Saturday, June 14, 2003

One of the busier days of my life has just concluded, and I'm sorry I missed posting this morning. I had to go out to a customer's house and enter in a bid for a very large job. All told, it would be about $5,000, but he decided to "sleep on it", and told me that he would get back to me on Monday or Tuesday. I can hope, but it would take several stages, and several visits. With the move coming up, we're trying to plan for a garage/moving sale next Saturday, with anything not sold to be given to a local charity. I've been thinking of giving it to the local Hospice chapter, but my wife thinks well of the local Goodwill. Six of one, half a dozen of the other...

Anyhow, I'm just a bit miffed, because the French Defense Minister has decided to chastise Don Rumsfeld over the decisions of the American people. Y'see, the French government is trying to smooth over the rifts between the US and France over the clashes regarding Iraq. It came to a boil when the French Air Show (normally one of Europe's finest) fell flat on its Gallic face because no American companies participated. Normally, crowds thrill to the sights and sounds of American-made jets performing precision aerobatics, but (as the aricle points out) "European and American planemakers traditionally battle for airline orders at the Le Bourget air show outside Paris, but top executives from firms like Boeing and Lockheed Martin have all decided not to attend this year."

When added to the sudden loss of American dollars (adding up to several billion over the year, according to some projections), the loss in airplane orders, and the strikes by French labor unions over increasing unemployment, the French economy would be lucky to last for very much longer.

I guess Chiraq is learning what happens when the American public decides to stand up and say, "arrĂȘter! (Stop!)" I'm too busy giggling.

In other news, my mother-in-law will be turning 81 a week from Monday. I'm trying to rack my brain to come up with something nice to give her for a birthday present. I did the "When you were born" thing for her 75th (not to mention a weekend trip up to San Francisco, driving across the Golden Gate, and down Lombard Street. We also visited Pier 39, and had a wonderful weekend.

It's probably going to be something small and personal, but I'm soliciting suggestions.

Anyhow, today is was Flag Day, and tomorrow is Father's Day. Since my father died 10 years ago next month, I would ask that you give your own fathers a hug in my place (if it is at all possible for you to do so). Have a great weekend, and I'll be back tommorow morning, before I get back to packing stuff up.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Howdy, y'all. I'm a little under the weather this morning, so forgive the briefness of this entry. I've been busting my ass trying to get stuff taken care of with the upcoming move, and the new domain started (even though I haven't actually heard back from the hosting company yet). I also have to renew my auto insurance, update the auto registration for the year, get the brakes worked on, find some boxes for my books, get a prescription filled (my pain pills), etc., etc.

So, I hope you will be patient for a while longer, since this will probably be the last Friday I post using Clog*Spot. It's almost appropriate that it's Friday the 13th, huh? (For those of you who were wondering, there is a long pseudo-Greek term for "fear of Friday the 13th" - "Paraskavedekatriaphobia". Now your lives are complete...) Have a lucky day!

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Good morning, one and all. This is the third time I have tried to get in this morning's entry, and I hope that "the third time's the charm", as the old saying goes. Of course there is always the contradictory saying that "bad things always happen in threes". Have you ever noticed how all the major proverbs have another major proverb that contradicts it?

"He who hesitates is lost" vs. "Look before you leap"
"Many hands make light work" vs. "Too many cooks spoil the broth"
etc., etc.

Anyhow, I wanted to briefly mention the recall efforts surrounding "Shades of" Gray Davis. It turns out that his main opponent will most likely be Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is socially a liberal, but fiscally a conservative, which is what the state of California needs right now. Plus his wife, Maria Shriver, who is the niece of President John F. Kennedy and the daughter of Sargent Shriver (the founder of the Peace Corps and a former Ambassador to France), might provide enough of a shield against Democratic attacks (which have already started, by the way) to get him elected.

We shall see. In other election news, your humble host has been informed that I will be serving as a Precinct Inspector in the upcoming election on November 4th. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, that means that I will be running the polling place, and I will have 3-4 "Judges" working for me. More money, but more responsibility, too.

In sad news this morning, I am sorry to report that esteemed veteran news anchor David Brinkley has passed away. He was 82. He set the standards for TV news anchors, and he will be missed. May his family be comforted in their time of mourning.

(UPDATE: I also note with extreme sorrow the passing of screen legend Gregory Peck. He passed away in his sleep earlier today. He was 87. His legend will live on. May the family of Mr. Peck also receive comfort during this time.)

