Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Holiday for the Rest of Us

I was going to do a real Festivus post today, but for a few reasons, just couldn't. Maybe next year.

At least I decorated, tho.

I couldn't come up with anything for the Feats of Strength. A friend suggested that he'd bench press me--but I know he's not that strong. I couldn't come up with anything comparable.

As far as the Airing of Grievances goes...well, that one was going to be easy. I have more than enough entries, but why engage in all the bitterness? So then I was going to come up with a joking-around list (targeting such foes as Robert B. Parker's editors, who have apparently traded in their red pens for a rubber stamp), but I got to busy running around today, and ran out of energy. Besides, I'm snarky enough as it is, why make the effort to be extra snarky?

So, I'll just name a couple of Festivus miracles, and/or near miracles.
  • Brian Cashman gets Mark Teixeira
  • The Boise State Broncos lost the Poinsettia Bowl--so only another week of 24/7 coverage of the team/game from the local media before they get back to the news.
  • I took my van into the mechanic yesterday and he fixed w/o charging me a cent.
  • Samwise and I successfully made some ginger cookies from scratch on our first try.
  • I passed up a chance to be extra snarky.
  • Super-HeroHype.com posted this great fanmade live-action Thundercats trailer.
Happy Festivus, everyone! (or if you celebrate one of the other holidays going on this week, hope you have a good one)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Past the Slippery Slope

It's too large to embed on my template, so trust me, you want to follow this link to yesterday's Day by Day comic commenting on Pelosi's Congress, the current financial crisis, and a creepy historical parallel.

Now, this idea isn't original with Muir's comic, but he's able to express it in a much more pithy manner than most.

Too Scared to Sleep?

I often will joke about sleep being my enemy given the hours I work, etc. I've actually never been a big sleeper, my mother (who remembers my childhood far more clearly than I do) assures me. But the truth of the matter is, sleep is a mortal enemy of mine, and it's gonna win one day.

In early 2000, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea--one of my college roommates said, "Duhhhh, I could've told you that years ago." Not that he bothered, true friend that he is. The diagnosis was made while looking for something else, I didn't realize I had trouble sleeping (I had solid witnesses testifying to the snoring, though), so I didn't quite buy everyone's assurances (and there were several) that I "was going to start feeling a whole lot better right away" after starting use of the CPAP.

I didn't.

In fact, I'd usually wake up after a few hours with an irresistible urge to rip the thing off my face because I felt like I wasn't getting enough air. Occasionally, I'd be able to talk my way past the urge and get back to sleep with the headgear on, I talked to my doctor about it, he laughed good-naturedly about it and assured me I'd get over it.

I didn't.

Didn't take too long before I stopped using it entirely. I'd have occasional bursts of use--run into the same problems and stop. Then I'd get some other health scare--or try to live a healthier lifestyle (the two did not always coincide) and I'd give it another go.

It's getting worse, I know--and last summer I got a new machine (my old one was so obselete I couldn't get accessories for it), and a new style of facemask--thinking the old style (of which I had a few variations) might be a huge part of my problem. Tried it for a few days, and it was nicer and then fell back into old habits--which, if nothing else, are far easier--because it wasn't nicer enough (and rubbed my septum raw, which is nastier than it sounds).

But the last few weeks, any time I sleep more than 3-4 hours, I wake up at least once in a panic. Chest pains, congested throat, mouth drier than the moon, etc. Now I feel as bad as everyone wanted me to back in 2000. A week or so ago, I tried it for a night--maybe made it 2 hours (since it was a work night, that's 50% of my sleep time, so not bad).

Yesterday, a friend told me about her new BiPAP and how wonderful it was, which got me very jealous--why couldn't I have the same reaction? I meant to use it last night, but didn't--and paid for it. Woke up twice--chest pains, congested and scared. So tonight I got it ready early--there was just no way I was going to skip it again.

And then I fell asleep on the couch a couple hours before I planned to go to bed. Oops. Woke a couple hours later, and marched right into the bedroom to get it going. But it didn't sound right--like the motor wasn't quite up to the job--and when the motor is the thing pushing air into your lungs, you kinda want that to work. And then I couldn't get the headgear to fit right...so I had a mini-panic attack and find myself here, typing it all up in a surely vain attempt to stay awake.

It probably won't defeat me tonight, but you never know, it's going to one day.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Food for Thought

Carl Trueman and R. Scott Clark offer some thoughts on the whole controversy about Rick Warren praying at the upcoming presidential inauguration.

Trueman comments briefly Warren and then goes on to offer some good insight on how The Church & Christians ought to react to the culture's welcoming attitude to homosexuality.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

All She Wanth for Chrithmath Ith Her Two Front Teeth

(you know I've been waiting for thhhhree kidth now to get the chanthe to thay thhhat.)

Not that I'd had my doubts, but...

George W. Bush is constantly being referred to in the media and by liberals as an arch-conservative. Which is just laughable to actual conservatives since he started lurching left the instant he was sworn in--snuggling up to Teddy Kennedy right out of the gates to get No Child Left Behind passed, etc.

But since people insist in this belief, it's good to read things like David Harsanyi asking, "Does anyone still believe George Bush is a conservative?"

Moderation in all things

Especially in comments here.

Getting spammed a lot lately, thankfully that seems to come in spurts. Moderating comments for awhile.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Saved Me Some Typing

but he did steal today's post...

My pal, Micah, wrote a nice little post on that lady in Florida complaining to the press that her sin will be exposed by her church.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Lost my Jeopardy (Baby)

I didn't get to watch Jeopardy! tonight. And I won't get to watch it tomorrow. And my DVR won't be able to watch Numb3rs for me tomorrow...or The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother on Monday.

Thankfully, it's more difficult now to catch The Mentalist or Eleventh Hour.

The owner of the local CBS affiliate and my satellite provider are in a bit of a tiff--and in the midst of it, their contract expired. So as of 12:01 this morning, I can't watch CBS.

The he said/she said accusations are flying thick. CBS affiliate says: they charge for our broadcasts, we want a cut. Satellite provider says: they've jacked their rates 80%. Blah blah blah

I don't blame the local guys for wanting their share--makes sense (tho' I do wonder how their advertisers feel about their audience shrinking so quickly). And I certainly understand not wanting to kow-tow to an 80% increase, and I'd balk at it.

Not sure who's going to blink first, but I gotta say, this is not the right time to do this. TV is having a hard enough time hanging onto its audience at all. And it's so easy to get CBS programming (legitimately or not) that in this day and age this game of chicken is gonna have no real winner, but two clear losers.

Public Service Announcement

The Season 2 premier of Flight of the Conchords, HBO's series chronicalling the lives of New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo is temporarily up on Funny or Die.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Sign

They're remaking The Crow

Stephen Norrington has signed on to write and direct a reinvention of "The Crow," based on the comic created by James O’Barr.


"Whereas Proyas’ original was gloriously gothic and stylized, the new movie will be realistic, hard-edged and mysterious, almost documentary-style," Norrington told Daily Variety.
There are just so many reactions I have to this:
  • for one, they'll never be able to cast someone as cool, yet clearly evil, as Michael Wincott--"Quick impression for you: Caw! Caw! Bang! F***, I'm dead!" (and no way can they replace Ernie Hudson, either)
  • isn't this too dang soon?
  • "realistic"? "documentary style"? Aren't those other ways of just saying they'll use a shaky camera like Blair Witch or Cloverfield? Or is it just going to last for 3 weeks like a Ken Burns project?
  • isn't this too dang soon?
  • Not only was Lee great as Eric Draven, but the circumstances around his death and the making of the film added a certain aura to the whole thing that you just can't duplicate for the remake (unless Norrington has a capital crime in mind)
  • But honestly, the thing I keep thinking is this: they're remaking a movie made when I was in college. COLLEGE. There's no way around it now, popular culture has declared me old.


Finally, I've seen Spaced. It's been on my Netflix queue for ages--before the July '08 release--and at long last TPTB there decided I was worthy to gaze upon the DVDs.

I am so thankful I did. It really doesn't matter that the show's almost 10 years old, it's still funny--frequently laugh out loud while watching it by yourself funny. The premise is that two friends, Tim and Daisy, pose as a married couple in order to be able to rent a flat, which they both really need (this point is rarely revisited after episode 1). The two friends interact with the owner of the building and the other tenant, and two friends from outside the building, and well, that's basically it.

They hang out, talk, go to the pub, occasionally do sit-com-y things, even more occasionally work, and hang out some more.

That's it, that's the whole show.

Oh, they eventually get a dog. Forgot that bit.

