Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Saturday, January 31, 2004
Striping the U.S.

create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide


Bargain Time in Wonderland
Let me tell you what happened to me today! James was off at the IPMS contest and I was on my own. I mailed out my mom's birthday gift and another package, then went to the library, then drove down to Dragon 168 for some fried rice for lunch (and dinner).

On the way home, I stopped at a used CD/DVD place. One reason I love DVDs is because you can buy used ones for cheap without worrying about oxides fouling your tape heads. I was looking for a copy of Blazing Saddles and found one. I noticed they already had a used copy of Alice in Wonderland, which was released 1/27 and which I'd planned to buy at Sam's. Here it was $14.95, which I knew would be even cheaper than Sam's. So I picked it up.

Oh, said the guy at the counter, you can leave that there. I have another one behind the counter. He then produced another DVD from behind the counter, and slit open the wrapper and security seal to make sure both disks were in the set. I paid him without my jaw dropping. So what I got was a new copy for the price of a used one. Wow.

So I spent the later afternoon watching Alice and all the trimmings. I didn't go into the Virtual Tea Party or the other children's games, but I did watch the material on the second disk, which was a marvelous trip back in time. There were two theatrical trailers, Walt Disney's introductions from when Alice appeared on his television series, a little black and white short of writer James Melton visiting the Disney Studios and seeing how the movie is made, and Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of Alice introducing two little bits, the Cheshire Cat song that was never recorded and the story about Peter Pan's "Second Star to the Right." This, the most memorable song, from that animated Disney film, was originally written for Alice! It was re-used with different lyrics when it was decided to cut it from Alice.

This leaves the three most fascinating extras.

The first was "One Hour in Wonderland," originally telecast Christmas Day 1950 on ABC and sponsored by Coca-Cola. Like everyone in Hollywood, Walt Disney was eventually persuaded to join the television bandwagon. "Wonderland" is the first appearance of Disney on television. It's a wonderfully old-fashioned show that begins with Edgar Bergen and his "pals," puppets Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, attending a party at Disney Studios and meeting Kathryn Beaumont, Bobby Driscoll (who was in the Disney films Treasure Island and So Dear to My Heart, among others), Walt himself, and the Magic Mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, voiced by Hans Conreid, who introduces two Disney cartoons, the critically acclaimed "Clock Cleaners" and another in which Pluto flees to a house of mirrors to hide his bone from a pursuing bulldog. Clips from Snow White and the recently much-maligned Song of the South are also shown, along with the Mad Tea Party sequence from Alice.

The second interesting extra is a 30-minute excerpt from The Fred Waring Program, in which Waring and his Pennsylvanians play the music from Alice. Kathryn Beaumont and Sterling Holloway, the voice of the Cheshire cat, appear, and scenes from Alice are presented on stage along to the music, inluding, interestingly enough, scenes that are in the book, but not in the movie! Poor Kathryn Beaumont sounded like she had a cold and could barely croak her way through her songs, but the young lady who was in the Dormouse outfit looked like she was having a great old time.

The third extra is the oldest and the most interesting. Disney started his Hollywood film career with a series of silent shorts called "The Alice Comedies," live-action paired with animation about inquisitive little Alice, played by Virginia Davis, who interacted with cartoon critters. Presented on the DVD is the very first "Alice Comedy," "Alice's Wonderland," which sold the series, from 1923. It's a wonderful print, although incomplete, and a marvelous curiosity.


» Friday, January 30, 2004
The Friday Five

You have just won one million dollars:

1. Who do you call first?

Gosh, that would leave me vacillating between my mom and my husband. Tell you what: the first call I make is to work, shrieking hysterically, "I won, I won, I'll never have to look at another purchase order as long as I live."

2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself?

A PT Cruiser.

3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else?

What's that airplane you want, sweetie? A Cessna Citation?

4. Do you give any away? If yes, to whom?

My mom, so she won't have to worry about where the money's coming from for her false teeth, taxes, and the guy who shovels her driveway at $20/storm.

5. Do you invest any? If so, how?

I'm sure I would, but I know nothing about investments. A friend's bimonthly reports on his stock investments leave my eyes crossed. I guess I'd find an investment counselor--although it would be hard to find one who didn't look to me as a cash cow.

(Lessee, I'd sure like to invest a little money in getting Remember WENN onto DVD, since those dickheads at AMC don't have a clue...)


» Thursday, January 29, 2004
Wobbly No More
I had received a message yesterday that the infamous Wobble Wedges had shipped Tuesday night. I got them today. Wow.


Thursday Threesome

Onesome- The happiest day: Tell us about the happiest day of your life.

Since I'm a woman, I think I'm expected to gush "My wedding day, of course." It was a lovely day, but I don't think it was the happiest day. I don't know if I have one crystalline happy moment. There are many happy moments that made my heart ache with their happiness: roaming around Brenton Point in Newport on a breezy autumn day, feeding the sparrows in front of Warburton's in Cambridge, those lazy Sunday mornings with James baking biscuits and Bandit snuggled on my shoulder, the moment went the lights go down and the choir sings "Silent Night" by candlelight on Christmas Eve...but one? The visit to the Remember WENN set, perhaps.

Twosome- The happiest hour: What’s your favourite time of the day, and why?

I'd say 4:30 p.m. during the week, but I still have to face commuter traffic. Six a.m., actually--on a day I can sleep late. :-)

Threesome- Mine eyes shall see: What’s the one thing/place you would really like to see in your life?

Great Britain.


» Wednesday, January 28, 2004
When the Red, Red Wobble Goes Wobb, Wobb, Wobbling Along
Okay, they're not red...

Over the years we've come to rely on some clear plastic shims called "Wobble Wedges" to keep our numerous bookcases on the straight and narrow. We first found these at the Container Store, and then found a similar product somewhere else, but they were not ridged like the Wobble Wedges and thus did not lock together securely if you used two.

