So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Saturday, September 30, 2006

One Hour Remains

If you haven't entered the Poetry Contest at Dragons, Knights & Angels Magazine, you've got an hour left. I've entered two poems -- one for me, one on behalf of "a friend" -- and could enter a third, but I'll refrain. Operating heavy metaphors under the influence of cold meds rarely ends well.

In other news, Phil's team lost last night's game: 0-1 (breakaway goal when all our defenders moved up to play offense; assistant coach's idea, I believe). They're 1-1-0 for the season now.

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Mikesell : 9:49 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Book Chat with Brandilyn Collins 2: Electric ... Never Mind

Back in April I chatted with Brandilyn Collins about her then-new novel, Web of Lies. WoL was the end of one series, Violet Dawn is the beginning of another.

Set in Kanner Lake, Idaho, Violet Dawn tells Paige Williams's story: how she finds a dead body, what she does with it, and what comes next. It also tells the stories of about a dozen other Kanner Lake residents. Some of them, like police chief Vince Edwards and fortune-seeking reporter Leslie Brymes, are directly involved in the unfolding of events; then there are the others, Hank and Janet Dretcher (pastor and his missus), Carla Radling (realtor), Wilbur Hucks (mr. crankypants), et al. While they're not front and center, this handful of "local color" keeps the reader rooted in the setting -- and rooting for Paige to overcome her difficulties and become part of it too.

Java Joint, the local sandwich and coffee hang-out, is the nexus of Kanner Lake life. It's where we find out who the locals are, what makes the town "the town," get a little gossipy exposition (it never takes you out of the story), find a little humor amid the grim doings of a murder investigation.

Java Joint is also the scene of one of Brandilyn's marketing efforts for the series: a website where the locals blog about the town. Other writers (writers who are not Brandilyn Collins) were invited to bring the characters to life, first through auditioning, then through bi-weekly blog entries. The blog takes place in real-time, so on the dates when "certain events" in the book occured the characters reacted (without spoiling the fun for future readers). Most entries are anecdotes about the characters' lives and have seemingly nothing to do with the books themselves. Are there clues dropped in? You never know.

As one of the four writers of Wilbur Hucks, I thought I'd take this Blog Tour/Book Chat opportunity to talk about Wilbur rather than ask broader questions about the book itself. (Got to do research, somehow...) The five questions went like this:
  1. A friend of mine recently moved his family up to Coeur d'Alene to bootstrap a new church. They moved into a house on Wilbur Avenue. Coincidence or have characters been named after Idaho/Cd'A locations?

    No coincidence, but it's the other way around. The street was named after Wilbur Hucks. He is famous, you know.

  2. How much did being named Wilbur (instead of William or Wilfred or Wilmer Valderrama) have to do with him becoming a crotchety old man? (And Hucks, sounds like you're getting ready to spit. Poor fella never had a chance, huh?)

    Look, I didn't birth the guy, nor name him. He came like that. What was I supposed to do? Tell him his moniker was lousy?

  3. It's Any-Pie-for-$6 Month at Marie Callendar's; Wilbur steps up to the display case and orders what flavor? (for himself; he'll order a separate pie for Trudy [Mrs. Hucks] should she so desire)

    Wilbur loves huckleberry, as these berries are ubiquitous to the north Idaho area, and he's a true Idahoan. Trudy goes bonkers for lemon meringue. It's just the right combination of sweet and tart--much like Wilbur.

  4. Wilbur's favorite movie?

    A Christmas Story. It reminds him of when he was a kid and wanted a BB gun. Plus he once did his own rendition of that getting-the-tongue-stuck-on-the-icy-flagpole thing.

  5. Exempting Oscar the Grouch, Sam the Eagle, and Statler and Waldorf (the balcony guys), who is Wilbur's favorite Muppet ... and why?

    Wilbur didn't even know who the Muppets were until a little neighbor girl chattered away to him about them one day. He accepted her invitation to watch one of the Muppet movies with her and her mom. Wilbur loved Animal right away. Animal's so . . . out there. Like Wilbur.

