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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» Monday, January 31, 2005
Never See Its Like Again
I've spent what's left of my afternoon dubbing off non-Christmas Ask the Manager shows...I have about 36 of these local gems, starting with the 1980 Christmas show. At the moment I've just finished blubbering over the little compilation of Joe Dimino scenes they ran at the end of Joe's last show, with its Barbra Streisand "The Way We Were" music track...tears streaming down my face.

There never will be another Ask the Manager...her fans know it well, too.


Still Sick
Still tired and sleepy, although my nose doesn't seem to be running quite as much. I didn't buy the Mucinex yesterday because the box talked about it being mostly for congested chests. I talked to the pharmacist, but because of my heart difficulties she was reluctant to prescribe. But when I called the doctor today she still recommended the Mucinex and also some Afrin for my nose, so I tramped out to get some. I didn't want to drive much because I'm still feeling woozy even after 10 hours sleep, but I did go a few extra blocks to turn in the plastic bags into the recycling bins at Publix and also stopped for about ten minutes in Blockbuster. I'd received a $20 Blockbuster card at the gift exchange at work and I spent it on ex-rental copies of Spiderman 2 and Shrek 2. (You can do this with rental DVDs.)


Monday Madness


1. Are you more likely to rent or buy DVD's (VHS's)? Why?

Buy. Since I only buy things I like or think I will like.

2. If you rent DVD's, do you bother viewing the 'Behind the Scenes' or watching the entire movie again with commentary on?

If I rented a DVD I would want to watch the entire thing. That said, we haven't listened to any of the LOTR commentaries yet. I understand they are excellent but don't know if I could do it. The other extras are wonderful.

3. Do you think these features warrant the extra cost for DVD? (Afterall, we were able to buy new release VHS for $9.99 prior to DVD).

I like to have extras on a DVD, but I don't think DVDs cost more because of extras! Heck, new CDs cost more than most DVDs and I rather resent it. If the musicians were making a good profit it would be different, but it's the record companies who are cleaning up. I buy DVDs because (a) most are letterboxed in comparison to video and (b) the DVD is a more permanent format than videotape. I'm dubbing my VHS tapes to DVD right now because the tapes are starting to degrade.

4. What's your favorite DVD (or VHS) in:
In straight drama, just what I have on DVD? Airport
*Comedy Cheaper by the Dozen (the real version, not the Steve Martin thing)
*Action The Hunt for Red October
*Suspense/Thriller Um...Patriot Games?
*Horror Don't do those drugs.


» Sunday, January 30, 2005
The Thaw (not like "The Larch")
Was awakened by what sounded like hail or pebbles hitting the window. It's the trees in the back yard thawing; ice falling off and striking the still half-frozen ground or the roof or the sidings with a decided "pop!" Looked out the front window to find James deicing the cars with a wooden spoon (so not to hurt the paint). He said that my icebound car was easiest: it's all curves and the moment you had an end up it all came up.

My nose is still stuffed and my eyes running. On the small chance that this is something allergy-related (my temperature has been 97.0°F for three days now) I washed my hair (I didn't do it previously because I didn't know if I were sick and it was very cold) and, since I was wet anyway, washed the dog as well. I'm changing the bed, too, and airing the room yet again.

Later when my hair is dry we'll go out to get a paper and I'll get the same thing the doctor prescribed last year when I had this crud: Mucinex. I see they're doing commercials for it now, with another one of those gravelly-voiced cartoon characters that are popular lately.


"Words That Sing" in A Cozy Nook.


» Saturday, January 29, 2005
We had a power blip about 20 minutes ago that lasted about five minutes. Luckily I had just finished a dub and dinner was already finished.

I don't think I'll dub anything else off tonight... :-)

We have a battle plan when the power goes off during the winter. On the door to the den are two spring curtain rods set one behind the other. One holds the curtain that holds the heat in in the wintertime and the cool in during summer, the other holds a long curtain of screening for spring and fall when we have the curtain open, so Pigwidgeon won't go flying upstairs. Should the power go off again, and for a long time, we'll decamp to the living room and turn on the gas log. Pidge will get the seat next to the stereo which is closest to the fire without him being on the hearth. One of the spring rods will be placed across the entrance into the kitchen from the with a double sheet draped over it to the floor; the other will go across the stairway to upstairs with another double sheet. This will keep what heat accumulates in the living room and kitchen in.

We survived a six-hour power failure in an ice storm several years ago by doing this. I snuggled up on a pad next to the fireplace and James unfolded the bed in the loveseat. Willow never did figure out what was going on.


I Have a Ringing in My Ears...Do You Hear It?
Sorry, Dr. Who flashbacks...

I am becoming a "phone geek." I downloaded some ringtones today. Ringster has the Lassie theme, so I have that as a main ring. "Danger Zone" from Top Gun is James' ring, and if Mom calls me on the cell I'll hear "Chattanooga Choo Choo." Since it was a "four-fer" (like a "two-fer"), I also downloaded the "Linus and Lucy" theme.


They Seed It
The bird feeder was SRO a minute or two ago: one male cardinal, three female cardinals, a sparrow, and a grey bird I wasn't able to identify (a junco, maybe?). So far we have also had at least one chickadee, a blue jay, and another bird I was unable to recognize: he had a dark top and a white chest, but the bottom half of his wings (or the top of his chest; my eyes are fuzzy from the cold--I can't tell well) is a reddish-orange. Haven't seen the cute little blue tits with their cardinal-like crests yet, though.


Ah, Trees in Coats
Of ice, that is. We're having freezing rain right now. I went outside to take a couple of pictures and ironically I can breathe better outside than inside. <wry g> The bird feeder was covered in icicles that looked like jail bars, so I put up the camera and got the tack hammer, knocked the icicles off, got enough ice off the hanging cord to get it free, and brought it on the porch to refill it. In the process I knocked about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of ice from it.

And it's still raining.

Looks like no trivia tonight. Going out there probably wouldn't be a problem. But coming home...after ten...skating rink. And the truck can't skate any better than I can. But James is making lamb stew in the crock pot; hope the power doesn't go out.

Here's Mr. Cardinal checking me out at the feeder.

Mr. Cardinal


» Friday, January 28, 2005
The Friday Five

1. What blood group are you?

Um, this sounds silly, but I don't know. Every time I've had surgery I've asked and then I forget. This time the doctor said she would tell me when she gave me the picture of the cyst. She didn't. So I really don't know.

2. Do you give blood? Why/why not?

I don't think I can because I've had cancer and radiation treatment.

3. Are you listed as an organ doner? Again, why/why not?

Yes. Aside from the fact that it's a Good Thing, you also get $7 off on your driver's license if you're an organ donor.

