Friday, January 28, 2005

19 Years Ago....

"Dick" Scobee, Mike Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Greg Jarvis, Judy Resnick, Christa McAuliffe

- STS-51L Challenger, 28 January 1986

Thursday, January 27, 2005

38 Years Ago....

"Gus" Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee

- Apollo 1, 27 January 1967

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Halle Berry in Leather

I watched "Catwoman" tonight, and I'll give them this....
They tried, they REALLY tried, but they just couldn't quite manage it.

It still wasn't as bad as "Hulk".

Sunday, January 23, 2005

A Note About Johnny

I've never regularly watched "The Tonight Show". I've worked 3rd or 2nd Shift pretty much my entire post-high school life so late night TV has always been catch-as-catch-can. (Until "The Daily Show", that is, which I TiVo and watch every night!)

Nonetheless, I'm definitely saddened by the passing of Johnny Carson today. Carson certainly created the template for late-night TV in the modern era. Also, I have tremendous respect for how he's lived his life since his retirement in the early 90's. In other words, the fact that we have very little idea of how he spent those years. It was his life, and kudos for him taking it and leaving us out.

Most of all, I admired his taste in cars! As a fellow [former] Delorean owner, Johnny, I wish you well and drink the last toast left in this bottle of Highland Park scotch to you!

Me & My Delorean

Superbowl Coming?

I'm watching the Philadelphia Eagles celebrate their pending playoff win to advance to the Superbowl, with the Patriots' playoff game less than an hour away... Very exciting, and it makes me think of one thing over and over...

The Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Still Snowing....

12" more inches this morning, bringing the total to 20" here so far... it's still coming down though showing signs of tapering off so hopefully not much more to come. It's might purty out there, though!

It's Snowing....

Just got in from the first round of shovelling. 8" on the ground in the driveway at 11pm Saturday, another inch or more there before I'd finished tonight. I'm sure I'll have at least two more rounds of shovelling Sunday of course!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Journal Entry - Therapy & Cars

C at therapy

It's been a long week! Seems it's time for our annual car problems, as usual hitting just before company bonus time (month end), when the money's tight. Monday afternoon at 12:30 The Momma had to attend C's IEP meeting... Individual Education Plan for special needs students. IEPs are developed at least once a year for special needs students and usually involve many harrowing meetings and much negotiating. Fortunately The Momma, while prone to severe anxiety over these meetings, is a Harvard Law School grad and has a very good success rate at having these things go in a direction that suits us!

C has issues stemming primarily from Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID), a neurological disorder where his brain doesn't interpret sensory input "normally", whatever "normal" is. He has also tested as borderline autistic in some areas, though there's no diagnosis there. The primary problem C has from this is serious eating problems, as he finds most food textures and strong flavors "scary" or threatening, and he also has a very low appetite. As a result he likes very few things and doesn't eat a lot of what he likes, so his weight is at the bottom or even off the low end of the chart.

Anyway, The Momma had to be at the school at 12:30 Monday; I had to be at the doctor's office for a check-up at 1:00. Alas, when she tried to leave she found her van wouldn't start... dead battery, and no time to deal with it. So I dropped her at the school on my way to the doc's and met her back there afterwards. We had a quick bite to eat then picked C up after school and returned home. We were hoping to jumpstart the van, but unfortunately it was parked nose in in the driveway, and I couldn't maneuver my Saab and the van close enough for the hook-up as the grass all around the narrow drive was snowed over. When there's snow on the ground we park both vehicles in the driveway, when there's no snow I park the Saab in a second "driveway", a cutout in the grass at the other end of the yard with just a little paved lip onto the street.

Being already late for work The Momma pulled out her AAA card for help with the van, and I left for the office. I checked in later and they'd successfully started the van and let it run for a bit without issue.

Monday night I got home from work, but got a call from work around 2:30am as I was getting ready for bed (I usually work 2pm-Midnight). Not something that tied me up for long but it woke me up a bit again and it was close to 4 before I got to sleep; I set my alarm a bit later than usual (for 11:30a). At 8am though C woke me up (with a very sweet cuddle, at least!), with more bad news... as my car is parked closer to the street when both are in the driveway they'd taken it to bring C to school, but less than half a mile up the main street (Main Street, in fact) The Momma pulled over and parked on the side... it was making a nasty whining noise and she was smelling something burning.

They walked back to the house and got in the van... it again wouldn't start. (Though at least it was parked nose-out now after the previous day's misadventure!) So they gave up and woke me up.

I walked up to the car and saw no immediate problems (fluids good, no obvious fraying of belts from what I could see), so I drove it back to the house. I could hear the whining sound, and though it wasn't bad I could smell the burning smell when I had the hood open. So we used the Saab to jumpstart the van again, then swapped the cars around. This time I finally found that the dome light switch on the van had been left on, and as this is a full-size conversion van there's several interior lights that run on that circuit so at least we didn't have a real problem there. The Saab was a bit more worrisome, and I made an appointment for this morning (Thursday) as that was the first available at our local garage, deciding not to drive it until we could have it checked. I drove the van to work Tuesday and Wednesday, which worked out okay for us as C never got to school Tuesday, and had an early, 12:30pm release on Wednesday.

So today, after again working until midnight last night, I was up around 7:15am to bring the Saab up to the garage. I needed to know by 1pm or so if the car was drivable; I knew I likely couldn't afford any major repairs until the end of the month though. It was 2pm before they were able to tell me, no, it ain't drivable... and though I can't afford the repairs until month end at least the damage won't be too terrible (as such things go)... a bit under $300 to replace the fan belt and the idle pulleys that drive it, which were "disintegrating". Except for the bad fiscal timing the news wasn't bad, but it will leave us on one car for the next two weeks.

