Monday, July 31, 2006

Homos on the Range, Sick at Sea, -and- Bang!

Homos on the Range - Europe introduces same-sex advertising
Sick at Sea - 221 fall ill on cruise ship
Bang! - man shoots himself in groin, crashes car

On this day in history: July 31, 1945 - Wearing a stolen army uniform, prisoner John Giles attempts to escape from Alcatraz island by boarding an outbound cargo boat. But instead of San Francisco, the vessel heads for Angel Island, where Giles is promptly captured.

Born on this day in history: July 31, 1954 - Laura Lynn Harter, executive assistant to the owner of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and wife of the author of this blog.

Today is Laura's birthday. We celebrated last evening with a delightful meal of shrimp and linguine with Alfredo sauce, toasted garlic bread, and champagne. My mother joined us.

We watched A Sound of Thunder Saturday. [Gamer Travis Ryer (Ed Burns) chases the ultimate thrill--hunting dinosaurs--by turning back the clock with the help of a time-travel outfitter run by Charles Hatton (Ben Kingsley). But after unwittingly destroying a butterfly-like creature, Ryer finds his game going horribly awry, leaving him stranded in a prehistoric past that promises to erase all hopes of a future. Can he undo the damage he's unleashed? Or is the world doomed to end?] The story was exciting and inventive, the acting was excellent, the photography was very good, and the special effects were incredible. It was a highly entertaining movie, and I recommend it.

We watched Shark Tale after dinner on Sunday. [In this DreamWorks animated tale, Oscar (Will Smith) is a small fish whose big aspirations often get him in trouble. Lenny (Jack Black) is a great white shark with a secret: He's a vegetarian. When a lie turns Oscar into an improbable hero and the truth about Lenny makes him an outcast, the two form an unlikely friendship--much to the dismay of Lenny's mafioso dad (Robert De Niro). Angelina Jolie and Martin Scorsese also lend their voices.] Everyone enjoyed this delightful movie. The story was humorous and heartwarming. It is a wonderful movie for the entire family to enjoy. The soundtrack is superb, the animation is first-rate, and the voices are excellent. I highly recommend it.

Here is a photograph of the scene that greeted Laura upon her arrival at work this morning. Sierra Nevada takes birthdays seriously! Click to enlarge.

Friday, July 28, 2006

There Goes the Neighborhood, True Confessions, -and- Hic!

There Goes the Neighborhood - Cindy Sheehan buys land near Bush ranch
True Confessions - Colorado man admits to 48 murders
Hic! - drunken "Baywatch" star banned from flight

On this day in history: July 28, 1957 - A C-124 transport plane carrying three nuclear weapons jettisons its precious cargo into the Atlantic, somewhere east of Delaware and New Jersey. The bombs are never recovered.

Born on this day in history: July 28, 1949 - Vida Blue (1949 - ____) baseball player. He was the fifth pitcher to win the Cy Young award; MVP in same year, 1971.

We watched "Brother's Keeper"--the two-hour pilot for "Miami Vice"--last night. [Miami Vice cop Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) is working undercover to get a Columbian drug lord. When he tries to bust a man who is apparently in business with the Columbian he discovers that the man is New York cop Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas), who is also after the Columbian. They both agree to work together, but the New York cop is keeping something from him. Tubbs suspects that someone on Crockett's team might be on the take.] The story is set in 1980s Miami--a glamorous yet dangerous playground for such disparate characters as drug kingpins, models, rock stars and small-time criminals. Vice cops Crockett and Tubbs are the epitome of Miami style as they keep the thugs in line; underneath, though, they are hard-core law enforcement officials sexy enough to infiltrate the underground but smart enough to keep it at arm's length. "Miami Vice" was a great favorite of mine when it was televised in the 1980s, and I generally watch reruns of the show (currently running on Sleuth Channel) each night. The remake of "Miami Vice" lacks the glamor and style of the original, from what I have seen in the previews, and I have no desire whatever to view it.

Here is a photograph of a section of the trail at Burney Falls. The trail is rather steep in sections, and I do not recommend hiking it unless you are relatively fit, dressed in light clothing, and wearing appropriate footwear. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Queerly Beloved, Too Hot to Handle, -and- Who Let the Pigs In?

