Friday, December 23, 2005

Playing with the Template

A few minor changes to the template.

Note the addition of the Centeral Great Lakes Weather grapic to the left. This makes use of an experimental National Weather Service display. They have coverage of other parts of the United States, but it looks like the finest detail is around the Great Lakes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

They're Back

We had an interesting situation on the way home this evening from picking up one of the daughters from college.

Just as we were leaving the college town, we saw what looked like a pair of tan labs crossing the road with their heads down. As soon as they got into the right hand lane, they raised their heads and they were no longer labs, but antlerless deer. The car ahead of us slammed on their brakes and slid towards them. The lead deer got out of the way, but the second deer bounced off the front bumper of the little car in front of us. The deer was knocked ass over tea kettle and landed cast. It then scrambled to its feet, fell over once and then bounded off the road on the other side. We checked the people in the little car, but other than being shook were OK. It was such an elastic collision that the air bags didn't deploy.

What fun. Sorry, no pictures.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Keeping up with the neighbors

From The Grand Rapids Press, Friday, November 25, 2005

75-year old takes on the Appalachian Trail
By Howard Meyerson (Press Outdoors Editor)

At 74 years old, Paul Foguth is like a lot of guys who hope to shoot their age playing 18 holes of golf. But that is where the comparisons end.

Foguth, who achieved his goal this last year, plans to celebrate his 75th birthday in Perrysburg, Va., next April, attempting another goal -- walking the entire 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

"I always wanted to do it one year," said Foguth, who has walked its length once already -- in segments spread out over 12 years. He finished the trail in 2001 after many trips to the 14 states along its length.

Foguth plans to depart Feb. 14, 2006, for the southern trailhead at Springer Mountain, Ga. It will be his eighth visit to its scenic vistas.

Seven times he returned there with the idea of walking the whole trail. Seven times he abandoned the idea after a week, or two, or maybe a month -- pulled home to his wife Barbara because of loneliness, a family emergency, personal tragedy or medical problems.

After seven tries, Foguth opted to start the next year where he left off. It is a common practice for many who enjoy the trail and it would take five more years for the Grandville hiker to complete it.

"I was exhilarated when I finished it in 2001," said Foguth, a retired supervisor with the City of Grand Rapids water department whose trail name is: The Bull.

"I said: 'Thank God I got it done. No more of that. That's hard work."

But the mystique of the trail has way of lingering. Foguth found himself often thinking back about his trail experience -- and often of trying once again to do a thru-hike.

Thru-hiking, the term for walking the trail's entire length in one season, is attempted by 2,000 hikers on any given year. It is a five to six month endeavor. Typically only 200 hikers finish on the peak of Mt. Katahdin in Maine, the northern end of the trail.

Going south to north is the most popular approach. Starting in Georgia in February or March means a hiker can take advantage of milder weather and cover ground while much of the northern trail is still ice and snowbound.

Even so, Foguth knows he has to be prepared for snow and ice in the Smokey Mountains. He has to be ready for the cold, rainy days, the mud on the trail and the slippery rocks, along with fog.

"I'm going to have to pace myself," said Foguth, who wrestled with prostate cancer four years ago and had serious reconstructive foot surgery two years ago.

"I may have to change my style of hiking, but the foot problem is something I think I can work around, " he said.

Foguth trains by walking 9 miles a day with a 38-pound pack. He trains on a Bow-flex as well as stair-stepper. He knows its not very mountainous here, but plans to step up his routine by adding hills over the next few months along with more weight.

"When I put a pack on 14 years ago, my legs felt like rubber," he said. "That's not the case now. I'm in better shape than then. What feels really good is that I am out training."

Twelve years on the trail taught Foguth a lot: about practical matters like food and gear, how to plan for an extended trip and how to deal with those quiet, isolated moments.

"Just when you think you've hit a hard spot, someone will show up along the trail," Foguth said. "I only missed going to mass one time in 12 years of hiking that trail.

"I'd run into someone who said, meet me here next week, or someone who would take me.

"I never carried a cell-phone before. But I will this time. I'll be 75 years old. I feel better than I ever have before, but I worry that this old body won't hold up."

Foguth's strategy is to lighten up. He's got ultra-light titanium cook ware and a lightweight multi-fuel stove. He will carry a one-person tent and a sleeping bag warm down to 0 degrees. He will camp wherever it's convenient. There are also trail shelters along the route as well as towns where a hot shower and soft bed can be had.

But the biggest change will be internal, said Foguth - a man who can be unblinkingly honest about his foibles; a man who lists himself as the primary obstacle he dealt with the first time around.

"I am a very impulsive person," said Foguth. I think that was the problem. I'd get up in the morning and feel good and then about 11 am I'd say: 'What the hell am I doing this for?' It just gets tiring and its not much fun.

"But I realize all of what goes into it now. I'm mature enough and I think I can do it.'
We frequently see him hiking around the neighborhood. Now he has his full kit on (back pack, hiking poles...) when he goes out. This is not my work. It is just too good to hide from Google.

Note that as long as MLive keeps the article up, you can access the original by clicking on the link at the top of this entry.

Want to see the rest?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Differences in Presentation

The South



The Great White North

Note that we don't have the wreaths up yet, nor the fake tree on the porch.

Update 12/09

More snow, wreaths up, but no fake tree. (We need to replace its lights.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Yours, Mine, and Ours - Friday Night: Dinner and a Movie

Dinner at the usual place: Lasgne and Rigatoni.

Dennis Quaid is not Henry Fonda, and Rene Russo is not Lucille Ball, but this retelling appears to work. There was nothing seriously stupid in the movie to make me want to run out the theater. As usual, the children in the two families don't fit together and make a common pact to split the marriage. After the children get conditions to cause a breakup into action, they discover that they like each other and no longer want the split. This is all followed by a Hollywood Ending.

