Archives: December 2006

Sun 31 Dec 2006

DVD: The Usual Suspects

Yesterday I considered commenting some on the Saddam Execution but my heart just isn't in it. So I'll just leave that be and comment on one more DVD. This will be the 13th and probably last DVD of 2006 for me. (Not counting repeats, there was one DVD I watched on my own earlier in the year then watched again with Brandy recently, but it only gets counted and posted once.) So I averaged about 1.1 DVDs a month. I probably need to step that speed up a bit for that Netflix membership to be worth it. Oh well.

In any case, The Usual Suspects... For the first part of the movie I was a little bit bored, and I will admit, a bit confused as well. The characters all merged together in my mind. I wasn't sure what was present and what was flashback. It was all a bit of a muddle. But my head got wrapped around things about midway, and I began to just enjoy it. And it was fun. The confusion was intentional of course. You're supposed to gradually get revealed what is going on, up until the very end.

Basically, I watched this movie because back at Merrill Lynch, a coworker of mine used Keyser Söze as an IM screen name. I had no idea what it was other than it had to do with this movie. Years later, I finally now know "Who is Keyser Söze?". So my cultural knowledge is complete. Well... OK, maybe not quite. :-)


Abulsme - Sun, 31 Dec 2006, 09:49:36 PST
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Thu 28 Dec 2006

No Attention for Silent Cal

I was looking at various US Presidents on Wikipedia. I note that every President from Herbert Hoover to George W Bush had their pages edited on 28 Dec 2006 (UTC).

Going back from the present, Calvin Coolidge is the most recent president with no edits on the 28th.

Poor Silent Cal.

(I do note however that in the last week, he did get 8 edits, so that is something at least.)


Abulsme - Thu, 28 Dec 2006, 16:01:50 PST
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Wed 27 Dec 2006

DVD: Gotcha!

So early Tuesday (UTC) we watched Gotcha! which is apperantly one of Brandy's favorite films, although she hadn't seen it in about a decade. The main character in this was played by Anthony Edwards who by coinicence was the husband in the last movie we watched earlier in the weekend. He was much younger and had hair in this movie though.

It was a fun little movie. I don't think it has leapt to the "favorite movie" type status for me like it is on Brandy's list, but it was fun as long as you didn't think about it all that much. College kid has some spy adventures, and in the end the little games he plays on campus give him skills he needs to help foil the bad guys.

It is a cute little movie. Worth watching. We watched it on a laptop though. Probably should have watched it on the projector. BUt Amy was busy using that to watch something else. Anyway, fun little movie.


Abulsme - Wed, 27 Dec 2006, 12:35:15 PST
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Tue 26 Dec 2006

DVD: The Forgotten

Over the weekend we watched Brandy's current Netflix movie, The Forgotten. The summary and such is all at that link, so I won't repeat it. We watched the extended version with alternate ending that the DVD provides. Then we went back and watched the original theatrical ending. Brandy and I both liked the alternate version better.

In any case, this (unlike Eragon) was a good movie and worth watching. I would recommend a rental. Basically a light action/suspense flick that has some emotional tension in it. Nothing earth shattering, but a good movie for a rainy weekend. It was fun. The people ran around. There was suspense. There was an X-Files type theme. It worked.

We particularly liked the people getting sucked into the sky. That was cool.


Abulsme - Tue, 26 Dec 2006, 17:21:43 PST
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Mon 25 Dec 2006

Can't Escape the Swirlies



As of early on the 25th (UTC).


Abulsme - Mon, 25 Dec 2006, 21:10:06 PST
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Sun 24 Dec 2006

Blue Trees, Smiling at Me



Nothing but Blue Trees, Do I See!


Abulsme - Sun, 24 Dec 2006, 17:46:24 PST
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Memorial


Abulsme - Sun, 24 Dec 2006, 15:05:24 PST
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Cinema: Eragon

After Amy's last concert last weekend we decided to go to a movie. I knew Eragon had just come out, and was thinking "dragon movie, cool". We were coming from Everett, so the first thought was to go to the nice movie theater in downtown Bellevue on the way home. But once we turned off the highway I quickly realized this was a mistake. The traffic was horrible and there were hordes of people doing Christmas shopping. I started to get a little wigged out by all the unexpected masses of people. (I'm fine in Manhattan and such, cause it is expected, but here I was thinking a nice quiet afternoon movie, and that was not what was happening, so I wanted to go elsewhere.)