Now, I realize that doesn't sound like much of a show, much less one to make an effort to watch, but it is.

What sets Spaced apart from the rest? Why does that set up turn into something that holds up so well both across time and the Atlantic? Here's my top 3 ideas:

  1. Visual Style--there is a very discernable style to the way the show is shot, lit. There aren't a lot of sit-coms that focus on those kind of things (percentage-wise, there aren't a lot of shows period that focus on it)
  2. Their embracing of Pop-Culture. Each episode is replete with pop-culture references. Not the way that Family Guy will interrupt their story (all 7 minutes of it per episode) to make a joke; nor the way that there was a Superman in each Seinfeld episode if you just look for it hard enough. It's in the way the characters talk, the way they think.

    When they're thinking traitor, they don't think of Benedict Arnold or even Judas first, they think "Lando." When they're searching for a quick way to describe someone, it's "She's shallow, Brian. She's like Cordelia out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and latterly Angel, the spin off series which is set in LA." Which is honestly, the way a certain age bracket thinks and talks--and not the way sit com characters talked before the nineties.

    Which is one of the reasons it translates so well for American audiences. It doesn't matter if you say aerial or antenna, aluminium or aluminum, you know the pain Tim was feeling thanks to The Phantom Menace--even 18 months later.
  3. I think the core of it is the characters and the way they interact with each other. These aren't the most appealing people, and on the whole aren't nearly realistic, but they do talk to /react to each other in a very real way.

    There's not one character you can count on for the goofy antic, clever line of dialogue--no Chandler Bing, Barney Stinson, or Jeff Murdock. Most of the lines of dialouge aren't that quotable out of context (tho' there are the exceptions--
    Duane: You Know what they say about love and war.
    Tim: Yeah, one of them involves a large amount of physical and psychological pain and the other's war. )
    There something very relatable in the way that Tim talks to Daisy or his landlady. It's easy to see yourself sitting on the couch next to them, at another seat at the kitchen table as they talk about whatever. It feels like friends (who might as well be each other's family) talking about whatever friends talking about. Very comfortable, relaxing, and fun.

Not only do you get 6 hours of a great TV show, the US release DVD set contains a bunch of commentary tracks, including some by notable US fans of the show--like Diablo Cody, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino. Listening to them is an education in itself (and almost as fun as the show).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Well, at Least I Know it Isn't Her

If I'd actually posted something yesterday, it would've gone something like this...

If there's one thing USA Network knows how to do it's run syndicated TV into the ground. (and to be fair, they can do 2 things--they can also create great mystery-ish Comedy-Drama shows with quirky leads) I remember when I was in college, with very little effort I could watch 4-5 hours a day of Wings and still make all of my classes. They're currently working their special magic with House and Law & Order: SVU.

The other night, I caught the last half of House's pilot episode, "Everybody Lies." The patient of the week (Rebecca Adler) was played by Robin Tunney--who I didn't think I'd seen before she showed up on The Mentalist this year. That alone was kind of a surprise, because I'd seen this episode a few times. But what really shocked me was that by the end of the first scene with her, I'd noticed soemthing: she can act.

Now, if you've never seen Tunney play anything other than CBI Agent Lisbon, you might want to debate me on that point, but I assure you, she can. I paid more attention to her for the rest of the episode than the patient normally deserves. Not only did she show genuine emotion, she held her own with Hugh Laurie just fine. Which took care of my theory that it's Simon Baker outshining her.

If you've caught more than one commercial break on CBS this fall, you know that The Mentalist is this year's highest rated new show (which is roughly equivalent to bragging about being the highest paid McDonald's trainee). So you'd expect it to have a couple of well-rounded characters in the batch, some interesting people to watch. Nope. It doesn't. Just one--Patrick Jane, the former TV psychic/huckster.

But given my new Tunney insight, I know there's at least two people on the cast who are capable of doing more than reciting lines and smiling/frowning on cue (generally frowning for this ensemble)--making it entirely possible that the whole cast is capable. So why is it that everyone but Jane look like they could be played by cardboard standees? If it's not the actors, it has to be the writers/directors/producers. But why oh why would they want something like that? I guess it could be an ego thing with Baker--but he's shone while working alongside other really good actors. So I'm stumped, anyone have a theory?

While I'm thinking of it, this episode also contained one of those bits of dialogue that sealed the deal for me. When Laurie gave this mini-speech, I knew I was with House for the long-haul. (Note: the writers' Thirteen obsession this season has made me question this decision)

Rebecca Adler: I just want to die with a little dignity.
Dr. Gregory House: There's no such thing! Our bodies break down, sometimes when we're 90, sometimes before we're even born, but it always happens and there's never any dignity in it! I don't care if you can walk, see, wipe your own ass... it's always ugly, always! You can live with dignity; you can't die with it!

Cal Ripkin I'm clearly not

my 43-day consecutive post streak was broken yesterday--and I don't even have an interesting reason for it.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leave the Seat Up

from LiveScience:

One of the longest-running spousal debates may now be settled in favor of men and for the sake of little boys.

Leave the toilet seat up, some British doctors now say. The reason: a rising trend for heavy wooden and ornamental toilet seats to fall down onto the penises of unsuspecting (and just potty-trained) toddlers.

Dr. Joe Philip and his colleagues of Leighton Hospital, Crewe, in England detail such penis-crush injuries in the December issue of the journal BJU International. The team reports on four boys between the ages of 2 and 4 who were admitted to hospitals with injuries serious enough to require an overnight stay.
An overnight stay? Yeee-owww!

Now, it should be noted that the lead there is misleading (no pun intended), it's only a temporary victory for men--once the kids aren't toddlers and have figured out the whole "putting the seat down without getting anything in the way" routine down, then there's no backing from medical science.

One small battle won, but there's still a war to fight, men.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

This is by no means the best written book I've read this year--which is a shame, because Carrie Fisher is a skillful writer. It is, however, probably the funniest thing I've read since I Love You, Beth Cooper.

Adapted from her one-woman show, Wishful Thinking is an autobiography by anecdote--a series of recollections from her star-studded childhood, through her early addictions while starting in film, through her later addictions and failed marriages, and to her hospitalization in a mental health facility and electroshock therapy--and a bunch of stuff in between.

Sounds like a blast, doesn't it? Well, here's the opening paragraphs, where she explains that.

I have to start by telling you that my entire existence could be summed up in one phrase. And that is: If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.

What that really means, other than what it sounds like, is, let's say something happens and from a certain slant maybe it's tragic, even a little bit shocking. Then time passes and you go to the funny slant, and now that very same thing can no longer do you any harm.

So what we're really talking about then is: location, location, location.

Fisher's clearly at the point where this material can do her no harm, what it can do is entertain. You can hear her voice reading the book--I've got to remember to see if she reads the audiobook, gotta grab it--I can only imagine how fun seeing the show would be.

Yes, there are cheap shots at Republicans, Sarah Palin, President Bush, and several other things that will offend many. But Fisher is so refreshingly honest and frank in telling her story that you really just don't care.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Don't Know Why the Article Didn't Mention Her Groundbreaking Work as Pamela Finklestein

Okay, okay, we live in a post-Pres. Reagan, Gov. Schwarzenegger, Rep. Grandy, Rep. Ben Jones, Rep. Bono, I get that. But...is the world ready for Sen. Drescher?

NEW YORK (CNN) — Actress Fran Drescher has expressed interest in being appointed to the U.S. Senate seat that New York's Hillary Clinton is giving up to become secretary of state, a spokesman for the actress said.

No, seriously.

"Fran Drescher, actress, women's health advocate and public diplomacy envoy for the U.S. State Department, announced that she is throwing her hat into the ring of contenders for the senate seat being vacated by Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton," Drescher spokesman Jordan Brown told CNN in a written statement late Monday.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Misremembering Schultz

can't get to sleep and the Offspring are watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, which means I'm only thinking of one thing:

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day - #32

Self-righteousness cleaves to us, as naturally and as closely as our skins, nor can any power, but that of an Almighty Hand, flay us of it". . .until you are endued with a faith in Christ’s righteousness, your body is no better than 'the living coffin of a dead soul'.

- Augustus Toplady

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sick Day / Judo Tournament

Tempted to call in sick today, not really up for much. If I was, I'd try to describe the Judo Tournament we went to this morning, our first. The Boys' sensei requires attendance as a spectator at one before the students can participate--I thought it was for the student's to get an idea what happens. I misunderstood--it's for the parents to get an idea what happens at one--particularly to get a feel for all the different ways a participant can get injured.

