Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Worried about my cat’s interest in the “new” dog

March 9, 2009


I really have no problem that my cat Lilly is interested in my father-in-law’s 300-year-old dachshund, that now seems to have become my 300-year-old dachshund.

I just wish that she would quit pussy-footing around and go ahead and start making out with him or something.

I sincerely believe that to Darwin, the dog, all cats are invisible. I don’t think that he actually notices their existence on this planet. Kind of like how we don’t notice the existence of nitrogen in its gaseous state.

Lilly is doing all of her cute tricks to cajole him into loving her, into being interested in her – not really understanding that he sees right through her. If there were a solid wall built entirely of cats, with top secret information on the other side of the cat-wall, he would be able to see the top secret information directly through the wall of cats — though he wouldn’t be able to read it, nor explain it to you – he is a dog.

Ok, so Lilly is infatuated with Darwin. She follows him around. She rubs up against stuff near him. She poses for him. She mews and purs for him. It is starting to really embarass me, in my own home.

I have tried direct intervention by formally and informally introducing them. Feeding them at the same time, and reading them their bedtime story at the same time. No use. She is still coy when it comes to actually hanging out with him.

It took her over a year to finally get used to my completely friendly Gatty cat. Lilly and Gatty are now finally sleeping squished next to each other. I don’t think Darwin has that long.

That’s why I am worry about my cat’s interest in the “new” dog.


The Best Christmas Movies Ever

December 11, 2008
My family is culturally Jewish. I’m not an organized religion kind of guy.

I am a huge film geek. I love holidays, and I really love holiday movies!

Here are my top eight Christmas movies, in order:

  1. Brazil – Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece! This is, by far, my favorite Christmas movie ever!!!
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life – I love Jimmy Stewart and, surprisingly enough, the ultra-saccharine story really works for me! Lionel Barrymore makes the perfect evil Mr. Potter!
  3. A Christmas Story – Ralphie wants that BB gun!
  4. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Best X-Mas mood movie ever! Yeah, yeah, this is about “The TRUE meaning of Christmas” – blah, blah, blah – I pretty much tune out for the Linus soliloquy…
  5. Meet John Doe – Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, and Frank Capra – individualism, suicide, alienation, political machinations, and redemption make for a great Christmas flick.
  6. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Chuck Jones plus Boris Karloff equals a classic movie
  7. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Hermey the dentist-wannabe-be elf, The Island of Misfit Toys, Bumbles Bounce… C’mon, how can you not love this navel gazer?
  8. Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Steve Martin and John Candy are brilliant. Ok, so this movie is actually about Thanksgiving. But I love it so much that I’m going to list it here. My list, my rules…

I also really like, but don’t hold them in the same esteem as the top eight:

  • Nightmare Before Christmas – I’m just not Goth enough to love this.
  • Scrooged – Bill Murray’s second best Holiday movie (after Groundhog Day)
  • Christmas in Connecticut – Barbara Stanwyck seems to play a sassy reporter/journalist in myriad films. This time she plays one in a goofy, sweet x-mas flick
  • The Shop Around the Corner – A Jimmy Stewart classic.
  • Remember the Night – I’m also a sucker for early Fred MacMurray films.
  • The Year Without A Santa Claus – Heat Miser and Snow Miser are two of my favorite characters ever.
  • Bad Santa – just funny
  • Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas – This is the Muppet movie to watch for Christmas. Ignore the Muppet Christmas Carol and the other bunch of Muppet X-Mas films.

Some movies may not initially seem to be Christmas movies to the untrained eye. These are indeed Christmas movies, and I really like ’em. If you want me to explain the X-Mas connection, I’ll be happy to:

  • Castaway – The movie is set as a Christmas movie for the first 20 or so minutes, then our man Tom Hanks goes down with the plane. Watch the entire movie thinking about how the entire movie relates to Christmas. Good stuff!!
  • Die Hard and Die Hard II – Bruce Willis as John McClane kicking ass on X-Mas.
  • Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and Monty Python’s The Life of Brian – Yes indeed, Terry Gilliam loves to make movies about religion (and Christmas) – and I love to watch them…
  • Night of the Hunter – Charles Laughton should have directed more movies – Night of the Hunter is one of a whole bunch of great movies that come to my mind as Christmas movies. Usually because of very memorable Christmas scenes or how Christmas relates to the theme, setting, or plot of the film.
  • Others include Stalag 17, Rushmore, Raising Arizona, Rocky, The President’s Analyst, One Hour Photo, Ordinary People, Kramer vs. Kramer, L.A. Confidential, Goodfellas, Catch Me If You Can, The Apartment, and lots of others. I love talking and talking and talking about movies, so I’m happy to chat about specific scenes etc…

Ok, if you haven’t seen a movie listed above, I implore you to watch it this holiday season!!!

