Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Los Feliz 3 - Mommy & Me Wednesday Matinee

(Pictured above: My kid all smiles after watching her first movie.)

Los Feliz 3
1822 Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027,

The Los Feliz 3 movie theater offers "Mommy & Me Matinee" every Wednesday at 10:30 A.M.

$4.50 for adults. Children under 4 are free.

Top 3 Reasons to Go

1. You can see a movie without having to get a babysitter. (And if your kid is old enough - it's pretty awesome to share that "first time at the movies" experience with them.)

2. You don't have to wait until your kid is old enough to know what movies are playing, and begs and pleads for you to take them to see some annoying Disney movie. In other words, you pick the movie YOU want to see.

3. You won't annoy anyone if your kid makes noise, because everyone in the theater has a kid and understands how it is. In fact your kid can even walk around and play in the aisles if they want to.

Best movie to see
My daughter and I saw Juno. It was the ideal movie for a "mommy & me matinee" because there wasn't a lot of action, and the plot wasn't complicated - so when I looked away from the screen to attend to my kid, or when another kid in the movie theater was crying, I didn't miss anything.

The cheapest movie you ever saw could turn into the most expensive
Wednesdays between 12:00 and 3:00 there's street cleaning, so just just make sure you don't park on that side of the street, to avoid getting a $50 parking ticket.

Germany Confronts Holocaust Legacy Anew

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the day Hitler and the Nazi Party took power in Germany, and the occasion has prompted a new round of soul-searching.

Most countries celebrate the best in their pasts. Germany unrelentingly promotes its worst.
“Where in the world has one ever seen a nation that erects memorials to immortalize its own shame?” asked Avi Primor, the former Israeli ambassador to Germany, at an event in Erfurt on Friday commemorating the Holocaust and the liberation of Auschwitz. “Only the Germans had the bravery and the humility.”

Construction of Holocaust Memorials and Monuments in Germany
The enormous Holocaust memorial that dominates a chunk of central Berlin was completed only after years of debate. But the building of monuments to the Nazi disgrace continues unabated.

On Monday, Germany’s minister of culture, Bernd Neumann, announced that construction could begin in Berlin on two monuments: one near the Reichstag, to the murdered Gypsies, known here as the Sinti and the Roma; and another not far from the Brandenburg Gate, to gays and lesbians killed in the Holocaust.

Germany confronts their Holocaust legacy
The experience of Nazism is alive in contemporary public debates over subjects as varied as German troops in Afghanistan, the nation’s low birthrate and the country’s dealings with foreigners. Why Germany seems unendingly obsessed with Nazism is itself a subject of perpetual debate here, ranging from the nation’s philosophical temperament, to simple awe at the unprecedented combination of organization and brutality, to the sense that the crime was so great that it spread like a blot over the entire culture.

Whatever the reasons, as the events become more remote, less personal, this society is forced to confront the question of how it should enshrine its crimes and transgressions over the longer term.

The Invitation Program for Former Persecuted Citizens of Berlin
Rüdiger Nemitz first began welcoming back Berlin’s exiled victims of Nazi tyranny, an overwhelming majority of them Jews, in 1969. Berlin flies its former citizens back for a week of visits, all expenses paid and complete with a reception by the mayor.

The Invitation Program for Former Persecuted Citizens of Berlin, which has brought roughly 33,000 people for visits to the city, once had 12 full-time staff members. Now it is just Mr. Nemitz and a half-time employee.

The program is not, however, winding down because of waning support. At a time when the Berlin city government has had to make deep cutbacks in other areas, Mr. Nemitz said, the program’s $800,000 budget has not been pared since at least 2000.

“When it started, they were grown-ups,” said Mr. Nemitz from his office on the ground floor of City Hall. “Now, it’s people with hardly any memory of Berlin. Those who come today were children then.” The visits will end in 2010 or 2011, Mr. Nemitz estimated, because there are so few victims left.

Overlooked next to the fact of the survivors’ dying out is that Mr. Nemitz’s generation, those who fought to break the silence of their parents and teachers, is starting to retire. When the last tour group leaves Berlin, Mr. Nemitz, 61, who says he is afraid to take vacations and treats his position more like a mission than a job, will shut the door to his office and retire.

Responsibility on the world stage for social justice
Some say that young Germans, who are required to study the Nazi era and the Holocaust intensively, have shown little indication of letting the theme drop, despite their distance from the events. They say that the younger generation has tackled it as a source not of guilt, but of responsibility on the world stage for social justice and pacifism, including opposition to the war in Iraq.

