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So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Where's the Romance?

As Brenda C. pointed out earlier today, I have a romance novel to read. This is true. I'm just not sure it's the one I'm currently reading (The Enchanted Land by Jude Deveraux).

Here's the story so far: Morgan is a young woman who was raised on a country estate in Kentucky by her mother (who abandoned Morgan's father while all three lived in New Mexico). Both of Morgan's parents are dead and in order for her to inherit the country estate her father has laid down two stipulations. Stipulation the first: She must get married. The second: she and her husband must live in New Mexico for at least one year. If this is done by the time Morgan turns 25 (several years in the future), she wins. Otherwise everything goes to an uncle.

Okay, so there are some possibilities here: the uncle tries to thwart her plans, she can't find a man, etc. Well, except for the "etc." the possibilities are wrapped up by chapter two: she finds a man, Seth, who will give her his name and move to N.M. for one year in exchange for $25,000. As she is now married, the uncle disappears from the scene. All conflict in the story derives from the fact that Morgan intends to have the marriage annulled at the end of the year. Seth agreed to the arrangement confident that Morgan would change her mind once she saw how hunky he is.

Now I'm 20% of the way through and have just read three chapters of Morgan vacillating on her attitude toward Seth. He's so hunky ... but mama warned me about men ... but he's soooo hunky ... but .... Seth is also by turns hot and cold toward Morgan: you're a tease ... you're a bitca* ... oooh, baby baby ... you're a whore .... We're halfway to New Mexico (not that we experience any of travelogue along the way, just Morgan and Seth moping about each other) and finally there's a rival for Seth, the more-wealthy and possibly-even-hunkier Joachin. Now Morgan is continuing to fall for Seth (despite Joachin's influence), but Seth is behaving badly because of his jealousy re: Joachin.

Chapter six opens with Morgan asking their trailhand, "Jake, what's a whore?"

Is this typical of Romance novels? Are all heroines so bipolar: supremely confident yet insanely naive? Are all plots so free of conflict and what conflict they do have neglects to involve consequences for failure (i.e., actual stakes)? Sure Morgan and Seth are all conflicted, but so what? If she maintains her "strictly business" position she gets the Kentucky estate. If she and Seth do get together she gets Seth and the Kentucky estate. She wins either way, or am I as a reader supposed to hope she will cave and see hunky Seth for all he has to offer her (which so far just seems to be sex) and get all squirmy when it looks like maybe she won't. Is that what passes for "well-written" romance? Is that's what expected of me as a romance reader?

As part of the Read-a-Romance challenge, Brenda read Misery by Stephen King. She didn't like it. Fair enough. Personally, I'd like to read a romance that I'd like, and so far this book ain't it. Having picked this somewhat by random, I have little problem picking another. As this book is 25 years old, maybe it's too far out of "contemporary" to be relevant to goals of the challenge.

So, if this is a typical romance, I'll go on. If not, I've found a copy of Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts, which Kirkus Reviews describes as "a gumbo seasoned with ghosts, love, and murder on the bayou." It was published in 2001. Nora's sounds like something more up my street, but maybe it's atypical. Maybe romance is all "his breath quickening" and "tingling down the backs of her thighs." Maybe ghosts and murder and gumbo have no place in romance.

So, Brenda, what dost thou say? Shall I switch to a book that I expect I won't entirely hate or continue with one that pretty much confirms my prejudices against the genre? Or, if anyone's read this book, does it get better? Are there actual conflicts. Are there ever any consequences dealt to Morgan. Should I keep reading it and once I fall in love with the genre give Nora's book a go? Lemme know in the comments.

*(as spelled by Willow Rosenberg on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) "She's such a bee-eye-tee-cee-ai" (at which point Mr. Giles cut in and told her she's old enough not to have to spell such words and Xander Harris said, "Bitca?")

Mikesell : 3:47 PM : 4 snarky remarks

When Everyone's Super ...

You wind up with lame heroes like this:

Name:  Vektor Protektor
Power(s):  Odor generation, Empathy, Gravity control
Source of powers:  Mutant vampirism
Weapon:  Flaming Hubcap
Transportation:  Protektor Phone Booth

Yes, that's what I wound up with when I visited Lee's (Useless) Super-Hero Generator. I am the Vektor Protektor. Why the vektors need protecting I don't know. Perhaps the raster graphics (or maybe the rasta' graphics) are attacking. I hope not, that would be worrisome. Oops, went off on a tangent there for a secant. Didn't mean to do that. (math puns are fun, but I better stop now or I won't have any friends left who might cosine on a loan for me.)

I must say I dig my powers. It's like The Spleen with Jedi Mind Powers. Whatta deal. And my Dr. Who knockoff transport? Very retro.

Thanks to WinXPnews for calling my attention to the superhero generator.

Mikesell : 12:39 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Big Oh-Five

At 10:19 this morning Phil turned five years old*. Before heading off to Pre-K we measured him on his wall chart: a hair under 3'6". That's twice the height he was when born.

