Archives: May 2005

Tue 31 May 2005

Scared Puppy

Last night there were thunder storms in our part of Florida. The kind with the big long rumbly thunder that seems to last minutes. And then more start. Princely was scared. Very scared. He does not like thunderstorms.

He had woken me up sometime int he middle of the night to let me know that he HAD to got out. Right then. So I let him out onto the tieout we have in the back. A little while later, when he called to be let in, after I let him off his tie, he SHOT back into the house, and immediately into the bedroom. He is not normally allowed into the bedroom due to my allergies... although unfortunately I have been becoming lax lately, and he no longer recognizes that he is not allowed there. He has snuck in too many times without being told he has to leave.

Anyway, it wasn't really raining yet, but the thunder was starting up. I got back into bed. Princely paced for a few minutes and was sort of whining and whimpering. He was scared. Then, without even asking like he sometimes does, he jumped up onto the bed (not always easy for an old dog like him) and wiggled his way between Brandy and myself and buried his face in the pillow between us. He was all shaky and scared.

So, of course, we let him stay. There was just no saying no to a poor little 100+ pound scared puppy who was desperately looking for his parents to keep him safe. Nope. No saying no.

Several times over the course of the night when there was a particularly loud round of thunder, he would suddenly sit up and look around and look very worried. Then he would snuggle back down between us looking for protection.

By morning, the thunder had subsided, and Princely was all sleeping luxourously between us. As he twisted and turned to be comfortable though, Brandy got the "wrong end of the dog". She didn't seem to thrilled by that, but hey, at least it wans't me. :-)

I think he did this once before during a particularly bad thunderstorm. He always prefers being near us when we sleep at night. But only during the really big thunderstorms does he insist on being not just near us, but WITH us.

He is cute, but for such a big dog, he sure is a scardy dog! :-)

Meanwhile, unbenounced to us until morning, Amy had also had the same idea. We found her in the morning not in her bed, but on the couch outside our bedroom, having moved sometime during the night to be closer to us. Luckily, she did not also try to climb into bed. Cause while three can fit (barely). Four can not. :-)

Of course, due to sleeping with the dog, I am all congested and blurry eyed and a little wheezy today. So hopefully we'll be able to keep the thunderstorms for the daytime for the next few weeks at least, cause I like being able to breathe in the mornings.

Abulsme - Tue, 31 May 2005, 11:57:36 PDT
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Book: Wicked

imageAuthor: Gregory Maguire
Started: 15 May 2005
Finished: 30 May 2005
409 p / 16 d
26 p/d

I saw the musical of this a little over a year ago. It was great fun. Went with Brandy and Amy. Soon after I saw there was a book. I think I got copies as presents for a couple of people at one point or another. I knew that the book was darker and more political than the play, which while it had a few serious undertones if you looked for them, was basically a fun and lighthearted romp. One of the people I gave the book too was my teenage sister. I figured she'd like the political and animal rights bits... Oops, make that Animal rights. In any case, as I read the book the one thing I had NOT realized was different about the book was the sex. Yup, it has a bunch of sex. Including with Animals. And I gave it to my 14 year old (at the time) sister. Oops. She read it long before I did and sent an email saying it was "interesting". :-)

Well, odd sexual bits aside, it definately was interesting. I like the whole idea of looking at a story from the side of one of the supporting characters. It is just a concept that gets my attention. First time I remember coming across that sort of thing was Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. We read the play in high school. I think I saw the actual play once. Never saw the movie I just linked to. Anyway, it got my attention right away. I don't remember much of it, but I remember the concept.

It worked well with Bean in the second set of Ender books written from Bean's perspective. (I haven't read all of those yet though.)

Anyway, I like the concept. In this case, tell the life story of the Wicked Witch of the West. Who is she really? Why is she how she is? What leads up to the events we all know in the Wizard of Oz. I liked a lot of the excecution. It is much darker than the play, and I think in some ways TOO dark and serious and political. I like it darker and more serious, but at times I think it went a little too far than needed to make the point. I do like how it is all put together though, and was facinated by the investigation into the backstory.

The ending is of course COMPLETLY different from the play. The play's ending was a little cheesy, but the book just hammers the negativity down and down and down... the witch just fails at everything utterly, and it ends as it did in the original Oz. Very tragic, very sad. Poor witch. I'm OK with the unhappy ending itself, but what drives me nuts is the number of loose ends left open. Question after question after questions are raised, but then they are all left open and unresolved.

Of course, I guess that is part of the point. Still frustrating though.

I did like it though. The author has apperantly done a couple more of these. One on Cinderella and one on Snow White. I am tempted, but not sure I'll be jumping right on reading those. Maybe. I'll think about it a bit.

I do recommend reading Wicked. But if given a choice between the book and the musical, in this case I'd pick the musical. (Although it is a shame that Kristin Chenowith has moved on to bigger and better things. She was an increadible Galinda!)

Abulsme - Tue, 31 May 2005, 06:15:02 PDT
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Fri 27 May 2005

DC Excuses

OK, now those of you in the greater Washington, DC area no longer have any excuse not to visit some weekend this summer!

Delta adds D.C. flights
(Wayne Price, Florida Today)

Delta Air Lines will begin offering two daily nonstop flights from Melbourne International Airport to Washington, D.C., and back, beginning July 1.

Fifty-seat regional jets will fly from Melbourne International to Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., about 26 miles from downtown Washington.

Delta's Web site is listing the round-trip fares from Melbourne to Washington in July at $176.90.
See you all soon!

Abulsme - Fri, 27 May 2005, 07:35:05 PDT
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Thu 26 May 2005

Swimming Infinity



Abulsme - Thu, 26 May 2005, 04:34:09 PDT
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One Ear

imageWhen I was up in Pittsburgh for the wedding, I felt a little bit of a lump in my throat, and when I swallowed I would feel it a little bit in my ear. Nothing big, but something. I did not think much of it. And then I flew home...