While not as ooky as Web of Lies, Violet Dawn is still a suspenseful -- suspense-filled -- mystery. Not so much Whodunit as Whydoodit, the book will have you regularly reminding yourself to breathe. Next in the series: Coral Moon (March '07). The prologue appears at the end of Violet Dawn ... it's a doozy.

For more about Brandilyn's writing -- what's coming up, what's new in the biz, how and why she writes, the care and feeding of agents and editors -- visit her Forensics & Faith blog.

For more stops on the Violet Dawn Blog Tour, check the blog roll under the CFBA graphic near the bottom of the left-hand sidebar (under Affiliated Affiliations).

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Mikesell : 11:45 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

That Filling Feeling

Phil went to the dentist today for his first (and hopefully last for a while) filling. It was on a molar that he's not likely to lose for quite some time, so we had it filled rather than trust his oral hygiene skills to keep it safe for the next few years. (Said "skills" got him into this mess in the first place.)

On the way into town I reviewed with him what was likely to happen. 'Cause I saw it in a movie ... yeah, that's it: no first-hand knowledge here folks. First the numbing swab, then the shot for total numbing. Then the drill. Then the filling. Other than needing to be reminded to keep his "chin pointed to the sky" (or where the sky would be if our dentist had an outdoor practice) and mouth open wide, the boy made it through fine.

Even got two toys from the prize box and a 10% discount for good behavior. Score!

(I hope rewarding his dealing well with the consequences of bad behavior isn't going to result in more bad behavior that he can deal well with. Someone cross-stitch Romans 6:1-2a into a sampler for me, pronto. Thanks.)

Mikesell : 11:23 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Coastin' 3: Dream Warriors

Here's the final photo set of the trip.

We started the day with another attempt to fly Phil's kite (1  2). Once again, not so much flying as getting it airborne and then winding the string back up half a minute later. Oh well.

After packing and leaving the hotel, but before arriving at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Dina, Phil and I detoured to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. It's not as photogenic as the one at Yaquina Head, but the parking lot has nice views of the Yaquina Bay bridge and jetty. Here's Phil at the bridge.

About halfway through our visit to the aquarium the focus decided to go out on my digital camera. A reboot fixed it, but I neglected to go back and re-shoot the jellyfish. What I have looks like this:
After that it was back in the car, down to dinner in Florence, and up the winding highways to home. A good weekend. Thanks to Grammy & Poppa for making it possible.

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Mikesell : 10:42 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, September 25, 2006


Phil played his first soccer game of the season this evening. Mostly as a stopper, but he got to range the field as a wing for a quarter and a half. (The first/second graders do a good job fielding stopper/sweeper/goalie positions; everything else is chaos.)

Here's a photo of Phil's first stop of the game (he's made his block and is getting back in position). It came late in the first quarter when the opposing team finally made into Laker territory. Phil didn't hesitate; he charged the ball and took it away from the other team's star player. Go Phil!

Here's the boy adjusting his shin pads before the game.

Late in the third quarter one of Phil's classmates, Jeffrey, kicked a long roller that scooted past all the defenders on the opposing team's goal. Score one for the Lakers! The other team kept it interesting in the final quarter, hanging around our goal a lot, but nothing got past our goalie, Jordon.

Final score: 1-0; Season record: 1-0-0

Next game is Friday.

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Mikesell : 10:28 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Coastin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

Here's another photo set from our weekend at the coast. We're home now (sorry to spoil the ending) and the photos that wouldn't upload yesterday did mostly fine today. Look for more from the trip later this week.

After a donut run to Fred Meyer (would've patronized a local shop, but couldn't find a donuteria on Hwy 101), Phil, Poppa, Dina, and I headed down to the beach. We quickly found a bunch of crab parts (this Tuesday's show and tell) and then came across a weird lump of sand. Phil was the first to suggest it was a jellyfish. I rubbed some sand off the surface and, sure enough, he was right. Here's the boy and the beastie. Mom's no wimp; she touched the jellyfish, too. (If you're curious, it felt like the soft rubber jellyfish available in finer nautical toy and novelty shops; lifelike? they mean it.)

