Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Slidell photos

The second and third of these photos are from areas near Ann's house. My house about 1.5 miles behind the strip mall in the first photo. A couple of people are hoping to get into our neighborhood to survey the damage. The latest estimate is 6-12 weeks before power is restored. My guess is that DW will visit her folks in Utah, while I camp out in a motel somewhere once we know how our office will function. Fortunately, we have some ability to work from remote locations.

Edited to add: We are planning to drive from Houston to Slidell tomorrow, check out our house, then return to Houston. There's been precious little information about our neighborhood, plus it's going to be a while before we can get back there permanently. If we wait until Monday, we'll be stuck in a gargantuan traffic jam with the folks from Jefferson Parish, whom, rumor has it, will be allowed to return ONLY on Monday.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hanging in Houston, Day 3

We're still trying to get information about our neighborhood. Someone who lives in another subdivision down the road wrote in an online forum that he was able to sneak back to his house, and that there was almost no damage, though there was some damage to other houses. He then turned around and went back to Baton Rouge. But still, no word on our area. Update--a poster from our neighborhood went back there, then back to Baton Rouge. He says that there are trees down and lots of siding off of houses, but it sounded like the 'hood wasn't devastated. Nothing specific as to our house, or even our block, but every little bit helps.

We walked aimlessly around the Galleria for about two hours today. One shop had a horizontally shaped postcard with a photo of President Bush smiling and waving, with a photo of the White House off to his left. I took a vertically shaped postcard of two big-titted babes with Texas-flag bikinis and placed it over the White House on the Bush postcard. I thus transformed the President from a benevolent but firm commander-in-chief into a leering pervert. This amused me far more than it should have; yes, I have too much time on my hands.

Babylonian Exile Update

The usual print edition of the New Orleans Times-Picayune is being distributed online only today, and it has a few photos of Slidell (on pages 8 and 16), though none from either my neighborhood or Ann's. Click here to see it. I wasn't able to link directly to the pdf pages. I live about a mile and a half north of the store pictured in the article on page 8 with the childrens' play structures in front of it and flooded cars in the front. We still don't know very much, but there should be some helicopter fly-overs today that will tell us more. It looks like we'll be in Houston for another day or two, so perhaps we'll follow Craig's advice and go to Luling for some grub, I dunno. BTW, thanks, C! We have preexisting plans to visit Alexandria, LA, Saturday and Sunday, so we may just end up driving up there directly from Texas.

Update--the Orleans Parish-side levee along the 17th Street Canal between Orleans and Jefferson Parishes has ruptured, allowing water from the Lake to pour into the City of N.O. proper. You can link to WWL-TVs live streaming coverage here or here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Randy's Babylonian Exile

Well, not really; I'm in Houston, Texas, riding out the hurricane in a motel filled with my fellow Louisianians. We left home at 5:30 p.m. yesterday, after deciding to just get in the car and go once we had our stuff packed and ready. I used my fairly decent knowledge of the road system to cheat a little on the state's evacuation plan, and that probably saved us at least two hours. My first cynical ploy was at the I-12 exit to Hwy. 190. We were supposed to get off and go on 190 to Baton Rouge, while the South Shore people got I-12 for part of their evacuation. I drove up 190 for about a mile, then flipped a U-turn, drove back the other way past the cops, then did another U-turn, and got into the evacuation line from the South Shore. Later, we were diverted onto 190 again; this time, nobody was supposed to be on I-12. After it took us one hour to go 11 miles, I took a chance with a road I know has access to I-12. The entrance was open, and we drove 85 miles per hour the rest of the way to Baton Rouge. Anyway, we got to Houston around 1:30 a.m.

Our laptops from work are supposedly set up for us to work during events like this. This morning, however, I discovered that our wi-fi capabilities haven't been activated, and I don't have a bloody clue about doing that. So we went to Best Buy and bought a wi-fi card for DW's laptop, and that doesn't work either. Man, I've been jonesin' for the Internet today! Right now I'm in the motel business center. Also today, I've been swimming, and we browsed the fabulous-but-too-expensive-for-me-to-shop-at Houston Galleria and went to see "The Brothers Grimm."

Hurricane Katrina is going to be very, very bad for the New Orleans area. Several years ago, I read a series of articles in the local paper about the damage a theoretical category 5 hurricane would do, if it came in at just the right angle. It looks like this is that storm.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Oh my.

Here we go again! Earlier this morning, I booked us a room in Houston for Sunday a Monday nights. That sucks, especially since I was looking forward to a long Sunday at the Zen center. Oh well; maybe next time.