The decent into Orlando was very uncomfortable. The pressure bothered me a lot more than usual. And then once I was off the plane, it did not go away in my right ear. It continued to feel like it was under pressure, and it was hard to hear out of that ear.

As it turns out, Amy had a stomach flu that day, and as soon as I got home, Brandy and I traded off Amy, and my job was to take Amy to her new Doctor. (New cause Brandy now has new health insurance from work, so we found someone under her plan.) So, I took AMy into the doctor. But the whole time I was there, my ear was bothering me. And not just bothering me, but getting worse. So, as we were finishing up with Amy, I signed myself up to be seen next. (The doctor is in my plan too, and I may just switch... I like my old doctor, but this one is closer to home, and it might be good for the whole family to just go the same place.)

Anyway, one look in my ear and she says: "Oh yeah, you have an ear infection. It is very swollen in there." And my throat wasn't all that good off either. She said there was one spot in the membrane that was obviously weak and sticking out. She said it could break at any moment, and if it broke it would be right there.

Urgh! I had a friend who got an ear infection on a plane, and then ended up having to have many surgeries and losing his hearing in that ear. Ouch! But she assured me that the little nub where it would break if it broke was small, and would heal if it broke. So I have visions of a small hole breaking in my eardrum and pus squirting out of that ear at high velocity. Of course, it would most likely just ooze.

She basically said that if it broke, the pressure would suddenly be relieved, but then I wouldn't be able to swim or anything until it heals (which takes a decent amount of time). On the other hand, if it did NOT break (which is actually better) then it might take weeks for the pressure to fully normalize, even with the antibiotics and such she was giving me.

Oh, joy.

I asked several times if it was safe to fly, and if I should be going on my trip to Connecticut, or if I should be seeing if I should cancel. She said I should be fine to fly. It might be uncomfortable, maybe quite so, but I should be fine.

Uh, goody.

Anyway, I of course traveled anyway.

Before leaving Tuesday, the pressure had gone down somewhat in the ear. It was not gone, but I could basically hear again.

The first leg of the flight (Orlando to Pittsburgh) was OK. Not that bad. More uncomfortable than usual, but not crazy. The second leg though (Pittsburgh to White Plains) was on a commuter jet, and when we came in for a landing I was miserable. I felt like the side of my head was about to explode. And when I got off the plane the pressure did not go away. It felt like I was wearing a plunger over that side of my head. I could barely hear on my right side, and it was quite uncomfortable.

So I don't think there has been any popping yet.

Anyway, at my meetings with the client Wednesday, I tried to sit so the people I needed to ehar were on my left, but it diodn't fully work. It sounded to me for the whole meeting like people were whispering. I feel for those with perminant hearing impairment, cause I've now had a glimpse.

As far as I can remember, I never had an ear infection before, even as a child where I know they are sometimes common. It ain't fun, but still better than other kinds of sick you could have. I'd rather have this than a bad stomach flu or respritiory infection. But still. Annoying.

Once again last night the pressure has gone down a bit. Still there. But no longer so distracting I want to shove a pencil through my head.

In a few minutes I leave for the second round of meetings with our client. Then, this afternoon, two more plane flights. White Plains to Philly, then Philly to Orlando. I normally don't mind flights at all. But the knowledge that my ear is going to be attacking me the whole way (especially on landings it seems) is making me think that perhaps I should just consider walking the 1161 miles home from here.

Nah. I'll just do the "embrace the pain" thing instead.

Uh, and use the painkillers the doc gave me if it seems warrented. :-)

Abulsme - Thu, 26 May 2005, 03:55:01 PDT
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I Killed Them… I Killed Them ALL

imageOne of the tasks I had Tuesday before leaving home for a business trip (Connecticut this time) was to give the tadpoles more room. The plan I had been talking about for over a week was taking the tank they were in, pouring half of it into another container (along with half the tadpoles) and then adding water to both containers. End goal being to give all the tadpoles more room. They were growing very rapidly. Most over three quarters of an inch. Some maybe an inch including the tail. And while they did not have legs yet, they had froggy heads. They would definitely need more room, and more room soon.

I followed the plan. I filled the tanks back up from water from the hose.

Brandy had apparently tried to warn me, but I never understood what she was saying or why. She said we needed to clean out the pot we were going to use. And I did that, rinsing out the muck from the bottom. But she had meant more than that. I’m not sure what she said and how she said it, but I never got that there was more to it than that.

As it turns out, tap water, such as comes out of a hose, is apparently poison to most aquatic animals, including tadpoles. I knew not to use the water from the pool. I had no idea that I should not use the water from the hose.

I poured the water as planned from one container to the other. The tads just poured right out. It wasn’t quite even, but it was close enough. I thought about just leaving it like that, but the whole point had been to give them more room, and to do that water would have to be added. So, I turned on the hose…

A couple minutes later all the tadpoles were running around like crazy in both containers. I thought they were happily exploring their new environments and reveling in their newfound room to swim. They were not. They were in a horrible panic, trying to escape the poison I had put all around them.

A few minutes later, most of the tadpoles were still. Only a couple swam around when I came near. I thought they had done the things that frogs do when you catch them and they are nervous… tense up and get hard as a rock to be inconspicuous. They were not doing that. They were dying.

Right after filling the two pots, I had sent Brandy a happy email saying that the job was done and the froggies had plenty of room now. Right as just a few were still moving, I got an email back from Brandy saying essentially “Don’t use tap water!!”. But itr was too late. By the time I got back outside, they were all dead. All of them.

