Friday, March 14, 2008

Black is a great color--it sets off your wig!

A great perk to my job is the artwork produced by hundreds of tiny (and not so tiny) hands. The women who have lived here for over a hundred years have paintings and ceramic statues in the upstairs Residence; beautiful, hand-sewn quilts are constantly produced for baptisms, baby showers, and wedding gifts. In the schools, students decorate the hallways for dances and Spirit Week (this January it was superheroes). Art projects are proudly displayed to parents and friends. But it’s the little kids’ work that I enjoy the most. My old office used to be closer to those classrooms and it was always a joy to run an errand that direction—dancing paper leprechauns stand outside the kinder room, homage to Monet flower gardens done in tissue paper crowd around another door, and state maps wallpaper another corner.

Every winter, though, we’re treated to a surprise on the upper most floor—The Hall of Presidents. You can tell these kids spent quite a bit of time making them. I love every one of them. I’m assuming that there is a corresponding paper to each portrait but I’ve never seen them. I can deduce, though, what might have been on the paper…

George Washington, 1789-1797

Everyone knows that George Washington served as a general in the American Revolution and was voted unanimously as the first president of our country. What many don’t know is that he loved Quaker oatmeal. Would eat it night and day.

John Adams, 1797-1801

John Adams, our second president, was instrumental to creating the Declaration of Independence. He was the first president to move into the new White House located in Washington, DC. Sources say he is the great, great, great grandfather to the Hensen Muppets.

Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809

What hasn’t been said of the great Thomas Jefferson? Writer of the Declaration of Independence at 33, served as the minister to France in 1785, built the impressive Monticello estate, and made the smartest real estate purchase in the history of the country. He often performed concerts on the White House lawn as Ziggy Stars-And-StripesDust.

John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829

Son of President John Adams, John Quincy served under President Monroe as Secretary of State and helped formulate the Monroe Doctrine. No candidate for the 1825 election had the majority of electoral votes, so John Quincy’s appointment was decided by the House of Representatives. Upon becoming President, Andrew Jackson (who had lost the election), charged that a “corrupt bargain” had taken place and began an earnest campaign to wrest the Presidency from Adams. Historians now believe the “corrupt bargain” was in fact a pact with the netherworld; he lived the remainder of his days as an undead zombie.

Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837

Andrew Jackson was elected by popular vote; in his first message to Congress he recommended eliminating the Electoral College which lost him his bid for presidency before. The current Democratic party grew from political discussions during this era. Hostile cartoons circulated calling him King Andrew I. There was, perhaps, a bit of royalty within him; presidential biographers are uncertain if he is related to the King of Pop or Don King.

William Henry Harrison, 1841

The Whigs, the other political party to develop during President Jackson’ term of office, nominated Harrison in 1840. He won by a majority of less than 150,000 but swept the Electoral College vote, 234 to 60. Les than a month in office, he developed pneumonia and died in office. Funeral attendees included Pikachu, Vampire Hunter D, and Sailor Moon.

Millard Fillmore, 1850-1853

Under President Fillmore’s term, California was admitted as a free state, the Texas/Mexico boundary was settled, and the slave trade abolished in the District of Columbia. Despite these achievements, President Fillmore could still not find a pair of sunglasses that fit.

Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877-1881

The closest election in history, Rutherford B. Hayes went to bed thinking that his democratic rival had won. Hayes election depended upon contested electoral votes in Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida (can anyone say déjà-vu?). The final electoral vote: 185 to 184. His first action? To banish wines and liquors from the White House. This may explain his fondness for prancing in the forest singing, “I’m a Lumberjack and I’m okay.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909

After the assassination of President McKinley, Roosevelt became the youngest President at age 42. Before he came to office, he served as a lieutenant colonel of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War. Some say he was more comfortable in the saddle, then sitting in the Oval Office. He is most often remembered for saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick of sun tan lotion.” Near the end of his tenure, however, he had an unfortunate run-in with an Amazon Witch Doctor; many historians claim he was the first Flower Child. Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921 Woodrow Wilson campaigned for President on a New Freedom program which stressed individualism and states’ rights. In 1917, President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. After the Germans signed the Armistice in November 1918, Wilson went to Paris and crafted the Versailles Treaty, the beginnings of the League of Nations. While abroad, he reveled in his androgyny, singing “Wilkimmen, beinvenue, welcome, im cabaret, au cabaret, to cabaret!” In his spare time he built computer consoles.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1961

