Thursday, November 30, 2006

Installment #6: Genealogy 1999

In the late 90's, after the passing of my last grandparent, I realized that I knew very little about my heritage so I cranked up the Internets and began researching my family tree. For those who have not delved into the hobby (some would say obsession) of genealogy, searching for clues about you family history can be fascinating, like putting a puzzle together or solving a murder mystery. Each piece of information leads you to the next. In the summer of 1999 we decided to combine my hobby with a family vacation.

The plan was to drive back to the Midwest stopping in Nebraska and Iowa towns along the way to meet with relatives and to take pictures of tombstones. Our route would take us through Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and a short jaunt to Illinois. We started out on a Saturday morning. My plan was to end the day somewhere in central Utah like Richfield. Now, I have driven this route a couple of times going the opposite direction and I had always spent the night in St. George, Utah. This would have been the first time I drove through St. George without staying. It would have been if the car hadn't broke down about 20 miles north of St. George. We called AAA and we were towed back to the St. George Honda Dealership. Unfortunately it was near the end of the day and they would not be able to look at the car until Monday so we rushed to the nearest car rental place and rented a car before the place closed down. We didn't want to waste our time waiting for our car so we decided to take advantage of our unscheduled stop to explore. We started off with Zion on Sunday. I had been there before in 1995 but the wife had never been there. Zion is a beautiful park with awesome formations of red rock. Our visit was before they restricted car entry into the park so we drove in and took in the sights. We did a short hike along the Riverside Walk Trail including wading into the cool water of the North Fork Virgin River.

On Monday we discovered that the ol' Honda needed a part that wouldn't be available until Tuesday so we headed out to Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon is a very accessible, walkable canyon which is less daunting then the Grand Canyon but just as jaw-droppingly beautiful. We took a short hike and walked through the unique geology of the park. On the way back we stopped at a little shop and bought a rug which blesses our little guest bedroom floor. We continued back to St. George and we were on highway 14 heading west when we had to pull over to look at a view of a forested valley that took my breath away. We were high over forests of Pine and Cedar trees that looked like heaven to me.

On Tuesday we finally continued on our trip. A day and a half later we arrived to Belgrade, NE where we visited with relatives from my Mom's side of the family and visited the local cemetery to take pictures of some of the markers. We didn't know where they lived so we stopped at the general store to ask for directions. It turned out that the person we were looking for was in the store having some ice cream with her friends. We had a pleasant conversation and exchanged genealogy stories before we said our goodbyes. That night we ended up in Schuyler, NE.

Early next morning the wife was awoken by chest pains. They were severe enough that we found a nearby hospital and went to the emergency room. A doctor, who probably wrestled in high school, poked, prodded, and squeezed the wife before announcing that it probably was a pinched nerve and not a heart problem. The pains went away so we continued on to some cemeteries in north-east Nebraska. We took some pictures of some stones near Hooper and Scribner before heading to Mom's place in Omaha.

The next day we left with Mom to western Iowa looking for some more cemeteries. We were doing pretty good when the wife's chest pains came back with a vengeance. We rushed back to Omaha and back to the emergency room. This time they hooked her up to a EKG and monitored her closely. Once again they say it was an irritated nerve and that it may have been a result of stress. We found this strange that this would happen after school was out and the stress of the job was behind her but we were told that the effects of stress usually occur after the stress was gone. It was when you relax that the aches and pains show up.

The next day we headed east to visit with the in-laws at Lake Cornelia near Clarion, IA. On the way there we started to hear a weird sound so I pulled over. Sign ... flat tire. The tire literally was melting. We put on the spare and headed to a nearby Sam's Club and bought a new tire. We made it to the lake without further incident and enjoyed some time with the family.

We next headed further east to Hillsdale, IL for more genealogy research in the local library and more cemetery pictures.

At this point we were ready to head home. We sped across Iowa and Nebraska before stopping in Fort Morgan, CO. The next morning we filled up at a filling station across the street from out hotel and continued west towards home. That's when the engine trouble started. The car died a few times and it was hard to start. This lasted all the way back to California. My guess is that we got a batch of bad gasoline. When we got home the engine trouble went away and never returned.