Highlights of the day include:

Pre-K party
Pearl Street Ice Cream Parlor luncheon with parents
SharkBoy and LavaGirl in 3-D
Camp fiesta with fellow birthday-sharer, Clover
We still have presents to open this evening after campfire. Look for pix tomorrow.

*That's 28% of the way to an empty nest, in case you thought I was no longer keeping score.

Mikesell : 9:49 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Monday, June 27, 2005

First Day of Summer (Camp)

Today was the first full day of our summer camp season. "The Stitches" are filling in this week as "camp nurse" and their daughters "Skippy" and "Braidy" are with them. This is their sixth summer with us. Phil looks forward to their visits (as do Dina and I).

Here are some pictures from today:And my favorite pic of the day:

Mikesell : 10:57 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Popular Pictures

I've noticed from my blogstats that a few pictures are fairly popular with searches via Google Images. Some of them are easy to explain, like those with "naughty" keywords (I hope they go away disappointed, but I'm thankful they at least go away), or searches for "Phil Jackson" like this one instead of the slightly more-popular basketball coach.

But these two searches baffle me: "Phil Tangerine" and "Shark Phil".

It's not that they're not nice pictures, I just would like to know why they're so popular (or maybe I don't).

Mikesell : 1:18 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Phil's Party: Part 4

With Cupcakes out of the way, the only thing left to do was open presents. Fortunately, Phil's guests brought some along (we mentioned several times to Phil that his "friends" were his "guests" at the party and that he needed to be a good "host"; he did a pretty good job of not being bossy or bragging about his party), so that greatly enhanced this part of the evening.After Phil got his presents there was a little more sand time, then gift bags were disbursed, Phil's guests got to choose a sand toy to take home and all that was left was the clean-up.

All-in-all, the party-with-no-discernable-theme was a success. We're considering taking a break from the big party for a year or two. I'm still exhausted from last night.

Maybe by the time he turns ten I'll have recuperated....

*Two things you can tell from this picture: 1) I am not yet going bald; 2) I did not take the picture -- Dina did, in case you were wondering where she was.

Mikesell : 4:46 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Phil's Party: Part 3

The cupcakes I got for the party are nothing like the cupcakes I had for my birthdays when I was a kid. You know, the kind with the Duncan Hines frosting on top and bald spots where the knife spread it too thinly. No these had about an inch of frosting with the color airbrushed on (using food coloring that permanently stains your skin). Consequently you could still recognize partygoers from back in the day after the cupcakes were gone. Phil's guests looked like they had just wandered through Stan Winston's creature effects studio.

But first:And then, better living through processed sugar and mysterious food dyes:

Mikesell : 2:49 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Phil's Party: Part 2

While the beach was open all evening (until about 8:05 when I announced "the sand is now closed"), it was busiest during the time between Food and Cupcakes. Most of these pictures come from then, but a few are from before or after. Which are which? Well, to be honest, in all the excitement I kind of forgot myself....

Mikesell : 1:22 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Phil's Party: Part 1

There are a bunch of pictures to get through here, so I figured I'd split them up into four parts: Food, Beach, Cupcakes, Presents -- which is pretty much how the evening went (except for Tom Griffith whose experience was more along the lines of Food, Food, Cupcakes, Food, with a smattering of 20Q after the second Food).

The party started around 6:30 and a goodly-sized group had amassed by 6:45, so it was time to open the Big Sandwiches (a 3-foot cold-cut-only and a 4-foot cold-cut+veggies). At 6:46 I realized I hadn't brought down the plates and napkins, so things didn't really get under way until 6:50-ish. We were left with about a foot left of each big sandwich (after sending some home to husbands who had to work Sunday night). Mini-packs of Pringles and Chex Mix accompanied the sandwich; two flavors of Capri Sun (Red Berry and Mountain Cooler) were also available (I include this info for the sake of those playing along at home, not to demonstrate the nutrution-free qualities of the meal).

Here's some of what that looked like:

Mikesell : 11:53 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Turn Out The Lights, The Party's Over

Phil had his 5th birthday party this evening. A handful of friends from church came out to the lake. We ate "big sandwich" from Subway and store-bought cupcakes; even so, I'm burnt out.

Photos were taken. Come back tomorrow and see 'em.

Mikesell : 1:14 AM : 3 snarky remarks

Friday, June 24, 2005

To the Parents of Philip’s Party Pals:

(This is the instruction sheet I'm handing out to partygoing parents. In the event I've given you one and you lose it, here it is online. If you didn't receive one, you probably didn't receive an invitation, either; draw your own conclusions.)

First off, thanks for being willing to make the trek out to Triangle Lake. Here are a few tips to make your evening a pleasant one:
  1. Go potty before you leave home. We’re about 20 miles west of Junction City, and the only public facilities between there and here is a port-a-potty at a park just past the Noti exit.

  2. Remember the Dramamine. The road gets curvy at times. We’re going to pump your kid(s) as full of sugar as possible. If you value your upholstery, take the appropriate precautions.

  3. Enjoy the drive. There are reasons we’re glad to come into Eugene as often as we do. Cabin fever is one of them. The scenery on the way is another.