After the invertebrate encounter, Phil flew his kite until it became frustratingly clear the wind wasn't going to cooperate for more than 30 seconds at a time. Still, Saturday and Sunday's kite flying (Sunday's wasn't much better) was the best use of Phil's kite we've had in two years (the winds here don't cooperate at all).

We all piled into our rental car and headed down the road to the Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center. Cool Yellow Submarine outside; no Liverpudlians or Blue Meanies in sight. Inside we were greeted by a Giant Pacific Octopus. Later Phil got up close and almost personal with a turtle, frog, and an interactive exhibit.

Next we drove to lunch (Subway) and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Going up the stairs -- all bazillion and eight of them -- was not a great deal of fun. Coming down was much easier (going down and coming up from the beach and hotel was a similar experience). Seeing the lighthouse light was worth the trip, though. (Anyone know the number of a qualified sherpa who can shlep me around the house until I recover from shin splints?)

The views north and south of Yaquina Head weren't too shabby from ground level. Several whales were playing well out of camera range just east of the "north" shot. Saw a whale's fluke rise out of the water just west of the "south" view; would've made a great picture if I'd had the camera ready and trained on that spot of ocean for the half second the tail was visible.

Then dinner, then a bunch of Power Rangers on TV for Phil and I-don't-know-what for Dina (I was off on a quest of my own), then bed time. Sweet, sweet bed time. Aaaah...

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Mikesell : 10:05 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, September 23, 2006

It's Funny 'Cause I Don't Know Him

#1 on the list of things I hope will still be funny a year from now: Family Guy Snippet. (via)

Source for post's title: [9F14]

Mikesell : 1:04 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, September 22, 2006


Dina's folks have been in town for a few days and this afternoon we all headed out to the Oregon Coast for a couple nights. We're staying at the Newport Hallmark Inn & Resort. This is the view outside our room: out on the lanai. Here's a detail from that photo; the Yaquina Head lighthouse is off in the distance. Here's the in-room view.

Dina and Phil took a walk down to the beach earlier. Here they are coming back.

Julia, the jellies in the hotel lobby say "Hello."

Feel free to still leave a comment/ask a question on the bookshelf meme. I'll fill in details when we get back.

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Mikesell : 9:17 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Embarrassing Myshelf

On her blog this morning, Brenda Coulter offered to reveal the contents of her two seven-foot bookshelves. Pick a bookshelf (1 or 2), pick a shelf (1 thru 7), and a starting point on the shelf, and she'd let you know about the five books that led her to. I enquired about the 4th book from the right on five shelves of bookshelf two.

She suggested I help start a meme on this by offering to reveal the contents of my bookshelves, too.

Here goes: Bookshelves 1 and 2 have three shelves accessible, Bookshelf 3 has four. Books aren't stacked neatly, so tell me how many to skip and whether to start from the left or the right side of the shelf. (Shelf 3 of Bookshelf 2 is the only one shared with Dina.) I also have a pile of books across the room.

And then there's the DVD-shelf. The equivalent of six shelves (boxes piled up on the shelved DVDs). Pick shelf, start number, left or right.

So, who's first?

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Mikesell : 2:26 PM : 5 snarky remarks

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What Am I Missing?

Came across this via digg: Find the 50 Dark Movies.

In celebration of Dark Chocolate (or simple, Dark) M&Ms being added to the line-up of Plain, Peanut, and Chipotle y Limon, those little candies that melt in your mouth (and sometimes in your pocket) have crafted a little puzzle. They've hidden the names of fifty "dark movies" (not exclusively horror, though most are) in a Vermeer-esque painting. Not hidden words, but the characters or illustrative elements represent a movie title. The leprechaun in a tree? Leprechaun. The bow saw the next limb over? Saw. (They get harder, folks.)

I've solved 46 of the 50 titles. What are the stumpers? Death standing inside a circular fence, left side. The woman with two yowling kids, center. A silhouetted bird on a branch, upper right (not The Birds, that's on the other side of the picture; not The Raven, either). The dark doorway, lower right.

Any help would be greatly appreciated; feel free to drop hints in the comments.

