Friday, December 28, 2007

There is certainly little I can add to what has already been said about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It was the very first news story I heard upon waking yesterday morning and I've been keeping tabs on what has been said on news sites and political blogs.

Apparently the most important thing is how this effects the upcoming Iowa caucus, at least from what you would think on reading most political sites. All the candidates, or their spokes people, appeared to take the opportunity (after briefly sending their condolences) to spin the event in a way favorable towards them or negatively towards one of their opponents.
I personally think that it very well might have been some radical element in Pakistan, not necessarily affiliated with the government. However, I also think that if (and I should underline that) the Pakistani military or intelligence services were aware of the possibility of such an incident they did little to prevent it.
I don't know enough about the entire situation in that country to even hazard a guess as to what will happen. On the other hand, I don't think you have to be an expert to foresee that things are going to get much worse and unstable in the near future. I think we can also safely bet that the Administration will blow any chance of aiding the democratic elements in that country.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hope you all had a nice holiday the past few days. Donna and I sure did!

We did some last minute shopping and such on Saturday, and then drove up to the San Manuel Bingo & Casino on Sunday. We both had some ‘slot cash’ to play and while I had my usual luck, Donna hit for over three hundred dollars on the nickel Monopoly slots. Then later she won a jackpot at Bingo, but so did three other folks. She still came away with another three hundred plus, so our day was certainly not a loss by any means.
Donna had to work part of the day on Monday, so didn’t get home until after 1:00pm. Kristina drove over and after grabbing lunch at El Polo Loco, we traveled down to San Diego. Surprisingly the traffic was very good on the 5 Freeway, once we got pass an accident just beyond San Juan Capistrano. We got to Michael’s before 4:00 and all went to dinner together. I’d definitely recommend C Level over on Harbor Drive to anybody, but would suggest you stay away from Deborah’s Flaming Skirt Steak (it was called something like that), which was way too hot even for Kristina. She did eat most of it, but when Michael mentioned how hot it was to one of the supervisors she actually took it off the check. Everybody else enjoyed his or her orders and the view from the deck of the San Diego skyline was fabulous. Then it was back to Michael’s for the night.

We had a nice day on Christmas, the weather being clear and in the upper 60s. Michael’s friend Rod came over, as did Kristina’s gal pal Christine. The six of us had a very pleasant dinner of anti-pasta, salad, fresh raviolis, with the meatball & pork sauce Donna had brought. Later we had coffee and a wonderful cheesecake, also made by my lovely & talented wife. While Christine & Kristina stayed the night, Donna and I headed back home with our presents. We had a wonderful time, although there were some sad moments when we thought of Donna’s mother and this being the first Christmas without her.

Among other goodies, I got a JEOPARDY calendar, which lets you bet on each day’s answers and accumulate for the Final Jeopardy round. Donna also got me the latest edition of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, which will certainly get a lot of use since we are always trying to figure out this or that actor or film credit. Kristina, among other things, got me THE SIMPSON’S MOVIE on DVD, which Donna & I are both looking forward to seeing, probably this weekend. Both of us are also enjoying the tasty Starbuck’s Christmas Blend my step-daughter gave her mother and me.

I only got to see a couple of parts of A CHRISTMAS STORY during the marathon the other day. Caught the last half hour before we went out to dinner and then the first half a few hours later. Of course, I do have it on DVD and just watched it a few weeks ago anyway. Mostly we were listening to carols and just catching up on things with everyone.

That sums up Christmas with the Chaput & Chiara households. How was yours?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Santa and the Reindeer sing White Christmas

I know Mark Evanier links to this but just in case you don't visit his blog I wanted to put it here.

There's a reason Mark puts it up each year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In order to 'reorganize' Bear Stearns has laid off over 600 employees. This should allow them to give that Christmas bonus to the executives who did the firing. No doubt it wasn't their fault for all those bad loans and financial problems the past year.

Sadly, among the most recent 135 folks given the boot here in SoCal was Kristina. Her severance package will last for a couple of months, but this isn't the way we hoped to be spending the holidays.

Donna is going up to Los Angeles today for some medical tests. With a family history of thyroid cancer we don't want to take a chance, so she is seeing another specialist who we hope will get definite results from the biopsies. Michael is taking some time off to go up with her, since I can't take the day off. Again, we are crossing our fingers hoping that the results will be negative.

On the positive side, the rain is supposed to end this afternoon and things aren't as bad as in the previous period. More accidents and mudslides that time. It was still nasty driving in today, as well as driving home last night. Folks out here just do not know how to drive in anything but clear and sunny days.

Update: Donna got a call from the doctor's office saying the doctor will be leaving early. Needless to say she is pissed since Michael left work early and Donna has just called the office on Monday to verify the appointment. Unbelievable!

Monday, December 17, 2007

We had dinner last night with Kristina and her friend, Christine (yeah, it is confusing), again at our favorite Italian restaurant. It was a nice surprise when Donna gave me with another b-day gift (or early Christmas gift depending) earlier in the day. Kristina gave me a present at dinner.

My wife, who knows me very well, gave me the "Cowboy Ralphie" ornament, which goes great with my Lone Ranger ornaments. Kristina delighted me even more with "A Christmas Story" Monopoly game, that I hadn't even known about. This step-parent gig is working out swell!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Fugs - Wide, Wide River

There may be some words, images or ideas in here that will offend you. Please move on to another post if you think you'll be upset.

Donna gave me some wonderful presents for my birthday, a few of which are edible and I'll enjoy this weekend. She also bought me a really nice, cigar torch-flame lighter from Xikar. This is no Bic, trust me!

She mad me breaded chicken cutlets for dinner on Thursday, one of my favorites. Then we went to an Italian restaurant we both like last evening, so it was kind of like two b-day dinners for me. We may also be having lunch or dinner with Kristina tomorrow, which is always a pleasure. I consider myself very lucky!

In case anybody is keeping track, I've shaved off my mustache again. I was trying to trim it yesterday morning, without wearing my glasses and things did not turn out well. It was pretty obvious though and when Donna joked about it I decided to go for it. As usual, this morning I regretted it but will learn to live with it. For those who don't know, I have had a mustache for most of the time since I was nineteen years old. I think this may be only the third or fourth time I've shaved it off.

It's odd, since I now see my father staring back at me from the mirror, rather than my Uncle Charlie. He doesn't look happy about it either!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It goes without saying that I’m not a fan of the Damned Yankees. Add to that the fact that I’ve never cared for Roger Clemens, even when he pitched for Boston. Still I was surprised to find that he and fellow Yankee star Andy Pettitte have been named in the MLB steroids report released today. Say it ain’t so, guys!

Looks like the Dems can’t even get enough support in the House to override Bush’s veto of money to give health insurance to kids not already covered. Remind me why we voted for these losers again? I’m leaning more and more towards voting against every single incumbent politician next year no matter what party.

Poor Donna had to stay out of work because of her cold, fortunately (?) she was able to do some work from home via computer and having the office calls routed to our home phone. The antibiotics they gave her really don’t seem to be working so she’s going to ask for something else. I recommended something with morphine, but was voted down.