So we ended up going to a movie theater closer to home, but not as nice, and not quite as crouded. Then they started the previews several minutes early. I had timed a trip to the bathroom to make it back just in time. It was just the commercials at the beginning, they hadn't even gotten to the first actual preview yet. But it annoyed me. If you say you are going to start at a certain time, you need to start at that time.

Then it went downhill from there. The actual movie started with a narrator giving an overview of the history leading up to the start of the movie. During that Amy started talking about one of the actresses and some movie she had been in before, so I missed some of the narration. By this time I was already in a bad mood, so I decided I didn't want to see the movie any more, cause I'd missed about 15 seconds of the intro. But Brandy wouldn't let me leave. Then there were several other distracting episodes too, but by that time I was just mad, and not really thinking about the movie any more.

Meanwhile, it didn't help that the movie itself was really really bad. Bad dialog. Bad acting. Obvious rip offs of other movies. (Although from my understanding, although I have not read it, this is true of the book too.) You never got to caring about any of the characters at all. And I dare say, even if I hadn't already been in a bad mood ready to trash it even if it was the best movie of the century, I still would have thought it was bad. The dragon... I didn't like her voice at all. Didn't match. Didn't work for me.

Anyway, if it is still in the theaters, definately don't waste any cash on Eragon. Maybe wait for DVD if you are really bored one night and have nothing else to do.

OK, maybe that is all a BIT harsh, I was in a really bad pissy mood at the time I saw the movie. So maybe it actually was a good movie. But I'm thinking no.


Abulsme - Sun, 24 Dec 2006, 12:22:35 PST
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Concerts





Last weekend and the weekend before, Amy had concerts. They both went well. There was supposed to be another concert in between, but Amy was sick for that one, so didn't go.

There are no concerts this weekend. No more practices either until January.

Amy is having a sleepover at a friend's house instead.


Abulsme - Sun, 24 Dec 2006, 04:29:15 PST
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Thu 21 Dec 2006

TSO



A little over two weeks ago we went to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. It was a blast. I had a lot of fun. The first half got a little slow at times, but the second half just kept cranking. If you happen to be in the mood for a Rock / Classical / Christmas fusion combined with a kick ass light show, then you definately should check out a TSO concert. They put on a very good show. There are still shows left on their current tour including in New Jersey, Connecticut, and DC to name a few areas where I know I have blog readers.

Also, at the end the whole group sat outside at a table and stayed until everybody who wanted to meet them and get autographs and such had done so. It was late, and we were tired, but we waited in line and eventually Amy got to meet all of them and get a t-shirt and a program autographed by everybody. She was so excited.

It was a good night.


Abulsme - Thu, 21 Dec 2006, 00:00:42 PST
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Tue 19 Dec 2006

Lux Reduxing

OK, we're at Denny's now, but I can see on my webcam that the power is back already. Hooray!


Abulsme - Tue, 19 Dec 2006, 22:11:35 PST
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Antilux Redux

And here we were getting all smug. We had our power back after 18 hours. Meanwhile a quarter million folks still had nothing.

So of course a few minutes ago the power went out again. In the distance we heard a huge pop as some transformer (or something) exploded.

So it will probably be a bit before the power comes back again.

We're going out to get ice cream.


Abulsme - Tue, 19 Dec 2006, 21:04:21 PST
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Fri 15 Dec 2006

18 Hours

Power came back on at 02:50:29 UTC (minus the time it took my computer to reboot). So it was out almost exactly 18 hours. Not too bad at all. Woo! It is good to have tricity again!

Just a couple other notes about the storm though...

In my last post I forgot to mention that on the way home, as I was crossing the bridge on the interstate in the poring rain, my wipers stopped working and I couldn't see a thing. Not even two inches in front of me, let alone more. I drove the rest of the way across the bridge poking my head out the window every few seconds to make sure I was not going to hit anything, and going 20 miles per hour with my blinkers on. It was quite nerve-racking. In any case, I got to the other side of the bridge, got pulled over onto a side street, and then was able to fix my wipers... they had hit each other and gotten jammed such that playing with the controls inside the car hadn't been able to free them. Then I went the rest of the way home.

Tonight as I left work I knew I needed gas. I went past my normal exit by a bit to the next gas station. No electricity. Closed. Went back in the other direction where I had seen an open station... but with a huge line. I ended up waiting in line at the gas station almost an hour to fill up my tank. I just finally got home, an hour and a half after leaving work.

