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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» Wednesday, April 30, 2008
We didn't change the channel after Jeopardy! tonight because I was giving Willow a bath, and caught some of a show called Under One Roof.

Wow. Makes you long for the intelligent humor of Amos'n'Andy.



From Every Pore
When I finished with work today I did some tidying then sat down and watched part of a DVD I hadn't cracked since I bought it: the Disney Treasures set of Nine Lives of Elfego Baca and The Swamp Fox. Rusty at the hobby shop said he watched the latter a few weeks back, having loved it as a kid, and was so disappointed. I've never seen either, but understand Swamp Fox is pretty stodgy.

But I loved the first episode of Baca and the interview with Robert Loggia. Elfego Baca, like Francis Marion, was a real person with a rather amazing career. Of Mexican heritage and born in New Mexico in 1865, he was brought up in Kansas, but later returned to New Mexico after the death of his mother. One of his most famous exploits was his first: as a temporary deputy, he arrested a cowboy who was terrorizing the Hispanic businesses in his small town. The cowboy's Anglo pals were not amused, and when Baca defended himself after the cowboy was released from jail, the man's horse reared, threw him, and then fell on him. His companions, several dozen in number, chased Baca to a house, where he held them off for thirty-three hours until help arrived. The cowboys shot 4000 bullets into the house, threw dynamite in one corner, even attempted to set it on fire, and still Elfego Baca escaped. Word got around that he was like a cat, with nine lives.

He went on to have a colorful career that included being a sheriff while he read law, practicing law, even working as a school superintendent. He achieved his goal of gaining justice for Hispanics in a time when the white majority was against them.

Robert Loggia says in the interview that he insisted on showing Baca's ethnic heritage rather than making him a "whitebread" Hispanic and Walt Disney agreed. He was shown as an intelligent, resourceful, "mild-until-riled," virile man in an era when most Hispanics were still comic or lazy characters, so the show holds up well today. Not to mention that, damn, he was sexy. We are talking about yum factor from every pore.

Looking forward to seeing the other two. Hey, Disney, where's the other seven episodes????



Background Twitters
It has been a very pretty day despite the fact it got up to 70°F! I have got to get my sunglasses out of the car on sunny days when I take a walk; the glare from the pale concrete sidewalk is blinding. A very nice day to work at home, although pretty chilly this morning; it's possible the heat came on last night even though the thermostat is down to 64. By Friday we will have to put the A/C on again because the night temps will be over 60.

The birds have been going at it wildly this afternoon. I thought the wild flutterings indicated a territorial dispute between a house finch and a house sparrow until I had the time to watch the two...I think courting behavior better describes what's going on!

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» Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Figures--Nice Weather and... I am trapped inside. We had a cold front come through yesterday after it being wonderfully cloudy and windy—even Willow loved it; she bounced out in the yard like a puppy—and I slept like a rock. I must have because the alarm yammered for fifteen minutes before I realized it. Dash, dash, dash to get dressed, you betcha.

Tomorrow when I can go for a long walk it will be back in the icky 70s.



» Saturday, April 26, 2008
You Can Go Home Again...
...and find some things may be as disappointing as you remember.

[WARNING! Spoilers ahoy!]

I have often written about the Addie Mills specials in my blogs and even have a web page devoted to the stories. The first special, The House Without a Christmas Tree, is IMHO one of the finest made-for-television movies/specials ever, with an incredible cast and even more involving, sympathetic storyline. The second special, The Thanksgiving Treasure, featuring Barnard Hughes, was also memorable.

When I initially watched the final two specials, The Easter Promise and Addie and the King of Hearts, I didn't like them as well. I purchased the VHS tape of the former not long ago, review here, and discovered that it wasn't just that Addie had grown up a bit and I wasn't interested in her becoming involved with clothes and young love; the production values had changed for the worse.

Several months ago I had located a copy of Addie and the King of Hearts, but debated ordering it because of the cost versus my original opinion of the story. I finally ordered a copy. I initially watched only the first five minutes and was disappointed all over again. I had not seen the story for years (it originally aired in 1976; I believe the Disney Channel aired it back in the 1980s along with the others in the series, which is where my copy of Thanksgiving Treasure came from, but I didn't see it at that time), so most of my memories of the story are entangled with the accompanying novel. Back in 1976 I remember being unhappy about the story length of only an hour rather than 90 minutes (or rather 51 minutes v. 72).

Now that I am able to rewatch it, King of Hearts is also more disconcerting since the storyline immediately diverges from the book as well as television canon by replacing Addie's longtime crush, Billy Wild, with a boy named Danny (presumably because, since they were no longer filming in the original location, actor Brady McNamara was no longer available). The classroom set is also a very cheap knockoff of the original classroom, which was located at a real school in Canada. The first two specials were filmed in prairie areas of Canada, which gave a more authentic look to the setting of Nebraska in the late 1940s, while CBS apparently went chintzy on the final two and filmed them totally on Hollywood soundstages, and, sadly, it shows.

I was also amused by the titles, which, while incorporating the traditional Norman Sunshine collages, used the convention of having the credits being "written on the blackboard." Addie, who wouldn't make a card for Miss Thompson with a Santa Claus with a pack on his back saying "To Miss Thompson" because the concept was "too corny," would have certainly thought the blackboard business was the same!

Still, I liked the story slightly better this time, and find I really missed what they could have done with the extra twenty minutes.

The storyline, linked to Valentines Day, has Addie developing a crush on a male substitute teacher; at the same time, she discovers that her father, after having mourned his deceased wife for so many years, is seeing the rather brassy owner of the local beauty parlor. The book sets up things slightly differently—Addie finds out about her dad from overhearing a conversation, not from classmates; the latter, I think, works better—and takes its time with the story, leaving in scenes where the girls tease Addie about her crush and Grandma talks about her first love. The television show jumps directly in the story and stays with it, leaving no time for those extra scenes or for other slice-of-life scenes like the one in House Without a Christmas Tree where Addie and her friends buy Miss Thompson a Christmas gift or the delightful segment in Thanksgiving Treasure where Addie and Cora Sue are biking out into the countryside telling riddles to each other. Heck, Addie's best friend is gone and the special doesn't even take a minute to acknowledge it. (Also, in the novel Mr. Davenport arrives after Christmas vacation, giving Addie's crush time to develop. Onscreen Davenport arrives right before the dance and the crush develops the day she meets him.)

Oddly, though, now that I rewatch the special, I like the way the story is told onscreen better than in the book except for it being so abrupt. Addie learns about her dad and Irene from snooty Terry Sloan, the Tanya Smithers clone (even their initials are the same), which is very natural. She immediately "cases" Irene's "joint." In the book, Addie goes to have her permanent at Irene's beauty parlor and Irene's talk just goes over her head while Addie wracks her mind trying to figure out what James sees in this woman. In the television story, Irene tells Addie stories about her mother, who Irene envied, and also about her marriage and its unhappy ending. It's a much more compelling and sweet scene and changes the viewers' impression of Irene, which is initially "Who is this ditz and why would James Mills be interested in her?"

Incidentally, Diane Ladd is great as Irene, but she makes no effort to suppress her Mississippi accent, which is disconcerting since Irene is supposed to be a Clear River native. That's no Nebraska accent I've ever heard. The script tries to explain it by having Irene move to Florida after her marriage. I've been in Georgia over twenty years and, granted, I've lost my New England twang, but I don't have a drawl, either. They just cast Ladd because she was prominent in the media then, and while she fits the role, the accent is a letdown.

