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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» Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Revisit A Christmas Story... Holiday Harbour.


Diagnosis: Crabby
Some fun facts and behind the scenes peeks at House.


The Results of Warm Weather in January
"The pollen forecast in your area is high," saith the Weather Channel. Sheesh.


» Monday, January 30, 2006
Who is Steven Zirnkilton?
You may not recognize Steven Zirnkilton's face, but you know his voice, intoning the opening narrations to the various Law & Order franchise series week after week.


Home of the Seabees
Here's a site about Quonset Point Naval Air Station, which, of course talks about the history of the Quonset hut.


This Was An Interesting Read
2005's 101 Dumbest Moments in Business


» Sunday, January 29, 2006
All Around a Noontime
Busy day so far: after breakfast we ran to the supermarket, then read the paper while watching the Mass from Notre Dame, then I helped James install a new mailbox on the post out front, then we were off to donate books to the library, hit Harry's Farmer's Market for veggies and noshed on their Chinese New Year samples, took a bag of things to Goodwill, and stopped at Eckerd's for paper towels. Watching luge right now before getting back to packing.


» Saturday, January 28, 2006
Still Here
Been an alternately bad and busy week. Still down about Anna and did a couple of large orders at work. Had yesterday off but had to go talk to the bank, the post office, and did some raking in the back yard to expose the termite bait stations, which are monitored quarterly. The sons of some friends of ours are considering coming over to rake the rest; I will gladly pay them—they're great kids. Every year James and I start the job and then both our backs give out by the time we get to the bagging part. Arthritis is such a pisser.

It's also time to do the annual cleaning of the gutters, now that all the leaves have finally fallen (it takes this long in Georgia!). I hate when James has to get on the ladder, but it has to be done. There's an inordinate amount of pine straw on the roof over the kitchen as well.

We've engaged a realtor to put our house on the market since the gentleman interested in our home had to pull out. I think she's already shown the house while we were out today, but haven't heard from her. Looks funny to have a "for sale" sign in the front yard.

In the meantime I apparently have some type of stomach bug with all the requisite discomforts. We provided the lunch—Swedish meatballs—at a monthly gathering with friends today and I spent far too much time retreating into "the reading room" (where there at least was a friendly Readers Digest to pass the minutes).


» Monday, January 23, 2006
Rainy Day in Georgia
I was awake most of the night thinking about Anna. When I started trembling this morning James gathered me into his arms and held me until I had to let him go so he could get to work. I couldn't get warm and huddled in blankets till after noon. Outside it was awash with rain: it hammered on the ridge vents, dripped dolefully from the gutters, extended its damp, insistent fingers into the den where I sat shivering, wrapped in a fleece blanket. So hard to believe she's gone.


» Sunday, January 22, 2006
A Great Lady Passed Today
My cousin Anna died this afternoon of cancer.

My mother married quite late while her brother married early, so Anna and I were a generation apart; her first two children were slightly older than me. Some of my earliest memories are of Anna bustling around her kitchen. Her mother and father (my Aunty Petrina and Uncle Tommy) lived next door and the former was not well. Anna raised four children as well as helping her mother every day.

When I was quite small Anna's husband Anthony hurt his back at work and became permanently disabled. He worked at what jobs he could do, but to supplement their income Anna began selling Avon products. She became known as the saleslady you could depend on. She always filled her customers' orders promptly. She delivered all or most of her orders rather than requiring, as some reps did, the customers to come pick them up. If you went to the house at any time of the day or evening, Anna might be out delivering Avon, or she was at home, working on her accounts or orders. But no matter how busy she was, her children never wanted for attention or love, and neither did her mother as long as she lived.

At holidays Anna's kitchen was a happy, boisterous place. Her table always groaned with food and her home was welcoming. She had a loving helpmate in Anthony, who cared for the children and helped her with the Avon, and who was always a merry, joking soul. They complemented each other and adored each other.

Over the years Anna had many health problems, but she never gave up doing her work and caring for her family. For a long time she had severe psoriasis, the skin on her arms angry and red and sore. When she was first diagnosed with cancer, she put her chin up and persevered, despite sickness from chemotherapy. She never turned away her children, or their children, as long as she was well enough to help them.

When my mother needed a ride to the doctor, or help with the shopping, or just some company, Anna—and her family—were always there. Mom and Anna ended up going to the same cancer specialist and would arrange their appointments on the same day. Afterwards they would treat themselves with ice cream at the Newport Creamery close to the doctor's office, a sweet moment in a hard day.

There are so many artificial benchmarks of being "great" in today's society. A person is supposedly "great" if they make large amounts of money, or sing or act or dance better than others, or achieve some goal in sports or sex. They are all insignificant. Anna was not famous. She didn't have a hit television series or win American Idol or stand for public office. But she was still a great lady.