Rip Torn plays a rather worn out Coast Guard Commandant in this movie. Although Rip is still regularly making new films, this picture makes him look like forty miles of bad road and one tends to wonder about his health. Linda Hunt plays a deliciously unique housekeeper with a relaxed counterpoint to Quaid's shipshape view of how a household should be run.

New previews: The Shaggy Dog with Tim Allen (instead of Tommy Kirk) turning into a dog, due out Mar 10th. Last Holiday with Queen Latifa playing a lady given a short time to live, due out Jan 13th. And (of course) Nanny McPhee due out Jan 27th.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Pride & Prejudice - Saturday: Movie and a Birthday Dinner

First the statistics. All told there were 5 men at this movie (counting my son and myself). The men were out numbered 10 to 1. The average age for the women was estimated to be around 45 years. For some strange reason, the owner of the theater group attended this showing. (I didn't ask him why. I think he took his Mom.)

In some ways this film felt truer to the period. The people weren't as pristine as in the A&E version. We liked the "country dancing". (No we did not get up and dance along with the film.)

It was nice to see a film with good actors, but not famous names. Looking on IMDb, we saw that some had played in Charles II: The Power & the Passion.

High points of the movie:

  • "Oddball" Donald Sutherland not totally sucking as Mr Bennet
  • Mr Collins' sermon (Even my few were not that bad.) Did he really say that?
  • Mr Collins not being as weasly, just totaly fish out of water in all his settings
  • The "dance" of the characters as they wandered though the ball, always just missing each other
  • The wounded puppy dog looks of Darcy
  • The painful shyness of both Mr Bingley and Jane Bennet ("My sister won't even tell me" remarks Elizabeth)
  • Darcy talking Binkley through what he needed to say to propose. (You say ... then Miss Bennet responds ...) Priceless.
Oh, and I want a long coat like Darcy.

Both Lydia and Wickham seemed underplayed in this version, though Lydia does bounce a lot.

Dinner after the movie was at the usual place. Greek Chicken, three Rigatonis, Capellini, and Vegitarian Lasagne. Afterwards we went home for cake and ice cream.

Previews: Glory Road (due out Jan 13th) is not a remake of the Heinlein tale of a Knight Errant, but about college basketball. Oh Well.

We got to see the Nanny McPhee preview on the big screen. (Due out Jan 27th) We can't wait. Emma Thompson both wrote the screen play and is the main character.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Black Friday: Movie and Leftovers at Home

We do not go shopping on the "Day After Thanksgiving" (period).

We go to movies. This year we waited until the daughters were home from college to see the latest Harry Potter.

We missed all the fun stuff from the book, like Fleur meeting the older Weasley boy, the screwy clothes at the World Quiddich Tournament, and Hermione's teeth suddenly getting nice for the dance.

Daniel Radcliffe still looks like a younger version of my son. Hence all the squealing last week about "Naked Harry" the day after the movie came out. Not that the scenes showed any more than one would see if he were in swimming trunks, but its the thought that counts.

The scenes about the boys awkwardness asking the girls to the dance were a hoot as was the dancing. It wouldn't be so painful if I couldn't remember 9th grade, but I was more of a Harry at that time than a Ron.

Followed by a repeat of Thanksgiving Dinner.

No new interesting previews.

Furry Friends

Furry Friends

Thursday, November 24, 2005

And More Snow

And More Snow

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More Snow (and er Freezing Rain)

We're looking at 2-3 inches by tonight, but then again it may turn to freezing rain and leave us with ice for the morrow. We curently have a bit over an inch of snow. The streets are slippery and the squirrles are cavorting on the bird feeders.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

House has a new companion

This evening's House MD was hard to watch. What he did to his ex-wife in the last episode and this one makes my skin crawl. And yet, he does have redeeming qualities like those which drew him to his new companion.

I missed most of last year so this was the first I saw his apartment front door. Does House really live at 221B Baker Street? Who does he think he is? Sherlock Holmes? Too cute.

Thirty Five Years Ago Today

I dislocated my right knee helping to push a car out of a snow drift. It was after a concert celebrating the life of President Kennedy. Fortunately the injury occurred after our run of "Arsenic and Old Lace" was over, so I wouldn't have to hobble around the stage. Nin wasn't even born yet.

President Kennedy official Whitehoue portrait

Forty two years ago, I was sitting in Mrs Hahn's class (funded by the National Defense Education Act) when our Principal came in and told us that the President had been shot. We set up a television in the school lobby and turned it on just in time to see Walter Cronkite announce that President Kennedy had died. Needless to say, school was let out for the rest of that cold, wet, and overcast day.

Ith was just a wee bairn and probably doesn't remember much of that weekend. My brother and I spent the weekend at my Grandparents because they had a color TV and a better antenna.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Look What We Found

Wilst digging around in the picture collection to find the appropriate one for a "baby picture" ad for our son's high school graduation yearbook, we found the following picture from 1984 or so:

1984 with eldest

Yes, I have more hair. No, there is no sugar donut mark on my mustache. Yes, I am ¾ my current weight. And, yes, those are the old rimless glasses that match my passport.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thats What I Get For Answering Honestly

From Ith

[i'm dean thomas]
...and which lesser Harry Potter character are you?

Here I was expecting that I would be Neville. (He must be too major a character.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Walk The Line - Friday Night: Dinner and a Movie

Dinner at the usual place: Apple Baked Pork Chops and Rigatoni. Are you noticing a pattern here?

My wife thought that this would be a chick flick because of Joaquin Phoenix, but it was like all the guys came back from deer camp to see this movie. In fact there was the distinct flavor of spilled gasoline on workboots in our end of the theater.

