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. :-(