  4. Watch out for cars entering the highway. Hwy. 36 is having a 52-mile-long garage sale this weekend, beginning today. Traffic may be heavier than usual. Cars may enter – or leave – the highway at unexpected moments. Check with your insurance agent and make sure your policy is paid up before heading out.
Dinner is “big sandwich” from Subway. Mmmmm … big.

Please dress your kid(s) in clothes that can get sandy. The lake is too cold to swim in enjoyably (come back in August), so bathing suits aren’t necessary, but if the warm weather holds we’ll be down at the waterfront. If you get halfway here and realize you forgot this isn’t a “formal” party, feel free to stop and buy a change of clothes from one of the yard sales. The society page from the paper has said they’re not sending a photographer, so don’t worry about appearances.

How to get here:
With Clear Lake closed, the easiest way is to head toward Junction City on Hwy. 99 (take the exit off Beltline at Jerry’s). Just before you reach Junction City, Hwy. 36 takes off to the left (at the first signalized intersection after you pass the airport area). We’re at milepost __*. If the weather is nice, look for a sign on the left side of the road (the “lake” side). If the weather is not so nice, the sign will be on the right side of the road (the “not the ‘lake’ side” side). We’ll try to make it as obvious as possible, but with all the yard sale signs on the road it may take a pass or two before you notice it (if you get to the ______*, you’ve just passed us; if you get to Florence, enjoy the sunset because we’re not saving any big sandwich for you).

Drive safe and see you 6:30-ish.

*excised to prevent party-crashing and stalkers

Mikesell : 2:06 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Eight Minutes to Spare

Between VBS and prepping for Phil's party tomorrow, I've been busy all day long. It just dawned on me that I never posted a blog entry today.

I think I'll stay up another few minutes and write another lame entry for tomorrow, just in case things get out of hand at la fiesta and I forget.

Mikesell : 1:51 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Phil and VBS

This week our church is holding Vacation Bible School. I'm running the soundboard and video screens -- and mooching high-speed wireless when not otherwise busy.

Phil's having fun, too.

I brought the camera along today so y'all could share in the experience, as well.The man who oversees the kitchen at church is "Big Phil" Johnson. He made these olive/egg/carrot penguins as a centerpiece for the snack table. Everybody has fun at VBS, even the cooks.

Mikesell : 6:56 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Helpful Hint

Are you more frustrated by the Peg Game than you were with the Monday that sent you in search of some diversion?

Googling "ripley* iq game solution" provides a couple methods of solving the puzzle.

Curiously, although the first two entries (at least when I googled) followed different routes, the final "peg" was in a fuchsia-colored square. Hmmmm.

(BTW my basketball high score is now 16.)

Mikesell : 9:02 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

TXPTLMS #7: Puget Sound on the Fourth of July

Top Ten Places That Leave Me Slackjawed
  1. Yosemite
  2. Whiskeytown Dam
  3. Santa Cruz Giant Redwoods
  4. Disneyland
  5. California Palace of the Legion of Honor
  6. South Dakota During a Thunderstorm
  7. Puget Sound on the Fourth of July
Several years ago (and since Phil wasn't with us, it must've been at least six), Dina and I went to Seattle on July 4, known locally as Independence Day. The highlight of the evening is always fireworks, and Seattle didn't disappoint. There was nothing remarkable about the fireworks display, mind you. The fighter jet that flew overhead was a nice touch, but the "bombs bursting in air" were routine, albeit spectacular.

No, the jawdropping thing about the evening was the fireworks "show" going on across the Sound. Dina and I had a vantage point on top of one of the parking garages for KeyArena* (home of the Seattle Storm). From there we could see fireworks going off over on Bainbridge Island. It really looked like cannonfire across the water.

I'm not a Revolutionary War buff. I know the good guys won and that's enough for me. But for a half hour or so it was possible to ignore the modern city we were in and imagine looking back two-hundred-plus years to see the battle for independence taking place.

If you're in the States this July 4th, try and find yourself near a large body of water at night. Check out what's happening on the far side. It might be quite astounding.

*KeyArena is the large two-toned rectangle on the upper-left quadrant of the satellite image. We would've been on top the slightly-smaller rectangle in the lower-left quadrant, perpendicular to the arena. The Space Needle is in the lower-right quadrant. To see the names of other things in the picture, switch from Satellite to Map, by clicking the "Map" link in the upper-right corner of the linked page.

Mikesell : 9:23 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, June 20, 2005

Monday: The Vengeance

Actually, my Monday's not going so bad. The MediaShout computer only died once at VBS this morning and I found out adults get free food. What a deal for me.

But maybe your Monday's a bummer. Here're four ways to distract yourself until quitting time (if you're on the East Coast, you should've left five minutes ago. If you're still working, you need to play one of these now!)
  1. Variation on the old jump-a-peg game

  2. Trashcan B-Ball (my best is 11)

  3. Lite-Brite

  4. The old Nintendo "Duck Hunt"

Don't forget to fill out your TPS reports.

