Book Ratings

Book ratings explained:

* I didn't like it | ** It was OK | *** I liked it | **** I really liked it | ***** I loved it

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but I saw the movie while I was home visiting my folks. As a matter of fact, the prodigal son and I saw it together. Alexander movie poster Neither of us liked it. I don't think there is a good thing to be said about the film.

The first and most obviously jarring thing about the film is the inexplicable, unidentifiable, possibly eastern European accent that Angelina Jolie uses while almost everyone else in the film speaks with either an obviously English accent or a vaguely Irish one.

The second and greatest failing of the film is its attempt to be serious without being honest. Whereas we are treated to a scene where a drunken Philip tries to rape Olympias and another scene where Alexander tries to rape Roxane but winds up being ridden by her like a pony in the Kentucky Derby, the only inkling the audience has that Alexander and Hephaistion are more than drinking buddies comes from maudlin, melodramatic dialogue clothed in long, pining looks which culminate in hugs. Puh-leese!

Of the few reviews of the film I've read since seeing it - I rarely read reviews before I go to a film - the one I've enjoyed the most is Roger Ebert's. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the best, this film is a 0.

It's been a month . . .

. . . since I've taken any pictures of the cats so I dug out the camera and snapped away.

HeruThis is Heru being still. It's too bad I don't have a reference point so you can see the size of him. He's getting to be quite a big boy.

RainbowAnd here we have Rainbow snuggling with a sock. She's still doing that.

MouseThis is Mouse being blissfully oblivious to the world. She likes to nap in the dining room away from all the people.

GoblinAnd this blob of black fur is Goblin. She likes to nap on top of a box right next to the back door.


I had to turn the heater on tonight. It was 67F inside the house just a couple of hours ago. It is now a very comfy 73F. I just checked and it is a very brisk 44F/7C outside. It looks like fall has finally arrived.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Last picture of Annie

This is the last picture of Annie I took before she disappeared. There is still no sign of her anywhere.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow morning the prodigal son and I are heading to my parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm bringing the turkey which I received today as a *bonus* at work. I will very likely not make it online any time tomorrow since I will be very busy stuffing myself until my seams pop so I'm going to wish everyone in the USA a very happy Thanksgiving. And I wish a safe journey to any of you who have to travel.

Strengthen The Good

I'm not a member of the Strengthen The Good network, but I did find the link on someone else's blog. I wish I could remember whose it was, but I read so many it would be really time consuming to hunt that information down. However, I did find this worthwhile so I decided to link to it here as well.

Strengthen The Good: Strengthening The Good: You, By Helping Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia

I also intend to be a contributor by sending a small bundle of books to the school.

The web site for the C. S. Lewis Bilingual High School can be found here -

State By State: The Bill For The Iraq War - Center for American Progress

This was an eye opener.

BBC NEWS | In Depth | Housing report slams US and Sudan

The Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions cites the US because of its high homelessness rates. News - Scotland - Eagle secret of Bronze Age burial

ARCHAEOLOGISTS in Scotland have made a "hugely significant" discovery by unearthing the best and most comprehensively-dated Bronze Age site in the UK.

The tightly clustered group of 29 cremation pits, one containing eagle talons, was uncovered at Skilmafilly when the gas maintenance company Transco was excavating and installing its £56 million gas pipeline from St Fergus to Aberdeen.



tattoo \ta-TOO\, noun:
1. A rapid, rhythmic drumming or rapping.
2. A beat of a drum, or sound of a trumpet or bugle, giving notice to soldiers to go to their quarters at night.
3. A display of military exercises given as evening entertainment.

Tattoo is an alteration of earlier taptoo, from Dutch taptoe, "a tap(house)-shut," from tap, "faucet" + toe, "shut" -- meaning, essentially, that the tavern is about to shut.

Trivia: The more familiar tattoo, "an indelible mark or figure made by puncturing the skin and introducing some pigment into the punctures," derives from entirely different roots. That tattoo comes from Tahitian tatau.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A pair from Epilogue

paula dudzik : winter was too long

paula dudzik : north

BBC NEWS | Health | Obese women 'lose brain tissue'

Women who are obese throughout their life are more likely to lose brain tissue, researchers have found.