I just updated the photo; the current forecast has the eye of the storm going very near my house.

Friday, August 26, 2005

This thing of ours--mob movies

I love movies about the Mafia. The American Dream has a dark side to it, full of shadows, and organized crime runs in those complicated shadows. As a society, we have become wealthy beyond imagination, and legitimate rags-to-riches stories abound. However, with wealth comes the ability to use that wealth indulge desires that society considers unsavory, even illegal. Of course, somebody has always been there to supply America with hookers, gambling, booze, and drugs, and historically speaking, that someone has been the Italian-American Mafia (and its un-made Irish and Jewish associates). The Mafia has its own rags-to-riches stories, almost always involving rather a lot of murder and mayhem, and there is a major vicarious thrill to watching movies about these guys. They inhabit a world without boundaries, a world in which your best friend is your friend only as long as he doesn't rat you out or have you killed. In the end, money is the only thing that matters, whatever the mob powers-that-be might say about honor and tradition.

"The Godfather" (1972), "The Godfather Part II" (1974), "GoodFellas" (1990), and "Donnie Brasco" (1997) are all excellent movies. The Godfather films are operatic, and reflect life at the top of the mob organizational chart. Indeed, Francis Ford Coppolla wants the viewer to think of the Corleone family as virtually identical to any corporate or governmental hierarchy. There's a great scene in Havana in which Hyman Roth proclaims that the mob is "bigger than A.T.&T." There's very little in the films about life among the wiseguys lower down on the mob food chain. All of that said, Al Pacino was brilliant as Michael Corleone in both movies, and he had an excellent supporting cast including Diane Keaton, Robert Duval, James Caan, Lee Strasberg, and Marlon Brando. And who can forget the baptism scene near the end of Godfather I?

"GoodFellas" and "Donnie Brasco" depict life among lower level wiseguys, and serve to correct any romantic notions people might have about the mob after watching the Godfather films (though I don't know many people who in real life would piss on Michael Corleone to save his life if he were on fire). Both movies are based on real-life experiences, and they are both fabulous stories. "GoodFellas," by far the more violent of the two, tracks the life of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) as he rose in the ranks of the Lucchese-affiliated gang of "Jimmy the Gent" Burke (Jimmy Conway in the movie, played by Robert DeNiro). Burke put together the "Roberts Lounge Crew" that staged the Lufthansa heist, the biggest robbery in American history. Burke then whacked all the guys who actually stole the money, except for the psychopathic Tommy deSimone, played wonderfully by Joe Pesci. Tommy, however, gets whacked for indiscretions of his own (IRL, John Gotti pulled the trigger on deSimone, on the okay of Lucchese capo Paul Vario, who is played by Paul Sorvino in the movie). Martin Scorsese directed, so this is a brutally realistic film, but one that is very hip, especially in its use of music.

"Donnie Brasco" is about the FBI agent who infiltrated the Bonnano family in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Johnny Depp is Brasco, whose real name is Joe Pistone. Brasco gets too close to a couple of the mobsters (including one played by Al Pacino)--and almost gets made--but he gives the FBI a mother lode of information. After the FBI pulled Brasco and told the Bonnanos about the infiltration, one of the guys to whom Brasco had become very close was whacked. The have the wrong one getting killed in the movie, but oh well. The movie has some relevance now, as Bonnano boss Joe Massino earlier this year was convicted of the hit on "Sonny Black" Napolitano and of some other murders depicted in "Donnie Brasco."

There are other mob movies out there, but those are the four I would recommend.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

My favorite films--social satire

I've grouped my favorite movies into some rather arbitrary categories for purposes of review; feel free to argue that my categories are wacked or that a particular movie doesn't belong where I've put it. First up, movies I'll label as social satire.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Dr. Strangelove (1964), and Network (1976) are my favorite films of social satire. The Manchurian Candidate takes on the paranoid, McCarthyite political far right, and, less obviously, the extreme left; Dr. Strangelove takes on paranoid far-right militarism; and Network takes on the television news business.

Network is the most sharply satirical of the group--and, some might argue, the scariest in its prescience about the future of the institution it satirizes. Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duval, and Ned Beatty are hilariously over-the-top in the film, and Finch's "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" because a catchphrase during the mid-1970s. The plot involves cynical, unscruplous network executives who take advantage of an anchorman's on-the-air meltdown to boost ratings. Network is a great dark comedy, chock full of extreme characters and great performances. Holden's lectures on the evil of television are a downer, and they're totally unnecessary given the wackiness in the film. There's even a sex scene with Holden and Dunaway (their characters had a fling) in which she continues talking about ratings even as she achieves orgasm. It's a very, very funny movie, and one in tune with its post-Watergate times, when even the most trusted institutions in the country were being doubted.

