This store in the record shop's chain, opened in 1968, just one year after the "summer of love," and was around during the counter-culture movement of the time. Close your eyes for a moment, can't you just hear the music of that era in your head...

People Got To Be Free
By The Rascals

All the world over, so easy to see
People everywhere just want to be free
Listen, please listen, that's the way it should be
Deep in the valley, people got to be free...

The music of the late 60's meant something to me. When my brother left for Viet Nam, he asked me to care for his record collection. The Beatles, The Rascals, Lovin' Spoonful, The Irish Rovers, I loved them all. Sometimes, I would play them on my brother's record player, and for a little while it seemed like he wasn't so far away. When he came home from Viet Nam in 1970, he and I went to San Francisco in his new car. It was a gorgeous summer day, somewhere around my birthday. We drove all over the city, listening to music on the radio, and enjoying the sights. The last thing we did that day, was to stop and shop for some music at this very Tower Records store. I don't remember everything from that day, as clearly as I remember stopping in for there to grab some new music.

Ok, I know, CD's sound a whole lot better then the old vinyl. Ordering and downloading music from iTunes is a lot more affordable then buying entire albums, and it's also true that purchasing music from big box stores such as Wal-Mart makes financial sense, but I wish that there was a way that we could have it all, and that having more choices for things didn't mean the end to doing some things the old fashioned way. Too bad the time machine hasn't been invented yet, which would allow us to visit those perfect days we file away in our memories, where everything just seemed to be working right, and the pursuit of a better way wasn't a part of our thoughts. simply because we were happy in the moment.

Oh well, I visited the shop the other day, and purchased a Paul McCartney CD from his years with Wings. "Wingspan." I will probably be dropping in there every so often, until it closes for good. I have a list of music I want to pick up, including some of the great music my brother shared with me. Music plays really loud to my soul, sometimes to the point a certain tune will haunt me. Remember when "Take The Long Way Home," played in my head for about 26 weeks or so? LOL.

I was wondering to myself the other day, had Janis Joplin ever stopped in this particular shop to purchase some music? Maybe, so just imagine how cool it would have been to maybe have been the customer standing in line directly behind her. :) LOL. So tell me, do you have a favorite era of music? How about a great memory you have, centered around a favorite song? Please tell me about it in the comment thread for this entry. Go ahead...sing know you want to! :)

Click here to read more about the closing of Tower Records.

"Tower Records"
San Francisco, California
October 11th, 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006


"Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet. A happy marriage, has the tranquility of a lovely sunset."

-Ann Landers

Alan and I have been married 16 years today! As long as I live, I will never understand what a man such as Alan sees in me. He is strong, loving, funny, hard working, talented, handsome, and he can do math. LOL. What could he possibly see in me?

Yesterday, as we left one of our favorite restaurants, we overheard an older couple of about 75, as they got into their car. The wife was impatiently yelling all kinds of disparaging things to her husband. Mean things. The older gentleman simply took his wife's abuse, as she yelled at him even louder. Finally, the two got into their expensive, well-made foreign car, and drove away. The wife, however, could still be heard, yelling at the man, who sat with his head in his hands.

As the couple drove away, Alan stopped walking to the car, and turned to me. "Carly, give me a hug." I looked up into his eyes, and saw love looking back at me. "Thank you, for never treating me that way, and for letting me know over the last 16 years that you never will." Sigh. "It's easy to not treat you that way," I said. "I love you too much to ever behave that way toward you." And then we kissed.

We have sensual pleasures that burn like a comet, and we have the tranquility of a marriage enjoyed, but I will never, as long as I live, understand what he sees in me. But as I stood on the cliffs at San Simeon, and gazing at this sunset, I realized while taking this photo, that maybe I don't have to understand what he feels for me, I only have to enjoy it, and watch it burn bright.

Happy Anniversary Alan
"Passionate Night"
The Cliffs Below Hearst Castle
San Simeon, California
October 12th, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Wednesday In Autumn

"Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun."

To some, yesterday was just another Wednesday in autumn, to me, it was the beginning of our vacation. For the next couple weeks, Alan and I will finally have the chance to just stop all the clutter of every day life, and enjoy each other's company. We have tons of things planned, more then we will probably do, which is just how we like it. We have a ton of day trips to some special places around California, so the cameras will be busy, but if for whatever delicious reason we don't actually leave the house... it's ok. Some of the best days of my life, started out as Plan "B" days. ;) We'll see what becomes of our time together.

But first, I have to share with you about yesterday. I woke up to the sound of George Bush's voice, as he gave a news conference from the White House. Did anyone else think that news conference seemed a little bizarre? Anyway, I hadn't even gotten out of bed yet, and my mood was on it's way to the dumpster. LOL. Alan turned off the TV, gave me a big hug, and said, "Carly, grab your camera and tripod... we are going to see the butterflies in San Francisco." And off we went. It was a fabulous day at the conservatory, there were at least four new varieties butterflies to enjoy photographing, and enjoy them I did.