When we rearranged the den, we dutifully removed all the Wobble Wedges from their present locations and redistributed them under the rearranged furniture. However, we ran out when it came to the DVD towers, which originally had stood straight, and the narrow black tower. And don't say, a little bit crooked doesn't matter--these things are not "a little" crooked. The former garage floor under our den carpet is none too even; both the DVD towers are canted off at the top at least an inch compared to the bottom, one tilting left, one tilting right, and the black tower is off at least an inch, too, although it shows up less because it is taller.

We went to the Container Store at Perimeter Mall prepared to buy at least two more packages of six--and were astonished to discover they were all out. I've gone to the CS for years now and have never seen them to be out of Wobble Wedges. The salesgirl even called the Buckhead store to see if they had any; they were all out and the Wedges were on backorder.

The other night I did a search for them on the internet and got the surprise of my life: I'd always thought they were the priciest at the Container store, at $2.49 for a pack of six. Every other place I found them wanted more than that.

Then I stumbled onto a place called "Sporty's Tools." They not only had them, but in a bucket of 75 for only $12.95. But was this Sporty's place dependable?

James squinted at the logo and laughed. Apparently these Sporty people have been in business for years, providing aviation supplies to pilots--and James, being up on the aviation world, would know if they had bad reviews. So I ordered the wedgies.

I did this on Sunday, they shipped yesterday. Cool!


» Tuesday, January 27, 2004
For Bandit...
I found this poem about the time Bandit was diagnosed as being chronically ill. I know I'd saved it, but realized just last night that it was probably on my old hard drive, the computer having had "surgery" since then.

Many thanks to "toucanldy" on rec.pets.birds, who passed this on to me again:

I'll lend you, for a little while, a bird of mine, He said.
For you to love while he lives, and mourn when he is dead.
It may be six or seven years, or maybe twenty-three,
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?
He'll bring his charms to gladden you, and shall his stay be brief,
You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay, as all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this bird to learn.
I've looked the whole world over in my search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes, I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love - not think this labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call, to take him back again.
I fancied that I heard them say, 'Dear Lord, thy will be done.'
For all the joy this bird shall bring, the risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shower him with tenderness and love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known, forever grateful stay.
And should the angels call for him much sooner than we planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes, and try to understand.

Love ya, Squeaker.


» Monday, January 26, 2004
Heart (Valentine, That Is) Trauma
Now playing in Holiday Harbour.


Spies in the Circuits
James had been having a problem with his computer for the past few weeks or so.

It started when he downloaded the newest "Elf Bowling" game from the Screen Savers site (SS is a one-hour weekday television series on TechTV that gives you all sorts of tips and tricks for your computer and videogames, provides computer hardware reviews, etc.). We have found the website informative and the little bits of software they recommend quite useful.

Elf Bowling, on the other had, is just for fun. The original game was simply a bowling game with elves for pins. You stood in for Santa, trying to bowl down the rude, taunting elves (apparently there are labor problems at the North Pole). Version 2 was even more irreverent, involving using Mrs. Santa's bra as a catapult to knock down elves in a version of shuffleboard.

The moment James downloaded this year's version, however, he ran into a problem: every time he either went into My Computer or Windows Explorer, he got a buffer overrun error. The nadir of the entire affair was last week, when he was trying to put in a Paypal order for some special decals. He prefers to use Mozilla to browse the Web and for some reason Paypal kept telling him he didn't have cookies enabled when he did.

When he tried to open Internet Explorer, he got another buffer overrun error.

He spent most of one night downloading Microsoft patches that claimed to fix the problem. Four downloads later, he was still at status quo.

Then he downloaded the newest version of AdAware, which is software that checks your computer for spyware. While most spyware simply tries to gather information on you, some of it forces your computer to do things it isn't supposed to do, or occasionally mucks up your unit.

The latter evidently is what caused all the trouble. James ran the progam, ran a scan, and deleted about 13 files AdAware told him contained spyware. Once those were deleted, My Computer, Windows Explorer, and Internet Explorer all worked fine again.

He warned me to do so, even though I'd been having no problems with my computer. Zowee! AdAware identified 31  files on my computer that were carrying spyware!


Monday Madness

1. The one kitchen appliance I just could not live without is my _______.

Refrigerator. Where else would we keep the milk? :-)

2. My desk always looks like _______.

A bomb went off on it.

3. The clocks in my house are always ____ minutes fast.

Zero. I like my clocks to be on time. The bedroom clock is five minutes fast, though, so I can try to leave for work on time.

4. The one television program I just can't stand is _______.

Just one? There are so many reality shows. Oh, and Friends. (Now that Seinfeld is gone, it's hard to find just one...)

5. The one television program I try to never miss is _______.


6. When it comes to housework, I really hate cleaning ________.

Bathrooms. To the point where I have nightmares about it. The kitchen's almost as bad.

7. If I could re-design my living room, the first thing I would do is _______.

Gosh, we're doing that now. We've even got a new set of lights.

Structurally I'd get rid of what used to be the side garage door and put in a real window.

Oh, wait, I'm talking about the den, which is our living room. Our real living room I'd make bigger to fit more books in it. :-)

8. I wish I had a bigger ______ in my house.

Didn't I already answer this? :-)

9. When someone points a camera at me and says 'Smile!' I usually ________.

Smile hideously. Makes me self-conscious.

10. I expect I'll have my income tax done by _______.

Myself. Well, me and my buddy Turbo-Tax, anyway.


» Sunday, January 25, 2004
Cold, Wet and Depressed
Reports from possibly mythical psychiatrists vary. The common belief is that Christmas makes some folks so depressed that more suicides take place during the holidays and more people complain to their doctors. Other studies have said this isn't true.