Others argue the continued effort to acknowledge and make amends will only backfire
Others say that the crimes are dealt with only superficially, and that the young will eventually, and perhaps in carefully guarded ways, express their exhaustion with the topic. “I can’t help but feeling that some of the continued, ‘Let’s build monuments; let’s build Jewish museums,’ is a fairly ritualized behavior," Susan Neiman, director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, an international public research group, said by telephone. “I worry terribly that it’s going to backfire."

Germany's future
Angelika Baumann of the city’s Department of Arts and Culture has run workshops for schoolchildren 14 to 18 years old. “We’re planning for people who aren’t even born yet,” she said.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Middle-age is truly depressing, study finds

According to a study using data from 2 million people in 80 countries, depression is most common among men and women in their forties.

"For the average persons in the modern world, the dip in mental health and happiness comes on slowly, not suddenly in a single year," Andrew Oswald (at Britain's Warwick University, who co-led the study) said. "Only in their fifties do people emerge from this low period."

One possibility may be that people realize they won't achieve many of their aspirations at middle age, the researchers said.

Another reason could be that after seeing their fellow middle-aged peers begin to die, people begin to value their own remaining years and embrace life once more.

Photo by: monkey wrench

But there is good news

The study found that if people make it to aged 70 and are still physically fit, they are on average as happy and mentally healthy as a 20-year old.

For sure physically you can't complete with a 20 year old physique, but who wants to be 20 again anyway? There were/are a lot of miserable 20 year olds. (Look at Britney Spears.) Let's not forget about all that angst and inner turmoil. I'm much happier now in my 30's than I was in my 20's. I think it really has more to do with being in a good place in your life, no matter how old you are.

Click here to read the entire article.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The perks of having a weekly babysitter

The stars aligned when we found our babysitter Jill who's been with us for over a year now.

Recently we introduced cooking to the agenda - to mix it up a little and keep the little one interested and busy measuring, pouring, and stirring, so that she doesn't mind when mama and papa head out for the evening.

So far they've baked cookies, cornbread muffins, and scones. (The scones were especially delicious!)

So now when U. and I come home, not only is our little one freshly bathed and fast asleep, but the house smells great, and we have freshly baked goods to munch on. Perks I tell ya!

Guy Known for dishing fashion/style advice on America's Next Top Model needs help himself

According to TMZ, "Jay Manuel looks like he's wearing a super-absorbent suit made of Bounty paper towels."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hurray for Hollywood - the 2008 Oscar nominations

In 2007-2008, U. and I vigilantly went to the movies, determined to see the all the best movies of the year. I thought we did pretty well, until I saw the nominations for the 80th Annual Academy Awards (announced on Tuesday). So the following list is more of a reminder to myself which movies I still have to see.

*Movies/Performances I've seen

Nominations for Best Picture
  1. Atonement*
  2. Juno
  3. Michael Clayton*
  4. No Country For Old Men*
  5. There Will Be Blood*
Nominations for Best Actor
  1. George Clooney (Michael Clayton)*
  2. Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)*
  3. Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd)
  4. Tommy Lee Jones (In The Valley of Elah)
  5. Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Nominations for Best Actress

  1. Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
  2. Julie Christie (Away From Her)*
  3. Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)*
  4. Laura Linney (The Savages)*
  5. Ellen Page (Juno)

Nominations for Best Supporting Actor

  1. Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)
  2. Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men)*
  3. Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson's War)*
  4. Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild)
  5. Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)*
Nominations for Best Supporting Actress

  1. Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There)
  2. Ruby Dee (American Gangster)*
  3. Saoirse Ronan (Atonement)*
  4. Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
  5. Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)*

Nominations for Best Director

  1. Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)*
  2. Jason Reitman (Juno)
  3. Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton)*
  4. Ethan Coen & Joel Coen (No Country For Old Men)*
  5. Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)

Nominations for Best Documentary

  1. No End In Sight
  2. Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
  3. Sicko
  4. Taxi to the Dark Side
  5. War/Dance

Nominations for Best Foreign Language Film

  1. Beaufort
  2. The Counterfeiters
  3. Katyn
  4. Mongol
  5. 12

Nominations for Best Original Screenplay

  1. Juno
  2. Lars and the Real Girl
  3. Michael Clayton*
  4. Ratatouille
  5. The Savages*

Nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Atonement*
  2. Away From Her*
  3. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly*
  4. No Country for Old Men*
  5. There Will Be Blood*

Click here to view all the nominations.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Colombo's (Italian restaurant in Eagle Rock) & compliment from the 50's

Colombo's Restaurant Italian Steak House
1833 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041

I always thought that Colombo's was overrated. Yes, I know it's been around since 1954 and that's an eternity in LA. But really it's overpriced, barely average Italian food, with a cramped interior. Have you ever been seated in the add on room in the back that looks like a converted garage with wood paneled walls? Accompanied by a $150 tab, I refuse to be seated there again.The main dining room is fine although it can get quite loud with a live band, but the bar is even more convenient because you usually don't have to wait long for a place to open up.