A great lady passed today.


» Friday, January 20, 2006
Everybody Talks About the Weather...
Back up in the 60s again...or at least it says it will be by 4 p.m.

The worst part is, although it's balmy out, apparently there is no way to circulate air through our building except by turning on the air conditioner. At least it feels like it's turned on—there's dead cold air coming out of the vents! I feel like I'm standing ankle deep in ice water.

I'm not the only complaining, either.

At least it cuts down on the hot flashes. But, boy, was it nice to go out at lunch and turn the heater on full blast on my feet!


» Thursday, January 19, 2006
Vintage Supermarket Photos
These look familiar!

My mom shopped at a local chain called Food Town. The butcher would let us come in the back while he was cutting her meat (something I'm sure would be frowned upon now). He would cut steaks, roasts, etc. specifically for the customer; there was nothing wrapped in plastic.

At the end of the 60s we started going to Almacs Supermarket in Garden City Shopping Center because they gave S&H green stamps.


I'd seen MuggleNet before, but haven't visited it in a while—looks like they've redecorated and added a lot more stuff. I found "The Wall of Shame" funny; I thought I got odd e-mails!


This is Just Sad
Saw this in Jerry's blog: Former Teen Idol [Leif] Garrett Charged With Heroin Possession

I always preferred older actors, but God, I still remember the florid headlines on those teenybopper magazines, Tiger Beat and 16, things like "Could you be Leif's girl? Take this quiz to find out!" "Ten kooky things about gorgeous, loveable Leif!" "Leif's secret heartache! Could you help him?" etc. (The headlines were pretty much the same over time; the names of the teen idols were interchangable as the years passed: from one of the Beatles to Peter Noone to Bobby Sherman and Donny Osmond to David Cassidy, and so on.) The teen idol du jour would be splashed on the front cover; in the case of Leif Garrett, it was often a pose that accented his big "puppy dog" eyes and his "kissable" lips (artfully enhanced by the faintest of makeup—or perhaps that old 70s standby the airbrush).

Dawn Lyn (Dodie from the last year or two of My Three Sons) is Leif's sister; I saw her name several months ago when I was idly surfing through and read the cruel comments people had written about her on the My Three Sons page. She made a very angry response, especially about her wardrobe, which was conceived to make her look younger and was not her idea. Hope she's faring better than her brother.

I occasionally watch specials about child stars and it seems a good/bad proposition. Many times it seems the children get through by having supportive parents and have actually been quite happy—people like Shirley Temple and Jon Provost and Melissa Gilbert—and then there are the kids forced into it for one reason or the other who suffer. The final solution for these kids is too often drastic, whether in their teen years or later: Anissa Jones. Dana Plato. Rusty Hamer. Bobby Driscoll.

Just sad.


One Extreme to the Other
Our weather is bonkers lately. Tuesday it was in the 60s, yesterday barely hit 50°F.

This morning I had to wear my coat, since it was 29°F. I emerged from the house to find the world frosted: I had to scrape off my windshield and the grass next to where I parked at work was glittering as if tipped with diamond dust or mica. But the high today should be in the low 60s.

It needs to be cold and stay cold for a longer spell, or the mosquitoes this summer will be horrendous.


» Tuesday, January 17, 2006
"We're Off to Outer Space..."
My friend Sherrye introduced me to the Star Blazers series back when it was broadcast on WSBK-TV38. It was my first experience with anime and with an animated series where the leads experienced growth and change in their lives.

Now Voyager Entertainment presents the web comic StarBlazers Rebirth. (Chapter 4 is actually sleighted for February 2006.)


(...peeks out Ann's window...)

Looks like it's Georgia Monsoon Season again. In this case we could really say "at least it isn't snow"—we'd be buried!

Later...yeesh! Ninety minutes to get 24 miles! Forty-five just for the eight miles of freeway. "Rain, rain, go away!"


Inner Land of Lincoln
The History Channel has been pushing a special about Abraham Lincoln for over a month now. The early commercials just had a narration about how he'd been abused as a child and suffered bouts of depression, but overcome it to become President. The newer commercials showed a class of students amazing their teacher about what they knew about Lincoln from this special. ("He had...issues," one goofy-looking girl with a feather intones.) I was intrigued enough to watch.