I would expect if you had a bad life, or just too many high expectations of Christmas because of advertising, the holidays might make you suicidal. Or if you were snowed in alone, for weeks, as so many of our pioneer ancestors were, life might seem too bleak to go on.

But if I were to contemplate suicide, I'd probably do it on a day like today. If there is anything more depressing in regular, everyday weather, it's a winter day of steady, relentless, cold rain. This is where folks usually bleat "Sure glad it wasn't snow." And maybe in the South you can't blame 'em, because lurking under that snow is usually ice.

But snow, even that which much be shoveled, turns the world into magic. Adults become kids again, snowballs fly, it's brisk and chill and still--the whole world has an unearthly hush as the blanket of snow absorbs sound. There's almost a quiet chiming in the air as if the echoes of tiny sleighbells. Ugliness is blanketed with sparkling white, shadows turn blue and silver instead of gloomy black. The outdoors calls you to go play, slide back the years and slide downhill, make snow angels, and roll to your feet and start all over again.

But dark winter skies and endless rain--cold, wet rain burrowing under your collar, up your sleeves, down your neck. Where snow brushes off, this creeps deep into your hat, your coat, your shoes, your skin, your bones...your soul. You long for fires and blankets and hot soup, and even wrapped up and sipping broth can't get the chill out of your heart.


» Saturday, January 24, 2004
Something Missing
Today was...better. I'm still wandering around thinking I've forgotten something: I haven't gone upstairs to get Bandit to bring him down, or need to bring him upstairs, haven't said hello to him, haven't let him out, haven't brought him to see the Pretty Bird in the Mirror. The house is eerily quiet: no calling, no singing, no crunch of seeds, no rattling of the bell, no sounds of the television he was watching. No need to put it on anymore.

My body's still reacting badly; we went back to the Brazilian buffet Jerry Lawson recommended, determined to try the grill. I had several pieces of delicious beef tenderloin and a little chicken--and then my digestion went to hell and I sat there as James finished more beef and some luscious looking pork tenderloin, queasy as all get out. He later went off to the IPMS meeting and I went to Harry's Farmer's Market and got myself a fresh-baked loaf of French bread, about all my tummy could take. It happens when I'm stressed anyway.


» Friday, January 23, 2004
"How Quiet, How Quiet the Chamber Is..."
This sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I have no one to talk to.

I don't mean conversation, the way James and I talk. I mean...talking. I was always talking to Bandit; maybe it's why he talked so much. I'd get up in the morning and point out something that was on the news, or tell him I was afraid of the traffic, or when I didn't feel good. When I got home I'd tell him about the traffic, ask him what Dr. Phil was going on about, or what was going on on Passions. I'd talk about what I was reading, or point out birds on the television, as if I was teaching a small child.

He'd stretch out his little neck to listen to me, trying to get his beak as close to my mouth as possible. This was usually the cue to give him a kiss--the vet said not to kiss him, but how can one not kiss a budgie, with that adorable, fluffy face and those bright little dark eyes?

If he'd been here tonight, I would have exclaimed about the bird category on Jeopardy, and the funny parrot on PetStar, and when NBC news talked about Bob Keeshan passing away, I would have said, "Look, Bandit, that's Captain Kangaroo. I used to watch him when I was a chick. Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans and Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose and the Grandfather Clock...and Mighty Manfred and Tom Terrific..." and he would have listened, and chirbled, and I would have said "Really?" and he would have chirbled some more...


The Last Dance
Anyone who's been reading this blog for a while probably remembers the scares I had for a couple of months with my budgie, Bandit, being ill. He had problems with panting heavily after flying and I took him to the vet. It was in February 2001 she warned me that he either had a growth or an enlarged liver, and there was little to be done about either, unless it was the liver problem and I could get him to change his seed diet. I saw little hope, since I'd been trying to change it for it'd been trying to do that for seven years. At that time she gave him about a year to live.

So instead I did what I could. He was always warm and comfortable, had as much exercise as he could take, watched his "teevee," beat up the little bell toy in his cage. And the months passed.

We had our little traditions. One was "waltzing" (with him sitting on the finger of my left hand looking puzzled) with him on Independence Day, during "He Plays the Violin" in 1776. Another was our dance to "You Make It Christmas" at the end of Remember WENN's Christmas episode, which we played every year. The 2003 dances were taken with a grateful heart that he had made it through another year.

"You Make It Christmas" was Bandit's last dance.

Despite his illness he seemed to do well through Christmas, although he was spending a lot more time snuggling near my neck than doing anything else. Everything else was normal, including eating (he could still denude a piece of millet faster than you could say Jack Robinson); the dozing--well, even though budgies have lived until age 15, nine is still pretty geriatric for your usual budgerigar. But last weekend, between the tumult of the television delivery and redoing the den, I noticed he seemed more weary than usual.

I realized he was failing again. He didn't even seem interested when we visited the pretty bird in the mirror, and he wouldn't make his little "bell sound," his imitation of the bell on the end of his exercise rings, which was always a sure sign he was unwell.

However, he'd made the bell sound on Wednesday night, and when I got home from work and while I was chatting with my mom yesterday evening, he seemed particularly chipper, talking and shrieking away, asking me "Do you want turkey?" and courting my finger. Later, while he still snuggled close to my neck most of the night, he had enough energy to fly to his cage, get a few mouthfuls of seed, and then come back.

At bedtime I jingled the bells for him and he gave a full-throated reply, and chirbled to my finger again.

This morning when I got up for work, I padded into the spare bedroom to put on my shoes (James is still in bed when I get up) and say good morning. Most mornings Bandit gives a little kiss or makes a noise or at least ruffles his feathers audibly when I do so, but this morning he was quiet. I wasn't surprised; as he got older he was harder to wake up. So I went downstairs, got my milk, and came back to turn on the light.