Mikesell : 11:34 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

All Hands! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day

(which brings up the question, how do you do sign language with a hook for a hand. beyond threatening -- and possibly rude -- gestures, that is?)

or, in Piratese: Arrr, (which brin's up the question, how do you do sign language with a hook for a hand. beyond threatenin' -- and possibly rude -- gestures, that is?) Aye.

Head ye on over to the aptly named talklikeapirateday.com website for more piratey fun.

And here be a photo of the lad from Pirate Night on our high-seas adventure last December. Phil and his bonny cousin Jack, actually: [photo]

Dina's folks are in town today through the weekend. Otherwise it'd be a Pirates of the Caribbean, Princess Bride, and Goonies triple feature tonight, for sure. Cap'n Jack Sparrow, the Dread Pirate Roberts, and One-Eyed Willie will have to wait. Arrrgh!

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Mikesell : 12:00 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Special Offer for Network Executives

I just finished watching the pilot episode for the new series Heroes (thanks to an iTunes download code* courtesy of a gracious soul over at Infuze). Good stuff. A little cliched having the internet stripper be from Vegas, I thought; she and the rural indestructo-girl could've traded places and added some tension between the characters and their settings. Still, very good; very nice references to Star Trek, X-Men and The Matrix, among other things.

Which brings me to my offer to the execs at NBC. I'd like to watch your show, but if I do it will fail. So what's it worth to you to have the hit on your hands you really deserve?

Proof the show will struggle if I go out of my way to watch it? Just look what my viewership did to Nowhere Man, Dark Skies, Police Squad!, Millennium, Firefly, Crusade. I came late to the party for the first seasons of Buffy and Babylon-5 and they ran into renewal problems a season or two out.

I never watched Full House or Growing Pains and those went on and on forever. The omnipresence of "reality" programming on the tube? My fault. Never watched Survivor, American Idol, The Bachelor, etc. Watched Trump off and on; Carolyn, I apologize.

So, for the love of the adorable time/space-shifting Japanese nerd, don't let me watch your show, NBC. I'm not talking millions of dollars here. Seventy-five, a hundred grand and you're good to go.

Likewise, if you execs at any of the networks want your competition to tank, get in touch. I'll watch their shows and phhhhtttt, they're gone. Rates are 25-30% higher (I'd rather use my powers for good...), but still not unreasonable.

So get in touch. We'll talk. The fate of the world** depends on it.

*free from movie theaters; I think the Cinemark in Eugene is/was handing them out

**for very small values of fate


Mikesell : 1:03 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, September 15, 2006

Got Squat?

Due to a number of reasons, each less interesting than the first, I missed out on getting a review copy of Taylor Fields' novel, Squat. Usually, I'd have read the book and fired off a few questions to the author, then posted them here as a "Book Chat." No book means no reading, and asking a bunch of ill-informed questions isn't my style. (I'll-considered, yes; but I like to at least be well-informed before throwing caution, tact, and good taste to the wind.)

So, about the book. It's the story of Squid, a homeless twenty-year-old with obsessive-compulsive disorder "who, by God’s mercy, finds the treasure of himself among the inner city ruins." The first chapter was made available through the Fiction In Rather Short Takes network (that link's down right now, so here's my friend Linda's posting) earlier this month. Better yet, Chapter Two is available through the Squat website. I felt Chapter One had numerous rough spots (would an urban boy without a religious upbringing think of Joseph's coat of many colors as a "coat" rather than a robe or a shirt or maybe even a poncho?), but things flow more smoothly -- smoothlier? -- in Chapter Two.

Would I like the whole book? I'm not sure. Katy Popa has a great interview about the novel with Kevin Barbieux, an off-and-on homeless Nashvillian who blogs as The Homeless Guy. Based on Mr. Barbieux's comments, and my first impression of Chapter One, I have my doubts. But I read Chapter Two after reading the opening chapter and Katy's interview and found myself getting sucked into Squid's world despite my skepticism.

