Monthly Archives: April 2009

OMG! No, Not Daniel!!

 

Daniel Faraday

Daniel Faraday

When you work a puzzle, it seems like the best strategy is to look at the picture on the box and fill in the border first. Frame the foundation and then build in the middle. “Lost” is an über puzzle . . . except there’s no picture for viewers to work from. And we’re being totally manipulated by the show’s writers, who gleefully spent the first four seasons slowly piecing the border together and now are finally filling in the middle. The best part, of course, is the middle, kind of like a chocolate-covered eclair or a Hostess cupcake.

In this fifth season we’ve been blessed with character-centric episodes that wonderfully move the storyline along as we anticipate next year’s final episodes. Last night’s “Lost” added even more fuel to the fire, especially with its trademark, end-of-episode OMG moment: The shooting of physicist Daniel Faraday in 1977 by his mother, Eloise (Ellie back then) Hawking. Is he dead or will he be brought back to life by the mysterious, never-aging Richard Alpert, who was aghast that Ellie shot him? Daniel is one of my favorite characters, so I hope he isn’t dead.

The episode was titled “The Variable.” I did start to quake in my sandals when I first read what it was called, because I’m not a math-science person. But my favorite television physicist put it all in perspective during the episode. Daniel has come back to the island to try to prevent the catastrophic accident that eventually causes Oceanic 815 to crash. Dr. Pierre Chang and his Dharma Initiative are about to drill into a pocket of electromagnetic energy, which will then force them to cement the area, install the hatch on top of it, and command someone (eventually Desmond Hume) to push a button every 108 minutes to keep the magnetic force at bay. Until Desmond doesn’t push the button, and 815 is pulled apart in the air. Chilling stuff.

Daniel was led to believe that what happened in the past happened; no one can change their destiny. But then he realized that there actually was a variable in this equation: People. Which meant that he could try to rewrite history.

The memory-damaged Daniel Faraday circa 2007

The memory-damaged Daniel Faraday circa 2007

As usual, the episode flashes back and forth all over time. We see Daniel as a young, brilliantly gifted pianist who is told by his Mommy Dearest that he can only pursue math and science, because that’s his true destiny. Later Eloise reinforces this scientific destiny to her son when he graduates from Oxford. He tells her that he has been given a large research grant . . . from none other than Charles Widmore. Mom gives Daniel the gift of a journal, the same one that we see him use that’s filled with equations and time-travel observations. Inside she has inscribed: Daniel, no matter what, remember I will always love you. Mother.

Yes, even if I eventually shoot you in the back.

Eloise as she leaves: “Good luck, Daniel. And I do hope you know that I mean that.”

As I’ve observed in a past blog post, most of the main “Lost” characters have father issues. Daniel is “fortunate” enough to have mommy and daddy issues. His mom is cold and almost a dictator who he spends his life trying to please. As for his dad? Son of a gun . . . it’s Charles Widmore! Remember that Ellie and Charles were on the island together back in 1954 when Daniel told Richard Alpert to bury the hydrogen bomb that was there. Yes, it’s all coming together nicely.

In a nutshell, Daniel becomes severely memory damaged by his time traveling. Widmore wants him to return to the island for further research and to heal his mind. Eloise agrees. At first, Daniel doesn’t want to go, but he decides to pack his bags when his mom tells him it would make her proud of him. And give her the chance to shoot him in the back! You can see how pained Eloise is that she knows sending Daniel back to the island probably will kill him by her hand. Yet she does it anyway! Cruel stuff.

Eloise Hawking (Daniel's mom) and Penny Hume

Eloise Hawking (Daniel's mom) and Penny Hume

Later in the episode Eloise goes to the hospital where the present-day Desmond is recovering after surgery to repair the shots he took from Ben Linus’ gun (guess that carton of milk wasn’t bulletproof) and talks to Penny.

Eloise: “I came, Penelope, to apologize. Your husband has become a casualty in a conflict that’s bigger than him, that’s bigger than all of us.

