2016 Liv City Bikes are Cute, Comfy, and Fun | Bicycling

I may have found my n+1 bike, with short trips and street-clothes style in mind.

Liv Flourish 2

The Flourish comes with more gearing options, with three rings up front and a 7-speed Shimano IGH rear derailleur. The Flourish 2 ($620) that Sherman showed us comes with an oversize wicker basket that’s big enough to hold a full daypack and a cushioned leather spring saddle that helps smooth the ride. The swept handlebar enables you to hold on while sitting up (though the steering takes a little getting used to, it’s quicker than a flat bar), and fenders shield you from road splash. And because sometimes you don’t always remember to bring a light for your commute, or you end up staying out later than you think (like we did yesterday), I was excited to find that the Flourish 2 has a built-in lighting system: Theres an integrated rear blinky light and a headlight powered by a dynamo hub that lit my way to the bar and then home. Pricing starts at $360 for the Flourish 4 (no lighting, fenders, or chain guard) and goes up to $620 for the Flourish 2. Several color options are available, too.

via 2016 Liv City Bikes are Cute, Comfy, and Fun | Bicycling.

Amazon Affiliate Program Removes Jewelry

Just received an email that as of January 1 2015, there are changes to the Affiliates program.

https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/help/operating/compare

Apparently the only change is that Jewelry has been removed entirely as a category under the Affiliates program. All the other percentages (I guess you’d call them sales commissions) remain the same.

IMG_2747.PNG

Global air ticket fraud sweep nets 118 arrests | Reuters

This is just one kind of airline ticket fraud – where someone intends to travel on the ticket purchased with a stolen credit card.

(Reuters) – More than 100 people were arrested worldwide this week after an investigation spanning 45 countries into the use of stolen credit cards to buy plane tickets, European police agency Europol said on Friday.

Source: Global air ticket fraud sweep nets 118 arrests | Reuters

WordPress › Social Media 2 WordPress for Google « WordPress Plugins

So far I’m only using Daniel Treadwell’s Google+ plugin, as I already have some Twitter and Facebook plugins working. If those are no longer working in the future, I can switch over.

Social Media 2 WordPress for Google allows you to continuously import posts (including photos, albums, videos and links) from Google to your blog.

Source: WordPress › Social Media 2 WordPress for Google « WordPress Plugins

Liberal Christian Urges Kirk Cameron To Mind His Own Beeswax About Cherished Holiday Traditions

Former child actor and current talentless hack Kirk Cameron has taken upon himself to save Christmas from Christians that he doesn’t consider to be Christian enough, and from everyone else that is of any other persuasion, too. Because only Kirk Cameron’s Christmas is the righteous, holy, and most Jesus-y one, apparently. And now with seasonal Halloween, too!

Can’t wait for the inevitable Thanksgiving video, with a working title of “SATAN is at ur tabel, eatin ur turkiy,” because cognitive dissonance is always such a hoot.

Like other Christianist loudmouths (and Bill O’Reilly, who’s just a loudmouth) the One True Christmas for which Kirk Cameron pines is all about bringing the unchurched masses of America and the world to Jesus Christ. All other ways of keeping Christmas, even if it’s strictly secular and centered on shopping, gifting, and enjoying family and friends, are simply not acceptable to Cameron. Most of us actually enjoy the hustle-bustle of the modern American Christmas, although I tend to like the quieter, more spiritual aspects, the music, and the pretty holiday displays rather than the rugby scrum that Christmas shopping has become.

Perhaps Kirk Cameron thinks the Devil makes us do it differently than he does, and therefore it must be saved from us heathens. Saved! SAVED IN THE BLOOD OF JEEEEZ-US. Or whatever.

What an ass. No, what a self-righteous, pompous early-onset male pattern bald-faced middle-aged ass.

I’ve been aware for years of Cameron and his yawping ilk, demanding that Christmas be saved from the clutches of, I don’t know, rampant commercialism and simpering Hallmark-card secularism. And I’ve ignored him for decades. By contrast, in the last 15 years or so, I’ve kept Christmas pretty well, singing and celebrating at Christmas Eve services at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, and then later at St Nicholas Episcopal Church since moving to Illinois.