But the lights are on. Woo!


Abulsme - Fri, 15 Dec 2006, 20:00:34 PST
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We are the Bringers of Wind

For those who may have been heading about the wind storm in this part of the country last night (article here)... we are indeed fine. Like about a million other people, we have no power. The fence separating the house we are renting from the neighbors also partially fell down, and we have some fallen and in danger of falling branches on trees, but that is about it.

Apperantly this is the worst wind the area has seen since at least 1993, and perhaps 1962. Of course, after 2004 and 2005 in Florida, we just lift up our heads and go "Ha!" cause this is nothing compared to any of the storms that brushed us then. But it is still going to be a major pain. Judging by the last thumbnail from my webcam which was uploaded to abulsme.com the power went out within five minutes of 08:48:53 UTC this morning. Which means so far it has been out about 11 hours. The news is saying it might be around a week before everyone has power back.

Right now Brandy's biggest worry is our skink Mike, who is of course cold-blooded and will not do well at all if the temperature in the house falls much below 65 and stays there. And if we are without power for days, the temperature may well fall into the 40's or below in the house before we're done. The two remaining birds will also have difficulty in the cold. So we'll have to resolve those things.

Anyway, I got into work today... two hours late or so between talking to the neighbor about the fence and the tarffic caused by no traffic lights and one of the two bridges to Seattle from the Eastside being closed. I am now at work. Looks like about 50% made it in and the rest are trying to work from home if they have power. I've got some stuff to do, and will get onto it momentarily, but I thought I'd put the "we're OK" update for anybody checking in.


Abulsme - Fri, 15 Dec 2006, 11:40:02 PST
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Wed 13 Dec 2006

The James Kim Situation

I'm still a bit late on the blog punch, but while it was happening my eye was drawn to the James Kim events as they played out. I really didn't want to pay attention. I wanted to ignore it. But it resonated because of these days:

And some others that were not on random vacations and so I don't have the full story with pictures and dates and times posted... but more things like that... where I have gotten myself into potentially sticky situations... have happened, as I tend to really enjoy exploring areas off the beaten path, and it just happens sometimes when you do that. What James Kim did... take a interesting looking back road as a potential shortcut... is definately somehting I would do.

Now, I'd like to think that in each of those cases I was actually prepared and knew the risks and made sure that while I was in situations that if they went wrong could get unpleasant, would not actually become life threatening. That I was always close enough to help that if I got stranded I could easily get to somewhere and get appropriate help. I'd like to think that I'd not take that interesting back road through the mountains in the middle of the winter... that I'd know not to do that, even if it looked tempting. But... I could see myself maybe tempting fate.

The reality is that on any of those days I listed above, or on a few others, even on those trips, had the right series of things gone wrong, I would have been in deep trouble. Even aside from getting the car stuck in a ditch and such... for instance 19 May 2002.

Nothing went wrong. No bad things happened. But for the majority of the time I was alone, out of cellphone coverage, and over 40 miles from the nearest (tiny) town and fairly far from any roads that had regular traffic. If I had a flat tire or run out of gas (as almost happened), I would have been in trouble, but I know I could have gotten to help, as unpleasant and inconvienant as it would have been. I knew the way out, and it was walkable. And it was spring and I had a tent and a sleeping bag, so I probably wasn't going to freeze, even if I had to camp overnight (as I'd done earlier that trip when I got the truck stuck).

But... if while climbing the step hill/mountain my random spot was on I had sprained my ankle or broken my leg or something... then I would have been screwed. It would have been bad. And just a couple more bad pieces of luck on top of that could make it REALLY bad in a hurry. OK, several bad things would have had to happen, not just one... but still... those things do happen. The Kim's are proof of that. On any number of occations, things could have gotten to the point where my life was in danger.

I thought I was being slightly reckless enough to make it fun, but not so reckless as to actually make it dangerous. And every one of my random trips WAS very fun. I had a blast and miss doing that. But more carefullness is clearly in order.

I haven't done a random trip in awhile. And the presense of Brandy and Amy most likely being with me will certainly make the next trip a bit tamer, and we're a bit less likely to go trooping off into the jungle in search of the exact random spot as I might well do if I was alone or with Chad or something, but still...