4. Would you donate an organ or other part of your body (eg bone marrow) while still alive?

I hear that bone marrow thing is extremely painful. I don't know if I could stand it. I'd donate something to James if he needed it.

5. Would you consider leaving your body to medical science? Or maybe just parts of your body?

Why not? It's just a shell, not me.


Hold the Stuffing
My nose doesn't need it. I've got a wretched headcold. I was all right on Wednesday, but by the time I got to work yesterday my nose was rapidly stuffing up. I swallowed Advil, took a nap in the warm car, but it got worse and worse until last night I tossed and turned trying to breathe through my mouth. I had to do some important errands--mailing my mom's birthday gift!--this morning, then came home for soup and hibernation.

I'm continuing the start I made on dubbing off my videotapes to DVD. I tried to start America last night and was yanked up short; my first two episodes were dubbed from tapes that were copyguarded and the DVD recorder picks up the copyguard and comes to a dead stop. Dammit. I would have bought the professional copies had anyone sold them; they only went to libraries. I guess history buffs aren't viable consumers.

I dubbed off two episodes of The American Experience last night, my favorite "The Hurricane of '38" and "The Johnstown Flood." (I was going to put my other special favorite, "Coney Island," with the hurricane, but I figured the flood and the hurricane had a theme: water. I'll put "Coney Island" with "Barnum's Big Top" to have an entertainment disk--or "Coney" with "New York Underground" and have a New York disk and put "Barnum" with "Mr. Sears' Catalog" to have an American culture disk.)

Right now, I'm dubbing off the two "depressing ones," as James calls them: "Influenza 1918" and "Surviving the Dust Bowl." He won't have to watch them.

I also dubbed off Walt Disney: One Man's Dream (telecast before the opening of EPCOT in 1982) and discovered you can choose what you want for a thumbnail on the index. Cool!


» Thursday, January 27, 2005
The Back Porch- Thursday Threesome

::Light or Dark::

Onesome: Light-- Light chocolate or dark chocolate? ...or no chocolate at all?

Dark, dark, dark. I'll eat milk chocolate...until I can get some of the good stuff. Even as a kid I wanted the Hershey's miniatures to come with more Special Darks ("semi-sweet" back then). Who cared about all those stupid Krackels?

Twosome: or-- Yeah, easy stuff this week : Coffee with cream or black as night? Or maybe: colas or clear sodas? ...or just water, thank you?

Can't drink gives me heart palpitations. Which I was reminded of very rudely last Friday after I had an Arby's jamoca shake. If I drank it I would have it with milk and sugar. Don't like soda at all, and really despise cola. If I must drink soda, orange, grape and lemon-lime are okay--but no one yet has turned out a lemon-lime that tastes as good as a Warwick Club lemon-lime.

Threesome: Dark-- Light-colored clothing or dark clothes? Which do you prefer to wear? Angel to goth, we're curious?

Dark most of the time; I'm really too heavy for light colored clothes. The weight of clothes is what I make the decision on: I prefer heavy clothes, which is one of the reasons I like it when it's cold.


» Wednesday, January 26, 2005
I Feel Like Gloria Upson...
Last Saturday the temperature barely cleared 30°F. Today it is already 63°F. On Saturday it is supposed to be back in the thirties, and then next week back in the sixties.

Is this a season or a roller coaster?


Revisiting Annette...
...or rather the Annette mystery novels, in A Cozy Nook.


» Tuesday, January 25, 2005
I've been a restless sleeper since childhood. I'm eternally glad I don't walk in my sleep any longer since we have stairs. I did this all the time through adulthood living at home. Even in sleep, my mom would detect a noise outside the bedroom door--asleep I still remembered the rule about not going into my parents' room when the door was closed unless it was an emergency--and would wake to hear me saying "Ma! Ma!" She'd come out and I'd be standing in the hallway in confusion--still sound asleep. So she'd escort met either to the bathroom and back to bed or just back to bed, where I curled up and fell back to sleep.

In the morning I never remembered any of it.

There was a House episode a few weeks back that seemed to indicate an adult having "night terrors" (which I assume is waking up and screaming) is a sign of something wrong. I do this all the time, too. Usually I am lost somewhere dark in a dream, or am being enclosed into a small space, and I wake up screaming with my heart racing like a trip hammer (which is even more frightening). Sometimes I remember this, sometimes I don't.

I also talk in my sleep and apparently come up with the darnest things. Again, most of the time I don't remember this; when I do remember it, I recall having to tell someone something important. For instance, I woke James out of a sound sleep last night to ask him where "the furry" (the extra, synthetic-fur throw he uses when it is really cold) was. The stupidest thing about this was it was warm last night, which woke me up several times. Why was I asking for a furry?

The height of absurdity was night before last, when I woke him up to ask seriously if there was a part of Africa where giraffes lived but where there were no cheetahs. Where does this stuff come from? I've always read that dreams are our anxieties or memories coming out. If I was asking questions about kangaroos and wallabies, I would have understood--we happened to watch Tonight Friday and Steve Irwin was on with Australian animals. But nowhere, nohow in the past few days have I read or seen anything about Africa. So where do cheetahs and giraffes come from?



Tuesday Twosome


1. How often do you update your blog/site and why?

Whenever I have something, however trivial, to say. Some days are better than others.

2. How often do you comment on other people's sites and why?

Rarely. Sometimes it's too hard to comment (software issues), other times there are just no words.

3. How often do you change the layout of your site and why?

Not often. I did adjust my line spacing some weeks back--it was getting hard for me to read.

4. Do you ever feel guilty that you don't reciprocate comments or you really don't care?

No. I've only got so much time in the day.

5. How many sites on average do you visit daily and of those, how many do you comment on?

Those sites linked at the top. Pssst...those of you who haven't written in a while...where are you?


» Monday, January 24, 2005
Monday Madness

What do you think of when you see the following colors? (You may write as many words as you like.)

1. White:

Snow. Ice. Bland (as in white walls in houses). Lipizzaners.

2. Yellow:

Sun. Butter. Pidge.

3. Blue:

Pretty. Sky. Icy.

4. Black:

Sleep. Shoes. Night.

5. Green:

St. Patrick's Day. Grass. Allergies.

6. Red:

Christmas! Stop signs. Hot.

7. Purple:

LOL: my car. Grapes.

8. Pink:


Valentine's day.

9. Brown:

Dogs. Chocolate.

10. Gray:

Rain. Battleships.