Did anyone else see this and was I the only one who was, disappointingly, bored? (I think the kids of that commercial certainly wouldn't have stuck with it.) The narration was uniformly dull, a series of talking heads, interspersed with brief recreations. Also, the narration kept flashing back from his last day alive to his past. They spent a long time chatting about a theory that Lincoln could have possibly been gay because he had been known to travel and share beds with other men. Well, I suppose anything is possible; who knows if he didn't suffer bouts of depression because of such conflicted feelings in a day when gays were considered wicked? But just because he shared beds with other men while traveling and, at least once, the bed of a friend who had nowhere else for him to sleep? This used to be a very common thing on the American frontier: single men used to travel alone and often at inns there was only one bed and two or more men might share them. By that logic, any man who did so was gay and it's just not so.

(Actually, people sleeping two or more to a bed was pretty common up to and all through the Depression, with no sexual connotation involved. In an era where homes didn't have central heat, sharing a bed with a brother or sister or cousin kept everyone warm. I notice where old books talk about siblings and friends sharing beds, new filmed versions of those books always put them in separate beds. For instance, in the television version of What Katy Did, Katy and Clover have separate beds at boarding school, while in the book they—and all the other girls—shared a bed. Same thing with Rebecca and Emma Jane in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I always used to get a kick out of the kids' bedrooms in The Waltons because each of them had their own little bed. In Earl Hamner's original Spencer's Mountain and the sequel The Homecoming, the boys shared beds and the three girls slept in one bed.)

I finally switched channels to American Experience's portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt. A similar discussion was raised about Eleanor because of her close friendship with Lorena Hickok. Unlike Lincoln, there is evidence that Eleanor wrote "Hick" effusive, gushy "love" letters...but then Eleanor was the product of a time where you did write effusive, gushy "love" letters to not only your sweetheart, but to your good friends and children. If you have ever read any biographies of Theodore Roosevelt, you might have seen examples of affectionate letters his father sent to his daughters (Teddy's sisters) that could be construed today as hinting at pedophilia, but which were perfectly natural letters back then that doting daddies wrote to their children. Times change. Eleanor also wrote effusive letters to her bodyguard, Earl Miller, and her assistant, Joe Lash. Only Eleanor knew, and she took that to her grave with her. It seems an invasion of privacy to poke around like this after all these years.


Congratuations to Hugh Laurie...
...for his Golden Globe Award.


» Monday, January 16, 2006
No Man's Land
In between housework and laundry, I'm dubbing off PBS's eight part The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century. I'm presently on part 5, which talks about the soldiers who came home with physical and psychological injuries. How cavalierly doctors tossed about electroshock therapy in those days! The first part talked about the Kaiser having electroshock treatments for his withered arm while wearing a metal collar and now the treatment returns for those "shell-shocked" soldiers returning with the grime and slaughter of war scoured into their brains. So very sad.


» Sunday, January 15, 2006

James had a bit of trouble with the install...not with the video card, which apparently worked fine first time. However, when he installed the ISA video card as a temporary fix the other night, the modem quit working. It's still not working. We're on DSL and it's of little matter. The more annoying problem was that the computer kept locking up after that and the sound card would not work. Then I noticed that the computer would lock up every time it made a sound. Sigh. We've had this problem before and James did this time what he did last time: moved the sound card to another slot, and it works again. (If it's like last time, it'll quit working again and we'll move it back into its original slot and it will work again. Computers are such fun. <g>)


This Must Be a Definition of "Original" I Haven't Heard Before
LOL. Just talked to a friend who received an e-mail from AMC with the subject line: "HUSTLE: A New AMC Original Series."

Except that Hustle is not original to AMC; it's a BBC series which is entering its third season in England. How nice of them to misrepresent themselves as originators of the series.


» Saturday, January 14, 2006
We Get Trivial...Again
More than a few years ago some friends of ours started going to trivia night at a place called Rockford's on the other side of town. At the time, Bandit was sick and I didn't want to leave him. Once he passed away we decided to make the trek cross town (it's 45 minutes out to Stone Mountain). Rockford's was a medium-sized restaurant-come-sports bar, but they had a good menu and the trivia games were fun.

Then the managers of Rockford's decided to move to a new location. They were closed for a month or two and reopened in a larger place further down Route 78. This happened about the same time my mom first got sick, but James went out one time when I was gone. Much later, we got to go play again, but I wasn't all that fond of the new place. To me it lacked the warmth of the earlier location and it was 15 minutes further out than the old place. By the time we got home on Saturday nights, we were quite tired.

Then we got the abrupt news that Rockford's had closed. We missed going out with our friends, but the long drive was not missed. A little later our friends started going to several different other places and finally settled on a little bar, the Moon Shadow Tavern on Lawrenceville Highway. We've been debating going again and finally decided to try tonight.

I can't say I really like the place. What food they have is good, but there aren't many menu choices. And it's too darn noisy; they play music so loudly that you either have to shout over it or lipread. I don't understand why they have to blare music at these places, or the chain places like O'Charley's and Chili's. When I go out to dinner with friends I want to talk to them, not be deafened.

