Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why I want an electric car

I've been trying for some time now to buy an electric car. I've been unable to do so, for comical reasons that I will recount in later blog entries. I figured that first, though, I would explain my reasoning for wanting one.

It begins with my strong belief that we're going to run out of oil. That resource simply won't be here indefinitely.

Add in a dash of wanting independence from foreign oil sooner than later. Maybe if we weren't so dependent on certain countries, we wouldn't feel such a desperate urge to mess with them.

Then, stir with my conviction that mass transit simply will not work in time for America. We are too spread out. We are a car culture. Our population, though admittedly increasingly urban, is still also heavily suburban and rural.

The answer is clearly to move to electric cars.

Yes, I know this means we need more power, but we're going to need that anyway as we grow and as power-consuming devices increase in number and in their need for power.

Support for electric cars is in its infancy, and the cars are still more expensive than low-end gas-powered vehicles, but I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is and be an early adopter.

If only I could.

In later entries, I'll recount my amazing encounters with Tesla Motors and with Nissan. Suffice to say for now that I have never in my life worked so hard to try to give companies my money--and failed.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Of Proof and Krispy Kreme

A few nights ago, I encouraged folks in this area to go see the Exit Through Eden production of Proof at the Raleigh Ensemble Players theater downtown. I went so far as to say that if we sold out the house, I would buy Krispy Kreme donuts for all who wanted them.

To my great pleasure, we did indeed sell it out, and quite a few of us ate donuts after the show.

What made me far happier, however, was how good the show was. Within a very short time after the play began, I forgot that I was in a small Raleigh theater watching a local production and instead lost myself in the show. I very much enjoyed it. I knew the story and script would be good; this drama won several Tonys. The rest of the production did it justice. The small set was clever and worked well. The direction was sharp. The acting was good. It was a good play.

All four actors turned in strong performances. I'm friends with one of them, Eric, so I have to recuse myself from commenting on his work due to friendship bias--though I will say I believe all present would agree he did a good job. I don't know any of the other actors, though, so I feel fine in noting that both Ryan Brock (Hal) and Page Purgar (Claire) inhabited their roles with ease and were quite good.

The star of the show, however, was Betsy Henderson as Catherine. I could have watched her all night. Her intelligence, her inner conflicts, her love for her father, her anger at her father--all the complexity that made Cathy a great character was right there in Henderson's performance. I've seen many a professional production, including some on Broadway, with weaker performances from actresses in key roles.

I went to the theater this evening to support a friend.

I left feeling moved and happy to have been lucky enough to see a strong play.

Proof runs Saturday and Sunday this weekend, and then all three days next weekend. Catch it if you can. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Junk mail doesn't stop with death

One of the continuing unpleasant aspects of dealing with my mother's death is trying to close down her estate. As the executor, a role I agreed to fill, that job falls on me. I knew it would be a hassle, but I had no clue just how annoying it would be. In particular, I never considered the issue of junk mail.

It keeps coming, of course; the people who mail her have no idea she's dead. If I were dealing with my own mail, that would be only a slight time waster, because I know what letters I can simply discard. With Mom's mail, though, I have no easy way to tell what's real mail and what's not, so I have to open it all.

That's how I learned that even the dead can qualify for Smith Barney's most elite American Express credit card. I wonder if they'd appreciate an email suggestion that they rename it the American Express Zombie Card.

It's also how I learned that several different hospitals are worried that a heart attack is going to hit her and want her to sign up for seminars and programs to avoid that problem. Too late, guys.

Insurance companies are eager to offer her that extra level of protection that she will surely want in the future. Once again, folks, you're too late.

A couple of companies even think she needs a new car. We're passing on that.

More annoying than all of it, though, is the new junk mail that is coming to me with her name on it. Apparently, the funeral home wants to sell me some grief counseling. I never signed up for follow-on mailings, but I never thought to tell them not to contact me, either, so I suppose they're within their rights to solicit me. I would call them, but with my current mood I'm afraid of what I might say, so I'll save that particular task for some other time.

Yeah, best to put off that one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If you haven't already seen this video

on YouTube or over on Griffin's blog, check it out now.

It proves yet again how talented--and hot--the awesome Felicia Day is.

I love its sentiment, though I have to admit that not for one second in my life have I been cool. I have, though, been a geek for pretty much every second I've been alive.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Free Krispy Kreme donuts Friday night!