» Sunday, January 23, 2005
Very Flaky
Snowstorm Socks Northeast

My mom can't get out her back door—there's a drift covering it up. My godmother's back door, across the driveway, is also drifted shut. The guy who cuts her grass also ploughs out her driveway (he has a snowplow, not a snowblower) and is supposed to be there doing it tonight so she can go to the doctor tomorrow. She says she still has an appointment for tomorrow so far as she knows although all state offices and schools are shut down. Half of me hopes so, because she has been miserable and was looking forward to seeing the doctor; the other half of me worries about her taking a cab (the Transvan isn't working tomorrow either) and the doctor getting into the office!

(This is the doctor at the hospital, so for all I know he's snowed in there—maybe it won't be that dangerous for him at all.


Johnny Carson, Late-Night TV Legend, Dies at 79

Some of the all-time funniest television moments came from Johnny Carson. Can we ever forget "Carnak the Magnificent" who is still imitated today?

Thanks for all the laughs, Johnny.


» Friday, January 21, 2005
Fry's Friends
Not about the computer store. :-)

Can't Get Enough Futurama


» Thursday, January 20, 2005
Touch Those Toes!
More Schools Benching P.E.

Frankly I think this is a really bad idea.


Now that everyone who knows me the bookworm has picked his or her jaw off the floor... :-)

I hated gym class with a passion. But I think the idea of no gym class is bad. Kids are getting fatter. They're driven everywhere instead of walking. They play videogames instead of tag. And the exercise does clear the cobwebs of the school day away.

But what P.E. needs to be is user-friendly to the kids like me, who are bad at games and have phobias. Gym class was a horror most of the time simply because every kid got stuck in a generalized class that included participation in softball, basketball, volleyball, and (gah) field hockey. These games were great for the kids who had competitive spirit and who were actually coordinated enough to hit a baseball or get a basket. The rest of us were miserable being trampled on by the aggressive players (once we played volleyball with the boys—what a nightmare! to get the ball the boys would knock other players down; the competitive girls only pushed you out of the way) or being teased and harassed and called named when we couldn't hit/kick/spike the ball correctly.

(The teachers also assumed because it was a well-known sport that everyone knew the rules. I never did figure out who I was supposed to throw the ball to when I played outfield in softball, but I didn't want to ask the teacher lest she exclaim scornfully about this kid who didn't know the rules of the National Sport, for Gossakes.)

Other kids had problems with certain things, I had my problems. I have a very strong phobia about heights and also about being upside down. As a kid I wouldn't even let my dad carry me on his shoulders as so many dads did, or hold me upside down. Even if I were strongly supported, I was afraid of falling. I lived in fear of the gym classes where we had to swing from rung to rung on one of those horizontal ladders above the floor (whatever they're called). The one we had in elementary school was eight feet off the floor and even though Miss Moran said she was spotting you and there was a mat underneath, it was a heck of a long way down for a 12-year-old! I had nightmares about that thing.

Then there was swimming class. You couldn't learn to swim until you put your head under the water. I wouldn't do it. So every two weeks for three years in junior high there was the misery of being bussed out to the Gladstone pool and their cold changing room and standing waist-deep in water either being ignored or being clucked at by an impatient teacher who kept telling you there was nothing to be afraid of. God knows how many kids caught cold that winter going out in frigid weather with wet hair (no blow dryers back then and the bathing caps leaked). I never learned to swim and frankly don't care.

The article talks about a school in Victor, New York, having alternative choices:
Victor's nationally recognized program includes rock-climbing, kayaking, cross-country skiing, archery and aerobic dance as options for students.
Man, I would have killed for options like that in gym class! I loved to run, but there was no track team for girls back then. I liked to square dance. Heck, I didn't mind doing calesthenics--jumping jacks were one of my favorite exercises. I loved to bicycle and didn't mind walking. Archery and aerobic dance would have been wonderful.

Showers were also horrible. Maybe the kids today are less body shy, but I couldn't think of anything worse than having to strip naked in front of a bunch of strangers to take a shower. Worse, the teacher used to come by and make sure you weren't cowering in the corner of the shower stall covering yourself with your hands and make you shower. I think if a kid wants to smell all day after having P.E., that's his problem. Showers shouldn't be mandatory.

So I don't advise getting rid of gym--but I think the teachers need to be a little more considerate of kids who aren't jocks and don't do well in team sports and offer them more alternatives.


George Nelson's Super Site is Back!
Check out or visit Holiday Harbour for a bit more info.


Thursday Threesome

::The next American Idol::

Onesome: The next- What would be your idea for the next great reality tv show?

How about a reality show that has someone destroying the ideas of everyone who thinks up reality shows so we can get back to real television programs again?

Twosome: American- What do you think of as typically American? Mom and apple pie? Afternoons at the ballpark watching baseball?

Miles and miles of beautiful scenery (hopefully untouched by trash from slobs and signs for upcoming strip malls--::sigh::).

Threesome: Idol- Who's the one person you admire the most and why?

Living or dead? I admire Eleanor Roosevelt. She conquered shyness and an inferiority complex to become a public speaker and a worker for good.


» Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Computer Followup
Some things straightened out: the speaker jack was in properly, but when I turned it a couple of times to the left and right suddenly the right speaker began working again. Not hitting a contact, I guess.

James researched buffer underruns--it was what we both suspected. I tried another burn, this time at half the speed (4X instead of 8X) and shut Norton down as James reminded me it was a memory hog.

If Victor goes belly-up, it looks as if I have the important things off: my mailboxes, my WordPerfect Work directory, my collected web graphics, my fonts, etc. (Drat. I don't have the fonts in Windows. The ones that actually stay in Windows all the time are the ones I use on the website: Galleria for the Nostalgia site, Balloon for the Lassie site, etc. Need to make sure they're all copied back as well.)

I do have to make a disk of some .mp3 Christmas songs from long out of print albums.


Houston, We Have a Problem
I'm still using the computer James built originally (we named it "Victor" after Dr. Frankenstein to indicate its constructed state). He's upgraded it at least once with more RAM (I'm still using 72 pin!) and a new processor (so now I'm 333MHz instead of 150), and although I have occasionally gotten the urge for something newer and faster--we were just at Fry's on Sunday--I get guilt twinges about buying a new computer when most of the time this one does just what I need: e-mail, web surfing, running my graphics software and Word Perfect.

The decision may be taken away from me.

I had a bit of a problem over the weekend after I burned some files to CD. Afterwards I wanted to combine all my web backups onto one disk. I was going to transfer them to the hard drive and then burn them to a new disk.

When I put the original web backup disk into the computer, it locked up the system. I couldn't read it at all, which was troubling and puzzling. I could read other disks and everything else was working fine, although when I got done printing a big long print job on Friday, I did run out of system resources. No sweat; one just reboots.