And finally, I have just about had it with all the claims from the rabidly ranting rats on the Loony Left whinging about the lack of WMD in Iraq. After all, Saddam hasn't been found either, and so, by their logic, he must not have existed either, eh? A few of the most seethingly anti-Bush screechers have even called for Articles of Impeachment to be filed against Bush for "lying" to Congress (even though they can provide no evidence to back up their claims) and for leading us into an "illegal" war. I agree. Let's prosecute all of the people who claimed that Iraq had WMD. Every single one of them, but since Bush wasn't the only one, let's start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we? The full list can be found here.

I've got an important meeting in about half an hour, so I'm going to run now. Hope you have a good day. Oh, and for those of you who wished the missus pleasant birthday wishes yesterday, she sends her thanks. (You know who you are.) We rented the new Harry Potter movie last night, and she enjoyed it so much she wants to watch it again tonight. See you later!

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Good Morning, everybody! Today is my wife's birthday, so if you want to try to talk your boss into giving you the day off in celebration, feel free. (It's not likely you'll succeed, of course, but it doesn't hurt to ask, right?) I'm still trying to get her to decide what she wants for dinner. So far, all she has said is that she wants "breakfast for dinner". (We do that occasionally - eggs, sausage, biscuits, home-made gravy, orange juice, the works.) (Don't look at me in that tone of voice...)

It's an easy clean-up, and only about 15-20 minutes of cooking, plus a few extra minutes for the gravy, but I'm going to have to do a little shopping, because we're out of milk and juice. No matter, she's worth it.

In other news, I see that Hans Blix has decided to lash out at the Pentagon and the White House for allegedly running "a smear campaign". I guess that would be like Clinton complaining about a smear campaign for mentioning Monica Lewinsky. Blix had all the resources of the Untied Nations (again, that was NOT a typo...) but repeatedly said that he was more worried about global warming than Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). I guess if I were the UN's Chief Inspector for enforcing the ban against WMD in a country with more than a decade of sanctions, while that country has been caught (and has admitted to having been) in possession of those very same weapons, and other weapons programs that were also in violation of more than a dozen Security Council Resolutions, I would want to admit to the world press that I didn't care about doing my job, too. After all, Global Warming is going to be stopped by the entire world going back to the peace-loving days of the (Pre-Industrial Revolution) Agrarian Society, when we all traded with barter ("I'll give you two bushels of corn and a goat for your dairy cow."). Never mind that even the proponents of the Kyoto Treaty (who vilify President Bush for refusing to sign, despite the fact that the Senate has stated in a 98-0 vote that they would refuse to ratify it) admit that the best they could hope for is only a slight delay in the effects of global warming, which is affected more by the sun than by anything man has done or could do.

Anyhow, "Ignorance Is" Blix has complained that low-level Administration officials were trying to ruin his reputation, as well as that of the UN. I guess that is why he finished up with saying, "It's true that the Iraqis misbehaved and had no credibility, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they were in the wrong." Of course not, Hans. They were simply doing everything they could to violate international law, lie about it, bribe your own officials, and everything else they could do (including the occasional murder) to cover up their activities, but there's nothing wrong with that, right, Blix-ie? Your fifteen minutes are up, Hans. You can go now.

In a follow-up from earlier this week, Tim Russert of MSNBC said on this morning's "Today Show" that Shrillary has ruled out a 2004 bid, but has already set the wheels in motion for an '08 run at the White House. Either her statement from Sunday night's interview hasn't percolated through Tim's hairpiece yet, or she was (gasp!) lying to us. Again. Because she had claimed Sunday evening that she wasn't planning on running in '08.

A third possibility has occurred to me. She may have changed her mind in the last 48 hours and only told Tim Russert (or, more accurately, one of her people told one of the people who work for MSNBC who do the grunt work). It wouldn't be the first time she has changed her story mind. It's also kind of late in the game to run in the '04 election, especially with the 9 candidates already muddying up the waters, and an extraordinarily popular President who has won not one, but two wars, and is bringing the economy back out of the doldrums. She is very aware that History is heavily tilted against people who have made an unsuccessful bid for the Presidency ever coming back and winning a later election. There has only been one in recent history (who lost an election only to come back and win), and I'm sure that she really doesn't want to have the inevitable parallels drawn between herself and this person. (Maybe you remember him? Richard Milhouse Nixon - he was Eisenhower's VP from 1952-1960, lost to Kennedy in 1960, and came back to win the 1968 election against Hubert Humphrey.)

Anyhow, that's neither here nor there, since Hillary feels she is above the rules, she's going to do what she feels would advance her own power base, and her constituents be damned. Just ask the citizens of Arkansas.

I hope you have a great day. I need to run to the store and pick up some stuff for tonight.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Good morning, and how are you today? (Don't bother answering, it was a rhetorical question, since I know I won't hear any reply.) It's a TUesday, so that means it's time for this week's episode of "This-or-That Tuesday". It's about "TV shows and Movies", so let's get started, shall we?

