Saturday, November 04, 2006

Asterisks & Disclaimers

"An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry."

-T.S. Eliot

Next Tuesday is the day we get to tell our government exactly what we think, will you be a casual observer or will you rock the vote? I am hoping it will be the latter of the two. Here in California, we seem to be experiencing a good bit of voter fatigue. The Sacramento Bee is estimating that only 55 percent of eligible California voters will be casting a vote, but in what is being called a "growing trend," 44% of the vote will be by absentee ballot. 44% seems like a pretty large number to me, but then again, it might just be the way all of us will be voting in the future, given the problems that have been occurring in recent years with electronic voting devices. In some ways I would prefer voting by absentee ballot from now on. I did my research, and I educated myself on the candidates and issues, so when I marked my ballot, I was confident in how I felt about things. With the election just three days away, I know that I wouldn't have changed my final decisions, and I managed to arrive at my choices not by the dirty ads from either side, in fact, it was in spite of., recently did an analysis of the dirty politicking taking place this voting season, and while both sides did very well in the fine art of mudslinging, but it was the republican party that stood out in the airing of negative ads with a whopping 91% negativity nationwide. The democrats finished the mud-toss with 81%. Sigh. I am sure the ridiculous remarks made by John Kerry earlier this week, may have actually pushed the bar up a little bit. While I understand, and believe that he was attempting humor, and not mocking the troops, it was still a cringe-worthy remark. Leave the sarcastic humor for the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. I don't want a stand-up comedienne for a representative, I want someone who takes the issues on, head first, and brings about positive change... not the same old clever politics as usual. Don't you? No matter what side you vote on, wouldn't you like to see an end to the same old rhetoric?

Here in California, something kind of interesting happened this past week. A mailing was sent out to approximately 500,000 registered democrats, of which I was one, which was titled, "Voter Information Guide For Democrats." On the front is a picture of U.S. Senator, Diane Feinstein, and suggests that this guide be used when casting your vote on Tuesday. Handy, isn't it? Not really. See, this particular mailer is being looked at by some California democrats, including Diane Feinstein, as being at best, "misleading." The flier implies that democratic politicians, including Feinstein, will be voting "No" on several propositions such as 86 and 87, both of which are being backed my democrats. "This is not the official slate of the Democratic party, because we are Yes on 87 not No on 87," says Art Torres, California Democratic party leader.

So what keeps this from being actual fraud? Technically no laws have been broken. The firm which produced the mailer covered their actions by including on the front cover, all the usual asterisks and disclaimers. Some might still consider this to be a dirty trick, and I might agree, but I want to think in a broader scope here. So, here is what I have to ask about this situation, is it a dirty trick, if the average voter doesn't bother to read the entire mailer to see just who is supplying the content of the mailer? If someone, who hasn't made up their mind yet, gets this mailer and skims the information and arrives at the conclusion that Senator Feinstein plans to vote "NO" on a certain proposition, when in fact she is one of those endorsing the proposition, isn't there some fraud involved? Do you read all the voter information that comes in the mail? What percentage of the ads and mailers that you see on TV or read from the mail, affects your decision on election day?

The "Voter Information Guide" was prepared by the for profit firm of Levine & Associates of Sherman Oaks, California. When they were asked about their practices, Levine responded that he is a "lifelong democrat," and that the information, "reflects his personal opinion based on years of experience, not as a result of the amount of money he recieved from individual campaigns." Campaign finance records indicate that Levine recieved $300,000 from oil companies, and $75,000 from tobacco companies opposing prop 86. I think Senator Feinstein said it best...

"I think this is just one good indication that we really need to take a look and see if we need to strengthen federal law to prevent this kind of thing from happening."

-Diane Feinstein : Republican Mudslinging On An Industrial Scale

California Capitol Building
Sacramento, California
October 24th, 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #137: Your First Vote

"Votes are like trees, if you are trying to build a forest. If you have more trees than you have forests, then at that point the pollsters will probably say you will win."

-Dan Quayle

Weekend Assignment #137: Recount the first time you voted in a local, state or national election. That's to say the first time your vote counted, not a play vote like Athena's. For this, primary voting counts too. If you want to share who you voted for and whether they won, that's cool, but if you feel like you want to keep your political affiliation unstated, that's fine too.

Extra Credit: Are you voting next Tuesday?