He wasn't on either of his two sleeping places, on his mirror perch or in his swing. I knew what it meant, and pulled off the cage covers with my heart in my mouth...he was at the bottom of his cage, under his water dish, his wings slack, little eyes glazed. I touched him, but he was quite still and quite cold.

Since 2001 I'd been trying to prepare myself. I'd even have little humorous conversations with him, meant for myself, talking about how someday he'd grow up to be a big strong eagle or go off to delivery owl post to Hogwarts. When he started mouth-breathing, I bought him a vaporizer and commiserated with him about his "asthma."

Nothing can ever prepare you enough for the emptiness left by someone, even if that someone is an ounce of fluff and bone and body. The hole seems a mile deep and too many of them wide. I'll miss the little "cotton boll" snuggling at my neck, his little voice asking me "Do you want turkey?" and breathing a resigned "Yes, dear," the funny way he would sit on the perch outside his cage and yank at the rings dangling from it to get my attention, or clamber over the outside of the cage to ring the bell, as if to say "I'm here." The way he'd dive-bomb Willow when she sat in James' lap, or try to land on her head to nibble on the delectable "strings" of her fur, and the way he had of knowing just when I was getting to the end and "the good part" of a book, and fly over to start chewing on the pages. The way he'd call to me when I got home from work, yank on the little toy bell near his mirror when he got mad or frustrated ("This is your fault!"), tell me long stories when I got home from work, and that one, funny year where he apparently developed a crush on Claudia Christian's narration to the third season of Babylon 5 and would race around the room, chirping wildly during the entirety of the opening credits. How I could pop him in his carry box and he would go get ice cream with us, or how he enjoyed the ride to Charlotte and Chesnee, how he stared at those fish in Petsmart, how the only trip he never liked was the yearly one to the vet where they grabbed his wings and gave him a shot. How we'd get back from vacation and pick him up from boarding and the vet techs would tell us how much they enjoyed his talking. "Oh, I know him," one said the last time we brought him and Willow to board, "he's the one that says he's not a chicken."

His body sleeps in front of the house now, with his mirror and the bell he shook so savagely for nine years; his soul is somewhere grand, I hope, flying all the trips he couldn't fly in the past two years. Maybe he's found Leia and is trying to chew on her whiskers again--and it makes me happy to think maybe he's met up with my dad, or Dana Sherman, who laughed so when he would jump on the keyboard and type random letters while we were on chat.

I've decided no more birds for a while. After all the time I spent worrying about him, I need time to relax, get my bearings again. Plus there's things we've wanted to paint and didn't do so in deference to his weak lungs. Maybe there'll be another bird again...too soon to think about it now, though. For now I'll just wrap myself up in a fleece throw and remember how warm it was to have that little fellow snuggled trustingly against my neck.

"Sleep well, my little love."


Friday Five

One always needs distractions.

At this moment, what is your favorite...


Still and always "The Impossible Dream."


Pork fried rice from Dragon 168.

3. show?

Still Lassie. :-)

4. ...scent?


5. ...quote?

"Live, live, live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." . . . . . Auntie Mame


» Thursday, January 22, 2004
Thursday Threesome

Onesome: Out-- Are you getting out and about lately? ...or is school/the weather/work/illness keeping you cooped up inside?

Nothing but boring old 40s and 50s here. I don't think we're going to get any snow at all. I'm sure my mom and the other folks in New England and the Midwest would think that's a relief. Not getting out mostly because we've been rearranging the den, which I've talked about at length here. Eventually we do have to get that carriage bolt for our pruner and go out and get those tree branches before it gets too warm (around here the end of February...). I don't want ants in my bathroom again if I can help it.

It wouldn't matter to me if it snowed anyway. I love going out and walking in the snow.

Twosome: of the-- Blue? Does the Winter season 'get to you'? ...or do you handle it as well as you do Summer?

I handle winter better than summer. I can't breathe well when it's too hot and I hate the bugs and the simmering feeling you get in the summer. I don't get SADD or anything like that from it being "dark." Bright lights and sunlight give me headaches anyway. The only weather I really hate are those days when you get a slow, steady, cold winter rain. It would be less damp and cold if it snowed on those days.

If I'm blue, it's because Christmas is over. Everything is back to being plain and mundane again.

Threesome: Loop-- Hey, Spring is coming (and Winter is still here for some); do you have a loop you drive or walk to check out the scenery? What do you see when you're out and about?

All spring means is that I start sneezing. I'm allergic to flowers. Oh, and there's the wonderful week or two when everything is covered with yellow pine pollen. Plus spring means that summer is on its all-natural bummer. However, there are a lot of flowering trees around here, either naturally growing or planted by homeowners. One of my favorite spring drives is West Paces Ferry Road, west out of Buckhead to Highway 41. Habersham Road, off West Paces, is also very pretty. These roads are where the rich folks live and they have great quantities of flowering trees, bushes, and plants. One house has its long, long driveway lined on either side with Bradford pear trees. These trees have egg-shaped bodies and look like giant snowballs when they bloom.


» Monday, January 19, 2004
Time Out for Happiness
This morning I finished tidying up the den. As I said, it's not finished. We still have to figure out what to do with that extra tape case, as well as some type of support for one of the CD spinners. Unfortunately, neither of them spin right now; they're on the top of the tape case and thus too close together. We are also planning to reverse the recliner and the sofa, if that works, and we need to find some type of light--perhaps a form of track lighting we can put a dimmer on--that goes above the level of the television. The screen is shiny slick and reflects everything.

Lighting's always been a problem down there anyway; most of the illumination is supplied by these swing-arm lamps, which have to be down lower to do any good--but they reflect in the television screen something hideous--and they have not been good for many of my craft projects or for ease of cross-stitching.