Eisenhower had a prestigious career in the military during World War II. He commanded the Allied Forces landing in North Africa in 1942; two years later he was responsible for the D-Day landing in France. After the war, he worked for NATO until he was persuaded to run for President in 1952. As President, he continued most of the New Deal and Fair Deal programs started by his predecessors, and ordered the desegregation of schools and the armed forces; the soul patch he sported illustrated his solidarity.

John F. Kennedy, 1961-1963

The youngest President to serve, Kennedy was also the youngest to die in office by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, Texas. He was dedicated to human rights, promoted the Peace Corps, and called for new civil rights legislation. After the Bay of Pigs, he proposed a nuclear test ban treaty and promised to land a man on the moon. He is sometimes mistaken for his brother, Ted Kennedy, mislabeled in this picture. Richard Nixon, 1969-1974

During his term of office, President Nixon ended the fighting in Viet Nam and improved relations with the USSR and China. When the Watergate scandal broke, Nixon challenged government officials. “I know nothing, I didn’t see anything, I wasn’t there, and if I was there, I was asleep.” In the end, he made America an offer we can’t refuse and resigned from office.

James Carter, 1977-1981

A peanut farmer in his youth, President Carter worked hard to combat an energy shortage, improve the national park system, increase social services, settle differences between Egypt and Israel, and bring home US hostages held in Iran. Some historians, however, claim that Carter is much older than he looks, pointing to portraits of Jimmy “Lestat” Carter from the 18th century and stating that he wears high-collared jackets to hide tell-tale vampire bite marks.

Ronald Reagan, 1981-1989

Actor turned politician, President Reagan sought to achieve “peace through strength,” increasing defense spending by 35%. After seeing a George Lucas film he was heard to ask, “How much would one of those Death Stars cost?” Shortly after President Reagan took office in 1981, he was shot by a would-be assassin. It’s said he developed his love of karaoke during his hospital recovery.

William Clinton, 1993-2001

President Clinton was the first Democratic president to win a second term of office since Franklin D. Roosevelt and sought legislation to reform the country’s health care system. Even though he dispatched peace keeping forces to war torn countries and campaigned against drug trafficking, President Clinton’s lifelong goal was never realized. It is said that he was bitterly disappointed when he did not get the part to play the saxophone-playing child in The Simpsons.

George W. Bush, 2001-

In his second term of office, the Blue Fairy appeared and tapped President Bush with her wand. He jumped up, exclaiming, “I’m not a puppet. I’m a real boy!”

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And the beat goes on

So my big news...

I left my job in Big Pink with no prospects and no agenda in mid-February. Within two weeks, I was offered a similar position at a firm along the river. I accepted, and will start on March 31st - giving me plenty of time to relax and recreate, without the job-hunt hanging over me.

Of course, we've taken bids for some landscaping work and a bathroom remodel, which we will try to get going pretty quickly. So much for the resting part.

I am REALLY excited about this position and the company. Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, March 10, 2008

An Axe To Grind

I called my mother, the Social Butterfly, after lunch today to fill her in on our weekend.

JewelGeek: …and so that’s about all.

Social Butterfly: Well, that sounds good. I want you to know that I think I’m finally over being angry with you. It’s been a few days now and I just thought that if I gave it enough time, I woudn’t be angry anymore.

JG (slightly worried): Oh?

SB (sighing): Well, you know when you were a teenager and you and Grandpa and Uncle Punch and I all went to Mapleton* to check on the flood damage—

JG (sighing relievedly): Oh, yeah.**

SB:--and we went through Enchanted Forest because that’s on the way? Well, we were real lucky to go when we did because they weren’t quite open yet and I was able to talk with the worker there who had figured out some fabulous internships for you. I mean, they were all over the country! Fantastic opportunities! There was even one in Maine! And I was a little worried about the cost and the airfare and all, but I had enough money to send you to them.