As a “churched” liberal Christian, I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that not everyone celebrates Christmas at all (hello, my honey! hello, my inlaws! Hello, my Jewish extended family!). I’m also comfortable with people who were raised as Christians in name only, who might or might not attend church twice a year, otherwise known as “C. and E. Christians.”

It turns out I was raised in just such a family that didn’t go to church except for major holidays (also weddings, christenings, and funerals). My mom and I were an anomaly, we actually liked attending and participating the rest of the year. That was when my quarterly Sunday communion might consist of cubed Wonder-Bread and grape juice in little individual shot glasses; now I’m all about the weekly Eucharist of hand-baked bread and wine in a shared silver cup, blessed by the hands of Father Manny and others.

Still, I have great affection for Christians who show up for Christmas and Easter. They’re the people filling the seats in church for the big festival services, where we in the choir are singing our hearts (and throats) out. They’re the people I work hardest for, months before each holiday, rehearsing with the Choir of St Nicholas and half-killing myself with the singing and the late night rehearsals and big festival services.

Casual Christians get my most technically challenging musical efforts, if they happen to drop by St Nick’s, but I give my best effort for the normal Sunday services and occasional “lesser feasts,” too. They say that she who sings once, prays twice, and I do pray as I sing that it is acceptable, pleasing, and for God’s sake, in tune! Also that my (pretty modest) efforts in the alto section might help to move someone’s heart to lift in a moment of transcendance. Yet, they don’t have to believe as I believe. They just have to feel something beyond themselves and be transported, and that is fine with me.

As a “churched” liberal Christian, I am deeply offended by Kirk Cameron’s posturing on the need to “save” Christmas, and suspect that the real motive for his madness is to somehow remain in the public eye, since his career went in the crapper after Growing Pains ended. Oh, if only Alan Thicke’s real-life son Robin had been old enough for the role, what a very different and twerky world we would live in now!

Now Cameron wants to “save” Halloween, a holiday I also hold dear although I don’t celebrate it properly any more. He wants Christians to turn it into an opportunity to preach the Gospel to people who, frankly, are probably not all that interested in anything he has to say. If people like Kirk Cameron hadn’t turned them off by being righteous assholes, un-spiritual people might actually discover for themselves that when you strip out all the Bible-thumper rhetoric, Jesus had some radically Good News for the world, and a new way to honor God and all His Creation – by loving one another, caring for the poor, and healing the world. An atheist can even “get” the message of Jesus without the need to believe, too. This world could very well be all we’ve got, so we should at least treat it and each other better.

At last, the second or third half of this post! Would you like a cookie, some pumpkin juice, or a butterbeer? What’s a little sorcery and witchcraft, when people of fair to middling intelligence know there’s no such thing?

ANYway, to continue, to digress, and to finally get to the thing that set me off on this merry tirade:

Yesterday, the comic and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” actor Patton Oswalt laid this gem upon the breast of the Twitterverse, and it was good.

Curious as to what inspired that comment, after a quick stop to remind myself who Travis Bickle was, I looked around and found that Kirk Cameron has decided that Halloween needs to be taken back from the Satan-worshiping scarily costumed candy-gobbling trick-or-treaters.

Well, I always thought kids weren’t for me, but I didn’t think they were all THAT evil.

Also, that would be a great Halloween costume for Kirk Cameron – the mohawk, the moral rigidity, the martyr complex: it’s too perfect.

Halloween isn’t the only holiday on Cameron’s radar. Next month, he’s releasing a film called "Saving Christmas," aimed at restoring religion to the holiday.

via Kirk Cameron Urges Christians To Celebrate Halloween By Sharing The Gospel.

It’s all about getting publicity for the “Saving Christmas” movie, and it’s all about trying to restore the tawdry lustre to his long-faded Hollywood star. I suspect it’s not about bringing souls to Jesus and defeating Satan, it’s about bringing eyeballs to the screen and courting Mammon.

So this, too, offends me. Both as a liberal Christian and as a former candy-gobbling trick-or-treater, I’m comfortable with the old pagan customs that survive in the modern celebration of Halloween, and of course I’ve attended a few All Saints/Souls services in my time (usually at other Episcopal churches, we usually don’t put do one unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday).