But as always the company was good and made up for almost everything.

Moon Shadow is closer, but we left early to time our way out, so we had a half hour to kill when we finally arrived in the area. There was a used bookstore two doors down and we wandered around that for a while. It was rather overpriced, but James did find a book about the Berlin Airlift.

We also managed to get an e-mail back to one of our friends who usually attends trivia—he owns his own computer consulting business and said he had some spare old PCI video cards—and he brought us two from his collection. He figures that my computer is so old that newer PCI cards are just not compatible with it.

So James can make a stab at getting my computer fixed tomorrow if he likes.


We had someone come to look at the house today. He brought his little grandson...three years old...too cute! He also brought along a friend of his who sells HVAC units. He gave our new unit a thorough inspection and said it was an excellent system (which we liked to hear; you never quite know when the salesman is throwing you a line and you have to investigate your brands so these guys won't snow you completely), and gave us some further hints on how to make it run better and more efficiently. With the price of natural gas the way it is—we haven't gotten our December bill yet and are apprehensive after watching a news report where folks had $600-$800 heating bills!—this is always a good thing!


» Friday, January 13, 2006
Farewell to Media Play
Oh, man, I remember when this store opened—it was a dream come true.

You walked in and there on your left was gaming stuff and computer games. Never been much into computer games, but did know folks who loved them. On your right were VHS tapes. (Yes, this was before DVD.) They had more videos than I had ever seen anywhere. Later, when DVDs became cheaper (as well as the machines to play them), it was interesting to watch how DVDs turned from a small collection in a corner to a tidal wave that overwhelmed the VHS versions and relegated them to a back corner.

In the back left corner there were storage units and CDs. It looked like the music departments I remembered from the stores in Harvard Square, especially the top floor of the Coop. And they had everything, not just rock and pop, but soundtracks and cast albums and comedy albums, stuff you could barely find in those small mall music shops.

And then there was the right rear corner of the store. They had books, hundreds and hundreds of books. The shelves were up past my capacity to reach—in fact, even James couldn't get a book off the topmost shelf. They had things I'd never seen in the narrow little mall Waldenbooks and BDaltons. They didn't carry just best sellers and all the latest self-help books, they had history and transportation and religion and sociology... Plus they had a great selection of bargain books in all the same categories.

Books, movies, and music...everything you could ever want.

It was joyful for a while, then as always it began to erode. As the VHS tapes disappeared, so did the books. The shelves got emptier. Then they brought in shorter shelves. Then they started putting the books in with cover forward instead of spine to fill in space. The shelves got shorter again. And were set further apart. They started selling used CDs and then used DVDs, but the selection of new ones got more and more scarce. The racks in the the CD area were suddenly set further apart, too, and then they canted them diagonally to look like they were taking up more space.

Some good did some out of it: they started selling games and children's toys, and added to their magazine choices. And then that stopped, too, and reversed itself, and the stock got smaller...and smaller.

There's nothing to miss about what it is now...but how I miss those halcyon opening years.

(They're on their final eight days. The store is pretty well stripped. Most of what was left were schlocky horror movies—and what I estimated were about 250 copies of the first season of The Cosby Show. It was unbelievable; there was one or two of everything else, and an entire rack of solid Cosby Show.)


DVD Transfer Diary, Again
Finished up Danger Mouse today. Still a funny show. I didn't record but the first story with Count Duckula—God, how I hated Count Duckula...

Also noticed that I do have all eight episodes of The Great War. I so rarely bought T160 tapes that I didn't realize I had the series on one of them.


» Thursday, January 12, 2006
Doctor Who Comes to SCI FI

Thanks to Jack Mayfield and Alex Lucyshyn for passing this on.


How Much Do You Know About the Presidents?
Take the Presidential Quiz.

I got four wrong.

Some of the answers may surprise you.


The Back Porch
The Back Porch
::Please be Seated::

Onesome: "Please-- join us for a light dinner and some conversation." If you were coordinating a group of say, the thirty or so regulars here, where would you like to have them meet in your area to be able to spend some time talking and eating?

Wow, thirty...that's a hard one. We've had parties of ten to fifteen at Golden Corral, but as much as they say they have a "meeting room," really large parties like thirty seem to flummox them. It's a good place to go as everyone can get something he likes. I think we took a large party (fifteen) to Red Lobster once, and Copeland's managed to cope with a party of twenty. (But Copeland's is pretty expensive; some of us can't manage that.) All good places if you can get them to make a big table. A lot of restaurants are now laid out so they are a series of cozy nooks rather than a big room where you can get lots of friends together.