On an other front, Kristina will be going in for a second interview and we remain hopeful. In the meantime, she continues at her current job and it looks like things may settle down enough to keep her employed into the early part of the New Year.

Finally, I know what today is so they’ll be nothing more said on that subject. Okay?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Poor Donna had to go in for some medical tests on Saturday, but things seem positive from the results so far. On the other hand, she has a bad cold and we had to go to the 'walk-in' clinic yesterday to get her checked out. She's not feeling much better today, but still had to go into work. We are hoping she can sneak out early. I took her some soup and tea before I came into work today.

Just a heads up that our holiday cards went in the mail this morning, so hopefully many of you will be receiving them in the next week or so. A few of you have moved since last year, so we hope the new addresses we have for you are accurate.

Despite everything we went to Bingo on Saturday but neither of us hit. We plan on going up to San Manuel the weekend before Christmas for some bingo and slot play. They sent me a card for my b-day that entitles me to one free buy-in at the regular bingo and some slot credit. We both got cards for free slots play and figure we might as well use it up before they expire.

Yeah, we're totally addicted. What of it? :-)

Friday, December 07, 2007

I’m old enough to have some memories of my parents and their friends talking about JFK. My parents were split, with my father supporting Nixon and my mom Kennedy. As we were Roman Catholic that was a big reason for my mother liking JFK so much, but she also said she didn’t trust Nixon even back then. I also recall the nuns at Catechism and even some mention at mass about how proud we should be to have someone of our faith running for the office of President. It’s hard to believe that all these years later the matter of religion is still so important in an election.

I’ve only read excerpts of Mitt Romney’s speech as well as the reactions of various columnists, bloggers and some talking heads. To me it is a non-issue since I put all religions in the same category as belief in the Greek and Norse gods. Dude, if you pray to Odin or Buddha it makes no difference to me. Just tell me what you are going to do about the economy, the situation in Iraq and the environment. Those are the things that matter most folks and certainly to me. Your beliefs are or should be a personal and private thing between you and your family. As long as you’re not sacrificing goats in the Rose Garden who cares?

Romney’s speech reminds me more of Reagan’s remark that the Constitution promises “freedom of religion not freedom FROM religion”, rather than Kennedy’s comments. In fact, I’ll reprint the closing remarks from the late President's speech on the topic below:
Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end–where all men and all churches are treated as equal–where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice–where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind–and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.
That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe–a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

‘Nuff said!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We have just begun putting up some decorations and still aren't sure how much we'll do. The new entertainment unit doesn't have the space the old one did for Donna's Christmas village.

I picked up holiday stamps yesterday, but we still have to decide on the card we're sending out. Fortunately, we have some holiday stationary from last year (thanks to a great post-holiday sale at Staples).

I don't have anything to add on the various political goings on, but like most folks am growing pretty tired of the Dems bashing each other rather than taking aim at the GOP. Guess you have to do something to get that 30-second soundbite on the news.

Surfs up here in the SoCal and we have already had one boarder swept out to sea. While I do sympathize with his family you have to admit that he did know what he was getting himself into. This wasn't a hot shot kid, but a 40+ yr old experienced surfer. Guess he found the Big One, huh?

Monday, December 03, 2007

This Movie is About Cats Flying

Please do not ask me to explain this. Cats flying!
'nuff said!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sleeping with the Devil by Robert Baer

Even though this book came out in 2003 the information the author provides and some of his conclusions are still very relevant today. Robert Baer was a former CIA operative/analyst who looks at U.S. policy from a unique perspective. He actually had contact with a number of individuals involved in the events that he discusses, much of his information coming first hand.

Beginning with events then current, Baer goes back to look at just how the U.S. government became involved and in fact helped to ensure the reign of the Saudi royal family. Starting with the a meeting that FDR had with the then king, following WWII (at the behest of SoCal and representatives of American oil companies at the time), and continuing through the Bush II Presidency, Baer follows the money. For, in fact, it does come down to money and lots of it. Great sums which line the pockets of too many Washington insiders, including some who may be running for President and hundreds of others over the past fifty plus years.

It may have started, either as rumor or fact, with a briefcase filled with money left in the home of Richard Nixon, shortly after he had been elected to the office of President. Even if not true, word seemed to leak out that it was okay to do business with the Saudi family and their various businesses, legit or otherwise. Baer does not play favorites and just about every administration since Nixon’s seems to have either openly or behind closed doors done business with the Saudi regime. It is also clear, from the history that Baer discusses, that the Washington elite have not only closed their eyes to that country’s involvement with Islamic radicals, but also knowingly allowed them to cover when things got too hot for some individuals.

The author, naturally, talks about the bin Laden family, still very powerful and doing business with many U.S. firms, but also lesser known individuals in the royal family who are funding the Taliban and Al Quida. Baer really did his research, and spends several chapters discussing the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic radical groups from their creation in the 19th and early 20th century. He also looks at how other countries like Syria dealt with them in ways very different from how the Saudi government pays them off in hopes they will turn their anger outward rather than at the royal family. His examination of just how corrupt the Sauds are and have been is amazing, although it really hasn't been a secret, just not widely discussed by U.S. media.

I can agree with Baer’s conclusions that the American government has to cut its ties with the Saudi royals and other Arab countries, equally guilty of the same sort of corruption. He also makes the point that the U.S. public might have to face the possibility of changing their addiction to cheap Arab oil and look for alternatives. However, I can’t agree with one of the author’s proposals. That is to militarily take over the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others via air strikes and commando raids. The idea is to take them over, rebuild what is necessary and allow the governments to fall around them.

I think that Baer is dead on when he says that it is only a matter of time before what the Saudi royals have allowed comes back to slit their throats. I just hope that he isn’t right that the idea he presents is actually being considered (despite the fact that such a plan was presented to Congress over twenty years ago by the Pentagon). Let’s hope there is another alternative.

All that said, I recommend the book to anybody who wants to know how we got to where we are and why certain Presidential candidates probably won’t change things very much. It does look like every past Democratic as well as Republican resident of 1600 Pennsylvannia Avenue has oil, if not blood, on their hands.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

We are getting a bit nervous out here, concerned as we are about Kristina. Seems the company for which she works has been adversely affected by the housing & mortgage crunch. This has hurt them and as large companies always do in these situations, they begin chopping employees. Naturally, not those who made the bad deals and approved them, but lower level ones who had nothing at all to do with the situation.

Sadly, Kristina is one of those employees who may be looking for a job. The only bright side is that she has not been called into HR yet, while seeing several of her friends and more senior folks shown the door. Also, her company has been giving a small severance package that would continue health benefits until the end of the year and pay through February.

We are crossing our fingers, but aren’t feeling too positive as more cuts are likely. My stepdaughter is a wizard with computers and has worked in non-financial industries before. It’s likely that she can find something else should the need arise.

I’ll let you know as things progress.

Monday, November 26, 2007

It’s Monday evening and I feel totally exhausted. Unfortunately, I’m working until 9:00pm tonight and have to get through the next few hours. I wish now that I had taken today as a Vacation Day and been able to get some sleep as Donna has. Oh, well….