“For the first time in a long time, I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

But the 2007 Eloise did know that the 1977 Ellie was going to shoot Daniel. And her son realized it in his potentially final words to his mom on the island:

“You knew. You always knew. You knew this was going to happen, and you sent me here anyway.”

Mommy Dearest indeed! Eloise Hawking is a bad mother!

An Anniversary and a Birthday

The lovely couple on our wedding day

The lovely couple on our wedding day

In August of 1988, my friends Mel and Pat (now Mel and Leslie, Pat and Joe) strongly encouraged me to start riding my bike with them on Rice University’s oval cycling track. Yes, that Rice University. The brainy one. The so-called Harvard of the south. Smack dab in Houston’s medical center area, Rice boasts eggheads as well as a cycling track in one of the football stadium’s parking lots. Why? Maybe one of the administrators loved the movie “Breaking Away.”

Seeing as how I was training for a duathlon (a run-bike-run) and didn’t particularly like cycling, I figured it would be more palatable with friends. So I showed up with my Cannondale road bike (full disclosure: Said bike has been hanging up in the garage for so many years that the humidity has eaten away most of the seat) and was introduced to a cute guy. I looked down at his feet and stared at his socks (isn’t that what everyone does when they first meet someone new?).

“Mismatched socks,” I remember thinking. “This is someone who might put up with me.”

It was the future Mister.

So the future Mister and I started cycling around the track together. Lap after lap after lap we talked and got to know each other better. Several times a week after that, I would meet Mel, Pat, the future Mister, and other assorted cyclists at the track to ride. Before long, the future Mister worked up his nerve to ask me this burning question: “Do you like to go to movies and stuff?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I’m very partial to stuff.”

fish_called_wandaThe first movie we saw together was “A Fish Called Wanda.” I liked it, and I especially liked the future Mister. Nineteen years ago today on a very warm Sunday in my friend Carol’s West University house (which, unfortunately, had a broken air conditioning unit), the future Mister became the Mister. In some ways it seems like just yesterday, but in others it seems like it’s been forever. We’ve produced two handsome sons who keep us on the go, and we have a full life that I treasure.

These days it’s rare for the two of us to cycle together; maybe we’ll grab our mountain bikes (full disclosure: It’s thankfully flat in these parts) this weekend and ride on our neighborhood bike path. Breaking away from the boys sometimes can be a good thing!

the Beck and Ken

the Beck and Ken

Happiest of birthdays to my #1 niece

Today is my #1 niece’s 37th birthday. I was the first member of the extended families to see the Beck after she was born, because my oldest sister and then-brother-in-law also were at the University of Illinois when I was a freshman. What do I remember most about her way back then? Lots of dark hair!

The Beck is all growed up now, of course, and fixin’ to get married this July to Ken (full disclosure: Here in the Houston area, we say “fixin’ to” a lot and sometimes we say “growed” instead of “grown”; that’s just how we roll grammatically.). When I married the Mister (at the somewhat-advanced age of 36), the Beck didn’t attend the wedding, because it was her 18th birthday, and she wanted to celebrate it at home with her friends. Doesn’t 18 seem like a long time ago, Beck? It sure does for me!

While I’m enjoying my 19th wedding anniversary, I hope my niece has a wonderful birthday. Maybe she and Ken will go cycling, too!

Tattoo Tuesday

 

The tattooed Thomas

The tattooed Thomas

As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, I never know what I might take photos of during the guys’ disc golf action. Believe me, I’m not always just snapping away at wildflowers and putting. For example, last week there also was the Mister’s doubles partner Thomas, who uses his body as his personal canvas. Personally, I don’t understand the need for tattoos, especially for those of us who have freckles. Aren’t those dots enough identification? Or look at his dimple. Couldn’t Thomas be satisfied with that particular uniqueness?

Thomas' leg

Thomas' leg

Apparently not. All of Thomas’ tattoos were so distracting that my Nikon D300 seemed almost drawn to them. He probably thought I was taking photos of him in action, while I was actually snapping pix of his body art. Just checking to make sure the old Nikon 105mm macro lens can close-focus on those tats, Thomas. Really, that’s all it is. See, here’s an action shot:

The tattoos in action

The tattoos in action

See? That proves I wasn’t obsessed with all those tattoos!!