Later, the night of the dance, James gives Addie a corsage. In the book she wears it, but in the television sequence, in a very sweet scene, Addie carries the corsage when James escorts her to the dance. At the dance she gives the flowers to Irene and tells her they are from James, signifying her acceptance of the relationship.

In the end I wish they'd done the television storyline with the book additions and recast Billy Wild instead of creating Danny out of thin air (not to mention at least give a one-line explanation to where Cora Sue disappeared to—it would justify Addie's irritated mood at the opening of the story as well) and better explained Irene's accent (maybe she moved to Clear River right before she started high school) so that the whole of Addie and the King of Hearts would be as good as its various parts, bringing the series to a more satisfying end.

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In One Day and Out the Other
The "in" day was yesterday, since I had to work; it wasn't as frustrating as the other day I complained about, but several things were left unfinished and how I do hate that! I also don't like being manipulated, which is basically what was happening.

After being out there moving in past midnight (meaning, of course, Willow kept giving a litany of short barks even though they were not noisy), our new neighbors were there with another load today. Wil and I took our lunchtime walk and the lady of the house waved and said hi and commented on Willow's whiskery face. As they were trotting things into the house, our lawn guy arrived. Well, the landlord hadn't been keeping up the yard of the house next door very well, so by the time the afternoon was over, Paolo had himself a new customer (actually two, since the folks two houses over also got in on the deal). And I was doubly glad I'd insisted on the fence with the wide gate, since they have a riding mower now.

After I was done with work I watched Bush Christmas, which I recorded last Christmas Eve and never got around to watching. This is the 1940s version, a charming classic tale of four resourceful Australian children and a British evacuee who go hunting horse thieves before the holiday.

James got in late and we went to Oriental Cafe for supper. I got the sesame chicken, which comes with the most meat, so now I have two small meals of sesame chicken and white rice for next week. We also stopped at Borders and I bought the first Guido Bernetti mystery since Dani has spoken so highly of them.

After the ten o'clock news was over we watched Jeopardy recorded on the DVR, and when we shut that off, Jay Leno was just finishing "Jaywalking" and announced the next guest would be Hugh Laurie! Woot! Lucky me!

(Can you record stuff off the DVR?)

This morning James' alarm clock went off at 8:45 since he had to go in to work and I realized with amazement that I'd actually managed to sleep 7 3/4 hours. I haven't done that in weeks! Amazing how much brighter the world seems when you've had enough sleep. I grabbed a SlimFast Meal Bar and had some milk and was off in a long, narrow ellipse of a route, out to East Cobb. Stopped at Trader Joe's for various staples and also bought some microwavable brown rice, plus a demi baguette and some salami slices that had "lunch" written all over them. However, I didn't get to my lunch until way later.

After a brief stop at Fuzziwigs, I went to the East Cobb Borders. Bought a WWI-set book that's been eyeing me for a while :-), and also a book I thought my mother-in-law would enjoy, and another: a social history of teenagers pre-1950 from the bargain rack.

Then I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond. We are putting together a graduation gift for Neil Butler, who leaves high school behind this year and is off to the wilds :-) of Savannah in the fall for college. We have already bought him something goofy and something he will like, and for the rest I wanted to get him things to use in the dorm. BB&B had a great sale on something he will need, plus I was able to use a $10 off $30+ purchase coupon, so I was able to get something nicer than I had originally planned. I also used a Michael's coupon to get him something else useful and picked up a little thing in Office Depot when I stopped to get a new toner cartridge for my laser printer. (We print so little that the "starter" cartridge has lasted at least three years.)

I had to stop back at Trader Joe's when I realized I had forgotten to pick up my favorite friseé and baby greens, and then stopped briefly at Hallmark for a graduation card and a mother's day trinket.

I came home through "the back" (Lower Roswell to Terrell Mill to Powers Ferry), which is shorter with less traffic and that's when I hit Michael's and Office Depot.

My last stop was at Dollar General, where I didn't find what I wanted, but did get three mystery books for a dollar each, and Food Depot for sugarless ice cream bars.

Got home well ahead of the thunderstorm which is now making Willow woof and beating a tattoo on the chimney guard, and after that nice salami and baguette sandwich, am going to watch Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years.

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» Thursday, April 24, 2008
Yule Need Relief
Work is so aggravating at the moment—part of it involves accounting, which figures—that I'm reduced to playing instrumental Christmas music to make myself relax. It's what I do when I'm either ticked off or depressed.

At lunch I slipped out for a half hour to get some cash at Publix to pay the lawn guy. I bought something new for dessert: one-serving puddings. I thought we might try to mix flavors with the milk you add to make different tastes (I thought I might add milk with coffee syrup in it, for instance, to make a mocha pudding). I also bought five reusable bags. This won't help at WalMart, where we often use up to fifteen to twenty bags, but it could be useful for Publix or Kroger trips. We already have a Trader Joe's bag. I don't feel as guilty about using plastic bags because we always recycle ours (to those who recommend paper bags: you evidently live up north or out west where paper bags don't frequently hold roach eggs or other delightful insect babies), but it will be good to have reusable bags for smaller loads.

(They had some "green hints" on Today this morning and I kept nodding as they ticked them off: wash in cold water! I've always done that, and I bought a front loader for the purpose of saving water. Use concentrated detergent! Well, yes, again for years. Use compact fluorescents! The whole downstairs has compact fluorescents. I won't allow them upstairs because the light gives me migraines. But I'm the one who goes around shutting off lights; James claims I want to live in a cave. My parents grew up during the depression; I never got used to anything over a 75 watt bulb. It was only after I left home and Mom had her cataracts out that she started using brighter bulbs. Use recycled water to water the lawn! Honey, if God wants my lawn to grow, He can water it Himself. I keep the lawn cut and have someone tend to the weeds; the rest is up to Him.)

Got home in time to eat my Fresh2Order leftovers along with watching the rest of Rick Steves' Europe. One meal at Fresh2Order and I got three out of it; I call that a deal.

Oh, and someone's moving in next door...


Squirrel Wars Again
This morning Mr. Squirrel was caught raiding seeds from the feeder.

We've suspected this from the claw marks on the top of the feeder, and, honestly, he'd have to be pretty stupid not to have figured out that the lid doesn't have any sort of catch and doesn't screw on; it just pops off. But we've never actually caught him at it; he's never been brazen enough to sit there balancing on the "limb" of the feeder reaching in while we are eating breakfast.

He's also smart enough to realize that we can't do much about it. By the time I open the door to let Willow out on the porch to bark at him, he's whisked his tail and scampered down the post of the deck to wait on the ground for us to return inside. He already knows that she (or we) can't get down there after him since there is no stair on the deck; where Willow's barking used to send him back into the woods, he just looks bored and grazes on the seed the birds have dropped.

Yesterday I saw the defiant little pee mark he left on top of the metal seed container, so I should have known he was going for open warfare this morning. I returned the gesture: after the second time Wil and I shoo'd him away, I marched outside with the container of cayenne and lined the top of the seed with it, and, since the top was still wet with dew, sprinkled cayenne on the top as well.

When he came back up the third time I caught him sitting on the rail, glaring balefully at me.