Speaking of my wife I want to wish a very, Happy 8th Anniversary to my love & life, Donna Lee! It is not a figure of speech to say that I would not be here (and I don’t mean California) if this woman had not come into my life when she did. I will always be thankful that we met and fell in love.
The Carnival Paradise is one of the lines older and smaller ships, but it was perfect for our weekend voyage.

To give you an idea of how the cruise was you should know that within an hour of checking aboard I ordered my first drink and had my last around 11:30pm last night in the ship’s casino. The first was the ‘welcome aboard’ special, the name of which I can’t remember but it had rum, pineapple & orange juice in it. The great thing about these ‘specials’ is that they come in plastic cups that allow you to get discounts on each daily special, simply by returning the empty to the waitress. The drinks themselves tend towards the fruity/frosted variety and with the cup come to around $3.00 each. Yum!

Donna, Fran (Donna’s long-time friend) and I had a great time over the three days. The ladies got to catch up on things and I enjoyed the food, drinks, pool and casino. There was some shopping along the way as well; including some things we’ll be giving for Christmas.

One new thing was attending the art auction presented by Park West Gallery, with Fran. She almost always attends these, but for me it was a whole new experience. It was a lot of fun, plus Donna and I have a couple of nice pieces of artwork for the apartment. We both love a small, Thomas Kincaid work called “Winter Memories”, which will go well in the living room. I picked up a terrific “Speed Racer” print with the entire cast of the old show, including Racer X and the Mach 5. No idea where that will go, but I plan to have it framed as soon as we receive it. The bidding part of the auction is certainly the most exciting, even with many of the pieces already requested and having a set price in place before hand. (That’s how we got the Kincaid for much less than you’d expect.) There were also some amazing works by Picasso, Dali and Peter Max that went for prices that make my head hurt. As a treat at the end of the auction they ran the Dali/Disney short film, “Destino.” Amazing if you haven’t had the opportunity to see it.

The cruise was way too short and we spent the trip back from the terminal talking about which cruise we’d like to take next year. Right now it seems like we’ll be going to Alaska for a week, but all of us would like to take the Panama Canal crossing one of these days. (Something I actually did while in the Navy, but the experience was a bit different as you can imagine.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I probably won't have a chance to post until next Monday. It's also doubtful that I'll be reading other folks or anything besides, perhaps, my e-mail if I get a chance tomorrow.

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very, Happy Thanksgiving. Even if you don't make a big deal out of it I hope you enjoy whatever you'll be doing the next few days.

I'll fill you in on what we did and didn't do during the three-night cruise on Monday evening, since I'm scheduled to work. Hopefully, we won't have a repeat of our last Carnival experience and spend half a day looking for someone who has jumped overboard.
Take care!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Did you see on the news that Mission Viejo (which Ladera Ranch is considered part of) has been named the 'safest city' in the U.S. ? Strange after living for years in Brooklyn, huh?

A very, busy weekend here between moving furniture and shopping for Thanksgiving.

We decided to rearrange our living room and even purchased a new TV stand. Unfortunately, once we got it put together it was obvious that it would fall forward at the least touch. Having had more than a couple of tremblors we felt we shouldn't take chances. It was returned and we have the set temporarily on one of our old end tables, which we took from the spare room. We'll probably go shopping for something sturdier after we get back from the cruise.

At least we were able to move the second rocker/recliner from the bedroom to the living room, move the love seat around and put the lower half of the entertainment unit in the bedroom where we can use the drawers and shelves for storage. The shifting makes the place look less cramped and will give us space for everybody on Thursday.

Hard to believe that we spent over two hundred bucks on groceries for six people! Of course, we also picked up some things we can use before and after the holiday so it wasn't all for stuff to go with the turkey :-)

Can it really be only three days until our cruise? Or only a week until our 8th anniversary? Wow, the time has flown.

Kristina will be taking care of Babie for us, which we appreciate. Just hope she doesn't sneak Wilbur over to visit!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Enjoyed a pleasant three-day weekend and stayed away from the blogoverse pretty much. Going to try and catch up at least somewhat tonight while on desk.

Donna and I played Bingo again on Saturday, using my last winnings for the buy-in and then Donna winning on the very first 'warm up'. We're having more luck at the Irvine bingo than we have at the other places, although I did have a small win in Orange. Also, got a 'birthday' certificate for free Bingo at the San Manuel Bingo & Casino, plus free slot money. I have until 30-days after my b-day so we may head there sometime around the holidays.

Hard to believe that it's only a little more than a week until our cruise. We picked up some of the stuff for our Thanksgiving dinner and are going to start getting our clothes ready. We have promised ourselves we won't over pack as we usually do, which works since there will only be one night, Saturday, that we are expected to dress formally. Donna, Fran and I have already done that plenty of times, so I'm skipping the tux or suit this time out and will only grab a sports jacket.

We've also received our tickets for the Rose Bowl Parade and are looking forward to that come New Years.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally."—Flannery O'Connor

Came across this quote while reading this morning and it struck a cord. Perhaps with a rapidly approaching birthday and looking back over the events of the past year I am becoming more reflective. We all have uncomfortable things we don't like to recall or think about. Still they are part of our makeup and can't be ignored.

About a week ago I received an e-mail from my cousin George, who sent along a scan of a photograph taken back in the late '50s. I must have been around 8 or 9 years of age in the picture. The group included our cousin Ernie and George's sister, Donna, both of whom have already passed away. Donna was fifty-seven, which I will turn come next month and Ernie was only in his late 30s when he died from kidney failure.

Sorry, to turn all morbid on you but it was just something which has been on my mind for the past week or so. The quote from O'Connor just brought it to the surface.

I hope to have something lighter to blog about here or over on Shot's Shack later.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I’ve been spending a lot of time (both at home and during breaks at work) checking out new sites, posting in forums and generally ruining my eyesight on the Internet. You can see some of the new sites that I’ve linked to on both my blogs and you should expect more.

I added one to the new “official” Mystery Science Theatre 3000 site over on SHOT’S SHACK and will be adding a ‘religious satire’ site, the Wittenburg Door, over here later today if I have the chance. Joe Bob Briggs is writing for them and if you enjoy his essays on other things you might enjoy this as well. It’s like The Onion aimed at Christians.

I get so many e-mails from the various forums and groups I belong to that I rarely get to many of them more than once a week. If it wasn’t for the daily chance to win free cigars, I’d probably only get over to Cigar World on a monthly basis, as I do with Beer Advocate. Hmmm, is there a vice I don’t read about?

I have also started posting and taking part in the CBGXtra forums, those at Twisted Kaiju Theatre and Comic Collector Live. If you happen to see stuff from ‘Stevec50’ in any of those you can be sure I’ve come in from lurking mode.

You can’t ignore the Shelfari Shelf here and I’m having fun adding my books. Anything listed by Amazon can be placed on the shelf, along with cover photos in many cases. I don’t have nearly as many books as you would think, but since some aren’t listed on Amazon I can’t add them. Frankly, if anything that seems to be my major gripe. Plus, there is this weird glitch where it won’t let me input certain books since they are considered just another version of one I already have listed. For example, I have the Classics Illustrated version of MOBY DICK that was illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz that I added. However, I also have the NBM edition of Melville’s novel that was produced by Will Eisner in my collection as well. According to Shelfari they are different editions of the same work, rather than totally separate works, and I can’t place both onto My Shelf. This problem also comes up with some multi-volume works, especially TPB collections. Again you have to decide which volume/edition to show on your shelf.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

After all the excitement of the past couple of weeks it's nice to get back normality here in Ladera Ranch. The fires are still burning in some areas, but are all but completely contained. Most folks have been allowed to return to their homes, and those who have lost theirs are trying to get their lives back together. Doing the day to day stuff actually is nice for a change, given what could be.

