Laying Down on the Job

Laying Down on the Job
The Santa Monica Easy

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recently I was asked this: what is the best screen kiss?  My answer: it's a tie between the Colin Firth/Renee Zellweger kiss in "Bridget Jones's Diary" and the Joel McCrea/Jean Arthur kiss in "The More the Merrier."  What's yours?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Zen of Mr. BoJindo Sitting

Tomorrow, Friday, May 21, 2010, my beautiful daughter Nia will participate, fully capped and gowned, at Irvine Valley College's graduation ceremonies and will come away with an AS in Computer Management Information Systems.  During the time she completed the course requirement she ran a business, moved from Orange County to Northern California, qualified for her local Search and Rescue group in El Dorado county, earned several computer networking certifications and attended to the daily demands of official pack leader to the mysterious Mr. BoJindo (a Korean Jindo dog, regarded as a national treasure in Korea).  
Yesterday, Nia left Mr. BoJindo with me so I could care for him while she takes care of last minutes details.  It's one of those things I'm glad to do, not just because I love this dog, but because it's something I can do in support of Nia's efforts.  Now she can take a day or two to celebrate her achievement in public, in front of strangers and friends and me.  Mr. BoJindo won't be there and that's a shame because he's a major force of comfort, direction, distraction and discipline in her life.  He's been part of Nia's journey since 2002. 
Mr. BoJindo is an exceptionally beautiful, incredibly smart dog, rarely barks, doesn't jump up on people or the furniture and can hold his pee for 24 hours.  Despite this seemingly perfect dog, he has "rescue-dog" issues.  What ever happened before Nia rescued him from a looming date with a needle, left a scar of fear in his dog-soul that we've never been able to help him overcome. He's a much more secure dog now than when Nia first got him but certain electronic sounds -- like microwave beeps -- still result in an immediate full-body fear-freakout attack of shaking and adrenaline-induced canine escape.  The first time I left him alone in my apartment I returned two hours later to a half eaten couch.  Some sound had freaked him while I was gone and he tried as hard as he could to escape the apartment by clawing at the back door then clawing and biting at the couch which blocked a possible window escape route.  He's done much more damage in reaction to his fear -- the entire back seat of Nia's convertible has been re-decorated by Mr. BoJindo -- in that she no longer has a back seat.  He's run away many times -- once in Runyon Canyon -- but he's always returned (although it looked like he had a dispute with a coyote when he returned from the Runyon Canyon romp).
Nia takes him almost everywhere, including vigorous hiking treks, attired in his red doggy backpack.    
There's a tinge of resentment when Nia says her life has revolved around this dog -- not something she expected or wanted when she accepted the responsibility of being a rescue-dog owner -- annoyed at the memory of having to find him when he ran away, or having to teach him how to socialize with other dogs or having her car vandalized, but she never betrayed the bond that developed in Mr. BoJindo when he looked to her for his welfare.  She could have returned him to the shelter.  She could have found someone else to take him. Instead she chose to become the human Mr. BoJindo needed so this one creature could have a good life. 
Nia has been cause in the matter of Mr. BoJindo's transformation from an insecure, nervous canine who didn't seem to know how to wag his tail, to a more secure, serene, trusting companion capable of teaching -- in the way dogs teach -- us to be better humans.  Now he does a happy dance when Nia returns from some errand or puts her shoes on to take him for a walk. He actually spins in circles, snorts, jumps up in the air and twists around in one fluid movement, the whole time wagging his tail in the widest possible arc.  I want to video tape the greeting -- he only does it for her -- because if his expression isn't one of pure joy, then there is no such thing.  He has become her rescuer too.  Through lonely times, financial hardship, threatening events, exhaustion, his presence in her life created demands and discipline that made her look outside herself, that indirectly demanded she was capable of giving, of achieving, of enduring just a bit more.  In return Nia got to experience being a loving, committed, tender, powerful leader -- responsible for a life depending on and waiting for her.
With every challenge, every effort, every achievement in her life, I am ever more profoundly proud of Nia -- but the person she is today, she couldn't have become without Mr. BoJindo. 
Sacramento State has accepted Nia for the Fall semester.  I'm giddy at the notion she'll go on to complete her Bachelor's degree -- maybe even pursue a graduate degree.  I don't know.  What ever she decides to do, I know she'll do well.  For her loved ones, tomorrow's ceremony is for celebration of what she's achieved so far.  Nia's name will be called and her loved ones will rise to applaud, hoot and holler in support and appreciation.  But one loved one will not be in the bleachers.  Mr. BoJindo will spend that time at a  PetSmart Doggy Hotel for a few hours because there are no accommodations at the school for four-legged friends no matter how vital to the measure of one's character, education and achievement.  

Post script:Mr. BoJindo did not stay at a doggy hotel after all.  Instead he stayed in the car (windows rolled down and plenty of water available) in the school's parking lot. Since the event was held out doors it was easy to check on him several times to make sure he was okay.  When the ceremony was over, we got Mr. BoJindo out of the car and both graduate and companion could enjoy the occasion. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What's all the Fuss About the F.C.C.?