We got a pretty good idea of the ways that could happen, particularly as the day went one. The easiest way for one of my boys to get injured would be to put them on a mat with a girl in their age/weight class (or one below)--those girls were...aggressive doesn't seem to do capture it. Very, very, very competitive and quite expressive of that competitiveness comes closer.

Mostly, we witnessed a good deal of great sportsmanship, respect for tradition, and skill--I'm really looking forward to seeing what my rookies do.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Two Bucks

While going through Wal-mart last weekend for our weekly shopping, couldn't help but glance at the Black Friday displays that were still up (actually had to, otherwise would've been constantly tripping over them). One of the displays were DVDs for $2--most of them utter rubbish, obviously. There was a diamond in the rough, though, the Renny Harlin classic, The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Okay, granted, as diamonds in the rough go, it's more like cubic zirconium. And "classic" pretty much has to be taken ironically, as it's describing a Renny Harlin flick. But it's one of those movies I've always liked. A guilty pleasure, sure, but a great way to relax. Back when I actually had a VCR, I'd reguarly pop the video in. But I could never bring myself to shell out the $$ for the DVD.

But thanks to rampant consumerism, any time I want, I can hear Samuel L Jackson say, "Oh phooey, I burned the darn muffins;" watch Geen Davis fire an automatic weapon into an ice-covered lake to provide a safe landing place for the two of them after jumping out a window; see more outlandish explosions than belong in a movie not featureing Det. John McClane; I could go on, but I won't.

And I didn't even have to trample anyone to do it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Remembering the "M" in MTV

turns out, I still Want My MTV.

You youngsters (yeah, you Julie) may not remember this, but once upon a time MTV stood for "Music Television." They would play--practically all day--filmed commercials for songs/albums (including those mysterious artifacts called "LPs"), called "music videos." If you happen to catch the station at the right time of day, every fourth Thursday, I understand you can catch the occasional video sandwiched between strange dating shows and whatnot. Many of these videos were very creative, in fact.

MTV's new website, MTV Music, has just about every one of those videos--and current stuff--for playing online (and in better quality than you can find on youtube). And without Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, or J. J. Jackson! Alas, also no Martha Quinn.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Arnold Update 12/3/08

Visit to the nephrologist was a short one, and on the whole positive. Doc was satisfied with his grown--1.5 inches since July and 2 pounds (2 pounds?!?!)--actually, he called that "good." Most of the things we look for in his blood were good. The big one, sadly, went up a bit; his creatinine was at 1.2 giving him a 44% kidney function (+/- 4%), so he's "slipping a little" on that front. We're still more than 20% from the point where we start shopping around for his next kidney.

We've also scheduled the next of those all day appointments for early January, so, there should be more info sooner than normal.

Incidentally, that pic was taken a week and a half ago while we were waiting for the lab to draw his blood. The smile was a little bigger initially, but he had to hold it longer than expected cuz I hit the wrong button on my phone. He was literally bouncing up and down in the waiting room.

Mad Men

Through the magic of Netflix, I've now watched the first three episodes of Mad Men. Can someone out there help me? How is this the best drama on television? Do things pick up after ep. 3 that makes this more than an exercise in male chauvinism?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Though He is Dead, He Still Speaks

Everyone who reads (well, most everyone) Machen's Christianity & Liberalism remarks about how applicable it is to the contemporary church, some even suggesting it could be edited to remove names and republished as Christianity and Evangelicalism. Which, I should mention, would be fun to see, and I'd buy a copy or five.

Almost as good: Michael Wittmer of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary presented a paper recently to ETS entitled, "Machen on McLaren: A New Kind of Liberal?" where he shows the parallels between what Machen fought and what McLaren promotes. He's posted the handout that accompanied his paper--interesting read.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hey, Where's the Yankees Logo?

Yes, Virginia, I can wear a cap that doesn't have the interlocking NY of the Yankees emblazoned on the front. Given the right design, I will don a cap that actually has nothing to do with the Yankees. The latest (and first in a while) example of such a design comes courtesy of the good people at Sola Fide (and Lutheresque)--drop by, look around, drive up traffic so more designs will follow. Looks dandy and keeps the rain off your scalp. Who could ask for more?

A Satisfied Customer

A little annoyed / NaNoWriMo Finals

I've been trying since last night, and I cannot get blogger to publish the final standings in our family's NaNoWriMo efforts.

I know a lot of people complain about blogger.com blogs/interface/etc. And "serious bloggers" and people who "use real web programming" look down on it. That's fine. But for a hobbyist like myself, it does just fine.

But, when I have a problem? GAH! I hate this thing.

Anyhow, until I can post it where I'm trying:

Frodo's Count

Samwise's Count

Princess' Count

Team Newton's Count

Sunday, November 30, 2008

And He's Not Alone

Thought for the Lord's Day #31

this one's from The Great Quotes to Take Out of Context collection:

If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.
- Martin Luther

Seriously, this counsel to Melanchthon (yet again voted as "Theologian most likely to Have Name Misspelled" for the 487th year running) is well worth meditating on. Even for those of use who are not "preachers of mercy."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

He did it!! Updated: It's Official!

A couple hours ago he finished writing for the afternoon, and I just finished typing it up--Frodo has passed his word count for NaNoWriMo!

Sadly, the OpenOffice word count differs from the NaNoWriMo's verification tool, so he has to come up with another 305 words by their reckoning to make it official. Which is fine, since his storyline still needs to be wrapped up.

Still, first time out of the gate, and Frodo nailed it with time to spare without breaking a sweat. A stand-up triple.

Way to go, champ.

Official NaNoWriMo YWP 2008 Winner

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm totally at a loss for words

Not only do I have to come up with something for the novel (think if I can just get on the right roll, or three, I can knock this thing out in a day).

I need something for here...ack. But the brain's not working, it's like I'm...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Post

I tried several times today to write something along the lines of the near-obligatory Thanksgiving post, and got no where. I didn't get as far as I planned/wanted to/coulda/shoulda with NaNoWriMo either (got 1400 words out of a goal of 2700). Was at my mother's today and let myself get distracted by the relatives too much.

Still not sure I'm going to end up saying what I wanted to, but I think the quotation Dr. Clark posted to the Heidelblog today from Ursinus on True Thankfulness will help. In particular this portion:

Thankfulness in general is a virtue acknowledging and professing the person from whom we have received benefits, as well as the greatness of the benefits themselves, with a desire to perform towards our benefactor such reciprocal duties as are becoming and possible. It includes truth and justice. Truth, because it acknowledges and makes mention of the benefits received : and justice, because it desires to return thanks equal to that which has been received.

First off, let me acknowledge my cyber-pals, bros & sisters. In particular, kletois, bluewoad, Micah and SpideyGeek (not an exhaustive list by any means). You are a source of laughter, encouragement, and conviction that I dare try to do without. Thanks so much.

Secondly, the Offspring. (pictured below with their cousin and one of my favorite bugs) Thanks for being you. Thanks for giving me a reason to get moving every morning, to keep plodding through the afternoon, and frequently a reason to rejoice that I can rest in the evening and let someone else take over. Mostly kidding there. You guys are the best--more than I should hope for and far greater than a schlub like me deserves.

Thirdly, to The Love of my Life. For everything.

Lastly, to the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

last second post: Thanksgiving pt. 1

trying to come up with a nice Thanksgiving post, and it's just not happening right now. So I'm just gonna cut to the chase and trust the gratefulness fairy will visit me tomorrow while stuffing stuffing down my throat.

I'm thankful for the handful of you (shrinking all the time) who read this. I really do appreciate you taking the time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

If Anything's Going to Turn Frodo into a Theater Junkie...

It's this, Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Treehouse: The Musical.

can't believe it's up there with Les Mis or Sondeim--but gotta be better than Disney on Ice or that Weber guy.

(h/t: Julie Kenner)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Some More Vacation Photos

Honestly haven't thought of anything to put here today, but I'm on such a streak...hate to see it ruined. Soooo, here's some more photos from our enjoyable-yet-potentially-NaNoWriMo-Victory-killing vacation.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day #30

Quick Dispatch from the Parenting Front

Horror of horrors, we ran out of coffee here, and didn't have enough time in the schedule yesterday to drive to a reliable source, so while at the grocery store I buy a couple of those little vacuum-packed single-serving packs of whatever little occasionally acceptable "gourmet" blend they're featuring.

This morning I'm getting the coffee ready when the Princess comes over to see what I'm doing, astonished, she gasps, "You can buy it ground already!?!"

Almost brought a tear to my eye.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Number 9, number 9,

Happy Birthday to the goofiest of my Offspring.