I took over 200 photos inside the conservatory. The autumn sun shining through the window cast all kinds of beautiful light on the walls, and on the butterflies themselves. It made them look like little panels of stained glass. The type of butterfly in the above photo is a Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis Sennae). I have seen this particular type of butterfly at the conservatory before, but yesterday I had my best luck with photographing it. It is a busy little lady, and she doesn't like to sit down for long. It takes a lot of patience, with both myself, and the butterfly, to capture a really good photo. She was kind to me, and we made friends. There is nothing like talking to a butterfly, they are great little listeners. :)

After I finished in the conservatory, we went out to the Dahlia garden which sits to the side of the conservatory. There is probably 500 different dahlias. I was loving the colors of the flowers and the sun...well...the sun was amazing. I swear, the sun in autumn is all I need sometimes, to make me feel as if I will live forever. It truly effects me in all kinds of good ways, and it is something I look forward to all year. More then anything else, I look for that specific light. Never been able to figure out why it affects me the way it does, but maybe some things aren't supposed to be understood. You know? :)

So, that was my first day. I will be sharing the photos I took yesterday, but I think I will save some back for those cold, dark, days of winter, when I won't be able to go out with my camera. Nothing like bringing some sunshine to a rainy day. :) Today, I will be on a long car trip down to HWY 101. I am planning on taking around 700 photos on my journey. :) Next week, there are three special day trips planned, then during the last week of the month, we will be heading out of state, to Nevada. Can you believe it? The Sierra got 11 inches of snow the other day! That will make for some gorgeous photos if all goes well. But if it doesn't, there is always Plan "B". ;) Lots, and lots of plan "B's." ;)

"Cloudless Sulphur"
Conservatory Of Flowers
San Francisco, California
October 11th, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Baby You Can Drive My Car... A New Quiz & A New Sidebar Poll

"It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road."


Tee Hee. Is there anything better than a drive in the country, in your new car, and the Ramones blasting on the stereo? :) I love making my own CD of music to listen to in my car, of course what I enjoy listening to, and what Alan enjoys listening to are usually two different sounds. LOL. He listens to Jazz and Blues while driving, while I usually go for what I call car diving music. The Ramones, The Smiths, etc. I guess that might be one more way men and women are different in their driving styles. So, I have a brand new sidebar quiz for you to take. "Songs We Love To Hear In Our Car."

The choices for the quiz consist of music I recently put onto a personal CD, so tell me, of the songs listed, which one do you enjoy the most while driving? Don't be afraid to leave me the title of any song you enjoy, but that I haven't included on the list. And please share with us, in the comment thread, what you feel is the biggest difference between men and women drivers. :) Ok, so take the quiz below, just click the link to be redirected, and don't forget to choose a song from the list on the sidebar!

Click here for the results of our previous quiz, "What's Your Favorite Campbell's Soup Flavor?"

Do You Drive Like A Guy Or A Girl?

"Along Ashby"
Berkeley, California
October 3, 2006
Late Afternoon

Unspecified Personal Issues or What's Up With This Chick?

"In Hollywood, brides keep the bouquets and throw away the groom."

-Groucho Marx

Oh my, she's back... Jennifer Wilbanks, the "Runaway Bride." Will this gal ever go away? LOL. So what's out little girl up to now? Well, it seems she is suing the former love of her life for $500,000. Yep, Jennifer feels she is entitled to $250,000, as her share of a home purchased by her then fiance, John Mason, from proceeds of the sale of their story to a media agent, and $250,000 in punitive damages, for what she claims were abuses by Mr. Mason, of the power of attorney rights she gave him to handle their affairs. The saga continues. Sigh. Jennifer Wilbanks has certainly lead a colorful life. While researching this lady earlier today, I came across an interesting in-depth interview between the "runaway bride" and Katie Couric on MSNBC. The interview was conducted in June of 2005. Here are some of my favorite moments...

"Ironically, you know, when I told John I was going to run, that's what I was doing. Because that's what I have always done."

-Jennifer Wilbanks

Then didn't she know, at least somewhere deep down, before she caused all the drama?

"First of all, that night, my running had absolutely nothing to do with this wonderful man sitting right here beside me."

-Jennifer Wilbanks

As crazy as my wedding day was, and the days leading up to it for that matter, it never once occurred to me to ditch Alan. So, couldn't she have gone to her fiance and told him she wanted to run away?

"I don't want to give myself to John, until I feel I am the right person for him. And right now I don't."

-Jennifer Wilbanks

What do you suppose was her first clue? LOL. Do you suppose she felt she was like Julia Roberts in "Runaway Bride," and Richard Gere would be just a jilted groom away?

Sigh. It seems like our heroine has a little further to go on her journey to strong mental health. Of course, as you know, the course of true sanity never did flow smoothly... or was that the road of true love? LOL. Ok, here's a question for my male readers. Knowing what you know about this lady, and her story, would you consider her a great catch? And the question for everyone is, "Is this really a news story? Share your thoughts with me in the comment thread of this entry. Come on... don't be shy... GO FOR IT!