Queerly Beloved - same-sex marriage on rocks with voters
Too Hot to Handle - lightning catches girl's pajamas on fire
Who Let the Pigs In? - pub accused of cruelty for letting pigs drink beer

On this day in history: July 27, 1890 - At the Chateau d'Auvers, Vincent van Gogh presses a revolver to his chest and pulls the trigger. Somehow, the bullet misses the vital organs, and the painter manages to stumble over to a friend's house. The following night, Van Gogh dies of an infection in the arms of his brother Theo.

Born on this day in history: July 27, 1906 - Leo Durocher (1906 - 1991) baseball player, manager. He was an infielder, 1928-1941; manager for 24 years; coined the phrase "Nice guys finish last."

As I predicted, XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. reported a wider loss for its second quarter Thursday as it absorbed charges for restructuring its debt. The company again lowered its estimates for full-year subscriber counts. XM lost $231.7 million or 87 cents per share in the three months ending June 30, versus a loss of $148.8 million or 70 cents per share in the comparable period a year ago.

We watched The Road Virus Heads North. [Starring Tom Berenger, Marsha Mason; teleplay by Peter Filardi; based on the short story by Stephen King; directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan. Richard Kinnell (Berenger) is a famous writer who, at a doctor's visit, learns he may soon have to deal with his own mortality. On the drive back to his home, he buys a mysterious painting. Each time he looks at it, it changes to become more menacing and sinister. He pieces together that the painting is trying to kill him - but not if he can destroy it first.] I was familiar with the King story on which this production was based, having read it a several years ago. The show followed King's story closely, and the acting and production were very good.

We watched The Fifth Quarter. [Starring Jeremy Sisto, Samantha Mathis;
teleplay by Alan Sharp; based on the short story by Stephen King; directed by Rob Bowman. Willie (Sisto), a just-released convict, learns from his dying friend of a map in four parts that reveals the location of several million dollars from a robbery. Seeking revenge for the death of his friend and the money, as well, Willie hunts down the others who hold the remaining three parts to the map, risking his family and his freedom.] This was a B-grade crime drama, devoid of eeriness and lacking suspense. Had I not known, I would never have imagined it was based on a Steven King story. The acting and photography were passable yet unimaginative, and the story was altogether too predictable.

Here is a photograph I took of Burney Falls, Northern California, approximately seven years ago. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Queerly Beloved, Cell Rage, -and- Signs

Queerly Beloved - WA upholds same-sex marriage ban
Cell Rage - man accused of shoving phone down woman's throat
Signs - teens admit to carving crop circles

On this day in history: July 26, 1984 - Serial killer and cannibal Ed Gein dies at the Mendota Mental Health Institute, a home for the criminally insane. Gein inspired the films Psycho and Silence of the Lambs.

Born on this day in history: July 26, 1894 - Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963) novelist, critic His works were notable for their elegance, wit, and pessimistic satire of contemporary life, Brave New World, 1932.

We were so impressed with Joshua when we watched it last Saturday that we watched it again last evening. It is a wonderful movie with a beautiful message, and I highly recommend it. See Monday's post for details concerning this movie.

Dinner was simple last evening: Laura cooked a batch of pork-flavored stuffing mix in the microwave and pan-seared the leftover pork tenderloin from Sunday's grilling. It was simple and quick, and it was delicious. The pork tenderloin was wonderfully tender, moist, and flavorful.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

You Are Here, Man On the Moon, -and- Whoa!

You Are Here - Google offers live traffic maps on cell phones
Man On the Moon - Buzz Aldrin: We saw a UFO
Whoa! - jockey headbutts racehorse

On this day in history: July 25, 1917 - Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, also known as Mata Hari, is found guilty of spying and is sentenced to death.

Born on this day in history: July 25, 1848 - A. J. Balfour (1848 - 1930) statesman. He was Prime Minister, 1902-05; wrote "Balfour Declaration," 1917, approving the establishment of Jewish state in Palestine.

Take a ride on the Redneck Rollercoaster!

Sixty years ago, Clearwater, FL, was invaded by a footprint-leaving sea monster, which would haunt the dreams of beach-goers for decades to come. The sandy tracks left by what would come to be known as the Clearwater Monster were like nothing the sleepy surfside community had ever seen — big bird-like footprints, about 14 inches long and 11 inches wide. But Tony Signorini wasn’t a monster. He was just a dude with some big shoes stomping around on the beach with his buddy for fun.