"The Big Bang Theory" cast

"The Big Bang Theory" cast

The horror! The nightmare! Part I

Last night during a terrible downpour, we lost our power for about 30 minutes. Fortunately, we had already watched “The Big Bang Theory.” My thoughts returned to those horrible 26 hours without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike last September. Don’t want to go through that nightmare again! And then I had an even worse thought: What if the power had gone off during “Lost”? I know we can watch the episode on the computer, but I like experiencing the shows when they’re supposed to be on. I live in the moment, not an hour or two or 24 from now. Hope the weather is pristine tomorrow night!

The horror! The nightmare! Part II

Because of last night’s storms and subsequent flooding (but not where we live), our school district unwisely (in my humble opinion) closed all its schools. Which means that the little monsters darling angels are home ALL DAY distracting me. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a stay-at-home mom. It’s the best job in the world. But darn it, my time is my time! I look forward to that little piece of heaven I call being alone while they’re at school. Somebody owes me big time!

#1 son, #2 son, and the BFF

#1 son, #2 son, and the BFF

And then I look out my office window and see the scene above. I grab the D300 (with the Nikon 17-55mm lens attached) and run outside. The guys are filming a video to post on YouTube based on the #1 son’s alter ego, the honorable Dr. Judge M.D. (don’t ask). If the guys weren’t home from school, would I have gotten this sweet photo of the #2 son and his HUGE stuffed animal Jeffrey?

The #2 son and Jeffrey

The #2 son and Jeffrey

The #2 son actually smiling at the momarazzo? Love those unexpected days off from school!

Disc Golf Treasures and Lovebugs

 

Indian blanket

Indian Blanket

I never know when I tag along with the guys as they play disc golf what treasures I’ll find to photograph with my Nikon D300 and Nikon 105mm macro lens. Take last week for example. All three guys played at TC Jester Park in Houston. At first, I was content to shoot the occasional berries, as well as some disc golf action. And then I saw something that made me say to the Mister, “I’ll catch up to you later.”

That “something” was a patch of bluebonnets!

Blooming bluebonnets with crimson clovers

Blooming bluebonnets with crimson clovers

TC Jester has a wildflower reserve along a walking path that was brimming with blooming bluebonnets and other wildflowers. A veritable cornucopia of earthly beauty. I missed play on two holes while I was snapping away, but it was well worth it.

Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets

Of course, I knew which wildflowers were bluebonnets. But I had never seen the Indian Blankets (the top photo) before or the Mexican Hats or the crimson clovers. This was new wildflower territory for me, and I loved it! This was photography heaven.

Mexican Hats

Mexican Hats

Crimson clovers

Crimson clovers

Sometimes the insect population wants to be photographed, too.

Blooming bluebonnets with a couple passengers

Blooming bluebonnets with a couple passengers

If you don’t live here in the Gulf Coast region, you probably are clueless about lovebugs. They’re two dark flies, actually, that fly as one into your face, your car, and your house in late April and May and then again in late August and September. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about them:

The adult lovebug feeds on the nectar of flowering plants. Upon reaching maturity, the lovebug spends almost the entirety of its remaining life copulating with its mate, hence its numerous romantic nicknames. The male and female attach themselves at the rear of the abdomen and remain that way at all times, even in flight. In fact, after mating, the male dies and is dragged around by the female until she lays her eggs. 

Lovebugs joined for life

Lovebugs joined for life

Lovely, aren’t they? No headaches for that poor gal. And how about that female actually dragging the dead male around after mating? Talk about your extra baggage!

Female lovebug: “Honey, would you take out the trash for me? Honey? Honey? Oh, that’s right, you are the trash!”

Once again, I digress. As much as I loved shooting photos of the flowers and insects around me, I still can’t forget about the guys in my life who at the same time were trying to throw plastic discs into metal baskets.

The #1 son putts

The #1 son putts

An easy putt for the #2 son

An easy putt for the #2 son

The Mister putts from the woods

The Mister putts from the woods

Yes, these three are my real disc golf treasures!