Source: 1) thanks to recent visitor Nancy French, 2 & 3) courtesy WinXPnews, 4) via digg.com

Mikesell : 4:05 PM : 4 snarky remarks

Happy Half-Birthday to Me

Yay! I turn 36-1/2 today. Six months until the big three-seven.

Today is also my kid sister's birthday. She turns 32. Happy birthday, Sarah.

Mikesell : 3:49 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Sunday, June 19, 2005

TXPTLMS #6: South Dakota During a Thunderstorm

Top Ten Places That Leave Me Slackjawed
  1. Yosemite
  2. Whiskeytown Dam
  3. Santa Cruz Giant Redwoods
  4. Disneyland
  5. California Palace of the Legion of Honor
  6. South Dakota During a Thunderstorm
Prologue: When I was in high school, my parents thought it would be a grand idea to take a road trip from San Jose to Flint, Mich. Now I can't imagine a roadtrip from anywhere to Flint being all that great an idea, but San Jose?! Come on! Nevertheless, my folks packed themselves, the four kids, and my Alzheimers-proximal grandmother into a Sunrader RV* and hit the trail. I spent most of the trip lying on the floor reading. Occasionally I'd get up, look out the window, comment on the corn, and lay back down again. Still, we did see some cool things on the trip: today's entry, for instance, and a few more items yet to come.

Now maybe unimpressive cornfields and wheatfields and ryefields and whatnot left me a poor judge of scenery or maybe it was the endless smell of feet, but the night we spent at the Safari Red Arrow Camping Ranch in Rapid City, S.D.**, was amazing. A thunderstorm blew into the neighborhood and set off a light show like nothing I've seen since. Forget Frampton. Forget Pink Floyd at the planetarium. This was the light show to end all light shows. (right now there's thunder rumbling outside, but it's pretty weak and there's no visible lightning to go with it -- stupid Oregon.)

I remember watching the storm light up the sky from the rec room at the RV park. The walls had long windows, providing a panoramic view of the lightning against bruise-colored clouds. Cheap insulation ensured unobstructed volume for the thunder. It was quite a night.

I can't remember if my sisters were in the rec room or were cowering in the RV. If they were there, I was probably tormenting them (and since I usually remember tormenting them, they probably weren't. When we were at a park in Flint the tornado-warning sirens started up. As we headed for the car, I spun around as I ran announcing, "It's a twister! It's a twister!" while they cried. Good times.)

In the Meteorology For Credit course I took in college, they said such storms are common on the Plains. It's almost enough to make me consider thinking about the possibility of maybe perhaps visiting there again. Almost.

*The photo is not of our Sunrader; I appropriated it from elsewhere on the Web. Ours had both cabover windows intact, but lacked the a/c unit on the roof (we just had a little crank-open vent).

**I checked with my folks to find this out as I wasn't paying attention at the time. My best guess would've been Nebraska, which, while close, would have been wrong.

Mikesell : 9:39 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Double Dog Dared

Over on her blog "No Rules. Just Right.", Brenda Coulter challenged non-Romance readers to give one a try. In exchange, she'd read books of our choosing. I picked Jude Deveraux's The Enchanted Land as my poison. I dared her to read Stephen King's Misery.

Due to an unfortunate incident involving Philip, a squirt gun, and my copy of Steve Martin's Shopgirl, I found myself confronting these words this evening:
When they were apart it was a wilderness.
When they were together it was...
     The Enchanted Land
The story of a woman who could not be conquered,
A love that was never forsaken,
And a land that will not be forgotten.

(inside cover synopsis for The Enchanted Land)
Somebody fan me, I've got the vapors.

<sheesh>

Mikesell : 12:59 AM : 9 snarky remarks

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Check, Please

Well, not much to post here today. I'm working on the next Slackjawed Moment, so stay tuned over the weekend.

Or at least come back on Monday.

While you're here, though, check this out over on the Works-In-Progress blog.

I do a cautious happy dance of joy.

Mikesell : 12:23 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Friday, June 17, 2005

TXPTLMS #5: California Palace of the Legion of Honor

Top Ten Places That Leave Me Slackjawed
  1. Yosemite
  2. Whiskeytown Dam
  3. Santa Cruz Giant Redwoods
  4. Disneyland
  5. California Palace of the Legion of Honor

Fast Fact: I hate museums.

Slightly-Slower Fact: Being from San Jose, I disdain San Francisco and its snooty, better-than-the-South-Bay ways.

Uncomfortable Reckoning: I love the California Palace of the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco.

Usually when I go to a museum, I wander around looking at the art briefly and then move on. Lots of nice things to see, but rarely does it have any impact. The Legion of Honor isn't like that. For me, it's like Yosemite again. A pinecone in Yosemite isn't just a pinecone, it's a Yosemite pinecone. I have a piece of granite that I picked up while "grooming a trail" in the park. To you it may look like any other rock you've ever seen. To me it's more.

The art at the Legion of Honor is like that, too.

A Rembrandt at another museum is a nice painting, but I can stare at Joris de Caulerii at the Palace of Honor for five, ten minutes before moving on to the next piece (be sure to zoom in to appreciate the detail: the skin looks like skin, the armor looks like armor, the snozzberries look like snozzberries--okay, strike that last one).

