Archive for April, 2007

In a quick perusal of today’s Huff Post, a quick glance at Arianna’s Sunday roundup had the term “bicameral backbone” leap from the page and poke me in the nose.

Although it sounds like it should be something closely examined during a necropsy on an okapi dead under suspicious circumstances, bicameral backbone is actually much stranger and higher up the list of endangered species.

It’s the Democrats’ bicameral backbone observed on the front page, a resurrection of which seems as much a miracle as the reappearance of the wooly mammoth … the GOP might like a new mascot … or a tasmanian wolf in George Tenet’s clothing.

Can a true Blue streak of stamina flesh itself out? We may have to wait and see just what this backbone is connected to.

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Take that, you saffron-covered fool!
“Where Elephants Weep” the very first modern Cambodian opera, premiered in Lowell, Massachusetts, and will eventually travel to Phnom Penh where it will open in January 2008.

Sung in English and Khmer, the music features a 12th century pin peat ensemble, traditional Cambodian instruments, a string quartet and a rock band, and the story is of Cambodians returning to their country after the Khmer Rouge years and civil war.

While Cambodian music comes to the West, one big-name star is going the other direction. Former Boyzone babe-and-a-half, Ronan Keating, will soon be playing PP’s Olympic stadium. Cam officials are thinking this will boost tourism. Okay. I suppose, “Come to Cambodia to hear an Irish guy sing” is as good a come-on as some.

This from the Boston Globe gives more on the opera and the people involved. Very cool.

And speaking of cool …

how about this story about Cambodian rangers being trained to protect the country’s bear population?

The Australian-based organization Free the Bears has set up a program to train 2 dozen park rangers in efforts to save the Asiatic black bears and Sun bears that live in Cambodia from poachers who go after them for their bile … a component in Chinese traditional medicine.

And while we’re on wildlife, there’s a crocodile alert in effect in villages along the Mekong. Officials are guessing these are escapees from one of the croc farms in the area. Makes doing the laundry a bit dodgy.

Quality may be on the way up in Cambodia with the passage of a new Law of Standard that is supposed to, ” … ‘urge our local enterprises and producers to produce commodities of unified standard,’ said Ith Prang, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.”

The ramifications for bootlegging the “mark of Standard of Cambodia” will be 6 days to one month in jail and a fine of $125 to $500. Why do I suspect this won’t be stopping anyone?

For a look at investment opportunities in Cambodia, here’s an article that talks about the boom in progress and who’s putting big money into the country.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is giving his that oil money will be put to good use, saying it will mainly go to the education and health sectors.


I suppose they can always count on the legions of Buddhist religious leaders in the country to make sure everything is above-board … or not.

A monk melee broke out on the streets of Phnom Penh the other day, apparently over religious freedom for Cambodian Buddhists in Viet Nam.


And that all, folks …

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I mentioned a couple of posts back an idea about working on a novel through a blog, since this format seems to be eating my life these days.

Well, I’ve started the process, so if anyone’s interested in reading a first draft version of my latest fiction, which I am doing nothing more than making up as I go along … grueling and tedious, I know, but that happens to be how a book gets written … you can find it here.

I’m not looking for an audience, but I’ve had a number of people lately voice curiosity about the process so I thought I’d share. Plus, feeling that someone might be checking for updates might motivate me to spend the time I really do so want to spend writing from my head, rather than headlines.

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I’m going absolutely bozonkers over working on my pro blogs lately. There’s a push on to polish them up, professionalize them, and although I’m well in favor of jettisoning bloggers who have yet to shake hands with the punctuation principal, I’m none too thrilled with the perpetual refrain of “stick to topic”.

My blogs are on international and older parent adoption, and in my little mind both of those cover a range of possible subjects that could be massaged to include just about anything I find interesting. I am, after all, an older international adoptive parent, and seeing that most of my perspective takes on some flavor from this huge part of who I am, what could I write about that is not ‘on topic’?

Apparently, the company doesn’t see things this way, however, and prefers I bang a more repetitive drum. They weren’t at all impressed by my two-parter on intergalactic adoption, and have strongly suggested I don’t go THERE again. Go figure.

Because I already end up with more adoption-related news than I can use, and now will have so much more, I’m going to start posting info here. News about Cambodia will especially feature, as the regular Friday feature of an update on Cam news is no longer favored on the International site being ‘off topic’ … much of it is not specific to adoption … and I’ll be updating regularly.

If you’re coming here from CAL or GAARP or RathCare to follow Cam news updates, welcome! I’m happy to have you. If there is specific adoption-related news, I’ll link to the blog where I post it.