So it's a toss-up. Not the rousing praise that'll get my name and review blurbed on Mr. Fields' next novel, but that's where I am on this one. I'd probably give it a shot, but if it disappointed I suspect I wouldn't feel bad about putting it down and moving on to greener pastures.

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Mikesell : 10:10 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What's in a Label?

The Blogger Beta software is now supporting Labels for non-Beta-created blogs. This is cool. This post, f'rinstance is labeled Blogger. Clicking on the label (at the bottom of the post) will take you to all of my blog posts with the Blogger label (currently only this one).

Clicking this link, Philpix, will take you a series of posts with pictures of Phil; not all of them, I've just started adding labels. At some point I'll make a list of commonly-used labels and throw them in the sidebar; things like Philpix and Apple/Mac and Apple/iPod and Writing.

If my reposting old entries with new labels is screwing up RSS readers, let me know. Over time I'll be going back through most of the 1,000+ entries. If each time your reader treats it like a new post, I imagine that'd get annoying. It doesn't cause a problem with Firefox's RSS manager.


Mikesell : 3:39 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Wilbur Thursday

The wheel that is the Scenes & Beans blog has at last spun back around to Wilbur Hucks. One of my posts this time. Among the many perks of writing for Wilbur is that you get to write for Bailey Truitt, owner of Java Joint, too. Today she and Wilbur have some back-and-forth fun discussing the Top Ten Things NOT to Do in Kanner Lake.

And on yesterday's call for comments, just write "Snark" or "Boojum" or tell me what a horrible, horrible brother-in-law I am. Not really concerned about spelling. Snerk is fine, as is Bujumm or I think yore a meenypants.

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Mikesell : 9:14 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Snark or Boojum

Just a quick survey to see if the comments section here has collapsed completely. (Haven't had any comments since the 8th and my sister-in-law has said she's been unable to comment in the past; granted, she's not the most bulletproof fish in the barrel when it comes to computers, but that's neither here nor there -- mostly it's just an simile I wanted to try out ... Love you, Brenda.)

So, Snark or Boojum? Leave a comment.

If you can't post a comment, either as a Blogger or Other or Anonymous, send me an e-mail at: chris-dot-mikesell@casco-dot-net where -dot- is a period.

(Wikipedia's Hunting of the Snark entry; links to Carroll's poem at the bottom of the page.)

Mikesell : 10:15 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

1,000th Post

Tell your friends. You were there.

In other news, I stayed home and caught the liveblogging of Apple's rilly big shew in San Francisco this morning. Flipped back and forth between macrumors and engadget -- macrumors automagically updated their synthesis of a couple online reports every minute; had to manually refresh engadget, but they had pictures.

The new iPods look groovy, but I still like mine fine. I have 9GB available (about a third of the original space). The $50 price drop coming six months later isn't a heartbreaker; not getting twice the hard drive space isn't a big deal either (what'm I gonna do with 39 free gigs of space?).

iTunes 7, though: Wow! The new "cover browser" view is slicker than just about any slick thing you can think of (snot on a doorknob comes to mind, but I don't want to commit you to that analogy). It makes scrolling through your music tracks superfun (yes, superfun: like fun with heat vision or the ability to thumb-wrestle really well). Seriously, it's worth the download time.

Where's that leave the Star Wars DVDs? Dina had to run to town, so she's gonna grab the trilogy at Circuit City (plus "limited edition collectors lithographs" -- Phil's college fund says KA-ching!).

It's a thrice-over good day to be alive.

Mikesell : 4:51 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Monday, September 11, 2006


Mikesell : 9:49 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What To Do Tuesday?

Do I drive all around town trying to find the best deal on the release of the original versions of Star Wars Episodes IV-VI on DVD or stay plugged in online drooling over the new Apple goodies being announced?

Decisions, decisions.

Shopko has the lowest advertised price, $17.99, but Circuit City has a "too low to print" price in their Sunday ad (their website says $15). The guy back in electronics at Wally's said they'd have it for $15 (though he hedged with "I think;" their website says $19 and change).

Of course, I can't afford anything Apple will be announcing -- still wishing, dreaming, drooling is fun. Well, drooling with a good reason; the inability to control your salivary glands means you're going to wind up with a Depends on your head. Best to plan your salivatin' days well in advance.