I did get a bunch of things tossed or put away, and took the rolling cart that the tapes had been on, plus a load of miscellaneous things, to Goodwill before going out and having a bit of relaxation for myself. I bought a couple of really inexpensive, but useful items at Michael's, and pretty much pigged out on those Media Play coupons. I didn't realize they had Anne of Green Gables: the Sequel out at those stores at such a reasonable price! Even has been selling them for $30+, making me reluctant to order it. And I was much happier that the quality was better than Anne of Green Gables--maybe Sullivan got the message after complaints about its quality.

I also bought a couple of favorite silly Disney flicks: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (which has Jon Provost in it, in one of his few roles after Lassie), and The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit. Both of these are apparently part of the "Kurt Russell collection," but I assure you I bought the last one for Dean Jones--oh, and the horse! I love greys.

Plus I replaced our VHS copies of Adventures in Babysitting and The Great Mouse Detective. And I bought a David Lanz double CD.

Quite enough for a while, thanks. Still have yet to crack Babylon 5 (season 4) and most of M*A*S*H (season 5). Was really tempted by season 1 of Barney Miller, though. Loved that show.

I'm worried about going back to work tomorrow. My right arm is still hurting. The doctor says I have tendonitis and that I should spend 15 minutes a night icing it down. Damn, I spend most of the evening trying to warm up my hands! It's not too bad typing with my arm close to my body, but the moment I lay my hand on the mouse it tingles and hurts. The old purchase order system was basically a DOS program and manipulated with typing and keyboarding; since we started with the new purchase order generating system (ICE, which is as chilly as it sounds), 80 percent of my manipulation is mouse work and it's definitely starting to show.

I may have to learn to work the mouse with my left hand. A friend of mine has had to do that due to a bad wrist.


Monday Madness

"Let's try something different this week. For each of the statements below, put a T for true or F for false. Oh yeah; please feel FREE to elaborate! "

1. I often wake up before my alarm clock goes off.

T, which is always why I'm so damned tired during the week. If I could sleep solidly from midnight until six it wouldn't be so bad.

2. I love to drive; in any kind of weather!

F. I don't like to drive on ice at any time. God did not mean for cars to ice skate, not even with snow tires or chains on. I do not mind driving on snow. Real snow, not the kind with ice underneath, is actually not that bad to drive on. You just slow down a bit, make sure the car has its "feet" under it, and stay alert.

It's the other nutcases I worry about in the snow...

3. I'd rather have to worry about staying warm than staying cool.

T. T. T. When you get warm, there's only so much you can take off without scaring the horses.

4. I wish I lived in another state.

T. One with real seasons, thanks.

5. Multi-tasking is what I do best!

??? Depends. At home, yes. At work, no. That's because what I do at home makes sense.

6. Flying is the only way to go!

T if you only have a week's vacation. If you've got all the time in the world, take a car, or the train. A friend of ours just finished helping his sister drive her car cross country so she could get to her new job without having to wait to ship the car. What a lovely adventure. I wish it had been me.

7. Budgeting my money is one of my downfalls.

T usually. I think I overdid it today. Well, Media Play had coupons on DVDs...

8. I wish there was 8 days in the week!

T unless the eighth day is a weekday. Then F! F! F! all the way!

9. I get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

F. Only on weekends.

10. I'm a night owl.

T, which is why I don't get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. At 10 p.m., I'm just getting lively here! And I have to get up at six to try to avert the worst of the ridiculous traffic.


» Sunday, January 18, 2004
Frankly, Captain, I'm Exhausted
Our television was delivered yesterday. It's a 36" Panasonic "Tau" HDTV model. Yes, the pic is absolutely gorgeous, especially with DVDs. We're having a mild problem with the satellite reception; there is a very faint vertical line right of center on the screen. It's not the television itself, because it doesn't show up on DVD. It didn't show up on the last set; it appeared once we hitched the satellite box to it. We're wondering maybe if an HD television is so sensitive it's picking up interference.

Yesterday and today we have done nothing but rearrange the den (save for the few hours we had some friends over--guys, the mess you saw is now 90 percent improved!): the television is now in the corner, with the satellite box on top, and the other electronics underneath. The whole unit is flanked on either side by DVD towers, and to the left of the lefthand DVD tower are my two videotape cases stacked on each other, then to the left of the cases is a bookcase full of our media books. Right now to the left of the bookcase is a case for James' videos, then the papasan chair with the subwoofer under it. This probably will change configuration. I had to put the tape case in sideways and it looks funny, and the top is still too small to hold both CD spinners, as I originally intended.

To the right of the television and the DVD tower on that side is a second, wire DVD tower, my little table that I intend to leave room for, if not in that specific place, and a big chest that at the moment has a lamp and the bird's playpen and several other things on it. I want to get this chest emptied--it's full of our Babylon 5 trading cards and other junk--and take it upstairs to use as a blanket chest. It's a handcrafted chest that we bought at a craft festival and it's really too nice to be used as a glorified table.

So perhaps the second tape case could go there instead.

As an added bonus, all the electrical plugs are finally uncovered! We'd discovered about a year ago, after constantly complaining about a shortage of electrical plugs, that we'd covered one up with the bookcase!

On top of that, today we got the old entertainment center, six feet high and almost as wide, safely to Goodwill, and another cart is in my car for a similar trip tomorrow. I now have a bookcase to store my cross-stitch books/equipment in (along with James' LPs).

I have to admit parts of the room still look really untidy, but I hurt too much right now to really care. Maybe tomorrow I can make more improvements, after I make up a little to Bandit for the neglect of the past two days.


» Friday, January 16, 2004
The Friday Five

1. What does it say in the signature line of your emails?

It depends on the e-mail. I have four sigs I use in rotation on personal mail. My Lassie mail has my Lassie website URL. I have a Remember WENN URL for WENN mail.