So, to summarize, car breaks down, serendipitous visit to Zion and Bruce Canyon, cemetery, chest pains, cemetery, chest pains, flat tire, cemetery, bad gasoline. Now you know why we often call then the vacation from hell. I got some good pictures and added a lot to my genealogy research but, wow, at what cost?!? We almost needed a vacation from our vacation.

The wife still gets the pains every once in a while but they have never been as bad as on the genealogy trip of 1999.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Fans ask: Where is The Wife?

By popular acclaim, I now present with no further ado, in her natural environment ... The Wife!

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Picture Of Me ... Sort Of

I am keeping this blog anonymous for no real reason. I guess I don't want strangers knowing where I live, what I look like, what I'm doing, etc. Anyway, I decided to bend the rules a little and post a picture. I found a site that lets you create your own South Park character and this is a picture of me:


My head isn't that round and I'm a little taller but it's a pretty good likeness, never the less.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Installment #5 - Las Vegas 1999

After driving around the southwest and amongst the trees, we chose our next destination to be more urban - Las Vegas. We chose President's Day weekend. Now, the wife and I are not big gamblers and the only real lure of Vegas are the shows. We had heard of a new Cirque du Soleil show called 'O' at the Bellagio and we were lucky to be able to buy tickets since it was often sold out. We arrived Saturday morning. We drove - a five hour drive through the rather dull desert. We stayed in a Days Inn about a block off the strip. I had tried to get something on the strip but since it was a holiday weekend everything was either sold out or expensive.

We started off walking the strip. We gambled a little bit and watched an Imax movie at Caesar's Palace.

'O' started at 10:00 pm that night and it was crowded. 'O' was magnificent. It was our first Cirque du Soleil show and I am still in awe of what I saw. We enjoyed everything about it. The show, the music, everything. We even bought the CD on the way out. I often listen to it when I need to relax. We have since gone to one other Cirque du Soleil shows, Dralion, in Long Beach near the Queen Mary. We need to go back to Vegas sometime and see the other four shows there.

On our second night we went to Riverdance. I like Celtic music and Celtic dancing. It is hard not to be impressed. The show was good but 'O' was more entertaining.

After our two days in Vegas being entertained and giving our money to the casinos, we drove home. I am sure we will return to Las Vegas someday.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Book: Rory Stewart's The Places In Between

My latest read is Rory Stewart's "The Places In Between". This book chronicles the author's walk from Herat, Afghanistan to Kabul, Afghanistan in January 2002. The guy has to be a little crazy trying to walk across Afghanistan only a few months after the American invasion and crossing the mountain passes in the dead of winter. Mr. Stewart is following the travels of Emperor Babur who nearly died traveling the same route in 1507 AD. It takes the author 36 days to do the walk. He stops at villages along the way and depends on their Muslim hospitality for shelter and food. Along the way he picks up a war dog whom he names Babur.

The book is a travelogue, a genre that I really have never read before. For that reason, I have mixed feelings about the book. I kept waiting for the climax or the punchline and it never came. The journey was interesting enough and you learn a lot about Afghan history and Muslim customs but, except for the general concept of walking across Afghanistan during wartime in the wintertime, there really isn't anything compelling about his story. It becomes a little repetitive when, at every village he ends up in, he has to negotiate for shelter and food.

All this said, I would recommend the book if you are familiar with travelogue style of writing and are interested in Afghanistan. The most touching part, in my opinion, is the last two paragraphs of the book when we find out the fate of Babur the dog. I guess in the end I did connect somewhat with the author and his companion. I just wish it had been a little earlier in the journey.

Game Over

The Saints put up a good fight but lost their playoff game by three points ... in overtime. They were the underdog by 17 points so a three point loss was a victory for the Saints.

Friday, November 24, 2006

PostSecret

I came across a site that is fascinating and heart wrenching at the same time. It is called PostSecret and the author posts secrets that people have sent anonymously.

