As it turns out, I'm not having the best start to the new year--at least in terms of being energetic--and keeping up my new blog is no exception! I'm endeavoring to catch up the blog, since I just turned thirty six and am feeling a bit older than dust right about now. This entry is going to be one of those, train of thought sort of things. I'm going to just share what I've been thinking on some current hot topics, in no particular order.
Heath Ledger's Death:
Okay, I rather like Heath Ledger, perhaps because he seemed genuinely likable. I suppose it's difficult to really feel attached to an actor, since we often judge them by their roles, not anything we might know about the person behind the characters they play. Anyway, I really enjoyed Ledger in "A Knight's Tale." I suspect a lot of people weren't crazy with the odd mix of modern music and a historical fiction set in the late middle ages, but I liked it. I mean, it had David Bowie's "Golden Years" mixed into a court room dance. What's not to love? It also had a fantastic supporting cast with Rufus Sewell (Dark City star), Paul Bettany (supporting parts in Master and Commander, The DaVinci Code as the albino, and A Beautiful Mind), Mark Addy (the father in TV's "Still Standing" and in the recent version of the Time Machine), and a very funny Alan Tudyk (Wash in "Firefly" and "Serenity").
Anyway, Ledger died of an accidental overdose by combining painkillers oxycontin (oxycodone) and vicodin (hydrocodone), anti-anxiety drugs Xanax and Valium, and sleeping pills. Now, given the fact I take oxycontin, vicodin and can't sleep, I understand the issue. I've taken Unisom, one of the two sleeping pills he was using, though I only use a half tablet. In most people, oxycontin and vicodin make you sleepy. In my case, apparently like his, my mind stays busy even when I'm physically exhausted. It's frustrating and would be even more difficult if I had an active life (which I suspect he did). It's an unfortunate loss, and one that makes me just a bit nervous, given what he died from. Thankfully, I don't need to maintain a normal schedule, and I've been able to avoid sleeping pills (after giving up on Unisom entirely).
The Presidential Primaries:
Well, as I write this, most of the tallies from Super Tuesday are in. McCain has a big lead over Romney and Huckabee. While I'm a liberal, I'm also a big fan of strong personalities. I value fiscal responsibility and lean right on criminal justice, so I'm not uncomfortable being labelled an independent. Simply put, very few people are lucky enough to be able to vote for a candidate they agree with on every major issue. It's far more likely, they'll have to support someone who strikes them as a leader, a reasonable and thoughtful individual, even if they can't see eye-to-eye on everything. I feel that way about John McCain.
I will most likely vote for Hillary Clinton before Obama, because everything Obama has said about "change" seems to exist in a void. Passing legistlation requires compromise. Hillary Clinton understands that. John McCain understands that. I'm fairly certain Obama, Romney, and Huckabee don't. Maybe that willingness to put aside partisan politics and come to an accord is really the definition of a moderate or independent. I see a Clinton v. McCain race as a win-win situation.
I'd be very disappointed if McCain ended up working to overturn Roe v. Wade, but his record seems to indicate his personal views (pro Life) wouldn't dictate some federal policy. Likewise, my own belief that same-sex marriage rights are undeniably the correct, reasonable way to move our laws wouldn't get much attention. McCain has made it a point that he believes it's a state issue, unlike his more socially liberal backers Gulianni and the Governator. While Hillary Clinton would undoubtedly not take an action to errode women's rights, and might move the reality of same-sex marriage rights closer, I think both of them would focus on the economy, salvaging the war in Iraq without pulling out as a knee-jerk reaction and turning the place into a veritable blender. Social issues are really important BUT I also can acknowledge the need for progress on things like health care (which is more likely under Clinton, but not out of the question with McCain), our economy, immigration and border security, and the war in Iraq.
I'm not convinced either Clinton or Obama can beat McCain. Clinton, in my mind, has a much better chance, but Obama galvanizes people. I don't see the appeal. He's done nothing remarkable. People are buying into his "change" rhetoric, but I haven't heard anything that leads me to believe he can correct the problems facing the nation, nor gain enough support within Congress. Whatever the case, I suspect the next president will be an improvement. I'm sure Clinton would be the candidate that serves me best, but I wouldn't be disappointed if McCain got elected, and even Obama would be less problematic than Bush. I guess we'll see.
I'm not a big fan of spending money we don't have, but I understand the complexity of the finances our government. I don't think 1% of our GNP will avert a recession, but it might blunt the outcome. Ultimately, I'd rather have a bit of the government's wasted money in my own hands. How do you plan on spending yours?
Depending on when we get our rebate (IF we do, I guess), I'll most likely just add it to my growing "house" fund. I have planned on paying off a small student loan and eventually Gwen's bracers, but we already will have those accounted for most likely. That leaves me with a single source of debt... my car payment. Even that is small, and we technically have enough to pay it off with enough for a cruise left over. None of that helps the economy, but I'm a frugal person. I buy things that interest me, when we feel comfortable spending the money... but I'm not going to go out and blow it just because I find myself with more money. I spend plenty anyway.