Today's headlines: U.S. Courts Curbs F.C.C.'s Authority on Web Traffic

So, what's the big deal? Isn't this just big government trying to intervene with the "free market". Why should we be concerned? What's "net neutrality" got to do with me?

First -- what Comcast and the others want to do is block or discriminate against user's access to the web. If you like to visit You-Tube or Google news, your access will be limited or you'll be charged an extra fee when you do visit those web sites. These national ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are considering blocking those big bandwidth web sites when their customers reach an arbitrary amount of download for the month. So, you not only pay for the physical "pipe" and internet service provider that allows access, you also would pay for how much and what web sites you chose to visit. How long a "walk" is it to assume that, given the freedom to spend as much as they want on political campaigns, these broadband providers will block access to political blog sites, political action organizations or government web sites? It's a cheap way to control information and free speech. I know -- I am heavily influenced by George Orwell's "1984" -- I admit it. But this seems like a disaster waiting to happen gradually. This issue isn't dead. The F.C.C. may appeal the U.S. Court's decision. I hope they do -- and the F.C.C. needs to hear what tax payers think and want.

My position is, the tax payers "own" the internet.  In the same way Ford did not build the roads upon which his cars drove, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner, et al. did not build, create or otherwise make the internet possible. Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, etc. were created as free market businesses that made the internet commercially viable. They created a commodity: internet access. Nothing wrong with that -- it's entrepreneurship at its best. However, the American tax payers paid for the original infrastructure via the Defense Department and many academic entities made it usable for the public via standardized protocols for internetworking, software and hardware. When the general public originally got access there were no ISPs (internet service providers). ISPs were born out of a need for easy access that didn't require the knowledge of unix. As access to the internet became more popular many local ISPs were born. As browsers and portals were developed along with a way to find web pages that only required a domain name instead of an IP address, national ISPs like AOL and Earthlink quickly became ubiquitous. Eventually the companies that marketed the physical medium (cables and phone lines) saw the dollar signs and dove into the internet by offering their own in-house ISPs to their consumers who had to have a phone line or cable connection in order to have internet access. I acknowledge that corporations made the internet commercial but without the F.C.C. as a watchdog on behalf of the tax payer, for-profit corporations will do what they want to make more money, not to make the internet more accessible, faster, less expensive, etc. As we all know public corporations have repeatedly proven they cannot be trusted or expected to regulate themselves to benefit the consumer or do what's in the public's best interest. They only regulate themselves to benefit their shareholders -- which, of course, is their job. The internet access is now as vital a communication link as phone service (the infrastructure for which was also originally paid for by tax payers) was until the internet.
If you still defend the corporations, look at history. Back when AT&T was broken up and the phone system turned over to 7 regional Baby Bells, the F.C.C. required, among other things, that each Baby Bell maintain, repair and build out the phone system infrastructure in their trust. Today there are still huge rural areas with growing populations in this country where the phone system has not improved since the 1950's. You need look no further than Victorville and Twenty-nine Palms, CA, where some residents have been told they will have to pay thousands of dollars to have Verizon bring a phone line from the nearest pole to their home so they can have a working phone. There are portions of Playa del Rey, CA, that cannot get DSL because Verizon add or install the equipment required for DSL. They've had 10 years to install the equipment but they haven't because it'll be too expensive. Yet, Verizon is decommissioning DSL equipment in areas where fiber optics has been deployed. It's hard to see Verizon's side of the argument when they make such stupid choices about the service they provide -- or won't provide. They benefit from our tax dollars (take a look at the tax breaks and federal grants these telecommunication corporations get) but, like the banks, won't ever consider the public's best interest. That would be like expecting a crocodile to be vegan. Where once hundreds of millions of Americans paid pennies in taxes to deploy phone service across the entire country, the telcos' version of "building out" is to demand a few under-served people pay thousands to have the same phone access as the vast majority in this country. Unfortunately, the "free market" can never see beyond the next fiscal quarter. It doesn't take much thought to understand it's in the best interest of everyone to have access to both phone and the internet without being charged unaffordable infrastructure or access costs.  

Had a company like Comcast or Verizon been given the contract to create a phone system across the U.S. back in the early part of the 20th Century, you can bet your last dollar only the richest individuals and corporations would have phone or internet service today. Net neutrality is not about government controlled internet access. It's about regulating what corporations do to those who pay for access. If the corporations are not regulated on behalf of the consumers, we may become like today's Italy where all the TV, newspapers and radio outlets are owned by one person -- who happens also to be the head of the country. Glenn Beck's got it exactly backwards. Net neutrality promotes and preserves free speech.

It's clear I'm not on the side of the broadband providers. I don't own stock in any public company and I work for a local privately held, family-run ISP so I'm both informed and biased in my viewpoint. If net neutrality is thwarted, my company will most likely benefit because those dissatisfied with VerizonOnLine, Comcast, TimeWarner etc. will switch to us or other local ISPs. My view is from a tax paying consumer's point of view.
We need the F.C.C to regulate the internet on behalf of the tax payers who -- knowingly or not -- paid for the internet infrastructure. There are other organizations whose view is more expansive and erudite than mine and well worth reading: (part of and are two. Here's a link to the F.C.C.
To be more informed, here's a site that lists arguments for and against net neutrality: Take a read and make up your own mind.