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Friday, November 28th, 2014 06:06 pm
When I was a boy, my father had a few meals that he really liked. And since he was very often the cook in our house, we got to eat his favorites quite often. On of them was thick sliced ham steak. It became one of my favorites, too.

Sometimes I look in the meat section of groceries for a ham steak. Usually, though, I find nothing or I find thin sliced "breakfast" ham. For many years, I thought it had gone the way of lamb chops -- another food that seems never to be in our groceries in San Diego.

I was out today to get food for dinner and there it was. The most beautiful, bone-in thick cut ham steak. I could not resist. So, tonight, I made mashed yams (cinnimon and butter), sauted onion and chunked mushrooms and that beautiful ham.

I was transported to my youth. I was exactly like I remember. Stacey was also thrilled. Scarlett has become on of the ham steak fans. And, the darling 3.5 year-old even cut her own meat.

Happy am I.
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Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 11:36 am
I am increasingly intolerant of human generated noise. It doesn't seem to matter if it is mechanically generated noise, speech, or whatever. I'm in a constant struggle between physical comfort with my windows open or psychological comfort with my windows shut. I've taken notice of this issue more strongly over the last year.

I don't want to be a room where people are inconversation I'm not part of (and sometimes, even if I a part). I don't want to be a room where there is someone who is loud. That covers the granddaughter and her mother. I don't want to hear traffic noise or aircraft noise. We get many small planes and a lot of helocopters near our house. We also get noise from military jets.

I am more tolerant of background "white" noise. I find I can tune it out fairly easily if it's not too loud and more or less perdictable.

What I've noticed most recently is that I do not want to be in stores with loud background music. The grocery stores are usually okay but retail clothing stores are horrible. And it is worse when the music being played is an endless loop of the same 15 songs. Welcome to the last six weeks of the year.
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Monday, March 10th, 2014 07:59 am
A humming bird flew into the house last night when we opened the front door to head out for dinner. It immediately flew up to the skylight. No chance to get it. So we turn out all the lights, left the back sliding door open and hoped for the best. When we got back from dinner, we discovered our plan almost worked. When it got dark, the bird abandoned the skylight, but went for the high window over the front door. The overly bright street light shines in that window. We tried various things that had no chance of working and gave up. When we went into our room and turned on the light, the bird flew in. This is good. We have low ceilings. And the poor thing was exhausted. After a couple of tries, I managed to scoop it up in a towel. I left it outside on the towel near water and blooming flowers. I pretty much that it was going to die of exhaustion and fear. Apparently not. This morning I found the towel just like I left it and the bird gone. Since the towel was not disturbed, I'm figuring the bird is off telling the story of getting away.

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed in the dark (I had switching to and from DST) and got myself to work nice and early. Locked out of the building. It is a card entry building and nobodies' cards worked. Thought it might be because of DST, so I waited the 20 minutes 'til the building thought it was time to unlock the doors. Nope. Waited another 30 minutes until "management" showed up and did some hocus-pocus to open the doors. Not a good start for the day.
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Friday, February 21st, 2014 12:53 pm
Had my pre-op appointment yesterday. My new doctor (The Navy shifts doctors around) said he finally had enough time to review my history at ophthalmology for the last 10ish years. My Fuchs has not progressed in all that time. And the cataracts haven't changed one bit in that time either. So, no surgery. Works for me. I did get a new prescription, "so I got that going for me. Which is nice."
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Monday, November 4th, 2013 11:37 am
Stacey and I have been working over our landscaping. As part of the rebuild, I'm taking out some large agave that I really didn't want to begin with. A few weeks ago, I got rid off a big one that overlapped the walk way leading up to the front door. I trimmed several other plants that day including some with nasty thorns.

This weekend, I took out two more and trimmed up some running bamboo.

My forearms itch like the devil. I remembered that this happened a few weeks ago, too. The common plant was the agave. I looked it up. Yep. The sap of some varieties cause inflammation and itching that can last awhile. A few varieties cause inflammation that can last a whole year if you get stabbed with the leaf-end spine. Ours doesn't seem to be that variety at least.


Next time I take out the agave (there are a couple more that will need attention), I'll suit up from head to foot!
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Monday, July 15th, 2013 09:17 am
Well. Two movies this weekend. Was not disappointed.

