Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sundance....Star Watch

Everywhere, people are star sighting. Yes some people go to view film (more on that later) and some people seem to shop, and eat, and do the sort of things one does in a picturesque mountoun town. But there seems to be a lot of "oh look, who is that" going on.
I shot this while strolling Main, which throbs with "events" and people toting recently claimed swag bags. I saw several clusters of big cameras and crowds focused on individuals. But I couldn't tell you who the individuals were. Sorry, my career as a celeb reporter obviously ends right about now, but I wasn't alone in this mystery. People were asking me "who's that?"
I think the guy above "does soaps." Yeah him, the one in the middle in the black.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sundance Edition...Come See My Movie

So I am here in Park City, Sundance Film Fest where people come to see stories on film, show their stories. Some people also come to star sight but that's another story.
Right now, its all about figuring out what you want to see, catching buzz, throwing buzz (posters, postcards, schwag, costumed beings) , planning ticketing to film, parties.
Robin-egg blue sky, some people actually seem to be skiing, but mostly strolling through the choked main drag, aptly named Main Street, and looking for thuggish men with wires in their ear at guard outside venues like bars, galleries, shops, all comandeered to host Parties!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mind Your Manners

So we always taught our kids to be kind, patient, considerate of others. But not everyone does that.
And this great NYTimes piece by pediatrician, Perri Klass, M.D. sorts it out in a great way.
As a doctor, Klass views social skills right up there with the three R's. Reading, (w)riting, rethmetic.
Rude is not good.
Parents, your job is to help prepare a being for their future. In social skills along with everything else. Or they can't function in society.
The good doctor says:

"One of the long-term consequences of being a rude child is being a rude adult — even a rude doctor. There are bullies on the playground and bullies in the workplace; it can be quite disconcerting to encounter a mature adult with 20 or so years of education under his belt who still sees the world only in terms of his own wants, needs and emotions: I want that so give it to me; I am angry so I need to hit; I am wounded so I must howl."

Not OK.
It really seems to be a disservice to allow bad behavior.
Who to guide us?
As a model, the Miss Manners serves.

"I like Miss Manners’ approach because it lets a parent respect a child’s intellectual and emotional privacy: I’m not telling you to like your teacher; I’m telling you to treat her with courtesy. I’m not telling you that you can’t hate Tommy; I’m telling you that you can’t hit Tommy. Your feelings are your own private business; your behavior is public."

Not always easy. The little people have a way with getting their way. But that's how we, as a community work. With each other. Manners.

"But that first big counterintuitive lesson — that there are other people out there whose feelings must be considered — affects a child’s most basic moral development. For a child, as for an adult, manners represent a strategy for getting along in life, but also a successful intellectual engagement with the business of being human."
Good business that human stuff.

I Knew It!

Seems like the New York power monopoly, Con Edison, is not so cool. This historic, enormous, complex electric power system is corrupt.
Makes you wonder about all those weird, off hour, overwhelming, underground projects that brazenly take over the city. Citizens as slaves. To who?
Today, 11 Con Ed supervisors were arrested on charges of kickbacks. Released on $100,000 bonds, the defendants had demanded bribes from a construction company, to approve invoices for work that was unnecessary or never performed.
Not just money. Sunglasses. A watch. A Blackberry curve phone. And Giants-Dallas game tickets.
And one of these guys even shows up in court today with a Giants jacket on!
"Mr. Fassacesia, who received four tickets to the Nov. 2 Giants-Cowboys game, appeared in court wearing a New York Giants jacket."

“These defendants used their positions at Con Ed to line their own pockets at the expense of utility customers and the residents of the New York City metropolitan area,” Benton J. Campbell, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, said in a statement.

That's for sure.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Skimming, lighter than air

So lovely to view the young before they have been (mis) directed. My nephew Simon, who has the breathe of Terpsichore in him, just loves to move, and sing, and play with sounds, and rhythms, and body sensations as he floats through the universe. We love to watch.

We also wonder, after viewing ancient beauty at the Met, if maybe others have felt the breathe of Terpsichore. What cherubic beings float through space and play with the feeling of their bodies defined by Earth's gravity.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dream Team

As Barak Obama assembles his cast and crew for the next term, there are some odd, yet refreshing choices. All is subject to vetting and blessing, which will happen this week, but what a fun bunch of new friends to land in D.C.

We hear that 39-year-old, medical journalist, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is being recruited to the esteemed U.S. Surgeon General post. Great news. Smart guy. Let's hope he isn't on the pharma-dole.

And Leon Panetta might get the CIA head gig. Lot's of grumbling about his lack of experience but this anti-torture, long-term insider has the right stuff. Some people are explaining why this is a well measured, sound choice.