I’m sure that Mr More Christiany Than Thou Cameron has no idea what All Hallows’ Eve, All Saint’s Day, or All Souls Day even mean to “liturgical” Christians like me. Apparently, his way of celebrating Halloween, Christmas, and other cherished holidays forgets the old traditions and long-sacred ceremony, brings no meaningful modern reinterpretation, and strips out any remaining beauty, color, and poetry. A rich, deeply refreshing liturgy is replaced with whatever bland, multi-media production Cameron thinks is sufficiently Christian to avoid self-offense.

Blech. Sorry, I can’t even.

As a liberal Christian, I’m comfortable with commemorating the dead, remembering the saints, and dressing up to literally laugh in the face of Death. I can even celebrate a formerly pagan Harvest Festival with something more creative and warmly generous in spirit as the season turns toward winter (WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUGS FOR ST NICK’S HARVEST FAIR AND ALSO THE CHRISTMAS CD WOOHOO).

Yes, in case you didn’t know, St Nick’s is putting on its own Harvest Fair – A Gathering of Artisans this year. It’s a tradition that many English churches follow, and American and Canadian churches too, but the emphasis will be on quality and on celebrating the creativity of our St Nick’s community.

Please visit our Harvest Fairpage on Facebook and LIKE and SHARE so that lots of people in the area of Elk Grove Village and the Chicagoland area might find out about it, it’s our first year. We’ve got handmade soap, jewelry, and other treasures lined up and waiting to be discovered, and there’s more room for artisans to take a table or a partial table!

Last year we celebrated Halloween with a daylight Trick or Trunk event where parishioners at St Nick’s decorated the trunks of their cars and the backs of their mini-vans and SUVs and gave out candy to the youngest neighborhood children. I think there was a circuit of several churches that put it on in the area. It was a fun event that was enjoyed by very small costumed witches and demons (Ooooh! Scary, Kirk Cameron! BOO!). This year we’re offering some nice treats and no tricks to older kids of all ages with the Harvest Fair.

Meanwhile, there’s a pumpkin out in front of the front doors of St Nick’s… not sure why, but it’s creative and certainly in keeping with the season and with the neighborhood (Elk Grove Village is known for its Halloween and Christmas displays).

Sunday, Christmas comes early to St Nicholas (actually it’s been coming since about May of last year. The Choir of St Nicholas is recording a Christmas CD called NOEL: Christmas At St Nicholas Episcopal Church. I get to sing on it, it will be available for a small donation, but can be pre-ordered.. We’re going to a real recording studio Sunday after the regular 10am service to do it, and then if you like, you can drop by at about 8pm on Christmas Eve (December 24, for those of you who don’t do church much) and hear it all LIVE. Like a CONCERT, but with praying and communion and stuff. You are most welcome. Here’s what it’ll look like, my husband David took the photo at the 2012 service.

CD: Noel: Christmas at St Nicholas

Does this Christmas look like it needs saving? Does this Halloween need to be taken back? NOPE.

So thank you but no thank you, Kirk Cameron, you can mind your own beeswax about cherished holiday traditions like Halloween and Christmas. You celebrate them how you see fit, but don’t tell other people how they should do it. The Devil is not involved, and neither is Bigfoot and the Easter Bunny.

You may think you’re contesting with Satan (who is a metaphorical construct, in my opinion) and you may complain about rampant secularism, but the truth is, most people don’t really pay much attention to you. You’re not very relevant now, and you were not a cultural influence when Growing Pains was on the air, either. It was merely mass entertainment to the lowest common denominator. It was commercial pap, and certainly not as influential as The Cosby Show, for example.

Actually, Kirk Cameron’s Mike Seaver was never fit to tie Theo Huxtable’s basketball shoes – now that was a groundbreaking show about an American family struggling to instill good values (and it was a lot funnier). More people “got the message” about how to treat each other from watching that show, which didn’t preach, but did persuade. The message that people got from Cameron’s show was that hisbest friend’s name was Boner, until he mysteriously ran off and joined the Marines. The teen heart-throb Mike character was an insufferable schemer, until a real-life conversion experience revealed Cameron to be one of those self-important Christianists who beats everybody over the head with the baby Jesus. After becoming insufferably holy, he insisted on storyline changes, script changes, and had a co-star fired.