Yesterday when I came home and turned on the computer it was making a godawful racket. James was home, so he examined it and determined that it was the fan, which was turning but suddenly very noisy. The computer did boot up, though. When we shut down Windows to look at the fan it locked up. James took the cover off and used the air can liberally on the interior. This time when it turned on (after going through a scan because of the lockup), it booted fine and the racket was gone, but when I tried to download e-mail, it got stuck right at the end.

Hmn. Was it some spyware? I ran AdAware. It ran perfectly and then got stuck at the end. When I tried to shut down everything got stuck as it tried to close down.

So I booted into Safe Mode. I tried to do a scan disk, but even in Safe Mode it kept restarting after getting to sector 80,000-93,000. It would let me do a defrag (which James said I shouldn't be able to do if there was something physically wrong with the hard drive), and I could run AdAware, which turned up the same tiresome spyware as always.

So I rebooted into the system once again and noticed for the third time that I wasn't getting any sound. Instead of my Windows opening sound, Mackie Bloom saying "And now for our regularly scheduled program," I was getting a repeating blip, like a record needle stuck in the grooves between selections.

When I unassigned that sound from the Windows opening, I could get into Windows without any problem.

Do you think, I asked James, it's the sound card?

So he removed it from its slot and resat it into a second slot. Lo and behold, it works after a fashion, so it wasn't the sound card, evidently, but the slot must be fried. Even I know that isn't good. Also, although he plugged the speakers back into the same jack, I'm only getting sound on the left speaker.

Hmn. That solved the problem though. Whenever I was using a program that made a sound--Eudora makes a sound as the e-mail finishes downloading, for instance, and AdAware chirps to let you know it's done and of course Windows makes a sound shutting down if you assign one--the moment it tried to make a sound it locked up. Now that James moved the card, no more lockup.

I went back to the problem at hand: reading the website backup disk. This time I put it into the drive and it read as a music CD! If I put it into the burner drive it wound up, slowed down, wound up, slowed down... Finally I let James try to read it. There were ten folders burned to the drive and all he could see was one. Gah. I had him copy that one to a networked drive I could get to and I took the two off the second disk and the one from his computer, plus the latest backup I was planning to do and tried to burn the whole kit and kaboodle to a new disk.

I got a buffer underrun error. I suspect that means...what? My buffer wasn't large enough to hold all the information? If so, why not? I've copied this much information before--heck, I've copied a whole CD-ROM's worth of .mp3s of old radio shows downloaded from Usenet at one time and never got a buffer underrun.

So it looks as if "Victor" may suddenly be giving up the ghost.

But if the CD-ROM burner won't on earth am I going to get my files off the thing?

Will have to try something else tonight...


» Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Tuesday Twosome


1. What are your two favorite restaurants?

Olive Garden ... and Bassett's Inn in Warwick, RI. (I miss Donato's...)

2. What are your two favorite restaurant items?

Meat ravioli and t-bone steaks.

3. What are your two favorite desserts?

Chocolate cake and gingerbread.

4. What are your two favorite weekend "activities" (movies, clubbing, etc.)?

Sleeping late and playing trivia.

5. What are your two favorite vacations destinations?

New England and any history museum.


» Monday, January 17, 2005

Your Icecream Flavour is...Chocolate!
You are the all time favorite, chocolate! Turning white kids black since the 1800s. Staining carpets, car seats, and bed sheets for centuries. One thing is for sure, you will never go out of style. You can't go wrong with chocolate!
What is your Icecream Flavour?

Find out at Go Quiz


You are 42% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at


Monday Madness

1. Family Game


2. Piece of Jewelry

My wedding ring.

3. Winter Activity

Walking in the snow.

4. Hot Beverage

Hot chocolate (since I can't drink coffee).

5. Quote

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

6. Color on You


7. Summer Activity

Staying in the air conditioning.

8. Topping on Pancakes

Maple syrup. There's something else to put on pancakes? :-)

9. Musician

Rupert Holmes.


It worked! I haven't finalized it yet because I've still got a half hour on the disk. Don't think I have any half hour Doctor Who related item anywhere, but...whatever. No rush unless I want to play it somewhere else. It won't play unless it's finalized.


Hm. We turned on the television this morning and the blobs of color in the corners have disappeared...for now. Maybe it was overheated? "Irritated" from being moved? Who knows? They could be back if it was overheating; it's cold in the den right now. Been switching around familiarizing myself with the DVD recorder/VCR. Played an episode of Remember WENN to see how the VCR worked for a longer stretch. About 1:30 I noticed that that Encore Mystery was playing the Doctor Who movie (with Paul McGann). So I did a quick scan of how to record on a DVD, wrestled one from the spindle, popped it in and hit record. Not sure if on the video input I'm where I'm supposed to be; I guess we'll see when the movie is through. Cross fingers...


» Sunday, January 16, 2005
So Close and Yet So Far
I think I mentioned in a previous post that I had purchased a Panasonic DVD recorder/VCR combo a few weeks ago and it still had to be installed.

This is because the television itself is very heavy and is on a pretty solid stand. I couldn't budge it, and today, when we finally decided to get to the installation, James had to get on the floor to shift it out so it was pushed perpendicular to the corner it is in and we could get at the back of the television and the other components.

First we got the Sharp VCR out. I had bought this as a second VCR to dub off videos and then used it as a prime video when my Panasonic finally gave up the ghost. Since then I've wanted to drop-kick the thing about every two weeks. It's skipped programming, ejected tapes when I didn't need it to, and Friday, although I set the thing just to record Room by Room, it recorded HGTV for the next five hours. Hello? Why?

Our faithful old Apex is still working, so we're going to put it upstairs in the spare room. There were several movies it wouldn't play properly, though, such as The Abyss and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger; I'm hoping they will play properly on the new Panasonic unit.

Then there's the Cyberhome. We looked at the receipt with shock as we started the setup: we've had it in a box since April! We bought this because it was small and I wanted something that would fit next to the DVD recorder (I was planning on buying it that far back) and because it was progressive scan and we'd been told it was hackable. I knew the recorder wouldn't be and I wanted something that would still play our Region 2 videos.

Well, this was an exercise in aggravation that took about four hours. We had some success: there's something wrong with our television (we need to call Circuit City and get them to look at it as we got the extended warranty because we bought the floor model): the picture is variably fuzzy (sometimes it's downright snowy; looks like you're trying to get a UHF station without a fringe antenna) and there's a vertical line a little right of center on the screen. We were keeping the VCR on all the time since it slightly improved the picture. But the picture would just fuzz out for no reason, and we'd have to go to the television and jostle it a little--or sometimes more than a little--to straighten it out. One of the reasons we wanted to get back there was to make sure it wasn't a loose connection. No, it wasn't. Everything was nice and tight.