1. "The Munsters" or "The Addams Family"? If I had to pick, I'd say 'The Addams Family'. I loved Cousin Itt.
2. "The Sopranos" or the "Godfather" movies? You'd never see the Godfather going to therapy for panic attacks...
3. "The Jetsons" or "Lost in Space"? The Jetsons. I want a car that can fold up into a briefcase, too. And what's the point of having a robot that can recognize danger, but then can't do anything about it? (Except spin in circles, flailing its arms...)
4. "Superman" or "Batman" (either the TV shows or the movies)? Batman manages to fight crime as effectively as Superman, but doesn't have any superpowers to help him. That's pretty impressive.
5. "Sex & The City" or "Friends"? Friends. The ladies from S&TC are obsessed about nothing but sex & nudity, and hearing Sarah Jessica Parker scream just sets my teeth on edge.
6. "The Wizard of Oz" or the "Harry Potter" movies? I'd be too tempted to punch the Cowardly Lion, but I wouldn't mind having a flying broom.
7. "The Simpsons" or "King of the Hill"? The Simpsons, although I'm beginning to wonder how long the crest can last.
8. "Grease" or "Saturday Night Fever"? Grease. My wife just LOVES the way John Travolta can dance, by the way.
9. Old prime-time soaps: "Dallas" or "Dynasty"? Neither. I don't watch soap operas. I never understood how some characters could leave for a Halloween party, run into some trouble along the way, and because of the way the storyline played out, they arrive just in time to open their Christmas presents. There's just the feeblest stab at continuity.
10. Not very thought-provoking this week...do you prefer TV shows or movies? TV shows, because there is more of a variety, and more chance to develop the characters.

That's it for the game, and I just wanted to mention the booking of Martha Stewart. She tried to sneak into New York's FBI office for her fingerprinting and mugshots, but se got taped and photographed coming back out. We'll see how much time she will end up serving. Like Richard Nixon could have told her, "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up.".

Have a great day!

Monday, June 09, 2003

I'm fighting with my computer again this morning, and (so far) I'm managing to keep up a holding action. I need to pick up a CD-ROM cleaner set, because a few of the CDs I've burned (for strictly archival purposes) are not being read properly for some reason. Only part of the data I put onto the discs is now legible, and since I know that they haven't gotten scratched, the only other option is that the drive needs cleaning. Living out on the fringes of the Southern California desert as we do means that dust settles everywhere. Including inside the computer. I have to clean it out on a regular basis, but I haven't gotten inside the CD drive yet. I am also going to need to pick up a new keyboard and mouse, since they have put up with a lot of respective clicks. Fortunately, I can find good replacements for low prices. About $30 ought to handle both easily, and if I shop around a bit, I can find even better deals (I remember one time when I bought a new mouse for $10, and got a $10 rebate coupon, so, in effect, the mouse was free, except for the 78 cents in sales tax.)

I'm almost through with the second Harry Potter book, and it's plain that the books were written with "young adults" in mind. It's still an interesting read to see how they differ from the screen adaptation, and it's always interesting to see which parts the director/producer/screenwriters decide to cut. Kind of like reverse-engineering a movie. I know a smidge about the Special Effects (SFX) in a movie, and the first time through a movie I usually get taken by surprise by the effects, but the second and third times through, I usually watch it to see how the effects were done, whether it was through computer graphics, or stunt doubles, or some other means. I'm ocasionally wrong, but I don't watch to destroy the illusion, I watch to learn a bit about the thought processes that went into creating the illusion in the first place.

One of the most intriguing movies I have seen in a long time (from a technical standpoint) was one released a few years back called Timecode, which shows the movie in quadrants. The screen is split up into four sections, with each segment focusing on one particular storyline, but the cool part is the improvisation between the characters and the fact that all four parts are shown in one long unbroken take, from start to finish. They occasionally interact, and the spoken dialogue is emphasized from one quadrant, then the next, as the story progresses, even though you can still (barely) hear the conversations from other quadrants. They shot the film in 15 long unbroken takes, over a period of about two weeks, and then spliced it together. If you want to watch a cool film, rent it sometime.

I also hear that Shrillary has decided that she really isn't going to run in '08. I think its because people are realizing just how much of a liar she really is. Bill O'Reilly pointed out one of the most obvious when she claimed that BJ woke her up one morning and told her that there were "some irregularities" in his "relationship" with Monica Lewinsky. Shrillary states that this "revelation" took her totally by surprise, but O'Reilly pointed out that the Lewinsky story had made the front page of the NYTimes the day before, and it seems so unlikely that she would be surprised by this (after her infamous "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" allegations) the morning after, that she was either 1) admitting to deliberately sticking her head in the sand over a political fiasco inside her own family, or 2) surrounded by a staff so incompetant that her own management skills are called into question, or 3) ignoring one of the nation's largest news organization's headline stories (one that had been bubbling for several months).