Poor Donna is having problems with her left leg and we are discussing with doctors the eventually replacement of both knees. It will be months away, if not a year, but it's something we have to think about. Other procedures may be necessary before then, but we will take one thing at a time.

Given the leg/knees problems we are looking to rent a wheelchair for the up-coming cruise. We think it will make things easier, and even if she decides not to use it all the time we'll have it if she needs it.

I don't know about the rest of the country but the big story out here in SoCal is the strike by the SGA against the networks and film studios. After the damage caused by the fires, the economic impact of a prolonged strike will cause some real damage out here. To most folks it only means that Jay, Dave, and The Daily Show & Cobert Report will be heading to reruns. Out here we may see some restaurants, small delivery companies and other businesses severely effected and possibly closing. It will be interesting to see how things ripple out here.

Only 17 days until our cruise and despite Donna's physical problems we still both excited. We are seriously trying to the Alaskan cruise next year and in between we have a couple of other things we hope to do. More on that as our plans gel. :-)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead

Because I'm in one of those moods!


Thursday, November 01, 2007

If you go over to you'll find some great photos of last night's Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.

I have some nice memories of going there several years and of watching it live on TV on several others. It was always fun, no matter how you experienced it. The photo hear is from last night's festivities.

Seeing the photos there and the ones on the KCBS-2/KCAL-9 site of the West Hollywood parade made me recall the Halloween that Elayne & I experienced the Castro in San Francisco.

Elayne, how long was I holding that guy's hand before I realized it wasn't you? I remember you, Matt & Candy had a good laugh at my expense. :-(

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Have a very, Happy & Safe Halloween!

Just wanted an excuse to use this picture. The Batman looks like the Shaw family's Chops, so I couldn't resist.

Perhaps something more serious later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

One of the reasons that SHELDON remains one of my favorite strips are the odd references that Dave Kellett tosses in.
I mean "Duck & Cover"? Bwahahahah

Monday, October 29, 2007

It was all around a very nice weekend. There are still, sadly, some fires causing continued hardship. The air is a bit better today, at least in the Mission Viejo/Ladera Ranch area. We could still smell it last night, but by this morning it had cleared. Looking out towards the hills you can see smoke but the winds have died down.

We went to play Bingo over in Irvine on Saturday and I won again. This time I didn't have to split the money with other winners, but did make a small donation to the school where it was held. I figure I could afford $20 out of the $250 I won. We're putting aside part of that, like we did last time, to pay for our next Bingo adventure. We'll probably never break even, considering how much we have spent at San Manuel, but it's nice to finally win a few.

Speaking of winning.... :-)

Did you happen to hear that....BOSTON WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And while we are on the subject of winning the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS are undefeated!!!

On a more serious note, Donna is in Los Angeles this afternoon getting a second opinion on her thyroid. It will probably be the same and we will have to look to get her scheduled for surgery sometime after returning from our cruise. Possibly in early December if we can, as we are also considering a quick trip back east for Christmas, depending on my work schedule.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fire Fighter Tribute

Just a moment to thank those who risk everything day after day.

It appears that the worst is over, at least for now. Firefighters seem to be gaining the upper hand in almost all of the fires and people are beginning to return to their homes. It will be days, if not weeks, until there is a complete assessment of how much this is going to cost the state. It's still smokey and many of the schools in Orange County have cancelled outdoor activities, including sports.

It's a sad anniversary for firefighters out here today. Just a year ago five of them lost their lives when they were trapped during another forest fire. At noon there was a moment of silence and many of those working to stop the current fires lay down their hoses and equipment to pay tribute.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Well, it's a bit of good news/bad news here in the OC. The Santa Ana winds have died down and the weather has cooled a bit. On the other hand, these winds coming from the ocean are a bit less predictable than the Santa Ana variety and can shift. Still most of the fires are coming under control to some extent. It is hoped that over the weekend, if things stay as they are, many people can begin returning home.

Unfortunately, the fires from Santiago Canyon which were a glow over the hills on Tuesday night have swept over the crest and into Lost Canyon & Live Oak Canyon. The fires are visible now from the patio, where Donna and I watched them spreading and moving closer. Fires have also spread into yet another county, moving into Riverside which had been spared up to now.
Yesterday, Donna drove over to Rancho Santa Margarita where Kristina lives (much closer to the fires) to see how things are there. Our daughter is on a cruise with friends this week, but her roommate is home. Still we are concerned and wanted to ensure ourselves that we didn't need to grab Wilbur (her cat) and take him with us.

Between a marine layer which brought in fog and the continuing smokey conditions visibility this morning was not the best. Again the car was covered in ash and everything smells of smoke. It has gotten so that the library here continually smells of it, as winds bring it in when patrons enter and leave the lobby. We keep the windows closed at home, but we do have the smell beginning to come through the halls so there is little escape. Poor Donna has had to use her inhaler more often and you see some folks in surgical masks walking and even in cars.

We had plans to go off for a 'romantic weekend', but cancelled our reservations at the casino, since the roads to get there keep being closed due to the fires. Besides we feel safer sticking close to home until the situation improves.

On a more pleasant note....the RED SOX WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The photo here is from Cooks Corner, here in Orange County this morning. They are predicting that the Santa Ana winds will be dying down by this afternoon. Fingers crossed.

If anything it is slightly worse here today then yesterday. The firefighters have a bit more control of the Foothill and Santiago Canyon fires, which are north of us, but the new fires at Camp Pendleton to the south are out of control. We are getting smoke and ash from both depending on how the winds are blowing. The car was covered by dust and ash this morning, plus it was necessary to run the windshield wipers a few times to clear debris.

Top things off with a 4.3 quake early this morning and you wonder about this California living.

Normally, the quake would have been the top story this morning, but with the fires it was barely commented upon. It may have caused some damage to structures already weakened by the fires, but caused no damage on its own.

If I hear one more reporter make the comment that it is a 'miracle' that this or that home or business survived I'm going to scream. Even if you believe in all that why would one million dollar beach front home be worthy of divine intervention and the one next door condemned to ashes? Sorry, bad morning...don't get me started!

Since yesterday we have been getting folks from San Diego coming to the library looking to use our computers to contact family, look for housing and other things. Several mentioned that they were hoping to move into the area as their homes had been damaged beyond repair or destroyed. One guy I talked to lost his job as the place where he worked had burned down, the owner does not plan to rebuild. Could somebody come to our rescue?

Oh, specking of which, we are expecting His Smugness to walk among us tomorrow. He has already called for prayers on our behalf, so I'm not expecting much in the way of federal funds. Still, as a photo op you know that he is going to wait until he is here to sign off on emergency relief, although some folks are unpatriotic enough to question why he has not done so already. Terrorist loving bastards! You can expect more ungratefulness on my part in about 24 hours, when he allows us to look upon him.