While the impulse has always been to think of you as the sidekick to your older brother--the Boy Wonder to his Caped Crusader, that's rarely been the case. You truly exist in your own little world much of the time, it's an honor and a privilege to get a glimpse inside it from time to time. Whether on the diamond or some other athletic endeavor; from some text you produce; or some other path the Lord brings you down--I expect nothing but creative greatness in your future. You've already delivered it, I eagerly anticipate what's next.

Friday, November 21, 2008

only 81%?

I can now sing along with Jemaine with a bit more confidence when I hear this Flight of the Conchords classic:

What...what is wrong with the world today?
You gotta think about it
Think think about it.
Good cops been framed and put into a can.
All the money that we're making is going to the man.
What man?
Which man?
Who's the man?
When's a man a man?
What makes a man a man?
Am I a man?
Yes. Technically I am.

Because, according to GenderAnalyzer, they "think http://hcnewton.blogspot.com is written by a man (81%)."


You know now that I've pasted a link to that song I'm watching/rewatching it for the rest of the morning...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No time for love, Dr. Jones

Wow, not much to say, and even less time to say it. Been doing all I can to gin up words for NaNoWriMo--if you're really bored, you can go check out my author page there, the stats tab is very encouraging to me. I topped 50% today (didn't realize I did it when I had), I'm almost content to leave it there.


Not only have I been trying to egg myself on (with some gracious and needed support from TLomL) but we've been trying to get the Offspring to move ahead with their YWP projects. Frodo, probably my least imaginative child, is doing awesome, I didn't expect that at all. He probably topped 70% today (I won't type his work in 'til I'm at work tonight). Samwise--who I fully expected to write laps around us all, is starting to get in gear--I think he'll pull it off, but it'll be a last minute/second surge. I fear the Princess is running out of steam, but we'll see...

Anyway, that's all I've got for today. Sorry. Am trying for something better tomorrow--I've def. got the weekend covered. So, content on the way, thanks for stopping by :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Da Feel Good Post of da Day

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's Trailer Time!

The Internet is abuzz with the news of a new SF movie trailer, rebooting a classic series from the 70's, I for one, think it looks promising:

Oh yeah, there's this new trailer, too:
(naturally, Scott Kurtz' PvP and Dave Kellet's Sheldon had the best reactions, both of which I heartily agree with)

If Only Their Pizza Tasted Good...

from Lifehacker:

As though you needed yet another excuse to stay firmly planted on the couch, DVR service TiVo has integrated with international pizza-maker Domino's so that you can now order a pizza from directly inside your TiVo. My belt just loosened two notches in anticipation. It doesn't have the geek cred of, say, tracking your pizza's delivery status from the terminal, but it's still undeniably cool.
It won't be long at all until we will never have to move. Our DNA will merge with our La-Z-Boys, our sofas, our desk chairs and Homo sittus will emerge (metaphorically speaking).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Random Quotes on Liberty and the Loss Thereof

One of the quotes from my iGoogle's Quote of the Day widget has been percolating in the back of my mind today. Which got me to compiling this little list--mostly so I have a handy place to come and grab from in the future. Most are oldies but goodies. The last one on the list is the one that got me going, and I should add, that I definitely hate the source material it came from, just so I don't get slammed in the comments :)

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
-- James Madison

When the government fears the people it is a democracy....when the people fear their government it is tyranny...
-- Thomas Jefferson

Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
-- Benjamin Franklin

The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.
-– James Madison

Fascism will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a Bible.
-- Sinclair Lewis

So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause.
-- George Lucas

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day #29

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Decade of Dominance II

Sequels really always are worse than the originals...

It looked fantastic for a few minutes (7-0), then looked surprisingly well for the first half (10-17)...and then it looked like the rest of the last ten years (45-10), as the Boise State (state? I thought Boise was a city) Broncos routed the Univserity of Idaho (alma mater to me, all but one of my extended family with a college degree, TLomL, Sarah Palin, etc.) Vandals.

Excuse me, I need to go burn Chris Tormey in effigy. Again.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Facts Are These...

The ratings are in the toilet, and ABC executives are impatient as well as soulless.

TVWeek reports:

"Pushing Daisies" may be close to pushing daisies.

According to industry sources familiar with the situation, ABC has decided not to produce any more episodes of the critically beloved show this season. Word of the show's apparent death began spreading around Hollywood Thursday morning, though an ABC spokeswoman insisted no decision has been made on the show's fate.
"Daisies" wraps production on its 13-episode fall order today. A decision to end the show has been expected for some time now, but it nonetheless represents a stunning reversal of fortune for the Warner Bros. Television-produced fantasy drama.
Apparently dangling storylines are likely to be resolved in a comic book--which is fine. Particularly in light of the dynamite work that's been going on in Buffy Season 8. If Whedon et al. can do it, Fuller should be able to, too. But it won't be the same.

Tennant's leaving, Chuck/Ned/Emerson/Olive may be done...next thing I'll hear is that Sheldon's trading in physics for fast food or Casey's leaving the Buy More. Bah Humbug.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Catching Up

Yeah, I know the posting's been lighter than normal this week--not much to say about that other than, it's all I've got. Really don't have much to say, for some reason--probably because I've been pretty much brain dead since Monday when we flew back.

I'm not going to say I need a vacation to get over my vacation--drives me crazy when people say that. Just took a while to get caught up on life again--I didn't get anything written while I was away, like I'd hoped. I thought through a few scenes, which has helped/will likely help, but that was all. I was struggling to stay on target before we left (like Samwise), but now I'm light years behind. Had a decent day yesterday, have done really well this morning--well on my way to meeting/exceeding today's target output. The kids didn't write a thing either, and tried to buckle down yesterday to get back on track. Frodo, who again, I really thought wouldn't do well with this project did 130% of what he needed to do--what an annoying little overachiever he can be--the rest did a little less. But it's still early in the month, and we've got a couple of weekends ahead of us.

Anyway, the vacation, um...well it wasn't horrible. The kids had a blast, TLomL did, too (mostly). I got some excellent sleep--which sounds bad for me to focus on as a highlight, but if you really understood how unusual that is for me, you'd know that it really is highlight worthy. Had some fun doing non-sleep stuff, too, I should add.

Didn't get a decent group shot of us all while we were gone, but here's a decent one of the Offspring--hopefully will find another one or two worthy of posting.

Gotta get back to work, thanks for stopping by.

P.S. Have no idea what the movie looks like, how well it's been adapted, etc. But I started reading The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread with the kids this week--what an utterly charming read. Give it a glance if you're the type who's willing to read children's lit.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Palin Smear

I'm not sure how gung-ho I am on Gov. Palin, (lost 50% of my readers there) but I did/do find the media/GOP establishment treatment of her sickening.

But no, reporters have been too busy playing mini-badminton with every random spitball about Sarah Palin, who has been subjected to an atrocious and at times delusional level of defamation merely because she has the temerity to hold pro-life views.

How dare Palin not embrace abortion as the ultimate civilized ideal of modern culture? How tacky that she speaks in a vivacious regional accent indistinguishable from that of Western Canada! How risible that she graduated from the State University of Idaho [go Vandals!!] and not one of those plush, pampered commodes of received opinion whose graduates, in their rush to believe the worst about her, have demonstrated that, when it comes to sifting evidence, they don't know their asses from their elbows.

Liberal Democrats are going to wake up from their sadomasochistic, anti-Palin orgy with a very big hangover. The evil genie released during this sorry episode will not so easily go back into its bottle. A shocking level of irrational emotionalism and at times infantile rage was exposed at the heart of current Democratic ideology -- contradicting Democratic core principles of compassion, tolerance and independent thought. One would have to look back to the Eisenhower 1950s for parallels to this grotesque lock-step parade of bourgeois provincialism, shallow groupthink and blind prejudice.

I like Sarah Palin, and I've heartily enjoyed her arrival on the national stage. As a career classroom teacher, I can see how smart she is -- and quite frankly, I think the people who don't see it are the stupid ones, wrapped in the fuzzy mummy-gauze of their own worn-out partisan dogma. So she doesn't speak the King's English -- big whoop! There is a powerful clarity of consciousness in her eyes. She uses language with the jumps, breaks and rippling momentum of a be-bop saxophonist. I stand on what I said (as a staunch pro-choice advocate) in my last two columns -- that Palin as a pro-life wife, mother and ambitious professional represents the next big shift in feminism. Pro-life women will save feminism by expanding it, particularly into the more traditional Third World.

