Friday, December 30, 2011

Uncrossable Barriers

I do not get dance.

I don't hate every dance I see, and I've successfully not hated some dance performances, but I am dumfounded that it exists in such abundance and in so many forms.

I love music, and over the years I've been introduced to music I didn't like, or didn't get, but mostly with the venerable forms I come to appreciate or even love it. I definitely didn't get opera when I was a kid, but over the years and with my mother's influence, I have seen the light. I have a favorite opera singer, even. One of the great birthday presents of recent years was when my wife got me tickets to my favorite opera singer at Ravinia.

I've gone through such transformations with various forms of classical, jazz in a few forms, cubist paintings, and many others.

But not dance. I have seen the Bolshoi ballet, the Bolshoi academy, and the Hubbard Street Dance group. I have tried, and I can appreciate the athleticism for sure, and occasionally there's a bit of a dance, or an individual performance that is just amazing, but unless it's essentially tap dancing from the 1940s or '50s, I just get so bored so fast.

I kind of want to love dance as much as I love most other art... I just don't seem to be able to.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dear Gen, Bolden

I wrote the following to General Bolden, NASA's current administrator:


General Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
300 E Street SW
Washington D.C., 20546-0001

Gen. Bolden,

My family and I are members of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL. As I’m sure you know, the museum is one of the great institutions in the city of Chicago, and also holds a special place as one of the United States’ great museums dedicated to space exploration.

My family would love to see one of the shuttle orbiters retired to the care of the Adler. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate place in the country. Adler houses the oldest piece of space exploration equipment outside of Europe—an Italian telescope from the early 1600s. I imagine taking my daughter, an 11 year-old space enthusiast, to visit this telescope at the same time she can see the most important tool for 20th century space exploration, and I quite literally get chills.

Please consider the Adler’s bid to house a retired shuttle, you won’t find a more fitting or caring institution.


Matt Dick


The unstated PS to this letter:

Seeing a shuttle on the shore of Lake Michigan would be so cool!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


A few years ago I was planning for a St. Baldrick's even and told the group I was working in at the time, "In a few weeks, I'm going to go bald."

My very bald manager paused, then said, "Matt, I don't think you understand how this works."

A few weeks ago I went bald, as most of you know. Here's my beautiful scalp in all its glory.

When all donations are in, I will have raised over $4,000 and you all have helped raise more than $30,000 in my time with St. Baldricks.

But the big number is what our team, Nathan's Network has raised. This year we topped $25,000, which is spectacular!

Since 2005 we have raised $127,724 largely thanks to you who are reading this.

I can't thank you enough.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NPR and Public Insanity

I have this issue.  I don't care for NPR (National Public Radio).  My issues with it are on a number of fronts, and here's a partial list:

1) It's boring.  I know people just love "car talk".  I have never heard it, but almost nothing interests me less than talking about cars.  There are things I'm sure I'd like, but there are whole sections of it that just can't possibly be worth anyone's time.

2) It's sooooooooo Liberal Correct.  It obviously makes people feel good to say they listen to NPR.  Maybe it does and maybe it is good to listen to NPR, but it definitely makes people feel good to say it.  That bugs me.

3) It's partially federally funded and it's obviously liberal in it's bent.  Not the worst offense, but hardly objective.

4) My libertarian feelings are bothered by funding a radio station.  I just think the government needs to fund things that aren't public luxuries.

Okay.  So that all having been said, I'm hearing lots of conversation about defunding NPR because of, and I (almost) quote a real, honest to goodness smart guy Howie Kurtz, "I don't know that we need to fund this during this time of real economic hardship."

Maybe I got the words wrong, but this was his message, and the message of at least two or three other pundits I've heard on the subject.


Here is what the federal budget spent in 2010:


Here is what NPR cost the federal government in 2010:


Not kidding, that's the actual number.

If you subtract the entire NPR budget from the US spending, US spending will be relieved of 0.0007% of its budget.

Whew!  Let's get right on that!

Seriously, is NPR even worth the conversation?  The federal deficit last year was 49% of revenue. 


Killing NPR would make that number:


I am not advocating that we waste $25 million, I do have libertarian leanings.  But I'm also a realist.  Do we really need to waste time talking about 0.0007% of the federal budget in this time of real economic hardship?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

And the circle is closed...

As of last night, humans are unnecessary in my house.

Margot found a song clip on her phone to use as a ringtone. She liked it enough that she wanted to get the full song to put on her iPod. Typing the lyrics into google didn't seem to be doing any good, so I used an app on my Droid (Shazam), to listen to the clip and identify it.

It didn't work... Shazam didn't correctly identify that clip, but as Margot and I stood over our phones, I was struck by the fabulous realization that my phone was listening to her phone and Margot and I were something less than strictly necessary.


So we have people in Mississippi who want to put Nathan Bedford Forrest on a license plate that people can buy.

In this CNN video clip we have a Greg Stewart arguing that Forrest was a brilliant Confederate general and so deserves this honor on some level.

There is so much to say about this kind of thing, but I'll confine myself to just a few points. In this clip the men debated whether or not Forrest was the first grand wizard of the KKK. Of course if he was, even Stewart would have to back off the endorsement of the license plate. What wasn't in dispute is that Forest was a slave trader and owner. This, apparently, is not a deal-breaker for the reprehensible Mr. Stewart.

But what wasn't really touched on was why Gen. Forrest should be honored at all. If he was an undisputed slave trader, what is the actual point behind honoring him? I agree that not every confederate soldier should be condemned for his part in that revolt, but why go out of our way to honor them? What good did any of them perform? It is an obvious attempt at glorifying a racially divisive figure. And that glorification is horrid and disgusting at worst, and stupid and ignorant at best.

Friday, January 21, 2011


2/14/1994 - 1/20/2011

We brought Albion home as a 6-week old rescue. She was being nursed along with a dozen other kittens--her mother having had a litter of her own, and also having saved another motherless litter. We bought her and her litter-mate, a pure black cat we named Baghira.

Albion was chosen out of a pile of siblings, she broke off from the group and found my coat and climbed the inside lining to the collar. She was a climber all her life, even climbing the ladder (hand-over-hand, human-style) to the loft in our daughter's room.

She had a hyperactive thyroid and the medication sent her into renal failure. We had her put down last night. It was good timing, there wasn't much suffering, really.

I didn't realize I would love cats so much. Baghira is still doing fine. She also has a bad thyroid, but is holding out and is as hale and hearty as a 17 year-old cat is likely to be.