The movie covers twenty years, marriage and divorce, drug addiction and arrest, and many groupies in Johnny Cash's early years. It covers the obvious physical interaction between John and June in their relationship and one can see the small cuts of the scenes that describe the foundation of their love like the 10 second cut involving the Friendship Baptist Church.

Oh, and I loved Momma Maybelle with the shotgun helping to run off the drug dealer.

Alex Baldwin does not play a villain in this movie either. Robert Paterick (T-2000) plays Johnny Cash's hard drinking father.

New previews: Tristan & Isolde due out Feb 3rd.

Update: Did anyone else notice Acidman as one of the inmates in Folsum Prison.

More Deer

Saw a deer on the way to work this morning. He was standing beside the road (in one of the more rural sections of my drive) just watching the traffic. He was standing in a corn field waiting to cross the road back to a thicket of trees.

Although this area is "rural" it is within the corporate boundary of a city, so it is off limits to hunting. Yes it is posted, but I don't think the deer can read the signs.

Update: He must have made it as I saw no evidence of an accident the next day.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Let It Snow

First snow. Six to eight inches over last night and we are seeing amateur hour on the roads.

In driving around the last two days I have seen six deer beside the road from accidents. The worst was a form of Steak Tartar from a run-in with a semi. You can tell that it is deer hunting season.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Her Majesty' Spymaster

Interesting book about Francis Walsingham. Walsingham was Elizabeth I's Principal Secretary, a position much like our current Secretary of State. Compared to today, the government of Elizabethan time was quite libertarian, but that was unbalanced by the lack of restrictions on public violence as was experienced by Catholics and Protestants alike.

I was also interesting to see how politics affected the organization of the Book of Common Prayer and how the Church of England experienced the same upheaval as the Roman Catholic church did after Vatican II when liturgy was converted from Latin to the vernacular. The Church of England had the same response, but 400 years earlier.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I'm What?

Via Ith

Your Heart Is Blue

Love is a doing word for you. You know it's love when you treat each other well. You are a giving lover, but you don't give too much. You expect something in return.

Your flirting style: Friendly
Your lucky first date: Lunch at an outdoor cafe
Your dream lover: Is both generous and selfish
What you bring to relationships: Loyalty

Yes, but I'd spend too much time looking at the HTML to see how they set the color of the heart. Fools, it wasn't a background overlay, but only a different colored image.

Don't believe a word of the above. They didn't have an answer that could honestly describe "a movie depiction of my love life" from my teens and twenties. The only choices they provided were:
  • Deep and dialogue driven
  • Sweet and touching
  • Artistic and philosophical
  • Quirky and offbeat
  • A funny romantic flick with a twist
  • Dramatic with an unpredictable ending
Note that this omits:
  • Action Adventure and
  • Slasher Films
Not that either of those match me, but I'm only sayin'.

How do you describe "Waiting for Godot" crossed with "Finnian's Wake" crossed with "Princess Bride"? No matter. It wasn't a pretty sight anyway.

Tonights cool sight. Vint Cerf getting the President's Metal of Freedom (on CSPAN) along with "Sonny" Montgomery who was responsible for the Montgomery G.I. Bill. (Along with a few others.) This occurred on Wed, Nov 9th. See Official Citations.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Night: Dinner and no Movie

Dinner at the usual place - Lasagne and Rigatoni

No movie tonight. Pride and Prejudice is out in limited release until Nov 23rd and we aren't about to drive 3 hours just to see a flick. Another busy day tomorrow with cleaning and stuff. Still need to get the bikes and pool stuff put away before winter.

Frederica Mathewes-Green does have a nice review of Pride and Prejudice in NRO though.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Nanny McPhee

Colin Firth and Emma Thompson.

Already out in the UK. Due out in the US on Jan 27th.

Click the name above to view the trailer via or visit IMDB.

Alec Baldwin is not a villain in this movie either.

Hammered Dulcimer Workshop

These workshops were presented by Rick Thum who is one of the workshop presentors at the Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest held each July in Evart, MI at the Osceola County Fairgrounds.

Four hours of workshops, a potluck, followed by concert by Rick.

Lots of Dulcimers

Meanwhile I worked in the back.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday Night: Dinner and no Movie

Dinner at the usual place - Steak and Rigatoni

No movie. We have to be up early to drive to a Hammered Dulcimer Workshop.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Clearly you've never been to Singapore

Captain Jack Sparrow rides the waves tonight on ABC. It must be sweeps week.

I expect that Ith and Nin will be watching and hoisting a mug to Dear Old Captain Jack.

Monday, October 31, 2005

All Souls Night Quiz

Care of Ith

What's the first Halloween costume you remember wearing? Probably Donald Duck. I know my folks still have the rubber mask. I was a sailor (whites) the last couple years of elementary school once I fit into my Dad's uniform.

What was your favourite treat in your goodie bag? Brand name candy bars, preferably Milky Way, Three Musketeers or Mounds.

What's your best Halloween memory? Freezing my *ss off dragging the kids around. Staying up all night sewing a dragon costume for my eldest back in the 80's.

What's your worst? Can't remember. Right Scooter.

Have you ever bobbed for apples? Probably.

Have you ever been to a grownup Halloween party? (costumes, dancing, drinks/dinner -- that sort of thing.) Does SCA count?

If you were going to such a party, and money was no object, what would your ideal costume be? Sherlock Holmes or Barnabas. I like those cloaks.

Ever been to sea, Billy? Oops, wrong quiz! (Obligatory Airplane! reference)

Ever had a paranormal experience? If yes, tell us all about it. Shook hands with a ghost (or something). Must have been 9 or 10. Nobody else as in the room after I got the lights on.

What's your favourite scary movie? Lets do the time warp again. (No that was the play in London.) Nosferatu 1922

Have you ever played a Halloween "trick" on anyone? Nope. I'm boring. I was accused of waxing the school windows once, but I was nowhere near the place.