-John Scalzi

I know the above graphic is of Clinton/Gore from the "96" campaign, but that isn't the first time I voted for them. See, I was a believer since 1992, the year I cast my very first vote! Up until that time I hadn't voted, because I simply hadn't been impressed with the candidates that were running for office. Bill Clinton and Al Gore changed all that, they were so dynamic together that it actually made me excited to vote for the first time. I have to admit, I had been impressed with Bill Clinton, from the first time I saw him play his sax on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show." I remember telling Alan the next morning, "Clinton will be president someday."

He spoke to a lot of young adults. He really seemed to be listening to what was important to young America, and I have to say, he never let me down. Yes, as we all know now, he engaged in less than honorable activities with Monica Lewinski, and he was impeached for it, but I always thought at the time, as I do now, that essentially it wasn't any of my business. That act however ill advised, did not raise my taxes, it didn't cause oil prices to rise, it didn't harm foreign relations. It was a moral situation between himself and his family. There were enough villans in that whole situation to go around. Did it disappoint me? Yes. Did it harm me or my country? No. Enough said.

I am hoping, in two years, when we all go to the polls nationally, that we will once again have someone we can get excited about on the ballot. Someone who will be listening to us again. We have a chance on Tuesday to send some pretty clear messages. I am not taking anything for granted. Just because the polls are indicating that we might see real change in America, as we all know, anything... a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g... can happen. I want to see America get back on it's feet. I want to see us all fear less, to see that happen will take some courage. I remember how good it felt all those years ago, to cast my first vote, and then witness the change for the better, and I will tell you the truth...there is just nothing like it! Be sure to VOTE! :)

Extra Credit: I have already cast my vote by way of absentee ballot!


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Somewhere In Time

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."

-Mark Twain

Here are a few more pictures from my visit last week, to historic Virginia City, Nevada. I love this little town. It is an awesome feeling to know I am looking at many of the same buildings Mark Twain did, when he lived here all those years ago. A place like this really speaks to the history buff in me, but it's not just the ghosts that roam the boarded sidewalks of Virginia City that keep me coming back every year, it is also the amazing architecture of the old-west buildings and churches, that never cease to amaze and inspire me.

Speaking of inspiration, the author and screenwriter of the film, "Somewhere In Time," Richard Matheson, drew his inspiration for the story from his desire to travel back in time to meet the stage actress, Maud Adams, after he saw her photo displayed in Piper's Opera House, in Virginia City. I have always loved that movie... my zodiac sign is Cancer, and you know what romantics we can be! :)

My walk around town...

The Whole Town Is Considered A Monument.

This miner greets up upon entering Virginia City, from the Reno direction.

The Story of the Suicide Table...

"So called because three previous owners are reported to have comitted suicide because of heavy losses over this table..."

You can read more details, about the unlucky table, at Scroll all they way down the page, the reference is near the end.

The actual "Suicide Table."

A mining certificate from the Exchecquer Mining Company.

19th Century stamp and certificate pad.

The Virginia City Cemetery. It was kind of spooky.

Nevada Centennial Marker #13 Comstock Lode.

Piper's Opera House, Virginia City.

Internet Movie Database: Trivia, "Somewhere in Time."

Sights Of Virginia City, Nevada
October 25th, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Round Robin Challenge: The Creative Side Of You!

"Trust that little voice in your head that says, 'Wouldn't it be interesting if...' And then do it."

-Duane Michals

If it's autumn, it must be time for me to make a cinnamon broom! Every autumn I make one or two of these brooms, and place them in different parts of the house, so that the sweet, spicy scent of cinnamon makes the house smell warm and inviting. Cinnamon has such a nice scent, the only other scent I enjoy more would be clove. MMMMMmmmmmmm... it just gives me such a calming feeling. Cinnamon is a so good for you, it has been used for many years in herbal remedies for calming the stomach, and is often used in aphrodisiac cooking. So ladies, never underestimate the power of a good Snickerdoodle! ;)

Plain Cinnamon Broom

A Few Seasonal Delights

All that's left is a glue gun and some imagination, and viola! A lovely seasonal decoration... A Cinnamon broom!

This Round Robin Challenge, comes to us by way of Pat (DesLily), author of the journal, "Here, There And Everywhere 2nd Edition." Be sure to pay a visit to her journal, and all the journals and blogs on the Linking List, to see all the talented members of the Round Robin Challenges, and their creations! Thank you Pat, this was an anwesome choice for a challenge theme!