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» Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Schuyler relaxes

Schuyler eats a plum

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HDTV, DVR, and All That Alphabet Soup
Jeopardy ended late for us because I was recording it due to James' tardy return from work, which meant we didn't have time tonight to watch any of the things we have recorded, since Mythbusters is new tonight, so I surfed channels until I found a documentary about a theoretical Mars landing on HDNET. This combined "talking heads" with some animation that looked like drawings and other animation closer to Pixar-type computer animation. The entire effect in HD is...mesmerizing. It's particularly amusing because "Stone Soup," the comic strip, is running a series about Turn Off Your TV week and pointing out how attractive that glowing screen is. LCD and widescreen combined with HDTV just multiplies the effect. As I believe I mentioned in another post, even the commercials look good. You find yourself staring at a line of SUVs filmed at an odd angle, or those bizarre Target ads with the marching lines of merchandise done to Beatles' tunes and then shaking yourself and wondering why on earth you're hypnotized by a wretched commercial.

(Imagine Walt Disney having filmed his classic space specials based on the "Colliers" magazine series in HD!)

Anyway, we're getting a great kick out of the DVR. When Jeopardy started tonight and James wasn't home I just hit the record button and then backed it up when we were ready to view. Our other satellite box had a function to automatically change the channel for certain programs or at certain times, which I would set for Torchwood or Monk or House. Now I can set the new box/DVR to change the channel to only new episodes of favorite programs (those mentioned above or Animal Precinct/Cops/Heroes or Antiques Roadshow or This Old House) or in the case of programs that are commonly on when we are out, to record only new programs. (That's what's sitting on the DVR right now, the last two Torchwood episodes of the season, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and the newest Doctor Who broadcasts.) If I'd known the silly gadget was so useful, I would have remembered to order it two years ago.

It even records one program while another is being watched, which means I'll be able to see tonight's Chasing History Home (they're doing the Paul Revere House) on Treasure after James watchs the new Mythbusters (if I don't watch the Biography about the Harry Potter leads, that is).

In the meantime, I'm going back to some old technology: the book I'm reading. Even widescreen HDTV won't keep me away from those!

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Happy Bird-day to You!
Our little hen is a year old today—happy birthday, Schuyler!



Atlanta Radio Theatre Article
In the April issue (with the backyard "water feature" cover) of Atlanta Life Magazine, pp. 56-58. Click on the magazine to begin.

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» Monday, April 21, 2008
If I had the flu I might feel worse than I do now, but that's about it. Been queasy all morning, and not even the Pepto Bismol has helped. I think part of it's from being in the sun yesterday, because the skin on my arms, while not sunburned, feels hot and uncomfortable. They're only cool with the fan straight upon them. It doesn't help that the A/C has been off in the building all weekend and everything is hot. The ladies' room is like a sauna.

The rest is from getting little sleep. I never seem to catch up. All of a sudden I am remembering James' old full-flow water bed with much affection. :-) It was always cool to the touch and would feel so good to curl upon now...

Purchase orders to scan...ta.



» Sunday, April 20, 2008
Report from Unicoi, Part 7
Not much to tell about this morning: packing, breakfast, finishing packing, including what was left (thank God, not much) of the food we bought, and taking things to car, checking out, then returning to the common room to see what was going on. Betty told me that someone that used to work with us is coming back to PGO, but she'll be working down in Construction and Facilities.

James and I were one of the first folks to leave for the picnic shelter for this year's picnic, so we got one of the plum parking spaces. Picnic Shelter 6 was taken, so the Spiveys, who are usually in charge of the picnic, relocated to #4. The parking space there is very limited, so we were all squeezed in.

The picnic was, as always, fun. Alice and I were wandering about taking pictures, as was Juanita. We had hamburgers going on one grill and hot dogs on another. It was really warm later on, but it was cool enough at that point that even James wanted a jacket. Very nice! The two little Baskin girls got excited over the chance to roast marshmallows over the grill and it was wearying for their dad to try to explain to them that they had to wait until the grilling of the meat was done. This picnic shelter was also creekside and I took some photos of the sun peeking between the trees and three yellow butterflies looking as if they were playing tag over the stream.

We left about one—after, amazingly, not one of the kids had fallen into the creek—since we had to pick up the critters, but as we were driving through Helen, I noticed that the Christmas Shoppe was indeed open, so we parked and stopped in. I bought a sheep Christmas ornament, a collie ornament that is not Christmasy that I can put with my collection, and a very small German pyramid at a very reasonable price. (These have vanes at the top that turn when candles underneath are lighted, and the little wooden scene underneath revolves.) The old Christmas Shoppe was better, with items upstairs, but this is very nice, too, and the ornaments are all reasonably priced.

We also saw a man with a huge dog on the main street. It looked like a curly-haired Irish Wolfhound or Scottish deerhound and indeed was the size of one, but it turned out to be a "labradoodle." Much larger than either a standard poodle or a Labrador retriever!

By now the sun was very strong, but we did stop at Cumming at the North Georgia Premium Outlets so that James could purchase some briefs. We dropped in Kitchen Collection to get him a new medium-sized spatula to replace the one he "loved to death," and discovered John Campbell in the store. It turned out that a bunch of the people that had been at the picnic had also stopped by the outlets: I knew the Butlers were going to stop by, but Bill and Caran and the Taylors were there as well.

Already tired and thirsty, we went by the vet and picked up the animals. Schuyler seemed to be happy to see me and bore no malice about having been manhandled by her yearly examination. She even kissed when she saw me. Willow, as usual, was panting so loudly that I could hear her coming out from the back while I was in the bathroom.

We got home early enough to drop them off (poor Willow was whining—"You guys just got home!") and run to Cumberland Mall so I could pick up my new glasses. I also got gas at Costco and we bought dinner to go from Fresh2Order.

The glasses, as always, will take a bit getting used to. I need to re-gauge my distance to see the computer screen. But everything is put away or in the hamper, suitcase back in the closet, and we've eaten, and now we are planning to watch the new production on Masterpiece Theatre, which is about Rudyard Kipling's son, apparently played by Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter film fame.

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Report from Unicoi, Part 6
Last night was fun! A dozen of us (actually twelve and a half due to little Alex) got together to go to supper at the lodge. They put tables together for us (many years ago the management didn't like that and was peeved when we put them together ourselves) and we chatted our way through our meal. Then it was back to B building for more talk. I finished Flapper amongst at least half a dozen other people also reading books or newspapers or working on laptops just in time for a new game of Chronology. We played three games with many asides—not to mention arguing among ourselves about the dates on the cards being incorrect! (There is at least one incorrect card: it says Sally Ride was the first women in space. Untrue: Valentina Tereshkova was. It did not say "first American.")

Some folks wandered off to bed after this, it being about one in the morning, but the game few of us left remained chatting until we couldn't keep our eyes open anymore; I think we got in bed about two.

Now we're packing up and headed for breakfast and I'm signing off.

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» Saturday, April 19, 2008
Report from Unicoi, Part 5
We just got back from Toccoa, Georgia, former home to Camp Toccoa during World War II. Airborne infantry trained here, and it's best known for being the home of "Easy Company," the subject of Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers and the subsequent miniseries on HBO. This is the home of the Currahee Heritage Museum.

It is only a 38 mile drive from here in Helen to Toccoa; we started out just before lunch. It had rained last night and it was actually still "misting" when we left, with the clouds very low, but as we drove away from the lodge and toward the town of Helen, we emerged from the fog. It was still misty and nicely cool as we turned left past the Indian mound and the hills in the distance were a lovely study with emerging sun on the tree branches but surrounded by clouds. Cows were grazing out in tremendously green fields and we also saw wild turkeys feeding in one empty pasture.

The route was easy, although the GPS unit tried to steer us down a gravel road initially. We went through Clarkesville (but there was no last train there...LOL) and reached the museum, housed in the old train depot, easily, although the GPS told us we were there about three blocks ahead of time.