Did you you carve a pumpkin this year? Sorry no. We are too busy and the teenager doesn't feel like doing it.

Do you think we had more fun at Halloween then kids do today? No. The kids get to go house-to-house in our neighborhood and we get the usual number of "old enough to smoke and shave" children too.

What candy are you giving out tonight? Brand name candy. See above.

Will you be in costume? Yes, I will be dressed as a serial killer. They look just like everyone else.

Decorated at all? Not as much as usual outside. The full Dept 56 display is on top the TV (its worse than Christmas).

Dept 56 Halloween Town

Saturday, October 29, 2005


From Ith and NPR. I get 11 out of 15

American Snapshot

According to the book, a majority of Americans:

  • Eats peanut butter at least once a week
  • Prefers smooth peanut butter over chunky
  • Can name all Three Stooges
  • Lives within a 20-minute drive of a Wal-Mart
  • Eats at McDonald's at least once a year
  • Takes a shower for approximately 10.4 minutes a day (close)
  • Never sings in the shower (It would wake me up.)
  • Lives in a house, not an apartment or condominium
  • Has a home valued between $100,000 and $300,000 (Mid-west, aren't they all)
  • Has fired a gun
  • Is between 5 feet and 6 feet tall (taller)
  • Weighs 135 to 205 pounds (heavier)
  • Is between the ages of 18 and 53 (currently)
  • Believes gambling is an acceptable entertainment option (within limits)
  • Grew up within 50 miles of current home (More like 80 miles and wild horses couldn't drag my wife there)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Legend of Zorro - Friday Night: Dinner and a Movie

Dinner at the usual place - Lasagne, three Rigatonies, and Capelleni (the daughters are home for the weekend, the whole family is at dinner)

Nice continuation of the story from the first movie. This movie takes place ten years later after their son has grown into a pre-teen. The apple surely didn't fall far from the tree.

Mildly plausible story line. The Illuminati are the villains in this movie, not Alec Baldwin. Nice explosions (there are at least five of them) and nice Rocky Horror moment where the cooked Carrier Pigeon is served.

Previews were for an Usher movie, In The Mix (no release date given), an Antonio Banderas movie, Take The Lead (again no release date), a longer Potter preview, Goblet of Fire due out Nov 18th in general release, Zathura due out Nov 11th, and lastly Fun with Dick and Jane a remake of the film with the same name due out Dec 21st with Jim Carrey playing the George Segal part and Téa Leoni playing the Jane Fonda part.

Take The Lead looks like it will be fun and we are already scheduling our time around Potter.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Elizabethtown - Friday Night: Dinner and A Movie

Dinner at the usual place - Greek Chicken and Rigatoni

This is a "cute" movie. "If it wasn't this, ... It would be something else."

Alec Balwin plays the "evil" capitalist in this movie, though how he managed to spend 900 million dollars on the roll-out of an athletic shoe is beyond me. Maybe he shouldn't have bought so many Super Bowl ads. Of course the fiasco is blamed on Orlando Bloom's character, but really what company (other than dot-com startups) give a 20-somthing the authority to spend close to a billion dollars. Not very realistic.

Interesting cameo parts: Paula Deeeeeen from the Food Channel, Bruce McGill (D. Day from Animal House) as the shifty family friend, and Jed Rees (a thermian from Galaxy Quest) as the Groom from the wedding party at the hotel. From his IMDB filmography, Bruce looks like a well employed character actor.

The one person I didn't recognize was Loudon Wainwright III as Uncle Dale. Yes, I know he is a few years older than me, but the last time I saw him he had much more hair. Must have been 30 years ago. The concert was sponsored by the radio station where I worked back then. Right, so we all age.

As I said, a "cute" picture. We'll probably buy the DVD.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

More Color on Our Way Home

Sumac in Autumn


Engineering Wonder Number 9

Pumped Storage Turbines
View of penstocks and turbines

Jointly owned by Consumers and Detroit Edison, this 110 foot deep reservoir holds 27 billion gallons of water 363 feet above lake level. Operates as a Kinetic Energy storage battery for electric power. Water is pumped from the lake into the reservoir when generation capacity is higher than demand. Water flows back through the turbines into the lake re-generating electricity during periods of higher demand. It has a holding capacity of 1872 megawatts. That's a whole lot of Ready-Kilo-Watts.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Out and About

On our hikes we saw Wooly Bears
Wooly Bear Caterpillar
Birds walking at our feet
Sparrow (not Jack)
Beaches put to sleep for the winter
Ready for Winter
Snow/Sand Fence
Flew a kite
Go fly a kite
We know its ugly
And walked out to the lighthouse and back.
Yup, thats a lighthouse

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Night: Dinner and no Movie

Not the usual place -- Fast food somewhere between here and there.

We're camping tonight.

fire pit

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Yet Another Corporate Bankruptcy - (Un)Intended Consequences of Changing the Bankruptcy Law

So Delphi filed for bankruptcy on Saturday. More here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

This filing (like the NorthWest filing three weeks ago) is being done because of the rule changes coming October 17th to the Bankruptcy Law. IANAL, but it is common knowledge that after the rules change, corporate bankruptcies must be completed inside a year and a half. The duration of current corporate bankruptcies are only limited by the receiver. How many years has United been operating under the advice of a receiver appointed by the bankruptcy court? It used to be said that you could tell which railroad or steamship line was under receivership by looking at their equipment. The business with the newer/better equipment was usually in bankruptcy.

The problem with Delphi is structural. Delphi assumed a series of GM-UAW contracts under the assumption that the union employees would be recalled to their normal positions by GM so that Delphi could hire employees under a new contract with a lower cost of labor. But GM didn't recall the employees. So Delphi is left with people that it has to pay full wages regardless of whether they are employed or whatever.