I suspect that it is an attempt to clear the decks for Chelsea. BJ is utterly tainted by the scandals and failures of his Administration and Shrillary has been splashed so thoroughly, she'll never get clean again. Just like Teddy Kennedy can hold onto a Senate seat despite his own personal scandals, Shrillary can desparately cling to her seat, hoping for enough people to forget about Billy Jeff to allow her a shot in 2012 or 2016. However, just like Chappaquiddick has killed any chance that Teddy has at the White House, Whitewater (and the questions around Vince Foster's death and Travelgate and the Hasidic Jewish vote-buying scandal in New York and the Marc Rich pardon (that "just happened" to coincide with a multi-million dollar "donation" to the Clinton Presidential Library and Hillary's election campaign by Marc's wife Denise) and that it has been alleged that she wrote not a single word of her own book, et al.) will forever kill any chance that she has at occupying the Oval Office on her own dime, so to speak.

An amusing story that recently developed was that there are some Democrats who are so hepped on Bill's reputation that they are looking for ways to amend the 22nd Amendment, so that while Presidents are limited to two consecutive terms, they can wait a term and then run again. After looking at the field of nine the Dems have gathered to represent them, I'm not surprised that they would look to BJ as the best they have to offer. However, since he has already done as much as he can legally do, they need to amend the Constitution to allow him to even run for dogcatcher. It'll never happen. That's why I think that Shrillary is stepping aside, to allow Chelsea (who has maintained a VERY low profile for the past decade) to start by running for some safe Congressional district, and then the Senate when she hits the right age (30, according to Article I, Section 3, Paragraph 3). That should happen in 2010 (February 27th, if it matters).

We shall see.

Anyhow, I hope you're having a good day. The weather here is fairly cloudy, although I expect it to burn off later on.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

I've been trying to get into Blogger this morning, and I've not been able to until now, so that's it. Thanks to the kick in the pants from John Q. Public (who sent in the MovableType entry for the Carnival last Wednesday) and the utter generosity of Dean Esmay, I will be switching to Verve hosting within the next week to ten days. The delay is not due to their hesitancy, or even my own, but of circumstances beyond all our control. It is going to take a few days for snail mail to catch up, at which point I will make one last post, and send out e-mails to any and everyone who wishes to be notified. If you wish to be notified of the move, just drop me an e-mail (as soon as possible, because the clock is ticking now), and I'll be sure to let you know the instant the move has been completed.

I'm also going to be looking for ways to switch the archives over, but at this point, if it can't be done due to ClogSpot's incompetance programming quirks, then I won't worry about it. I will just do a cut-n-paste a little at a time. Be patient, neighbors, the process has begun, and it just depends on how quickly mail can cross this great land of ours. Well, most of it, anyway.

I know I'm probably going to receive large amounts of ridicule for admitting this, but I went out yesterday and bought the first three Harry Potter books. IMHO, the first movie (HP & the Sorceror's Stone) was better than the book (which I just finished this morning). I was just curious about the hubbub, and wanted to see if the books lived up to the hype. The jury's still out...

I had gone out several weeks ago to buy the boxed set of the four books of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (yes, I said 'the four books of the trilogy' - go look it up) and those movies are surprisingly accurate adaptations, with only minor changes so far. I drove my wife crazy since I managed to get through all four books in a very studious weekend. (Yes, I read very quickly. That ability comes after LOTS of practice.)

Anyhow, I'm just starting the second Harry Potter book (HP & the Chamber of Secrets), and expect to have it finished by this evening. I'm not going to publish any spoilers of any of the books or any of the upcoming movies, so you can look elsewhere for those if you happen to pop up from a Google search for the young hero of the series.

The weather has turned fairly humid for the region and time of year, and I'm tempted to go down to the local park and watch the seniors (senior citizens, since there are a LOT of them in this area) play some softball. maybe there will be enough of a breeze to make it worth the trip. I need to go pick up some blank CD (for data storage) and cases, and some other stuff. It's a good day to hit up the local 31 Flavors for a triple dip bowl of ice cream.

My wife's birthday (as well as one of the step-daughters) is coming up this week, so I've got to start planning for her birthday dinner, and decide whether I want to bake her cake myself, or just go to the local bakery and let them try not to screw it up. And don't forget to pray (or just think good thoughts, if you wish) about my upcoming VA hearing. It's coming closer and closer. I really want to win this one. (I also want to punch that jerk right in the nose, but I'd better restrain myself, because since he's a government employee, I'd likely be arrested as a terrorist or something equally inane.)

Have a great day!