Watching TV this morning I saw too often the face of Mr., Michael Chertoff. Again the question arises about why he is still in such a position given all that didn't happen after Katrina? I'm just a bitter guy, you know?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Polar Bears

This is really cute, but with a nice message.

The photo shows a blaze less than ten miles from Ladera Ranch. It's north of us and could technically travel down the arroyo directly behind our complex. Hopefully, we won't have to deal with that and the firefighters can keep things under control. Considering that they are insufficiently equipped and undermanned the men and women out there on the fire lines are doing an amazing job.

As you can imagine the only two things that I have paid attention to the past few days have been the fires and the ALCS. I guess that second event being important to me is kind of sad considering the other things going on in the world.

My primary worry is, of course, that Donna, Kristina and I could very well be packing our bags at almost an hours notice. We do have some emergency supplies already on hand, packed for an earthquake but equally useful should we need to escape the fires. We have some acquaintances who have had to evacuate and we hope that nothing more serious takes place.

To be truthful, thanks to shifting winds the trip in today was not as bad as yesterday. Some exits have been reopened and the Toll roads are available, so traffic was not as congested northbound. I took several photos of the smoke from the fire which is visible from our balcony. Last night you could actually see the glow of the approaching fires over the nearby hills, which was pretty scary. If it is like that tonight after I get home I'm going to take some photos and try to post them.

Finally, I want to thank Joe & Elayne for posting their concern. I also want to thank several family and friends who have called the past couple of days from New York. Donna and I appreciate your concern and we promise to keep you updated should things change for any reason.

Considering that over a thousand buildings have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people have had to evacuate, we are lucky that it appears that only three or four deaths have occurred. One had been reported yesterday and another this morning, but it was just reported that two bodies were discovered near Irvine (between Ladera Ranch and here in Orange where I work). Firefighters discovered the two bodies when called to a brush fire, so it may or may not be related to the other fires we have had to concern ourselves with.

I'm going to end this now and might check in later depending on how events move.

Monday, October 22, 2007

If you have been following the news since yesterday, I don’t have to tell you that things out here are pretty bad. The air is heavy with smoke and some areas of my ride in were almost like driving in twilight due to the fires. I’m fortunate in that the northbound I5 wasn’t affected, except for visibility today. One of the alternate routes I can take (the 241 toll road) actually runs right though one of the larger fires. It has been closed from where I would take it on Oso Parkway up to where I would get off on Chapman Ave. and beyond.

Most of the fires are northeast and south of Ladera Ranch, although the winds are carrying lots of smoke and ash our way. We have seen a lot of birds flying over the arroyo heading in both directions trying to find safer areas. It’s rather sad, but fascinating to see a dozen hawks, herons, etc. flying directly overhead. We are used to seeing the huge flocks of crows each day, but the larger birds are generally flying solo or only in pairs.

We are a little unsure if things are going to get bad for us in LR. We have had fires in the area before, as you may recall, and the amount of equipment and manpower available is stretched pretty thin. Donna actually took some of our valuable papers with her to work, “Just in case.”

Oh, and if Joe is reading this, I agree. “Maybe we should let Malibu burn.”

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ninja Libraian

How can you not LOVE this??

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How could I not add the new DAILY SHOW page to the links over on The Left? Just up today and already full of awesomeness!
The site has an archive of shows going back to '99. Plus lots of other goodies I haven't had a chance to check out yet.

Check out the new item over on the side. Another reason why I'll be voting for Senator Chris Dodd in the California primary early next year. The man is the only Democratic candidate whom I am totally behind at this point. I'm proud to say that I was able to vote for him as my Senator while I lived in Connecticut.
Just in case some of you folks are wondering, the sand storms you may have seen reported out here are way north of Ladera Ranch. On the other hand, we have had a couple of quakes the past week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blaah! My mood mirrors today's weather, overcast and cool. It appears that unless the Red Sox repeat their turn around of the couple of years ago they may be eliminated by Cleveland in the next game. Currently at 3-1, I have to keep my hopes up that Sox pitcher Josh Beckett comes through in Game 5.

Heard some of His Smugness' press conference this morning. Damn that David Gregory for not taking a hint! Also, did G.W. seem to be having a bit more trouble than usual with the English language? He appeared to be slurring his words as well. Of course, maybe it only seemed that way because I was listening to it while Stephanie Miller & the mooks were doing a MST-3K on the whole thing.

By the way, I had some other things planned for both here and Shot's Shack, but Blogger seems to be giving me trouble uploading images. We'll see how things are going later today.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

DIY - How to Make a Zine; Paper, Scissors, Pen - Rockin!

Hey, Elayne! All those years doing I.J. and apa-stuff, who knew it was this easy?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Boy, if I wanted chilly, cloudy and generally gloomy days I could have stayed back East. Hardly, what I signed up for when I moved out to the Left Coast! Still the weekend was mostly nice enough, with some rain which we needed so I shouldn't complain.

The news reports that most of the traffic problems caused by the tragic tunnel fire up north has been cleared up. As of this morning the was no public identification of the three victims who perished. Sadly, one was an infant boy, although I don't mean to slight the two adult males who also lost their lives in the inferno. Over thirty vehicles were involved, mostly commercial vehicles, so it is lucy that more people were not injured or killed. Personally, I'm always nervous driving along side the semis on the I5 each way. Although, truth be told, most of the accidents I've witnessed have been with passenger cars.

Donna and I played Bingo on Saturday at a smaller hall, here in Orange. She didn't feel like traveling up to San Manuel, so we settled on evening bingo. Believe it or not, I actually won the final game of the night, but had to split my winnings with two other folks who also needed "B-2" for the blackout. Still, it paid for our play that day and we've put it aside for our next time out.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I just wanted to experiment with our new Gateway laptop. Excuse any major typos I don't catch since I'm trying to get used to the keyboard.

Donna has been using it for weeks since we bought it, but I haven't so much as turned the sucker on. Figured it was about time to play around and get comfortable. I haven't used a laptop on a regular basis since back at UNH in 2004, where we would use it for classroom instruction. At least we have a mouse now and not that stupid little ball thing!

Wow! Only 41 days and counting to our anniversary cruise. The past few weeks seem to have flown by and the holidays are fast approaching. We are debating whether or not to take the laptop on the cruise, but since it's only three days we probably won't. On the other hand, if we take the Alaskan cruise as we plan next year I definitely will bring this along, just to blog and gloat!

We had only our second significant rainfall on SoCal last night into this morning. Sadly, though we needed it there were several bad accidents due to the weather. Worst involved several big rigs colliding just outside a tunnel north of LA on the I-5 last evening. At least one driver is missing, ten people transported to hospitals and it may be hours before rescue/recovery efforts can be made since the tunnel itself may have suffered structural damage. It could have been much worse but again nobody will know for sure until later today.

Well, I am beginning to feel more comfortable with the computer, so I think I'll play around reading blogs, etc.

Have a good weekend!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cats' Bad Day

Just because they are cats.

A tip of the ball cap to Al Gore for his well-deserved Nobel Prize. It has been widely expected and wished for by a lot of bloggers. At least those of us on the more progressive side of the 'net.