The exhibit is cool. The first small hall is a history of Stephens County. Like the Marietta Museum experience we had back in December, these are just bits and pieces of different things donated by various people. 19th century furnishings in a typical home occupied one wall, there was some train memorabilia, doctors' equipment, various musical instruments and a very odd piece: a ticket to a radio show in New York City, and an exhibit for a gentleman named George Hitt, who was crippled by rheumatoid arthritis but who supported his family by his creation of beautiful, detailed silhouettes, cut with a plain old set of long scissors.

There was also a tribute to a local manufacturer and a switchboard and dictaphone from the old Coats & Clark thread factory, plus an exhibit for a local young man who was a weightlifter in the 1956 Olympics.

The main part of the museum, however, is for Camp Toccoa, and about a fourth of the building is taken up by one unit of the stables that the men bunked in when based in England. At that time, any place that could house troops was used, and the men of "Easy Company" lived in a sturdy stable that had been converted, with four bunks to a horse box. Each of the six boxes contains a different exhibit (one is of general war memorabilia, the rest of World War II items except for the last which is set up as if the men were still living in it, with a letter from one of the men's mother, that was found in the wall when they dismantled the stable in England to ship to the US, displayed prominently.

The rest of the exhibit is a display of the deceased men's medals as well as display cases full of all sorts of WWII memorabilia. Two cases had displays of German items with swastikas on them and there was a disclaimer that this items were being displayed for historical purposes only and that the museum did not support any distasteful ideology. Is this really necessary in a museum? Are we going to have to start posting notes next to guillotines or medieval torture implements saying the museum doesn't support torture or executions??? Geez...

When we finished with the museum we drove out to the actual camp site. There is one concrete building left, and a concrete platform shaped like a parachute with monuments for the four different airborne divisions that trained there and what campaigns they were in, with a stone monument at the foot of the parachute. The place was now an industrial park, but there is a map and markers on the road that show you where various things were located and you can drive up to the top of the mountain that the men used to have to climb as part of their training ("three miles up and three miles back"). We figured we wouldn't do it with the car. They're having an open house next October 1 with one of the "Band of Brothers," so maybe we'll come back with the truck.

Anyway, we let the GPS plot the route back and when we neared Helen it told us to turn left on Bear Creek Drive.

You can see this coming, can't you? Bear Creek Drive turned into a narrow gravel road and we came out on the same gravel road James wouldn't take this morning. LOL.

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Report from Unicoi, Part 4
We had a nice evening despite my fit of anger at the laptop. :-) I read for a bit (I have just started a fascinating social history of the 1920s, Flapper), listening in on conversations around me that ranged from government spending to a lot of computer neep to the kids raising ned as they ran around the common area. This year a whole new generation of kids are the little ones, with the older kids riding herd on them. They won't have the fun of bouncing up and down on the built-in sofa seats in the sunken area near the fireplace since they have been removed and big armchairs substituted.

They are redoing the lodge and to our delight the beds have been replaced. So perhaps maybe next year we will come up on a Thursday, too, if that opportunity presents itself.

Also played a game of Chronology. Caran was going to "sit the game out" because she didn't know how to play, but we instructed her—and of course she won. :-)

Sadly, I slept very badly, and finally gave up a little after nine (we had probably gone to bed about 2:30) and we all had breakfast up at the lodge; they gave us the little meeting room. I got some pictures of the Baskin girls playing with the newest member of the flock, Jeffrey Alexander "Alex" Bateman, as well as a cute photo of the little guy himself.

After breakfast we were off to Toccoa, but that's another story...



» Friday, April 18, 2008
Report from Unicoi, Part 3
I spoke too soon. Internet connection has been very erratic tonight. Plus dinner is sitting badly, I realized I left home without any Claritin, and my skin feels hot even though I do not look like I have been sunburned. I have had this problem off and on since I had my thyroid removed; I remember waking up in a guestroom one night on our way to my mother's for Christmas, about ten months after the surgery, and feeling like my arms were burning. I keep retreating into the room where the air conditioner is going simply to feel comfortable.



Report from Unicoi, Part 2
We freshened up a bit and went into town for a walk. We stayed on the shady side of the street since the sun had already done a number on us: James takes two medications that say he should stay out of the sun and I haven't been able to tolerate sun since the radioactive iodine treatment 18 years ago. I usually buy myself a once-a-year treat, dark chocolate almond bark, but it is nearly $10 for a half pound. Just isn't practical anymore. We did have our dessert before our dinner (ice cream) and also went down to Nora Mill to buy James some gravy mix. It was so warm they had all the doors open and a nice breeze was coming off the river. Two men were fishing just out of the influence of the falls that run the mill, several yards from the millrace. The wheel was running today and making a great chugging noise as you walked through. This is a neat place to visit because the sales shelves are made in part from antique shelving units. Not sure what held what when, but they are beautiful medium-stain woods with drawers below and shelving above.

We also walked down to the old Christmas shop since it looked like it might be open again. For a while a Christmas shop was on one of the side roads, but then that closed, too. Well, it apparently is reopening, but not until weekends in May. I pressed my nose against the window like a kid at a closed toy shop, since they stock German pyramids.

When we came back we were hoping to have dinner with friends, but James was starting to crash, so we went across to the lodge restaurant, which was mainly a fish buffet tonight, some type of fish and fried shrimp, and also barbecue ribs. I didn't eat a lot; really shouldn't eat fried stuff and this was more breading and less shrimp. The ribs are really good, but I only allowed myself two since too many will make me sick. Did have au gratin potatoes and tried the clam chowder, but they put some sort of strong-tasting herb in it that made it inedible. I could have eaten it, but it would have given me indigestion all night.

So by the time we got back everyone was out to dinner. We put on cooler clothes and are now sitting in the empty common room catching up on our computing. The wi-fi is better than last year; I can actually get a 68-75 percent signal sitting near the windows. Last year I had to go out into the courtyard to get any sort of signal at all.

(Meanwhile I am still worried about Schuyler. When I called to see how she was doing on her first "campout" they said she had not had her physical yet. Aieeee! And I was thinking it was all over and she could relax.)

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Report from Unicoi, Part 1
Well, thank God, Schuyler was a trooper! We waited until after the traffic had abated a bit, and had loaded most of the car last night and the suitcase and the rest this morning. Willow saw the suitcase and, expectedly, freaked. She starts panting and "squeaking" (my only word for the noise she makes) and Schuyler was staring at her wide-eyed. Finally the car was full and James set Wil on a towel in the front seat and Schuyler in her cage, mostly covered with her cage cover, and I were in the back seat. She was wary only about two miles, then fluffed a bit, grabbed a fruit pellet, then started to preen. We had the traffic radio on and she seemed to be calmed by the voice.

I-285 East was still a bit slow, so we went surface streets. By this time it was 9:30 and not too bad. Schuyler's eyes got very wide as I took the cage cover off.

Interestingly enough, a few minutes later a couple of people walked in with a pretty male English budgie. He chirped and Schuyler's eyes got really wide. I said to her, "Look, Skye, he's not only male, he's British!" (They're worried about him; his cere [the fleshy part around his nostrils above the beak] is darkening.)

So Schuyler was taken back in the back and poor Willow was led very reluctantly away into the back and we were on our way. We grabbed food at McDonalds—and they forgot the cream cheese for my bagel; ugh!—before we noticed the Italian deli was open, darnit. We also stopped at Smythe Books next door which has sponsored ARTC. I found a Thurber book I didn't have, Lanterns and Lances.