Black Friday and our Unusual Shopping Habits

Today is Black Friday - the day when Christmas shopping starts in earnest. We, like millions of others, went out shopping but unlike most we went to a couple of slightly off-center places. The first was the Long Beach Convention Center where National Geographic was having a warehouse sale. About a year ago I subscribed to national Geographic using frequent flier miles (Free Subscriptions - Neat-O!). Soon afterward we started receiving catalogs for the National Geographic store. Now most of you are probably imagining a catalog full of books, maps, and DVDs. The fact is the catalogs are full of cool travel clothes, sweaters, jewelry, travel gadgets, as well as books, maps, and DVDs. We went down to Long Beach for a three day sale looking for clothes and travel stuff. The catalog tends to be pricey but the card we received in the mail promised 25-95% discounts. Sure enough, the discounts were impressive. We were slightly disappointed that there was less clothing and jewelry then we had hoped but the books and stuff we found was worth the trip. In all we bought almost $200 worth of stuff including a sweater for the wife, a couple shirts for me, and several travel books to help us plan our future travel. We even found a Christmas present for the spud. I was looking for a wall map but was surprised to find they had none on sale.

Our second stop was the General Wax and Candle wholesale outlet store. We left there with $55 worth of candles for gifts and our own personal use. I really like candles and always burn them in the chilly winter months.

The wife is going with the "J' to a Saint's playoff game tonight. It's down in Duarte (Near Pasadena). I think I will just hang out and relax this evening. We were going to decorate the tree but it will have to wait for the weekend (Yeah I know, I said we were going to decorate after Thanksgiving Dinner but it didn't happen and it won't happen tonight either - deal with it!).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pebbles and Bee-ach Patterns


After eating Thanksgiving Dinner, I went down to Hueneme Beach to walk off a few calories. Every time a walk on the beach I see something different. This time around a saw several small piles of tiny, shiny stones. I decided that they must be the regurgitated stones from a sea bird's gizzard.


I also noticed a strange trail in the sand made by a beached bee. You can see the bee on the right side of the picture. I have noticed bees and ladybugs on the beach before. I am not sure what the attraction is for them.

The Beginning of the Holiday Season

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

We are having a quiet day at home. We are going to have a delicious Ham Lunch (Dinner for the midwesterners). I've already put up the Christmas Tree in the living room. After lunch we will will decorate it. I like this time of year - you know, the holiday season that starts at Thanksgiving and continues through the end of New Years Day. The whole Peace on Earth and Goodwill thing always makes me feel warm and fuzzy even though it doesn't always translate into reality - It's the thought that counts. I'm not really into the Christmas Spirit yet. Still, I am looking forward to going home and visiting the family. We're going to see the in-laws first, followed by a Christmas Day visit with my Mom and my favorite Uncle, and then we will be visiting the Spud's parents who will now have a couple more hand fulls to take care of. At my Uncle's new house I will be seeing cousins that I haven't seen in over nine years.

Everyone have a safe start to the Holidays!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

San Fernando Mission

On Sunday after the fantabulous Doo Dah parade, we went to another of California's missions - this one in San Fernando. The mission was a typical mission, very well maintained/restored. We toured the mission which was preparing for a wedding. We were both surprised to find that Bob Hope is buried at the mission in the Bob Hope Memorial Garden.

We have now visited Six of the Twenty-One Missions. My goal is to visit them all by summer 2008.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Doo Dah Parade - Funtastic!