I heard while at lunch that it barely took minutes, following the announcement, for the folks over at Fox and on 'right-wing' sites to denounce not only Gore but the prize itself.

Guess they should urge Henry Kissinger to return his in protest, huh?

I still don't believe that the former VP will throw his hat into the Presidential ring this time out. However, come 2012 we might see him once again hitting the campaign trail. I also think we can expect the next Democratic President (and I have little doubt that we will have one in '09) will find some position for Mr. Gore, if only to keep a close eye on him.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

If you look over to The Left you'll find that I've added three science related sites to the 'skeptical' area. These are all recommended by James Randi and I've found some very interesting topics on all of them. Of course, I'll be the first to admit that Science was not my best subject back in school, although I generally enjoyed it.
Many of the essays on these sites are way above my head and level of understanding, but they all examine some of the myths, preconceptions and misunderstandings the general public has on such matters.

It doesn't hurt to get a 'second opinion' on things before you except anything at face value.

The nicest thing about having two blogs, as well as a MySpace account, is that I can write and promote just about anything that captures my attention. Given that I most certainly suffer from Adult ADD it’s great to be able to write about whatever captures my wondering attention at any given moment. With the new ability to post videos here on Blogger I’m having even more fun as things come to mind, rather it is something current or nostalgic stuff I find over on YouTube.
I have some more websites that I plan on adding to one or the other of my blogs and I may be moving some around. There are a few science/skeptic pages that I plan on adding here and two web comic sites that I’m going to put over on SHOT’S SHACK.

Speaking of that site, I find it cool that when I do a Google “I’m Feeling Lucky” search for Shot’s Shack you go there immediately. With Parting Shots you get a lot of hits and even when you do a Blog search for that title it doesn’t always come up on the first page. So much for trying to be clever!

There have been some news stories (political and otherwise) that have caught my attention, but generally by the time I get a chance to blog about them they are old news. I also wonder if what I have to say is worth posting, since anything I write on politics or social issues I’m probably parroting someone far wiser so why bother? I’m sure that at one time or other I’ve had an original thought, but with the ADD I never remember it long enough to get credit. I want to blame it on enjoying the Sixties & Seventies a bit too much, but honestly I can’t remember if my memory was all that good before all that abuse.

This all comes around to the reason that I post some many links to sites that do discuss different topics. At some point I was interested enough to visit that page, found something I enjoyed or made me think. One of these days I’m going to remember what it was and go back, so the links are often there just so I can find them again. If you use them yourself, so much the better!

One final thing. Am I the only person who goes back at some point and reads what they have posted weeks or months before? I’m pretty funny sometimes, I think!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fall in New England

I do miss living in the East this time of year. This will show you some of my home state in the Fall.

Wish you could smell the burning leaves.

Looks the the Dems are going to cave in, as usual, and give the WH a go-ahead on wiretapping U.S. citizens. Can’t be ‘soft’ on terrorists, can you?

Personally, I think that only people in Washington and the mainstream media think that the American public would believe that the Democratic party are not patriotic when they try to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens. Most folks I know would rather folks in Congress stood up to the administration. That is why most of us voted the way we did last year, isn’t it?

The Daily Show remains one of the best sources of information on television. It’s kind of sad to say that, but it seems to be the case as the regular sources of news are generally too afraid to offend anyone. (Countdown with Keith Olbermann an exception.) Last night Jon Stewart did two great bits on ‘torture’. Is it O-Tay to do it? Sure am!

On a much more pleasant note…The Yankees lose…THHHEEEEEE YANKEEESSSSS LOSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Mmmm…feel much better now, thanks.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Silver Apples---best band

Back in 1968, I heard this on a local radio station (during a show when the played experimental and new music). I went out the next day and bought SILVER APPLES the first album by the duo of the same name.

You can imagine what my friends and family thought as I played this over and over.

UHF Conan The Librarian

I saw this a few years ago and have always wanted to find it again. Enjoy!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Back in December of '03 I posted a draft of a review I had just completed. I did not like the book, but made the mistake of posting an initial draft and not one with several corrections. The review upset the author at the time and I have just received another e-mail from her. She is right in that I thought her writing amateur at best, as I said in my review. However, in the corrected draft I removed an error regarding the book, which she pointed out.

At the time I told the Joe Bob Briggs folks that they could remove the review or insert the correction. Neither was done.

My apologies to JR and I have removed the review from my site.

"Kitty Sandworm" via Dave Kellett over at the SHELDON comics blog.
You have to love the eyes, don't you?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

At this point in time is it even necessary to say what a moron we have sitting in the Oval Office?

The same week that one of his daughters is making the rounds promoting her book on children and health issues, Daddy decides that we don't really need to spend any money on SCHIP.

Hell, he and Lauradidn't need government help to raise the twins. Why can't the rest of America do the same?

How can you go wrong? Jokes about coffee AND Dune!
Once more another reason to make SHELDON part of your morning routine.
I'll still be at work when the Angels/Red Sox game starts in Boston today. Aaaaargh!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I'm on mailing lists for Major League Baseball, as well as both the Red Sox & the New York Mets.
It was amusing, but still sad, to get a letter yesterday from the Mets front office apologizing for their collapse. When the owners of a team are so brutally honest and feel it necessary to make a public apology you know changes are afoot. Still it appears they are going to keep Willie Randolph as manager. Personally, I have always liked Randolph and don't lay total blame on him for the miserable final weeks of the season Fingers crossed for next year.

I thought that with leaving Brooklyn it would be safe to take my Red Sox cap out of storage. However, seeing at the Beantowners are coming to SoCal to face the Angels I'm not sure if driving around with a big red "B" on my head is the smart thing to do. We'll see what happens during the first two games at Fenway.
As for the apparent most important story in America today.... Did you ever think that you might actually find yourself feeling some sympathy for Britney?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Now that the New York Times has dropped the charges for some of the columns, I have added a link to Dick Cavett's blog/column over to The Left.

I've always enjoyed Cavett, since he had his first late night talk show in the late '60-early '70s. He was intelligent, funny and had guests that you'd never see over on Carson (although Johnny was THE best at what he did). Over the years Cavett has remained a light in an industry continually going down a slop to lowest common denominator crap.

It is great to hear what he has to say about current events, past guests and other things in general. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This just in from over on Talking Points Memo:

The Kyl-Lieberman Iran amendment -- which ratchets up the confrontation with Iran by calling for the designation of its armed forces a terrorist organization responsible for killing U.S. troops -- just passed overwhelmingly, 76-22.
Of the Dem Presidential candidates, Hillary voted for the measure, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd opposed it, and Barack Obama missed the vote. On the GOP side, John McCain missed the vote.

Here we go again! Seems like Senator Clinton really wants to prove how strong she is, at least until it looks bad for her in the polls. Call me a Fox talking head, but doesn't she really seem to be flip-flopping all over the place? I mean voting WITH Lieberman on anything should give a real Democrat pause, don't you think? Witness both Biden and My Man Senator Chris Dodd, both of whom decided to take a stand against Slick Joe the Warrior Prince.

Hmm, guess Senators Obama and McCain have better things to do. "I would have voted for/against the amendment, but I was shaking hands in Cleveland that day."