As for the Democrats who sneered and howled that Palin was unprepared to be a vice-presidential nominee -- what navel-gazing hypocrisy! What protests were raised in the party or mainstream media when John Edwards, with vastly less political experience than Palin, got John Kerry's nod for veep four years ago? And Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, for whom I lobbied to be Obama's pick and who was on everyone's short list for months, has a record indistinguishable from Palin's. Whatever knowledge deficit Palin has about the federal bureaucracy or international affairs (outside the normal purview of governors) will hopefully be remedied during the next eight years of the Obama presidencies.

The U.S. Senate as a career option? What a claustrophobic, nitpicking comedown for an energetic Alaskan -- nothing but droning committees and incestuous back-scratching. No, Sarah Palin should stick to her governorship and just hit the rubber-chicken circuit, as Richard Nixon did in his long haul back from political limbo following his California gubernatorial defeat in 1962. Step by step, the mainstream media will come around, wipe its own mud out of its eyes, and see Palin for the populist phenomenon that she is.
Wow, what right-wing ideologue wrote that, you ask? Camille Paglia. Is there any wonder why so many find this woman to be their favorite feminist? When she's right, she's right; when she's wrong, she's still a blast to read--e.g., "one of those plush, pampered commodes of received opinion." Read it out loud, it's a blast...(David Tennant would have a field day with lines like that)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Everytime I Start to Think I'm a Geek...

I come across something like this. A brilliant/frightening/strange tribute to Star Wars and John Williams. Don't know whether to laugh, cry, applaud or hope this guy's family & friends have staged an intervention.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gone Fishin' - 3

Theoretically, about the time this posts, I'll be being inspected by a TSA official, and deemed worthy of boarding a plane headed home. I'm taking a risk this trip, and aren't taking a Michael Connelly book with me--been a long time since I've flown without Harry Bosch to keep me company/distract me from the very real possibility that this metal tube isn't going to stay airborne. But there's just no way I'd have enough time to finish due to the length of the flight and trying to keep the Offspring occupied.

Normal posts should resume tomorrow...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day #28

Heavenly Father, if I should suffer need, and go unclothed, and be in poverty, make my heart prize Thy love, know it, be constrained by it, though I be denied all blessings. It is Thy mercy to afflict and try me with wants, for by these trials I see my sins, and desire severance from them. Let me willingly accept misery, sorrows, temptations, if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil, and be delivered from it with gratitude to Thee, acknowledging this as the highest testimony of Thy love.

When thy Son, Jesus, came into my soul instead of sin He became more dear to me than sin had formerly been; His kindly rule replaced sin's tyranny. Teach me to believe that if ever I would have any sin subdued I must not only labour to overcome it, but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it, and He must become to me more than vile lust had been; that His sweetness, power, life may be there. Thus I must seek a grace from Him contrary to sin, but must not claim it apart from Himself.

When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me by showing me that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch, but in Christ I am reconciled and live; that in myself I find insufficiency and no rest, but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace; that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good, but in Christ I have ability to do all things. Though now I have His graces in part, I shall shortly have them perfectly in that state where Thou wilt show Thyself fully reconciled, and alone sufficient, efficient, loving me completely, with sin abolished. O Lord, hasten that day.
- from The Valley of Vision

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Gone Fishin' - 2

Vacation? Why am I taking a vacation now of all times?

I certainly can't afford one--esp. not this one. But that's okay, I'm not paying. My mother took a good chunk of her inheritance from my grandmother and paid for my clan, my parents, sister and niece to fly off for a weekend.

Honestly, as I write this, I'm worried that by now we're all not getting along--particularly my father and I. And am fairly certain I'm regretting this. But there's a decent chance my kids are having a blast, and TLomL should be able to restrain my temper enough that I'll actually have a relationship with my parents after we return to Idaho.

And who knows, hopefully I'm wrong, and we're all having a good time.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Gone Fishin' - 1

I'm on vacation at the moment. But I hate to ruin a decent post-a-day run...so, have some posts scheduled just in case I can't find a decent wifi connection.

Assuming the planes actually delivered us where they were supposed to (something I don't take for granted anymore), here's what kind of weather I'm supposed to be experiencing.

At home it was supposed to be like this:

No matter how rough things go with the extended family (and, oh how that possiblity exists), should be able to focus on this and have an okay time, right?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

'Bout Sums it Up:

Colin Cowherd opened his show this morning (at least the portion aired locally) with:

One day after the election and already I feel younger, hipper, and overtaxed.
Really, really, really, last political post around here for the better part of a week, at least.

Glad to know I'm not the only one going through Election Withdrawals.

The Beauty of Ugly Prose

Got on a nice roll this afternoon with my novel--had a blast with two scenes in particular. One scene I'd been wanting to write for days, but wasn't sure how to do it 'til mid-way through, and another one that came to me out of the blue--well, out of the blue and searching madly for a way to meet my word-count target.

It was great, the kind of rush you get when everything's firing just right. I loved it. I was having so much fun, it was almost perfect.

But oh man, honestly...both scenes are nasty. It's gonna take me hours to edit them into something acceptable. Strange thing is, I knew it at the time. "This is crap, this is garbage. Whoo-hoo!"

It's this messy pile of goo, pablum, fluff and nonsense. But for now, they're done. For now, I like them.

I've never been a big rough-draft kind of guy. For better or worse, when I wrote papers/essays/etc. 95% of what I typed made it to the final. I tended to be that way with my fiction--and now that all I have are self-imposed deadlines, I wouldn't get very far insisting on near perfect drafts. This is pretty freeing--focusing on a word count, a completed draft, a deadline. Nice thing is, I'm actually going to have something done for a change.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More on Wasted Votes

Should've thought to check out Chuck Baldwin's site yesterday when I was finishing my rant on "wasting" votes--who better to talk about the idea than a 3rd Party nominee?

Obviously, it's a little dated now, but here's some food for thought as we start looking towards the 2012 General Election (gak...already?), but here's some portions of Baldwin's piece, "A Wasted Vote"

When asked why they will not vote for a third party candidate, many people will respond by saying something like, "He cannot win." Or, "I don't want to waste my vote." It is true: America has not elected a third party candidate since 1860. Does that automatically mean, however, that every vote cast for one of the two major party candidates is not a wasted vote? I don't think so.

In the first place, a wasted vote is a vote for someone you know does not represent your own beliefs and principles. A wasted vote is a vote for someone you know will not lead the country in the way it should go. A wasted vote is a vote for the "lesser of two evils." Or, in the case of John McCain and Barack Obama, what we have is a choice between the "evil of two lessers."

Albert Einstein is credited with saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. For years now, Republicans and Democrats have been leading the country in the same basic direction: toward bigger and bigger government; more and more socialism, globalism, corporatism, and foreign interventionism; and the dismantling of constitutional liberties. Yet, voters continue to think that they are voting for "change" when they vote for a Republican or Democrat. This is truly insane!
Here's the best part, and an argument I tried to make on a friend's blog (and really made a mess of):
But, back to the "he cannot win" argument: to vote for John McCain is to vote for a man who cannot win. Yes, I am saying it here and now: John McCain cannot win this election. The handwriting is on the wall. The Fat Lady is singing. It is all over. Finished. John McCain cannot win.

With only three weeks before the election, Barack Obama is pulling away. McCain has already pulled his campaign out of Michigan. In other key battleground states, McCain is slipping fast. He was ahead in Missouri; now it is a toss-up or leaning to Obama. A couple of weeks ago, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida were all leaning towards McCain, or at least toss-up states. Now, they are all leaning to Obama. Even the longtime GOP bellwether state of Indiana is moving toward Obama. In addition, new voter registrations are at an all-time high, and few of them are registering as Republicans. In fact, the Republican Party now claims only around 25% of the electorate, and Independents are increasingly leaning toward Obama.

Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama is headed for an electoral landslide victory over John McCain. John McCain can no more beat Barack Obama than Bob Dole could beat Bill Clinton. [He wrote this on 10/10/08, btw]

I ask, therefore, Are not conservatives and Christians who vote for John McCain guilty of the same thing that they accuse people who vote for third party candidates of doing? Are they not voting for someone who cannot win? Indeed, they are. In fact, conservatives and Christians who vote for John McCain are not only voting for a man who cannot win, they are voting for a man who does not share their own beliefs and principles. If this is not insanity, nothing is!


Since mid-afternoon yesterday, I've been unable to focus. Between fatigue, election results and who knows what else, I've simply been unable to keep my thoughts organized enough to do anything. Can't write. Can't type out what the Offspring have written. Can barely focus attention on TV.

Am pretty sure I could nap--but I'm at work, and it's frowned upon.

Feels like I'm going crazy.

Just one of those days.