I called Brandy’s cellphone, distraught and bawling like a baby. But she was at work, and I only got her voice mail. So I emailed her. Later she called me back and tried to talk me down. But I was very very upset.

The tadpoles had been THRIVING. And HAPPY. They were growing rapidly, and not a single one had died. There were 30 some of them (I never did do an exact count). I had saved them from certain death…. Only to kill them with my own stupidity two weeks later.

I had been so proud of them. Proud that I had saved them, proud that they were doing well. And every day when I checked on them I was excited by their progress, and I was eagerly anticipating them slowly turning into frogs and then hopping away.

But I killed them.

IT has been almost two days since that happened. In the time since I have not really been able to stop thinking about it. On the way to the airport, on the planes on the way to Connecticut, during my business meetings during the day Wednesday. I was distracted and every once in awhile would just get very very sad. And the guilt is overwhelming.

Brandy keeps saying that I “tried” and that is what counts. But no, it is not. Ask the tadpoles. Oh, you can’t, cause they are DEAD. And I killed them. :-( Trying is a good thing, but what counts is succeeding. And what also counts on the other side is abject negligent failure. If I had killed 30 children, or even 30 puppies, maybe the reaction would be different. Just because they are frogs, it is somehow less important. But they were still innocent little things under my care, and I failed them.

I guess with the arrogance and inappropriateness of the title of my first post on the frogs, and my pride and superiority over saving them, I needed to be put in my place or something. And so I screw up majorly.

All I needed to do was listen to Brandy better (she says she tried to tell me, although she never made a big point of it, cause she assumed I knew I guess), or just wait to do it when she was home. Or if I had just decided I didn’t have time and had just left them alone until after my trip… any of these options and they would still be alive and happy.

I am still very sad. I was so happy that the tadpoles were doing well. And I thought I was helping them, but instead…

Poor little baby froggies.

I am so sorry. :-(

Abulsme - Thu, 26 May 2005, 03:50:29 PDT
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Wed 25 May 2005

Two Eyes

imageOh, and of all the people who knew me who were at the wedding, everybody seemed to notice that I was “different”. Ivan commented on my shirt collar. Marilyn asked if I’d lost weight. Leslie noted my lack of facial hair and mentioned that she almost didn’t recognize me. Only Marilyn’s mother actually directly noted that I was wearing contacts instead of glasses. It was only the second time I’d actually worn contacts to an event where friends of mine were present (other than Brandy of course). And I think I’d worn them to work one additional time last year. The others may have noticed, but they did not actually SAY anything, at least not until after Marilyn’s mom said something in front of them.

I had them fitted for the first time a little over a year ago (going through several that didn’t work right before finding one that did), but after having worn the trial pair a handful of times, never actually filled the prescription until a few weeks ago. I seriously doubt I will wear them all the time. I *like* glasses. (Although the fact that I am back on an old spare pair after losing my newest pair in the ocean a few months ago lessens my love.) But I may try to start a few times a week. If only to make it so I can do it easily. The process of putting them on still takes me close to half an hour and I get very frustrated by it sometimes.

But hey, it was worth trying it just to see what it would be like.

And, um... When that picture was taken I was really tired too. But it is the only one I had with me right now of the contact version of me.

Abulsme - Wed, 25 May 2005, 04:47:20 PDT
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Our Turn?

Speaking of weddings, practically everybody at Kathy’s wedding that I knew asked me when it would be my turn, so I present here as well my standard answer:

Not yet, but it is just a matter of time. There are a few preliminaries that have to be dealt with first, for instance that Brandy is currently married to someone else, but hey, we can take care of those things. :-) Once that is taken care of, and the financial situation has fully stabilized after the upheavals of the last two years (bought a house, lost a job, gained a job, sold a house, moved to a new state, started supporting three instead of one, bought a house, paid a huge tax bill, gained a second income in the family) then we’ll start looking at what actual plans to make and when. For all intents and purposes Brandy and I already behave in a married fashion. We’ll take care of the legalities sooner or later.

Brandy and I pretty much agree though that it will not be an extravagant affair with lots of formalities and lots of guests. If and when we do it it will be very small. With just a few friends and family. Very informal. Very “lightweight”. I joke that the invitee list will be whoever happened to make my top ten list the month before and that will be IT. We shall see. Probably a little bit more than Ivan’s “Oh hey, I’m getting married tomorrow” but probably not by a huge amount. :-)

Abulsme - Wed, 25 May 2005, 04:23:13 PDT
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Kathy and Ryan

imageAnd of course, the reason I was in Pittsburgh was for Kathy’s wedding. She was marrying Ryan, who she’d been dating for a few years, and known for many years before that. I think I may have met him once, way back when, maybe, but before she was dating him, and I definitely could not place a specific memory. I’m just guessing he was one of the people around when I attended her graduation a few years back. I could be wrong.

I’d met Kathy several boyfriends ago, and heard on the phone of the ups and downs of several of those relationships. But Kathy and I were not talking as much by the time Ryan was in the picture, so I never heard much about him. Seems like a nice enough guy, and she seems quite happy. So that is excellent. Good job Kathy!

The wedding itself was in a big church, and on the formal side. Maybe not quite as formal as Al’s, but more formal than others I have attended. But it was nice. Marilyn read something. (Flubbed the lines a little bit, but close enough.) Leslie, who I also knew a bit was one of the wedding party too. Didn’t really know any of the others.

Then it was off to the reception. In a big country club. They had videos showing them as kids, and as Ryan’s gift to Kathy he had produced a song. It was rather funny. And sweet. And I know know that he can play the drums. Kathy and Ryan, please send a copy of the song. I’ll add it to my iTunes rotation.