We finally sorted out what would be connected where and hitched up the Cyberhome and got it going (you had to connect it with S-video, then use the setup screen to change it to progressive scan before we connect the component cables, which struck us as bizarre). Once it was installed as Component 2, we placed the Panasonic in as Component 1. This actually hitched up easily. Not only that, but the television signal running through the unit as component video is head and shoulders over the old signal. The vertical line was gone and the picture was pristine. This seemed to confirm my theory of what is wrong with the television picture: something inside, probably the tuner, is loose. My mom had the same problem with her television and the repairman had to come to the house and solder something inside that kept coming loose. (So much for "solid" state.)

By seven we were exhausted, but I didn't want to move the darn thing back until I'd made sure everything was working properly. I taped a bit with the VCR, changed from Panasonic to Cyberhome to VCR, applied the hack to the Cyberhome. Finally it was ready to go back in. If anything, it was harder for poor James to push the whole caboodle back into the corner than to pull it out.

It was then we noticed something odd and we aren't sure if we just missed it because the screen was facing the light while we were working in the back or if we have jostled something: in each corner of the screen, when the color on the screen is light, is a spot of color: green in the lower right hand corner, purple in the upper left hand corner, blue in the lower left hand corner, but it's variable; sometimes the upper left corner is yellow (like when we have the menu screen on). Plus that damned line had reappeared. It's not always there, and not always in the same place; it alternates between left and right of center, and is fainter than it was before, but it's still there. It's infuriating. All that work and there's still a glitch and we don't know why.


What Time of Day Are You?
You are DUSK... Not exactly Dark or mysterious but
a relaxing sort of fun personality flows out of
you because of your social and entertainment
habits and how you live out your days. This is
DEFINATELY the best time to call you for a fun
evening or just drop by to say wassup.

What Time of Day Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


What's Your Inner European?
Gah. Big surprise:

You are Italian
You are an Italian.

What's your Inner European?
brought to you by Quizilla


What Famous Dog are You?
You're Lassie!
You're Lassie!
Take What Famous Dog are You? today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

A house is burning down, you rescue all the small helpless children...Someone's stuck in a well, you pull them out...Someone's drowning and you save them. You're always there in the nick of time. Good job.


» Friday, January 14, 2005
New post in Holiday Harbour.


Pretty Wings
This morning when I left the house I was preoccupied thinking about my route and until I had closed the car door didn't notice that a group of birds seemed to be flying around our front yard and in the front yard of the house next door. Suddenly I looked out the car window in amaze.

There is a little picket fence that separates our house from the one next door; our friends who owned this house previously had to put it up because of the attitude of the persnickety tenant that lived there when they still were here. She kept claiming people were stepping in her yard; John put the fence up on the property line to shut her up. So I call it "the spite fence."

Well, there on top of two of the pickets were bluebirds. I'd never seen one so close before: bright blue upper body, the orange breast and the cream underbelly. A less brightly-colored one also momentarily lighted on the fence. (Maybe a female?) There were also a couple of slate-colored birds the same size as a sparrow, and there, perching on the trunk of the tree in the other yard in the usual upside down position was a nuthatch, the big white "bandit mask" on his dark face vivid in the morning sun.

The bird feeder was empty and they all flew away as I rushed out to refill it. I hope they will rediscover it and come back. (And I hope they watch out for the feral cats.)


Found this message when I went to "Friday Five."
Our data center (Internap) lost all its power, including redundant backup power, for some unknown reason. (unknown to me, at least) We're currently dealing with bringing our 100+ servers back online. Not fun. We're not happy about this. Sorry... :-/ More details later.
Oh, good grief.


Bright Spots in January
Headed out this morning to look for my favorite monthly cross-stitch magazine, visit JoAnn, and similar day-off puttering about. Found some cabinets in Target that might substitute for the ones we can't get any longer. Found Radioland Murders in the bargain DVD rack at Media Play. This was George Lucas' homage to radio and it...well, wasn't anywhere near as sterling as Star Wars. Granted, some parts of the movie are fabulous: it had that 1939 "look" and the radio shows (especially the ones with mixed-up scripts) and performers you heard between the action were great. Christopher Lloyd has a small role as a manic sound effects man who puts a lot of himself in his work. Unfortunately, the movie needed to lose about three-quarters of the slapstick, especially what passed for Brian Benben's performance, and to slow down the plot a little. Lucas was evidently trying for a frenetically paced screwball comedy, but it was so swiftly paced that we never got to know, or care about any of the characters. Also found the boxed repro set of the old Annette mysteries on discount.

I had a wonderful opportunity at Borders: Charge $75 or more on my Borders/Waldenbooks card and get $10. Plus I had three $5 coupons. And they had a buy-three-get-one-free DVD sale. So I got my mom four DVDs for her birthday, grabbed the paperback copies of Susan Conant's Bride and Groom and the Scrabble dictionary, and needed about $16 worth of stuff. Just for the heck of it I wandered back to the CDs. Woohoo! George Winston has a new album out: "Montana."

Stopped at the library on the way home and got The Great Influenza and a book I'd read about a few weeks ago on the web and then had almost forgotten about, The Cruelest Miles, the story of the 1925 diphtheria serum run to Nome, Alaska.


» Thursday, January 13, 2005
The Wrong Scent
While I was taking down decorations on Tuesday, the dog started barking furiously at a knock on the front door. It was the neighbor lady from next door. She told me she thought she had been smelling gas for a while, but it was hard to tell in our neighborhood, where someone always seems to be running a smelly old car engine that overlays all other scents. But yesterday it was clear and she could make out the scent and called the gas company.

Well, apparently there was a leak at our gas meter! The gas man sprayed something on the leak that sealed it, and she told him she would let me know he came out. I thought I'd been smelling gas, too, but James always said he didn't smell anything (I'm always driving him batty asking him if he can detect a peculiar odor) and sometimes it was hard to tell over the odor of the cat urine from the feral cats that wander around.

Funny that...wonder how it happened.


New post in Holiday Harbour.


The Back Porch- Thursday Threesome

::The Phantom of the Opera::

Onesome: The Phantom-- Pick one (or more!): Hey, have you seen it yet? Are you going to go see it? Have you seen it on stage? Read the book? What Phantom?

Um, the last. I sort of know who the Phantom of the Opera is and I've seen pictures of Lon Chaney Jr. and I've probably heard music from the Andrew Lloyd Webber play but didn't know it, but no, I've never seen or read the story in any form. Maybe when the movie turns up on HBO I'll watch it and be enthralled. But for now I have other things I'm interested in much more.