I thought I had something to say about the lack of focus, but don't think I do. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Wasting my vote

This is probably more disjointed than it should be...sorry, written in bursts when I should've been doing something else, and I'm probably a bit more angry/annoyed than I should be before I put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard. But, meh...take it for what it is.

According to several people--including some I'd call friends--I wasted my vote for President of these United States today. Because I didn't vote for a Republican or Democrat (or, more and more commonly, I didn't vote against a Democrat or Republican--btw, I enjoyed Nathan Eshelman's post "A Vote Is Affirmation, Not Against Someone You Do Not Like"--even if it could've used an edit or five for length). See, your vote is wasted, we're told, if you don't vote for a major party candidate--'cuz the other guys can't win. Not sure why a vote for a losing candidate isn't considered wasting it--in Idaho for example, Sen. Obama doesn't stand a proverbial snowball's proverbial chance of winning our electoral votes. Did all those who voted for him waste their votes?

Thankfully, I was able to vote for some people who have a chance of winning (and some others who don't), so I guess I redeemed parts of my ballot.

Here's the thing--I know I didn't waste a single vote. I cast my vote for a Presidential candidate who shares most of my political beliefs, who would do what he said he would do if he got into office. Not a lesser of two evils, but someone I can believe in. That's the job of the voter, right? Not to vote for the guy you think has the best chance of winning--not once you get past voting for Student Body Presidents anyway. If the man I voted for shocked the world and was elected, I wouldn't have to worry about what he was going to do now--which campaign promise would he renege on first? How many more troops would he send into harm's way unnecessarily? What further damage would he do to civil liberties? What new taxes would he suggest/sign into law? How would he sell out his own party again? What socialistic impulse would he give into first--universal education, health care, something else?

I don't think any vote is wasted except the one not cast. But if I were to consider one a waste, it'd be vote cast for maintaining the status quo (unless you really like the status quo). Oh yeah, I should add, the status is not quo. A wasted vote is one cast that will simply perpetuate a system that the voter finds distasteful/immoral. One cast out of fear of the other guy. A vote you have to "hold your nose" to cast (metaphorically or not).

In short, no matter what--for the next four years I can look at myself in the mirror while listening to the news. My conscience is clean. How many people who voted for whoever wins tonight will be able to say the same thing in 2012? How many people who voted for the "conservative" in the White House right now can say that? Sure you won...but at what cost?

Monday, November 03, 2008


Over to your right, you'll notice some new graphics (Micah had nothing to do with them, excuse the blandness). What're they about? Well, it's November, which for thousands means, National Novel Writing Month. Some of you may recall that I gave it a shot. Sadly, energy, enthusiasm, homeschooling, and life in general got in the way, and I just didn't get that far. But I've been gearing up for this year's for a bit, and think I have a better game plan going in.

I was poking around their website last week, and out of curiosity, checked out their Young Writer's Program. Inspiration struck, and we've now canceled about 1/3 of our normal school stuff for November for an exercise in Applied Language Arts. I've always admired (and wanted to be) one of those homeschool parents who throws their gameplan out the window because their kids were interested enough in something that they just focus on it for a few weeks. Just couldn't find anything to do like that.

The people over at NaNoWriMo have really done a great job with their Young Writer's Program, they have some age-appropriate workbooks to give guidance through the process; they allow parents/teachers and the writers to set their target goal instead of having something set; and there's enough fun stuff on the site (when traffic's low enough) to keep the writer's amused when they need a break from their work.

The kids are really into the idea--which I love, because they typically approach a writing exercise like a series of inoculations. Frodo and the Princess are both a few words ahead of their daily quota, Samwise is at about 50% (his brain works like mine, I expect great strides in Week 4). Arnold's annoyed because I'm not involving him--call me cruel, but if the kid can't read, I don't think he should be trying to author a book (I'm sure even Dan Brown could work his way through a Boxcar Children novel).

We've got a 4 day vacation this week that's gonna louse up our schedule a bit, but on the whole, I'm thinking that having the kids do it with me--and having to keep their enthusiasm up, is really going to help me. Not to mention, really don't like the idea of hearing "Frodo, you've met your writing targets for 2 weeks now, your Father's still trying to catch up to Week 1."

So in addition to my official NaNoWriMo widget down below, we've got the little graphics for the three kids and our collective word goal, to advertise our progress (nothing inspires like the pressure of many, many people seeing your fail).

The Great Candy Extortion Caper '08

Friday being what it was, the Offspring, like so many others went door to door extorting candy (as bluewoad calls it) from the neighbors.

While on the whole, they're the same as last week's pics, here's what I captured on film, er, memory card:

The SWAT costume was a hit again--particularly with a neighbor who turns out to be a police officer. He was impressed enough he gave Arnold a movie-sized Juji Fruits box. When I was a kid I couldn't have dreamed of scoring that much from one house.
I couldn't get a decent pic of Frodo all night--kept coming out looking more like a hobo than an adventure-prone archeologist.
.jpg withheld to protect his reputation.
The Princess...well, what can you say about this?
Skulduggery Pleasant was back, this time with some gloves and fire to complete the look. TLomL spent a little time on google and improved the makeup job, too.
and a closer look at the improved details.
In a little less than 2 hours, our team of 4 collected this much booty. Just about 7 gallons here! That amount was just unthinkable back in my day--way back when we had to walk to school uphill both ways to school in the snow, only 3 TV networks, and a Michael Jackson who dated in his age group.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day #27

saw this as a .sig file on an email the other day, struck me as one of those things worth thinking about for awhile:

As the suffering of Christ is the principal part of the ransom paid for us by him and the special foundation of our confidence and consolation, it should also be the primary object of our faith and the theme of meditation, that with Paul we may count all things for loss but the knowledge of the crucified Jesus. We should attend to it more diligently as Satan the more impotently rages to obscure the truth of those sufferings and to deprive us of their saving fruit.
- Francis Turretin

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trudeau Calls the Election

from FOXNews:'Doonesbury' Strip Predicts Obama Win on Tuesday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's not exactly "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN," but some newspaper editors are pondering how to deal with a "Doonesbury" comic strip to be published the day after the election that assumes Barack Obama will win the presidency.

Comic creator Garry Trudeau delivered a series of strips for next week's papers showing his characters reacting to an Obama victory. But he offered no such option in the event of a comeback by John McCain, who's trailing Obama in the polls.

Trudeau's syndicator is offering papers a series of rerun strips from August. But the Obama story line is forcing some editors to question whether "Doonesbury" could put them in a spot -- albeit in the funny pages -- similar to 1948, when the Chicago Daily Tribune infamously declared in huge, front-page type that Republican Thomas Dewey had beaten Democrat Harry Truman for the presidency.
Honestly, there's probably no need for Trudeau to do 'McCain Wins' strips--even if McCain pulls off the upset, Trudeau can just write them off as another of Mike's Summer Dream Sequences--just later in the year than normal or something. Frankly, it's probably better if he doesn't do 'McCain Wins'--they'd be too full of vitriol to be worth reading.
Tim Bannon, editor of the Chicago Tribune's Live! section, where the paper's comics usually run, said the strip won't appear in the comics section because of deadline issues but might end up on another page.

"If McCain wins, we would never run it," he said. "If Obama were to win, we would try to see if we can get it in somehow in some other place. ... It strikes us as being a little strange to have that strip if that's not how it ends up. It's not like he hedged it so it works either way."

Kathie Kerr, a spokeswoman for the Kansas City-based Universal Press Syndicate, said about a dozen calls have come in from newspaper editors.

"They're still coming in," Kerr said Friday. "After we got the initial inquiries, we asked Garry to pick substitutes for the editors who were not comfortable with running the strips."

Trudeau, who lives in New York, said he might have provided papers with a McCain option if the election were a toss-up. But, he said, at the time he drew the strip, poll analysts were giving McCain less than a 4 percent chance of winning.

"From a risk-assessment viewpoint, I felt comfortable with the odds," Trudeau said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "The way I see it, if Obama wins, I'm in the flow and commenting on an extraordinary phenomenon.

"If he loses, there'll be such a national uproar that a blown call in a comic strip won't be much noticed. Besides, I'll be the one with the egg on my face -- not the editors."
He's absolutely right about that--as popular as the strip is, particularly with left-leaning journalists, politicians and journalists seem to love to dogpile on anything semi-controversial he writes.
Naedine Hazell, assistant managing editor of features and business for The Hartford Courant in Connecticut, dismissed the fuss over the Obama strips. The Courant plans to run the series.

"It's a comic. I don't think people necessarily expect accuracy in comics. There's all sorts of wack stuff in comics," Hazell said.