This would be fine if Delphi were operating as a normal part of GM where the cost of labor is carried by all GM production, but Delphi isn't part of GM, it just has the GM-UAW contract that extends to 2007.

Delphi is a GM supplier and GM expects its suppliers to cut their costs by 30% per year forever. This is hard to do when the production costs for Delphi are fixed by that GM-UAW contract. Regardless of how many widgets Delphi produces for GM (using automation or whatever) the base cost of the widgets still has to carry the labor costs regardless of whether that labor is employed in making the widgets or on layoff.

Delphi is seeking to have the bankruptcy court terminate the GM-UAW contract now so that (a) they are only paying the people who are working, (b) to cut the labor rate to around $14 per hour, and (c) unburden Delphi from paying GM pensions. The item (b) corresponds to the projected labor rate for newly hired workers replacing workers rehired by GM.

It would not surprise me if the receiver transferred the obligation for (a) and (c) back to GM in the process of un-doing inappropriate transactions. This would leave Delphi to soldier on with the rest of the GM-UAW contract until it expires in 2007 at which time they would get (b).

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner

While browsing the TV channels this evening, I came across a man speaking on CSPAN-2 as part of the Book TV series. The man was Khaled Hosseini and he was speaking from an auditorium of George Mason University under the sponsorship of the Fairfax Public Library.

The son of a former Afghani ambassador to France. His family were political refugees after the second coup in the 1980's brought in the communist backed "government". From his description, it covers the Afghanistan he knew as a privileged youth through what he finds visiting there today.

An Engagement - 56 Years Ago Today

October 8, 1949
On Her 21st Birthday
Happy Birthday, Mom!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Other Coming Attractions

Elizabethtown is due out Oct 14th.

Pride and Prejudice and The Family Stone are due out Nov 11th.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Walk the Line are due out Nov 18th.

Yours, Mine, and Ours is due out Nov 25th.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Memoirs of a Geisha are due out Dec 9th.

Rumor Has It (Here's to you Mrs Robinson) is due out Christmas (Dec 25th).

In Her Shoes - Friday Night: Dinner and a Movie

Dinner at the usual place, Chicken vs Rigatoni

In Her Shoes, starring Toni Collette, a National Treasure, and Whats Her Face. Shirley doesn't use the line "Come in, I'll put on a pot of Bourbon" in this movie, it was in one of the previews.

There are the obligatory Rocky moments to make sure that you know that it is set in Philadelphia, the cute "active seniors", and a jewel of a character played by Norman Lloyd.

The ages of actors playing the characters don't quite feel right. The grand daughters feel appropriate as they are 38 years younger than the grandmother, but the father being only 10 years younger than the grandmother looks a little odd. The funny thing is that Cameron Diaz is 2 months older than Toni Collette, but her character is 4 years younger (and we believe it).

Worth going to. As the local review says, it was "charming nonetheless". I predict that we will save a copy on DVD when it comes out.

update: The audience was mostly women and the average age of the men (what few there were) was in the mid-forties. The only reason why the men's average age was so low was that a couple parents dragged their teenaged son along.

Previews were for Pride and Prejudice due out Nov 11th, Rumor Has It (Here's to you Mrs Robinson) due out Christmas (Dec 25th), The Family Stone due out Nov 11th, and there were probably others. (I didn't take notes.)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Al Gore Living in an Alternative Universe

From his remarks Wednesday at the Media Conference:

As recently stated by Dan Rather - who was, of course, forced out of his anchor job after angering the White House - television news has been "dumbed down and tarted up."

Me thinks he doth protest too much. It wasn't just the White House that was angry at Dan. There were a whole lot of regular Americans that were angry at him.

Dan lost his position and the Network lost its credibility because they attempted to influence a federal election using fraudulent documents.

Documents that they had been told were lacking in provenance. Documents that contained anachronisms that indicated the documents were much less than the three decades old claimed. Documents that Dan Rather and CBS went out of their way to do the most superficial job of authenticating. And now he has the audacity to say that no one proved them inauthentic.

As for the Network News being run by the Entertainment wing of the network, he can thank Mike Wallace's ambush journalism and Ted Turner's creation of the 24 hour news channel for that. If you want to sell advertising, you have to have people watching your show and there aren't that many people who want to see the news readers read the comics. So if it bleeds, it leads. And that's the way it is (even if they have to tart something up like "Opening Al Capone's Secret Vault").

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Edna is 90

We went to the "Chicken Cluckin' Place" for dinner this evening.

This is an old country hotel that survives as a Bar and Restaurant with Fish Dinners on Friday nights and Chicken Dinners on Saturday nights. So your only choice on Saturday is White Meat, Dark Meat, or Both and your choice of beverage.

When we arrived there, we were surprised to see signs about one of the waitress's birthdays. One of the ladies is "retired" and only works Saturday nights. The signs announced that she was going to celebrate her 90th birthday on Friday, Sept 30th, and gave the address to send her cards. She was there as usual, but was wearing a tiara as a reminder of her birthday party yesterday.

Following dinner, we walked down the block and got Ice Cream Cones then headed home.

Life Imitates Art

While I was on travel (a week or so ago), I picked up some light reading .. Chris Buckley's Florence of Arabia: A Novel. A story about a young lady who attempts to rearrange the political geography of the Middle East by operating TVMatar for the women of the Middle East and what ensues.

Typical Christopher Buckley story. I had liked his No Way to Treat A First Lady: A Novel about the criminal trial of a First Lady whose husband succumbs to an overdose of Viagra, so I expected "Florence" to be good. It was.

Then along comes Karen Hughes with a visit to the women of the Middle East and she does her best to stir the pot in the same way that Florence did. (But without the fun companions of Bobby, George, and Rick.) What is this world coming to.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Night: Dinner and no Movie

Dinner at the usual place, Steak vs Rigatoni

No movie tonight. Nothing on that we wished to see and the Toni Collette movie In Her Shoes doesn't open until next week.