Dr. Strangelove and The Manchurian Candidate are very different films, but they both satirize the paranoia of the McCarthy era and the Cold War. Dr. Strangelove is a dark comedy with a deadly ending--who can forget Slim Pickens riding atop an atomic bomb?--while The Manchurian Candidate demonstrates in the person of Angela Lansbury (a McCarthy-ite who actually was a Soviet agent) that the far right and the far left have more in common with each other than with the moderate wings of their own movements. Frank Sinatra was a much better actor than one might think, and, in the Manchurian Candidate, he makes smoking a cigarette look very, very cool. Peter Sellers was a comic genius, and Dr. Strangelove featured some of his best characters . The scary thing when I watch those movies now is the thought of how scary, uneasy times can present opportunities for opportunistic political leaders who will think nothing of taking away liberty in the name of security. This is not meant as a dig at George W. Bush or anybody else who is currently in office; it's just an observation. Both movies are heavy on the politics, but both are great works of political satire.

IMHO, social satire, in whatever form, is significant to the functioning of a free society. Every institution needs rock-throwers making fun of it to keep it honest. Thoughts? Comments?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Autism treatment

My kids' school has created an on-campus autism center, and is implementing applied behavior analysis (ABA) as its educational methodology. Currently, the behavioral health staff is observing the children with ABA in mind, then the staff will design individualized programs for the kids. This is a very, very good thing, and something that will help both of my boys.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Buddhists and the brain

I picked up the current issue of "Shambhala Sun" magazine at B&N the other day. The magazine contains a couple of articles about an ongoing dialogue between scientific research into brain processes and Buddhist philosophy on the workings of the mind. The current Dalai Lama is fascinated by the inner workings of the human brain, and he has been instrumental in creating a Mind and Life Institute that holds periodic conferences. Neurological science has moved towards Buddhist philosophy with its recognition of "emotional intelligence" and recognition of the value of meditation. One medical study raised the possibility that brain activity and affective moods actually change as the result of extensive meditation. Both sides in the discussion understand that mind and brain are different, though related concepts. One doctor states that "the level of description of mind and the level of description of rain are very different, but I also believe that mind depends on brain and without brain there is no mind." The author then points out that "while in Buddhism, mind transcends embodiment, as evidenced by reincarnation, in neuroscience mind or consciousness is considered an 'emergent property'; it just pops up where there are brains."

The magazine also contains an excerpt from the Dalai Lama's book "The Universe in a Single Atom." The DL recognizes that the "experience of consciousnes" is subjective, while the scientific method is objective. He notes that consciousness consists of varied mental states, some of which are explicitly cognitive (belief, memory, recognition, attention), some that are explicitly affective (emotions), and some that function as causal factors that motivate us to action (volition, will, desire, fear, and anger). Even within those mental states, there are distinctions between sensory perceptions, which require some immediacy in relation to objects, and conceptual thought processes, which do not. To the extent that consciousness stems from physical, chemical processes, it can be studied via the scientific method. One neuroscientist told the DL that all mental states arise from physical states, and that it is impossible for mental states to work changes to physical states, as the DL suggested might be possible. The DL opines that the neuroscientist's claim was a metaphysical assumption, and not a scientific fact. He would like to see science integrate "the phenomenonological aspect of mental phenomena, namely the subjective experience of the individual." Because consciousness is at least in part subjective and experiential, that subjectivity and experience should be taken into account. The DL recognizes that metaphysical differences may remain regarding whether conciousness depends entirely on physical processes or whether subjective experiences are nonmaterial phenomena, but he believes that "the key issue here is to bracket out the metaphysical questions about mind and matter, and to explore together how to understand scientifically the various modalities of the mind." By better understanding the modalities of the mind, the DL believes, we can gain an understanding of the mind and its relation to suffering, which will help in coming up with ways to alleviate suffering.

Fascinating stuff. I really should know more about brain science and mental health than I do, given my kids' autism. It does seem that the DL is, in essence, attempting to reconcile psychology and religion with neurology and physiology. Am I anywhere close to being right? In any event, it's nice to see someone with an intellect that is both broad and deep trying to bring together science and spirituality.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Chrome dome?