There was the usual dancing and throwing of things. People were trying to get me to go up for the garter toss, but I declined, saying I wasn’t REALLY single any more. Guess I probably should have, I did at the last wedding I went to. But I was all comfy in my seat. My take was that if someone actively came and got me, or pulled me up there, I would do it, but I wasn’t running up just case the DJ said to.

Got to hang out with Ivan and Juana and Marilyn and Marilyn’s mom and watch Kathy looking happy. So all was good.

I wish Brandy and Amy had been able to come with me too, but that wasn’t possible.

Abulsme - Wed, 25 May 2005, 04:13:25 PDT
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Yes Virginia, there is a Mrs. Bou

image Sunday morning I flew to Pittsburgh for my friend Kathy’s wedding. But before the wedding, I met Ivan for lunch. And he brought with him his wife Juana. As far as I know, none of us old college friends had ever actually MET Juana. I could be wrong of course, I don’t talk to everybody as much as I used to. But we knew they had been dating off and on and heard the name. Occasionally there was a rare picture. Then a little while ago, we suddenly got word that they were doing a quickie wedding that weekend. And then that was done.

Well, I actually met both of them at lunch in Pittsburgh. And she seems real enough. Of course, in the initial conversation, Ivan asked some questions about what had been going on with me, my job, and other such things, and being me, I just blabbered on for most of lunch, not hearing much from Ivan, and even less from Juana. My bad. I’m sorry.

Did hear more from both of them later in the evening though. Everybody seems to be fine. Ivan is pretty much his old self. And him and I seem to have mostly put the little nastiness we had between us a few years ago to bed, which is good. :-) It was good to hang out with them.

Oh, and word is they will eventually actually have a ceremony where they invite everybody and all. It is looking like early 2006 at this time.

Abulsme - Wed, 25 May 2005, 04:11:46 PDT
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Sun 22 May 2005

Cinema: Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

imageWell, never did finish Episode II. Would probably have been able to finish it in line... well, I know I would have, I was more than half way through it and we were in line for almost two hours... but once I had Amy I let her start it from the beginning, and we got maybe 3/4 through. Oh well. I rememebred enough.

So, got into Sith of course. I don't have time for any long comments right now, but I'll basically echo what most of the reviews I have seen said. As long as you are expecting Star Wars, and not something more high brow, then it is awesome. This is a real Star Wars, not like the dreck of Episode I, or the a bit better but still disappointingness of Episode II. Sure, there are some parts that can be nitpicked if you think too much, and parts are still over CGI'd at the expense of story, but hey, it is Star Wars. Let go of all that, and it is great. You see everything you would expect to see and it is done pretty well.

Of all the Star Wars on first blush I am actually tempted to say it is the best of the six. If not, it is close. The stuff I liked with Vader/Luke/Emporer in VI is here in III plus some. Could they have spent a bit more time on that? Probably. (Especially if they hadn't wasted Episodes I & II, but oh well...) But it was still good.

Oh well, I do not have time for more. I need to run out the door to head to the airport. I'm heading to Pittsburgh for approximately 24 hours for a friend's wedding.

Abulsme - Sun, 22 May 2005, 01:14:08 PDT
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Fri 20 May 2005

DVD: Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

imageWhat can I say. This is the same suckfest as it was when it came out in the theaters. You'd think with all the reworking of the original movies Lucas did, he might be able to fix up this a bit. You know, take out the sucky parts that add absolutely nothing to the story and leave you groaning and hoping it is over soon? Of course, if you did that with this movie, you'd be left with half an hour or so. OK, MAYBE 45 minutes if you are generous. Basically the whole part of the movie before they get to coursocant (a little over an hour) could easily have been boiled down to 15 minutes. I mean, how long is that stupid pod race? I should know, I kept looking at my wrist to see what time it was. (But I don't know because I was frustrated by the fact I haven't worn a watch in almost 20 years, so there was no time to see on my wrist.) Then the parts after that could have been perhaps expanded a bit. More of the Jedi temple. More Darth Maul. Speaking of which, they really shouldn't have ended him the way they did. He had potential to be interesting if expanded upon.

Anyway, as everybody knows, Episode I was a complete screw up and dissapointment to anybody over 10 who watched it. But Lucas stated he was aiming at kids and not the fans of the original trilogy. And still made huge wads of cash, so hey, it worked for him. But it sucked.

So anyway, I had gotten home with Amy a little earlier than usual, with the intention of immediately starting Episode I so I could watch both last night. But then by the time I got home, Brandy was just leaving work (a little later than usual) so although we could have started without her, we waited for her to get home and then get dinner ready before starting. So we didn't get done with it until late. Amy fell asleep about 3/4 of the way through. (Right about at her bedtime.) After it ended, Brandy fell asleep right away. I started Episode II, but only got about 30 minutes into it before I was too sleepy to continue.

We have tickets for III for 8 PM tonight. So I'll probably try to finish II at lunch and then right after work or some such. Looks like there may not be time for Clone Wars before the movie. Oh well!

I'm sorry that Amy and Brandy were not able to watch all of all five before we see the new one, but hey, they kept falling asleep! :-)

Abulsme - Fri, 20 May 2005, 06:16:27 PDT
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Thu 19 May 2005

DVD: Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

imageWell, I started watching Jedi right after I made the ESB post. But half way in I was really sleepy, so I went to sleep. Didn't finish it until last night. So I'm a day behind now. We're planning on seeing the new one Friday night. So that means I have to watch Episodes I and II, and maybe the Clone Wars cartoons before then. That is a lot to watch in 24 hours or so! Especially on a work day!

Anyway, Jedi is Jedi. I know many disagree and hate the Ewoks and all, and I'm not a big Ewok fan, but I always liked Jedi best of the original three. Basically jsut for one thing. The whole Luke/Vader/Emporer interaction once Luke is brought to the Death Star. I just like that whole sequence.