The thing that dropped my jaw the first time Dina and I visited the museum was really the first thing we found out about the museum itself. As you enter the museum, you pass through a long courtyard with a statue of Rodin's Thinker (which is cool in its own right), then you enter and buy/present your ticket for admission. As we were transacting this business, a tour guide took a group through and pointed up at the marble ceiling, commented on how great it looked ... and then said it was fake. "What?! Stucco?!" we all thought. Actually, it's cloth painted to look like marble camoflauging the pipes of a huge pipe organ. From that moment on I was prepared to find surprises everywhere I looked. And while I never encountered anything quite as cool as the fake marble ceiling, I discovered that art can be given more than a cursory glance ... even in San Francisco.

My favorite painting in the museum is Michel-Francois Dandre-Bardon's Diana and Endymion. I love the pre-Art Deco look of the moon and the overall lighting of the piece. Diana seems to have left her shirt at the laundromat, so sensitive viewers beware.

And while my reverse snobbery prevents me from listing "The Cit-ay" itself as a jawdropper, the first skyline view when driving north on the Bayshore at night is quite impressive.

Mikesell : 12:35 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Boy of Summer

Dina picked Phil up a T-Ball set the other day. It stopped raining long enough this afternoon for us to go out and get some use out of it.

Here's a picture.

Mikesell : 8:29 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

TXPTLMS #4: Disneyland

Top Ten Places That Leave Me Slackjawed
  1. Yosemite
  2. Whiskeytown Dam
  3. Santa Cruz Giant Redwoods
  4. Disneyland

Although I grew up in California, Disneyland was at the wrong end of the state for my family to visit more than once a year (if that) on IBM Family Day. Still, it was a trip I looked forward to ... a lot.

Frontier Village was the theme park I grew up with in San Jose. Then Marriott's Great America (now Paramount's Great America) came along and FV was gone not too long after that. Even with Great America nearby, and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk not too far away (I have vague memories of Santa's Village in Scotts Valley), Disneyland was still the place to go.

I'm sure there are marketing analysis on why Disneyland causes the slackjaw effect, but for me it's because the park was more than just rides ... the rides were destinations in themselves. You want to ride bumper cars or a carousel, but you want to go to The Haunted Mansion or Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. This was in part, I'm sure, due to the fact that there were travel posters for the various attractions as you entered the park.

Then, park map in hand, you'd plan out your route (actually, you began planning out your route on the 10-hour car ride down to Anaheim, but you'd go through it again once you got the map). And then you were off, hurrying to wait in lines that snaked endlessly toward the final turnstile. Fortunately Disneyland did a good job of keeping you distracted as the lines moved forward 1-4 riders at a time, especially in the long-wait lines at The Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain (this has become high art with rides like Star Tours and The Indiana Jones Adventure).

I've been to Walt Disney World, and I can understand if you're from the south or east coast and the Magic Kingdom there enslackulates your jaw. I think the Fantasyland rides there are maybe better than those in California. But The Haunted Mansion isn't as good. The ride part of Pirates of the Caribbean isn't as good, either; although the queue area is better.

Disneyland is billed as the "Happiest Place on Earth" and the marketing hype mostly holds up. I'm anxiously awaiting the day Dina and I take Phil there for the first time. Will it awaken our childhood memories again? See it afresh through his eyes? Or will we balk at the prices and the lines and the heat and other people's rude brats? We've managed to keep the kvetching to a minimum since we've visited as adults. I think there's hope Disneyland will stay on the list of places that leave me slackjawed for years to come.

Mikesell : 11:27 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Where's the TXPTLMS?

I haven't forgotten. I'll get back to it tomorrow.

Here is something to keep you busy until then. (I've been in the 80% range thanks to imdb and tabbed browsing)

link via WinXPnews

Mikesell : 12:34 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Learning With Lutherans

Phil started a summer Pre-K program today at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Eugene. Two and a half hours, three days a week, hotdish optional. Phil enjoyed it. Here are some pix:It was nice to see another dad dropping off a kid this morning. He had a couple more little ones in tow, so he couldn't go frolicking through wildflowers with me. <Wheee!!!>

When I went by to pick Phil up, this was happening a couple blocks away (caution: suspenseful ellipsises, ellipsi, "..."s, whatever).

And Garrison Keillor made Lutheran neighborhoods sound so boring....

Mikesell : 9:52 PM : 0 snarky remarks

I'm So Confused

I just took the "What's Your Theological Worldview" quiz, and although I came out on top as how I expected (what with being a Free Methodist and all), I'm troubled by the central part of the graph.

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
75%
Emergent/Postmodern
64%
Neo orthodox
57%
Charismatic/Pentecostal
46%
Classical Liberal
43%
Fundamentalist
43%
Reformed Evangelical
39%
Roman Catholic
36%
Modern Liberal
21%
created with QuizFarm.com

43% Classic Liberal and 43% Fundamentalist?!?!?! How do I get any sleep at night? (oh yeah, the Halcion ... I'm also 43% psychotic)

Thanks Jordon Cooper for the link. (Jordon could use prayers, so whatever your Theological Worldview persuasion, keep him in mind next time you light a candle, put on your prayer shawl, kneel beside your bed, etc.)