Next time we do a trip... hopefully in 2007 to Quintana Roo... I think we are going to need to rent (or buy) one of these or perhaps one of these. Or maybe even both. They are expensive, but if one is going to be going off somewhere where if something happens someone isn't going to find you right away and you might not be able to call for help in normal ways... I'm thinking they might be good investments.


Abulsme - Wed, 13 Dec 2006, 16:30:39 PST
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Sun 10 Dec 2006

Iraq Report Thoughts

Yes, I am a few days late... I wanted to get those other two post out, and the next few.. in the order I originally thought of them... to catch up as it were... so that of course means several posts are being posted days after they were relevant, and after many others have also said things, so they just don't have the same oompf as if I'd posted them the instant I thought of them, which I probably should have done. For instance, I started reading the Iraq report the hour it was released, and thought of what I was going to say here that same hour, but just didn't post it, until now, days later, when it is stupid, but what the hell, I'll post it anyway, even though at this point many people have said similar things. Too bad, I'll say it anyway.

Anyway... I have not read the whole report. I wanted to do so the day it came out, but then I had other things to do both at work and at home, so I didn't. But even just starting, even on the very first pages, was a quote that told you everything you had to know. From the Executive Summary:

What we recommend in this report demands a tremendous amount of political will and cooperation by the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. It demands skillful implementation. It demands unity of effort by government agencies. And its success depends on the unity of the American people in a time of political polarization. Americans can and must enjoy the right of robust debate within a democracy. Yet U.S. foreign policy is doomed to failure—as is any course of action in Iraq—if it is not supported by a broad, sustained consensus.
And that ladies and gentlemen is all you have to know. Because if that is what is required, then the rest of the report is completely irrelevant. They just stated up front that it is impossible in the current climate to do what would in their opinion need to be done. There is no consensus. There will be no consensus in the near future. Any plan that requires it is nothing but a futile intellectual exercise. Let alone "skillful implementation". Ha! We're done here. No need to read any more of the report.


Abulsme - Sun, 10 Dec 2006, 19:11:00 PST
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Sat 09 Dec 2006

Cinema: Happy Feet

A couple of weekends ago now we went to see Happy Feet. I'd been wanting to see it since I saw the first trailer for it. It looked really cute. And well... it was cute. There were a few points where I was like "Hey, that doesn't make sense!" But then I remembered... it is a movie about singing penguins. And, when you have happy singing and dancing penguins, can you really complain about little plot holes here and there? No, not really. Just look at the happy singing dancing penguins and shut up.

I had fun though. Liked the movie a decent bit. I must say it didn't quite live up to expectations. But it was fun. I might even see this one again someday. But not this year.


Abulsme - Sat, 9 Dec 2006, 14:38:05 PST
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Thu 07 Dec 2006

Book: The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: Volume II

Author: Jefferson Davis
Started: 10 Jul 2006
Finished: 18 Nov 2006
662p / 102d
6 p/d

The Amazon listing linked from the cover picture doesn't say it explicitly and has the wrong cover shown, but if you look at the search inside the book you can tell it is indeed Volume 2. Anyway... I finished Volume I in November 2005. I had really enjoyed it, and this summer decided it was time to read Volume II. Volume I was about the time leading up to the Civil War, and a lot of time was spent on Davis's analysis of the legal and constitutional underpinnings of his view of state's rights and of the right to succession. And then continuing with a chronology of the actual succession of the various Southern states, the formation of the confederacy, the drafting of the confederate constitution, the events which led up to the start of hostilities, etc. I found all of this exceptionally fascinating. Looking at all of these things from a viewpoint that is rarely given these days.

Volume II was interesting, but no where near as much so. It was mostly about the war itself. Battles and troop movements and the ebb and flow of the war effort itself. To some, this would be the interesting part. To me, this was the least interesting aspect of the entire affair. There was a bit more of the philosophical stuff in this one, and toward the end some very interesting aspects about the beginnings of the reconstruction period and the workings of the initial Federal occupation and clamp down on the former Confederate states. But whereas MOST of the previous volume was related to these aspects that I found extremely compelling to read about, in this volume it was in the minority, and was overwhelmed by the nitty gritty of the war itself.

Even in these portions I learned quite a bit, not having done any extensive study of the civil war in the past. And it was interesting... just not as interesting to me. It was definitely worth reading for completeness. But if you had to pick just one of these two volumes, Volume I would be the one to pick.