This loss is one of the first indications a person is going to develop dementia.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Cameraman details Falluja killing

The freelance TV cameraman who filmed a US marine allegedly shooting dead an injured Iraqi fighter in Falluja has given his account of what he saw.

Kevin Sites' blog where he wrote the open letter referenced in the article is located here:



panjandrum \pan-JAN-druhm\, noun:
An important personage or pretentious official.

Panjandrum was coined by Samuel Foote (1720-1777) in a piece of nonsense writing:

So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage-leaf to make an apple-pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. "What! No soap?" So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber: and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top, and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.

It was composed on the spot to challenge actor Charles Macklin's claim that he could memorize anything. Macklin is said to have refused to repeat a word of it.

FoxTrot by Bill Amend

Information overload.

(If the title link has gone out of date, click here for the saved image.)

Use of a house

"What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?" -- Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Changeling SeaThe Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just cannot say enough good things about Patricia A. McKillip. Her fantasies are always different and unexpected and always so surprisingly simple. This one is about . . . hmmm . . . I was going to say change, but I think it is more about want.

Link to

Cat update

Well, Heru has joined the ranks of the un-reproductive. He came back from the vet yesterday morning and has been even more unconcerned by the fact he had surgery than Rainbow and Mouse were. He has been a particularly lovey cat since he's been back.

I think I have to accept the fact that Annie is gone. There has been no sign of her since the 4th when I got back from picking up my new car. I still have no idea how she could have gotten out or why or where she would go off to.

Goblin has spent a little more time in my lap since Annie's been gone than Goblin is usually wont to. She plops down while I absently pet her while she watches me read. Since Annie and Heru debated ownership rights of me, the other cats never really had much opportunity to be snuggle kitties. Since Annie is gone, half of me is up for ownership and I think Goblin might be trying to stake a small claim. Even the elusive Mouse has taken to very occasionally condescending to climb over me while she graciously allows me to pet her. I think if Rainbow were a more aggressive cat, she'd be the one debating ownership of me with Heru. She would really love to be a snuggle kitty and she does get to do it in drips and drabs here and there when Heru is busy being king of the pride in some other room of the house.

Tabby cat Tabby cat

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Orchid Orchid

Build a better Bush

Blogthings - What Happened in 1955

In 1955 (the year you were born)

Dwight Eisenhower is president of the US

Hurricane "Diane" claims 184 lives form North Carolina to New England

Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat, which leads to bus segregation being declared unconstitutional

The AFL merges with the CIO, creating the nation's largest labor union

Dr. Jonas Salk discovers a vaccine for polio

The Scrabble board game debuts

Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California

Kevin Costner, John Grisham, Arsenio Hall, Steve Jobs, and Billy Bob Thornton are born

Charlie Parker, Albert Einstein, and James Dean die

Brooklyn Dodgers win the World Series

Cleveland Browns win the NFL champion ship

Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is published

What Happened the Year You Were Born?

More cool things for your blog at

I know, I know

I've fallen off the face of the planet again. I don't know why you're surprised. I did tell you I had a cold. And a beaut it was, too. I missed two days of work and spent all my time either asleep on the sofa in the living room or asleep in my bed. I actually think I got more rest at work today than I did the two days I was drugged up and spacey. The phone in my office doesn't ring nearly as often as the phone at home does.

Anyway, I still have the lingering after effects of the cold but I'm at least a mostly functional human being again.

Monday, November 15, 2004

It's raining . . .

. . . and I hab a code in my nodez.

How Scorpio Are You?

You are 53% Scorpio

The White House will be adorned by a downright moron

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Politics (H. L. Mencken):

"The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

~ No Comment ~

"I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree with them." -- George Bush

The Home Front

This is a web site listing the companies who go beyond what is legally required of them to support employees who have been called up for active duty service in the military. For this, I think they deserve praise.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Addendum to silly thought

What would constitute 'fantasy' in a Tolkienesque universe?
Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy, #2)Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Link to

Silly thought

Sometimes when I'm not thinking of anything, when my mind is busily occupied with nothing, the strangest things pop into my brain. For example, what would constitute 'science fiction' in the Star Trek universe?