2. Did you have a senior quote in your high school yearbook? What was it? If you haven't graduated yet, what would you like your quote to be?

No senior quote.

3. If you had vanity plates on your car, what would they read? If you already have them, what do they say?

Probably "Lassie." But I won't pay the extra money. It seems silly.

4. Have you received any gifts with messages engraved upon them? What did the inscription say?


5. What would you like your epitaph to be?

I try not to think about things like that.


» Thursday, January 15, 2004
Thursday Threesome

::Confucius say::

Onesome- I hear and I forget. What’s the one thing you’ve had explained to you over and over, but it still goes in one ear and out the other?

Algebra...and the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation). At least algebra is "written in mathematics" and I understand not understanding. The FAR is supposedly written in English. It's not, really. It's written in Legal, which is about as comprehensible as French.

Twosome- I see and I remember. Is there anything you’ve learned how to do just by watching someone else do it first?


Threesome- I do and I understand. Is there anything you excel at that you taught yourself to do?

HTML, I guess. But CSS and XML give me headaches. I can look at it and mostly understand how it works, but writing it on my own is a different story. As web stuff goes, I'm becoming a dinosaur.


» Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Judge: Drunk Driver Must Carry Victim's Photo
BUTLER, Pennsylvania (AP) -- A woman who was drunk when she killed a man in a head-on collision must carry a photograph of the teacher in his coffin as part of her five years of probation, a judge ruled...prosecutors said Langston was drunk and talking on a cell phone in June 2002 when she crossed the center line and hit a pickup truck carrying Glenn Clark and his pregnant wife, Annette. He died, his wife remains in a coma and their son, born by Caesarean section five months after the crash, is being raised by relatives.

Well, good for the judge...speaking as someone who had a favorite cousin murdered by a drunk driver. Pity she doesn't have to carry a placard around saying "I'm a murderer," too.


A Blast From Winters Past

Ah, yes, when the good ol' days are really less than good ol':

Wednesday, January 14, 2004, by Peter Lord

The National Weather Service is warning New Englanders that temperatures during the next several days are expected to drop to lows that haven't been felt around here for more than two decades.

Temperatures were expected to reach only 12 degrees today at T.F. Green Airport, in Warwick, and then drop to 5 degrees tonight. Temperatures tomorrow and Friday are expected to range between minus 3 and 10. The forecast also calls for some snow and gale-force winds.

What do you do? Well, you just get used to it. I remember the delightful winter day I had to walk to school in 0 degree weather; with the windchill it was -10. Compound this by the fact that this was back when girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. Instead I wore nylons with heavy knee socks over them, and my fur-lined boots. I had a sweater on, with a vest over it, and underneath I had on one of my dad's undershirts. Plus the coat, plus a sweater, plus a scarf, and hat and gloves, of course.

The utterly stupid thing is that I recall that day girls showing up for school with no hats on. They were afraid of spoiling their hair! One girl's ears were actually a vivid shade of purple when she walked into the classroom. Never could understand people who would risk their health just to "look nice."

But I'll wager there are girls and boys prancing around Rhode Island (heck, southern New England period) middle and high school today without hats. Ah, youthful stupidity never dies...


» Monday, January 12, 2004
You Can't Go Home Again
I signed off chat "early" Saturday night (about 1:15 a.m.) because the draft near the door was so cold, but I stayed up to watch the last half hour of TV Land's little superhero programming block, which was the old 1970s live-action Captain Marvel series, Shazam!

I'll admit that I watched this show back when it was originally on. The draw for me was radio performer Les Tremayne, whose voice I adored and who played Billy Batson's genial "Mentor." Les Tremayne would have been the only thing that persuaded me to watch this awful show: it was filmed 1970s cheesy style on soap-opera type videotape, the plots were beat-you-over-the-head morality plays with little or no violence because of the ban on children's action series with their hideous "relevant" hip language and situations, and the acting for the most part was horrendous, probably because of the scripts. Last Saturday's episode featured a teenage Sean Kelly, who as a slightly younger boy had done a pretty creditable acting job on several episodes of Lassie, so I knew he could act. But the characters had nothing to act with; it was as if they had to work with the product of a 10-year-old author of the fifth grade class play.

(Frankly, I think that at ten I could have turned out better material...)

Even at age 61 Tremayne had a great voice. He died last year, age 90. Always wondered if he kept "the voice" until the end.

The music really created flashbacks...Shazam! was produced by Filmation, who did so many series back in the 70s it's hard to count: I can think of Star Trek (the best of the lot), Lassie's Rescue Rangers, Fantastic Voyage, Emergency Plus 4 (Gage, DeSoto, and the obligatory four kids), Valley of the Dinosaurs, Shazam!, Isis... I'd love to see Lassie's Rescue Rangers again just for the sake of accuracy of my web page. I remember it being pretty bad, and Rudd Weatherwax apparently loathed the thing. I do remember Fantastic Voyage with some affection; the plots seemed to be a little more intelligent. But they all had that same, interchangable and memorable, score by Lou Schirmer--once you heard one cartoon, it was impossible not to identify another Filmation cartoon just by the music.


The Last Unicorn
I was really bushed the last time I was visiting my in-laws, but I could have sworn I heard my sister-in-law saying she was searching desperately for another copy of this movie. It's still available at

The DVD version comes out March 16 (note: it's $3 cheaper at Deep Discount DVD and there's no shipping charges).

Which (in my mind anyway) begs the question: when's someone going to release all those great specials Chuck Jones did for television on DVD? I'm talking about the three Kipling adaptations, Mowgli's Brothers, The White Seal and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, plus The Cricket in Times Square and the Christmas sequel A Very Merry Cricket (I've never seen Yankee Doodle Cricket, so don't know if that's worth burning to DVD--but it would make a complete collection!).