Mikesell : 8:16 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Monday, June 13, 2005

Movie Meme

Thank you eversomuch Linda for passing this along:

Total number of DVDs/VHS tapes I own: about 150 (and maybe 50 "official" VHS movies)

The last film I bought: Clue (though I've since bought the Billy Joel Essential Video Collection as birthday gift for a nephew)

The last film I watched: Robots

Five films I watch a lot or mean a lot to me:
  1. The Buffy Series
  2. The Firefly Series
  3. Pee-Wee's Playhouse vol. 1
  4. The Philadelphia Story (which I have on VHS but would like on DVD)
  5. Shaun of the Dead

Tag five people.

*Ask for it wherever crime fiction is sold

Mikesell : 4:25 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, June 12, 2005

TXPTLMS #3: Santa Cruz Giant Redwoods

Top Ten Places That Leave Me Slackjawed
  1. Yosemite
  2. Whiskeytown Dam
  3. Santa Cruz Giant Redwoods

For the Big Trees of California, there are really only three places to go: The Giant Sequoia  Groves of the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Redwood groves around Humboldt (North) and Santa Cruz (Central) counties. The Sequoias are more massive (shorter, but greater diameter), and the Humboldt trees are generally taller, but growing up in San Jose, I was first introduced to the Big Trees in Santa Cruz. So I picked those.

There are two sites to see the Santa Cruz Giant Redwoods: Big Basin and Henry Cowell State Parks.

You would think there'd be some decent pictures of the comparative size of these trees on the internet somewhere, but all I can find are those teensy ones on the state parks pages. This page has some 360-degree panoramas. These pages (1 & 2) have some pix, but they fail to do the trees justice. And here are some factoids about the trees.

The best way to see the trees, though, is to take an excursion on the Roaring Camp Narrow-Gauge Railroad. Make a day of it and take the train all the way to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

On the one hand I feel kind of bad not being able to convey the awesome size of these mammoth trees. On the other hand, the left -- or sinister -- one, I laugh at the thought of you seeing these trees for the first time, drool running down your chin as your mouth hangs open. <ha ha ha>

(Writer amigos: These trees are near Mt. Hermon, so plan a side trip next year if you've never seen them before.)

Mikesell : 7:13 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Borders Coupon: This Week Only

Okay, I read the small print (and the big print) and there are no Members-Only restrictions on this coupon.

25%-off, now through next Sunday. One coupon per person per visit. 10%-off electronics and video games, which they don't sell at my Borders, though maybe they do at yours. Also good at Waldenbooks and Brentano'ses. Good only in the US, although according to the Store Locator, all their stores are only in the US. If we invade Canada maybe it'll be good at Chapters/Indigo stores there, too.

If you use it, lemme know.

Mikesell : 9:45 AM : 2 snarky remarks

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Old School Podcasting

Radio serials were quite the thing back in the day. Even as recently as the 1980s, I can remember listening to rebroadcasts of General Mills Radio Adventure Theater (hosted by TV's Tom Bosley) as malathion helicopters sprayed the summer (if not the Medflies) away. (I also remember the KYUU "Montgomery Street Mysteries," or is that just a side-effect of the bugspray?)

There are several sites around the web where you can download these broadcasts (the ones without protected copyright) and burn them to a CD or transfer them to your MP3 player for your listening pleasure.

Here are a couple sites to check out:Should an iPod (or other MP3 player) show up under the Father's Day Tree, I'm heading here first.

Mikesell : 10:26 PM : 0 snarky remarks

TXPTLMS #2: Whiskeytown Dam

Top Ten Places That Leave Me Slackjawed
  1. Yosemite
  2. Whiskeytown Dam

Some places, like Yosemite, slacken your jaw because they're breathtakingly beautiful and totally bliss you out. Then there are places like Whiskeytown Dam (WTD).

Located near Redding, Calif., WTD was dedicated on September 28, 1963, by President Kennedy. Two months later Kennedy would be dead. Over five years later I'd be born. Now you're reading this blog. Don't know how that timeline helps you, but there it is.

When most dams are constructed a large pile of earth or cement (or logs, if you are a beaver) blocks a natural channel, filling in water behind it. WTD is no different and gets its name from Whiskeytown, a previously thriving community currently residing on the wrong side of that channel. Now, most dams have gates that open spillways to let water out before other towns find themselves underwater. WTD doesn't work that way. WTD has a Glory Hole, a large drainlike circle on top of the lake that allows water to spill over it, which is then released down at the base of the dam.

This seriously creeps me out.

It's like a discordant violin note that stretches into infinity. You wait for the suspense to break, but it never does. There's just something about a large drain on top of a lake that does it to me. It's hypnotic. It beckons. "Come closer," it calls*.

<shudder>

It just feels eerie and wrong.

Maybe that's why I like it so much.