A few of the changes I wasn't thrilled about. Changing the hallway in which Luke and Vader first talk (in this episode) to one with windows overlooking the forest. OK, it makes sense given the setting, but I think it detracts attention from the personal dynamic occuring at that time. Better the stark hallway than the distracting forest.

Also, I hate the new music over the celebration. I like the jumping between the planets to show the celebration in places other than Endor (although I could do without the Jar Jar relative yelling "Meesa Free!!"). But I liked the original Ewok music much better. It just seemed much more honest and joyous and such, and seemed to reflect the situation the characters were in better. I dunno. Just didn't like it. Gimme that old fashoned Ewok music any day!

I also didn't like them putting in Ewan McGregor in as Anikin in the last scene with Obi-Wan and Yoda. Originally it was the guy who played the Anikin head you saw when Luke took off Vader's helmet. They didn't replace THAT with Ewan (thank goodness!). And you didn't see the young versions of Obi-Wan and Yoda, but them as they were when they died (approximately). Just didn't like that. Maybe it will be explained in III. But still don't like it.

Anyway... guess I'll be buying the tickets for us to see III in a few minutes. Then I'd better get to watching the rest of the movies I need to see before then.

Oh. Oops. Forgot I was at work. Damn.

Abulsme - Thu, 19 May 2005, 12:38:42 PDT
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Wed 18 May 2005

Holocaust of the Frogs

imageWith both Brandy and I working and being super busy, we had let the pool go a bit. It had been nice and blue and perfect three weeks earlier, but it had turned green andsuch by this weekend. It was definately time for a cleaning. We may eventually get a service to come in and do it periodically, but for now we are doing it ourselves. Well, OK, mainly Brandy is doing it. Anyway, Brandy was getting ready to start the cleaning process, including dumping like 10 gallons of chlorine in the pool when she yelled "Oh no! Tadpoles!"

And sure enough, there were tadpoles in the pool. Dozens and dozens and dozens of them. Which is not surprising. Before we moved in, when the pool was wrecked it had completely gone wild and was basically a pond. I ahd seen tadpoles in there, and a whole generation of frogs was born there. A week before they did the final cleaning before we bought the place I had seen a bunch of nearly frog tadpoles obviously about to leave the pool. And every time we get a heavy rain, the frogs all sit around the pool and croak at each other and occationally do um, cough, other things. Perhaps they come back to where they were born to spawn.

In any case, the tadpoles made Brandy even more urgent to clean the pool. Meanwhile, I was all about saving the tadpoles. So while Brandy started scrubbing the pool and stuff, witholding the cholorine for the time being, I got a spare aquarium and went about trying to save as many baby frogs as I could. I basically got all the ones that came close enough to the surface to grab without getting into the pool. Grab with a cup that is, not with my hands. They were tiny little things. Maybe only an eighth of an inch or so.

Anyway, over the course of about half an hour, I caught perhaps 30 of them. I got all that I could possibly get. And before Brandy finally put the baby frog killing chlorine poison into the pool, I did another sweep and got a few more that I had missed. I have no doubt that many frogs died in this tragedy, probably many more than I could save, but I have a good 30 of them in the aquarium sitting outside on the lanai.

Well, OK, once yesterday I had Princely tied up too close to it, and he decided to take a drink out of the tadpole water... he may have gotten a couple. I hope not, but I do not know.

Anyway, they are growing fast. They are now probably more like a quarter inch. Maybe slightly longer. I will probably have to move some of them into a seperate container soon, or they will get too crouded.

I thought I saw a dead onethe other day, but now I can't find it. So maybe it was just sleeping. Or maybe the others ate it. Do tadpoles eat each other? Somehow I can't think of Kermit doing that, so I'll say no.

Anyway, so far so good. Those frogs that managed to get on "Minter's List" who escaped the poison are doing well so far. I don't imagine all of them will make it. But I'll try my best. Well, aside from being gone for four days next week and the fact I only check on them five minutes a day and they are outside in an open container and such.

But I'll do my best. I gave them algae tavlets to eat. They seemed to like that. And they go after the occational fly that lands in their water.

We'll see. I may end up with 30 frogs before too long.

They are very cute.

Oh. And the pool is clear and blue and beautiful again.

In plenty of time for swimming this weekend.

Abulsme - Wed, 18 May 2005, 17:18:14 PDT
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Tue 17 May 2005

DVD: Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

image Last night, right after almost destroying my computer, we started watching Empire Strikes Back. This time us being just me and Brandy, Amy having already gone to bed. Brandy fell asleep somewhere around the time Han and company were inside the asteroid worm thing and before Luke went into the cave. I stayed up to the end of course. Although I was very sleepy in the morning.

Myt memory patterns were different on this one. Remebered the beginning and the end, less of the middle. But again, nothing I didn't remember at all. The changes were less noticible in Empire. Being able to see outside in Bespin and all, where in the original there were walls instead of windows. (I think that was already changed in the special editions though.) Anyway, enjoyable, but while I know a lot of people think Empire was the best of the original three, it just doesn't have the huge impact to me. Maybe it is because the big surprise at the end isn't anymore because nobody nowhere nohow doesn't already know.

Oh, one thing I didn't like though. They changed the dialoge when Vadar talks to the emporor. I didn't mind that they put in the actor who played the emporor in Jedi and now the prequel trilogy, that consistancy is fine, but they should not have changed the text... it is now a bit more explicit on the Anakin back story, and I'm not sure that was needed. Oh well.

It is late already, and we haven't started Jedi yet for tonight. So we'd better get to it...