Twosome: be-- my Valentine? Yes, it's early, but do you have 'traditional" dinner plans for that holiday (or the time around it)? ...or if you don't, where would you like to go?

We usually end up at Olive Garden because we have a coupon. :-) We had other plans for Valentines Day this year, but they may have been sidetracked.

Threesome: Seated-- Hmmm... Table or booth? Do you have a preference when you go out to eat? Just wondering...

Whatever's there.


"’Tain't Funny, McGee"
I was never much of an All in the Family fan (I preferred Mary Tyler Moore), but I do agree with Tony Figueroa about the state of sit-coms today. He hits that proverbial nail on the head in this excerpt from a reprint of a column from 2004:
Painful because most of the sit-coms that we have left are just bad. It's painful to even watch them. No new ideas, bad acting, and bad writing. Instead of a plot they string together a bunch of sexual innuendoes and call it "sophisticated". That's not a sit-com. That's a burlesque show.For example, the girl with the large breasts is dumb and the girl with the small breasts is smart. But the girl with the small breasts is still jealous of the girl with the large breasts because she has large breasts. I guess that's more sophisticated than what we did in the old days when the blond was dumb and the brunette was smart. Or we see, Enter smart black guy. He greets stupid white guy. Within a few seconds we hear, "You know, some of my best friends are black".
Read the rest of CHILD OF TELEVISION: Those Were the Days.


A Word From Us Elderly Folks
Way to go, Janet! Funniest—and most truthful—thing I've seen in a while.

Janet's Rants: Old Broads Rule!


» Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Well, That's Annoying
In September of 2002, I had a heart episode: palpitations with a heart rate up to 190. James rushed me to the emergency room and I was in the hospital for two days. They never did find out what happened, but they put me on a beta blocker and also gave me Protonix, as the attending doctor's theory was that it was caused by a severe acid reflux episode. I admitted to her that I had been having terrible trouble with digesting my food properly at that time and that night had been very sick because we had eaten spaghetti with my home-made meat sauce. I don't use pepper, eat spicy foods and rarely eat any types of fatty foods; carbs are my downfall. But even the blandest of roast chicken would send me running for the Tums...I was swallowing sometimes a dozen of them a day—or more.

The Protonix came as a revelation. It was incredible that I could eat again without getting sick to my stomach. Salad dressings were still a problem (probably the acidity of the vinegar) and anything of that nature, like barbecue sauce, but otherwise it was wonderful to eat and not have to "reach for the Rolaids."

A year or so back I got a letter from Kaiser Permanente that said they had removed Protonix from their formulary and I was to take OTC Prilosec instead. I was pissed, because the Prilosec costs the same money for half the amount of pills. I was even more annoyed when I found out it doesn't work as well, either. Although I'm not to the point where I was before September of 2002, where things like a plain hamburger or sometimes even a piece of bread would make me sick, now I get indigestion again after eating any cooked meat and odd things like cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi fruit, and the yogurt I had to eat last month after taking antibiotics. (The yogurt thing was too weird; I was eating chocolate-flavored yogurt and when it came up on me it tasted like strawberries!)

I planned to tell the doctor about this when I went for a checkup this year, but now I'm really annoyed: I am having trouble with my computer at work and the helpdesk person asked me to try logging on to a different computer to see if it was my own CPU at fault. I used the office of a co-worker who is out and there, spread out on her desk, were bottles of her prescription meds. I noticed a brand new one was for Protonix. I noticed they were all prescribed by and from the pharmacy of Kaiser Permanente. Grrrrr...


» Tuesday, January 10, 2006
"Good Night, John-Boy!"
Did anyone catch the Cingular "Waltons" commercial during House tonight? Very funny. Earl Hamner speaks about the family staying in contact as the Walton house is shown, then says good-night to Mary Ellen in another house, who says good night to the next person in another house, etc. I am pretty sure those were the voices of the original cast members.


From Another Location
I'm here blogging on James' computer because my video card has gone belly up. He's going to stop at Micro Center on the way home to see if they still sell PCI video cards (yes, my computer is such a dinosaur that I have a PCI video card—I have 72-pin memory, too...). If they don't, Fry's has them, but I'll have to wait until Friday to get one. There's too much traffic between Koger and Gwinnett Mall for me to go there during my lunch hour.

I'm dubbing off Little Ice Age, Big Chill and reading a book about America's "jubilee," the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in 1826.

Later...well, we thought from the beep code that it was the video card. That's what research told James one long beep then three short ones meant for my motherboard. He picked a new video card and installed it. Still no picture and the one long beep and three short ones. He tried changing slots, no dice.


Tuesday Twosome

Two things that catch/caught your attention...