"I don't think Snoopy actually flies his doghouse either."
Brilliant analysis, most of us don't think that cats love lasagna, advertising executives who are thin as rakes eat sandwiches that are 4' tall, and cavemen were Evangelical Christians. But fer cryin' out loud, lady--Schultz is writing a different kind of strip! I agree with your call to run them as Trudeau wrote them, I'm just insulted by that reasoning. If an editor can't tell the difference between Schultz's world of hyper-intelligent dogs and birds, and Trudeau's biting political satire--well, that might go a long way in demonstrating why American newspapers are in decline.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Contempt for the Constitution

Few months back I overheard a little snippet of a conversation between Frodo and Samwise and their 11 year-old cousin (hmmm, don't have a blog-specific nickname for her...let's go with Cousinette, for now). Cousinette was pretty disdainful of the Ron Paul bumper stickers on our van, which left my boys incredulous, "You don't like Ron Paul?"

"No, I like Obama."

Can't remember which one of the boys replied with, "But what about the Constitution?" (you know I swelled with pride)

"Pfft...Constitution," said Cousinette, leaving the boys speechless. Ahh, the wonders of a publik skewl edumacation.

Had a flashback to that convo this morning when I watched this disheartening video from Judge Andrew Napolitano:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

We'll always have Cardiff . . .

Keening, weeping, moaning, gnashing of teeth at the Newton household (from all members, btw) today after getting the news that David Tennant, the 10th Doctor Who, has stated:
When Doctor Who returns in 2010 it won't be with me
Yeah, yeah, life will go on, it's just a show, we still have our health...yada yada yada. All that's true...just gonna mean it's all a little less brilliant.


More Ironic than Ray-yain on Your Wedding Day

Good ol' Howard Dean...don't think I've told this story before, back in May '05 I was changing planes at the madhouse called Dulles International Airport and found myself standing next to Howard Dean. I noticed three things:

  1. He's short!
  2. He has this quality, this Howard Dean-ness that you can kind of sense on TV...it's real strong in Real Life (TM)...really makes a conservative want to punch the nearest source of Howard Dean-ness.
  3. That I didn't punch the nearest source--further proof of progressive sanctification.
Anyway, author of Nanny State and blogger over at the Denver Post Editorial Page blog, David Harsanyi noted a couple of quotations from everyone's favorite former Vermont governor.
Howard Dean in 2005:
Someday, the Democrats will be back in charge again. Do we want a Democratic Party that’s in charge of everything? Well, you know, I suppose it’s my job to say yes. But the truth is, as an American, it’s better when parties share power....

[There] is a culture of corruption and abuse of power in Washington. This is what happens when one party is in charge of everything.
My inner-idealogue bristles at this notion, but my inner-pragmatist (when I let him speak) sees the wisdom in this--and it seems most Americans agree with this. But here's where it gets fun.
Howard Dean in 2008:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Monday that he’s looking forward to one party controlling all aspects of government, despite GOP charges that it would be a disastrous Nov. 4 outcome. "Republicans had a chance to rule. They failed miserably. I think it’s time to give the other party a chance," Dean said on MSNBC.
This is gonna be a really long four (eight?) years--unless the mid-term elections in '10 shake things up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives

Back in '92 I read a review for a CD called A Man Called E by, well, E. I remember I didn't hear whatever the review heard, but I really liked it--still one of my 'go to' albums for pensive moments. But I lost track of E right away, and once I started using teh InterWeb thingy, never thought of trying to find him that way.

'Til the Shrek soundtrack came along, and I just knew I knew the voice on the track by The Eels, it was like bumping into someone I went to school with at the grocery store. Since then, I've picked up some of their music--mostly by accident on soundtracks. Quirky, witty, and sad. Best quick way I can think of to describe them.

That's more than I meant to say as introduction, sorry.

Anyway, quite by accident (again) I stumbled across this NOVA special last week--Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives--which focuses on E (aka Mark Oliver Everett) digging into his father's life, particularly his career as a quantum theorist. In 1957, Hugh Everett III published a work where he laid out the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. To say that his father was distant seems to be quite the understatement, so E learned a great deal about his father during filming--particularly personal details. At several times during the documentary I felt like I was intruding.

As far as the science stuff goes--like E, most of it was over my head (tho' some of it was incredibly simplistic--'course kletois probably thinks all of it was pretty simplistic), and I think the whole parallel world thing is good Science Fiction, lousy reality. But it was interesting, and gave a good narrative frame for the human stories: Hugh Everett's career, search for acceptance, excessive drinking, etc.; E's feeling of distance from his father, not understanding him, other family tragedy; and E's growing understanding of his father.

Obviously, the human stories were the crux of the film--and I think, given a little more time, could've been developed better by the filmmakers--a lot of the documentary felt rushed. All in all, a very interesting look at theoretical physics and the people behind it (if nothing else, a great soundtrack), try to catch it on a rerun.

Backup by Jim Butcher

Well, that was a fun, 45 minutes (give or take).

Just knocked off Jim Butcher's Backup: A Story of the Dresden Files. Weighing in at about 12K words, it's almost as meaty as the 4-issue mini-series comic book Welcome to the Jungle (recently collected and published in hardcover form).

This is a different way of telling a Harry Dresden story, coming at it from the POV of his brother, Thomas. Not only does this give us a new way of seeing Harry, it gives us a better appreciation for Thomas. (In many ways, it reminded me of Crais' The Watchman from last year.)

Quick read; decent story--resolution came a bit too soon, but given the length, such was unavoidable; probably paid too much for it, given my budget; hope some of the backstory spills over into the regular Dresden File novels. Something any fan should pick up.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spooktacular 2008

Local Borders store had their Spooktacular party on Saturday for kids--games, costume contest, etc. Good way to kill an afternoon--made even better by Frodo and Sam winning a couple of books :)

Snapped a couple of photos on our way out the door:

We start off with a SWAT team member--as a bonus, the costume includes several toys :)
Frodo was, well, if you need an explanation here, you've got problems.
The Princess opted for, shockingly, a princess. (this is a hand-me-down from her cousin, making this cooler than humanly possible for her)
Flexing his (and his parents') creativity, Samwise decided to go all literary, here he is as Skulduggery Pleasant.
and a closer look at the bang-up job TLomL did on his makeup.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day #26

He doesn't post often enough, but when he does, Prof. Shaw typically hits the ball right out of the park. Friday's post "Mental Images of Jesus" does a nice succinct job of dealing with one of the more common objections to the the confessional (read: Biblical) position of applying the 2nd commandment to images of Christ.

Someone Was Looking Awfully Grown-Up Today

so we snapped a quick pic:

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Godspeed" - Anberlin

Just cuz I haven't done a Friday Music thing in awhile...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who's the Socialist?

Happy Birthday, Archie!

On Oct 23 in Chillicothe, Ohio, Archie Goodwin entered this world--no doubt with a smile for the pretty nurses--and American detective literature was never the same.

I'm toasting him in one of the ways I think he'd appreciate most--by raising a glass of milk in his honor.

Who was Archie? Archie summed up his life thusly:

Born in Ohio. Public high school, pretty good at geometry and football, graduated with honor but no honors. Went to college two weeks, decided it was childish, came to New York and got a job guarding a pier, shot and killed two men and was fired, was recommended to Nero Wolfe for a chore he wanted done, did it, was offered a full-time job by Mr. Wolfe, took it, still have it." (Fourth of July Picinic)
Long may he keep it. Just what was he employed by Wolfe to do? In The Black Mountain he answers the statement, "I thought you was a private eye" with:
I don't like the way you say it, but I am. Also I am an accountant, an amanuensis, and a cocklebur. Eight to five you never heard the word amanuensis and you never saw a cocklebur.
In The Red Box, he says
I know pretty well what my field is. Aside from my primary function as the thorn in the seat of Wolfe's chair to keep him from going to sleep and waking up only for meals, I'm chiefly cut out for two things: to jump and grab something before the other guy can get his paws on it, and to collect pieces of the puzzle for Wolfe to work on.

In case you're wondering if this post was simply an excuse to go through some collections of Archie Goodwin quotations, you wouldn't be totally wrong...he's one of the fictional characters I like spending time with most in this world--he's the literary equivalent of comfort food. So just one more great line I've quoted here before:
I would appreciate it if they would call a halt on all their devoted efforts to find a way to abolish war or eliminate disease or run trains with atoms or extend the span of human life to a couple of centuries, and everybody concentrate for a while on how to wake me up in the morning without my resenting it. It may be that a bevy of beautiful maidens in pure silk yellow very sheer gowns, barefooted, singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" and scattering rose petals over me would do the trick, but I'd have to try it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Joe the Plumber Matters

I thoroughly enjoyed watching that initial clip of Joe asking Sen. Obama a question which gave him the opportunity to fly his socialism flag freely on camera. If only Joe knew what he was getting himself into!