Abulsme - Tue, 17 May 2005, 19:05:55 PDT
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Zeus Dumpty

PowerBooks do not bounce. At least not very well. I had the PowerBook at home up on something next to the bed. I got off the bed, tripped over the powercord, and it went crashing down to the tile floor. The case is all warped. The battery stays in place kinda sorta. I had to snap the pieces back together. It has several new cracks. (And this is the new case I got just last year.)

But... it still works. For the moment. I may have to hold the case together with tape or something though. Well, it stays together, just has annoying gaps in the case where it is warped that don't feel good when holding it. Maybe tape would help.

It is way overdue for replacement. I bought it when the G4 Powerbooks first came out in early 2001. So it is over four years old. Which is really old for a laptop. Especially a laptop that I carried with me everywhere for years and beat the hell out of. This is by no means the first time I have dropped it. (Although I think it is the worst damage to the case in one shot.) Poor old thing. I abuse it so. A new one definately needs to be in the cards soon. I had been sticking to an approximately 3 year replacement cycle, getting new Macs in 1994, 1998 and 2001. But 2004 was just not the year to be thinking of such things. But very soon it will need to be, I won't have a choice...

And there are several possible options along those lines. From getting a new Mini, to an iMac, to another PowerBook on the high end. (Not interested in a PowerMac... or iBook or eMac for that matter.) But as much as I want to, the samart thing is to let finances stabilize awhile longer before doing any large purchases. I'm hoping by the end of the year, but not summer... we're not as tight any more as we were in March att he low point in the cash flow cycle after getting the new house, but still haven't gotten a good sense on just where we are and how much "discressionary" spending we can be doing with the standard house expenses (with most but not all of the one time things out of the way) and both our jobs. Unless we go nuts and start way ov erspending, we should be coming out ahead each month by enough to sack away some useful savings. But Brandy JUST got her first paycheck. And while I paid the bulk of the tax bill on April 15th, there is still more to pay. So it will take a while to really get fully situated.

PowerBooks are midcycle right now and should get updated again sometime this fall. Maybe then if I continue to go the laptop route. (Which I really like.) The iMac has been tempting me though. But then, it is much harder to carry around...

Anyway, I am very glad the PowerBook (named Zeus) is still working, had no data loss, etc. I am backing up fairly frequently these days, but not quite daily. I need to do daily. But if Zeus had died last night, I probably would have ordered a bare bones $499 mini today. But waiting is much better as long as Zeus holds out.

Go Zeus, keep hanging in there!

Uh... even when I throw you on the floor violently.


Abulsme - Tue, 17 May 2005, 08:29:49 PDT
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Mon 16 May 2005

Hypocyclonic Regression


A couple weeks yet until the season officially starts, but I noticed that the National Hurricane Center has started to update their danger map again after several months with no updates. And some people are predicting a season just as interesting as last year...

NOAA predicts above-average hurricane season
(Maya Bell, Orlando Sentinel via Tallahassee Democrat)

ou can't take this to the bank, but here's a safe, albeit unsettling, bet: The 2005 hurricane season should spawn at least seven hurricanes, with at least three of them ballooning into major hurricanes.

That was the outlook released Monday by forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who predicted that the coming six-month season that begins June 1 likely will be more active than normal.

If so, the 2005 season will mark the ninth above-average season in 11 years, adding credence to the notion that the Atlantic basin entered another and perhaps decades-long cycle of more - and more vicious - hurricanes in 1995.
Yeah, yeah, but what are the odds of four that can be felt in Brevard county again? (OK, that counts Ivan, when it wasn't even tropical as it was doing it's big loop, but still... we had some rain from Ivan, a pretty bad storm from Charlie, and pretty much direct hits from Jeanne and Francis...)

OK, odds are pretty good to not get hit two years in a row. But still, probably time to hit the Home Depot and get wood the right size for the new house.

I'll be checking the danger map (above) daily again. It is fun to watch! There is already danger for tropical formation on there, although it is in the pacific nowhere near here.

This years names will be: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katrina, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma. We have a Brett and a Dennis at work (although Brett spells his name with two t's) and Brandy knows an Emily. I also once named a bug that I kept in a piece of wood Harvey. Rebecca later inhaled Harvey's remains.

I'm thinking because of the personal connections to me those four are the most likely to hit us this year. If I had to place bets though, I'd say Harvey will hit Florida, then make a bee line for Virginia to get Rebecca. Those wood boring insects really hold grudges when you accidentially suffocate them in a Ritz can and then let your friend inhale them.

Abulsme - Mon, 16 May 2005, 16:29:03 PDT
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DVD: Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope

imageIn preparation for the new one coming out later this week, thought it would be good to watch all the old ones again. I had intended to start earlier, but only just got to the first (well, fourth) one last night. Unfortunately the bulb on the projector died a bit ago and we haven't gotten around to replacing it yet. I had really wanted to watch these projected up to wall size, but that is OK I guess. Instead, we finally hooked up a five disk DVD player / receiver / home theater kit thingy that I had won in a raffle over a year ago. My other DVD player is in the family room for the projector (and temporarily for a regular TV there). We set this one up in the master bedroom. I got really frustrated by the lack of a backlight on the remote, but we watched the movie. The first half Brandy and Amy and I were all on the bed, then Amy fell asleep between us. All very nice. At one point though we needed to stop cause the dog needed to go out and Amy was crushing Brandy's arm. Which inturrupted the flow a little, but would have been OK. But then when we were ready to start I hit the wrong button ont he stupid remote, then accidentially started the movie over from the beginning. Then I had to find the right chapter we were on and start it from there, which backed it up to repeat about 5 minutes. This confusticated me greatly, and I started to have a little fit, and almost stopped for the night with the intention of starting over from the beginning again the next day, because I was now completely out of the movie groove, and was too upset to really enjoy it all. But, after about 10 minutes I calmed down, and we watched the rest of the movie. Well, I did. Brandy fell asleep. (And of course Amy was already asleep.)