Last night, I dreamed that I had attempted to cut my own hair. At first, I thought I had done a good job, then I had another look in the mirror and saw that I had a couple of strips of exposed scalp. I took an electric razor and shaved my head. However, I could not get rid of a layer of wispy, platinum blonde/white hair. In reality, my hair is kind of wispy fine, but it's pretty thick and most of it is still brown. After shaving my head, I went to work and pretended as though I liked my new look.

Later, I dreamed that I was acting out a debate between proponents of evolutionary theory and proponents of "intelligent design" theory. I was the actor for the evolutionists, first playing a Neanderthal, then a homo erectus. I got obliterated in both roles. I would act as the topic was debated. I can't remember seeing any of the acting for the other side of the debate.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Adam, swimmer

Adam is teaching himself how to swim, something he started last summer. He's completely non-verbal, and his receptive language skills are very poor, so he is pretty much on his own. It's very interesting to watch him slowly figuring things out. He can push off the side and kick, and he can use his hands to steer himself. He has yet to realize that he needs to keep his back straight, and that he can pull his head up for air without standing up and ending the swim.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Toby, artist

Here are the proofs of the notecards using Toby's drawings. His photo and a little story about his drawing habits are on the back of the cards. Toby's drawings are becoming somewhat more concrete as he works away, and I have hope that we'll get him drawing recognizable objects in the near future.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Psycho film review

Yesterday, I gave into a prurient, guilty-pleasure, yeah I know it's bad but I want to see it anyway impulse and picked up a copy of the "Killer Collector's Edition" of the "Uncut Version" of "American Psycho." We watched it last night. It's actually a tad less violent than I thought it would be, and much funnier.

The film is a very dark comedy about high-flying Ivy League young urban professionals in the early 1980s. Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street high-flyer who enjoys killing people in nasty ways. Bret Easton Ellis's novel "American Psycho" was trashed by American feminists, but the movie has a very feminist take on the supposed vacuousness of a certain class of American men.

Bateman follows an extensive hair and skin care procedure before work everyday, and he is fanatical about exercise and diet. The men judge their importance by the quality of their business cards and their ability to obtain reservations at popular restaurants. Bateman doesn't seem to know much of anything, and he frequently recites memorized criticisms of popular albums as he plays the CDs (Huey Lewis, Phil Collins, and Whitney Houston figure in this). In one scene, the men look at each other's new business cards, and the scene has an unmistakeable undertone of Freudian penis envy. Bateman can't stand it that one of his colleagues has a far nicer card than he has, so he gets that colleague drunk and decapitates him with an axe. Other people are whacked for no reason at all, particularly when Bateman goes into a killing frenzy. Throughout the film, Bateman tells other people that he is very much into killing, but nobody catches on that he actually means it.

I thought the attempt to tie the cut-throat competition in the business world to Bateman's actual throat-cutting was interesting--somewhat like the paralells between the Mafia, big business, and Government alluded to in "The Godfather"--but the attempt to tie those things to Ronald Reagan's politics was inserted heavy-handedly and was simply too much of a stretch to be credible. If you can stomach this film, with its violence and a sex scene alluding to rodeo riding, it's an interesting movie. The writing is good, and Christian Bale is great in the role of young upwardly mobile urban sociopath.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 13, 2005

New Kid Photos

A rare moment with Adam and Toby together. I'll scan Toby's fundraising card proofs on Monday and post them. Posted by Picasa

Adam in the dorm. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 11, 2005

This beats sitting at a computer all day

I'm in a bored-with-work mood today, as I make major revisions to memos I wrote up two weeks ago in order to conform with unanticipated changes in the law that occurred while I was away. Grrr! So, in my bored state, I go to the website for the Tuscan villa owned by one of my law school roommates, and I see this photo, which appears to show that old roommate standing next to his in-ground swimming pool. Not that I'm envious or anything like that. No, not me.

In other news, we're planning to see our boys this weekend; I'm very much looking forward to that. Their regular day school program starts on Monday, and they both like attending school. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Interesting twist on Harry Potter

From Peter Lambert of the TLS:


J. K. Rowling

607pp. | Bloomsbury. £16.99. | 0 7475 8108

It is not easy being an adult Harry Potter fan. All around us are detractors, laughing at our obsession, questioning our intellectual maturity, forcing us to conceal hardback books behind carefully spread pages of the TLS. But the derision of our peers is nothing compared to the torture that J. K. Rowling is now putting us through. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the penultimate book in a series of seven, may be the most gripping yet, but it is also deeply distressing. Harry and his friends are fighting a losing battle against the evil Lord Voldemort, the death count is high, and Hogwarts Academy is awash with paranoia. As we follow the teenage wizard through a year of struggle and eventual tragedy, it becomes clear that Rowling is no longer interested in nurturing our dreams, but in stamping on them.