Being lazy

We've had a cold front come through and it's dropped the temperature down significantly. The coolness has dropped me into hibernation mode so I've spent quite a bit of time curled up on the sofa with my blanket, the cats, and my book. I am quietly contented. As soon as I put a pot of coffee on to perk, life will be perfection.

Red rose Red rose

Friday, November 12, 2004

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | US TV fails to save Private Ryan

Oscar-winning war film Saving Private Ryan was dropped by a number of US TV stations on Thursday because of fears they could be fined for indecency. -- read the rest.

This is too funny. I wonder it it was meant to be a deliberate slap in the face to all this decency bovine excrement being dropped in piles everywhere or if it was just accidental.

What democracy consists of

"Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear." -- Alan Corenk

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraqi hostages found in Falluja

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Falluja troops under heavy fire

Alberto Gonzales: A Record of Injustice - Center for American Progress



turbid \TUR-bid\, adjective:
1. Muddy; thick with or as if with roiled sediment; not clear; -- used of liquids of any kind.
2. Thick; dense; dark; -- used of clouds, air, fog, smoke, etc.
3. Disturbed; confused; disordered.

Turbid comes from Latin turbidus, "confused, disordered," from turba, "disturbance, commotion."

Thick, dense, dark, distrubed, confused, disordered - who knew one word could encapsulate the state of the US in this place and time.

FoxTrot by Bill Amend


(If the title link has gone out of date, click here for the saved image.)

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Himalaya glaciers melt unnoticed

BBC NEWS | Business | US deficit pushes euro over $1.30

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Inboxer Rebellion (Rebekah Tauber)

Rebekah Tauber is a 15 year old from Houston who is presently undergoing cancer treatment. She is a fierce Christian who attends Memorial High School. Rebekah is wearing a "prayer pager" (1-800-250-6939) that is being sponsored by Second Baptist Church in Houston.

Please take a minute out of your busy day to say a quick prayer for Rebekah, her family and her doctors asking for God's guiding hand to be with them through this ordeal and then call the toll free number (1-800-250-6939). It will vibrate letting Rebekah know that someone has prayed on her behalf.

Feel free to pass this email on and thanks for your support and prayers.

Call.... it just takes a second or two!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Die Bundesregierung

This is the English version of the site.

Berlin Wall

BBC NEWS | Europe | Germans mark Berlin Wall's fall

Low-key ceremonies have been held in Germany to mark the 15th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin's Mayor Klaus Wowereit laid a wreath at a preserved section of the wall and a special service was held at a rebuilt chapel on the former border.

Scientific American: Stem Cells Secrete Healing Chemicals

BBC NEWS | Technology | Firefox browser takes on Microsoft

Never having been a fan of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, I'm not a particular fan of Mozilla's Firefox which basically has the look and feel of a tabbed version of IE. I am, however, a fan of Netscape so I much prefer the 'unnamed' Mozilla suite.

In 1996 when I first got online, the modem in my computer was at a non-standard IRQ setting and a non-standard com port. Neither Windows nor IE could find and use my modem and I could not change either the IRQ or com port without popping my computer open and flipping a dip switch on the modem. I bought - yes, bought - a copy of Netscape and installed it. During the installation process, Netscape not only found my modem with all of its non-standard settings, but it also told me what make and model of modem I had. At that moment, I became a believer and faithful follower.

Today, thanks to the blogger upgrade a few months back, I'm a believer and faithful follower of Mozilla which does everything my beloved Netscape did.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Star Wars trailer

The Incredibles

I just got back from seeing the movie. Wow. I can't think when I've seen a more together movie than this one. Plot, character, action, romance, good fashion sense. What more could you want?

Gotta love the Brits

Karen posted the cover of the November 4th Daily Mirror on her blog. It is priceless. I wish I had a copy of that to save for posterity. I almost forgot I had a migraine I chuckled so.

The old homestead

Since I finally have a camera again, I took snaps of the old homestead (and the old homesteaders) while I was down buying the car.