Twosome: of the-- Of the sights and sounds and smells of Spring what are you waiting for the most? ...and what is the first sign in your area that Spring is on its way?

The one sight of Spring I ever enjoyed I won't get to see: there are no lilacs down here. There isn't enough of a cold season in winter for them to thrive in the spring. I don't see why I should be waiting for Spring anyway. Not only does Spring mean another loathesome Summer is on its way, everything blooming makes me sneeze and sniffle. We've had a warm spell for the past two weeks and my sinuses are aching and so are my joints, just like they do in the Spring. Everything looks heavenly, but puts you through hell...

Threesome: Opera-- Theatre? Stage? Local shows? Do you get a chance to visit any of these venues? Any recommendations on current items?

We don't go to the theatre as often as we could. The Fox presents nice plays during the touring season, but the only one we went to see was Scarlet Pimpernel because Carolee Carmello was in it and we had planned to meet her backstage. We saw Say Goodnight Gracie on Broadway last year and it was fabulous.


» Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Tuesday Twosome


1. Two celebs that you feel are the most overexposed:

Right now? Jessica Simpson and Nick whateverhisname is. Where did this bimbo come from? I saw her for the first time in 2003 at the tree-lighting at Rockefeller Center. Once I caught her on The Tonight Show. Unless she has a carefully cultivated personality she wants to project, like Dame Edna or Moms Mabley, this woman doesn't have two brain cells to rub together.

Yeah, I know. The guys aren't looking at her brain. But now there are little girls who want to be like this stupid git.

2. Two news items you wish the press would stop talking about:

The election and Brad Pitt breaking up with Jennifer Anniston. The latter is one of those things that, 60 years ago, would have been "news" only in movie magazines like Photoplay and in Louella Parsons'/Hedda Hopper's gossip columns, not in the mainstream news. Who cares?

3. Two songs that you are tired of hearing on the radio:

I don't listen to music on the radio when it's not Christmastime.

4. Two TV shows that should NOT be renewed for another reason:

Oh, gosh, where would I start? If it involves reality/a competition it oughtta be dumped in a non-shielded box and left at Chernobyl. (But would the Russians want any more pollution there?)

5. Two movies (that are currently showing) that you would recommend:

Um, I haven't seen a movie in a theatre since Return of the King. I hear The Aviator is good, even if it does star Leonardo DeCaprio (a.k.a. one of the mall rats in 1912).


» Monday, January 10, 2005
Adventure! Fun! Puzzles!
Curiosity has finally been [partially] satisfied in a years-long memory of the past.

Sometime during the 1960s--I was pretty sure it was pre-1968 because that was when my father fixed the basement--the Providence Evening Bulletin ran a comic strip I remembered being called "Einstein."

(What did the basement have to do with it? Well, before Dad fixed the basement, there were newspapers stacked in one corner. I had always planned to look through these papers to see if I could find some of the "Einstein" strips, but I was told not to touch the papers and so never did.)

This was a daily strip--no Sundays--that lasted about a year (in the end, it could have been early 70s, but I swore I was in elementary school when it was published). It concerned the adventures of a talking dog and his human friend (a little like Mr. Peabody and Sherman, but they didn't time travel and I remember the dog being more like a terrier-type). (It was NOT Tintin and Snowy.) They had Indiana Jones-type adventures around the world, finding lost treasures in the jungle, etc. The gimmick (well, besides the dog being able to talk) of the strip was that the last panel was always some type of puzzle they had to solve to get on to the next sequence of adventures (their lives might depend upon it, or they needed it as a clue, etc.). The puzzle could be an anagram, a number square, a jumble, something like that.

I loved the puzzles and the story and was very unhappy when it ended (and it did actually end, the paper didn’t quit carrying it). After a few years, the memory of this strip became kind of surreal. My parents didn’t even remember it, nor did anyone I ever asked about it. I was wondering if I’d imagined the entire thing.

Three years ago I asked about it on the Usenet group rec.arts.comics.strips. These folks had a vast range of comics interest, maybe one of them knew. Unfortunately the result was disappointing. One gentleman said he looked it up and could not find it in a book called 100 Years of American Comics. (I then wondered if perhaps the strip was locally produced or perhaps Canadian.) Another person wondered why I didn’t contact the newspaper, which I did; they said they were "too busy" to help me.

Since hitting the Providence Public Library and the microfilm stacks from 1100 miles away was a bit out of the question, the strip identity simmered until a week ago, when I posted the question yet again.

Glory be, someone actually had a few crumbs of information. Thanks to Merlin Haas, who got the info from Allan Holtz's Strippers' Guide:
Einstein, daily only, Jan. 6, 1964 to Feb. 13, 1965.
writer: Jay Heavilin; artist: Frank Johnson (who later drew "Boner's Ark")
George Matthew Adams Syndicate
"Einstein the dog presents puzzles in a standard daily format."

It also ran in the Staten Island Advance.
I had always assumed the strip ran about 1967 and was quite surprised to see it went that far back that far. I would have just turned eight when the very first strip was published. Maybe sometime I’ll get the chance to look it up and see again what charmed me so back then.


Wiped Out With a Capital W
We finished up our "blazing social season" with our usual Twelfth Night party on Saturday (technically it was "Fifteenth Night," but who cared?). I can see we're going to have to radically change the party menu again; we bought less "junk food" this year and still the chips were mostly ignored in favor of the hot foods. So next year minimal chips and crackers, maybe Bagel Bites to go along with the taquitos and egg rolls.

I was operating at "about 50 mph" all week on less than five hours sleep a night and after the last party guest had gone home and James and I had put up the perishables, I crashed and burned. I fell asleep on the sofa from after eleven to one and then crawled upstairs, showered, and slept until 10:30 (and then only got up because I wanted to be able to sleep last night) and was groggy all day yesterday.

And I still haven't done the work of getting the decorations down yet...I'm looking forward to seeing how the table will look with its winter decorations.

Maybe now at some point we can get the entertainment center moved out and the new DVD recorder hitched up.


Monday Madness

1. My lucky number is 38 . (Actually, I don't know if it's particularly lucky, but it's my favorite number.)

2. My favorite day of the week is Saturday because no work, trivia, and sometimes we do something interesting besides grocery shopping .

3. I spend about 4 hours/minutes on the phone a week, and almost all of those are long distance. I'm talking to my mother. Why else would I be on the phone?