Monday, September 24, 2007

I spent part of last Friday morning getting my car repaired at the Saturn dealer in Santa Ana. It was past due for a check-up and oil change, but they also took care of some other problems they found. I had a brake fluid leak and the engine mount was slipping. What would normally be around a hundred bucks and less then an hour cost me over two hours and close to eight hundred. I have a feeling that next year we may be in the market to replace one of our cars, probably mine since it is the older of the two.

We also had the first heavy rain that we’ve had here in Orange County in almost three months. I was certainly needed, but it sure made a mess of some places. A few mudslides in areas previously hit by fires; also, the beaches were in some places closed due to runoff from the drains. Sadly, some individuals and businesses use the storm drains to dump all sorts of nasty items. I also learned that Californians DO NOT know how to drive in the rain!

Saturday evening, Kristina dropped by for dinner and helped Donna set up her new laptop computer. It will be nice to have both of us online at once, instead of waiting for the other to finish with one thing or the other. Although, to be honest, half the time it’s Donna or me playing online Bingo, mahjong or video slots & poker.

Finally, we are down to 60 days and counting for our next cruise. Hard to believe that we are going to be taking our seventh cruise together to celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary. Man, where has the time gone?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell by John Crawford
Read by Patrick Lawlor

All vets tell ‘sea stories’; at least that’s what we called them when I was in the Navy. I’m sure all the other services have a similar custom, but probably call it something different. They are not lies so much as retellings of events, which did happen, but as we remember them and not exactly as they may have actually occurred. After you’ve told them over and over again they become ‘the truth’ fixed in our memories as if they happened exactly that way. I’m not saying that the stories Crawford writes are not truthful, but we often makes changes to events after the fact. They either make us look better or we use the changes to make us able to accept things we did but may not like.

Crawford was a National Guardsman, who joined to help pay for college. Who would know that after 9/11 his nation would send him off to another country to fight? Weren’t Guardsman simply supposed to help out after natural disasters, and meet a couple weeks each year for training? Unfortunately, Crawford and his unit find themselves marching to Baghdad in the opening weeks of Operation: Iraqi Freedom.

These are not fun stories, although there is some humor to be found. It doesn’t even matter, in the end, how you feel about the war. Whether you favor the current policies, or think we should be removing all our troops tomorrow you’ll be touched by what Crawford has to say. He was there on the ground and saw first-hand how the faces of the Iraqi people turned from smiling to hateful. He took part in events that caused some of this change, but through no fault of his own. I know from personal experience that you never fully understand why you are ordered to do things, nor do you want to all the time. Still self-preservation and self-interest will move you to do as you’re told and think about it later.

As part of the assignment I’ve spoken of before, I picked up this audio book to sample something different. I like ‘war movies’ as much as the next guy, but generally don’t read stories of real war. Although I was a History major and read textbooks on various wars, I don’t make it a habit to read books written by folks who fought in them. Still I’m glad (if such a term fits here) to have listened to this 5-CD unabridged reading of Crawford’s book. I want to recommend it for those interested in such books. You can’t help but be moved by what happened to Crawford, his fellow Guardsmen and the Iraqi people whose lives crossed his. It will also reveal things the mainstream media might not tell and this current adminstration sure as hell doesn’t want you to think about.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

You can tell things are slow here at work, can't you?

Is it just me or should many folks be disgusted that twenty more Senators were upset about the ad than voted for Senator Webb's bill to allow military personnel to stay longer at home?

Also, is the MoveOn ad such a vital issue compared to health insurance, immigration, the war and privacy issues?

Again, there should be little wonder that this Congress has such a low rating in any polls taken. This is another of those moments when I think that anachists might have the right idea.
"President Bush today condemned the recent advertisement that described Army Gen. David H. Petraeus as General "Betray-Us," voicing disappointment that leading Democrats had not denounced it as well." from the AP

"Just shut up!" from me.

I'm going to say something which will offend many folks reading this, as well as civil libertarians everywhere.

I really don't care about the guy who got tasered. I'm sure it wasn't pleasant, but having been shot at and subjected to tear gas, I can truthfully say there are a lot of unpleasant things much worse.

Enjoy your fifteen days of YouTube fame and shut up, Meyer!
You can't believe how many of these things are left behind in the Public computers.

This is today's Sheldon strip and I wanted to share.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The video I posted just below was created for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. It's an non-political work that just pushes for everybody to 'support the troops'.

This is also from their website:

Founded in June 2004, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is the nation's first and largest group dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those Troops and Veterans.

I had tried to explain this in my first two attempts, but for some reason only when I tried with little text did it come through.

You can also find this posted over on the Huffington Post and other sites around the ‘net. You can often see the IAVA Founder and Executive Director, Paul Reickhoff talking about the current situation over there on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. He is one of the ‘good guys.

"I Like a Boy"

THis is my third try with this.

Not trying to be PC at all here.

Arrgh! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day today, so let the parrot out of its cage and put on that eye patch.
Example: "Arrggh! But it be a bad day for the OJ!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Boy, trouble with Blackwater contractors in Iraq. Who saw that coming, huh?

There have been stories about the heavy-handed tactics the company uses for several years, but the mainstream media seems not to have cared much. Now that civilians have been killed (apparently not for the first time) and the Army had to rescue the company's hired gunmen, it appears that even the Iraqi government has had enough. I find it interesting that Blackwater was acting as bodyguards for U.S. officials and nobody seems to be having a problem with that.

I'm not even going to say anything about the O.J. situation, although it would be great seeing him in a slow-speed chase on the I-15 coming back from Vegas. (An injoke for SoCal folks.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hilarious House of Frightenstein Librarian.

Who says Librarians don't have a sense of humor?

A bit early for Halloweeen, but enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The following is from a speech that G.W. gave back in January of this year promoting the 'surge'.

Was this group ever formed? If so, why haven't we heard from them?


"Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration; it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress. We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need for the 21st century. "
Maybe we'll hear from them tonight or tomorrow, so that Senator Leiberman can explain how things are going so well but taking out Iran would make things even better.

Tribulation Force by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins

This is the second book in the “Left Behind” series, which has become almost as popular as Harry Potter. I don’t know that all the folks reading the books buy into all of it, but I’m willing to bet the majority of them feel comfortable identifying with the main characters beliefs. This isn’t so much a book review as a few thoughts about the series and why it may be so successful. I’m putting it here rather than over on SHOT’S SHACK, because I try to keep that place free of controversy.

Those who know me are probably surprised that I picked this particular book, but I did have a good reason. The head librarian here feels that we have all fallen into a rut, at least in the books we read. As part of our ‘reader advisory’ training we all have to choose books (fiction or non-fiction), which we generally would not read.

I started with Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods”, in which Bryson talks about his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail with an old friend. My inspiration there was my former co-worker, Michelle who is succeeding where Bryson failed. As I said in my brief talk about that book I don’t camp and I don’t walk all that much, so I’m fascinated by those who do. Actually, I was pretty active as a kid, often camping or sleeping outside several nights each summer. It wasn’t unusual for a three or four of us to hike or ride our bikes to the nearby forest and spend the day. I’ve also camped out in the California at least three or four times, that I recall, back when I was stationed here in the mid-1970s.