Having said that, I first went to Colombo's about 5 or 6 years ago and it's conveniently located down the street from Colorado Wine Company, so it's an occasional stop for us after Friday night wine tasting.

The Strange Compliment
After finishing our dinner U. asked about the desserts and our mustached bartender Frank responded, "Do you really need dessert?" We were a bit perplexed as to why he would ask this, when Frank finished with, "You have your dessert right there," pointing to me (the dame sitting next to U.). My first thought was "what a sexist comment", and then considering the source it turned into "well the old guy meant it as a compliment."

Later we were told that white haired, undone necktie wearing Frank lives in Las Vegas, and flies down here to bartend from Thursday through Sunday, and then flies back to his home in Vegas every week. Kooky yes. I asked the same question you're probably thinking, "Why doesn't he bartend in Vegas?" Who knows, maybe I'll chat him up about it another night.

On another bright note, I think we found our perfect Friday night meal to share (after wine tasting at Colorado Wine Company):
1) Appetizer - Antipasto salad
2) Entree - Sauteed shrimp "scampi style" on linguine
3) Dessert - Spumoni ice cream cake

Beyond the Sea (La Mer) - A song fitting for a rainy week in Los Angeles

The original French version "La Mer" (written in 1945), performed live by Charles Trenet, with English subtitles. Such a beautiful, poetic song.

Bobby Darin's 1960 hit and English/swing version, "Beyond the Sea".

For LOST fans, this video combines the French and English versions. "Somewhere beyond the sea...there is an island."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Space...the final frontier" - Star Trek XI Teaser

The new Star Trek movie is being directed by J.J. Abrams (of LOST fame) and is due out Christmas of 2008. The teaser doesn't give away much other than the ship will be called "Enterprise." But I'm still intrigued.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Year, New Job, New Office, New Assistant (Lots of changes in 2008)

The David Bowie song "Changes" is ringing in my ears.

I just accepted a job offer, and I officially start in March. That will give me enough time (hopefully) to get everything in order (i.e., prepare for and get my daughter acclimated to preschool, etc.) to go back to work on a full time basis. Thankfully my employer was willing to wait for me.

While on the phone talking about my job offer, I read Heath Ledger died and immediately instructed the person on the other line to go to to read about it. Random I know...but it happened. And the woman I was talking to was just as shocked and interested in the news as I was. Only in LA right? - (can you combine a discussion about your career with a celebrity death newsflash.)

Lots of new changes this will bring:
  • Preschool for my daughter. A big milestone! It's time to get out the permanent marker to write her name on all her clothes and belongings. I never imagined this happening so soon - as it always seemed so far off. I can't believe my baby is going to school already! We were fortunate to find a preschool we like close to my office which makes it easier for me, and gives me more peace of mind.

  • My very own office. My friend and colleague, experienced in interior design, already offered to help me decorate. I'm thinking about getting a goldfish for stress relief and feng-shui, and possibly a mini bar.

  • My own full time assistant that I won't have to share with anyone else. Even better, they are currently interviewing for this position now and I will be meeting with the candidates who make the final round to choose my assistant.

  • Shifting my career into 2nd gear after taking some time off to stay home and raise my 2 year old daughter. I don't regret my decision to stay home for a second. My daughter is so much more confident, social and verbal now since I've been home with her. It gave me quality time with my daughter which is priceless, and the best gift I could have given her & I. I'm also in a much better place than if I would have stayed. So to all the critics who said I was crazy to leave my former job - I say it's only the things that I didn't do that I regret, not the things I have done.

It goes without saying - this is an exciting opportunity and new chapter in my life!

A champagne toast to my new job and all the changes that are already in motion for 2008!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Me at the Nokia Theater (for Bjork back in December)

Looking up at the marquee sign. (U. just got around to sending me this photo he took with his iPhone.)

Happy Martin Luther King Day 2008!