Gattaca was recommended in a reddit thread of "underrated movies." It was made for $36M and grossed (in theaters) $13M. Oops. It was nominated for several awards from various organizations. It won a few. For a movie released in 1997, it had the feel of science fiction from 30 years earlier, but I tend to think that was on purpose. The science was pretty good by today's standards and very good by our understanding of DNA in the late 90s. My biggest issue with the film was is pacing. It was deliberate and plodding for most of the running length. I suspect this explains the box office dollars.

Story line is good. A relatively fresh look at what the future could look like. Obviously, this kind of future has been written about hundreds of times with many variations of genetic manipulation, but this one spent its time talking about the future of individuals if their particular set of genes isn't perfect. The ramifications of having our sequence known is a problem medical ethicists are struggling with today. We are at the bleeding edge of genetic manipulation which is also raising concerns on some corners.

A fabulous cast. Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law, Ernest Borgnine, and Alan Arkin are the ones who stand out for me. And I really like them all in general.

It is a tiny bit preachy. There were moments in the film when I rolled my eyes at the directness of moralizing.

Still. We gave it a three and reddit was right. It is underrated by a long shot.

The other movie, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, was on our list because of Maggie Smith. I love to watch her and I hadn't seen anything of her where she wasn't playing an old lady. Here she is playing a woman in her 40s. And playing the part beautifully. She won an Oscar for this movie and well she should. A few other actors stand out, too. I can't say who without alerting a new viewer to watch particular characters. The story unfolds a bit predictably but has wonderful moments of "not what it seems." Some characters are very well played but are stereotypes for Maggie Smith to play against. It really is her movie from beginning to end.

This movie came out in 1969 but was based on a book from 1961. The world changed dramatically in that decade! It was also a play in the UK and on Broadway. Won awards in both places. It really is a very, very good story. We old folks will find a connection with movie that folks born after 1970 probably won't find. Even though it is set in Edinburgh in the 1930s, it is unmistakably a product of the 1960s.

It is a prize fight between rationalism and romanticism with all sides stuck in their view about what is proper. Jean Brodie at one ridiculous end of the spectrum and the head mistress at the other end. I found myself shifting back and forth from those points of view -- somewhere in the middle being pulled back and forth like a rag doll between two dogs. I never cheered for the Head Mistress, but I did want to put breaks on Brodie for most of the movie.

This got a solid 4 (mostly because movies of the 60s don't deserve better. :). I recommend it highly and it is a must see movie for Maggie Smith fans.
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Monday, July 1st, 2013 08:37 am
Let me start with a disclaimer: I think Julia Roberts's acting ability is non-existent. She delivered exactly one good line in Pretty Woman and contributed nothing of value in Hook. (To be a bit fair about Hook, I think the editing of her parts was horrible.)

I wanted this move to really work for me. A lone crusader fighting a systemic injustice. Unlike Dead Poets Society, this story is based in fact. "Even BETTER," thinks I. Wrong. Here we have a powerful, smart woman who has no clue what she is stepping into? Here we have a power, smart woman who falls for someone clearly a fraud? Here we have a powerful, smart woman who took an entire year to see the writing on the wall?

It's a female Dead Poets Society. Except that it wasn't good. In DPS, the character development was powerful. In MLS, we had head shots of the students looking as if there were onions and Limburger just out of frame. The best character (although a too-obvious stereotype) was out on her butt early-ish in the movie. That character was really making a difference in the lives of the students.

I think the real story was probably a hell of a lot better than the retelling by badly directed bad actors.

I think that was Julia's last chance with me. I just don't care how compelling the story might be.

We watched the whole thing hoping for something good to happen, so it does get a 2 out of 5. Left to my own devices, though, I would have turned it off about half-way. I really dislike it when a compelling story line gets completely trashed.
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Sunday, June 30th, 2013 10:39 am
(or something like that. I can't be bothered to look up the real title.) It must have been filmed n 3D. We think that because it looked like every 3D parody I've ever seen. The story was okay-ish. The acting was satisfactory. The special effects were dull. And Walt and Frank would have cried about this movie.

The best thing about it was the black and white start as a tribute to the "real" OZ movie. ;)

It gets a weak 2 out of 5. We did watch to the end. Maybe it was just too hot to move my arm to the remote control.
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Monday, June 24th, 2013 08:04 am
Watched this primarily because one of the principles is Maggie Smith. I was also curious because it was directed by Dustin Hoffman. It gets a 3 out of 5. it was adequate film making. The four actors that make up the quartet played superbly. My complaint is simply the pace. It is a slow movie.