There was a time when Harry Potter was all about escapism: an unloved orphan turned out to be a glorified messiah, and had some terrific adventures in the process. This was uncut fantasy; for those who could stomach it, reading Rowling’s first book was, in Stephen Fry’s words, “like swimming in chocolate”. Only in retrospect do we realize this was part of a master plan: that the first, sugar-coated hit would lead to a lifetime of troubled addiction. Who would have guessed, before the arrival of Volume Four, that a Harry Potter novel might end not in resolution but in turmoil? Who would have believed, before Book Five, that a major character could be killed? Rowling’s genius has turned out to be her ability to manipulate readers over the course of an entire series: to set up a craving for escapism which, with increasing resolve, she refuses to satisfy.

What hurts most is the casual erosion of the customs and routines that once made Hogwarts such a delightful place to visit. The everyday rituals of magical existence have always been important – buying school books in Diagon Alley, drinking Butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks – and part of the pleasure for readers is seeing these rituals happily revisited from book to book. Not so, however, in Half-Blood Prince. Quidditch is now fraught with danger, the house cup competition all but forgotten; even Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour is closed for business. A trip on the Hogwarts Express, once a perfect opportunity to swap chocolate frogs and catch up on some wizard chess, now ends with Harry’s nose shattering, “blood spurting everywhere”, as he is mercilessly kicked in the face.

And this is before anyone dies. Readers have now come to expect one important mortality per novel: it is a tribute to Rowling’s skills as a mystery writer that death can still surprise us here. The book’s blurb describes the writer as
possessing a “flair that is magical”; in fact, Rowling is not so much a magician as a muggle-conjurer, using one hand to dazzle us with red herrings, decoys and bluffs, while the other discreetly removes our wristwatch. Six books in, one might think readers would be wise to her tricks, but again, Rowling plays our familiarity to her advantage: we know that a twist is coming, she knows we know a twist is coming – and so the twist doesn’t come. Yet. It would be a crime worthy of the Dementor’s Kiss to unveil the identity of her latest surprise victim: let us simply state that there is something perversely cruel about a writer who begins her story with an orphan finding a surrogate family, then spends five books killing this new family off. No one is safe from Rowling’s merciless pen: one of the reasons fans are now desperate for Book Seven is the suspicion that she might use it to kill Harry, or, worse still, have him survive without any living friends.

As a series writer, J. K. Rowling is learning from previous mistakes: where the last two Potters were in danger of becoming flabby, this one feels lean; the story-telling is efficient. And the writer’s weakness for expository dialogue – in which large amounts of back-story are explained to Harry – is less in evidence here; Rowling is using new, inventive (and, naturally, magical) means to dramatize information. This is a children’s writer at the height of her
sadistic powers. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is taut, witty, effortlessly engaging, and very, very nasty. How we yearn for more.

I tend to agree that the Potter novels have become darker and less childlike. However, her main characters are older teenagers now, and they are addressing serious life issues that many teenagers are made to face in real life. The development of the kids in the novels (except for Malfoy, who exists only as a foil for Harry) is one of the things I most appreciate about Rowling's writing. Moreover, Harry Potter's entire life has been filled with tragedy, from the death of his parents and his banishment to the Dursley's cabinet under the stairs in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," right on up through the shocking event at the end of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince."

Like Peter Lambert, I yearn for more.

Sleepy Randy

I spent last night at the sleep clinic of the local hospital.  I arrived at 8 p.m., and the technician explained everything and hooked me up with a couple dozen wires. They were able to detect any movement of my face, mouth, arms, neck, or legs, and they could detect if and when I stopped breathing.  The new clinic facility was opened about 10 days ago, so the bed was new and very comfortable.  I fell asleep shortly before 9 p.m., lying square on my back.  I always sleep face-down, so sleeping on my back is a challenge.  I woke up briefly at 5:20 a.m, then slept until 7:00 a.m.  I thought I would probably need to stay for some further testing today, as I had experienced my best night's sleep in months.  However, the doctor came in around 7:30 and said, "well, it was pretty miserable last night."  I definitely have sleep apnea, and it gets worse the deeper my sleep gets.  Also, I evidently grind my teeth during apnea episodes before I begin breathing again.  The next step is to be put on a CPAP machine, which uses air pressure to keep the throat open at night.

