Monday, March 31, 2008

Going green gone easy

Our paper had a special section devoted to homebuilding last week. I kind of thought I ought to go beyond the norm, and took a look at the House of the Lifted Lorax, which is run in part by Emily.

They live sustainably there, growing much of what they eat, living organically, using as little power as possible. They even have solar panels on the roof.

The article is here.

It was a pretty enjoyable experience, and I learned a great deal about taking small steps to live with a smaller footprint.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Easter shots

Taken March 21, 2008 in front of the First Presbyterian Church in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Good Friday

Happy Good Friday and Easter, everyone.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

RIP Arthur C. Clark, Dec. 16, 1917 -- March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke died. The man gave us radar, and communications satellites. He gave me more.

I remember those summer days, as a child on break from school. We'd go hide inside the airconditioning of our public library. I would spend all day in there, piling up books and books and books. Then, in fifth grade, I came across one with a dark blue cover, portraying a starry sky over some alien world. I was intrigued.

The book was "The Songs of Distant Earth." It was by Arthur C. Clarke. I opened it. I read. I was enthralled.

Here was a man who managed the task of grounding his stories in the hardest of science and newtonian phsyics... and the most fantastical reaches of imagination. He imagined the impossible yet plausible: Exploding suns, great "seedships" carrying the treasures of humanity, ranging from King Tut's burial mask to our very DNA, to far out worlds, proto-intelligence on alien worlds, and most of all the incomprehensible notions of distance and time in outer space.

Next trip to the library, I got everything by Clarke I could. 2001, of course. Also his short story collections, 2010, the Rama series. Every one transported me away, and saved me from a stifling hot summer and kept my mind racing to the impossible and beyond.

There was a power there -- the power of the written word. He spoke to me through the decades and across the oceans. He pounded out his stories on an old manual typewriter, yet they spoke of the sleekest of starships and the grandest frontiers of humanity's possibilities.

It's probably not an exaggeration to say that I am a writer because of Clarke. He made me who I am, and he gave the world, and all beyond it, to a 11-year-old boy.

Rest in Peace, my friend. You will be missed.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Storm rolling through

Getting lots of good flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder. Spring is finally here!

Radar looks like they'll slide by to the south. Oh well, makes for a good show, at any rate.

Jim Inhofe's greatest hits

1. The Weather Channel Conspiracy:

2. Jim thinks he's still running the show:

Andrew Rice for Senate -- He's not Jim Inhofe

I'm going to personally endorse Andrew Rice for the U.S. Senate.

The primary factor in this is that he's not Jim Inhofe, the vaguely reptilian far-right fringe senator (supposedly) representing us in the Senate. Just in case not being Jim Inhofe is not enough to garner your vote, here's Rice's web page and his stand on the issues.

Andrew Rice campaign web page

That should do it. Seems like a reasonable guy, no? Not like Inhofe, who claims the Clintons arranged to have the propeller fly off his airplane while he was in it.

Or his claim that the Weather Channel invented global warming.

So please. Vote for Rice. He will be good for Oklahoma. And he's not Inhofe.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The bachelor life

So I'm alone again. For the night anyway. This is Spring Break for Broken Arrow schools, so my niece and my sister will be gone for the rest of the week, after tomorrow.

So I'm alone, and will have the house all to myself all this week.

I was looking forward to it. Watching what I wanted, eating what and when I wanted, laying around and drinking beer.

But it's not fun like it used to be.

I spent a good portion of my adult life living by myself. Liked it. I could do whatever, and had plenty of time alone with my thoughts. I was a loner and thought I always would be.

Today though it's different. Instead of being alone, I am just lonely.

I'm looking forward to being married to Katie and having someone else (specifically her) to share my life with. I realize now just how bad it's going to be if she goes out of town to visit her sisters or on a business trip or something. I wouldn't know what to do with myself, other than stare at the walls.

I guess I became too domesticated.

I am going to marry Katie, and her love is the best thing I could ever have. I'm praying to God I don't ruin it and fail like I do everything else. Please God let me get this one thing right.

I don't want to be alone any more.