From CNN's site:
"Robert Baer wrote a piece in Time magazine praising the nomination. Baer, who had a storied career with the CIA as an operative in the Middle East for decades, is popularly known for having inspired the film "Syriana," which is based on his book "See No Evil."

The CIA could use Panetta to "hold off the Senate and House intelligence committees, which are gearing up to rip into the CIA for the last eight years of renditions, secret prisons and bad intelligence on Iraq," Baer wrote.

'Mistakes aside, the last thing the CIA needs is another round of overly intrusive congressional hearings like those that so badly damaged it in the '70s. If today's Congress were to deliver a coup de grace to the CIA, the Pentagon would effectively be the nation's only intelligence agency.'

Most relevant for Panetta's possible new job is that he has been a vocal critic of the agency's interrogation techniques, which Obama decried as torture during the presidential campaign."

Hilda Solis, is being considered for Labor Secretary. She's the daughter of a union shop steward from Mexico and an assembly line worker from Nicaragua. She served in the California state legislature before she was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2000.

Lisa Jackson is a strong choice for EPA chief. She’s a trained scientist, and spent 15 years working at the US EPA before heading to the Garden State, focusing on hazardous-waste cleanup and enforcement, and knows the Agency’s culture and jargon inside out.

Time outlines Eric Shinseki, Obama's pick for Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

After his December 7th nomination as President-elect Barack Obama's Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki became living proof that one President's trash can be another President's treasure. The decorated veteran is most remembered for his controversial role as Army Chief of Staff in the Bush Administration. His testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the need for several hundred thousand troops in Iraq was challenged and dismissed as "wildly off the mark" by the Department of Defense. Spoiler alert: Shinseki ended up being right, but his public dissent of the Administration's estimate irreparably strained his relationship with his superiors. He unceremoniously retired in June 2003.

There are a few more:

Hillary Clinton, for Secretary of State. Watch that closely this week.

Eric Holder
, Attorney General, putting the veteran Washington lawyer is in place to become the first African-American to head the Justice Department.

Lawrence H. Summers
, former chief economist at the World Bank and the president of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006 Treasury Secretary.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

She's Back!

Sorry, I haven't been swept away by a Tsunami or plague, or recession. Just on the road with spotty connections and new focuses and so I left MomBlog for a minute.

Sorry to those who missed me.

And yes, it is official, we are undergoing something called a recession. According to Wikipedia, that means a reduction of a country's gross domestic product (GDP) for at least two quarters. So that's like, what, half a year?

There are many stories around, but we can't help but notice the mortgage industry, that falsely bolstered a sense of wealth throughout the kingdom.
The Wall Street Journal runs a story about a little blue shack's sale that illustrates the delusion, predation and false hope that ran through this period called "my house is worth something."

Little town, big dreams.

"Four decades ago, when she bought the West Hopi Street house for $3,500, Avondale was a small town built around cotton farms. From 2000 to 2005, the heart of the housing boom, it doubled in size to 70,000 residents.

Today, one in nine Avondale houses is in foreclosure or close to it.

Her lender, Integrity, was one of a flurry of small mortgage firms that sprang up nationwide during the boom, using loans from big banks to generate mortgages to resell to larger financial institutions. Whereas traditional mortgage lenders profit by collecting borrowers' monthly payments, Integrity made its money on fees and commissions.

The company was owned by Barry Rybicki, 37, a former loan officer who started it in 2003. Of the boom years, he says: "If you had a pulse, you were getting a loan."

When an Integrity telemarketer called Ms. Halterman in 2006, she was cash-strapped, owing $36,605 on a home-equity loan. The firm helped her get a $75,500 credit line from another lender.

Ms. Halterman used it to pay off her pickup, among other things. But soon she was struggling again.

In early 2007, she asked Integrity for help, Mr. Rybicki's records show. This time, Integrity itself provided a $103,000, 30-year mortgage. It had an adjustable rate that started at 9.25% and was capped at 15.25%, according to loan documents.

It was one of 197 loans Integrity originated last year, totaling almost $47 million.

For a $350 fee, an appraiser hired by Integrity, Michael T. Asher, valued the house at $132,000. Mr. Asher says although he didn't personally believe the house was worth that much, he followed standard procedures and found like-sized homes nearby that had sold in that price range in 2006."

Yeah right. "Integrity."
We all have heard similar tales.
So the banks lent money, not really supported by value.
Now we all feel something crunchy.

Let's hope that we can dance away from this, with the grace of a four-year-old.
Innocent. Hopeful. Alighting on dreams that do exist, just not in fashion right now.