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The last post, “Dads and Daughters” was written for the pro Older Parent Blog, but then found unsuitable, as I’d already used the photo ages ago.

Am I losing it? You tell me … or someone can.

I stuck it here because it was written and I couldn’t see tossing it. Too much effort to do either.

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Like many dads, Mark has always assumed that he and his son are destined to pal around, to do guy things, to hang out together in that father/son way that, although it doesn’t include tossing a baseball back and forth in the back yard here … there being no baseballs and Mark not having a clue how to pitch one if it suddenly dropped out of the sky … is a familiar theme all over the world.

Mark was thirty-six when Sam came home, so not nearly as deserving of the older parent tiara as I was at the time, but still no spring chicken. He’d had a long time to observe other dad/kid relationships and decide what he’d like, and what he could take a pass on. Most of his visions of father-son-ing it at that stage involved fish in one way or another, with visions of quiet hours passed side-by-side in his little boat, then more time together as great meals would be prepared from the bounty they would haul home.

To a certain extent, that does happen. Sam enjoys fishing … although he wants to do it in the lagoon … and he loves bobbing around in the sea with Dad. He’s also big on adventures, and Dad is almost as much fun on those as Gay is.

For the most part, however, Mark’s interests are not Sam’s. He has no interest in going out in the boat, can only feign interest in cooking for short spurts, and would rather sit and draw for hours than hammer and saw and that sort of manly stuff that keeps Mark happily under the house and covered in sawdust for much of any given weekend.

It could easily be said that Sam is more like me than like his dad.

Cj, on the other hand … well, she’s a girl after her father’s heart. Peas in a pod, they are. Both have the calm temperament of those who will always choose smiling over frowning and acquiescence over argument. Nothing sounds like more fun to the two of them than mucking about in the wood shavings or spending ages in the kitchen together chopping, stirring, tasting.

And that’s another thing they share … they LOVE their food! Sam’s always been a good eater, but even his willingness to try anything didn’t prepare us for Cj’s total relish of anything … relish or no.

Yep. She’s just like her father is so many ways.

Now, if I can keep her thinking that washing dishes is a hoot and a half …

The shot is Cj and Mark having some father/daughter moments in the kitchen.Washing Dishes

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News of the discovery of a possibly habitable planet outside our solar system, the oh-so-lyrically named 581c, had me writing about … cue music … Adopting From Outer Space … fade music … on one of my pro blogs today.

When trawling for blog fodder, as I do every morning, it’s the adoption-related I glom on to first … they pay me for that blog … but certain items of interest resonate throughout the day no matter how done with the concept I may be after cranking out a thousand words or so around the info.

To nab a line from “The Big Chill“: This is one of those times. (Or something like that … Mary Kay Place, sitting in a church at the funeral of a college friend? Minister as M/C warming up the crowd? Ring any bells? Whatever.)

Apparently Planet 581c is the right size, shape and distance from it’s Red Dwarf of a sun to look likely, from 120 trillion miles away, to accommodate a version of life that we might even be able to recognize as living.

Sure, the science guys probably have themselves worked into a frenzy thinking about slime lichens or midgazoas when they talk about the place possibly supporting life forms, but you know darned well most folks are picturing ET or Klingons, at least.

I suppose we have to assume that any 581c-ains are a bit slower than we are, as it appears they haven’t yet discovered us. If they had, they would certainly have put up a billboard or something to let us know that they know that we’re advanced enough to be looking at them. That’s what we’d do, right?

Too bad they’re not light years ahead of us, as ever since I moved to this island I’ve been hoping someone would come across folks who’ve perfected that beamy-uppy thing Scottie manned in Star Trek forty-something years ago.

I hate flying, and when the nearest shopping mall is a four hour trip on a Boeing … that would be Dubai, thankyouverymuch … and my mom and daughter and granddaughter, son, brothers and friends can’t be within hugging range without at least 36 hours of cramped, recycled air torture, I’d give a lot to meet a 581c-ian with a portable transporter.

Maybe the next planet discovered?

new planet581c-ian?

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I wrote a post for this blog today about Madonna, but ended up publishing it on my pro International Adoption Blog instead.

I have a commitment over there, and they pay me, so when I come up with 300 or more words that hang together without requiring some swearing and fit the parameter of “on topic” I’ll put it there every time. (I took out a WTF? that would have sauced it up a bit had I left it here, but it works without it.)

Of course, this leaves me with an empty rectangle on this site and a brain emptied from an output of 1,508 words today on blogs alone. Is it any wonder my fiction suffers?