The GPS unit actually took us from the vet to GA400 via a route that we didn't know about, so when we asked it the fastest way to Cleveland, we followed it. The idiot thing took us east to Gainsville. The route there wasn't bad (farms) and the route from Gainsville to Cleveland was farms, but Gainsville was a stinking pain in the ass. We turned left and right and right and left; I think we saw the whole damn downtown. It was a relief to reach Cleveland and the small country store we were headed for. It supposedly had a hobby shop...well, it was a corner of the store.

In the meantime I walked down a block to see if they had something in the drugstore and found a wonderful stuffed Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. His name is Oliver. :-)

So we didn't get to the hotel until after two, but a lot of folks were in the common room, so the welcome was warm.

The laptop battery doesn't last long anymore, so I'm gonna go...

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» Thursday, April 17, 2008
What Day Off?
We both had taken today as a vacation day, toying with going up to Helen a day early, but...sleeping on those beds an extra back ached just thinking about it—we love Unicoi, but we basically sleep on the equivalent of a big padded board and the beds at the lodge are just so soft to us!

In the end it was good we didn't because we had our Homeowners Association meeting tonight.

We did get to sleep late, then it was off to the post office, to the cleaner, a bit of a respite at the hobby shop, a trip to Harry's Farmer's Market, then down to Costco for James to get gas, then home. Cleaned out my car after loading jackets into washer, then we took the car to the car wash. I did rinse off my car last year after the pine pollen receded (this was before the total watering ban), but otherwise it hasn't been washed since my mom's funeral.

I had James ride the car through the car wash. When we took the car through the car wash before my mom's funeral, I had a full-blown claustrophobia attack. Yes, in the car I drive everyday. It was...scary. I wasn't going to do that again.


Then we filled the car up, then we went to BJs for milk...then we finally got to come home and I could put all the stuff back in the car. From there we only had an hour, during which I started to pack, before we went out to supper (we had a coupon for Ted's Montana Grill) and then to the Association meeting.

During the hour we were home, I picked up Schuyler's cage and carried her about the house and even out on the porch. It was very hot out front and the sun and heat rather overwhelmed her; she was panting when I got her back in. But she recovered quickly.

I really, really should have been doing this sort of thing for the past few weeks, although we have been shifting the cage to sit next to us a couple of hours a night since she can't come out on her own to socialize with us. She seems to like that a lot. I'm a bit freaked about tomorrow, but she has to see the vet sometime no matter what. Maybe Dr. Karolyn can give me some insights.

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» Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I Love My Web Pages...
...but boy, is redecorating a pain. :-)

New layout: Linda's Nostalgia Place



» Monday, April 14, 2008
Where Have All the Hours Gone? Long Time Passing...
Hard to believe it was so warm on Friday that I felt forced to put the air conditioner on and today it has not even climbed out of the 40s, with cloudy skies and raw wind. Of course it feels like about twelve hours from Friday afternoon until now. I'm not sure where all the time goes on the weekends, but it flies like a falcon in the midst of a stoop.

We did finally get the taxes done on Saturday night. Something has come up ever since we bought the software, but of course the deadline is tomorrow and that proverbial balloon was going up. I was quite annoyed with myself when I opened the envelope in which we keep all the tax documents and found I had kept two copies of the receipt for my car taxes instead of one of mine and one for James' truck. Last year his truck was $30 more than mine, so I used that figure to calculate his total. Once that was done and submitted I could concentrate discussing with Mike on chat what kind of a new computer he needs!

James also tried to change out the two HVAC filters on Sunday with little success because what we thought was a four-pack of 16x25x1 filters was actually one 16x25x4 filter! Luckily I still have the receipt. We had less luck that day trying to return the IDE to SATA adapter card and my dead wireless mouse at Fry's since they were over their 30-day return limit. Fry's is over an hour's drive from our house and we don't like to go out there too often. I at least asked if they would dispose of the broken mouse properly and to my surprise, I was told no. Fry's is a California company and so many of them are on the forefront of responsible recycling that I couldn't believe they don't offer this service, especially since I was fresh from the Green Purchasing class on Friday. Of course I shouldn't be so surprised since the only place to safely recycle broken compact fluorescents involves a trip down to Ikea!

In the meantime I spent Friday and Saturday attracting books: not only did I pick up the three volumes at the used bookstore on Clairmont Road, but my Hamilton book shipment came in—four books including Grandmere, the Eleanor Roosevelt bio I've wanted for so long—and Saturday I found one book about web typography at MicroCenter and two books at Borders, including Cesar Millan's (the "dog whisperer"). The latter specifically had instances of helping dogs who are afraid of other dogs, like Willow.

Sunday I also bit the bullet and did a "big cleaning" of Schuyler's cage. Since she's not hand-tame I have been merely doing spot cleaning, but the bottom was looking increasingly grubby and I knew frightening her as minimally as possible was better than risking her health. James helped me and we did it, setting the remainder of her cage on newspaper on the dining room table while I scrubbed out the bottom. She took it quite well, actually. I also replaced the swing she sleeps in with a new one I had bought some weeks ago. When she's bored with playing with her toys or banging the St. Francis token that's fastened to the bottom of the cage, she sits in her "bed" and gnaws upon the wooden portion. (She has a wooden toy that is made for birds to gnaw on in her cage already, but obviously the swing is so much more appealing!) She stared at it suspiciously for a couple of hours, but was sleeping in it by evening, when we were watching The Right Stuff (we followed our marathon viewing of From the Earth to the Moon with Apollo 13 on Saturday night and then TRS last night).

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Oh, Joy...
My work computer has just gone into molasses-in-January-in-Barrow-Alaska mode...



» Saturday, April 12, 2008
The Tale of the Third Book
(as referenced in previous post)

My mother went with me to my first science fiction convention, in February of 1978 (Presidents Day weekend), in New York City. Just before we left I discovered the fanzine sales room and purchased a fanzine called "The Vaslovik Archives," devoted to Gene Roddenberry's The Questor Tapes. I loved this second issue (and ended up writing a story for the third) and sent the editor, Mary Bloemker, a letter of appreciation. Mary lived in Boston, and very soon I was invited to visit her apartment and make acquaintance of some of her friends.

The next February, instead of going to the convention with Mom, I went with Mary and four other friends; we all shared a room. We had a grand time—went to various panels (one of the guests was James Doohan ["Scotty"]), wedged our way into a taxi and went down to Jerry Ohlinger's Movie Material Store in Greenwich Village, ate at the ubiquitous Chinatown Express, talked Trek and other fandoms. Our roomies were Gail Paradis, who was only several miles away from me at that time, in Johnston, RI; Rosie Badgett from Covington, KY; and Ann Hester and Alice Newsom from Warner Robins, GA. (It was through Ann and Alice that I eventually ended up in Georgia.)

The convention was held at what then was the Statler Hilton. It had started life as the Hotel Pennsylvania, across from Penn Station on Seventh Avenue and made famous by the Glenn Miller song "Pennsylvania 6-5000" (still its phone number). Several years after my first trip there it became the New York Statler, then the Penta Hotel, and is now back to being the Hotel Pennsylvania once more and has been strikingly modernized, according to the pics I saw online not long ago. Back in 1979, though, it was comfortably down on its heels, with wallpaper curling at the corners, a typical 1970s lobby, and the occasional silverfish in the bathroom. The rooms were shabby and often had little connecting rooms that had once been used as...I dunno. Nurseries? Maybe dressing rooms? Our own room this time had a little room off the side that was a little larger than the bathroom and totally empty.