So I ended up getting malled instead. Random shopping in the mall.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Night At Fenians - Ceol na n'gael

We visited the Traditional Irish Music Session held every Wednesday evening. All of the people pictured on their web page were present as well as quite a few more. We were roped into attending by my wife's Dulcimer teacher, though neither of us brought our instruments. And, yes the Guinness was good.

All told there were 20 active musicians accounting for 1 Harp (other than that on draft), 1 Accordion, 1 Concertina, 2 Hammered Dulcimers, 2 Bodhrams, 2 Open-Hole Wooden Flutes, 3 Fiddles, 3 Mandolins, 4 Tin Whistles, and 5 Guitars. There were so many musicians that there was hardly any room to dance.

The drive there wasn't bad. We saw three wild turkeys along side the road about two miles from the Pub. The drive home was hampered by driving rain and moderate winds. Not fun on country roads.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

An Afternoon of Dulcimers

The afternoon was spent at a jam-fest gathering of Hammered Dulcimers. The hammered ones are trapizoid shaped, not to be confused with the stretched violin shaped mountain dulcimer.

There must have been at least 14 Hammered Dulcimers, plus 2 Guitars and a Cello. It was held on the back deck of one of the player's homes.

I may post a clip of some of the music if I can find a place to put it.

Update: Here's a clip of Bluegrass version of Beethoven's Ninth (2Mb)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Just Like Heaven - Friday Night: Dinner and a Movie

Dinner at the usual place, Lasagne vs Rigatoni

Just Like Heaven is either a strange ghost story, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, or a twisted retelling of Snow White without the dwarves. Jon Heder has a central part in this film and he doesn't dance. Donal Logue provides some comic interludes as a shrink (not counting the bit about JJ and The Tongue). Dana Spybey-Waters is just the cutest thing as the sister Abby (in an Ith sort of way). Her character's handling of her rambunctious daughters is inspirational, especially where she fields the thrown ball with the serving spoon. My wife was not interested in going but was advised to go by our eldest.

Worth going to. It only had one small Sit-Com-ish scene that made me itchy to leave the theater, but then I am sensitive about that. That part passed quickly.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Yes I Did Say Camping

Camp at Night
Tent Lit with Rope Lights, Screened Shelter Lit By Coleman Lantern

Friday, September 16, 2005

Happy Birthday to the King

B. B. King is 80 years young today. May I be in as good shape when I reach that age.

No movie tonight, we're going camping.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Pool Closed

Only took four hours, but it is throughtly cleaned, shocked, and covered. The solar cover is rolled and hanging in the garage. The solar heater is rolled up and waiting to be moved into its corner of the garage with the filter tank and tools. The pipes are removed and need cleaning and re-marking before being stored in the garage rafters.

Every part of my body hurts.

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(Picture from mid-summer a couple years ago before we added all the hanging plants.)

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Man - Friday Night: Dinner and a Movie

Dinner at the usual place, Lasagna vs Rigatoni

"The Man" (PG-13) set in Detroit with Samual L Jackson (ATF cop) opposite Gene Levy (dental equipment salesman/Turkish Weapons Dealer). Gene's characters tend to be a little over the top and that grinds my nerves. This wasn't too bad and Gene's character really drove Sam Jackson's character up the wall, even though he ended up being a civilizing influence (F*** Crying Out Loud).

Miguel Ferrer plays a supporting role.

Probably worth saving as a DVD.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The G Stands For Walter

Rest In Peace, Bob Denver.

I'm old enough to remember Bob playing Maynard G Krebs on Dobie Gillis. Correction, make that "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis". Maynard was beat version of Gillian, just add the chin beard, remove the bucket hat, and slow down all his thought processes.

The show must have been shot on film rather than performed live. The indoor shots all had flat lighting like a stage production and the outdoor shots always had an edge to them. The edge must have come from using a different type/speed of film for the outdoor shots.

Someday I hope to see "Dobie Gillis" on DVD.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

My Delivery Cost How Much?

We celebrated my birthday today as the daughters were home from college for the Labor Day weekend. The neatest gift I received was the Hospital Statement for my delivery way back when. My folks found it when they were sorting through their papers. They are trying to reduce the collection so that someday they can move into a place that requires less upkeep. Someday.

Anyway the statement reads as follows:

Delivery Room $17.50
Labor Room $ 6.00
Operating Room $ 5.00
Medications $13.20
Room - 5½ days $77.00
Nursery- 5½ days $22.00

As you can guess, it was a few years ago.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Of Course I'm Bill Powell

As referenced at Boudicca's, The Classic Leading Man Test.

William Powell

You scored 14% Tough, 47% Roguish, 9% Friendly, and 28% Charming!

You are the classic rogue, a stylish rake with the devil of a wit and a flair for mischief, and you shake your martinis to waltz time. You are suave and debonair, but slightly untrustworthy, and women should be on their guard. If married, you are simply a bit of a flirt, even if it's just with your own wife...but if you're single, watch out. You usually rein yourself in to concentrate on one lovely beauty at a time, but with you, we never know. You're not a bad guy, but there's a playful devil behind your eyes, and those trying to get close to you should know they're playing with fire. You're stylish and fun, but you follow your own course, which may or may not include a steady gal. Co-stars include Myrna Loy and Carole Lombard, classy ladies with an adventurous streak.

Find out what kind of classic dame you'd make by taking the Classic Dames Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 5% on Tough
You scored higher than 94% on Roguish
You scored higher than 5% on Friendly
You scored higher than 47% on Charming

Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on Ok Cupid

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Drowning New Orleans

Scientific American - October 2001
By Mark Fischetti


The problem has been germinating in the 120 years since they started "taming" the Mississippi.