Speech: Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
(Excerpt below)
By: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Date: April 4, 1967
Location: New York City

"’A time comes when silence is betrayal.’ That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood."
Props to Google.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kidfresh - fun, healthy meals-to-go for kids

"You are what you eat! Kidfresh believes in the importance of children eating natural, wholesome and balanced foods. We offer two great ways to provide your children with nutritionally proportioned, organic foods for every meal of the day. Kidfresh meals appeal to both parents and children alike."

1628 2nd Avenue (betw. 84th & 85th)
New York, NY 10028

**UPDATE** - Just got an e-mail from Kidfresh that they only make local deliveries in NY, and do not ship meals. Also no word yet on the nutritional content (sodium, sugar, fat). I guess you have to check the label on the package - that is when it's available in Los Angeles. (See below.)
Hi Rose
Thanks for your interest in Kidfresh. We hope to be in California very soon. At the present time, we don't ship our meals at all. We do local deliveries in the NYC market. As far as nutrition is concerned, our meals are developed with the help of leading pediatric nutritionists and are nutrionally balanced for children.
We hope to be able to service LA in the near future.
All the best
With my daughter starting preschool soon, this creative idea/product interests me and my husband (as we're both busy, working parents), and we want to ensure that our daughter is eating healthy, organic foods, while still being "fun" in order to compete with and be just as enticing as the junk food other kids may be eating.

Purchases can be made online and shipped to the costumer. They're also rolling out their products in Whole Foods stores (currently at 2 NY locations - Columbus Circle, and Union Square).
The Store
Kidfresh is a store in NYC that provides "fun, healthy, freshly prepared meals-to-go just for kids for every meal of the day – without the junk." The store features a bar specially designed for children where they can customize a Shapewich by picking their favorite shape, select from an array of colorful, organic fruits to blend into a smoothie or even color their cupcakes. It also has it's own ice cream station.

Ready Made Meals
Kidfresh meals are packed with natural and organic ingredients that are high in a variety of nutrients, (with no additives, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, and transfats). From breakfast to lunchboxes, snacks and dinners, Kidfresh prepares all the meals you need for your children.

Ordering Online
Kidfresh Grab + Go meals & Mix + Match meals
"Kidfresh recognizes that parents lead busy lives. With this in mind, we offer a helping hand to help keep life simple and convenient."

Kidfresh also offers catering services for your kids' parties. (However, they only service Manhattan at this time.)
Whole Foods
As I mentioned above, Kidfresh products are currently in 2 Whole Foods stores in NY. According to their newsletter, there will be more to come. "Stay tuned for more news regarding Kidfresh's upcoming rollout in other Whole Foods Markets..."

I couldn't find anywhere on the website where it listed the nutritional contents of each. I'm most concerned about the sodium content, as many prepackaged meals are loaded with salt. But I also like to check the labels for sugar, and fat. I e-mailed the company and am waiting for a reply back before I put in my order.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Let Your Love Flow

The Bellamy Brothers singing "Let Your Love Flow" on German TV in the 1970s.

When I hear this song I think of sunshine, the orange mints at the bottom of my mom's crocheted purse back in the 70's, and long healthy hippy hair parted down the middle. It also reminds me of the coming of age movie "Little Darlings" my mom talked to be about to warn me about losing my virginity. Ha. A true blast from the past.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Another reason to visit Japan

The Silver Beats, a Japanese Beatles tribute band from the Cavern Club in Tokyo. The one guy really looks like John Lennon. He's Japanese and John Lennon was Caucasian, but whatever, it works.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Verdugo Bar - Welcome to the neighborhood!

Photos by: ...totallylikeduh!

Verdugo Bar
(Glassell Park)
3408 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles, CA 90065
(323) 257-3408

Open from Thursday - Sunday (8 PM to 2 AM)

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?...

I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
The sign out front simply reads, "Cocktails". Here's a view of the street location.The lounge in the back.

A bar in my neighborhood! I'm still pinching myself.

While the outside is pretty nondescript, the inside is beautiful. I had envisioned a dive bar, but the Verdugo Bar surpassed my expectations. Sleek, sophisticated, expensive wood, leather, chandeliers, art; even the bathrooms are adorable. Definitely NOT a dive bar!

On this Friday night, the bar's front room was packed, but the Asian inspired lounge in the back has additional rich brown leather seating.

U. summed it up best when he said, "If this bar was in Hollywood I'd think 'whatever' but the fact that it's here...whoa! It's like having the W in our neighborhood."