Sunday was another full day. After starting the day with hearty breakfast at Denny's, we took a quick drive to Pasadena and made our way to the strange world of the Doo Dah parade. This was a perfect day for a parade. Clear blue sky and temperatures in the upper 70s - low 80s. We scouted out the route and found a spot on the shady side of Colorado Boulevard. This was a wise idea since it was boiling in the sun - we would've turned into lobsters.The Doo Dah parade was started as a parody of the Rose parade. I have now been to both and I have to say that the Doo Dah parade was by the far the most enjoyable. Then again, I like a lot of weird things and the Doo Dah parade was full of weirdness. There were people (and dogs) in costumes. People dancing, marching, prancing, and doing other weird things down the middle of the street. There were people on stilts. People on bikes. There were cool cars. There were bagpipers, some in gorilla costumes, playing "Camptown Races" (you know - The Camptown ladies sing this song, Doo-dah, Doo-dah ... ) Paraders were throwing candy, beads, rubber balls, and hot dogs at the crowd. A sample of the parade participants:
  • The Balls of Barny's Beanery (People dressed as billiard balls)
  • The Bastard Sons of Ed Wood
  • The Bastard Sons of Lee Marvin
  • Universal Yoga (Guru Yogi Ramesh)
  • The Claude Rains Memorial 20-Man Invisible Marching Drill Team ( Two people followed by 20 invisible marchers ... well, I didn't count them myself)
  • The Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team
  • The Red Hat Ladies
  • The Disco Drill Team (Y - M - C - A)
  • Plastic Animals on Parade
  • Caesar's Circus
  • The Raelians ( The Clone People)
  • H.E.R.D. (a recumbent bicycle club)
  • Dick Cheney's Hunting Club
  • Barbecue & Hibachi Marching Grill Team (shooting hot dogs at the crowd)
  • the Train of Thought
I have never seen so many bizarre people in my life. The most important thing is that they were all having a great time marching and dancing down Colorado Boulevard. I have no doubt that we will be going to the 2007 Doo Dah Parade.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Friday and Saturday - School nights

The Saints are moving on in the playoffs. Their next opponents, the Falcons, are supposed to be tough. Go Saints! I did not attend and it has been suggested that I should go and root for the opposing team. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Kind of bums me out a little.

Speaking of the wife's school, on Saturday we attended the school's charity auction. There was a pretty good turnout. I haven't heard what the haul was but I don't think the school was disappointed. The wife was disappointed that she didn't win anything, though. It was a worthwhile evening of charity giving and good food.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Busy Weekend

I have been a little lax in updating Homer's Travels this week. The creative juices just haven't been flowing. This weekend is looking to be a full weekend and I should have stuff to post about.

We have a busy weekend ... or at least the wife does. It starts tonight when the wife going to the High School Football playoff game between the Saints (Frontier League Champions!) and the Spirit. I am, of course, not invited. Tomorrow she has several football games on TV, Sears is coming by to install our microwave (our old one died a week ago - Dang I miss the microwave!), and then we go to a charity auction at the wife's school. Before the auction, I will be doing some chores and shopping. Sunday will be filled with the Doo Dah parade and the San Fernando Mission ('J' won't be joining us ... School work has gotten in the way).

We have been much more active and we are doing more things since we got back from Peru. Before Peru we were pretty much homebodies on the weekends. It feels like we have only had a weekend or two since August where we just stayed home during the weekend. I have lived in southern California for over 19 years and I am finally doing things I should have done years ago. I am really enjoying doing the things and seeing the places we have visited. I am actively looking for things to do and see. I only regret that I didn't do this 19 years ago.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah

The 2006 Doo Dah parade (the 30th one) is on the Sunday, 19 November. We are planning to go with 'J' to watch the parade. The Doo Dah parade is a parody of the Rose parade and promises to be a fun-filled time for all.

The hilarity of the parade may be followed by a more sobering visit to another of California's missions - Mission San Fernando.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Movies: Flags, The Queen, and Borat

During the past couple months we have gone to three movies. Here are mini reviews:

  1. Flags of our Fathers: This movie is the story of the Iwo Jima flag raisings. It's an O.K. movie. Nothing spectacular but entertaining enough. I was not familiar with the story of the flags so I left the theater with a little more knowledge then when I entered - a plus. The Iwo Jima invasion scenes were graphic taking a chapter from Saving Private Ryan - just not as well. A good movie - not a great movie.

  2. The Queen: The wife likes to follow the comings and goings of the British Royals. This movies tells the story of the Royal family when during the death of Diana. Pretty dull if you ask me. Nothing to see here - nothing new either. The wife agreed.