I want to mention a bunch that I don’t like:

  • Jingle All the Way – Governor Schwarzenegger’s crappy Christmas movie – yet another waste of Phil Hartman’s talent. Also, Sinbad was in this, and Sinbad’s name on a movie is a sure sign of crap. I defy you to name a good Sinbad movie.
  • A Christmas Carol – I am sick of every single version except for Bill Murray’s Scrooged. Maybe a couple of others are tolerable, such as Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, but the story is so threadbare and worn.
  • Miracle on 34th Street – Way too cloying.
  • Home Alone and all of the Home Alone movies – Yuck.
  • The Bishop’s Wife – this is supposed to be a classic, but I’ve attempted to watch it at least half a dozen times before dozing off somewhere in the middle.
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Chevy Chase makes it harder and harder and harder for me to enjoy his past successes. Randy Quaid is worth watching as usual.
  • Frosty the Snowman – this animated mess leaves me cold.
  • The Grinch – An unwatchable Jim Carrey remake of the animated classic.
  • Reindeer Games – Ben Affleck is just a terrible actor.
  • Robo-Cop 3 – Frank Miller’s (and my) most painful Christmas experience.

Election Day – Poll Watching – Gainesville, Florida

November 5, 2008
Jeff Mason at Gainesville Florida Precinct 25

Jeff Mason at Gainesville Florida Precinct 25

One disturbing trend was that a number of University of Florida students came to the polling place to vote and were told that they were not registered to vote.  They indicated that they were registered by individuals on campus. 

I moved to the other entrance to the polling place and had no more problems. 

The only crowds of the day were between 7am and 9am.  There was a steady stream of people coming to the polls all day, but no rush and no lines after the morning.

I am really happy that I was able to participate and had a really fantastic experience.

Election Day – Poll Watching – Gainesville, Florida – 100 Foot Rule

November 4, 2008

The Republican Party poll watcher was annoyed by the fact that I am about 10 feet from the door to the polling place with my “Voting Rights” sign, button, hat, and was answering questions from folks when they were asking me about whether or not their I.D. was ok for them to vote, whether or not they were at the right precinct, etc.

Anyway, Florida Statute secion 102.031(4)(a) talks about nobody being allowed to solicit within 100 feet of a polling place.  When the poll workers told me that I was within the 100 foot area, I told them that I was not soliciting anything. 

The Republican Party poll watcher has been calling people on the phone for the last hour.  I’m waiting for someone to come back out to tell me to pack it up. 

I put my sign away, because it did indeed have a toll free number on the bottom of the sign for folks to call to see where their precinct was that was unrelated to the local Supervisor of Elections.

Election Day – Poll Watching – Gainesville, Florida – Precinct 25

November 4, 2008

A steady stream of voters are voting at Polling Place Precinct 25 at the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) at 530 West University Avenue in downtown Gainesville. 

There is absolutely no line whatsoever.

I’m here as a poll watcher for the Obama campaign through the Florida Democratic Party to make sure everybody gets to exercise their voting rights and that nothing untoward goes on.

So far all is well. 

I expect things to get crowded as people start getting off work and then between 5pm and 7pm.  A lot of people think that they need to have voted by 7pm, but in Florida, as long as you are in line at 7pm, you get to vote.

The sky is really overcast, but hopefully it won’t rain until after everyone has voted.

Wedding snapshots

July 21, 2008

Here are some snapshots from Alex and my wedding this weekend!


Wedding poster

Memorial Day

May 27, 2008

I was lucky enough to be invited this year by Veterans for Peace to help set up their annual Memorial Mile display.  Although I am fervently against having troops in Iraq, I respect and appreciate those who participate in military service.

Video of the memorial

Read and see more about the memorial here:

Back from the dead

April 30, 2008

For the first time in years, I have absolutely no abdominal pain. I’m still weak as a kitten, and don’t yet have stamina – but that will improve with time.

It was a few days after my February 20 surgery before I was physically able to sit up and actually open up my laptop to take advantage of the hospital’s free wi-fi, not to be confused with the hospital’s very not-free surgical costs. While I was in the hospital I was coherent enough to successfully take each of my “inbox” e-mails and put them into sub-folders of my newly created “hospital” e-mail folder – which ended up being three folders:

After getting out of the hospital, up until just a few weeks ago, I was not able to comfortably sit down for more than a minute or two, so I handled almost all of my e-mails the same way as in the hospital. I am surprised to discover that I can type pretty fast while standing, hunched over my keyboard. Reading much while standing was really not very workable for me.

I am now not a fan of the practice of hospitals giving their patients the illusion that they have control over their pain management by allowing them to administer their own medication by pressing a button when they felt the need, to cope with their pain. When I spent years in grad school aspiring to be a social psychology professor, “locus of control” was one of many research interests of mine. Yeah, I understood that I got to choose when to administered my pain medication, but the doctors’ orders were rather specific as to exactly how often my button press would actually let the IV administer medication and as to exactly how much medication. It took about an hour for me to learn that I could administer pain medication every 10 minutes, and that the amount of pain medication was rather minimal. This was especially obnoxious when I was attempting to go to sleep the first two nights, when I was in the most pain. I was in too much pain to sleep, and for me to get any significant amount of pain medication into my body I would have to be awake at each 10 minute interval to hit the button to get a few drops of pain medication. Of course the night-shift nurses were absolutely afraid and unwilling to call the doctor that was specifically on call to handle calls from night-shift nurses. On the third day after surgery, I described my pain control plight my actual lead surgeon. He readily agreed to change the order from self administered meds to a nice cocktail of happy happy pain medications which included pill, patch, and IV delivery methods that truly handled the pain, and kept me pretty blitzed during my hospital stay.