Linking List

Pat... POSTED!
Here, There And Everywhere 2nd Edition

Carly... POSTED!
Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly


Janet... POSTED!
Fond of Photography

Karen... POSTED!
Outpost Mavarin

Sara... POSTED!
Animated Seasons

Linda... POSTED!
Blah Blah Blog

Suzanne R... POSTED!
New Suzanne R's Life

Teena... POSTED!
It's all about me!

Steven... POSTED!
(sometimes) photoblog

Marie... POSTED!
Photographs And Memories Too (AOL)

Robin... POSTED!
R's Musings

Julie... POSTED!
Julie's Web Journal

Chris... POSTED!
It's all about me...I think!

Sassy... POSTED!
Sassy's EYE

John... POSTED!
Personal Effects

Brad G... POSTED!

Gattina POSTED! **Welcome New Member**
Keyhole Pictures

"Cinnamon Broom"
Berkeley, California
October 30, 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween! & Steven's Feline Friday

"Life's pretty good, and why wouldn't it be? I'm a pirate after all."

-Johnny Depp as Captain Jack

Ahoy Mateys... From our house to yours... HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Love, Elvis

PS This entry is also my entry for Steven's weekly meme... Feline Friday. Cats rule everyday... not just Halloween. If you have a special feline friend, you should post a picture for Feline Friday. Just drop by Steven's blog, (sometimes) photoblog, for all the details. :)

"Captain Hooktail"
Berkeley, California
October 31st, 2006

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Pumpkins!

"Men are like pumpkins. It seems like all the good ones are either taken or they've had everything scraped out of their heads with a spoon."


Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show us your Halloween pumpkins! This year's pumpkin is preferable, but if you've not managed to yours this year, go ahead and pick one from your photo archives. Remember also that just because it's called the Monday Photo Shoot doesn't mean you can't turn in a picture on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. So, if you haven't gotten a pumpkin yet - there's still time!

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

I love Halloween...but then you already knew that, right? :) On the table, in the photo, you see four pumpkins, but only one of them will be the official Halloween pumpkin for the Gordon house. The two small ones will be used as "protection pumpkins." One will guard the front door, and the other one will protect the back door. See, I read somewhere that you should put a small, uncarved pumpkin at your door, to protect you the rest of the year. My protection pumpkins usually last through mid-summer, if I keep them out of the direct heat of the day. It's kinda nice to have that bit of fresh autumn around to lift my spirits. :) After I discard them, I place two small pumpkin candles on a table near my front and back door, until October 23rd, which is the official pumpkin purchasing day in our household. If we grow them ourselves, we pick them on that day and place them accordingly. Tee Hee... there are rules to these things!

The pumpkin on the left is going to be used as a baking shell for a recipe I have for Beef Stew. The pumpkin is used as a terrine. It is absolutely delicious. YUM. So, that leaves the pumpkin on the right to serve as our Jack-O-Lantern for 2006. That is what I will be doing tonight, gutting him and preparing him for the big day! He doesn't have his face quite yet, so I think what I will do is update this entry to show you his metamorphosis throughout the week! So, to begin with, you have the basic pumpkin, purchased this year in Half Moon Bay, California. Pumpkin capitol of the Bay Area! Come back each day to see his progress...

Mr. Pumpkin... Day 1

Day 2... Innerds


Day 2 Making A Face... Halloween... It's Time To Shine!

"A Pumpkin's Life"
Berkeley, California
October 30th 2006

Monday, October 30, 2006

Haunted Refrigerator Night...2006

"A house never stands in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night."

-J.M. Barrie

For 3 spooky years in a row, my good friend Steven, and I, have shared with each other...GULP...and all of you, the strange goings on in our respective kitchens! More specifically... the weird goings on in our refrigerators! See, tonight is the truly spooky night of the year, "Haunted Refrigerator Night!" Every October 30th, ghouls in Texas, and California, rise from their dark cold dwellings, and search for the darker and colder dwellings that exist beyond their spectral world...our refrigerators!

In 2005, it was a spooky Chocolate Moose that paid me a visit, and ate an entire Strawberry pie. All that was left the next day, was the top of a single strawberry! In 2005, it was a mysterious golden bear that visited my refrigerator in the night! Ghastly it was! Gone was my tapioca pudding. Gone it was! Here is some photographic evidence of the visitors of the night...