Abulsme - Thu, 7 Dec 2006, 20:41:34 PST
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Wed 06 Dec 2006

Today's Lesson

That whole thing about what assuming makes? Yup. Gotta remember never to assume anything and always make sure everything is explicit. I keep learning that but eventually forgetting it again. Can't ever forget that.

Thats it for now.

Sometime in the next few days I have to catch up on some posting. I have one book I finished and one movie I saw that I haven't posted about yet. And I should do more ancestors soon too. Not to mention other things that might be worth commenting on... for instance... it looks like Roscoe has learned the "and now bring it back" part of "Fetch".


Abulsme - Wed, 6 Dec 2006, 13:31:18 PST
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Mon 04 Dec 2006

Five Bad Weeks

It has been a really bad five weeks. Starting with what happened with Zuri which had me in very horrible frame of mind which I am still working to get over. These last five weeks I have been sadder and angrier and meaner and less patient than I remember being in many years. I think it is almost over though. Five weeks is enough. Meanwhile, almost as soon as that happened, Brandy got sick. Then Brandy broke her leg. Then this last week I've been sick. It has been a bad five weeks.

Of course, then I remember that right before that five weeks I had a kidney stone episode. And right before that we found out my Saturn is dying. And right before that some one bumped into Brandy's car in a parking lot while I was in it waiting for her to come out of a store. (No serious damage.) Literally the day before that someone dented my Saturn in a different parking lot while Brandy was driving. (It was the mom of one of Amy's schoolmates... we know her.) And a week before that, someone smashed in the window of Brandy's car and stole her purse while she was at a school rummage sale within sight of the car.

And come to think of that, before that we had months of tension about selling the house.

And going back almost a year, there was all that nonsense in Florida.

Come to think of it, it has been a bad couple of years.

All in all, though, I am now at a job I enjoy and can grow in, we are now in a decent house that we like in a decent neighborhood, money is no longer a major day to day concern, either through my previous employer faling to meet any of their commitments like last year, or through maintaining two households like the first part of this year. Amy is in a school she loves, and she is doing very well.

MOST things are going very well and the trends are all in good directions.

But there have been some very hard bumps and bruises along the way. And the last five weeks has for me very tough in terms of those personal at home things. But I can see the sky again now I think.

And I really really hope the next five weeks... hell, the next five months... the next five years... are all up trend all the way. Well, at least mostly. I don't need any more months like the last month please.


Abulsme - Mon, 4 Dec 2006, 13:10:10 PST
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Sun 03 Dec 2006

Musical Day



Saturday was a musical day in the Minonagony household. The morning had us getting up early (for a weekend) to get Amy to a church in Everett where her chorus was singing for a "Lady's Tea" at some church up there. It is their first public performance of the season and somewhat of a warmup. I took this picture and was busy trying and failing to post about it from my Treo and so intent on trying to figure out why it wasn't working (never did figure that out) that I didn't notice at all when the music suddently stopped mid-phrase and there was a gasp and a commotion as a parent ran up to retrieve her daughter who had just fainted on stage. It was not Amy. After a few minutes of everybody composing themselves they started over at the beginning of that song.

After that, we raced back down to Seattle to the University of Washington. The bass teacher we had taken Amy to didn't quite know what to think or how to approach the task of teacher her after her first lesson with him, so had arranged for her to be seen by HIS teacher, a professor of Music at the UW. So we got there just in time, only to be the only ones there. Both the teacher and the professor ended up being about 30 minutes late. When they got there they took Amy and asked Brandy and I to leave. So we went and got coffee while Amy had a one hour session with the Professor. Apparently she did pretty well other than her usual 11 year old attention span and taking it seriously issues. They are going to consult with each other and get back to us on what they think the best approach to continuing her bass education will be. The Professor is also going to try to get us set up with the Seattle Youth Orchestra, which Brandy had sent email to over the summer but who never answered us. Since Amy doesn't have an orchestra at her school (too small) it is important to have an actual outlet to perform... it gives a direction to lessons and practice and such.

Anyway, musical day.


Abulsme - Sun, 3 Dec 2006, 14:26:33 PST
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Fri 01 Dec 2006

Award to the Father



I'm a little bit late getting this out, but a couple of weeks ago my father, William Minter, was given the "Bud Day Award" by the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. Congratulations to him!


Abulsme - Fri, 1 Dec 2006, 12:19:35 PST
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