I’m going to have to figure out something, though, as the couple of books I have in me are fighting to get out, percolating day and night and keeping me awake. I thought today … during my morning walk, treadmillified as it is to keep distractions to a dull roar … of starting a blog for a book. Maybe that’s what it will take to get me grinding out a couple of pages a day.

Anyone want to read a first draft in progress? Perhaps a password protected blog that will never see the light of day is a better thought.

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What do my mother, Liz Taylor and a chimp named Jiggs have in common?

They were all born in 1932 and recently celebrated 75th birthdays. That’s a lot of candles.

How cool would it have been to have a party to fete all three? My mom, of course, would be a bit star struck … after all, she grew up on Tarzan movies and everyone knows all the girls were really watching for the scenes with Cheeta (He was SO cute!) … and would have fretted over Liz, knowing too much about her health problems over the years.

There’d have been a lot of common ground, so conversation would flow smoothly, if not evenly; Jiggs being all non-verbal, you know. Mom and Ms. Taylor could yack for a week on ex-husbands alone. Then, there’s another week on weddings … and my mom did have the hots for Eddie Fisher way back when. (With a few twists of the path, Carrie and I could have been half-sisters, as Mom would not have turned him down.)

Jiggs would have heard ALL about me from my mother. She’s well proud of my passion for non-human primates and has been very impressed by the personal relationships I’ve had in the past with some wonderful individuals of the Pan troglodytes persuasion, so I’m sure she’d tell him all about how my good friend, Judy, would draw for me, and how Josie loved tickles.

Maybe, if we start planning now, we’ll be able to pull something together for 2012 when they all turn 80.

Mom 1956

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I saw a couple of clips from the Correspondent’s Dinner last night during the three hours of hours of CNN we get on Sundays here. David Letterman‘s “Top 10 GW Bush Moments” was all it should have been, with Dave having to do nothing but the countdown … the President did the rest, and I have no doubt there was a lot of debate during the whittling-down process to end up with only ten major embarrassments.

I was a bit surprised to hear that Rich Little is still doing gigs … he must be, what?, 70 by now? … but almost fell off my chair when I saw him. How much surgery has that guy had? He looks like some pod-person-mutant-manufactured version of the Rich Little I remember; vaguely familiar, but in a horribly-abused-by-surgery sort of way.

I’ll go off on politics in some other post, but I’m feeling compelled to address the topic of Rich Little’s face, and I have to ask some questions:

When did “freak” become more acceptable a look than “mature”?

Is a distorted and disturbing version of twenty-five honestly considered more attractive than a healthy look of sixty-five?

And …

Does no one own a mirror anymore?

A few years ago, Mark and I were in L.A., and invited to attend a big hoo-hah benefit event — one of those thousands-of-dollars-per-plate things — for Cedars Sinai Hospital’s breast cancer program. It was totally Hollywood, with Jay Leno as MC and music by, among others, Sting.

It had been a while since I’d rubbed shoulders with Tinsel Town’s rich and famous, so like every experience in the US after a few years of isolation on this island, there’s a door marked ‘Culture Shock’ that I must pass through before I’m back into the swing of my old American rhythm.

I suppose because it was a medical-related do, the older folks were out in force. There was enough fur in the place to keep the population of Fairbanks toasty … remember, this was Los Angeles in May or June; I can’t recall the exact date, but it was heading toward a SoCal summer … and such an abundance of jewelry that the tinkling of a hundred crystal chandeliers during an 8.2 earthquake would have been drowned out by the jingling.

What struck me, however, was not the gold, diamonds, pelts, original gowns, and household names … Larry King was at the next table … it was the faces, almost every one of which had been tugged back so far that mouths were stretched to close to twice their width and eyes had all gone Asian.

When these victims of the illusion of perpetual youth spoke, it was like watching South Park Canadians flapping away, the faces came that close to splitting completely in two. That look added to the Botox freeze … all expression killed at the root, so nary a nerve left to raise an eyebrow or indicate pleasure or dis … had the crowd looking distinctly alien, and not a little ugly.

Is this what California has come to? The Emperor’s New Face?

One of the women sharing our table, the wife of a dead star who’s parlayed her widowhood into minor celeb status, must be pushing 80. The signs of repeated nipping and tucking and deadening can not be missed, but the bizarreness of her face goes strangely well with the rest of her. On this evening, she was wearing a skin-tight gold lamé mini-dress with stiletto heals, and had her hair up in two pigtails with fluffy bangs.

Oh, my.

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