Conventions now start on Fridays and go through Sundays unless it is a holiday weekend; back then they started on Saturdays, usually on holiday weekends, running through the Monday. So on Sunday night we went to bed totally prepared to spend our last morning at the convention next day and then Ann, Alice and Rosie taking the subway to the airport, Gail and I boarding the train to Providence, and Mary heading back to Boston via bus at the Port Authority Bus Terminal uptown late that afternoon.

We were awakened about eight a.m. by a phone call from Holly, whose last name I don't remember, telling us to look out the window.

It had snowed during the night. Boy, had it snowed! Not just "some snow," but a full-fledged blizzard-clone, with the cars in the streets already blanketed into anonymous piles. There was eighteen inches of snow on the ground already and it was still snowing hard. Ann got on the phone to the airport and found out all planes were grounded and their flight had been cancelled, as had been Rosie's. We later went across the street to the train station and found out the trains were delayed by at least six hours, some more. Gail's and my train, which I think was supposed to leave about four, had been indefinitely pushed back. We were welcome to sit around the train station all day and wait for the next one. Mary figured the bus probably wasn't going anywhere fast, either.

At this point, the Statler notified the convention guests that, because of the storm, anyone who wanted to stay another night was welcome to do so at the convention rate. My dad was incredulous when I called him to tell him I couldn't get home due to the snow because all they had had in Rhode Island was a light dusting.

Well, we said, what can we do? We eventually did what many people did: we had a room party. Under the Statler were not only entrances to Penn Station and the subway, but a whole warren of little shops. We bought some chips, sodas, and cups, and that night people wandered the corridors going from room party to room party. We even made "Snowcon" badges which Mary drew and then we had copied in the copy shop downstairs. (We had "Snowcon" reunions at that particular February convention for several years afterwards, but the snow never obliged us by showing up again. <g>)

(Oh, yeah, and we went for ice cream in the storm. My mom used to tell me stories about how she and her best friend Dora used to go out in snowstorms and get ice cream, then walk home eating it to the shaking of heads by their neighbors. I was determined to have ice cream in the snow, too, so we went across the street to a little ice cream stand that was right on the Seventh Avenue side of Penn Station back then, "Peppermint Place"—or something like that; it was "Peppermint," anyway.)

Gail and Rosie actually weren't present for the party; Mark Gonzaga had invited them out to dinner. Eventually Ann got a bad headache and Mary wanted to work on some artwork, and our room was just too crowded. Holly offered them her room, a few doors down and across the hall, and Alice and I were left until we both looked at our watches and realized it was almost time for the miniseries we were both following to come on. So we went down to Holly's room and watched it there, leaving the door open to keep tabs on who came and went to our room. (Yes, you heard that right. We were giving a room party and none of us were there. LOL.) Alice and I both vividly remember loud chattering crowds coming by and calling out to them "Shhhh! Have some respect--Maggie's dying!" and hearing the message passed to the people in the hall and voices dropping.

All this, of course, was running through my mind Friday when I picked up that "third book" I mentioned, Lillian Rogers Parks' memoir My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House, basis for the miniseries Alice and I were watching, Backstairs at the White House. Parks' mother, Margaret "Maggie" Rogers, was one of the first African-Americans chosen to be a servant in the White House along with the butler, John Mays, back in the days of the Taft Presidency. Lillian, handicapped by polio, wore a brace, and sometimes accompanied her mother to the White House when Maggie could not find a caretaker for her, and her first encounter with a President was with William Howard Taft, who found her sitting in his bedroom while Maggie was out getting clean sheets for the bed. She made him promise not to tell anyone that he saw her there, and Taft never revealed the confidence. Later Lillian, who became an accomplished seamstress, came to work at the White House in that capacity during the FDR administration, retiring at the end of the Eisenhower years and writing this book soon afterward, which covered her mother's stories about the Taft through Hoover years as well as her own years of service.

Incidentally, when we all got back to our room we found out James Doohan had come to our party! He and his escorts had had been wandering from room party to room party and came in to talk to the people who were there.

Eventually, that little room came in use, too. Mary's friend Rich Kolker, who was one of the founded of the "August Party" convention down in Maryland, and two of his buddies, Malcolm and another fellow whose name I have forgotten, stopped by the hotel on their way home from Boskone, which was also the same weekend. They got trapped by the blizzard as well and slept on the floor, supplanted by whatever extra blankets and padding we had, in that tiny back room.

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Warily Going Where Everyone Has Gone Before
I'm not sure how everyone envisions CDC in Atlanta. I know many people imagine it as one enormous building, perhaps with several wings and perhaps the animal laboratories off somewhere to the side.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is actually all over Atlanta. We have office space in Koger Center (where I am; we used to rent a building in Buckhead when I started there), Executive Park, Corporate Square, Lawrenceville, and on Buford Highway (the new warehouse; the old one was in Tucker). We also have offices in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Morgantown (West Virginia), Spokane, Fort Collins (Colorado), and Puerto Rico (I've missed someone, I know...).

The main campus, however, is on Clifton Road, what is now known as the Roybal Campus. It started out, predictably, with Building 1, which was your typical low-slung 50s building, and like Topsy in Uncle Tom's Cabin, "just growed." As each building was built and, occasionally, connected with covered walkways, more people came to work there. At the time I started, there was a small visitor's parking area to the left of Building 1; if you worked there, you descended into a long, ugly, ever-expanding parking lot and had a hike up to the main building. Later, they put a parking garage and then the entrance at the right of the building. The parking garage never had any spaces, even if you acquired a government car to go there, and any time of the day you could find people circling the garage in frustration, or heading out to the big parking lot way out in the back.

You might then understand that when my supervisor asked that I attend "Green Training" yesterday that I might be a bit perturbed. I knew they were still building out there, and I hadn't been there for—literally—years. (Last time I went there Building 16 was still the "new" building.) What on earth was the parking like now? I knew they even had a satellite parking lot and a shuttle for those who came in to work later in the day (read 8 a.m.).

I decided my best strategy was to get up at six as usual and go straight there, even though the training started at eight, so I could miss the parade of traffic from Briarcliff Road turning on to Clifton and have time to hike from whatever parking lot I ended up in. I was still wary because I knew a lot of folks went in early to beat the traffic.

To my utter astonishment, not only wasn't there any traffic, but as I pulled past the entrance gate after having my badge and tags checked, there was a parking garage right up ahead, and across from building entrances! The last time I'd been here you either went into the old garage or descended the hill into the lot and it was a long climb up to any door, many of them which didn't open to people from off-campus. I entered the garage and immediately found a space on the same level as the buildings and just walked to one of the two buildings I was near to ask for directions. Turned out that Auditorium B (which used to be in Building 1) and its A "counterpart" were in the building I had not walked into.

In contrast to the old-hospital-like narrow corridors of most of the old buildings, this had the usual big atrium of new buildings. (All the newer buildings, I learned at the training, were all "green" technology.) Despite traffic, having to ask directions, etc. I still got there by 7:30, so I went downstairs where they had a small, sleek cafeteria like the new ones they are installing in hospitals and had a bagel. The far wall was all windows and overlooked a lovely little sloped expanse of a pond with a fountain surrounded by bushes (some of the flowering kind), flowering and willow trees, and woodchipped landscaping.

