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.