Photo Friday: Natural Framing

alt-7517-framed-1

When you’re composing your photos, be sure to check your background for more than just branches, signs, and lamps that can awkwardly protrude from your subject’s head. Look for natural frames that can make for more-interesting compositions.

In the photo above, the #1 son almost looks like he’s in jail, as I’ve framed him in my office’s french door (please ignore all that background clutter!). I think it makes for a better photo than just one of him sitting at the computer.

Framing the #2 son putting

Framing the #2 son putting

It’s easy to find natural frames outdoors. When I saw the #2 son lining up his putt among the trees, I moved to my left, so they could frame him. Those trees also add nice context to the photo.

Randy tees off

Randy tees off

Here our wild disc golf buddy Randy is teeing off. I’m so glad that the tournament organizers made the tee box area a natural frame! It adds to the photo’s inherent interest and helps to contain the action.

framing the #1 son as he tees off

Framing the #1 son as he tees off

I snapped the above photo of the #1 son rearing back to tee off with an overhand shot from where the basket is located. I really liked how the foliage framed the action. Be sure to move around to get the best photo possible (sometimes one step to the right or left makes a big difference in telling a better story) and don’t be afraid to crop in Photoshop to bring out a natural frame. All these photos were cropped to enhance the framing.

berry nice

Berry nice!

Don’t forget to check for natural frames when photographing inanimate objects, like flowers and berries. People aren’t the only subjects suitable for framing!

“Lost” on Windsday

 

Miles and Hurley relax among the potted plants.

Miles and Hurley relax among the potted plants.

Last night’s “Lost” episode was a short, unwelcome hiatus from what has been an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat season. It was a recap show entitled “Lost: The Story of the Oceanic 6.” I suppose for viewers late to the game, the episode was helpful, but for the fanatics like our family, it was pretty boring. After awhile, the #2 son wandered off to play a video game, and the Mister drove to CVS to pick up a prescription. I think the #1 son and I stuck with it mainly because we wanted to have something to watch while eating dinner (God forbid we should ever make eye contact and actually talk!).

For me, the only new information gleaned from the recap was the confirmation that it was Charles Widmore who was behind the bogus Oceanic flight 815 that was found at the bottom of the ocean with a bunch of corpses in it. There had been some conjecture that it might have been the work of Benjamin Lie-nus.

Speaking of big, bad Ben, the episode reinforced for me how much the former leader of the Others really wanted to return to the island, even though he had told John Locke that whoever turned the wheel couldn’t return (gee, another lie, what a surprise). And he told the survivors that they needed to return to help those left behind. Ben knew he had to have as many of the Oceanic 6 (plus Locke) as possible to help him get back. Now we know he wanted to return in order to be judged for his “daughter” Alex’s death by the smoke monster. He didn’t care one bit about helping the Left Behinders; his top concern was himself, like usual. Everything he’s done has been for himself. Selfish SOB.

Some people believe that Ben is a good guy. That’s so hard for me to believe! He sure doesn’t act like one. If “Lost” was a western, I think both Ben and Widmore would be wearing black hats (with maybe the white-hatted Clint Eastwood riding in to save the day and the island; of course, by now Clint might be traveling via wheelchair).

The season finale is a mere three weeks away, and then we’ll have about eight months to fully digest the meaning of every nuance that we’ve seen so far until the final season in 2010. Which will coincide with the end of the #1 son’s high school career. I’m getting verklempt thinking of both events!

“Lost” in the greenery

A recent entry in Jorge Garcia’s blog, Dispatches From the Island, shows a photo of his character, Hurley, and Miles relaxing in front of a Dharma VW bus (pictured above). Garcia notes that most of the natural island flora is actually potted plants! 

1179-oof-flwrs

Where's the focus?