Back when I worked in New York I was frequently asked for books in the “Left Behind” series and its spin-offs. We generally tried to keep multiple copies available. My familiarity with the material came from reviews in the professional literature, as I wasn’t interested in reading the books, nor were any of my friends that I was aware of picking up the series.

According to Biblical prophecy, at some point those who have been ‘born-again’ shall be brought up to Heaven in an event known as The Rapture. There they will join with all the saints who have preceded them and reside in Heaven. After this those who have not been saved shall witness the coming of the Anti-Christ and suffer seven years of war and turmoil, The Tribulation, until Christ returns to reign on Earth for a thousand years. You can find a number of sites on the web that will explain this in sometimes differing detail, but this is as basic an explanation as I can give. Having been raised Roman Catholic I don’t recall this being talked about a lot back in Catechism, but we’re going back forty plus years after all.

The series features four people (an airline pilot, his daughter, a journalist and a minister) who are ‘left behind’ when the Rapture takes members of the families and friends. They come together to try and understand what has happened, only to realize that Biblical prophecy is happening. The books detail how this affects the main characters and the rest of the world, as things progress towards the final confrontation between Christ and anti-Christ.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that while a tad preachy, the books are enjoyable as fiction. If you can accept Harry on his broom, you can certainly go along with some of the mystical/spiritual happenings that take place during the story. The ‘good guys’ are flawed and make mistakes while the character of Nicolae Carpathia is nicely evil and manipulative as the Anti-Christ. The tale is a bit simplistic for my tastes and I felt that there was a bit of Catholic bashing going on. I can certainly see why the book won’t have many Jewish or Muslim readers as neither of those faiths are shown in a favorable light except for those members who realize their error and ‘come to Christ.’

I’m not so much going to recommend the book as I am going to suggest you might want to skim a few chapters just to see what so many folks are reading.

By the way, the books in the series have also been adapted to audio and for a graphic novel series. In fact, we have the first two books in the series (each book is adapted into four graphic novels)) among our Graphic Novel collection here at the library. The audio adaptations are with full-casts, sound effects and music.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Everyone will be using today to make some political point or push their agenda. I think I'm just going to take a moment to remember where I was that day. Also, to be thankful that Kristina and others I knew in the city that day were not injured.

Likewise, I will take a moment to reflect on those that were not so lucky. Their families and friends will always remember this day as well.

Spend time with your loved ones and be grateful for the moments you share with them today.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

TFD Responding

this is the only clip I could find on YouTube which shows my hometown of Taftville. They feature the Taftville Fire Department, which is a volunteer organization.

Norwich, in the previous video, was where I went to high school and where my parents settled after selling the house in Taftville.

Here you actually pass by a factory I used to work in, the store owned by my Uncle George, an apartment I lived in with Betsey and other places that only a few people who read this blog will recognize.

I grew up driving these roads and before that riding my bike down those 'mean streets.'

Memories, dude!

The Mean Kitty Song

A day late for Cat Blogging Day but I found this by accident over on YouTube and absolutely loved it. I had to share!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

First it was Da Arnold and now Fred Thompson. Guess that Leno is where Republican actors announce their intentions.
Personally, I think Thompson peaked a few months ago and he lost support dragging things out. Snubbing the other candidates and the GOP debate certainly won't win him friends in New Hampshire. It's hard to predict what will happen a year from now but I think the GOP convention will be a bit rowdy and not in a good way.

Eight years ago you probably would have gotten even money that G.W. would get the nomination, over John McCain. This year it seems that most Republicans wish they could sit out '08 and come back in 2010 to bash the Democrats to retake Congress.

I'm not going to pick a candidate until just before the Democratic primary here in CA, but I probably could bring myself to vote for just about any of the folks running on the Democratic side. Issue-wise I am probably closer to Dennis Kucinich, but having met and chatted with Chris Dodd a few times (back when I lived in Connecticut and he was my Senator) I would have no problem giving him my support. It remains to be seen how I feel after the New Year.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A trip around Norwich, Connecticut

I'm not endorsing the candidate who posted this, but since it shows my hometown I wanted to share it.

The scary thing is that many of these places haven't changed much since I last lived there in 1980.

Along with the usual stuff for Viagra, "You have won", and "you have a e-card from ..." crap filling my Bulk folder on Yahoo I have found that I have been getting other things recently. The most disturbing part is that they appear to have been sent by friends or in mailing lists to which I belong.
These new things are supposedly for 'social networking' sites which the sender thinks I may be interested in joining.
I'm not going to mention the sites, since they may be legit and the spam is being sent out by somebody without permission. I'm certainly NOT going to click on the link given in the e-mail or go to the site given, just in case. Still it is annoying to have to go through these, since some are not being stopped, especially those sent by addresses I have cleared.

This is why I have an account that only my family and a few friends know about.

Let us be careful out there!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

What's with this earthquake stuff today? About a half hour ride from here, up towards Lake Elsenore there was a quake measuring 4.7. We all sure felt it here in Ladera Ranch!

Since the first one at about 10:30am PDT, there have been about a dozen after-shocks of decreasing magnitude.
On a more pleasant note, Donna and I drove up to San Manual Casino with Kristina & Marisa for nice day of Bingo. Unfortunately, none of us won anything but we had fun and ended the day with a nice Italian dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.
Today, the girls are off to visit Kristina's dad in San Diego, while Donna and I are heading out to the pool later. Naturally, we will end the evening watching Jerry Lewis doing his annual thing for "his kids".
Hope everybody has a safe & relaxing Labor Day Weekend! I'll try to check in when I can.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Who owns you Americans?

This video by George Carlin pretty much explains why things will not change in this country.

It's Carlin, so if you are offended by the "Seven Dirty Words" don't watch.

Hello! I hope I haven't confused anybody by changing things around.

For a few months I've been thinking about doing something like this and finally decided to give this background theme a chance. Please let me know if you like it or want me to try something different.

Also, if you check down at the bottom you'll see a 'live headline feed' has been added. This may or may not remain so give me some input on that as well.

By the way, really love the way Shot's Shack looks, as it already has a kind of 'western' feel to the theme. Unless I really something striking don't expect to see many changes over there.
I do hope you've tried the link to TWISTED KAIJU THEATER at the bottom of SS. I'm still working my way through twenty + seasons of material over there. Reminder again that some of the stuff might be PG13 so don't say you haven't been warned.

Okay, I know I'm going to catch flack for posting this, but I had to.

First off, as a man I was offended (but I did snicker a bit) after reading it. This was sent to me by an online cigar dealer that I'm not going to name. I think it demonstrates the fact that these dealers assume that their customers share their somewhat chauvinistic viewpoint, although there are women who do smoke cigars and I suppose frequent this site.
A cigar is much like a good woman. If you take the time to prepare her properly, pack her gently, light her off evenly and enjoy her in a leisurely manner, she will bring you many moments of pleasure. However, if you pack her before she's willing, light her off before she's ready, and rush her through the experience, she will get mean, nasty and develop a serious bite. In addition, if you put her down or ignore her for any length of time, she'll go out on you! (Sign posted in a South Florida tobacco shop)