*(use the "shift" key on your keyboard to zoom in after clicking on the link; requires QuickTime plug-in)

Mikesell : 3:35 PM : 5 snarky remarks

Friday, June 10, 2005

TXPTLMS #1: Yosemite

Top Ten Places That Leave Me Slackjawed
  1. Yosemite

I know, the list on the Letterman show goes in reverse order. But let’s be honest: I’m no Letterman. Plus, if you’re not with me on Yosemite, there’s no point reading the rest of the list . . . or my blog anymore, for that matter.

If you’ve spent more than 3 hours on the Valley floor and it hasn’t been fogged in, and you came away thinking “nice bunch o’ rocks 'n trees, but what’s the big deal?” I don’t think we can be friends anymore. In fact, I think you ought to give the folks at Pleasantville, Area 51, or the Dept. of Homeland Security a call because there’s something just not right about you.

Yosemite is a National Park in the Sierra-Nevada range of California. It’s most famous for its rock formations like Half Dome and El Capitan, its many waterfalls, and its world-class resort hotel, The Ahwahnee. Naturalists like John Muir and photographers like Ansel Adams have contributed to its popularity and its fame. Just being in Yosemite brings me a peacefulness I don’t find anywhere else.

Let’s face it, I’m not the world’s most rugged, outdoorsy guy. But if I had the chance to go back in time when you could live in Yosemite Valley, I’d gladly freeze to death in the harsh winters to have the opportunity of doing so.

Mikesell : 10:23 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Grammy & Poppa Photo Wrap-Up

Yesterday Grammy and Poppa gave Phil a big sticker book full of Trucks. After dinner (see entry below for details) we took some pictures of the boy with his grandparents going through the book.It's been great having Grammy & Poppa with us for the past week. We're looking forward to seeing them again in the autumn.

Mikesell : 3:09 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Beginning Later Today: TXPTLMS

Yesterday evening Dina's folks took us out to HomeTown Buffet for dinner. It happened to be "Endless BBQ" night. Unknown to me at the time, it would also turn out to be "Endless Intestinal Gas" night.

So, what to do while waiting for for the Gas-X to kick in at 2am?

Compile a list of the Top Ten Places That Leave Me Slackjawed (TXPTLMS), of course.

Your mileage may vary on these. They're definitely Western-Expansion-centric (not that I haven't enjoyed my visits to the South, but I've only really done the whistle-stop tour: My jaw was never given adequate time to get properly slack). And admittedly, there are a lot of places I've never been to (and Texas only counts on the map because of an unscheduled layover at/near DFW). There are no places outside the US listed either, not because the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon weren't amazing or Butchart Gardens and Miniature World weren't astounding -- and I'm sure Europe's very nice, too -- but as an American it's my patriotic duty to affirm the slackjawedness of America (lest the State Dept. file a memo on me).

If you'd like, make a list of your own favorite places and let me know about it. If you've been to any of my Top Ten and have a story to share, leave a comment.

Mikesell : 12:34 PM : 1 snarky remarks

B&N Fine Print

Snarky Reader TL Hines pointed out that the 20%-off B&N coupon I posted the other day requires you to be a member of their Savings Club.

If you're not a member, no savings for you -- only moreso.

I apologize if any of you went to the store and tried to use the coupon and were told the above information by a store employee and maybe even the manager. If you tried the "but Chris Mikesell said so" defense, let me say that I've tried that for years and it's never worked.

If you were publicly humiliated because of my thoughtlessness, please let me know. And let me know the store location, too, so I can write them a note explaining my error (and see if they'll send me the security tape of the debacle >:} ).

Mikesell : 11:31 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Writing Blog Revamp Begins

I've retitled the writing blog from "Chris Mikesell's Revival Blog" to "Works in Progress". It'll have a broader scope and the writing commentary entries will fit better with it, too.

It's my goal to have it fully revamped by the 21st, the date of the next Celebration of New Christian Fiction

I'll keep you posted.

[UPDATE: 1:30p -- I've changed the URL of the blog to w-i-p.blogspot.com. The old site, mikesell-nanowrimo.blogspot.com, will redirect you there.]

Mikesell : 1:52 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Swimming Lessons (with special guests)

Grammy and Poppa came with us to Phil's swimming lesson this afternoon. Here's a bit of what they saw:Sorry for the grainy quality. The lighting isn't the best in the poolhouse and my little point-n-shoot digital camera ain't so great itself under those conditions.

Anousha* and Gabe are the other students in Phil's class. There had been another boy, but he hasn't shown up for the past two lessons.

The shallow end of the pool is three feet deep. Phil and his classmates are 3'6"-ish, so they're out in the middle of the pool resting (okay, playing) on an aluminum table. It's a fairly ingenious solution; plus every once in a while Paige will swim under the table and surprise them from the other side.

Phil has two more lessons paid for. On Friday we can sign him up for another round of lessons (looks like he'd still be a Shrimp -- he has to master the "crawl" to advance to Clam status).

*(I'm guessing at the spelling of her name. Let's face it, for all I know "Gabe" is spelled Gaybe or Gaib or Gæbe.)

Mikesell : 12:15 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Hey, Big Spender

I saw this over on Kathleen Popa's blog: The Global Rich List.