Haunted Refrigerator Night 2004: ACK! It was the ghost of the Berkeley Chocolate Moose! No Strawberry Pie was safe!! The air was frigid, near my Frigidaire!

Haunted Refrigerator Night 2005

EEEEEEK... It was the haunting of the "Double Vision Golden State Bear!" After his visit, all the Tapioca pudding went missing! Mysterious indeed!

Haunted Refrigerator Night 2006

Yikes! It's Danny... The Berkeley Hills GHOUL! He ate all the Vlasic Baby Dill Spears! And a few of the adult ones!

Keep in mind, there are a few more hours left of October 30th! Beware... if you hear mysterious munching coming from your refrigerator before the clock strikes midnight, because it could be some ghost, ghoul or Texan stealing your bananas! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAA!

Be sure to visit Steven's blog, (sometimes) photoblog, to see the ghoulish, and ghastly goings on in his refrigerator in Houston. Burrrrrr... did you feel that chill just then? EEEEEEEK! Thanks Steven, for another great Haunted Refrigerator Night! ;)

"Haunted Refrigerator Night 2006
Berkeley, California
October 30th
Sometime After Midnight

What The Butler Saw

"In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated."

-August Sander

Virginia City, Nevada, has a lot to offer the amateur photographer. A lovely old-west feel, gorgeous churches, and history, history, history... and maybe a ghost or two if you are lucky. When I visited that intriguing town last week, I was determined to stop into the Delta Saloon, to photograph the famous, "Suicide Table." That particular attraction has quite a story behind it, and I will be sharing it's story in an upcoming entry, but for this entry, I thought I might share about another interesting bit of history I found in the saloon, the Quartoscope.

The Quartoscope works on the same design as the Mutoscope, which was an early motion picture device. Similar to Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope, the device works not be projecting a picture onto a screen, but rather by a flip-book action, in which individual images are put onto heavy flexible cards and bound into a booklet, then the cards are attached to a circular core within the machine. About 850 cards could be held at once, and as the viewer turned the hand crank on the side of the machine, the images played out different views, but quite often the patron would be viewing, "girlie" reels or sometimes even soft core porn.

The Mutoscope was more commonly known in England as, "What The Butler Saw," machines, named after one of the film reels that was popular in the late 19th century. Eventually the machines came under quite a bit of public condemnation for their "vicious and demoralizing" influence on young males who may have viewed the movie reels. While these machines were most often found in amusement parks and arcades, there were many of these machines which showed a variety of short films, not all were of the risque type.

We didn't view the film that was on this particular Quartoscope, but I did have a chance to take a peek inside and here is what I saw...

Quarterscope (Mutoscope)

The first image is mine, I was too short to get a good shot, so Alan took the second photo for me. Even on tippy-toes I was a little too short. Oh well... he is such a sport! LOL. Kinda cool huh? :) Just think, that lady (Pin-up girl) was probably somebody's grandmother!

Delta Saloon
Virginia City, Nevada
October 25, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More To Come...

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn is a mosaic of them all."

-Stanley Horowitz

I love the seasons, and I love photographing them, especially when the sun shows me shadows. I love how the everything sparkles like diamonds in the winter, as the sun dances off the snow. Lake Tahoe is amazing any time of year, but it is especially beautiful in winter.

Spring in the Bay Area is stunning. Vivid color everywhere. Spring was never my favorite time of year, because I would rather photograph leaves in autumn, then flowers, but for some reason this past spring was awesome to me. I had such a good time with the flowers, and I learned to really appreciate photographing bees for the first time.

Summer... my least favorite time of year. This past summer was spent at the conservatory photographing the magnificent butterflies. As I have said, I learned so much about patience and indoor lighting. I know I learned about myself, while photographing those butterflies. I did a lot of processing as I focused on them, as harsh as it felt at times, I am thankful for those quiet afternoons at the Conservatory of Flowers.

This year has held some amazing moments, and there is still a little more to come! I am still have a ton of editing to do from my recent trip to the Sierra, so I will be posting about that a little at a time. I don't want to rush with the photos. I can tell you I have a lot of amazing stuff to show you, so please bear with me. There is definitely more to come...

"Four Seasons Collection"
1. "The Edge Of Donner Pass"
1a. "Winter"
2. "Spring"
3. "Summer"
4. "Autumn"