Brenda was gone in California this past week for a business trip, to kick off a new project, and she gave me crabs when she got back! Okay, by crabs, I actually mean hermit crabs. They were my birthday gift, since I've always liked the little fellows. They're sort of my totem animal, both the hermit-side and the fact they pinch! Heh. I'm going to do a bigger blog entry on the guys when I get the photos touched up and online.
I bought Brenda an 80gb Zune for her birthday, since our 20gb iPod hasn't been charging right... and no longer holds the 26gb of music I have. I continue to add ot our collection, ableit slowly, so it makes sense to find a system that will link with my computer (sync'd up, actually) and able to store enough. It also has a cool wireless connection, a bigger screen (3.2 inches), and a digital radio tuner. Overall, I think it's pretty nice, but I don't care for the way it handles the music. I would have been much happier with a system that functioned by standard Windows directories. Instead, it created a lot of "various artist" enteries for things like Fatboy Slim or other electronic acts with guests involved. Ah, well. It's still pretty nice.
Lastly, I got some nice little gifts from different people. I got two novels from Joel Rosenberg and volume one of Cowboy Bebop from Brenda. I was missing the first Bebop disc, though I have discs 2 through 6, and the movie! That's a great show, btw. I love Rosenberg, and although I'm missing some novels that come before these, Brenda was afraid (and rightfully so) they'll disappear entirely soon enough. I'm trying to find three of his novels on Ebay still. My mom sent me cash (which was silly, but one size definitely fits all) and two great color by pencil Thomas Kincaid sets. I'm looking forward to those, since I actually like to color. Mark, who has been friends with me longer than anyone I remain close to, got me two great graphic novels (The Watchers and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as well as a D&D book on my wish list (Lords of Madness). That was a great surprise, and I'm sure it'll give ma lot to read/do this month!
I won't go into another boring, redundant post, but it looks like the Pistons shook off a funk they went through (5 of 10 after their twelve game win streak ended), and are back ot a win streak of five or so. The bench is doing well and Amir Johnson is finally getting play time! For those that don't remember, Amir is the twenty year old 6'11" Piston who has a *gift* for rebounding and shot-blocking. He's still foul prone, but what an amazing athlete he is! The Pistons are five games behind the Celtics, but second overall in the NBA still. That's a pretty astounding record, and I like what they're doing.
The Lakers made a big move and traded off two draft picks ('08 and '10 first rounders), an expiring contract (Kwame Brown) worth $9m, and their point guard prodigy Jarvis Crittenton, for the Grizzlies' Pau Gasol. That's a fantastic move, though it has significant pay roll consequences. Still, it was likely the best deal the Grizzly organization could get since they're having serious financial problems. I'm sure they're going to try to move more players, since they have way too many point guards. They moved Stomile Swift to the Nets, and are shopping Mike Miller around, after buying out Damon Stoudemire (who went to the Spurs). Now people are wondering where the Net's Jason Kidd (or even Vince Carter) might land, and there are rumors about the Phoenix Suns swapping Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to the Heat for Shaq! That's a weird move, but make sense when you analyze it.
Bascially, even with his delined athletic ability, Shaq is still shooting 60%. He simply isn't getting the ball very often in Miami. His rebounding will never recover, but he's still a threat. He seems like a terrible fit with the super fast paced Suns, but imagine Shaq (even with his quesitonable health) paired with Amare Stoudamire (as a power forward, for a change), and all the accurate perimeter shooting on the Suns. Yeah, they wouldn't get as many fast breaks, but whew! That could work. Miami picks up a very, very talented player that has a player option next season. He may match up well with Wade and company, and Marcus Banks is still has promise as a point guard. I think he'd be an improvement over Smush Parker, and I suspect Jason Williams will be gone after this season (maybe even earlier).
The trade deadline is approaching, and I'm curious to see what people will do. The Pistons have a lot of expiring contracts they could use to lure out a guy who makes a big impact. They have Primoz Brezec, Walter Herrmann, Flip Murray, and even Jarvis Hayes. I think Lindsey Hunter might be in his last year, too, though I can't remember now. I'd like them to keep Herrmann instead of Jarvis Hayes, since Hayes may not resign for the money he's making this season. Herrmann is a good defender, great even, and seem like a talented scorer. We'll see what they decide, but I think it's safe to say Flip Murray is gone. The Bobcats players and Jarvis Hayes are more questionable.
I finally broke down and swiped an out of print book on Bit Torrent. I don't like the idea of aquiring stuff this way, but I couldnt' even find a copy on Ebay, so felt desperate. It wasn't as if my money didn't go to the publisher; it wasn't headed there anyway! It's a neat system, not unlike Napster, but I don't know if I'll make a lot of use of it or not. It is certainly tempting, given how much media is available through Bit Torrent sites.
Well, that's it! I've got a bunch of photos I need to get online. I also have to back up my data files (mostly music, but also writing, gaming, photos, etc.) onto my external hard drive this week, too. I'm always paranoid of computer problems, and it pays to have a backup of the files you value. I have a pair of external hard drives that don't ever get used, so time to make them useful!
I'm off like a dirty shirt!