Down with the quarry -- my part

For the past several years, the city of Sand Springs, and its residents, have been fighting against a proposed quarry operation. Some guy wants to put in a big giant limestone rock quarry inside city limits.

The city adopted a "Special Use Permit" system to handle big proposals like this. What the SUP means is that "i"s are dotted and "t"s are crossed, and everybody gets a say before making their decision. So we had a hearing late last year and early this year. Three hearings, in fact. And a vote of the planning commission. And an appeal to the city council. And a vote by the city council.

The quarry was voted down, based on the interest of the public good and the burden on the city, not to mention the negative environmental impact, and strain put on the city's infrastructure.

Naturally, the landowner is appealing to the courts.

So here's where I sort of get involved. I've been against this quarry since the beginning. We're done plundering the earth, and especially so within the city limits, and within a half-mile radius of several neighborhoods, a college, and an old folks' home.

So editorially, my paper (i.e. me) has been against the quarry since the start. After the final decision of the council and the appeal to the courts, I wrote a column basically urging the landowner to drop the appeal.

Our state senator, who lives not far from the proposed quarry site, clipped out my column, made copies of it, and handed it out to all the other state senators.

The column was attached to a bill she wrote with our state representative that would let cities control the number of times they could choose to hear a quarry proposal.

The bill passed unanimously in the senate, is headed to the house, and expected to pass there. Likely the governor will sign it.

And we will be rid of this quarry threat.

And I could say I had a small part in it. :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

An ode to storms

Ah spring is almost here again. Today we saw one of the first warm days of the year, and this was also only the second day with an extra hour of sunlight.

The best news, though, comes later this week, as we're due for some real Okie spring thunderstorms. I mean, real ones.

The best storms always come when it's a little warm outside. That extra temperature and high humidity really help build up the energy. In terms of static electricity, it turns up the energy knob to "11."

The best storms are tall, towering, well-defined thunderheads. Cumulonimubs clouds.

Then they start flashing lightning. And the sky turns green. And the wind blows. And the hair on the back of your neck stands up.

And then all hell opens up and the lightning and thunder and rain and hell burst forth.

Anybody who's never seen a plains thunderstorm is really missing out. They're the greatest ones of all.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring on ahead little bunny, spring

First things first, I was thrilled to find out I had the house to myself tonight. As you may or may not know, I've been living with my sister to help watch her daughter.

Well, tonight for varying reasons I had the home to myself.
So I went to the store and bought some gin, tonic, and limes.

Tonight is "Spring Forward." Change 'em clocks.

I would be more concerned about it if I hadn't been drinking eight gin and tonics.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Well, looks like I dodged that bullet

File this one under "Unanswered prayers are a good thing."

I never told anybody, but back in the summer, I applied for a job in the Tulsa World's Community World. The Community World is a Wednesday insert of hyperlocal news -- the kind of thing you'd find in any smaller community paper. So-and-so wins pie bake-off, so-and-so has unusual hobby, that kind of thing. Feature stories and small government reporting, basically.

I felt, if I may be so brash, that I was exceptionally qualified. I interviewed. It went well. I thought for sure I was going to get the job.

And then, I didn't. And I was majorly bummed. I thought I was going to be stuck in the same rut forever, and felt like I was missing out on bigger and better things.

And then, today, there's this: Community World ceases publishing.
All the writers were laid off without notice Yesterday morning. Had until the end of the day to clear out their desks.

And me? I still have a job.

I guess I dodged a bullet.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bar portraits

These are while waiting for the Oklahoma Press Association awards to begin.


Waitress and bloody mary:

Me and another editor:

Oh, and by the way, who's the best columnist, feature writer, and page designer in the state (among small papers, anyway?): That guy on the left, that's who!


I turned 30 today.

In newspaperspeak, 30 is the end. It's what signals that a story is over. The last of it. Finito.

For me, it's promising, though. This is the year I'm going to get married to the love of my life.

Still, it's somewhat sad to note that the 20s are over. It was a good decade. First drink, first real girlfriend, first travel abroad, first road trip out west, first time backpacking, first time in Montana... all this happened in the 20s. They were fun, tough, challenging, and mostly poverty-stricken. I ate a lot of Ramen in my 20s.

Now it's the end.


What's next?