You already know what I think about the whole thing...

Jennifer...HONEY...GO AWAY

Katie Couric Interviews Runaway Bride

Runaway Bride Sues Former Fiance


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Foliage 2006

"Autumn, the year's last loveliest smile."

-William Cullen Bryant

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Leaves are changing all over the US - show us the foliage in your neck of the woods. Normally I would say that a picture from your archives are fine and dandy, but for this assignment try to get fresh photos of the change of the season. Remember also that even though this is called the Monday Photo Shoot, you can still submit pictures, Tuesday, Wednesday, or even Thursday morning - so you have some time to find that perfect fall photo.

-John Scalzi (By The Way...)

Autumn may arrive on the same date all over the U.S., but you wouldn't really know it is autumn in the Bay Area, well at least not yet. :) I don't mind, I just go looking for it, and usually I am able to find it here and there. Especially in downtown Berkeley around the campus and in the hills above where I live. I will probably have a ton of autumn foliage photos in a couple weeks, but for now I have a few examples of early autumn to share. :) Enjoy!

Orange Hibiscus

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in it's sky, which through the summer is not heard or even seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Early Autumn Friend"
San Francisco, California
Autumn, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

Edible Flowers & Aphrodisiac Cooking

"Great food is like great sex. The more you have, the more you want."

-Gael Greene

Recently, I read an interesting article on AOL, by way of, about how eating a more healthy diet, can lead to a more healthy sexual drive. I never really thought about diet having an affect on one's sexual drive, but then again, I do know that aphrodisiac cooking is as old as time. I have had to make more then a few adjustments this year to my diet, thanks to being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, so while I am trying out new recipes for my general well-being, it could be a lot of fun to also try new things that will affect my more amorous side.

The list of foods and spices, considered to be an aphrodisiac, was interesting to be sure, and there were items on it that I always suspected had a positive influence on mood and drive, such as Chocolate, Nutmeg, avocado, and Ginger, but the surprising items included, Arugula, Asparagus, Deer Antler, Patchouli and Basil. I suppose Basil makes sense...look at how amorous Italian men are. LOL. Fabio...WOW! ;)

Vanilla Orchids

Old Tutonic lore says that the scent, and flavor, of vanilla, increases lust. It seems that Xanat, who was the daughter of a spanish fertility goddess, loved a young Tutonic man. When she couldn't marry him, because of her role as a goddess, she had herself turned into a plant that would bring him pleasure and happiness. She became a Vanilla Orchid. The Aztecs and Mayans used the tiny seeds from the orchid plant as a favored ingredient in many of their recipes. According to The Vanilla Company, there are over 150 varieties of vanilla orchid, and only two that are actually used as flavoring for cooking. They also offer some good advice on choosing the right vanilla for your culinary needs.

So ok...vanilla it is! LOL. Last week, while I was at the Conservatory of Flowers, I walked into the Low-Land tropics room to photograph the Amazon water lilies. I barely got the door open, when I saw the most gorgeous orchids I remember seeing, hanging in a small pot just about the water lily tank. It was the vanilla orchid. What a magnificent scent it had. It wasn't an overpowering aroma, but it wasn't what I would call subtle either. I pulled the tiny branch toward me to take in it's aroma, and I could just feel myself go... "mmmmmmmmmm." LOL. Who says vanilla is bland? LOL. I have been looking for just the right recipe to try out this theory of food and libido, and I came across just such a recipe by way of the, FoodNetwork, for, "Vanilla-Almond French Toast with Fancy Fruit Topping & Sweet-n-Smoky Bacon." Sounds perfect for breakfast in bed. :)

I want to do a lot more research into cooking with flowers, and I want to be careful, because not all flowers are digestive friendly. In fact, some are downright dangerous, but when careful, I think they could bring a certain something to a meal with a loved one. I always put a garnish on the plates I serve. Food pleasing to the eye isn't just for holidays you know, and it really isn't any more difficult. It certainly makes dieting, or trying to eat more healthy a lot more interesting. I have all kinds of items such as silk flowers, that I sometimes place next to something simple, like a slice of cake or torte. Frosted citrus fruit can be fun to use as well, but edible flowers sound like they would be a lot more fun. Maybe when I go to Half Moon Bay, later in the week, I will stop in at the orchid nursery, and do a little shopping. :)



"Vanilla Orchid"
Conservatory of Flowers
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, California
October 4th, 2006

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Under The Harvest Moon

"There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of it's inconceivable mystery."

- Joseph Conrad

The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon, or Hunter's Moon. It's gift to the farmers of the northern hemisphere, is to provide extra light for them to bring in the harvest from the fields. Most years, the Harvest Moon occurs in September, but some years, like 2006, it happens in early October. I love photographing the moon, especially when it is as beautiful as it was tonight. I am going to try to photograph it again just before sunrise, if I do, I will post a follow-up to this entry. :) But for now, here are a few scenes from under the Harvest Moon in Berkeley...

"Harvest Moon Over Berkeley"
Berkeley, California
October 7th, 2006