Thursday though is the one day I can't take the van to work, as C has his feeding therapist appointments on Thursday late afternoons each week and it's usually 7pm before they're home from these. So no work today; I drove the car back home until payday, then hopped in the van with the family to at least take advantage of the opportunity to meet C's therapist, Carol, about whom The Momma has had Many Great Things to say! The visit was mostly a play opportunity for C in their therapy room, as we have an appointment in two weeks with a new specialist and we're mostly discussing treatment strategies until we find out where that leaves. So C was able to play on the gym stuff while The Momma and Carol conferred. I snapped a few photos with the camera phone while there, click here (on the thumbnail photo at the top of this post) to see a few larger images from the session. (Hmmm, a "camera phone"... that simple SF gadget seems like it warrants its own blog post!)

We left there around 5:30, did a bit of shopping, stopped for C & The Momma's traditional post-therapy dinner and playtime at McDonald's, then got back here around 7:15.

Long day! But I'm off tomorrow at least, apart from picking up a friend's son from school in the afternoon, and it'll be hopefully a fairly peaceful weekend. Have to get C's homework done early so we can kick back and watch the Patriots Sunday in their playoff game!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Movie: Collateral

I'll probably make occasional movie comments here, though not with any regularity... "Collateral" is my most recent Netflix rental and I just have a brief comment on it. A hopefully very minor spoiler here (not given in full context).

This was a terrific movie and I enjoyed it immensely... great use of music in the soundtrack, great focus on the actors and the writing over just an action pic (making the action sequences that much more effective)... but one thing that should be fairly minor REALLY irritates me: why the hell does Tom Cruise take the time to cut the power and phones in the building when it had been fairly clearly established he wasn't overly worried about anything except getting the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible? A plot contrivance to give Jamie Foxx some time to play his part... but out of the character Cruise had put together up to that point.

Otherwise though, a great, smart thriller! Take out that one annoyance and probably a 5 out of 5; as it is I gave it a 4 for my Netflix rating.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Eclipsing the Curse!

Click for larger image

I've mentioned my most unique Christmas gift (from my parents) to a few friends, so I thought I'd post an image of it here. It's a framed oil painting of the Red Sox logo eclipsing the moon, a reference to the blood-red lunar eclipse that was happening when the Sox won the World Series on October 27! Very classy.

Forgive the poor image quality, as I used my camera phone to snap this and there's a fair amount of reflection from the glass as well. Hopefully, the image is clear enough to give you the idea, but not so clear that it would irritate the artist, Jennifer Barnatt, that I'm posting it here! Above is the thumbnail, click here (or on the thumbnail) for a larger image.

A DVD A Day?

Many years ago I was an "early adapter" of, the online DVD rental company. I loved the concept of having a large selection of DVDs to choose from, and no due dates or late fees. Just rent what you want, keep it as long as you want (great for listening to the occasional commentary tracks), and swap it in for another one. Considering at the time I lived in New Hampshire and nothing was especially convenient, this was a great move. I had a terrific experience with Netflix, great customer service, and I recommended it to any who asked.

Alas as C got a bit older and more demanding, I found I just didn't have as much time as I once did for watching DVDs and I eventually dropped out at the beginning of baseball season some years back. I found I just wasn't always watching enough flicks to justify the membership. These were Dark Days, as I also was only very rarely getting to an actual movie theater... in fact that still remains a problem to this day although the past year has been better.

Also over this past year, as C has matured more, I've found I've again had much more time for enjoying DVDs. Not only is he more self-sufficient now and happy to entertain himself with his Calvin & Hobbes or Captain Underpants books, and of course his many favorite video games, but he's also now old enough that he enjoys watching movies with me. And not just "kids' movies"... most of his favorite movies are on my list as well, such as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". Needless to say I love watching some of my old favorites with him for the first time and seeing him "get" them.

So finally this December I re-joined Netflix, and it's been a happy reunion. On the one hand, I lost my "grandfathering"... Netflix originally offered four movies out (at your home) at a time for about $15/month. Eventually they lowered that to 3 at a time (and later still they bumped the cost up a tiny bit, it's now about $18/month for three at a time). As an early member I initially still got four at a time at my old cost, but of course I lost that benefit when I quit.

But on the other hand, when I was a member before they only shipped from their base in California... two days away by post. Now they have many shipping centers, including the local one in Worcester, MA just a few miles away. So in the past it would take about 4-5 days round trip to exchange a DVD; now, it's usually less than 48 hours from when I drop a DVD into the mailbox that I have a replacement in hand. So the opportunity is actually there to see more movies in a month now than in the past, depending on how long I keep them.

So far we've done quite well, in the month since I've rejoined we've already gone through about a dozen movies. Most recently I finally saw "Shaun of the Dead", a wonderfully funny British take on the George Romero zombie films of yore that I'd been hoping to see late last summer. (Romero's not affiliated with Shaun in any way.) I suspect I'll eventually buy this one to add to my own collection and I highly recommend it... though with the serious caveat that it is a zombie movie, and while tamer than some it certainly has its share of blood and guts. However, the focus is on the humor, not the horror, and except for a particular gruesome scene near the very end the blood and guts just add to the humor by playing off of the expected cliches. It's funny and smart as well as telling a legitimate zombie story.

Now we'll see if I still have time to watch as many DVDs when the 2005 baseball season starts in 88 days!