  3. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan: O.K. This movie got great reviews. My expectations were high. After the first 10 minutes I was thinking about walking out. The movie is disgusting, degrading, insulting, and despicable. After watching this movie I had a terrible taste in my mouth, heartburn, body aches (from cringing so much), and I felt like I needed a long hot bath. I felt dirty. The wife described it as Porn - That's about right. We did laugh but it was an embarrassed laugh, the uncomfortable laugh when you aren't quite sure if it is proper to laugh or cringe. You get the idea? Don't go see this movie. Don't rent the DVD. Cover you eyes when you drive by a theater showing this movie.
Our taste in movies hasn't been great lately. Hopefully that will change.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Overcast Mental Wanderings

Well, the jinx seems to be confirmed. I stayed home last night and the Saints beat the Wildcats. I have now been dis-invited by other teachers besides the wife. Now, if I were a High School football fan I would be insulted by this but I'm not. The fact is I have never been interested in sports. I was the the last to be picked, I was the guy in the outfield where no one ever hit the ball, and I was the one who really didn't care who won the game which really pissed off the rest of the team. This is all cool because I was the Geek. I got the 'A' in Math and Science. I read science fiction. I spent my free time in the library reading about things that even I won't admit too in public. I briefly joined the chess club (it was mandatory to be in a club and chess seemed benign - I really suck at chess). I joined the programming club and got all excited when I managed to print a sine wave on the old teletype using BASIC. When I took an aptitude test in High School, my recommended vocations were Astronomer and Computer Scientist. I looked at these two professions and decided that the only way to make money in Astronomy was to teach and I didn't have the patience to teach (God bless the wife). That left Computer Science and so I chose Computer Engineering (and later added a second Electrical Engineering degree) as my degree. I probably should have stayed on the programming side but instead I chose the hardware side and off I went. I graduated with a 3-point-something and got a job where I used about 0.01% of what I had learned. This was probably a mistake but it was the easy way at the time. Now 19 years have passed and I am in a job that has its ups and downs. Sometimes it is fulfilling and other times it is just mind-numbing crap.

Wow, I didn't know where this came from ... I'm kind of bumming myself out. Not all journeys can be pleasant ones I guess. There is only one way to fix this ... A Haiku:

Klutzy Sci-Fi Geek
Matured into Football Jinx
Away, Away Dark Thoughts

Friday, November 10, 2006

SpongeBob and the Hasselhoff?!? WOW!!

After getting back from the Observatory, the wife went to a football game between her current school and the school she used to work at. I was not invited. So I stayed home updating Homer's Travels listening to the last three hours of the SpongeBob SquarePants marathon which ended with the SpongeBob SquarePants movie - A movie featuring a cameo by David Hasselhoff - who could ask for anything more. A perfect end to a perfect day!

The Most Looked Through Telescope in the WORLD!


Today we set off to see Griffith Observatory. Traffic was a little heavier then I expected and we arrived only 10 minutes before our shuttle bus appointment (Since reopening last week, the only way to get to the Observatory is by shuttle bus and only by appointment). We arrived at the observatory and, passing by the monument to the Astronomers, headed for the ticket line. The line to the planetarium show ticket counter was already long. We overheard a guide asking another if they knew about the automated ticket machine on the second floor. I hustled down and ended up first in line to the automated ticket machine. Less then a minute later we had our tickets.

Since it was noon, we decided to have lunch first at Wolfgang Puck's Cafe at the End of the Universe. This is a play on Douglas Adams' book Restaurant at the End of the Universe. We ordered a couple roast beast sandwiches, chips, sodas, and some sweets for desert - $29.15. I little on the steep side but the sandwich was made on a gourmet roll and there was a substantial pile of roast beef - almost worth it.
After the lunch we moved on to the exhibits. Everything is well done. The exhibits covered the history of Astronomy, our current knowledge of the Solar System, and the current state of the Universe. Most of the exhibits are aimed at the younger set so we walked through it fairly quickly. The top floor was the original planetarium. The ceiling in the central rotunda features murals that have been restore and a Foucault pendulum proving the rotation of the Earth (I was starting to doubt this rotation nonsense but the pendulum set me straight).