Stay tuned.

Mikesell : 8:11 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Other Peoples' Kid

During the last two weeks of summer camp we were blessed to have Ericson and Ginger Teller and their son Emerson with us. Ericson helped drive the ski boat; Ginger watched over Emerson who kept Phil busy.

The Tellers just posted their end of summer pix on Snapfish. I swiped a couple pictures of the boys.
When Dina and I got away for our anniversary, the Tellers took care of Phil for us. Should photographic evidence of that visit become available, we'll pass it along.

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Mikesell : 11:13 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, September 08, 2006

Musical Deals

Looking for inexpensive tunes? The iTunes Music Store has a bunch of albums on sale for $6.99 (though some on the pages are more expensive). I heartily recommend the Plumb album on the second page (Chaotic Resolve); what I've heard of the Brandi Carlile on page one is good, too.

If you're late to the iPod revolution -- or need another gadget -- you can get a free-after-rebate MP3 player from Staples. It's not an Apple-branded player -- so it won't work with iTunes without burning a CD and then re-ripping -- but it's free (after rebate) and Christmas is coming. Looks like it doesn't go on sale 'til Sunday, so don't jump the gun and get stuck for $50. Amazon has product specs.

Mikesell : 7:54 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Who Do You Want To Be Today?

I was at the Borders store in Eugene earlier this week, sitting in the coffee area, trying to make headway on my novel when a woman introduced herself as the late Robert A. Heinlein's wife and listed off some of the novels she'd ghostwritten, including Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Now I'm no Heinlein buff, but I was (to carry over from yesterday's post) incredulous. Still, no need to be rude, I told that was cool and went back to my manuscript. (I was under the gun from a different encounter earlier in the afternoon.)

According to Wikipedia (and Google +Heinlein +ghostwriter), the woman I met was not who she claimed to be ... unless she put the ghost in ghostwriter: Heinlein's wife at the time SiaSL and TMIaHM were written--as well as the time of his death--died three and a half years ago.

Dina had a similar experience when we lived in California. A co-worker claimed to be the first wife of then Oregon senator Mark O. Hatfield. Now this was in the pre-Internet years, so no googling or wikipedi'ing, but Dina was nonetheless skeptical. Back then we came up to Eugene every Thanksgiving, so it wasn't that difficult to drive another hour north to the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University (Dina and Mark's alma mater) and discover that he'd been married a) a total of once, b) to a woman he was still married to, c) who wasn't Dina's co-worker. I don't think Dina ever confronted the woman; it was more fun to let the tall-tales spin.

If I lived on the other side of the Rockies, I might be tempted to lay claim to the title "scion of the Mike-sell's potato chips dynasty." Out here that'd get a who-of-the-whattely-what-now? reaction. But somewhere where the brand is better known (but not too well-known) I might be able to pull it off.

Who would you claim to be if being exposed as a fraud wasn't an imminent threat?

Mikesell : 10:10 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Say What?

From the New York Post via Drudge:

In an article about President Clinton's opinion of ABC's 9/11 miniseries, we find this sentence/paragraph:
The letter, written by Bruce Lindsey, head of the Clinton Foundation, and Douglas Bond, a top lawyer in Clinton's office, accuses the ABC drama of "bias" and a "fictitious rewriting of history that will be misinterpreted by millions of Americans."
A "fictitious rewriting." Does that mean they didn't actually rewrite history, that they only pretended to? Is it, like a double negative, in fact accurate history? Perhaps they were just being redundant.

And if the presentation is wrong, why worry that it will be misinterpreted? Doesn't that mean that people won't believe the portrayal and will believe what you actually want them to believe? What's the problem?

And more from the "you keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means" department:
"Clinton, whose aides first learned from a TV trailer about a week ago that the miniseries would slam his administration, was "surprised" and "incredulous" when told about the film's slant, sources said."
Incredulous means "skeptical" or "disbelieving." Are President Clinton's aides in the habit of lying to him? Or did he mean something else? And was he using the standard definition of whatever else it was he was feeling?