More TV and Re-arrangement
If we were just swapping out the TV, it would be different, but we're getting a larger one, which won't fit in the old entertainment center. The old entertainment center has done a yeoman job anyway; it's been saddled with components, videotapes, and the television, and is now a bit swaybacked in the middle, but has stood the test of time.

We bought a new stand on Saturday as well. Since we got a 36" television, there are not many entertainment centers that would fit it without it costing an arm and a leg. Plus we want the television in the corner rather than where it is now. I always wanted it up against the far wall, not where it is now, where it reflects the light coming in the glass doors even when the blinds are tightly shut. However, that's where the folks who helped us move put it the day we moved, and I had no intention of asking people who were nice enough to help us move in 99 degree weather with 98 humidity to move something yet again.

(I looked at corner entertainment units and simply screamed. The darn things cost as much as or more than the television. I saw a gorgeous unit at the unpainted furniture store on Fairground Road. Before finishing it was $1200!)

Neither James nor I liked the corner units we saw anywhere else, though. They all had two shelves below and were very low. We probably would have settled for the unit at BJ's, which was industrial but not bad looking, then we found this stand at Circuit City where we got the television, with three levels underneath and lifting the TV to the height we were accustomed to. It was the display model and had some nicks and scratches in it, so they knocked a bunch off the price. When we got it home I applied those wax furniture repair crayons to the finish, then buffed it down with Pledge. I will not say you can't see the nicks or the scratches, since they are right in front. However, they are less obvious to the point of nearly invisible, and I'm not going for House Beautiful here, only House Neat. "That'll do, pig."

I was well aware that the area over the TV would be "dead space." Accordingly I bought a corner shelf at Michael's, painted it a metallic blue and silver, and James has mounted it in the corner, with an appropriate rocket model (an Redstone with Gus Grissom's "Liberty Bell 7" on the top). Next I will move two of the move posters (probably Apollo  and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) to either side of the corner shelf. That will keep the corner bright, as the den is dark-panelled. Then the DVD towers will flank either side of the TV.

Our big problem clearing out the corner is the last third. Yesterday we got rid of one bookcase (it was disposed of rather than donated because the top and one shelf were in a splintery condition) and moved a tower bookcase into the bathroom briefly. The last obstacle is the big five-shelfer with all the media books on it--not moving it per se, but where to pile the books when we do move it. The formerly empty corner of the den is clotted with two CD spinners, and my cross-stitch stuff (which was in the discarded bookcase), plus what stuff was already there (used clipboards, the old non-working laptop, and the dog's bed). It is a problem...


Monday Madness

1. When I sing, I sound like a _________.

pony (I'm a little hoarse) GDRLH!

2. ________ is my favorite month of the year.


3. I've always wanted to improve my ________ skills.

Web design.

4. It's Monday morning, and the first thing that goes through my mind is ________.

Please God don't let me get killed on the freeway this morning.

5. My favorite day of the week is ________ because _______.

Saturday, because it's not a workday, but I'm not preparing for Monday like on Sunday.

6. I used to/currently collect _______.

Dust? I've finished collecting my St. Nicholases, at least the ones I want. I'd love to grab the missing May to October 1928 volume, but it's not urgent.

7. At the end of a work day/school day, the first thing I want to do is ________.


8. I really look forward to ________ because it's my favorite holiday.

Christmas. (Least favorite holiday: Halloween.)

9. When I need some down-time, I usually _________.

Read and/or spend time with Bandit.

10. I plan to travel to _________ someday.

Oh, if I say "plan to" I'll never get there. I would like to go to Great Britain someday.


"F Troop Back to Normal, Sir"
Sans tree, in Holiday Harbour.


» Saturday, January 10, 2004
Well, We Did It
Bought a new television. HD. No, we didn't get the plasma...we weren't that crazy.

It gets delivered next Saturday.

This means massive rearrangement of the den. Oy.


» Friday, January 09, 2004
Christmas is Still in My Heart...
Holiday books still reign at Holiday Harbour.


And Then a Miracle Occurred
I love annotated books. I have an annotated copy of A Christmas Carol, and am drooling because a new version has come out. I loved the annotated version of James Herriott's books showing what a "sheep hurdle" and other terms he used were. Recently I found out there was an annotated version of Anne of Green Gables, not just annotated, but with a bio of Lucy Maud Montgomery, complete verses of all the poetry Anne cites, information about Prince Edward Island and the real Avonlea, Cavendish, etc.

This was quite an expensive book at $37, and it also went out of print quickly. I've been searching around on the Web for a cheaper edition for a long time, but found the least expensive volume for $29.50 before tax. However, on my birthday my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I explained about this book.

I'm sure she sighed. She always wants me to spend my money on "girly things" like clothes. But she said she would send me $30 to cover the cost of the book.

I've had the check prepared to deposit for a while now, but had not yet ordered the book. Today we tried a new venue for lunch, Mama Fu's Noodle House in the Toco Hills Shopping Center on North Druid Hills Road. I hadn't been to Toco Hills or the surrounding neighborhood for several years, so was looking around when I parked the car down from Mama Fu's. Next to the Publix I got cash from was a little storefront labeled "Discount Books."

I was short of time, but I couldn't help ducking in after lunch was eaten to look around.

You've guessed the ending, right? There in the back with the young adult books was the Annotated Anne, not one but two copies. One was a bit water damaged, but the other, although a little bit bumped and with about 30 pages stuck together at the top (they unstuck with very little effort while I sat at a long, long traffic light), was fine, complete with cover, for only $18.50.



The Friday Five

What one thing are you most looking forward to . . .


Getting out of work.

2. ...over the next week?

Actually, nothing. I have a complete physical coming up. Ugh.