The Crowd
The crowd was eclectic and 90's Silverlake-ish. A mix of hipsters, locals, and a couple creepy characters thrown in for good measure as a reminder that it is in fact a bar in Glassell Park. Otherwise, with the cool ambiance and décor, you tend to forget where you are. (Although I do hope the nice crowd stays and it isn't overrun by gangsters and homeless - which every new business in an up and coming neighborhood fears).

The Music
The music was also good (lots of classic Joy Division) and not too loud.

Overall Review
A sophisticated local bar and welcome addition to the neighborhood.

(Prior to opening, our neighborhood bar consisted of Los Candiles - a Latino gay/trany bar on the corner of Division and Cypress. A must see for the surreal David Lynch-esque interior and performances - male strippers dressed in sailor and cop costumes, diva transvestites lip synching, and post-op transsexual strippers - but it's not the type of bar you can just stop in to have a drink.)

Big Question
So when is the first trendy restaurant going to move in next door? If only. I hope this is just the beginning of cool establishments moving into the neighborhood. Then my Friday nights could take place on Verdugo (Glassell Park) vs. Colorado Blvd. (Eagle Rock). Just call me an Eastside girl hoping for nicer, safer, more happening neighborhood & playground.

Photo and caption on Flickr made me laugh

Photo by: jonnyups
"Dumbass, I Hope She Said Know. Err, I Mean No."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Peace on Earth

Over the holidays we dog sat for friends of ours. Our dog and theirs are best girlfriends, but they fight too. (Dominance issues galore.) I went downstairs and saw this picture perfect scene - both dogs were napping peacefully together, and our dog had given her friend (the bigger one) her pillow bed. There's hope for peace on earth after all.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Okay, Okay, Okay

Photo by: sheeshoo

"Okay, Okay, Okay" is what the painters told me after I pointed out what I expected and they were in no way "finished" as they declared at 3 PM. If my unprofessional eye can see dripping paint, uneven lines, and areas that need patching, then what does that say for the painting professionals I hired to paint my house? When I was met with "Oh we can't do that" I whipped out my contract which detailed the work that was promised.

It's a fine art - negotiating. It's a hassle and can be exhausting, but it has to be done and I'm realizing I'm quite good at it. You could say I've been honing my negotiating skills recently by dealing with the roofer, plumber, contractor, gardener, and painters. Can you tell I'm a homeowner?

Being a woman people just assume that I'm not the head of the household and don't hold the purse strings (but the saying is purse, not wallet right?)- "Why don't you talk it over with your husband" which I use to my advantage. "Oh that's way too much. My husband would never agree to pay that much." Little do they know that ultimately it's my decision on who I go with and what I feel is fair. I hope no future contractors are reading this blog because that would give away part of my strategy. But isn't it always like that when people underestimate you and you turn a presumed or perceived weakness into a strength?

(For working women out there I highly recommend the book Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success that Women Need to Learn by Gail Evans.)

Even though it is a chore, I have to admit that it can be fun - a challenge. For example, when someone says it's the lowest they can go, I throw out a number I think is fair and when they accept my offer that was much lower than their "lowest" offer - it feels good. I'm not unreasonable, so if someone tells me it's their final offer, it feels great to negotiate additional services for the same price.

All this said, I've been interviewing for a position that is a great opportunity for me and fits with my experience and life. They're planning on making me an offer next week and then the fun starts - the negotiating begins! Everything I've gone through so far just serves as practice for what's to come. Wouldn't it be great if my prospective future employer were to just say to me, "Okay, Okay, Okay"?

Monday, January 07, 2008

In Blog, a Military Man Writes About His Own Death

Photo by: Danny Dinges
"Only the dead have seen the end of war." - Plato

The New York Times
Published: January 7, 2008

Andrew Olmsted, a United States Army major who wrote an online blog for The Rocky Mountain News, prepared for the possibility of his death by writing a 3,000-word piece.

“I’m dead,” he wrote in July 2007 as he arrived in Iraq for an 18-month tour of duty. “But if you’re reading this, you’re not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact.”

The major, who was 38, was killed Jan. 3 by small-arms fire from insurgents in Sadiyah, 100 miles northeast of Baghdad. The next day, a fellow blogger published Major Olmsted’s eloquent essay, leading to an outpouring of comments from more than 1,000 readers. His blog became exponentially more popular in death than in life, garnering more than 100,000 page views on Saturday.