Like Florida's Sink Holes caused by drawing water out of the ground for normal use, southern Louisiana is sinking because when they pump out the water that ends up in the city they are pumping out the water that is holding the city up. As the muck below the city loses water, the city settles even lower below sea level. Now that the Missisppi River level stands 30 feet above the lowest level of the city there aren't any good options.

Read the whole thing

Thursday, August 25, 2005

So Like This Is News Either

Pure Nerd

60 % Nerd, 26% Geek, 4% Dork

For The Record: A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia. A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one. A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions. You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 30% on nerdiness
You scored higher than 50% on geekosity
You scored higher than 0% on dork points

Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid

Saturday, August 06, 2005

So Like This is News?

My computer geek score is greater than 98% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

Yah I knew Seymor Cray (and Neil Lincoln too). So what.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

How I Spent My Summer Vacation 1968

In Traction August 1968

Ah, the summer I broke my elbow. The water shutoff valve cover that my front tire got caught on is right here:

Location of Accident

A compound break that split the elbow. I went over the handlebars of my bicycle at good speed and didn't land quite right. First one the Ortho Surgeon had ever seen. He saw two more before he released me from the hospital and those both involved motorcycles.

I was in traction for two weeks and was the oldest member of pediatrics ward. Got to stay up late and watch both Presidential Conventions. I also grew two inches.

When I went back at Christmas to have the screws removed I was too old for the Ped Ward and ended up with more interesting people.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Anime, What Anime?

Spent the morning and part of the afternoon at JAFAX with my darling young son.

We were costumed as ordinary people, not cosplayers, but there were plenty of cases of inappropriately placed crepe hair, spray painted aluminum foil, and duct tape to go around.

Other people's pictures can be found here, here, and here. I have checked them and I do not appear in any of the pictures that were taken near me.

A fun time was had by all.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Its Been A Year

One year ago our White West Highland Terrier ("Scottie") died from Sertoli Cell Cancer at the age of 16.

This was a recurrence of the cancer that he had back when he was nine, but that time we were lucky and caught it in time. The first time around the tumor looked like he regrew his testicles, so it was pretty obvious that something was happening. The tumor caused his body to secrete hormones that made him act very lethargic. After the tumor was removed, he acted more like a puppy.

This time the tumor was in the more typical place, attached to the intestine and so hidden from sight. We noticed that he was slowing down, but then too he had arthritis in his hips and had a hard time climbing stairs. We should have had a clue when the vet noted that his weight looked better at his checkup in April, but then she wasn't his normal vet and would not have known what to expect. By the time he died, he lost two thirds of his weight from not eating. The tumor had grown to the size of a tennis ball and was blocking his intestines.

In his youth, he would occasionally dig his way out of the yard and go visiting around the neighborhood. As a terrier he would leave "presents" on the back porch and we would dutifully bury the mice and mole carcasses. One time a baby rabbit made the mistake of wandering into his yard and we got to bury rabbit pieces. He kept watch over the neighborhood and more than once convinced someone that it was not a good place to be rattling door knobs looking for an open door.

The pictures below are from when he was just a wee one and in the days before he died.

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We miss you, dear friend.

Friday, April 22, 2005

And Another One Gone?

Last week I found another name from my youth in the Obits. This is becoming too common.

Mike was a friend of mine back in elementary school who moved away after fifth grade. We lost touch with each other although I heard small bits about him through our fifth grade teacher Miss M.

I tried to find him after I graduated from college and ended up in the same city, but none of the leads proved real.

I missed the funeral because I was out of town, so even now I'm not sure if the person who died is my friend from Elmhust.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Friday Night: Dinner and a Movie Concept

My wife runs a business Monday through Friday which leaves her with little contact where she can have meaningful conversation. Since our children are all old enough to look after themselves, every Friday is scheduled as Mom and Dad time where we eat out at our normal restaurant and then take in a movie at the world's first cineplex.

We have a standing reservation at 6:45 which gives us plenty of time to eat and make the movie without rushing. The restaurant is a little family operation with a couple dozen tables and a bar. We know what to expect and the wait staff knows us well enough.

Of course we don't always take in a movie and we don't always go out to eat. That all depends on what else is scheduled (like taking kids to college or picking them up). Bookstores are a pleasent substitute for a movie.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

South Park Image

By now everyone knows about the Flash program to draw South Park characters.

The following is myself in South Park attire

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Yeh, its been a couple of months since my last haircut.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Bride and Prejudice Revisited

I received the following from my brother over the weekend. (it was forwarded through my daughters at college.)

> Partly thanks to your enthusiastic "review", we went to see it last
> night with Mom and Dad. What a great movie! We just about died when
> they did the Bollywood production number on the beach in LA, and the
> twist on the familiar plot of "Pride and Prejudice" was fascinating.

> When we left, two college girls behind us were dancing as they made
> their way out, so we were thinking of you two.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Two Friends Gone

One of my boyhood friends died on Easter Sunday after a year of living with cancer. I met Scott in Jr Hi and performed with him (or near him) through High School. He brightened all of the lives he touched, was a clear baritone and a charismatic actor. He will be sorely missed by his family and those around him.

This week I also learned of the death of another boyhood friend last summer in an auto accident. Tom was my backyard neighbor and closest friend from fourth grade through High School. We lost touch during our college years (I moved away) and met again at our 25th reunion. No one recognized him as he was twice the man he was in High School and looked like Kenny Rodgers. I too had gone from unbelievably skinny to more normal build, so neither of us recognized each other. I have never seen such joy for someone to be back among friends.

You expect to lose some friends from car accidents when you are in your twenties and you don’t expect everyone to live forever, but it still hurts when they are gone.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Missing Blog Roll

I know its not there. When I get some spare time I will be transferring it over from my static web page to BlogRolling. It will get there when it gets there.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Bollywood Musical: Bride and Prejudice

We went to see it last night, my wife for the second time and my son and I for our first. Wow. This is definitely a must-purchase when it comes out in DVD.