4. My favorite cereal is Special K .

5. One hobby of mine is reading . Lots and lots of reading...

6. I wish I could spend more time reading . So many books, so little time.

7. I wish I could spend less time commuting .

8. I am really proud of my website . And my book collection.


» Friday, January 07, 2005
Oh, Please...
'Fear Factor' Viewer Smells Rat, Settlement

LOS ANGELES ( A Cleveland man has filed a seven-figure federal lawsuit against NBC, claiming that an episode of "Fear Factor" was so gross that it made him physically ill.
Two words: change channel or

three additional words: turn off television.

Frankly, I think Fear Factor is a stupid show, but everyone's tastes are different. I hope the judge throws this one out with a big horselaugh.


New post in Holiday Harbour.


Friday Five

1. What is the first book you remember reading?

Dick and Jane. I learned to read in school. My mom was told by a teacher or someone that it was "bad" (I don't know why) to teach a child to read before they went to school. (Perhaps because they would be bored during beginner reading classes. They were right; I learned to read very quickly and was often hideously bored during reading classes.)

I remember my first books, though. One was small paperback book about a little girl taking a bath and the soap kept falling out of her hands and sinking to the bottom of the tub. I don't remember the title; I always referred to it as the book about the "naughty soap." I kept asking my mother why she didn't buy Ivory Soap. I think I had a little paperback copy of "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel." I remember Mary Ann and also the story of Katy the snowplow, but I can't remember if I owned them or if they were read to me at school.

My other books were the Little Golden Book of "Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer" and two Whitman Tell-a-Tale books, "Lady," which was Lady and the Tramp and "Lassie's Brave Adventure," which puzzled me because I wasn't old enough to remember the original episodes and I wondered who "Jeff" and "Gramps" were. I vividly remember the drawings in this book, though, especially the one of the colt trapped on the big railroad trestle. I'd never seen a wooden trestle before.

My first chapter books were the inexpensive Whitman books that they sold in Newberry's and Woolworth's. I had all the Lassie books and also Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe and Fifty Famous Fairy Tales from when I was around seven or eight years old.

I also got a World Book Encyclopedia when I was seven.

2. What is your favorite book?

I hate this question. It's like asking Olivia Walton or Lillian Gilbreth which of her children is her favorite. I have lots of favorite books. Some of them are the Harry Potter books, Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow books, John Verney's Callendar family books, the Lord Peter Wimsey books, just about anything Madeleine L'Engle writes (including her nonfiction)--and the same with Kate Seredy (especially The Open Gate), and Albert Payson Terhune (Lad: A Dog, etc.) and Mary O'Hara (My Friend Flicka, etc., although my favorite O'Hara is Wyoming Summer), plus Red Sky at Morning, Addie Pray, The Green Poodles, Roller Skates, Up the Down Staircase, The Edge of Day aka Cider With Rosie, Cheaper by the Dozen, Life is a Banquet, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Christmas Carol, Black Beauty, Beautiful Joe, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Understood Betsy, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and last but definitely not least, Mary Stewart's superb "Merlin trilogy" and my bound issues of St. Nicholas.

But that isn't all of them...

3. Who is your favorite author?

Madeleine L'Engle.

4. Pick up the nearest book (magazine or any available printed material will do). Turn to page 24 (or the closest to it). Go to the 7th line. What is it?

...reunion, no sentimental tears, no bitter intimations of neglect or..."

(From "A Preface to Dogs," The Dog Department, James Thurber.)

5. If you could be any character in literature, who would you be?

This is a hard one. I admire many characters, but some of them have had hard lives, like Anne Shirley. If I could stay ten years old forever, skating through Bryant Park, I suppose I would want to be Lucinda Wyman. But since we have to grow up sometime I suppose I would most like to be Cousin Ann in Understood Betsy. She's decisive, strong-minded, and physically strong as well.

(Okay, if I could get through it without the murder trial and being in jail, secretly I'd probably want to be Harriet Vane because it must have been fun writing mysteries and being married to Lord Peter...


Waving a Big Hi-Hi...
...and giving the raspberry to the inconsiderate oaf in the white Tundra with temp plates who was tailgating me this morning, even though I was already five miles an hour over the speed limit trying to get some distance between me and him/her. When I tapped my brake lights to see if I could get the driver to back off a little, the person snapped their brights in my eyes instead.

I must confess I was childish and flashed my brights back at him/her when they passed me and got back in front of me.

I apologize for being inconsiderate of the other drivers.


» Thursday, January 06, 2005
All Aglow
So there I was, reading back issues of Federal Computer Week and came upon the article "FCC: Alert System So Last Century." As in "this a test of the Emergency Broadcast System," which went back to CONELRAD.

Okay, who out there still remembers CONELRAD? Talk about something indelibly burned on the brain of one of the baby boomer generation! If you're saying "what the heck?" this explains what CONELRAD was:


And then check out, for all those atomic bulletins, films, and warnings that made the 1950s (and early 1960s) not so "Happy Days" for you and me.

Man, that one just brings back the "duck and cover" flashbacks. We had them all through elementary school. The first few years we had them in our classroom. It was always the same: Squat on the floor, bend your head down, and cover it with your hands. Do not look up until the drill is over. Lessons about what to do if you saw a bright flash in the sky while out in the playground or in your back yard (throw yourself into same squatting position; do not look at the flash!!!!).

Then some bright adminstrator noticed that it was little help to have us duck and covering under our desks in a schoolroom that was one fourth glass windows. Thereafter we lined the halls and did our duck and cover there.

They downplayed things as much as they could for the smaller kids; wonder how many first-graders wet themselves when the fifth and sixth graders informed them that we were doing the drill just in case the Russians tried to fry us with their nuclear bombs.

Those were scary, scary times occasionally...


We Celebrate Epiphany... Holiday Harbour.


Thursday Threesome

Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas

Onesome: Fish- Do you have a favorite outdoor hobby or are you a strictly stay at home type?

I'm mostly a stay-at-home type, which anyone could guess from my figure! However, I do love miniature golf and don't get to play it enough. I also enjoy nature trails and walks in the woods.

Twosome: Chips- Do you gamble? Lotto, weekly poker night or weekends in Vegas?

Played the nickel slots the two times my parents and I went to Las Vegas. Seems kinda useless. Have bought a lottery ticket or two, but that seems fruitless as well.

Threesome: and mushy peas- What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?

Blood sausage? I don't go in much for exotic. I remember at one Chinese restaurant we went to we were served little whole squid. I couldn't eat it; I hate eating things that look back at you.

(And I loathe cooked peas. I'll eat 'em raw until the cows come home, but cooked...shudder.)


» Wednesday, January 05, 2005
What Night is It Anyway?
New post in Holiday Harbour.


