a US President-elect should be required, by law, to…

Thursday, 24 January 2008
  1. visit every National Park.
  2. tour every major city in the US, and walk down three randomly selected streets.
  3. visit the capitol of every US ally.
  4. go on a spacewalk.


Sunday, 20 January 2008

(ordered) list of my favorite classical pieces

Thursday, 10 January 2008
  1. Luke and Leia, John Williams (Return of the Jedi Soundtrack).  Yes, really.  It’s Williams at his least Williams-y, heavy on the strings and woodwinds, and when the music soars, chills go up and down my spine.
  2. Metamorphosis I, Philip Glass.  So simple, and yet it conjures up such intense emotions of longing and solitude and, somehow, hope.  I could put it on loop for hours and imagine a light, steady rain in the evening just as the sunset breaks through under the clouds.  (Or I could imagine Kara Thrace’s apartment.)
  3. Symphony No. 3,  Symfonia Piesni Zalosnych, Henryk Gorecki. Incredibly moody, diving to dark depths and then soaring to great heights.  That Dawn Upshaw recording is completely entrancing.  I first heard it in the background in a studio art class; I’ve been wracking my brains to see which piece I produced while listening to it.  Unfortunately, I think I got too caught up in the music to really make a drawing that came from the piece…
  4. Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity, Gustav Holst.  I love most of the Planets Suite, particularly Mars and Jupiter.  Jupiter is so upbeat and strong, marching forward with steadfast determination and optimism and climaxing in triumph.
  5. Adagio for Strings, Samuel Barber.  Also the choral Agnus Dei based on the Adagio.  Listening to this piece, I feel like I am looking at stately cathedrals and towers, or perhaps graceful ships and slow-moving creatures, that are almost bigger than human comprehension.  You just hang on those sustained high notes.  I would have picked this over the Blue Danube Waltz for the space scenes in 2001.

Some runners-up:

  • Mars, The Bringer of War, Gustav Holst.  It’s just so mindlessly driven.
  • Final Duel / Into the Death Star, John Williams (Return of the Jedi Sountrack).  Again, yes, really.  Partly this one is so great because of the emotional state of the movie at that point.  It just overpowers you…because if you will not turn to the Dark Side, then perhaps…she…will…!
  • The Firebird, Igor Stravinsky.  It’s a good piece of program music and takes you to a great finish.  Like a condensed version of Beethoven’s 6th.
  • Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, From the New World, Antonin Dvorak.  Yeah, probably overplayed, but with good reason.
  • Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Ludwig von Beethoven.  Well, it’s just classic.

Lists of Things Official 2008 Campaign Coverage: reasons I would consider voting for John McCain in the Massachusetts primary

Wednesday, 9 January 2008
  1. I would be happy with any of the Democratic candidates, but I absolutely do not want certain Republicans to be President (Huckabee, Romney, Paul, Guiliani).  Some of those genuinely frighten me (Huckabee, Paul).  I feel my vote would be better used, at least in the primary, to discriminate between Republican candidates.
  2. McCain seems the most statesmanlike of the GOP candidates.  He’s not a preacher, he’s not a mayor, he’s been seriously involved in legislature for many years.  He never ran for ex-Governor of Massachusetts in order to leapfrog to President.  He doesn’t have a religious agenda.  (Despite the fact that his positions are rather too socially conservative.)
  3. He’s a Senator.  A former Senator hasn’t become President since Johnson, and the American people haven’t elected a Senator to the Presidency since Kennedy.  This is partly because Senate rules are such that you can dig back into someone’s record and find some random amendment they supported (or not) to make it look like they have just about any position you want.  Therefore, if McCain is the Republican nominee, the fact that Obama, Clinton, and Edwards are/were all Senators will not be an issue.
  4. He’s a Senator.  In the US Senate, he has had to learn, develop, and execute the ins and outs of compromise, working with other viewpoints, melding several different opinions into a reasonable end result.  He would at least move a Republican Executive branch back to the center, back to cooperating with Democrats and un-paralyzing Washington to actually accomplish some things.
  5. He served his country with distinction.  Contrast with Dubya, who dodged serving his country; Romney, who served his church and his self-interest; Thompson, who served his writers…

winter means…

Tuesday, 1 January 2008
  • Thick, quiet blankets of pure white on pine trees
  • Cross-country skiing on forest paths
  • Sledding down the orchard hill
  • Hot chocolate and soup
  • Crackling fires with board games and books
  • Snow forts
  • Bundling up (and then unbundling again)
  • Snow days!