Distinctively Dapper Dudes

All Summer, I’ve been meaning to post photos in a continuation of the “Hawaiian Shirts & Manly Men” series I started back in May ’05, but I got a little busy & forget to follow through. So, finally, here’s a shot of some of the IT department’s most fashionable guys sporting stylish tropical shirts at a luncheon last week:

IT guys bringing it, Hawaiian shirt style
(You can backtrack through those older blog entries here.
Each post has a link to the previous one in the series.)

We’ve Been Hacked!

We’ve been hacked!   Well, okay, Parent Hacked, that is.   They’ve posted an entry about a DIY art project for a kid’s room that Dede & I submitted recently.

Parent Hacks logo

Asha Dornfest’s Parent Hacks is a collaborative collection of clever tips, recommendations, workarounds, & bits of wisdom — i.e. hacks.   This isn’t stuffy expert advice but rather it’s a weblog that features practical "this worked for me" style tweaks, tricks, & ingenious solutions to everyday parenting problems or situations.   Or in other words, it’s Lifehacker for parents.

Fencing Mexico

Unless you've been dozing under a rock, you've heard by now about the proposal to build a double set of steel walls with floodlights, surveillance cameras & motion detectors along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border to prevent illegal immigrants and potential terrorists from hiking across the southern border into the United States. It would run along five segments of the 1,952-mile border that now experience the most illegal crossings. And all of this for a mere estimated cost of, oh, around $2.2 billion.

Fencing already exists along 106 miles of the border, primarily near larger cities, including San Diego, El Paso & Nogales, Ariz. Mostly, it consists of welded panels of corrugated steel recycled from portable landing strips the Army used in Vietnam but some parts are just a few strands of barbed-wire tacked to wooden fence posts.

San Diego's 14-mile, 15-foot-high double fence, which has been under construction since 1996, is the model for the proposed border fence, but has repeatedly stalled out due to environmental concerns. Already nearly $39 million has been spent on the project, and Homeland Security has allocated $35 million more. So, if that $74 million would be enough to finish the job and the price is multiplied over the proposed 700 miles, the new fence could run nearly double the estimated $2.2 billion — and that's just for the Southern California segment!

But even as fencing with all county fence, border patrol manpower, & migrant surveillance technologies have increased steadily over the past decade or so, the number of people arrested trying to cross illegally seems to still be rapidly rising.

And worse yet, Mexico's human rights commission boldly announced earlier this year that (if the massive border fencing project were to be green-lighted) it plans to distribute 70,000 maps showing the least-covered crossing points, highways, rescue beacons & water tanks in the Arizona desert to help reduce the death toll among illegal border crossers. (Here's a kicker — the maps were designed by the Tucson, Ariz.-based rights group Humane Borders.) And this is on the heels of a comic-book-style booklet for migrants that was distributed by the Mexican government in early 2005 offering tips to stay safe while crossing illegally into the U.S.

So not only is the Mexican government not doing anything to discourage illegals from migrating into the U.S., but they're actually helping to promote it.

But let's look at this problem from another angle… Tourism.

According to statistics released by Mexico's Tourism Secretariat (Sectur), Mexico's economy showed an unprecedented surge in '04 and their tourism industry was expected to exceed $10 million in 2005, with 70% percent of visitors coming from the U.S. Mexico is home to the world's 7th-largest hotel industry. Add to that, the Mexican tourism industry attracted more than $2.29 billion in new investments last year, representing a 38.5% increase over the previous year's figures. And by the end of 2006, Mexico is projected to have attracted $9 billion in new tourism investments.

So it seems easy enough to see that the more fiscally responsible and progressive thing to do — rather than fencing off the U.S.-Mexican border — would be to simply engage in one last bout of empire building.

Take Mexico.

Yup, seize the country; divvy it up into a few more states; clean up the water; exploit the massive labor pool; tax the snot out of the tourism industry; and end the illegal immigration problem once & for all. Sound extreme? Maybe not so much. After all, do the math: We can spend more than $3 billion to build useless border fences or earn $9 billion in tourism investment income.