» Tuesday, January 04, 2005
You're Going to Laugh...
...unless you've had the same problem, but

today when I got home from work I got into old clothes and gloves, went outsides, and sprayed Ortho over every insect entry I could think of, including the kitchen window. It's been so warm here, high 60s, low 70s, that I don't want to be surprised. In the back yard I raked the leaves back at least 10 feet from the door, because we know the ants like to nest in leaves. If anything crawly gets in here, at least I'll know I did my best.

Maybe I'm paranoid, but we're having friends over on Saturday and we'll be pushing the kitchen table near the sliding glass doors. Damned if I want my friends to dip into the cheese spread or the ranch dip and find little visitors crawling there already.


Tuesday Twosome

Who are the two people...

1. That annoy you the most? Why?

Only two? There are so many bad actors on commercials! Right at this moment those relentlessly cheerful newscasters who think it's great that it's so warm in January. Idiots.

2. That inspire you the most? Why?

Living? Aren't any. My most inspirational person was Eleanor Roosevelt, because she was a shy girl who conquered her fears to be able to help people.

3. That you would love to trade places with? Why?

Oh, there's only one person I'd want to trade places with: Rupert Holmes. He's superbly talented and works every day at a job he truly enjoys.

4. That you talk to the most? Why?

James and my mother, and saying why would be silly, wouldn't it?

5. That you think are great role models? Why?

Eleanor Roosevelt and Rupert Holmes. :-)


» Monday, January 03, 2005
New post in Holiday Harbour.


Warm, Warm, Go Away
I can't believe the hideous weather we're's 64°F right now, not three days into January. 60s and even 70 reported for the rest of the week on the Weather Channel, although both WXIA Channel 11 and Weather Underground say it will only be in the high fifties on Friday. At this rate I'm going to have to spray the front porch with Yard Guard before our party on Saturday so every damn bug in the state of Georgia doesn't swarm in with our guests.


Monday Madness

I have a terrible feeling all the questions are going to be the same this week...

1. The most exciting thing that happened in your life this past year.

Good exciting or bad exciting? The surgery and the car accident were exciting, but bad. The car trip was exciting in a good way.

2. Three resolutions that you've thought about making.

I don't do resolutions any longer. They just fall by the wayside.

3. Your biggest accomplishment this past year.

Getting my car back from the body shop after two months.

4. Your biggest challenge this past year.

Attempting to get some sleep between the hot flashes.

5. Something you tried for the first time (whether it be food, a sport, a hobby, etc.)

Transporting a budgie 2200 miles roundtrip without him getting sick or upset!

...and this next one comes from Andrea...
6. Name 3 (or however many) things that happened this year that you did not anticipate happening. And on the flip side, name 3 (or however many) things that didn't happen this year that you expected to happen. These could be personal things, professional things, national things, things in the news; anything really.

Let's see--I didn't anticipate major surgery or major car damage. And, actually, I expected the Democrats to win.

...and this one comes from Storyteller...
7. Where do you (or WOULD you) go for inspiration when you run out of questions for a meme?

Heck, I don't know. The news...daily life...holidays. Whatever.

8. Something you'd like to accomplish (or do) this coming year that you didn't get a chance to do last year.

Enjoy autumn.


» Sunday, January 02, 2005
New post in Holiday Harbour.


Vanished Youth
James and I went to the "V for Victory" exhibit--its last day--at the Atlanta History Center today. It was a small exhibit, but had a nice variety of things from World War II homefront memorabilia to old uniforms and service-related items along with reminisces from Atlanta-area people. A radio played an endless series of period music and radio reports, and a History Channel documentary on the war played in alcoves. A separate gallery had some other photos and quotes set on the wall on either side of a heart-stopping photo of rows upon rows of white crosses somewhere in Normandy.

One always looks in sorrow at those old photos that pepper Civil War books of the boys who went to fight--and some of them were truly boys, twelve and thirteen year olds who went as drummers and boys a bit older who lied about their age to be able to join the fray. And one knows from reading books how many young men of eighteen (and more than a few younger who also lied about their age like their forebears) volunteered to serve after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But maybe, just because my Dad was a World War II veteran and because I grew up on so many of those old war movies he loved, movies stocked with actors like John Wayne who were older than the average age of the men that served, my image of the average WWII soldier is of an older man.

Which explains why I was mesmerized by one simple photograph at the exhibit, a black and white shot of twin brothers standing to attention for inspection, with their kit between them. They were absurdly young, certainly just high school age, with smooth faces and wide eyes. Just boys, not rough-talking grizzled grimy men. Boys who would have certainly been happier going on to college or a job somewhere, who just wanted to grow up, find a nice girl, raise a family. And instead they were thrust in a hell of bullets and artillery, mud and filth, perhaps injuries or even death; they went to war to make sure other boys could grow up, find a nice girl, raise a family in a good place at a better time.

How can you ever adequately say thank you for that?


Farewell to Friends
According to, today is the last all-new "Raising Duncan" comic strip. From comments I read elsewhere, creator Chris Browne did not have enough newspaper markets to sustain the strip. will begin running the strip from the beginning starting tomorrow.

If you've never caught "Duncan," the premise is thus:
"Not every family is made up of Mom, Dad and the kids. 'Raising Duncan' follows the antics of 'Big Daddy' Kelly, an easily distracted romance novelist suffering from writer's block. His wife, Adelle, is an organized mystery writer who shares his antique writing desk and his unabashed love for Duncan, a little black Scotty dog who is the heart of their household. A wide-eyed innocent who marvels at the world and asks endless questions, Duncan is loved by everyone - even the cat [Bramley]."
It was a delightful strip about both the animals and people--for every instance of Willow I found echoed in Duncan, I could find equal echoes of James and myself in Adelle and Bruce. Sometimes the emphasis was on the animals (and their puzzlement at human ways), sometimes on the vagaries of being a free-lance writer, or it could be just about life in general. It was like a small taste of chocolate each day, sweet and satisfying, and I'll miss it.


» Saturday, January 01, 2005
Zapped Happily
Finally! We have ditched that idiot, troublesome Canon color inkjet and gotten a nice sensible laser printer, a Samsung ML-1740. It was at Fry's with a $50 rebate on it. I was about fed up with the long time the Canon took to print--25 pages would take a half hour--and the way it would stop in mid-page and hang up and the failure of the alert messages to come up on the computer (like stopping and telling me I was out of ink in a cartridge). (The ink cartridges also didn't live up to the "life" indicated on the side of the boxes...the "average" of 250 pages were more often 100 or 150 pages instead.)

The Samsung doesn't print in color, but I'd rather have it print fast instead. We still have a color printer in the house if we need it. The color lasers are coming down in price quickly; could be they'll be affordable in a couple of years.

Check out today's reading in Holiday Harbour--a super book called The Legend of Holly Claus.