The things I liked: Old people being people first and old second, or, maybe, third. The love story part of the plot isn't about 20somethings finally stumbling over their One-True-Loves. And I really liked that many of the supporting cast are real-life (retired) classical (mostly) performers. That part probably plays better in Britain as they were all British symphony or theater folks.

A solid 3. I was entertained by the characters who seemed like real human beings.
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Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 08:16 am
Easy to see why it won best original screenplay. There are only a few plots in all of story telling. The trick is to make the tired material new and interesting. The tired material, in this case, is a love story.

Surprise! It is not a love story based entirely on sexual attraction! How cool is that!

Jim Carey pulls off another great dramatic performance. Only once did the story dip into a bit of silliness with his 5-year-old self which was a bit hard to forgive, but I managed.

The story is not plausible for a number of what should be obvious reasons, but I don't mind suspending disbelief if I am entertained. After all, I like Star Trek and Star Wars. :)

I gave it a 4 out of five.
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Monday, June 3rd, 2013 09:26 am
Well. I would never have picked this movie. Good thing The Sweetie is in charge of the movies we get from NetFlix! Okay. I might have picked it because I like watching Bill Murray and Laura Linney.

We watched it late last night. I thought that might be a problem because I have worked through the night several times in the last 10 days. I didn't think I could make it through a movie. Was I wrong.

Laura seems to play the same sort of character -- a slightly overwhelmed woman without much of a clue. Her character in this movie was not unlike her character in The Truman Show.

I would not have thought that Bill could pull of the role of FDR. Not because of his skills, but because he just doesn't quite look the part. Didn't matter. He was great in the role. Fabulous. I was sorry the movie ended because I wanted more of this character. Really.

I could have done with less of the relationship drama. I could have had more of Eleanor. I never get enough of Eleanor.

This movie stirred a desire to see The King's Speech again.

A very solid 3 out of 5.
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Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 06:32 am
Easy review. Didn't finish the movie. 1 out of 5.

BORED OUT OF MY MIND. I suppose a 13 year old (or an adult stuck at that developmental stage) might find the relationship drama interesting, but I can't abide movies that make a central theme of sexual attraction and distraction into stories about "enduring love."
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Sunday, May 12th, 2013 09:37 am
Great cast. I think it is very difficult to play characters who are suffering from some mental condition. Robert De Niro and the two principles pulled it off beautifully. I was pulled along in this story by the quality of the acting. I tried not to think about the story at all.

Spoilers )

In the end, this movie is just another Love Conquerors All movie. The two principles have some serious issues. Neither deals with them well (not uncommon for the mentally disturbed). But I got the feeling "I Love You" was suppose to leave us with the impression that Everything Will Be Okay Now.

Great acting. Story that got more and more predictable as the clock ticked until I could have told you the step by step issues of the last 20 minutes.

Still, the acting elevates it from a two out of five to a three.

Stacey pointed out that Jennifer Lawrence was the lead in Hunger Games. That young lady has some serious acting range! I haven't seen Bradley Cooper before, so I don't what else he can do. He was very credible as a bi-polar. Jacki Weaver as his mother was great. Dealing with two dysfunctional children and a OCD husband without over playing the character takes skill

The screen play was boring and predicable. Our hero is unreasonably stupid about life in general. It is only saved by the cast.
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Friday, April 19th, 2013 04:39 pm
Not all that glitters is gold. But in my life, if I am not exposed often to some serious nuggets, I sink into a dark pit of self-generated beliefs that nothing is gold and that human beings have all the world considerations of a slug. Maybe not that much.

Then I spend a bit of time watching TED Talks or listening/watching RSA talks. While they aren't all bright and shiny, they glitter and throw rainbows of light into the gloom of my despair over the superstitious, ignorant collective of humanity.

I do not think we are will measured by our engineering feats like putting men on the moon or smart phones and the like. Many insects are great at engineering. Rather, I think we are will measured by our ability to philosophize and to create (though we are terrible at execution) that which sustains such enterprises as ending world hunger or putting an end to easily prevented diseases in the parts of the world that even developing.

We don't work at stopping world hunger and the like because of some immediate primate need to protect our particular troop. We do engage in instinctual protectionist behavior under the guise of nationalism or god given directives, but those are not the drives that call us to give of our resources and ourselves when something tragic happens half way around the world or in our own "back yard."

And it isn't the doing of the "good things" that inspire me; it is the thought that goes into understanding ourselves and our place in the world as a member of the collective of life on this cosmic spec.