This is the front door. No one ever uses the front door unless they are a stranger or the garage door is shut. People who belong go through the garage to the kitchen door and knock.

Front door to my parent's house

This is one of my dad's bougainvillea plants. He has several but this one is purple and is in the middle of the front yard. There is a second purple bougainvillea in the background. That one is tall while the one I snapped seems to have decided to be short.

Purple bougainvillea in the front yard

And here's the mom (or die oma as the prodigal son calls her) chatting with her Tweety. Tweety has been around for years and I live in fear that I will inherit that noisy brute if something happened to my folks. I have no idea how I would keep one bird safe in a house full of cats.

My mother and her Tweety bird

Here's my dad (or der opa as the prodigal son calls him) pulling some dead leaves off whatever this is out in the backyard. I have no idea what kind of shrub - tree? - this is and neither had my dad. He just liked the way it looked so he planted it.

Dad pulling dead leaves off a shrub

And more shots of bougainvillea in the backyard. The soft pink bush has some hot pink flowers on it as does the peach colored bougainvillea.

Soft pink bougainvillea with hot pink blooms Peach bougainvillea with hot pink blooms Peach colored bougainvillea

And lastly, the back stoop on which stands the obligatory garden gnome.

Back stoop with plants and garden gnome

So you want to be Canadian

Read it. Seriously. It's invaluable advice on what you need to do if you opt to go north of the border to get away from the USSA.

(It also proves that Canadians have a sense of humour - note the spelling!)

Saturday, November 06, 2004

And now for the grisly details

Since you've already seen the pictures of the car, I'll fill in the story of the accident.

The prodigal son was driving home Monday morning (November 1st) in a raging downpour. It was raining so hard we were actually under a 'build an ark' watch. He was coming home from spending the night with friends so I could take the best friend to the airport to catch her flight home. About 7:30 or so I get a call from the prodigal son who is on the verge of tears. He tells me he's been involved in an accident and the car is ruined, but it wasn't his fault. I asked if he was all right. He said yes, that he was bruised. I told him to make sure to call the police and that I would find someone to take me to the accident site.

I told the best friend what had happened and that I didn't know if I could get her to the airport. I called a friend from work and asked her to take me to the accident. She arrived and the best friend and I went to check things out. By the time we arrived at the accident site, the police had arrived and taken statements all around and the driver of the other car admitted the accident had been her fault and that she took responsibility for it. She was taken away by ambulance because she'd struck her head and had cut it. The lady suggested my son go to the hospital with her to be checked out, but he opted not to since he did not feel particularly injured.

While my son was sitting in the ambulance, the mother of his friend happened to drive by the accident site and realized who had been involved. She stopped to check on things and my son was sitting in her car waiting for me when we arrived. All my son knew about the other driver was her first name. The state trooper on the scene, who did give me his business card, said he didn't have the time to give me the name or insurance information of the other driver. The driver of the wrecker service gave us his card and we left.

According to my son, he was in the process of making a left turn at the four way stop when he realized the person heading toward him from the left was not going to stop. He had the time and presence of mind to hit the gas while the other driver did manage to slam on her brakes. Fortunately, he had a few seconds to move the car sufficiently not to be hit in the driver's side door. Unfortunately, since it was and had been raining buckets, the woman hydroplaned into the passenger door. We have no idea how fast she was actually going.

Meanwhile, the best friend decides she will not take her flight home nor will she reschedule it. She would rather rent a car and drive home so she calls her husband to let him know what is going on and to ask him to cover her class for her. The friend from work drives us to the a couple of car rental places until we find one that will let the best friend have a car she can drop off when she gets home.

The friend from work goes back to work and the best friend runs us all over town in her rental car trying to get a rental car for me which I have managed to arrange through my insurance company. I finally get one, but as I'm being driven from one Enterprise location to the other, the best friend backs her rental car into an Enterprise rental car while trying to get out of the parking lot. She's stuck giving a statement to the police while I get my rental car across town. The prodigal son stays with her so he can guide her around when they get finished.