I attended all the morning panels, talked with the ThermoFisher Scientific people for a while (I'd hoped to meet my rep, Ginger, but she had injured herself working out the previous night), then opted out of lunch to go visit the used bookstore on Clairmont Road. But before I headed out to Clairmont, I walked around the back of the building and found the pathway into that gorgeous little nook with the pond and the trees. It was even prettier from the outside.

Anyway, I was burning daylight, so I went on, but the experience, obviously, was more pleasant than I expected.

(Got some good deals at the bookstore, too, including a book about Boston that was written in 1957—in other words, pre-Government Center—and something called From the Crash to the Blitz: 1929 to 1939, full of photos and advertisements along with the text.

And a third book, but that's the subject of another post.)

The day went downhill from there. I was in the sun all the way home and by the time I got in and went back to work, was very severely overheated. I finally gave up in disgust, closed the windows one by one (after washing off each windowsill with Windex, since they were all coated with yellow pine pollen) and turned on the air conditioner. It was over 80°F out and almost as warm inside and I couldn't bear it.

On my way home I did go by "the old place": Cross Keys Drive, where I originally lived when I moved to Atlanta, in the Peachtree Garden Apartments, right near Olgethorpe University. As we had noticed in surprise when we drove past there in December, the Peachtree Garden Apartments are no more—back in December the buildings had all been demolished; now the roads are even gone and the former hollow down in the woods appears to be being built up and leveled for some large buildings. The "Cubbyhole" (it was a studio apartment) hadn't been the best place I'd ever lived, but a lot of nice times had gone on there.

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» Thursday, April 10, 2008
The Magic of Pine Pollen
These can speak for themselves, so I won't creeb about the coughing and sneezing and itchy eyes. :-) (And this isn't even the pollen that causes those reactions—but it is dust!)

This was the deck a couple of days ago; look at the nice splotchy pattern you get after a rainshower!

Deck floor after rain

Twilight models his spring coat—front...:

Front of car

Closeup of hood:

Closeup of hood

...and rear:

Rear of car

The porch has that golden glow!:

Porch floor

Even the trash can sports a springlike yellow:


Dusty doorlock:


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» Tuesday, April 08, 2008
"Nobody Here"
I feel like Sylvia Barrett every time she tries to get ahold of the janitor.

I swear next year I'm taking spring break off as well as Christmas week. I can barely get ahold of anyone because they are off for spring break.



» Monday, April 07, 2008
The Fence Story
Not-so-exciting details here and here in Autumn Hollow.



Fencing Mistress
The main fence story is going into Autumn Hollow, but they are here (arrived about ten) and working busily while Willow woofs in the background (at least she isn't barking any more).

I'm glad they were able to come back so quickly. Friday night it was warm, so we had all the windows open as well as the door to the deck. Suddenly Willow set up this almighty racket and when I turned the light on in the back to see what was bothering her (I thought the squirrel had gone nuts and was on the deck in the dark), there was a guy in our backyard! He said he was looking for his dog. As I have seen a dog of the description he gave occasionally loose in the neighborhood, I was mostly inclined to believe him, but you never know. We learned at the association meeting that Kristy's house wasn't the only one that has been broken into in the past year, and it's mostly from kids cutting through the back yards (they pinpointed a couple of them as coming from the townhouses across the street).

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» Sunday, April 06, 2008
Weekend Workings
Man, it's been a busy two days. We were going for seven hours yesterday and over five today.

We started out yesterday by taking a package and a piece of mail to the Post Awful. The former was the craft project I was working on yesterday, now on its way to its new owner, and the latter was important as well: I finally found a copy of Addie and the King of Hearts and am sending for it.

Then we went to Red Lobster for lunch; we hadn't been in a while and it was so grey and damp we figured a nice cup of clam "chowda" would do. From there we stopped at Michael's and then went to the hobby shop.

From there we went to the Barnes & Noble at Town Center. We were trying to find the April issue of an air magazine that had a story about the Steve Canyon DVD set on it. It was supposed to be out until May, but we could only find the next issue. We also went to JoAnn, and then, on the chance that Books-a-Million might still have the April issue, went there. Then we had to go by two different Krogers to get all the things we needed, since the first was out of sugarless pudding and we'd forgotten to get pineapple.

We also made a stop at Lowe's for HVAC filters and other items, so it was quite a bit of running around.

Last night was our first HD/HDMI view of Torchwood, last week's that we missed and this week's. Quite nice; will be interesting to see it on HDNET Monday night.

We had lunch at Ted's today because we had a coupon and Sunday's Blue Plate special is their turkey and dressing, which is quite good (well, I don't like the dressing all that much, but the turkey is great and so are the potatoes as well as the tomatoes I had on the side). We also stopped at Lowe's for wild bird seed and then went on to the mall. We were going to have a good walk around the mall and I was planning to stop at the different glasses' places to see the frames and the prices. (I also wanted a good walk because the arthritis in my right shoulder has been acting up pretty badly since last night. I had three Advil and lay down for a little while this morning, but it didn't help much. I thought a nice walk swinging my arms gently might help to loosen up the muscles and the joints.) I hadn't intend to buy today, but VisionWorks had a set of frames I liked as well as a twofer special, and their eye exams were walk in. I was seen by a Dr. Roberts and then in almost a trice was ordering the glasses. I got titanium frames, a bit smaller than mine are now, but not those really narrow ones that I dislike so much, and ultralight lenses like last time in the hope that it will decrease the pressure on the bridge of my nose.

We finished up by going to Costco and then picking up a paper.

Somewhere along the line last night or this morning I found myself quoting a line from From the Earth to the Moon, so we are watching that right now. The detail is tremendous, even better than on the old television which was also high-def, but not 1080p. It's better than the movies!

(And the seats are more comfortable, too—<g>—even if I do have to have a heating pad on my shoulder.)

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» Saturday, April 05, 2008
Flying High in the Fifties
Anybody out there remember the old Steve Canyon television series, based on the comic strip by Milton Caniff? I don't, although my dad might have watched it. But James just received the "sampler" DVD that the Milton Caniff Estate has released of four Canyon episodes, preparatory to releasing all 34 episodes to DVD (sales of the sampler help support the release). The episodes have not been seen on television since 1960, except in badly bootlegged editions. We watched them all tonight and I quite enjoyed it.

Canyon, Air Force colonel, is basically a "troubleshooter" sent from location to location on different missions, ones as varied as testing a rocket-takeoff device to shuttling a diplomatic mission to witnessing an H-Bomb test. The series was shot on Air Force bases and therefore doesn't contain the usual silliness inherent in a lot of these series, although some humor is often forthcoming.

One thing I noticed right away was the music, not just the rousing theme, which was written by Walter Schumann, who also did the Dragnet theme. The incidental music also made me sit up and listen harder: a very familiar-sounding score that featured a lot of brasses. Sure enough, there in the credits was Nathan Scott, who did the score to the forest ranger episodes of Lassie. His style is very distinctive.

Blog for the Steve Canyon DVD, with some great tidbits about the series and the restoration. (The sampler DVD, incidentally, is not restored, but it's a clean copy of the 35mm prints.)

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» Friday, April 04, 2008
No Fence To-Day
They ran into a problem with a cable and needed to use a generator to do their work. The supervisor was very upset when I called him; said it was his best crew and the crew boss usually uses better judgment. He's offered us a free gate for our trouble.

Probably for the best since the tornado sirens just went off...


Waiting for Fence-ot
The fence folks phoned at eight this morning saying they would be here around lunchtime. Since it was still grey and damp, and rain was expected this afternoon, I was a bit perplexed, but we had been told this might happen.