Bride and Prejudice is a musical in the Bollywood tradition, but that only speaks to the use of color. People break into song or dance at times, but I didn’t find the songs as intrusive as in the great Hollywood musicals from the 40’s.

As I said in my earlier post, this presentation is (in many ways) a tribute to the A&E rendition from 1996.

Here’s where I stand on that. Back in 1996 when the mini-series first played on A&E, we recorded it on VHS. Over the next several years, my daughters would hold weekend marathons playing the mini-series from end-to-end. They must have done this at least 20 weekends out of every year, possibly more often. The result is that we all know the story, my son (and our Quaker parakeets) could hum the theme song, and the tapes wore out.

When we bought our DVD player one of the first movies we purchased was the full-frame $70 DVD of Pride and Prejudice. That DVD got played as often as the video tapes with the advantage that the picture was clearer and it was easier to pause the show for dinner.

When the $30 wide-screen version came out in 2001, we got a second copy so that one (or both) could be away at college.

Needless to say I know the story as presented by A&E.

No one can beat Colin Firth in his portrayal of Darcy, but the Wickham presented in this film is much more of a rake and the Bingley is less gee-wiz and more sexy. But then you have seen the actor playing Bingley when he plays Sayid in “Lost”. The Bakshi(Bennet) parents are just as much fun as always, but each in their own way.

Time and again scenes echo the settings found in the A&E version. The sisters talking to each other while looking in a mirror, the settings around the table at dinner, the father in his study . . .

Mr Kholi(Collins) is just as much of a boor, but is played sort of as a cross between Alan Rickman’s character in Galaxy Quest and Tom Green. This Mister Kholi is not a clergyman, but an accountant in LA who lives in The Valley. He is back in India looking for a wife because all of the Indian girls in the US are too independent. One memorable quote from Mr Kholi is “No life without wife.”

The settings range from interior and sea side part of India, to the suburbs of London, to Los Angeles. Ah but the musical number in LA (with a Bollywood twist) is something to behold.

Even though we all know how the story turns out, it plays well.

Make sure you stay through the credits to see the “Out Takes”. I could be wrong, but I’m sure that in one of them I saw Harvey Weinstein of Miramax talking on a cell phone then get dragged into a dance by the extras.

We all enjoyed it and my daughters went to see it a second time at a theater near their school. I would recommend it even if it sounds like a “chick flick.”

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I'm Ba_cardi 151?

The following test was brought to my attention by the Irascible Ith.

Ba_cardi 151

You're 134 proof, with specific scores in beer (80), wine (66), and liquor (130).

All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure, you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is most efficient.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender

You scored higher than 57% on proof
You scored higher than 99% on beer index
You scored higher than 71% on wine index
You scored higher than 99% on liquor index

Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

What A Drag It Is Getting Old

So I've reached a certain age where my doctor insisted that I get a Colonoscopy and the knee I blew out pushing a car out of a snow drift back in 1970 is starting to act up again. Now my eye doctor tells me that he needs to look for yellowing of the cornea to go with everything else.

What fun.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Bride & Prejudice

From the makers of Bend It Like Beckham comes a Bollywood retelling of the classic Jane Autin tale.

No thats not right. Its more like a Bollywood tribute to the A&E mini-series.

All of the best bits from the A&E series are replicated in an Indian setting, but as a musical. Darcy, Bingley, and Wickham are all there, but Bennett becomes Bakshi and Collins becomes Kholi.

My wife and daughters went to see it last Saturday afternoon and they said it was a hoot. This is going to be a must purchase when it comes out on DVD.

This movie came out last Fall in the UK and is just available here in limited release. We have it in only one theater in one of the four mega-plexes in town and IMDb doesn't list it as available here.

Anyway, I have been instructed to set aside monies to purchase the DVD when it comes out and I have been told that I will get to see it (as will my son) in the near future. I'll let you know my impressions next Saturday.

Tom Dilbert Tie

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Tom wearing his Dilbert Flip Tie

This tie was a gift from my brother. It used to be availble from the Dilbert Store as item number #11000 priced at US$ 24.99.

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Dilbert no longer sells products through that venue, but rather through Cafe Press. Unfortunately, the Dilbert Flip Tie is no longer offered.

About Me

  • I was 6 foot 1 and weighed 125 pounds when I graduated from High School
  • I fudged my weight on my draft registration and told them I weighed 134 pounds
  • I was known as Strider for a time while in College. It’s an old joke instigated by one of my girlfriends. I used to be seen hiking through the snow wearing a floppy hat and carrying a walking staff ... the whole thing.
  • I was also known as Cognac Tom due to my preference in adult beverages. (18 was legal drinking age back then)
  • I managed to get my weight up to 155 pounds by College graduation by eating everything in sight
  • I am now nearly twice the man I was when I graduated from High School
  • Now I look more like Dilbert than Strider.
  • You used to be able to find a picture of me by Googling “Tom Dilbert Tie”
  • I have skied since I was 4 or 5 years old
  • It took me forever to learn to swim
  • Now normal lap swims are a ¼ mile and workouts are longer
  • When I sing (which I don’t do much anymore), I sing Bass or Octavo
  • My normal voice pitch is a couple half steps above Thurl Ravenscroft’s voice
  • I do sound like a seven foot man who has been smoking cigarettes since childhood
  • My voice would be lower if I smoked
  • I don’t talk about my work other than to say that I am an Engineer who works with Computers
  • There are very few people who are interested in the kind of work I do, you are not one of them
  • I used to tell people about what I do, but their eyes would roll up into their heads and their brains would leak out their ears
  • It was not a pretty sight, so I don’t do it any more


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