I get my rental car and come back across town to guide the best friend back to her car rental agency so she can report the accident. Since she'd bought their insurance coverage because she did not have proof of insurance with her, no one seemed particularly upset about the fender bender. The Enterprise truck she backed into didn't sustain any damage and her fender had a ding that popped out by itself. By the time we got through at her rental agency, you couldn't even tell she'd hit anything.

Anyway, off we go to the house where I try to find a doctor who can see my son. His doctor won't see people who've been involved in auto accidents and my doctor isn't taking new patients until the start of the year. We finally find someone who can take him.

While we're home waiting to leave for my son's appointment, I call my dad to let him know what happened and to ask if he'd help me broker a deal at the dealership he used to work for. Even having only seen the damage to the car in the pouring rain, I'm pretty sure it will be declared a total. What I'm not sure of is whether the woman will actually follow through with her insurance agency. After some discussion, I decide I will drive home with the best friend on Tuesday so I can get a new car on Wednesday and drive myself home on Thursday.

The best friend calls her husband to let him know she's staying another night and asks him to find people to take care of her Tuesday classes - did I mention she teaches at UT-PA? - and I take my son to the doctor where we're stuck for almost three hours for a ten minute consult. Nothing is broken or grossly out of place so he prescribes a pain killer, an anti-inflammatory, and an anti-spasmodic.

We go home and the prodigal son takes his drugs and goes off to have a nap which I interrupt because there is a message from the other driver's insurance company. Not only has she already filed a report, but she did accept fault for the accident. The prodigal son describes what happened from where he sat and tells the nice man on the phone I already have a rental car and that I decided he needed to see a doctor. He then hands the phone to me and the nice man and I talk about what I have to do to file the medical claim and where I rented the car from and if I have a preference on where the car should be fixed if they deem it fixable which I assure the nice man is probably not going to be the case.

And those are the grisly details. I don't really remember much else after the adrenalin wore off Monday night.

The prodigal son and I voted on Tuesday morning. He cleaned out our belongings from the car and brought them home. The best friend and I drove down to the Valley while the prodigal son stayed home to tend himself and the cats. She dropped me off at my parent's house and then went home to hers. Mom, dad, and I went to the lot to look at cars Tuesday night and I managed to spot a couple I liked.

On Wednesday, dad called the dealership and had the cars I liked moved from the McAllen lot to the Mission lot so I could take them for a test drive and look them over without having to deal with McAllen traffic. I picked the one I wanted and I bought it. It had all sorts of discounts and rebates, not to mention getting some stuff at cost, so I wound up with a car payment almost the same as the one I had on the other car.

I had a very nice visit with my folks and made plans to come down for Thanksgiving since my mom thought she might not be up to traveling then. I drove home Thursday and it was a very comfortable, leisurely drive. When I got home, I discovered that my cat Annie had somehow gotten out of the house and disappeared. We've still not found any trace of her.

My old car was declared a total loss and someone from claims will be calling me next week to arrange a meeting so I can sign paperwork and they can give me the check. I've got the paperwork to file the medical claim for the prodigal son but I won't do that until after his follow-up visit on 11/18. The new car has been added to my insurance and the new car has been taken off.

And that pretty much gets me up to date.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. I called the Nissan dealer yesterday and told them I didn't need the whatever-it-was valve for my car anymore. I didn't tell them why.

Friday, November 05, 2004

A picture is worth a thousand words

This is my old car:

My old car My old car My old car My old car

This is my new car:

My old car My old car My old car

And this is my old son looking at my old car which sustained way much more damage than he did:

My old car

(I'll fill in the blanks later. I just wanted to get the pictures up so people could see what a fun week I've had. I'm off to watch Enterprise.)

Fanatical Apathy: Concession Speech

Just follow the link and read it.

Fallen off the face of the world

I know, I know. I've fallen off the face of the world again and not for the time period I said I would and most definitely not for the reason I gave. As soon as I get organized, I will post all the grisly details so bear with me. I'm so far behind in everything that I'm not even going to try and catch up. I'm going to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

Let me just leave you with this thought for the time being . . . If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.