Lost discs due to wind = angry son

Yesterday I drove both sons to Imperial Park, which is mainly a wonderful softball complex but also has a nine-hole disc golf course complete with a practice basket. It was windy, which means it was magnified by 10 due to the park’s flatness. The boys started throwing at the practice basket, which is bordered by woods. I volunteered to go over by the woods to spot in case of errant tosses. Then I saw the wildflowers above. Y’all know how I feel about wildflowers by now, I’m sure. I happened to have my Canon point and shoot camera with me, so I thought I’d snap a quick picture. Unfortunately, it was too quick, because I heard shouting about discs flying into the woods. Not only did I miss my focus, but I also didn’t see where two discs landed. Which made the #2 son put the blame totally on me when we couldn’t find them. As if I had thrown them.

As a savvy, veteran mom, my answer to angry statements like, “It’s all your fault, Mom,” always is “So fire me!” Hasn’t happened yet!

Later on the boys lost two more discs. I told the boys that it was no surprise what had happened, because every Windsday is “Lost!” Somehow they didn’t appreciate the attempt at humor!

Happy Earth Day!

 

Best Buy recycles!

Best Buy recycles!

I’m late in blogging today, because I’ve been busy celebrating the 39th annual Earth Day by recycling! Every day really is Earth Day for me, because I’ve been a dedicated recycler for years—we’re fortunate enough to have weekly curbside pickup, I shred papers and recycle them at bins that benefit our middle school, I donate gently used clothing and items to charitable causes, and I use reusable bags both for shopping and for the boys’ lunches. I always try to group my errands, so I don’t do a lot of unnecessary driving in my ahem . . . SUV (sorry, Earth, I didn’t know the Honda Pilot would be so huge!). But I don’t compost (icky stuff!), and I avoid using glass products, because I hate having to drive to the recycling place (curbside works best for a lazy mom like me!).

Who could forget Mac's OS 8?

Who could forget Mac's OS 8?

I started Earth Day at Best Buy. I had read about Best Buy’s new recycling policy and decided to give it a test drive. I’ve had an old monitor and Mac (a PowerPC) that I’ve wanted to recycle for years; today was the perfect time to do just that! I deleted out the hard drive, and loaded the monitor, computer, and keyboard into the car. I also tossed in a couple boxes of clothing, a couple bags of shredded papers, and a horde of plastic newspaper bags for other recycling stops.

"Will"ing to help with recycling!

"Will"ing to help with recycling!

Recycling at Best Buy was soooo easy! I drove up to the front, went inside and told them I had heavy computer equipment to recycle, and they sent out cute Will to carry it in. I then parked the car and went inside. Best Buy charges $10 to recycle the monitor, but they give you a $10 store gift card–it’s a great deal! Will told me that they didn’t think many people would take advantage of the recycling program; however, they now take in seven pallets of stuff every week. All items that won’t be in our landfills fouling our earth with toxins. It’s a good thing!

Donations wanted

Donations wanted

After a healthy, yummy lunch at Chipotle (always a good thing!), I finished my Earth Day errands by dropping off the clothes at the shack pictured above, tossing the bags of shredded paper in the bins outside the school, and putting all those newspaper sleeves in the local grocery store recycling bin. Then I picked up the Mister’s medication and a book that the #2 son needs for U.S. History at neighborhood stores, and it was back home. A fruitful day for me, for a change (including the load of laundry that soon will need to be folded)!

recycle-logo

Speaking of U.S. History . . . .

I remember the first Earth Day in 1970 as if it were today. I was a junior in high school (like the #1 son), and I wrote a play that was performed at a school assembly. That seems incredulous to me, because I was so shy back in those days. Yet I believed in the concept of Earth Day and knew it was important to get the message across to my classmates.

Now it’s 39 years later. What did I think the world would be like recycling-wise at this point? I thought we’d be further along than we are. I figured we’d be using trash as fuel and that everything would be recyclable; there would be no need for landfills. But every time I get a styrofoam takeout container (styrofoam takes forever to degrade), I shake my head and wonder how long it’s going to take for the “go green” concept to really take hold. Sure, we’ve made a lot of strides . . . I love curbside recycling pickup . . . but it seems like there’s more that could be done to make our planet a cleaner environment for everyone.

Maybe it’ll be my sons who make the difference in the future, along with everyone else’s kids and grandkids. Hopefully, they’ll realize that Earth Day is every day!