This isn't a political rant. Not being anti-Clinton/pro-W. (90% of what W says doesn't parse and you're incredulous (standard definition) about all of it.) Just been reading an excellent grammar book, and the Post article bugged me.

Carry on.

Mikesell : 2:31 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Welcome Back, World

After about two weeks of greatly diminished visitor counts following a switch to Blogger's new Beta version, I'm getting stats on visitors from image searches again (mostly for pix of the boy being eaten by a shark, getting off a schoolbus, riding a homemade go-cart, and posing next to Thomas the Tank Engine). My daily pageload count went from the mid-to-upper 100's down to teens and twenties. Yesterday I had 162 pageloads (101 visitors); at just before noon today I'm just shy of 100 pageloads (almost 60 visitors). It's good to be marginally popular ... okay, only slightly more than obscure. It's nice.

And to those visiting from Church Marketing Sucks: Howdy! Glad you stopped by.

Mikesell : 1:44 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Day One ... Done

Phil's first day of first grade is over. Differences from kindergarten (besides three hours and an extra two recesses)?Phil had no complaints when we picked him up.

Neither did Mrs. Brockman.

Good deal.

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Mikesell : 9:59 PM : 1 snarky remarks

The Busboy

The bus picked the boy up for school right on time this morning [photo]; first grade has begun. Only eleven more grades to go. Plus university. And the post-grad years.

Still, even with all that lurking out there for him, Phil was psyched to go off to school this morning. Didn't even have to nag him to get dressed.

Seven hours 'til we pick him up this afternoon. (Seven hours!) Look for an update this evening.

Bonus Pictures:

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Mikesell : 10:09 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Monday, September 04, 2006

Need Points?

Of course you do.

Points for what? Who knows. The thing is, they're being given away and you've got to, got to have them.

But, Chris, you ask, where can I get these points that I've got to, got to have?

Head on over to the Google Image Labler. The labeler is a game where you're paired with another player and both shown the same image. You and your partner start entering keywords until you come up with a match. Then you're shown another image. Make as many matches as possible in 90 seconds, 100 points per match. You and your partner can agree to pass; no penalty, but no points either.

Right now I have 90,000 points. I'm #219 in the all-time rankings. Woo-hoo.

What are some tips to help you score early and often? Don't overthink. If the picture is of a group of people, start with the words group and people. Then worry about whether they're students or a family or if the setting is a classroom or dinner. If the picture is of a vaguely-familiar historical figure, don't obsess about it being Bacon, Locke, or Newton: man will usually suffice. Listing predominant colors or legible words is also useful strategy.

Once in a while you'll get a sample with "off-limits" words. Presumably these are words that Google has found "winning" over a period of time. Don't worry about them. You can't win with them, but worrying about whether to list them or not is just a timeburning distraction.

Finally, pay attention to what the other person has suggested. After you match up on a photo, it drops down to the bottom of your screen. You can position your mouse cursor over it to see what the other player guessed. If you're stumped, doing this can give you a clue as to whether they're going for colors or background details or what.

Above all, play consistently. If you and your partner win on one photo with man and the next photo is of a woman giving a speech, go with woman and not hairdo, podium, and speaker as a recent "partner" of mine did. <grrrr>

Have fun!

Mikesell : 1:41 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Back to School Preview

Having purchased back-to-school school supplies last weekend, all that was left to do today was get the boy a haircut and fill out his wardrobe a bit more. After church this morning, and lunch, and a surprise gift from the new Build-A-Bear Workshop in Valley River Center, we detoured back home to get Dina (and drop off the aforementioned gift) and let the adventure begin.

Here's what Phil's end-of-summer 'do looked like: [photo]. No, Phil isn't taller than Dina quite yet; she's hunkered down.

So the hair got cut, then we headed over to Value Village for some clotheshorse savings. Got some nice schoolwear and three jackets of varying weights; Phil had peaked in last year's selections by February and was looking a bit silly by the time the weather finally warmed up mid-April. Could've saved 50% tomorrow, but the stuff we got was worth what we paid for it and would've been swooped up by doorbusting vultures had we waited. (Likewise, we were in and out of the haircut before you could say "Ring Lardner"; they're expecting nonstop back-to-school business tomorrow.)