Yup, and I'm buying--but there is, of course, a catch.

As I've mentioned before, my long-time friend Eric is producing a play, Proof, that debuts Friday night. The play starts at 8:00 at 213 Fayetteville Street in Raleigh; more info is available here. The venue is a real theater, albeit a small one. As I understand it, we can sell it out with something on the order of 40 people.

Fourteen of us are already going in one group, so we're well on our way.

If we sell it out, after the show I'll treat everyone who wants to go with me to the Krispy Kreme to all the donuts they can eat.

Think about this deal: A ticket to the play costs a mere ten smackers. For that, you get over two hours of entertainment watching a Tony-award-winning drama. You get to support local arts. And then you get to stuff yourself with donuts.

I'd never shill so directly for something of my own, but this is for my friend, so I have no shame. Now, Eric, who reads this blog and has no clue that I'm doing this, will probably be deeply embarrassed by this post. I can live with that.

We all have our dreams, some big, some small. Eric is making one of his come true by producing a play, and I'm damn proud of him for doing it. So, I'm going to do my part by trying to pack the house. He deserves at least that much from me.

Come on out. The play will entertain you, it will make you think, and then it will feed you donuts. You can't ask for much more than that.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Time to stop our culture of rape

It's past time, really, isn't it? We've developed a culture in which we stigmatize rape victims, joke about rape, accept as inevitable that men will touch women in inappropriate ways--you know the litany.

We have to stop it. We all have to help. Men have to behave better in so many ways, from listening to and accepting victims to, of course, simply stopping our gender's poor behavior.

If you think this problem has nothing to do with you, think again.

Read my daughter's blog entry here.

Read her entry on Duke's Develle Dish blog. Nothing in it is news to me, but simply reading it makes me tremble with rage.

Go see Develle Dish's stunningly powerful photo essay here. I know at least one person in this group.

Then realize that this is one small sample from one small university. Examples are everywhere.

Don't believe me?

Look around. Listen to the women you know.

My daughter was groped on that bus in Italy.

My mother was sexually assaulted--by her own mother.

A young man I know was raped.

A woman I know was repeatedly raped and physically assaulted--by her father. To this day, no one will listen to her, and she is afraid to tell her story.

Not a single victim is responsible for what happened to her (or him). Not one.

As a child, I was abused, beaten, over and over, almost daily for four years. I was fortunate enough never to suffer sexual abuse. Women we all know were not so fortunate.

Thanks to the advantage of male privilege, like most men I don't have to make plans to avoid rape and sexual assault. I don't have to worry about being inappropriately touched. I don't have to wonder as I'm walking to my car if tonight is the night something bad happens.

Neither should any woman. Not your friends, your colleagues, your spouses, your daughters, your mothers--none of them.

As with child abuse, we must never consider rape acceptable. Never. We must never blame the victims.

We must stop our culture of rape.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Revisiting [ONE]

I've written before about Chapel Hill's [ONE] restaurant. At the time, local chef Shane Ingram was in charge, and I quite liked the place. Some time ago, though, I heard that Ingram was parting ways with [ONE] and returning to his Foursquare Restaurant exclusively. I immediately dropped [ONE] from my list of places to try.

I was wrong.

The other night, a group of us, enticed by a very interesting dinner menu, returned to [ONE]. After sampling a large portion of that menu, including all of the desserts, I'm pleased to report that [ONE] is now even better than before.

Thanks to the fine chef team, the food is inventive and modern and entirely delicious. Executive Chef Sean McCarthy is an active presence in the open kitchen, expediting one moment, doing final plating another, and preparing dishes at other times. The only misstep of the evening was the warm foie preparation, which was dry from over-cooking and which sat on an unfortunate cauliflower puree; the lack of acidity and sweetness from fruit definitely hurt the dish. The rest of the appetizers and main courses were uniformly delicious.

The desserts, which frequently in local places are weak endings to fine meals, were, if anything, a step up. Pastry Chef Deric McGuffey concocts wonderful sweets, which his team, notably a woman whose name I could not get, implements beautifully. Artful in presentation and superb in taste, these desserts are worth a trip in their own right.

As soon as the menu changes, I'll be heading back to [ONE]. If you live in or visit this area, I recommend you do the same.


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