And this isn't even taking into account the vast income potential brought about with the recently completion of “La Entrada al Pacifico,” a massive commerce corridor between far west Texas' Presidio and Mexico's Pacific coast. After all, where do you think Dollar General (a.k.a. Wal-Mart, Jr.) is getting its inventory?

And just think about how dramatically land values would escalate when the SoCal elite started snapping up beachfront property in those new states… The profits from the real estate boom would be unimaginable — and the tax income could fund other vital infrastructure improvements in those new states.

So, what do ya think? Anyone else up for a land grab?

Feasting on Asphalt

Alton Brown sinks his teeth into road food!
Did you catch the funky new “Feasting on Asphalt” mini-series on the Food Network recently? If not, you’re in luck — all 4 episodes are being re-aired back-to-back this Saturday, August 19th.

Foodie Alton Brown and a camera crew hop on motorcycles and set out across the country to discover how and where we eat when we’re on the road. Highlighted by archival photos & film, the series also serves as a history lesson as Alton journies down back roads exploring every aspect of eating on the go, from foraging for grub, to camp cooking, to the evolution of “road food” icons — the diners, cafes, and truck stops that once flourished beside America’s highways. And along the way, he often reflects on how changes in eating on the road have influenced today’s culture.

Click here to see Wikipedia’s page on the show and for a link of a cool pushpin map of the series’ route.

Late Blog About Amberly’s Visit

Better late than never they always say, so I’m finally getting around to blogging about Amberly’s visit. She stayed with us from July 16-30th for the Permian Playhouse kids’ drama camp. And just when we got used to a 3rd person in our home, her visit was over. The house seems a little empty now… 🙁

So, here are a couple of pictures we took while she was here. I hope you can see the joy in her face having her photo taken with “Jack Ben Rabbit.”

Amberly & Dede in a mall photo booth - we've been taking these since she was a just few months old Amberly poses with Jack Ben Rabbit

TV Time Machine

In Deb Shinder’s July 25th issue of WinXP News, she included a link in the “This Week’s Links We Like. Tips, Hints and Fun Stuff” section for a page on the Millennium Music Homeplace website that features classic TV theme songs. All of the theme songs are in mp3 format and are free for your enjoyment. It’s suprising how just the theme song or music can take you right back to relive some of the old television shows you grew up with — it’s a little bit like a time machine.

One of my favorites, naturally, is the Flipper theme song, so think of me when you listen to that one! 😉

When the Museum Closes – Take II

Almost 2 years ago, I stumbled across an animation by Warwick Mellow that served as a thesis project for his studies on kinesiology in 3D computer animation. I had blogged about this awesome animated short back then and had since noticed that blog entry was getting lots of search hits & traffic. But somewhere along the way, the original page I had referenced moved and I wasn’t able to find it again, so I removed the blog entry a few months ago to save some Googlers a bit of frustration.

Well, I was amazed to discover (only yesterday!) that Dede had a copy of the ‘lost’ dancing statue of Pan video file. Not only that, but I also found that the artist’s original site is once again available. You can go to his site to read all about this project and watch the streaming Quicktime video.

Update:   Well, his site is down again, but you can click here to see Warwick Mellow’s answer to the question, “What do statues do at night when the lights are out and nobody is looking?”

Warwick Mellow's Dancing Pan

Bowled Over

We just got back from a great outdoor concert at Dos Amigos. Dos has been bringing lots of rock to town this Summer, so we’re all for supporting them whenever possible. (And they’ve got Candlebox coming next month!)

Tonight’s concert featured Bowling for Soup on their “Get Happy” tour. BFS is from Wichita Falls, Texas and they put on a good show. They’re very cool about autographs — Dede got Jaret Reddick (the lead singer) to sign her ticket stub.

We also enjoyed the first warm-up band, Army of Freshmen, a punk-pop group from Ventura, California.