I'm not going to spend too much time actually talking about this movie, because well, everybody in the universe pretty much has seen it multiple times. Now, this was the first time I'd watched the DVD release, which had even more changed on top of what had been changed for the Special Edition releases a few years back. So it was cool looking for some of the differences. Also, I relized that I actually had NOT seen this THAT many times. I'd seen the end like a billion times, cause I would flip channels and see it on TV and watcht he end. And the closer to the end we got, the more was clearly remembered. The stuff at the beginning, much fuzzier. Not that there was anything I didn't remember at all mind you (other than some of the new things) but it was just interesting to see how my memories of the end were much stronger than of the beginning.

I'm intending to post little snippets on each new DVD I watch (I won't redo ones I've done before if I watch them again). I didn't actually intend to start this with five star wars movies in a row, but it just happened to be the first ones after I decided I would do this. The last movie before these was Rebel Without a Cause if that helps. And there will probably be more variety later. We shall see.

Also, this will be like five in five days if I actually do all of them in time to watch the new one Saturday (not even thinking of trying for opening night), whereas I normally only get around to watching a DVD (either one of my own choice or one Brandy or Amy picked) once every few weeks.

Anyway, so that is Star Wars.

Oh yeah, and obligitory stuff...

I agree with the folks that say the change to when Han shot Greedo sucked. Still does.

I actually like most of the added affects, but there are a few that didn't seem to fit quite right.

Even with redone CGI yet again, the Han / Jabba scene doesn't work well. Should have just left it out still.

Uh, that's enough I guess.

Abulsme - Mon, 16 May 2005, 08:54:08 PDT
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Sun 15 May 2005

Book: The Guide to Owning Skinks

imageAuthor: Jerry G. Walls
Started: 9 Apr 2005
Finished: 15 May 2005
9 p/d

A book about Skinks that had been on the to read pile ever since we got Mike. Even though it got accellerated higher in the pile because it was a "need to read soon" thing, I still didn't get to it now. Basically this was a guide to all kinds of skinks, not just the blue-tounged kind like Mike. Where they come from, how to take care of them, etc. Lots and lots of pictures of different kinds of skinks. Nice glossy pictures. Lots of them are very pretty. Some are just interesting. None as cool looking as Mike though. Of course.

It had a bunch of interesting stuff, but in terms of Mike, only a very small portion of the book really pertained directly. Some of the general info did, but turns out there are big differences in how to care for different kinds of skinks. So a book more specific to blue-tounge skinks would probably be better. Luckily enough, there is one of those by the same author, and it is only a couple books down on the book pile...

Abulsme - Sun, 15 May 2005, 11:16:22 PDT
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Finger Lizardin' Good!

imageA little while ago while I was on the way home from work, Brandy was cleaning the pool and suddenly saw a little lizard swimming as hard as it good and struggling but failing to get out of the water. She scooped it up with the pool net, and then was trying to release it, but it wouldn't get out of the scooper. So she grabbed it... but then it would not let go! It was all about hanging on to Brandy after she saved it.

It held on for Brandy for about an hour and a half, until I got home, got a small terrarium set up, and we finally coaxed it (OK, pushed it) off Brandy's hand into the case. It was pretty much in shock over almost drowning and using so much energy to try to escape, not to mention the cooling effect of the water. It so much wanted to just hang on. It was very small (just a baby) and vary cute. It was scared of me, but couldn't get enough of Brandy. It just sat there on her hand. Let us pet it and everything. And would not get off no matter what.

Once we did finally have it in the terrarium with some food, water and some plants, it slowly got back to normal. A few hours later it was a bit more active and at first ran from Brandy, but once Brandy had it, it once again was reluctant to let go. She did manage to eventually get it to hop off onto a plant right outside our house though, and then it was on its way, returned to the wild after being saved and nursed back to health. Woo!

(I'd of course wanted to keep it, but Brandy said we should release it, and of course she was right...)

Abulsme - Sun, 15 May 2005, 10:56:43 PDT
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Tue 10 May 2005

Award to the Mother

imageSpeaking of acheivements in the family... also about a month ago, something else was announced:

2005 Antoinette Brown Award recipients named

The Antoinette Brown Selection Committee today named Ruth M. Brandon and Barbara Brown Zikmund as the 2005 recipients of the Antoinette Brown Award. This honor is awarded to two distinguished clergywomen at the biennium gathering of the United Church of Christ's General Synod.

Ruth M Brandon, originally from Vermont, is a graduate of Oberlin College (1963) and Union Theological Seminary - NYC (MDiv 1966) and Christian Theological Seminary - Indianapolis (STM 1983). Ordained in the UCC for 32 years, she is Pastor of United Church of Christ, Second Congregational, in Westfield, Massachusetts; is vice moderator of the national Wider Church Ministries Board and active in the Massachusetts Conference. Ruth's ministry has included campus ministry, missionary work and settling refugees for Church World Service. She has participated in the struggle for peace and justice from Mozambique to Nicaragua and in this country's peace, anti-apartheid, civil rights and women's rights movements. As a missionary Ruth served as a teacher with Mozambicans during the war of independence and later taught Ethics at the Ricatla United Seminary. At the seminary, she organized the first conference for Mozambican women pastors and seminarians. Ruth served on two UCC conference staffs and directed a Campus YWCA which also served as a Women's Center and related to many justice activities.
The award is apperantly a pretty big deal in my mom's denomination. The actual reward will be given out July 2nd in Atlanta at the UCC General Synod. I have agreed to go to the event and introduce my mom when she gets the award. I have to come up with a 2 to 3 minute introductory statement. I have no idea what I will say yet. But I am sure I will come up with something. I was very honored that I was asked to do the intro... I wouldn't miss it.