All the attention, the repeated references to himself in the debate--the interviews, press conferences, and so on (and didn't he do a wonderful job dealing with Diane Sawyer?).

Oh, but then the magnifying lens got pulled out and every little secret of his was put on display for the world to see and dissect.

Just 'cuz he asked a question.

Tragic, really.

Thought the good people over at Oh, Prune Juice did a good job commenting on the whole story, pointing out why we should care about Joe the Plumber (no matter what we think of his politics)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends

Don't worry, won't be asking what you'd do if I sang out of tune (because the answer'd be "ask what was new?")...

Just wanted to take a moment to publicly thank Micah (as he's known here, other, more notable, blogs call him something else) for the great header graphic you see above you. When I asked him about a new one, I expected something like the last one--simple but catchy, and the d00d fills up my inbox with 7-8 dazzling graphics! And then he redoes one of them with some suggestions (and throws in another option for me to choose from as well...). Talk about an embarrassment of riches.

And really, it's not like he doesn't have better things to do--spending time with his wife and dog, providing for his wife and dog, cleaning up images of Erasmus' 3rd edition of his Novum Testamentum (1522), and so on.

Anyway, thanks, brother!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day #25

The insufficiency of nature to such a work as conversion is, shows that men may not fall down and idolize their own wit and power. A change from acts of sin to moral duties may be done by a natural strength and the power of natural conscience: for the very same motives which led to sin, as education, interest, profit, may, upon a change of circumstances, guide men to an outward morality; but a change to the contrary grace is supernatural.

Two things are certain in nature. (1.) Natural inclinations never change, but by some superior virtue. A loadstone will not cease to draw iron, while that attractive quality remains in it. The wolf can never love the lamb, nor the lamb the wolf; nothing but must act suitably to its nature. Water cannot but moisten, fire cannot but burn. So likewise the corrupt nature of man being possessed with an invincible contrariety and enmity to God, will never suffer him to comply with God. And the inclinations of a sinner to sin being more strengthened by the frequency of sinful acts, have as great a power over him, and as natural to him, as any qualities are to natural agents: and being stronger than any sympathies in the world, cannot by a man's own power, or the power of any other nature equal to it, be turned into a contrary channel.

(2.) Nothing can act beyond its own principle and nature. Nothing in the world can raise itself to a higher rank of being than that which nature has placed it in; a spark cannot make itself a star, though it mount a little up to heaven; nor a plant endue itself with sense, nor a beast adorn itself with reason; nor a man make himself an angel. Thorns cannot bring forth grapes, nor thistles produce figs because such fruits are above the nature of those plants. So neither can our corrupt nature bring forth grace, which is a fruit above it. Effectus non excedit virtutem suae causae [the effect cannot exceed the power of its cause]: grace is more excellent than nature, therefore cannot be the fruit of nature. It is Christ's conclusion, "How can you, being evil, speak good things?" Matt. 12:33, 34. Not so much as the buds and blossoms of words, much less the fruit of actions. They can no more change their natures, than a viper can do away with his poison. Now though this I have said be true, yet there is nothing man does more affect in the world than a self-sufficiency, and an independence from any other power but his own. This attitude is as much riveted in his nature, as any other false principle whatsoever. For man does derive it from his first parents, as the prime legacy bequeathed to his nature: for it was the first thing uncovered in man at his fall; he would be as God, independent from him. Now God, to cross this principle, allows his elect, like Lazarus, to lie in the grave till they stink, that there may be no excuse to ascribe their resurrection to their own power. If a putrefied rotten carcass should be brought to life, it could never be thought that it inspired itself with that active principle. God lets men run on so far in sin, that they do unman themselves, that he may proclaim to all the world, that we are unable to do anything of ourselves towards our recovery, without a superior principle....

God deals with men in this case as he did with Abraham. He would not give Isaac while Sarah's womb, in a natural probability, might have borne him; but when her womb was dead, and age had taken away all natural strength of conception, then God gives him; that it might appear that he was not a child of nature, but a child of promise.
- Stephen Charnock

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Criminal Justice?

Last month, the Idaho Statesman ran this piece, which I started to comment on at the time: North Idaho woman faces hard time over spilt soda.

The U.S. attorney's office is making a federal case out of a spilt soda.

The Bush administration's top attorney in Idaho is bringing charges against a North Idaho woman for refusing to pay for a Diet Coke and then pouring it out on a counter at a cafeteria at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Boise.

Natalie Walters, now facing two counts that each carry a maximum sentence of six months in federal prison, thinks the case is a waste of taxpayer money and plans to fight the charges.
You know there was a voice in the back of her head saying "Gitmo" once she heard "federal prison." And, yeah, the case is a waste of taxpayer money--but since when has that stopped this administration (or practically any other administration) from doing something?
U.S. Attorney Tom Moss's office wouldn't comment on the case until after Walters' arraignment, set for Oct. 8.

Roger Banks, listed on the court record as the investigating agent with the Department of Veterans Affairs, did not return the Statesman's phone call Wednesday.

Walters, though, told her side of the story:

The 39-year-old North Idaho resident periodically drives her father, a disabled Vietnam veteran, to Boise's VA Medical Center for doctor visits. She brings her own mug and fills it with soda in the hospital's cafeteria. The cafeteria does not have a posted price for refills, and typically the cashier charges her $1 or $1.50, Walters said.

But on Aug. 20, when Walters filled her mug with Diet Coke, the clerk charged $3.80.

"I told her that cannot be right and asked to talk to the manager," Walters said.

The manager told Walters the price is correct.

Walters decided she didn't want to pay that much and offered to return the soda, she said. But the manager told her there was no way to accept the returned soda and Walters had to pay. Walters refused, and she said she was angry by this point, and she poured the soda onto the counter.
I can absolutely see myself doing this. Will try to remember this as a reason to not take my father to a doctor appointment when asked.
The manager banned Walters from the cafeteria. Walters left but remained in the hospital for a couple of hours waiting for her father to finish his appointments. No one came to talk to her, so she assumed the soda ordeal was over.

What happened the next day upsets Walters most.Welcome to post-9/11 America, Ms. Walters."They did not know who I was. But they had the whole thing on videotape," she said.

The tapes also showed her with her father in other areas of the hospital.

The next day, while her father was at a dental appointment at the VA, an official came in, told him about the incident and asked him to have his daughter contact the hospital.

"They accessed my father's medical records to find out his next appointment to try and find me," she said. "I think that is a (federal health privacy law) violation. Medical records are private," she said. "They should not have used a veteran's medical records to find me. ... My dad was upset. He could not believe it."
Next time I have to sign a HIPAA form, I've got to check the part where your information can be used to track down my family members accused of heinous Federal offenses (like kidnapping, counterfeiting $100's or spilling soda).
Walters never contacted the VA, and that was the last she heard about the incident until a Statesman reporter contacted her Wednesday and informed her of the federal charges and her Oct. 8 arraignment.

She was shocked.

"My father is a veteran. It is a federal facility for veterans. This should have been handled differently," she said. "This is extreme. This is totally extreme. Well, if they have that much time on their hands go for it."
There was a sidebar describing the charges/penalties she faced
Count 1, misdemeanor larceny: " ... consuming a soft drink beverage belonging to the Department of Veterans Affairs without paying for it."

Maximum sentence: 6 months in prison and a $500 fine

Count 2, disturbance: " ... intentionally pouring soft drink beverage from a large mug over the cash register and onto the floor during a disagreement with the cashier over payment."

Maximum sentence: 6 months in prison and a $250 fine.

On the court documents, federal prosecutors estimated a trial on the case would last last two days.
Two days, months in prison and hundreds of dollars in fines. Plus the hundreds in lawyer fees, court costs, etc. Over , what? 64 oz. of flavored carbonated beerage?

Then today, er, yesterday, the Statesman ran this follow-up: Idaho woman agrees to fine in dumped soda case
BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge has dismissed a case against a northern Idaho woman who refused to pay for a $3.80 soft drink refill and then dumped it on a cafeteria counter at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Boise.

Natalie Walters has agreed to pay a $200 fine - the equivalent of more than 50 soda refills at the medical center.
$200? I can see where she'd agree to that, just to get this stupid chapter of her life behind her. But $200? That's a crime.