Also last night, I dreamt that I was hiding out with the "Scarface" version of Al Pacino.  We were being hunted by somebody, either the cops or other drug lords, I can't remember. Also, I had a dream where I lost a tooth. Supposedly, losing teeth reflects anxiety.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Rambling Randy

Shoshone Falls, on the Snake River near Twin Falls, Idaho. I'm glad we made this little detour from Interstate 84. Posted by Picasa

The obligatory turista photo. Posted by Picasa

The Snake River Canyon at Twin Falls, Idaho. I remember when Evel Kneivel attempted to jump this canyon on a motorcycle. Good thing he had a chute on that thing. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 06, 2005

From the road

I'm coming to you from Boise, Idaho, today, goofing off online while DW is out with her old missionary companion. I have a couple of hours alone in the motel, so I thought I'd reflect on my Western vacation thus far.

This has been a different kind of vacation for me, with a focus on people and relationships instead of on events and activities. I usually try to cram in as much outdoor activity as I can when I'm out here, but not this time. We landed in Salt Lake City on Tuesday and went from the airport to dinner with an online friend known as Working Father. It was great getting to meet in person someone I've chatted with for a couple or three years.

From there, we drove south to Mapleton, Utah, to spend the night with DW's sister and BIL. I met their children for the first time. Their 3 year old son greeted me with a cougar growl and claws, and we played hard pretty much from then until we left. It was a lot like playing with my own boys.

Then it was north to the Chuck-a-Rama restaurant in Salt Lake City for a family dinner. I got a little grumpy on the way up, and as we pulled into the driveway of the place, I muttered "fuck-a-rama" to DW. Minutes later, brother-in-law Bill came in and said, "I don't know how they stay in place with that name." Now, I realize that the f-bomb offends Bill, so either he has telepathic insight into my mind or great minds think alike. I don't know which.

On Wednesday, DW's oldest sister drove up to Logan with her daughters, one of whom has Leukemia. DW and I took the other daughter to a movie, then I fell into a fishing expedition with the ailing daughter. She was so determined that she had fashioned fishing gear from a stick, a shoelace, and a safety pin. We came very close to catching a small fish in the creek that runs behind the local golf course. It was fun, and it was nice to see that family again.

Wednesday night, brother-in-law Bill came in with his law school orientation materials. It looks like the U. of Utah does an excellent job prepping its law students. Anyhow, we--and my FIL--spoke for quite a while about law school.

Thursday morning, DW and I met another cyberfriend sometimes known as Max Doubt. Neither of us knew what the other looked like, so we sat in the coffee shop looking right at each other until I walked towards the door to go have another look outside and MD called my name.

This morning, we drove to Boise, and I discovered along the way that a rental Ford Focus does quite nicely cruising at 95 mph. There's no reason not to drive that fast on that stretch of road. We had a nice lunch with DW's missionary companion, and now I'm here.

All along, we've spent some good, quality time with the in-laws. Anyhow, by my standards, this is a pretty intense focus on people and relationships. No hikes; not even a drive up Logan Canyon. We almost did that yesterday in FIL's new Toyota Prius (I love that car!), but there was too much construction for us to bother.

Monday, August 01, 2005

With an upcoming trip in the works, I've been thinking about Utah a bit. The trail to Naomi Peak, in the Bear River Mountains above Logan, Utah, is a nice, relatively easy hike--or it was when I was in better shape, anyway. Naomi Peak is at 9,980 feet elevation, providing a fabulous view of Cache Valley, which is at around 4,700 feet. The first time I hiked up there, I trudged through deep snow in July. I'm such a flatlander that I kept asking myself what those red splotches were in the snow. It finally dawned on me that there are bears and other carnivorous animals running around up there.  Posted by Picasa

Six Feet Under, heading six feet under

I was watching "The 4400" (great show, btw) last night, so I didn't see "Six Feet Under." I'll watch it tonight, but I read about it on Television Without Pity, and all I can say is wow! I don't want to be a spoiler--unless Phoebe and Voodew have already seen it--but I will say that I didn't see it coming, especially with three episodes remaining. The show has been quite good this season, with more focused storylines and less of Nate, David, and Claire having sex with everybody they make eye contact with. Posted by Picasa

Sorry, no photos

One of my gentle readers suggested that I might want to post photos of my recent visit to the state in which I was born. Alas, I didn't take a camera with me, and any photos I would have taken would be painfully boring to view. I'll take the camera to Utah tomorrow; I hope that the photos from there will be worthy of viewing.