1. Outside your window:

I don't have a window at work. If I crane my neck I can look through Ann's doorway and look out her window: um, there's a tree and some sky...

2. On your desk:

The modification I can't do because I don't have the original order and my empty water glass, which means it's off to the bubbler again.

3. The last time you were in a car:

Traffic was still pretty brisk considering it was way after so-called rush hour and that I must have overfilled the tank because I could smell gasoline.

4. The last time you watched TV:

Um, Today was on. Matt Lauer was interviewing some guy who wrote a true-life experience book and now they found out he lied. And Al Roker almost looks too thin now.

5. The last time you listened to the radio:

Some guy was sounding happy that the temp would be high 60s today. Groan...


So I turned up on the doorstep of the car care place near our house (they're reasonably affordable, quick, polite and incredibly nice—these were the people who actually came to our house the morning my mother died, drove my car back to their shop, changed the oil, checked the tires, and otherwise made sure the car was roadworthy, and brought it back so we could drive up to Rhode Island, with no extra charge for the pickup and dropoff). They were able to fix the tire in about an hour. What was embedded in it was a 3-inch long piece of silver metal piping, probably about 1/4 inch diameter before it was flattened and became rusted. I have no clue how this thing, having been presumably lying flat on the roadway, actually got into the tire.

Anyway, I got to the post office and discovered that they don't close at 4:30, but stay open until six, so I didn't have to leave early (although with the state of traffic at an hour earlier when I left, I possibly might not have made it to the PO by six if I left work at 4:30), or use that particular route to get to the PO on time.

That's life.


» Monday, January 09, 2006
Well, That Wasn't Fun
I left work early to do an urgent errand; as I came off the exit and drove across the overpass, I heard a soft pop as if I had run over an inflated bag. As Tawny Madison said, "I know that sound. That's a bad sound." It was...I had a flat. I was annoyed by not being able to complete my errand, but not much put out, since when I bought my car I bought an extended warranty that includes 24-hour roadside service.

I was a bit more annoyed ten minutes later, when all I could get from the phone number was a Verizon Wireless ID and "all circuits are busy now." After ten minutes of this I called the general service number and explained to the service rep about my problem. She then tried contacting the roadside service and couldn't get them—because she was using the same phone number that I had just told her was out of service. After ten minutes, she told me she was sorry, but that she had no other way of contacting roadside assistance and I should just keep calling!

Holy cow, what if I hadn't been safe parked at the RaceTrac, but on a dark road somewhere? You mean they don't have a backup system? Or a way the service reps can contact roadside assistance via an alternate number? Bad planning, folks.

I finally called James, quipping "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope" and he rode to the rescue. (Incidentally I called roadside assistance for a total of an hour and fourteen minutes. No dice.)

Needless to say, I'm not too happy with my expensive roadside service contract right now...


Monday Madness

1. Name 1 type of supplement that you take.

Potassium. (Thanks for reminding me I haven't taken my vitamins yet.)

2. List 2 books that you would like to read in 2006.

Christmas on Television by Diane Werts and Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak.

3. List 3 hobbies that you have.

Constructing web pages, writing, and cross stitch.

4. List 4 gifts that you have received.

Um, a sweater, a book about immigrants' stories from Ellis Island, two books on tape (uh, CD), and a tool box.

5. Share 5 (instant & inexpensive) ways to spruce up a room.

  1. A bouquet of flowers.
  2. Simple but decorative tiebacks for the curtains (maybe made out of hair bows or napkins).
  3. A little container or statue from another room.
  4. Rearrange the furniture.
  5. And easiest of all--a good dusting and polishing!


Snow Life
Doesn't this sound wonderful?--

Snowy Silence Greets Forest Explorers

I haven't been for a good tramp in the snow in donkey's years. This is the sort of vacation I'd like to take, rather than those trips to some stuffy hot tropical "paradise" they're always advertising on television.


In Joke
Listening to Sirius Radio Classics this morning, an episode of Our Miss Brooks called "Faculty Cheerleader." In one scene, Osgood Conklin, the pompous principal of Madison High School, is speaking to his daughter Harriet, who has just pooh-poohed the idea of Daddy being a politician. Conklin blusters that he'll have her know that he was an elected politician before he became a school principal.

Great in-joke: Gale Gordon, who played Conklin and who would later become most well-known to television audiences as Lucille Ball's long-suffering boss on both The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy, was originally extremely popular in the role of Mayor LaTrivia in the radio comedy Fibber McGee and Molly.* The audience got a kick out of it and so did I.

* The show was properly titled "The Johnson Wax Program, starring Fibber McGee and Molly," but most folks simply referred to it by the aforementioned title.