Without getting into the goods and bads of giving to Care (UK) over other charities, this is a very cool site.

For instance, plug in $50,000 and it shows you way over to the right of a line graph (as you might expect, many, many people worldwide make less than $50K a year). It would be easy to guilt you into giving, but the site doesn't do that (though they do encourage you to give). In fact, it congratulates you on being the 53,957,565th richest person in the world, and gives you code to add that factoid to your webpage/blog. (You have to make $61,024 to make Forbes' Top 50-Million Wealthiest People list.)

Check it out. (If you're feeling puckish, plug in $1,000,000 and read the message. Then see what the site says if you plug in $89.)

Mikesell : 9:32 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

An Evening With Grammy & Poppa

Dina's folks are up visiting this week. Last night they spent the evening with us, tonight we spent it with them. They're staying in town at the Comfort Suites (very nice accomodations, not that the futon here isn't wonderful in its own special way).

Highlights (with photos!):

Shortly after we got there Grammy brought out the toy bag for Phil. Along with some books, Hot Wheels, and a Hot Wheels carrying case, Phil got this Transformers toy.

Then we walked down the block to Denny's, where kids eat free on Tuesdays and also get cool Madagascar character masks.

After dinner, I got Grammy & Poppa set up with the free in-room high speed internet. I just got an e-mail from them (on Mars and Earth being relatively close (34.6-ish million miles) over the next few months; get yourself a telescope, eh?), so it looks like they took good notes. Later this week we'll be working on line-in recording to the hard drive and then burning CDs so Grammy can read Phil bedtime stories from Ventura.

Before we left, I took a group photo.

I think tomorrow night they're coming back here after Phil's swim lesson. Stay tuned.

Mikesell : 11:23 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Monday, June 06, 2005

Got a Case of the Mondays?

Here are three Flashtastic* webpages to snap you out of it.(thanks winxpnews.com for the last two; the first one I found browsing wikipedia)

*You must have the Flash browser plug-in to play along at home. If your browser doesn't already have it installed (or a recent-enough version installed) follow the rabbit trail on the linked pages to get it.

Mikesell : 10:50 AM : 3 snarky remarks

From the Mouths of Four-Year-Olds

As Dina was tucking the boy into bed tonight, they had the following conversation:

Phil: I'm going on a field trip. It's for ten days and you're driving the bus.

Dina: Oh really?

P: Yes. It's just for four-year-olds ... just for boys ... well girls and boys, but they have to have blue eyes. [this is an arbitrary thing, not an Aryan conspiracy, okay?]

D: That's not nice. You should let everybody come.

The boy is insistent.

D: You know, Jesus had brown eyes....

P: Well he's not coming on the trip.

D: But Jesus is always with you....

P: Okay, he can come on the field trip, but he has to walk.

Somewhere/somehow something has gone terribly wrong in the boy's upbringing.

I blame the public school where he did pre-kindergarten.

Mikesell : 1:20 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Overcoming First Impressions

I took Phil to see Robots today at the cheap theaters in Springfield. I had resisted for a long time because although I like the movie Ice Age (which was made by the same people) it took awhile for it to grow on me. Plus, Robots features Robin Williams, which is always a dicey proposition. But I was stuck with an afternoon to fill between church events, so we plunked down $3 and took a chance.

Wow!

While it lacked the character development of most Pixar flicks (and Ice Age), I think it was on par with Toy Story 2 (since characters had been developed in the first movie). For creative storytelling and visuals, though, it was right up there with the best of them.

If it's still in the cheap theaters near you, give it a shot. You'll be pleasantly amused (and possibly surprised).

Mikesell : 11:42 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Save at B&N

20%-off coupon at Barnes & Noble. Expires June 15th.

If you use the coupon, let me know what you got.

Mikesell : 1:24 PM : 4 snarky remarks

Friday, June 03, 2005

How About a Nice Game of Chess?

Here's a picture of the chess game Phil and I played over the weekend.

The rules of Phil Chess (like Calvinball) seem to be made up on the fly. The game started with each player taking turns moving a piece randomly across the board until it encountered another piece. At that point the other player's piece would be captured (usually with the first piece doing a victory dance on the losing piece) and it would get taken off the board. After several back-and-forth rounds of this, Phil decided that a Bishop could fly across the board like a cruise missile and take out a row of pawns.

A game that combines chess with Thermo-Nuclear War. That's my kind of game.

Mikesell : 5:19 PM : 4 snarky remarks

Month-and-a-Half Record

I've blogged at least one post every day since April 18th. Considering I have nothing else to blog on today, sharing this factoid with you keeps the trend alive.

I'm hoping for a Phil pic or two tomorrow, so please come back.

Mikesell : 12:43 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Remainder of the Day

Stopped by Barnes & Noble this afternoon and found The Workshop: Seven Decades of the Iowa Writers' Workshop on the "final chance" clearance table for $3.98. <yoink!>

The only author highlighted that I'm familiar with is Flannery O. (1 out of 43), so no MFA for me.

Mikesell : 11:48 PM : 0 snarky remarks