Major Olmsted was one of the first “milbloggers,” an Internet term for members of the military who blog. Thousands of readers had followed his posts for more than five years, first on and later on the Web site of The Rocky Mountain News, a newspaper in Colorado.

While bloggers have died in war zones before, several prominent military bloggers said they could not recall any previous instances of posthumous blog entries.
Blogging from the grave
"As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn't bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose. Perhaps I take that further than most, I don't know. I hope so.

Believe it or not, one of the things I will miss most is not being able to blog any longer. The ability to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper and put them where people can read and respond to them has been marvelous, even if most people who have read my writings haven't agreed with them. If there is any hope for the long term success of democracy, it will be if people agree to listen to and try to understand their political opponents rather than simply seeking to crush them. While the blogosphere has its share of partisans, there are some awfully smart people making excellent arguments out there as well, and I know I have learned quite a bit since I began blogging.

Blogging put me in touch with an inordinate number of smart people, an exhilarating if humbling experience."

He specifically asked that his death not be used for political purposes
"I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn't a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don't drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I'm not around to expound on them I'd prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn't support. Further, this is tough enough on my family without their having to see my picture being used in some rally or my name being cited for some political purpose. You can fight political battles without hurting my family, and I'd prefer that you did so.

On a similar note, while you're free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I wasted my life, I'll tell you you're wrong. We're all going to die of something. I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was."

Speaking to the circumstances of his own death
"I suppose I should speak to the circumstances of my death. It would be nice to believe that I died leading men in battle, preferably saving their lives at the cost of my own. More likely I was caught by a marksman or an IED. But if there is an afterlife, I'm telling anyone who asks that I went down surrounded by hundreds of insurgents defending a village composed solely of innocent women and children. It'll be our little secret, ok?"

His very personal & heartbreaking message to his wife Amanda of 10 years
"This is the hardest part. While I certainly have no desire to die, at this point I no longer have any worries. That is not true of the woman who made my life something to enjoy rather than something merely to survive. She put up with all of my faults, and they are myriad, she endured separations again and again...I cannot imagine being more fortunate in love than I have been with Amanda. Now she has to go on without me, and while a cynic might observe she's better off, I know that this is a terrible burden I have placed on her, and I would give almost anything if she would not have to bear it. It seems that is not an option. I cannot imagine anything more painful than that, and if there is an afterlife, this is a pain I'll bear forever.

I wasn't the greatest husband. I could have done so much more, a realization that, as it so often does, comes too late to matter. But I cherished every day I was married to Amanda. When everything else in my life seemed dark, she was always there to light the darkness. It is difficult to imagine my life being worth living without her having been in it. I hope and pray that she goes on without me and enjoys her life as much as she deserves. I can think of no one more deserving of happiness than her.

"I will see you again, in the place where no shadows fall."Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5

I don't know if there is an afterlife; I tend to doubt it, to be perfectly honest. But if there is any way possible, Amanda, then I will live up to Delenn's words, somehow, some way. I love you."

His wish to have his last blog post published in the event of his death
In March Major Olmsted approached his friend Hilary Bok, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, and asked if she would publish a post for him if he died during the war. She said she immediately agreed. He sent a rough draft at the beginning of June, and kept redrafting until July 15, the day he arrived in Baghdad.

“When I first read it, I cried,” Ms. Bok said.

Click here to read the entire 3,000 word final post.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Pasadena Doo Dah Parade - (the twisted sister to Pasadena’s prim and proper Rose Parade)

Pasadena's Doo Dah parade looks and sounds pretty kooky and fun. Me and the fam are going to try and check it out.

Quick parade info
When: Sunday, January 20, 2008
Where: Old Town Pasadena, Raymond and Colorado
Time: The parade steps off at 11:30AM
Cost: Free

Nonconformity Lives
"Doo Dah’s 31st Occasional Parade celebrates the post-holiday season in its typically loud, irreverent style. The twisted sister to Pasadena’s prim and proper Rose Parade, again sends up a woolly range of mischiefs, grounded superheroes, political pundits, homegrown satirists, art car inventors, and other bohemian frolickers.

More than 100 parade entries will unfurl their freak flags before an anticipated 45,000 spectators, like the Cheney Hunting Club, Bastard Sons of Lee Marvin, La Machina Candida, Tequila Mockingbird, and Jazz Funeral for Pluto. Where else in Southern California will you find the Hairy Krishnas, Howdy Krishnas and the real Hare Krishnas rolled into one street party?"

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year 2008!

Wishing everyone a happy, successful, and inspirational New Year!
ABBA sings Happy New Year.