Thursday, February 19, 2015

Buchanan's Pillars of Light

This evening's atmospheric conditions were conducive to light pillars.
These pics don't do them justice. They really were quite a sight to see.

Saturday, February 07, 2015


I took a day off from work yesterday, traveled to Ann Arbor, and listened to a conversation with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Two law professors that were her former clerks asked questions. I was expecting a more casual conversation with her doing most of talking.  I was hoping for a meaty lecture from her. Instead, it felt more like a Q & A for a magazine.

I found some points of the program to be interesting. Although I knew gay marriage wasn't going to be discussed because the issue hasn't been brought up and settled by the court, I was wondering if there was some reading between the lines that could be done. She brought up a story where a man lost his wife while giving birth to their child. He applied for social security survivor benefits but found that he did not qualify because those benefits were meant for widows and not widowers. He brought a case and she said that some of the justices believed that this was discrimination against the woman (because it assumes something about the worth of a woman-her earnings did not provide benefits to her husband whereas a husband's earnings does provide benefits to his wife). Others believed it was a discrimination against the man. She then said that one of them, then Justice Rehnquist, said that the real injured party here was the child - who doesn't care whether the surviving parent is the woman or the man only that the care is provided. I suppose her larger point is that rather than deciding whether a law should be thrown out or upheld-because throwing out benefits would be disastrous-broadening "imperfect laws" to cover discriminated groups is preferable. So read into that what you will.

She had some more light-hearted moments when she talked about her being known as The Notorious RBG. She also seemed delighted that there is an opera about about her and fellow Justice Scalia. 

The real big kick that I got out of was that she embraced being known for her dissents as well as her confidence that her dissents will one day be the prevailing view and or law. Her example was the Ledbetter case where a woman was suing her employer after finding out that her pay was lower than her male coworkers that were in the similar roles. The court said that she had to file within 180 of the discriminatory action--but this had been going on for years and she didn't know. Ginsburg was of the mind that the discriminatory action happened with every paycheck that she Ledbetter got. Although she wasn't in with the majority of the court, Congress then passed a law in which the 180-day requirement resets with every paycheck.

Unfortunately, the talk was only about an hour and a half. I enjoyed it so much and I could have listened for far longer.

Oh, one observation about the audience was that I got the sense that they were real fans of Ginsburg and were not so keen on Justice Scalia. They were well aware that Ginsburg and Scalia seem to be opposite poles on the court. I wondered how aware they were that those two are actually good friends.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Eric's Christmas Concert...Recital...Service...Thing.

My cousin, Eric, invited my family to one of his university's Christmas concert thing. I don't know what to call it because it was a mix of instrumental and choir stuff. He plays a freak ton of instruments so we were going to see him participate in that. The whole production was incredible. No lie, one of the best performances that I have attended.
L-R: Mom, Dad, Aunt Connie, Cousin Eric, Uncle Marc, Me, Sister Kris, Cousin Jessica, Jessica's boyfriend Mike
Had to acknowledge this photobomber's effort.
I went in expecting the usual Christmas fare but some of it surprised me; none more than an African spiritual called Noel. This youtube video (h/t to maestroz25) is this closest that came to what I witnessed.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Niles, Michigan Main Street Bridge

A couple months ago, the Main Street Bridge in Niles, Michigan was closed for demolition and replacement. The project is expected to take a year. I took the opportunity on Oct. 5th and took pictures of the bridge. I came back later on Nov. 30th to shoot a couple updates.

From what I heard and understand, the bridge isn't in any immediate danger however it has deteriorated to the point that any attempt to repair the bridge would not be as economical as tearing it down and building a new one.
This is the second bridge. Its replacement, from what I understand, is going to be modeled on the original, first, bridge. Given the town's drive to restoring its turn of the century architecture, I am hopeful that the new bridge will fit right in.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Screw the McGangbang, I'll take the Meat Mountain

While browsing through Facebook, I saw that my friend, Brian, posted that Arby's was coming out with a sandwich called the Meat Mountain. At first glance it reminded me of an Onion article that claimed that Arby's had an all-you-can-grab promotion. For a set price, you could grab all the roast beef you can. It's one of those ideas where it is too ridiculous to be true but would be awesome if it was. All I can grab roast beef for $2.99? I'd be at Arby's every single day. The actual article seemed to be true. It was coming from the Washington Post and not the Onion so that that was a plus. I then checked on Twitter to see if anyone had gotten the sandwich. Most tweets about the Meat Mountain were just links to the article or reactions. I found two. That was proof enough for me.

After work I went to Arby's in Niles and asked the lady at the counter if I could have the Meat Mountain and she didn't know about it. So I pulled out my phone and showed her the article. She found it amusing and took my phone to the back and got the manager. They both came back and apparently the manager had only recently found out about it as she had some paperwork with her. I was the first person to ask for it and the manager had to modify the register and give the people in the back the instructions on how to make the sandwich which is bacon, roast beef, angus steak, brisket, corned beef, ham, turkey, chicken tenders, cheddar, and swiss.

Being the first there, and one of the first in the country, I had to share this. So I took a couple of pictures and shared them on Facebook and Twitter before I tucked in.

If you are wondering if I was able to eat all of that in one sitting, the answer is no. Not that I didn't want to or couldn't but I was pressed for time as I had to make a drive to Mishawaka to make the 7 o'clock showing of the Doctor Who at Movies 14.

After posting that picture on social media, I was getting notifications though the show and into the night about people liking it, commenting on it, or retweeting it. It was great. I have never posted anything that reached that size of an audience. It was also sad, as I didn't want my claim to fame to be a ridiculously huge sandwich but you know, gotta go with the flow. Early the next morning, woke up to a twitter notification from a guy asking if a TV station out in LA could use my tweet on a news segment that they were going to show.  That was pretty cool that a picture I took was now going to be viewed by thousands more so I said that it was OK.

For $10, I'm not sure I would get one again. The idea of taking one on, and being one of the first to do so, was more appealing than the actual taste. I only have two complaints and none of them are the fault of Arby's.  1.) My hatred of ham.  2.) My dislike of cold meats mixed with warm meats.  But...if any of my friends want to tackle one, I'd be more than happy to come with them and do it again.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Atheist Ass

I had two interesting encounters with Christians at the fair last week. While walking by the various commercial booths, I came across one that had a display with three doors that you could open. The claim was that behind those doors you could see three things that God cannot do. I forget what all the third one said but the other two said that God can not change and that God can not lie. I laughed as I don't believe those statements.  The guy saw me laugh and asked, "do you believe you will go to heaven?"

I knew where he was going with that question and it pushed my button. I said, "no." I could tell that he was taken aback by what I said but after a he collected himself, he said, "would you like to know how."  I said, "No, but thanks," and walked away. I have a low tolerance for people who make judgement on who can go to heaven and believe they know what criteria is needed to be met to get there.  I wasn't about to have a conversation with a fundamentalist because I already know that I do not meet his requirements. I will not go to his heaven.

A while later I came across another Christian booth. They had a display that had Bible trivia on it with true or false choices. You would choose with a stylus that would activate a green or red light depending if the choice was correct. I went through the questions and got most of it right.  (Did you know that there was a female Noah?).  The guy was not pushy and the environment was more inviting.  He was pretty cool and he even gave me a book after I completed the trivia board.

Later on after I had left the fair, I was thinking on the interactions I had between the two men and why I had reactions that were quite different even though they represent the same faith and my thought was this: the first guy was telling me what I should know and the second was inviting me to know more.  It occurred to me that how I view Christians--is shaped by similar attitudes. Of course it's a lot easier to get along with someone that doesn't condemn you to hell than someone who does.