Congratulations Mom!

Abulsme - Tue, 10 May 2005, 22:03:30 PDT
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Moot Sister

imageThis happened back a month ago, but I failed to post when it happened. But that gave time for it to be on the web where I could link to it...

Cynthia was in the National High School Moot Court Competition. Cynthia advanced through all the rounds. Ended up as one of the four finalists. The other three were Seniors, Cynthia is a Freshman.

This is not the first competition that Cynthia has been in the finals for (or won), and I'm sure it won't be the last. She of course shruggs them all off. And, as her mom mentioned in an email, "This achievement would be greater cause for celebration if Cynthia had any interest in being a lawyer. She doesn't." She was apperantly drafted into the whole effort, and really didn't have a big desire to do it. Of course, she did well anyway. :-)

Anyway, a belated congrats to my sister. I'm jealous! :-)

Abulsme - Tue, 10 May 2005, 21:26:25 PDT
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Meus Ago est Sanus

For anybody who happened to be wondering after my post a couple posts ago, the MRI results on my liver came back, and whatever they saw on the ultrasound that they thought might be a "nodule" on my liver turned out to be nothing. The MRI results came back showing no abnormalities at all.


Now, still have a bunch of tests related to the kidney stuff that I have not heard back on yet, and don't know exactly what the follow up will be given that the doctor is unfortunately gone. But hey, a few kidney stones every couple of years is a lot less scary and worrysome than being told that you might have unexplained growths on internal organs.

Abulsme - Tue, 10 May 2005, 21:12:53 PDT
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Book: The King Must Die

imageAuthor: Mary Renault
Started: 3 Apr 2005
Finished: 9 May 2005
11 p/d

When I finished the book before this, I needed a fiction book to read next. My "book pile" of the books I am supposed to be reading in order has not yet been fully restored from the move from PA to FL, let alone the move to the new house in FL. So I had to go searching for a book to read. I rummaged through several of my book boxes that were accessible. I rejected a bunch of books that I remembered reading many years ago in high school or before. I wanted to read something new that I had not read before. After rejecting dozens of titles and making a general mess, I settled on this book. It did not particularly excite me, but I was tired of looking. I believe I had gotten it as a birthday present sometime in my teen or college years from some relative, but I could not be sure.

It is a novelization of the ancient Greek Theseus legends, written in the mode of a possible "real life" interpretation of events, eliminating the magical and mystical portions, except as reflected in the beliefs of the characters. It started very slow. I had to force my way through the entire first portion of the book, the section describing Theseus's childhood in Troizen. Roughly the first 75 pages or so. But after that, as Theseus left home and started his adventures, it picked up quite a bit.

I started to get engaged in the adventures, and was starting to like the style of highlighting the ancient greek religious beliefs as actual religion, but without going Clash of the Titans style and being all about magic and legendary monsters and such. The minotaur for instance is not a magical beast, just a beastly human.

Anyway, from that point on, I enjoyed the actual adventures, liked the whole historical context of the thing, and enjoyed the detail and historical research that was obviously put into it to give it an "authentic" feel... well as close as could be expected. The section near the end in Naxos was a little weak again, and did not feel anywhere near as convincing as the sections in Eleusis and Crete.

But hey, it was OK. No masterpiece or anything, but kept me entertained for awhile, enough so that by the end I was taking it with me places, not just reading a few pages here and there when I remembered to. I finished it on the plane on the way to the west coast.

There is apperantly a sequel. This novel ended when Theseus returned to Athens from Crete. The rest of the Theseus legend is left for the next book. Guess I shall need to order it.

Abulsme - Tue, 10 May 2005, 20:31:50 PDT
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Mon 09 May 2005

Another One Down

Just added a state to my map!


I'm in Tacoma, Washington for work. Just arrived here a little under two hours ago. It is my first time in Washington state.

12 more states to go to have all 50!

(Map made using World66.)

Abulsme - Mon, 9 May 2005, 22:39:54 PDT
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Tue 03 May 2005

Doctors Aren't Supposed to Die

After my latest round of kidney stones back at the beginning of this year, my regular doctor reffered me to a urologist, who in turn refered me to a kidney specialist to help find out just why I keep making stones, and how to possibly prevent more. I went to my first appointment with him about a month ago, and was in the process of doing a bunch of medical tests, and had a follow up meeting scheduled with him for Monday.

This morning while getting yet more tests done, I heard the nurses at the test facility talking, and then Brandy found this article to confirm...

Brevard doctor dies in Keys' diving accident

A Palm Bay Community Hospital kidney specialist died during a weekend Key Largo diving accident, officials confirmed today. Dr. Tarik Khair-El-Din, 44, was reported missing during a diving expedition Saturday to the USS Spiegel Grove artificial reef, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
That was my doctor. I had only met with him once. But he had immediately impressed me, because he took the time to talk and explain and answer questions, and just generally had a good bedside manner. I'd heard other people speak well of him too. Not much else to say. :-(

Meanwhile, the test I was having this morning was not my kidneys at all, although I have more of those tests yet to do. It was an MRI on my liver, because while doing the variety of tests for my kidney stones over the last few months, they found some non-normal results related to my liver in both blood work and an ultrasound. So this is to investigate further. I'll get the results later this week probably. I am crossing my fingers hoping it is not serious.

As for the kidney investigation, no idea what will happen now. Guess I may be refered to someone else. Maybe. Not sure if I should still do the test scheduled for this weekend. Probably I guess. But it is a shame it will not be with Dr. Khair. :-(

OK, I took a long lunch to run some errands. I need to get back to work now...

Abulsme - Tue, 3 May 2005, 10:08:30 PDT
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