I had totally forgotten what a pimple Kirk Cameron was in the 90’s.

Meanwhile, it could be argued that his not-very-charitable behavior toward his co-stars and the producers, after becoming a foam-at-the-mouth Bible beater, led to the steep ratings decline and eventual cancellation of his only claim to fame. Huh.

Yes, preach (and rant) on about needing to save Christmas, Kirk Cameron. But will you be singing the old carols on Christmas Eve, and receiving Christ in the bread and wine while the glorious anthems rise to Heaven? Will you be bringing canned goods to drop off anonymously at the door of your local food pantry, as our neighbors and support group members do at ours? I don’t think so. You’ll be attending premieres and media events held in auditoriums, trying to flog DVD sales. Frankly, I’d rather help flog our CD sales.

Yes, anyone celebrating Halloween by dressing up, playing tricks and sharing treats is not a pagan, not a Satanist, not a devil-worshipper; they’re someone who enjoys the traditions of All Hallows’ Eve, and has fun with its modern equivalent.

Yes, even a Christian can celebrate All Hallows’ Eve; the colors (orange and black) are a reminder of some very old Christian traditions. In England, groups of people dressed in black used to go out “souling” door-to-door (begging for soul-cakes in exchange for Christian prayers for the dead, in the Anglican tradition) before the three days of “All Hallowtide.” The yellowish-orange beeswax candles that were carried in such processions, along with other things like carved turnips, became the other color associated with Halloween. In the US, orange pumpkins were easier to carve into what originally a lantern to guide lost souls. People would pray that the wandering souls would find rest and not do mischief, and they would disguise themselves in costumes to avoid their wrath. Sometimes they dressed up as saints, too.

Woops, it looks like the Christians already took back Halloween, some centuries ago. Rather than saving holidays that don’t need saving, why not protest one of those pop-up Spirit stores instead, or criticize home improvement stores for putting fall and winter holiday displays on sale in August?

A true Halloween can be just a fun candy holiday, or the lead-in to a generic harvest festival, or even a family gathering at Thanksgiving (I can hardly wait for Cameron to hit that one). And with the addition of All Saints/All Souls, Halloween is an opportunity to reflect on how life and death are linked, and how facing our demons, commemorating our saints, and remembering our dead is part of being human.

It always used to annoy me at work when the annual Halloween extravaganza would come around – most of us would be decorating and working on our team presentation for the costume contests, and a few unhappy, joyless Christianists would be complaining that the decorations were too scary and too Satanic. They wouldn’t participate, and would take the day off to avoid all the… fun. That’s okay, more candy for us.

Sure, it was hectic, but they were literally killjoys and fortunately there were only one or two. The same few even objected to Christmas decorations in the office, or Hanukkah decor at one co-worker’s desk. In their narrow minds, those symbols were somehow evil, pagan and of the Devil. They would have been happiest if there were NO seasonal displays, since ALL the holidays were tainted because they were, yes, pagan in origin. Nothing should be celebrated or enjoyed if it had any start in a non-Biblical tradition, in their view.

Cameron wants to turn Halloween into a big thunder-and-brimstone Bible fest. Does it need saving? No.

A person needn’t be Christian to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas if they wish, though unfortunately they can hardly escape it if they don’t. My late Jewish mammeleh-in-law even liked the holiday lighting displays and some of the music. Yes, without the crass commercialism, and the evil corporatism of Black Friday (and Thursday!) shopping stampedes at Thanksgiving, the Christmas season isn’t the Norman Rockwell painting of our shared nostalgia. Let’s not forget, Santa Claus was popularized by newspaper editors from a poem by an Episcopalian academic, with an image makeover in the late 40’s by a soft drink company. Like a comic book character, his true origin story reveals his secret identity: ta-da!! he’s SAINT NICHOLAS.

A true Christmas is a gathering of loved ones and friends, with food and warmth, and color, and music, while remembering the less fortunate and the lonely. Does that need saving? No. Bam! said the lady, no.