I'd been planning to go out and look at glasses today, because mine are really causing me a lot of headaches, but instead I caught a bit of a snooze, then ran to the Food Depot/Dollar General for a few things we needed and came home to wait. It would be a perfect time to work on some craft projects I had been procrastinating on. One is a gift, so I can't mention it here, since the person it is for reads this blog. :-)

The other is a piece of wood that is about the size of a gold ingot. Good thing, too, since I painted it the gold of an ingot (not that brassy gold). Gave it two coats and after the second sprinkled some gold glitter on top, and I have just finished gluing tiny wooden figures painted like gingerbread men on it. This will be the stand for the little gingerbread tree and gingerbread people I have for the kitchen at Christmastime.

I'm also washing clothes, but looking at my watch a lot. I called the supervisor at 1 p.m. and he assured me they would be coming. They had a small job this morning and were coming here this afternoon.



» Thursday, April 03, 2008
The Dish network guy installer showed up yesterday just as I was finishing eating and watching Rick Steves—what timing! It was just a matter of swapping out the HD box with the HD DVR box and then activating the box and the remote, as well as the recording function (he had a bit of a struggle with the last, but it finally worked). I was amused when I had him use the HDMI cable and he said, "You could have used this with the other box," and I said, "We did and it quit working after ten minutes," and he said, "I'm not surprised. These boxes are [uncomplimentary scatological term]." ROFL!

I'm afraid I had to agree with him, because even for the few minutes we had the HDMI cable plugged in on Monday, I was a bit disappointed in the picture. I had racked that up to the fact that what the store displays is the best picture they can and it's not a cable or satellite feed, but a Blu-Ray disk with a 1080p picture. Even satellite doesn't have that quality.

With the HDMI cable in the HD DVD box, the picture looked so much better. However, I didn't get to notice it, because since I had some time before my lunch hour was over, I started to program the favorites lists and immediately ran into a problem. I had to go back to work, but every time I had a minute, like waiting for items to print or responses, I messed with the remote and things went wrong. I even called the installer back the first time it happened, but then it straightened out and I called back, a bit embarrassed. I thought I'd pressed a wrong button.

I won't go through all the iterations (since this happened about ten times), but the summary was that every time I used the up-down-right-left buttons in any application, including choosing channels in the channel list, suddenly what was onscreen would go crazy. If I was scrolling channels to pick a program or scroll through channels to set favorites, it would just scroll and scroll and not quit. It froze up on the menu once and stopped working in programming as well. When it finally did stop or freeze, the television would no longer respond to any command from the remote. To cure this, you had to press the reset button on the console and wait for the silly thing to go through the acquisition of signal again.

Since I had to pay $75 for the box, I was understandably...miffed. So I called up DishNet, hoping to get a new box, and was aghast when the technician told me that this was a known issue with all the boxes and that they are working on a software upgrade. I was even more understandably miffed. I wouldn't pay for something from a store if I knew it has a "known issue"!

But now for the good part: the picture is stunning. The first thing I actually got to sit down and watch after I finished work was a plain old house-hunting show on HGTV. Wow. It was as if you could walk into the screen and into the scene. I noticed that this morning during Today—I felt like I could shake hands with Meredith Vieira! (George Clooney was on a few minutes later and I wished it was 1993 with all those Sam Neill interviews! When's Hugh Laurie going to be Today? LOL)

Even the commercials look good. :-)

The HDMI cable also has solved a disappointment we had on Monday, since we were finding that if shows were in widescreen 16:9 we had to manually set the screen for widescreen, and if they were 4:3 we had to manually set it to 4:3. (I know there are some people with widescreen televisions that just keep the setting on 16:9 all the time, even with 4:3 ratio programs, but I don't like watching it that way—everything looks w-i-d-e. I'd rather have the black bars on either side of the screen.) HDMI has a "just scan" setting and widescreen is formatted to fill the screen and regular ratio fits in the center of the screen.

(There's a caveat even here. If the station is HD, the screens will automatically adjust. If the station is not HD, any widescreen program—like Torchwood and You Are What You Eat on BBC America—appears widescreen in the center of the screen. You have to shift the screen to 16:9 manually to show it full screen.)

(Wasn't BBC America supposed to go HD in January? Or did DishNet just not pick it up?)

Anyway, it's nice. I have played a little with the "pause programming" feature and am testing the DishPASS system (you program it to find a movie you want to see and record it; if that movie ever shows up on any channel you subscribe to, it will record it). Haven't recorded anything yet, but have Torchwood programmed to record on Saturday. I'm thinking about recording anything we watch regularly on commercial television and watching it later. I know the commercials pay the bills, but I am fed up with the breaks and breaks and breaks. If there weren't popups during the programs, I might not care, but enough is enough.



Wedged Between Two "Heat Waves"
We are having a respite from spring temps today—yesterday was in the 70s and so tomorrow should be, but right now it is a grey and chilly 59°F. Since I have to work there is no chance to pull on my jacket and go out and enjoy it, although I am hoping to walk at lunchtime. Missed it yesterday because the Dish guy showed up just as Rick Steves' Europe was ending (how's that for timing?), but we did take a "half walk" about 6:30. There was a nice breeze, so it wasn't that bad.

The birds have not heeded the chill. They are in full mating/nesting mode and the shrill song of a robin declaring this to be his territory are in full throat. I heard an unusual song at the feeder this morning and peeked outside to find a sparrow fluttering its wings and cooing sweet nothings to another sparrow.

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» Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Bringing More Tourists to Newport
LOL. Of course, in my mind this is a debate between being a good or bad thing.

Heritage Trail Showcases Historic Newport



Technical Difficulties: JUST HIT CANCEL A LOT
Just click "cancel" when my blog asks for a password. It's coming from my website host where I have my pictures. Apparently there's a server problem. Yeesh. Tech support sounds like a robot.



» Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Literary Disappointment
The day started badly: I realized I'd forgotten to take a new box of oatmeal with me this morning and also had forgotten the "spots" for the place where my glasses are pinching my nose. Luckily, there was a remaining packet of oatmeal buried in the tray where I keep Cup-O-Soup, but alas, no "spots" could be found, so that the bridge of my nose was in increasing pain as the day went on and when I finally arrived home, was as red as a strawberry.

A coupon for 40 percent off one book and $5 in Borders Bucks had popped up in my e-mail this morning, so I took these and my Preferred Reader coupons to the Parkway Pointe Borders hoping America 1908 was still there. However, the one copy had been purchased, and there was no copy at the other close Borders on the East-West Connector. East Cobb had one,, not all that way, especially not at rush hour.

I did stop at Waldenbooks at Cumberland Mall with forlorn hope, but, as expected, nothing there but a lot of face-front books, mostly bestsellers. Yawn. How sad it looks. This is not the original Cumberland Waldenbooks, but a smaller store in which they moved into a year or two back. I think the W.T. Smith at the airport has more books. I didn't see anything else I really wanted, either, and with a pile of unread books at home, wasn't going to buy something just to use a coupon. So home I came to walk the dog and roast some chicken drumsticks for supper.

It would have been nice, with the doors wide open, to listen to the crickets and tree frogs that have emerged with the low 70s temps tonight, but one of our "neighbors" (I use the term loosely) back in the trailer park has chosen to demonstrate what a neat bass boost they have on their stereo.

(Speaking of the season, I came outside for lunch at 12:30 to find my car finely sprinkled with yellow pollen. Four hours later when I left, it was mottled with the stuff, in great spots and splotches like a leopard.)

Welcome to the Atlanta Pollen Festival!
Please hold your breath.

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