In the new section, we saw a movie at the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater. The movie shows the history of the Observatory and the $93 Million renovation. The audience gasped when the movie said that the entire building was lifted up using hydraulic lifts so that the workers could add the second and third floors under the original observatory. Very impressive engineering.


The observatory has been used for several movies - both good and bad - over the years. One of the most famous, and marked by a memorial, is Rebel Without A Cause. Note the Hollywood sign in the background.

After exploring the new section we headed for the Samuel Oschin planetarium show. The show was a typical astronomy history show. Very well executed but nothing I hadn't seen before.The last thing we did was go up to the roof to see the telescope. Since it was daytime it wasn't active but it was still impressive. It is the most looked through telescope in the world. We plan to return some evening so we can look through it. I am sure the LA lights will be impressive as well.

After a stop at the Stellar Emporium for a magnet, we headed home. I had a good time. What will we do next? Stay tuned and find out.




Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Zoo

I went to the Santa Barbara Zoo today. The wife wasn't with me. I don't blame her. She has a friend who used to work at the Omaha zoo and kind of got all Zoo-ed out. Anyway, The Santa Barbara Zoo is located near the beach. The zoo is not the most impressive in the world. Their websites says plan for 2 1/2 hours. It took me about an hour to complete the whole thing. Some of the exhibits were closed. The place was showing some wear and tear. The zoo is 43 years old and it looks it. (I too am 43 years old by I look Magnificent.) Most of the animals were sleeping - what else is there to do in a small cage/pen?

I took some 87 pictures and the only ones worth posting were the giraffe and the penguins. The picture on the left shows what happens when you sleep on you neck wrong - ouch that looks painful. She seems OK though. They think the deformity was caused by a tumor on a neck bone.


The penguins were ... well, just penguins but who can't smile at penguins - they're so darn cute. Heres a picture of some swimming in their tank.

After looking around and feeling a little disappointed, I had lunch at the zoo - a tasty BBQ Chicken Sandwich which actually was pretty good - and perused the gift shop and found a magnet.

The sad thing is, this wiped me out. I was so tired when I got home that I crashed on the couch for an hour or two before walking the Homer. I may look Magnificent but the whole age thing is catching up with me.

Tomorrow The wife and I go to the Griffith Observatory. I'm looking forward to it - it sounds cool.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Feel Better Already

So I'm on my way to the tire repair place, the front driver side tire replaced with a little toy tire that Honda calls a spare, jamming to the tunes on NPR's Morning Becomes Eclectic, when on comes a song by the Flaming Lips called, and I kid you not, "The Big Ol' Bug Is The New Baby Now." I wonder what they were smoking when they wrote those lyrics. The song was a bizarre story about a man and his dogs, how the dogs chewed up every toy except their favorite, and how a big plastic grasshopper replaced their favorite stuffed toy. What a weird way to start the day.

The tire place was a breeze. They fixed it in the time it took me to read three pages in my book - in, read three pages, and out in about 15 minutes. Total cost to repair the leaking valve stem - $0.00 - Priceless.

The rest of my day was filled with chores, shopping, gardening, walking the Homer, and listening to This American Life. A busy and fulfilling day if I say so myself.

What does all this mean? The elections are over and I feel better already.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Some Journeys Fall Flat

I'm driving to work this morning ... not my favorite journey ... when I notice my steering wheel was shaking a little. I get to work and get out of the car and see a flat tire. I used my small compressor to pump the tire up to see how fast it was leaking and found that is was a slow leak. It was still up at the end of the day but flattened again on the way home. I am convinced now that the valve stem is leaking. Crud! Not a great start to a long weekend (I'm taking leave Wednesday, have an off day on Thursday, and have Veteran's Day off on Friday - a five day weekend - WOO HOO!). Tomorrow I will spend some of my precious time getting my tire fixed. BOO HOO for me. I'm sure you all feel sorry for me ... HA!

I'm considering going to the Santa Barbara Zoo on Thursday. The wife isn't interested in going so if I go it will be a solo sojourn. If I go it will be the fifth zoo that I've been to (Guatemala City, Omaha, Honolulu, San Diego).