And now, I can’t bring myself to watch his trailer to see what he wants to do to “save” Christmas. Who does he think he is? Jesus Christ.

Yep. That’s why he’s more holier than thou, and me, and everybody.

Are we living in the 1st Century, or the 21st Century? Some of these Christianists need to get a modern life. Neither Halloween nor Christmas need saving, except perhaps from former child stars long past their pull date, and FAUX Noise pundits shooting off their pieholes in the annual “War On Christmas.”

Mind your own beeswax, Kirk Cameron. Save your sanity instead.

Deblogging: It’s Like Debugging, But With Words

Riley Lubs Hiz Toyz

It’s been such a long time since I’ve written anything about the goings-on here at Chez Gique.

Why? I’ve been putting stuff off, and avoiding my desktop computer, and not using the laptop because it seems really slow and pokey now, and a whole host of reasons. The backlog of Stuff I Need To Do and the backlog of Stuff I Should Blog About is just… enormous, and the tools at my disposal (newish iPhone, newish iPad mini) are usually being used for important stuff like reading about someone doing something worng on the Internets, or playing Minion Rush.

So anyway, a list, in emotional bombshell order, of stuff that’s on my mind or on my chest that I need to put into words and deal with.

Riley died on August 31. I have a lot of photos on my phone of him, and even more on my desktop, but not many of him from the last couple of months, because his lymphoma just made him so, so skinny. I tried, in a last ditch effort, to get him on a more beefed up drug regimen and it seemed to be helping at first, but he couldn’t hang on to any nutrition no matter what we did.

Finally, the last week it looked pretty dire, as I had time off that week and spent a lot of time holding him and trying to get him to eat. On the Sunday, he stood over his water dish with this befuddled “what do I do now?” attitude and was unable to lap up any water. He was unsteady on his feet and as David and I looked at him, aghast, I thought “Oh, he’s done…. he’s just so tired.” It seemed like the last-ditch, full-bore heroics route would just prolong the inevitable, since he was dehydrated anyway and I could only get him to take a few squirts of water by mouth with a syringe.

I held him as he rested from the effort to try to get him to drink and eat (he pretty much turned away from offered food, and the oral syringe was clearly causing him to stress out). And David and I decided, well, we’d fought hard and Riley had fought hard, and our vet’s office, though closed, had an outgoing message that recommended a nearby 24/7 emergency pet hospital for out-of-hours problems (it was a Sunday, after all). So we packed Riley into his favorite basket (not the usual carrier), and we went over there while I held him on my lap and petted him. He looked around a little, like.. “whu…. whut’s goin’ on?” but he didn’t cry and wasn’t too fussed. And so on and so forth; the vet evaluated him, talked to us about options, and agreed with us that it was time. We stayed with him, petting him and talking to him, through the very end. The vet left us alone with him for as long as we needed.

We left without out our dear friend and companion, but before leaving him alone on the cold steel examining table, I made sure… I just had to make him a cozy kitty one last time, it was this thing I would always do. We were leaving a towel behind, and I wrapped him up in a little nest the way he had liked. It was a very final farewell, because as I handled him it was made crystal clear to me that he was gone. We left, quickly, and went home to clear things away and clean up the area where his bowls and food had been stored. Later that day, we went to a family barbecue and wondered what the hell had happened to us – felt like we’d been blindsided. Little did we know… but the house has been awfully quiet since then.

We miss him and will continue to mourn him for a long time.

As it happens, he had a stash of meds and food that could be donated back to our regular vet to help someone else’s cat, so yesterday I finally made time to head over there with a bagful of high-nutrition kitten food, drugs, supplies, and some other canned stuff that was refundable. Actually, I was in the neighborhood because of the next development in order of emotional bombshellness.

So I walked in to Arlington Cat Clinic and dropped off all the goodies and chatted with Adelle at the front desk, and looked at the current cat-in-residence who’s available for adoption – her name is Gabby and she looked like a sweet girl tabby. Then one of the techs walked to the back with a small cat carrier that was emitting a series of tiny little squeaks.