» Sunday, January 08, 2006
Baby, It Was Cold Outside
Watching a fascinating documentary on the History Channel called Little Ice Age, Big Chill, about the worldwide chilling of the atmosphere that extended over five centuries and the effect that it had on the physical and sociological history of Europe and the Americas. The Irish, for instance, took up potatoes as a main crop because the Little Ice Age had destroyed other crops. Beer replaced wine as a primary drink because barley survived the climate change where grapes did not. The bitter winters that George Washington and his troops had to endure at Valley Forge and that Napoleon and his troops had to endure in Russia were caused by the Little Ice Age. In Shakespeare's time the Thames froze in the winter and "Frost Fairs" were held on the ice. In the "Year Without A Summer," 1816, acerbated by the explosion of Mount Tambora, snow fell in June, July and August in New England and caused mass migrations to the west. Cool stuff.


» Saturday, January 07, 2006
House Update
In Autumn Hollow.


» Friday, January 06, 2006
A Pope, A Calendar, and the Glastonbury Thorn
Back when today was Christmas Day: "Old Christmas" in Holiday Harbour


» Thursday, January 05, 2006
Interesting Catholic blog (very graphics-intensive) from a gentleman in Boston, Recta Ratio.


In Defense of "Happy Holidays"...'s something I found: "The great fête of the people was Christmas. All times and seasons paled and dimmed before the festive joys of Christmas. It had been handed down for generations....It had come over with their forefathers. It had a peculiar significance. It was a title. Religion had given it its benediction. It was the time to 'Shout the glad tidings.' It was The Holidays....Christmas was distinctively 'The Holidays.'"

Written by Thomas Page in 1892.

Besides, the Christmas season isn't one holiday, it's many: the glad preparation of Christmas Eve, the happy rejoicing of Christmas Day, the continuing festivities of Boxing Day/St. Stephen's Day (should you wish to or get to celebrate it), the solemnity of Childermas (Holy Innocents Day), the partying run riot of New Year's Eve, the reflection of New Year's Day, and Twelfth Night and Epiphany to put the cap on the season. So it really is "Happy Holidays"!

Incidentally, I noticed at least three of our neighbors have kept their lights up this year; we are not the only ones with candles and wreaths left in our windows!


The Eve of Epiphany
We celebrate Twelfth Night in Holiday Harbour.

One of my co-workers just asked me when I was going to take my Christmas decorations down. I grinned and said "Christmas isn't over yet."

Hopefully we can return to having our annual Twelfth Night party next year. Several people asked me if we were going to have it, which made me happy to know that folks had enjoyed themselves during previous festivities.


Who is La Befana?
Italian celebrations in Holiday Harbour.


The Back Porch
Thursday Threesome
::Hook 'em Horns!::

Onesome: Hook-- Just to get us back in the swing of things after the holidays: when you're at home, where do your keys hang out, on a hook by the door? ...or do they have a special place? ...or do you find them wherever they landed the last time you walked in ?

They're near the door, though security-wise that's not a good idea. I pretty much try to hang them up there because if I don't, God knows where I'll have to look for them. If it's coat weather, most often they will turn up in my pocket, but if I came in with a lot of things in my hands, they could be anywhere: on the end table, on the desk, on the kitchen table...

Twosome: 'em-- Do you use contractions like " 'em " in your daily conversations? ...or do people use a contraction or phrase that particularly bugs you past the point of rationality?

Sure, if I'm trying to be deliberately informal or cute. I guess "'tude" is annoying...but then Pidgie has a "'tude" and the word fits him. :-)

Threesome: Horns-- On the Horns of a dilemma: if you had only one movie you could nominate for the Academy Awards for 2005, which would it be? ...and why? The screenplay? ...the lead player(s)? ...the setting?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe of course, for special effects. (Well, except for one scene; after Aslan's sacrifice, there is a shot from above—his hind feet are positioned so it looks like he is standing on something solid, not lying limp on his right side on the Stone Table; I don't know if anyone else noticed it, but I found it very distracting and can't believe they did all these wonderful other SFX and missed these few frames.)


Microspit Word Again
Who designed this piece of junk?

This morning I finally got the text of my document as I wanted it. I then proceeded to try to add an image. It was clip art, so I chose "clip art" from the insert dropdown. I could only go to clipart that was already loaded in the system, none of which fit what I needed it for (there seemed to be an inordinate amount of images of dogs and cats!), not to the CD of more appropriate clipart I had slipped into the disk drive. So I had to choose "insert picture" instead.