On the way home we stopped by Phil's school. Dina and I have been banned from first-day-of-school drop-off (we do get to pick up his royal pain-in-the- personage, though, lucky us), so we thought we'd see what things are looking like. Here he is sporting his new hairstyle outside the first grade classroom: [photo].

The day after tomorrow is coming on fast. Phil can barely contain himself -- the thought of three recesses sends him into a giggling fit.

Stay tuned.

Mikesell : 9:56 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Happy Anniversary Song

In the spirit of an oh-so-suave eighteen year old, I hereby quote and dedicate the following lyrics to Dina in celebration of our 18th anniversary:
All That Remains
from the album "Green Room Serenade, Part One"
(Terry Taylor)

If all the stars fell from the sky
And the oceans all ran dry
Or the rains came down and I
Was in over my head
I'd count myself lucky now
'Cause I loved you

And if this world stopped turning round
If someone shut the whole thing down
If I was lost and never found
In fact, left here for dead
I'd still be lucky now
'Cause I've loved you

(All that remains)
I believe that everything
That passes though the holy flame
will turn to ash and dust
(All that remains)
But that fire will wash us clean
And our sweet love will be redeemed
And for me that is enough
If that's all that remains

And if the sun gave up, no longer shined
There was no reason and no rhyme
the world ran out of space and time
No I, I wouldn't cry
I'd say I'm lucky now
'Cause I've loved you

And if I never loved again
And no one ever called me friend
And all my dreams came to an end
No, I'd never ask why
I'd count myself lucky now
That I've loved you

(All that remains). . .

I swear my love it's true
I only know this is for certain
Love never fails
It's the only thing that will survive
And if I'm still around
When they bring down the final curtain
I'll tell all the angels
Your love is the reason that I am alive
Love's all that remains

(C)1996 by Lost Dogs*

Happy anniversary, hon'.

(Next year I'll try and sneak her a couple beers without being carded...)

*lyrics unabashedly pilfered from thelostdogs.com

Mikesell : 9:12 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, September 02, 2006

More Maury

Maury Chaykin is one of my favorite character actors. From a nerd in WarGames to Nero Wolfe to the butterfly/moth in the BMW short film, Hostage, I can't think of a project I've seen him in that I haven't liked.

A few weeks ago Dina tried out the new Sci-Fi series, Eureka. She mentioned Chaykin was in the pilot, so when said pilot showed up for free download on iTunes this week I gave it a shot. Yep. Doesn't suck. Apparently, Chaykin hasn't been in any of the regular episodes, but it seems to be a solid show nonetheless. (A couple ooky moments in the pilot when animals come in contact with an anomolous plot device, but other than that it's an enjoyable show, Matt Frewer's accent excepted.)

There's a six-hour marathon on September 6th. The pilot isn't part of it, so download and watch it first. Then set the VCR/Tivo/recordable DVD player for the rest.

If/while you're over at the iTunes store, check out a free short film Covert. (Only a couple people who read the blog would get it if I made an Ed, Big Ed or Robert joke here, so I'll refrain.)

Mikesell : 8:31 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, September 01, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Early

Dina and I celebrated our anniversary early this year. Yesterday afternoon we packed up the Subaru and headed north to McMinnville. We dropped Phil with some friends, then headed further north to Forest Grove.

McMenamins Grand Lodge is a renovated (and quirkified) Masonic & Eastern Star home, full of 1930s architectural touches and the funky fun of the McMenamin brothers (local brewers who have made a habit of preserving old properties as brewpub venues and, in many cases, lodging spaces). We took a pass on the movie of the night (The DaVinci Code) at the dine-in theater for Say Anything on the PowerBook, but before that had dinner (and after exploring the hotel some more, dessert) at the Ironworks restaurant inside the Grand Lodge.

This was our first overnight at one of the McMenamins sites. I suspect it won't be our last.

Mikesell : 8:35 PM : 1 snarky remarks