What was it? a Meezer kitten – a Siamese that had been found in someone’s window well. It required hand feeding because it was so tiny. It was just a week or two old.

When I was growing up, my childhood cat Beebee had several litters of kittens, until my mom finally decided to get her spayed (or as I thought it was pronounced, “spaded”). So it had been many years since I’d held a wee Meezer kitty, and it was just big enough to fill one hand. Its eyes were open but its ears were still placed far down on the side of its skull – as the kitty grows, the ears sort of migrate from the sides to the top because the space between them doesn’t increase that much.

So it cried and went “eee! EEE!!” while I held it under my chin while I cried and went “aw… AWWWWW”, and the tears started to come. Adelle came up and asked me something about Riley’s stuff that I’d dropped off. So I cuddled it a bit and handed it back for more feeding, knowing that we couldn’t possibly handle another cat for a long while yet. We need to take some time.

But boy, it sure is going to be cute, and there are some siblings and the mom that someone else brought in, so if you want to get your name in, check with Arlington Cat Clinic, they have a lot of other kittens and cats available for adoption that are currrently fostered out. Although they don’t take cats in, they do have their… network of minions that make sure that cats have someplace to stay while waiting to be placed.

Here’s a video that they made, featuring hospital cat and Head of Security, Dr Leon. I didn’t see him on our recent visits, so I hope he’s okay, he was a big help when I had to re-learn how to pill Riley a couple of years ago.

So that brings me to the next thing on my mind.

It’s a wonderful thing that David’s dad Sheldon and his lovely lady Linda live near us, as we can get together with them so easily now, with no hour-long drive to their home. We attended a family barbecue (the day we lost Riley) and then a week later, there was another family barbecue – so easy now to gather the family, we couldn’t be happier for Dad and Linda.

At that second barbecue, we met some new extended family (close family to Linda). It was a very nice time, but there was a lot of hubbub and people milling about, so it was kind of hard to visit with everyone. Some of Linda’s family members were traveling on to the next part of a long-planned vacation, and they were very excited about that. I wish I had spent more time talking with them. REALLY wish.

A few days after the second barbecue, Sheldon texted me to call him, and got shocking news; one of Linda’s family, that we met for the first time that Sunday, had passed away suddenly, and Linda was already on her way to an Eastern city to be with other family members who were left waiting for everyone to get home from the west coast vacation. There’s a lot to leave unsaid, but it was completely unexpected, although the family member did have a chronic illness that ultimately wasn’t the direct cause of death.

It was just. awful and so very sudden. You just can never tell what comes next (or not) in life.

So to make things easier for Shel, I went over several times this week to help him with Linda’s cats, and then he went East for the services. I was happy to do something to help Linda so she wouldn’t have to worry, and I was happy to spend time with cats that I could feed, pet, and say “bye-bye” and head home. Shel and Linda got home earlier today, and her family are gathering themselves together after dealing with the services and all the people wanting to help them – there was an outpouring of love, and it was very inspiring, according to Linda. But still, in the end, the family is left to pick themselves up and go on, so they will.

Aside from the crappy end to the summer, it’s been great… um and now it’s going to be fall soon, as the weather seems to have gone colder and wetter awfully early.

That’s about it for the catch-up, now to see if this draft makes it to the server.

Crossposted from the backup site on WordPress.com, http://blogularasa.wordpress.com/.

David has updated the servers, and moved stuff around, so for now at least, I’m blogging again.

The flags go down to mark the end of the SL11B Community Celebration

After a week of amazing events (which included three stages of 24/7 music and the Auditorium which hosted a range of fascinating talks and displays) and then another week to explore the wonderful builds, the SL11B Community Celebration comes to an end at midnight SLT today, Saturday 5th. And the flags that have been flying […]

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Today I Am Nine (in Second Life Years)

July 5th. Carl Metropolitan’s rezday. I’ve been in Second Life on and off for nine years now. Seven of those nine years were spent running new resident help organizations, first NCI from 2005 to 2009, and then Caledon Oxbridge from 2009 to 2012. Now I just run trivia games on Tuesdays and putter about Oxbridge and annoy the Lindens about fixing the new user experience.

See you all next year!

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