What a nightmare. I could resize the image okay, but I could not drag and drop it where I wanted it like you do in WordPerfect; I had to enter coordinates on a dropdown menu instead and keep going back and forth until the image was exactly where I wanted it since it only went into the new position after you pressed "OK." I also needed to rotate the image, but it only gave me rotation choices if I chose the option of putting the image under the text, not between text lines. This worked, but it was really stupid. It took me an hour to figure out this nonsense, simply doing it over and over again.


» Wednesday, January 04, 2006
I Had Another Tussle With Microslop Word Today
I think we came out even in the end, but it took me an hour to do what in WordPerfect would have taken me ten minutes. It involved tables, and I'm used to all the formatting commands for the table to be under the table tab. In Word, apparently you have to go hunting for half the formatting commands. I can't seem to find any way to put margins within the table cells, at least not in the table dropdown. By the time I finished for the day, I was perspiring and ready to give Bill Gates a piece of my mind about his piece of trash word processor.


On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...
...our weather gave to us: a warm spell! Gack! It's supposed to be 67°F today, but back in the forties on Friday, then into the 60s again at the beginning of the week. Teeter-Totter City!


» Tuesday, January 03, 2006
A Familiar Name
I taped the silent version of The Prisoner of Zenda last night on TCM. Ramon Novarro, who was later to gain fame in Ben-Hur, plays the villainous Rupert of Hentzau and Lewis Stone (twenty years later Andy Hardy's dad) is both the dissolute future king Rudolf and the Englishman Rudolf Rassendyll, related in the past by an indiscretion of an earlier king with a Rassendyll great-aunt.

I was amused to see the name of the person who did the screenplay: Mary O'Hara, who later wrote My Friend Flicka. In her autobiography, Flicka's Friend, O'Hara talks about being a writer of "photoplays" before moving to the Goose Bar Ranch that she would make famous in fiction.


Fly Away Home
I saw the prettiest thing this afternoon while waiting at a traffic light: there was honking from my left and just coming across the sky was a large wedge of geese, twenty-three in all. I'd never seen a flock so large. The light was a long one, and I was able to follow them as they turned west and vanished out of sight against the sunset.


Tuesday Twosome

New Year's resolutions...

1. Worth a try or pure waste of time?

Oh, anything's worth a try once (even once a year). I think the problem with resolutions is people make too many in too broad a field and then think they have a sword of Damocles hanging over them.

2. Something I have never done or have tried at least once?

Whatever needs doing.

3. Help me set goals or emphasizes my procrastination?

Again, it can be a goal setter if done correctly. It's easier to set a goal of "I'm going to stop having a cinnamon bun with my morning coffee and have some fruit instead" instead of saying "I'm done eating sweets."

4. Make me laugh or annoy me?

Ah, well, still frustrating when you trip and fall.

5. Are usually broken within the first month or are more of long-term goals to accomplish?

Depends on how much you bit off. :-)


» Monday, January 02, 2006
I Hearby Present... everyone who participated in this morning's Tournament of Roses Parade, the unofficial Barry Manilow "I Made It Through the Rain" Award. Good God, what a deluge!


Discounts Galore...
...lead to a fun purchase in Holiday Harbour.


An Inauspicious Beginning to '06
Darned nasty and unusual weather here for January: into the 60s and humid, with cloudy, oppressive skies. It was merely depressing here, but more destructive east of town, where they had hail and high winds and tornado warnings, and trees down and roofs flying about.

James had to work, so I taped the Tournament of Roses Parade and went out and about. Stopped at Lenox Mall, which I hadn't been to in years. I remember why now: high priced stores with stuff I couldn't afford even if I wanted it. Went into Crate and Barrel and goggled at the prices. Noticed that a good deal of the parking space at the front of the mall has been taken up by something called "Near the Mall" and charges $3.00 to park! Pay to park at a mall? Bye-bye, guys...I'll shop online first.

Did find a simple book about playing keyboards, with a chord refresher, at Border's, but since I have a 30 off coupon for the end of the week, put off buying it.

My last stop was at Eckerd's for potassium tablets, since I've made a resolution to make sure to take my vitamins every day.

Since we went to see Narnia yesterday and then went out to Wild Wings with friends afterwards, we had our traditional New Year's dinner tonight: a slice of ham with potatoes. Now we can sit back and watch the [drenched] Rose Parade.

(Incidentally, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is fabulous—they did it correctly, with some differences that made the story more dramatic, but did not take away from the original. Mr. Tumnus, the faun, is quite sweet. Jack Lewis probably would be pleased.)


» Sunday, January 01, 2006
The "Kinder" Go House Visiting
Details in Autumn Hollow.


A Peripatetic New Year's Eve
Go on the road with us in Holiday Harbour.


Happy New Year!
Bye, 2005. Don't let the door hit you on the butt on the way out...