Without the intellectual bent that a small fraction of our billions engage in -- whether it is in physics (Higgs Boson, anyone), or psychology, or art -- that gives me the warmth of heart that I need to feel like being a human being is a good thing. Otherwise I'm just another primate with a stick looking for a termite mound.

That doesn't meant that any of it is important or has intrinsic worth. Really, who cares what our place is? Eventually we will be a footnote in the cosmic encyclopedia, if we are lucky.

It just gives me a reason to hate everyone. :)
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Thursday, April 11th, 2013 04:09 pm
Watched Life of Pi last night. Some aspects of the story telling were very good. I mostly enjoyed all the time that adult Pi was talking to the writer. And I was mostly entertained by his early memories in India.

And then there were the award-winning CG. Yep. Then there was that. The CG was more than distractingly bad.

And, damn it, I want to know why the ship sank.
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Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 07:32 am
I miss Fred MacMurray. And I want to watch The Absent Minded Professor again.
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Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 07:51 am
We are part way through season 2. And I am getting more and more irritated with the writers.

My biggest issue with this show concerns our main characters complete disregard for the constitution and laws of the United States. Just kill a guy and cut off his head because you need it to make you cover look good. Jack should be in jail for the rest of his days.

People are ridiculously stupid. When pelted with TV shows showing the "good guys" bending and breaking laws and misusing their powers and authority, the general public perception of the real good guys will be damaged. Really. Plenty of decent studies have shown this to be the case.

The biggest irritation with the show is the needless drama created by every single character on the show. A simple statement of fact from any of them would be refreshing. A simple thoughtful response to a situation would be a miracle.

I will make it through this season, but I'm not going to start another one. It is just too frustrating to watch one character not say some bit of trivial information when asked a direct question. Stacey has suggested that to most people, this is the normal environment for them so it seems natural.

Give me a break.

On a related note, I started watching Torchwood. The jury is still out. I really like Captain Jack, but his people do the stupidest things imaginable.
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Thursday, October 13th, 2011 08:44 am
I posted on facebook for a couple of years. I was mostly bored with it, but still I would check it several times a day just to read cryptic remarks for which there was no context. I realized that it was a habit that I needed to break. I deactivated my account (and will eventually cancel it) a couple of weeks ago.

Several times a day, I find that there is some little tidbit that I want to post. A feeling that I want to share in such a way that it doesn't cause a conversation. A bit of something I just broadcast into the ether.

I am resisting easily enough, but the urge hasn't diminished yet.
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Monday, April 11th, 2011 09:37 am
I'm very good at solving puzzles of many sorts. I am particularly pleased with myself over my ability to solve puzzles that require juggling complex sets of data. I seem to have an "intuitive" feel for such things. It is a matter of how my brain developed, I think.
Read more... )
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Thursday, January 6th, 2011 08:34 am
I am consistently taken by surprise when I reflect over some relatively short span of my most recent past. I create plans for most of things I intend to do. (When I am resisting making the plan, I know that I really have no intention of doing the things I'm not planning.)

I reflect from time to time on how the plans are going. I do this because I have weak skills in identifying an area of concern while I'm standing in the middle of it. I can see them coming and I can see the deviations from the plan that landed me in the middle of a problem. I rarely see the deviations when I am deviating. I seem to always have a good reason for getting off the road.

When I finally notice that I'm off the road, I have to drag myself through the thickets and briers of my sour mood (it is my major red flag for being off the road). When my mood is sour, I have some horrid default perceptions about humanity. And those perceptions thicken slime of my mood. And I'm off and running on the "why bother, we are all doomed anyway" racetrack of despair.

I'm much faster at getting through the worst of it. Faster does not mean less suffering, though. It just means a few minutes, hours, or, sometimes, days of more intense suffering. I haven't always preferred the "pull the band aid off quickly" approach. And I sometimes what to continue to stand in sewer up to my neck rather than risk even momentarily getting my face in it. It is that dithering that creates the suffering. I know that standing there isn't going to end well, I just keep standing there pretending to weigh the consequences of one or another action.

I say "pretending" because I already know what there is to do and I just resisting doing it while flailing around looking for a worthy reason to not do it. It usually boils down to some version of "I can't fail if I don't try."

Well. What am I suffering about now? What sewer am I standing in? What is the "I don't wanna" running my life today? Well, I know. I can see it clearly (and won't be revealed in a publicly available entry in my journal. Now, the question is this: What do I do about it? I can see no acceptable actions that result in my having what I want. And, it seems, I'm unwilling to be with that.

Sigh. More suffering to do until I'm ready to say "So this is how it is."