3. ...this year?


4. ...over the next five years?


5. ...for the rest of your life?

I'd say retirement, but chances are I'm going to have to be one of those nice greeters at WalMart to supplement our income.


» Thursday, January 08, 2004
Thursday Movie Night
My copy of Lassie Come Home from Singapore came last night. This is an all-region DVD I bought on e-Bay since American DVD producers seem dedicated to bringing you every trashy movie ever produced in the last 10 years while ignoring really good films.

After watching it I'm wondering if it's some type of bootleg; the quality was fine considering it was an old movie, but I've seen a richer-colored version on TCM. The titles in particular were washed out, although the remainder of the movie is fine.

But it's nice to have a permanent copy of the film in my library.

Later on we watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Ick...uh, Doom. I remembered all the bugs in this movie--the reason I usually don't watch it--and the utterly gross dinner table scene with eating the beetles and the chilled monkey brains--but I'd forgotten just how many damn times Willie Scott screamed, and how really loud this film was. Between the background sounds and the soundtrack music, it literally booms at you most of the time. At one point, something was so loud that Willow, upstairs sleeping in her crate, came shooting down the stairs and threw herself in James' lap.

Makes me wonder whatever happened to the kid who played Short Round...come to think of it, what happened to Short Round anyway? Did Indy send him off to boarding school? Anyway, Ke Huy Quan must be in his mid-thirties now!


Real Simple (Minded)
When I scan the newsstands one of the issues that stands out is a magazine called "Real Simple." It’s purportedly about simplifying your life in various ways, and I’ve been tempted to buy one occasionally.

I was in luck, someone left an old issue in the lunchroom yesterday.

All I can say is thank God I’ve never wasted my money on this junk. And I thought "Woman’s Day" had gotten simple-minded. "Real Simple" is, for one, almost one enormous ad. Two-thirds of the magazine is advertising. Some of it is advertising that gives advice, but mostly, is just big full-page color ads. Simplifying your life, my foot. Most of the ads are for expensive products and clothing. What magazine is left is devoted to few words and a lot of esthetic white space: large white gutters, large white gaps between columns.

I see an increasing instance of magazines being "dumbed down." Another magazine I found in the lunchroom was the December 2003 issue of "Reader's Digest." Remember when RD was full of articles with a few illustrations and occasional photo features? It looks like "Jack and Jill for Boys and Girls" now. The "Quotable Quotes" are scattered on the page instead of in neat columns, in different colors and different fonts." The so-called "book section" is now one chapter from a book rather than a condensed version. Worse, RD has gone in for the "big colored words" type of journalism: you know what I mean. Pullouts, and entire sections, are emphasized by putting certain words and phrases in larger, colored type.

"TV Guide" has gone the same way. Anyone remember when, among the usual fluff pieces on the stars of the time and occasional photo essays, "TV Guide" had in-depth articles on...gasp...television issues, like censorship, violence, news reporting, and all the articles were in ten-point type and actually had information in them, even if they were fluff pieces? Now it's all photos, graphics, big type, and--you guessed it, "big colored words." (The "big colored words" phenomenon has even passed into book publishing. Good God.) Of course, it's getting harder to find articles about TV in "TV Guide" anyway. Almost every other issue has a movie-oriented cover these days. I can see "TV Guide" covering movies that were once television series (Charlie's Angels," and the like), but what in the heck has the Lord of the Rings trilogy or Harry Potter (both of which I like) to do with television?

And folks wonder why I read so many British magazines these days? At least the ones I'm buying are written for people who have more brains than God gave a goat.


Thursday Threesome

Onesome: Top-- Now that things have calmed down, what's at the top of your list to take care of? School? The garden? Shoveling the snow?

Taking down the decorations? :-) Did a lot of that last night. Need to get the winter wreaths and things out of the closet and swapped out with the Christmas ones. Won't have time for the tree until tomorrow.

Twosome: Dead-- ...and then again, what got so dead and buried in the holiday fluff that you may not be able to get get it restarted? That weight loss thing? Reading? Relaxing???

That weight loss thing, probably. BTW, what is this weight-loss crusade Dr. Phil's got himself on lately? Did someone in his family have a heart attack? Did he get diagnosed with high cholesterol? I mean, we've had people like Atkins in the field for years suggesting healthier ways for people to eat and behave and all of a sudden Dr. Phil's everywhere with his weight-loss strategy.

Threesome: Center-- Yeah, relaxing! What are you doing to try to keep yourself centered this year? Some serious down time? Yoga? Long walks in the country?

Reading as always. 'nuggling with the budgie. Things like that.


» Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Always a Dollar Short
Monday Madness

1. Do you use any slang words on a regular basis?

Since I'm not Margo Ledbetter, sure!

2. Is there any one slang word that really bothers you when you hear others use it?

I've always thought "Whazzzzuuuupppp?" in that weird tone of voice was annoying. But really bothers me? Only if it's obscene.

3. Do you have a favorite slang word?


4. What are your thoughts on adding slang words to the dictionary?

All words belong in the dictionary. Why not slang ones?


Ah, Good Old Fashioned... depression.


» Monday, January 05, 2004
Home to Clear River
Gail Rock, the lady behind "Addie," at Holiday Harbour.


This is Silly...
Clicked on the weather warning marquee on the Weather Channel...we've had unseasonably warm weather for the last couple of days; it was over 70 yesterday when we were in Warner Robins--absolutely it's going to go back down where it should be and they're warning people about it.

Guys, it's winter. It gets cold. Even if it gets warm, it's gonna get cold again. What's with the "we're gonna die" type marquee?

If you want it warm, move to Australia October through April...


» Saturday, January 03, 2004
It's Party Time... Holiday Harbour.


» Thursday, January 01, 2004
The Scent of Roses
At Holiday Harbour.