Monday, November 06, 2006

Exercise Your Right

Tomorrow is election day. If you haven't voted already by absentee, please vote tomorrow.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Saints Were Flashed

We went to the football game last night. It was my first high school game and it will probably be my last. It seems my Notre Dame Jinx also applies to the Saints. The Saints went into this game 8-0 (2-0 in the league) and were up against the Flash who were 6-1 (2-0 in the league). Well, after last night the Saints are 8-1 (2-1) and the Flash are 7-1 (3-0). Not that the Saints didn't play well - 6:00 left in the fourth quarter, Saints are down 7 to 27. By the end of the game the score was 22-27 and the Saints were on the 5 yard line when they ran out of time. Oh so close.

I doubt I will be invited again.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Close-To-Home Weekend

This weekend is going to be a quiet one spent close to home - no roadtrips, no new adventures. We are going to a High School Football game between the wife's school - undefeated - and another rival from a nearby city - also undefeated. Now I am not a sports fan but even I am interested when two undefeated teams battle each other. The crowd is going to be large. The game is tonight. I'll let you all know how it went tomorrow.

Besides the game, we may go see a movie and just hang around the house. Everyone needs that every now and then. I spent this afternoon catching up on by Dr. Who and Battlestar Galactica episodes - both thought provoking, interesting, and just plain entertaining. Battlestar is still the best show around.

Well, not the most interesting of posts but things are just chillin' with This American Life playing in the background. On Friday we are going to the Griffith Observatory that just finished a multi-million renovation. I should have pictures. After that, a football game between the wife's new school vs. her old school - mixed emotions there.

P.S. I think I'll try out a new font - Trebuchet. What the heck - I feel like living on the edge.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sequoia 1998

Installment number four of our past vacations. Following our long, and sometimes harrowing, southwest vacation, we decided to make the next one short. In October 1998 we spent a long weekend in Sequoia National Park. This was my fourth visit to Sequoia and my second with the wife. Our first trip was over Christmas 1996 and the park was covered with newly fallen snow - truly beautiful but many places in the park were inaccessible without snowshoes or cross country skis. This trip allowed us to go where we couldn't before.

We took country roads on the way to the park. At one corner we came upon a man selling wood crafts from the back of his van. We stopped and looked at his wares and left with an attractive little shelf which now graces out family room wall. We arrived at the park and checked into our hotel, Sequoia Village Inn, which was located right outside the south gate of the park. The hotel was owned by Curtis Nutter. We refer to him as Curtis P. Nutter, Mountain man.

We spent the next two days driving through the park (parks actually - Sequoia and Kings Canyon), climbing Moro Rock, gawking at the enormous trees, and walking a few short hikes through the Sequoia forest. Moro rock is one of my favorite places to go. The rock has paths and stairs carved in it allowing you to climb up to the top. The path is a little scary in places where only a one foot tall wall separates you from a death-causing plunge to the ground below. The top of the rock is a gently rounded dome with a single chain keeping you from sliding over the side. I am making it sound more dangerous then it really is - as long as you don't think about it too much. The view from the top can be spectacular but recently haze caused by air pollution has diminished the splendor.

After Moro rock we did a loop hike around a meadow. The loop takes you by Tharp's log - a cabin that is built into a fallen sequoia tree. A short drive takes you to General Sherman, considered the largest living tree by volume. We walked the nearby presidential grove loop, a short walk past sequoia's named after presidents.

The last day was a drive through gorgeous King's canyon and the return home.

We had a delightful three days up in the forests and we are planning to go back in the near future, possibly in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming. I would like to drive up to Mineral King. I would also like to stay in a lodge in the park if we can get in.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Toaster vs. Mixer

The wife has discovered that plugging in the toaster doesn't make the mixer run. She was trying to make mashed potatoes, reached down grabbed the plug, plugged it in and tried to turn on the hand mixer. No matter what she did, the mixer wouldn't turn on. Then, while plugging and unplugging the power cord, realized that she had grabbed the toaster's plug instead of the mixer plug. We both got a good healthy guffaw out of the mistake. In the wife's defense, the cords are identical. It was an honest, funny, mistake.