JG (nodding and trying not to laugh): Mmm-hmmm…

SB: And when I showed them to you, the only one you wanted to go to was Tree Falling! In Sweethome! I couldn’t believe it! Here were these fabulous opportunities and all you wanted to do was Tree Falling!

JG: Well, you know…

SB: I couldn’t believe it!

JG: Well, remember when CrafterKat and I went and did that foreign exchange program? You know, way back when they did that new fangled thing by flying over the Pole? So we landed in Finland or Norway—I don’t remember which—but it was one of those real far north countries where it stays bright through a big chunk of the year?

SB: Mmmm-hmmm.

JG: Well, we got there real late, you know, like ten-thirty or eleven at night and they put us up in one of those Youth Hostel type places because our next flight to where the internship was located wasn’t until like one o’clock. So CrafterKat and I lug all of our suitcases and stuff into this hotel place but we wake up real early—you know, bright sun and all—and we leave the hotel to go and check out the shops and we pick up some real nice pastries ‘cause we haven’t had anything to eat yet—

SB: Mmmm-hmmm. I’m sure those were good—

JG: And somehow I found time to get an internship at the local bank. But it was like Disney Bank because they rotated you through all the spots in the bank in fifteen minute intervals. I just worked the teller windows, though. But what was real surprising—besides the fact that they used US currency—is that they didn’t give out any change. So if I had to give a person twelve dollars and three pennies, then I would give them a ten, two ones, and then use this clear liquid for the pennies. So I had to give them this little plastic cup and pour out three pennies of oil…

SB: Oh, sure. Uh-huh.

JG: I’d not ever seen anything like that before. I don’t know what these people did with their little vials of cooking oil, drink them up? So anyways, CrafterKat and I get back to the hotel and the rest of the group had left! Because we were supposed to leave at one in the morning! Not one in the afternoon! Can you believe it?

SB: That’s too bad.

JG (grumbling): I should have taken the Tree Falling internship in Sweethome…

* Mapleton is my mother's hometown, a tiny little community on the road to the coast.

** My mother and I often share our dreams in this very matter-of-fact manner.

Friday, March 07, 2008

May the Road Rise to Meet You

I embarked on a deeply spiritual and profound journey yesterday evening. At the request of my dear friend, ScrapMaven, I became an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church Monastery so I could officiate at her wedding in August. All online. All free. All in less than 30 minutes.

And yes, it is all legal. I just got off the phone with our local county recording office. As long as I say I am an officiant and there is a religious organization granting me that authority, the County is perfectly happy with the arrangement. I just have to fill in my portion of the license after the ceremony and get it to the County within 10 days of the wedding.

Oh yeah, and actually lead the ceremony. Doh!

The theater-ham in me is relishing this. The logical, rational part of me is (understandably) still baffled and suitably awed by the seriousness of this endeavor. I don’t want to mess this up!

The ceremony itself is up to me and the couple to work out. Do they want to do their own vows? Do they want some ritual to include the kids? Do they want little funny anecdotes sprinkled throughout?

JewelGeek was no help. “Do you take her? Yeah? Do you take him? Yeah? Ok, we’re done. You’re married.”

Um… probably not…

Critter thinks it is cool and weird. She knows me to be spiritual – but never to be on the same page as any organized religion. (Not that anyone in the world would consider an internet religious organization an “organized religion” in the tradition sense.)

Wow. I’m a Reverend. Wow. This definitely defies reason. It MUST be faith.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Well, It Was Allegorical

Chaucer: I'm a writer.

Wat: A what?

Chaucer: A wha- a what? A writer. I write, with parchment, and ink. Geoffrey Chaucer's the name, writing's the game. You've read my book? the Book of the Duchess? No? Well, it was allegorical.

Roland: Well, we won't hold that against you, that's for every man to decide for himself.

~A Knight's Tale (2001)

Today at work my fellow geeks had this conversation.

The Evil PXE (typing an e-mail): Why is it 'flexibility'? Why isn't it 'flexability'? Isn't it that you are able to flex? Who said it had to be with an 'i' instead of an 'a'?

JewelGeek (deadpan): It was Chaucer.

Lego Programmer (deadpan): Chaucer. Damn that bastard.