"Back in, I want to say 1946, though it could have been '47, Al (Williams, Signorini’s boss at the time) gets his hands on a National Geographic. There was a picture of dinosaur tracks. Al said, 'You know, we could have fun with this,'" Signorini said. So the pair made a pair of giant boots and headed out to the beach to make some tracks.

"We made (the boots) in the shop. They were plaster at first, but you couldn't make a good track with plaster. It just didn't sink in the sand deep enough to look authentic. We went to this blacksmith shop and poured lead in our molds. Each track weighed 30 pounds. We bolted black high-top gym shoes to each track," Signorini said.

Tales of the scary sand discovery were the talk of the town, making news in the papers and the radio. Believers would vouch for having seen something spooky emerge from the surf in the moonlight, knocking over lifeguard towers. "We were surprised to read in the papers that people had seen the monster, because nobody was on the beach that night. We got a kick out of that," Signorini said.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Do Do, There Goes the Neighborhood, -and- Don't Call Us

Do Do - Hillary's campaign has paid over $6,000 for hairstyling and makeup
There Goes the Neighborhood - Harlem to Clinton: you're ruining us
Don't Call Us - woman phones police 3,000 times in 6 months

On this day in history: July 24, 1969 - At 12:51 EDT, Apollo 11, the U.S. spacecraft that had taken the first astronauts to the surface of the moon, safely returns to Earth.

Born on this day in history: July 24, 1898 - Amelia Earhart (1898 - 1937) aviatrix She was the first woman to solo across the Atlantic and from Hawaii to California; mysteriously disappeared, 1937.

I made a spicy Thai marinade (fresh grated ginger, minced garlic, ground Cayenne pepper, brown sugar, lemon juice, lime juice, and soy sauce) Saturday morning. Laura placed two large pig tenderloins in a zip-lock bag, covered thoroughly with the marinade, removed excess air, and placed the bag in the refrigerator. The pig marinated in the delightful nectar until Sunday evening. At 7:30 PM, Laura tossed the pig onto the grill. It was incredibly hot at the barbecue area, and - taking pity upon Laura - I declared that I would tend to the pig. Laura has been tending the grill for some time, so there was the fear that I had lost my grilling skills. I grilled the pig over a high flame and brushed with the marinade and turned each five minutes. I rendered the pig flesh deliciously charred on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. I declared it to be the most delicious pig I had ever ingested, and Laura agreed. It was incredibly tender and delightfully flavorful. Laura declared with glee that I had not lost my grilling skills.

We watched "Gone." [With the apocalypse imminent, three lawyers are sent to Manila to defend a multinational corporation, but instead meet their fate during the Final Days. As the legal eagles come to terms with the world (and their place in it), humanity and, finally, God, events come to a stunning conclusion at the foot of the world's largest cross, located on the Bataan peninsula across from the Philippine capital. Tim Chey directs this Christian-oriented film.] The story sounded promising, but the movie was an utter disappointment, plagued with very poor acting and photography and a convoluted story. I do not recommend it.

We also watched "Joshua." [In this gentle fable about the Second Coming, a carpenter named Joshua (Tony Goldwyn) brings joy and light to every person he meets when he arrives in a small town. From troubled teens to a smitten TV anchorwoman to a frustrated wife in a stale marriage, Joshua helps them all. F. Murray Abraham, Colleen Camp and Giancarlo Giannini (as the Pope) co-star in this life-affirming movie.] This movie is wonderful! The story is beautiful, the photography is excellent, the acting is superb, and the soundtrack (featuring Michael W. Smith and Third Day) is awesome. I highly recommend it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Feed Me!, Hit Me!, -and- Save Me!

Feed Me! - providing food to homeless outlawed in Las Vegas
Hit Me! - teen struck by lightning while playing poker online
Save Me! - $320-million irrigation project halted over possibly extinct woodpecker

On this day in history: July 21, 1925 - John Scopes is found guilty of teaching evolution in a Tennessee public school. The jury fines him $100.

Born on this day: July 21, 1952 - Robin Williams (1952 - ____) comedian, actor. He starred as Mork in TV's "Mork & Mindy;" films include "Popeye," "The World According to Garp," "Good Morning Vietnam," "Mrs. Doubtfire," and "Jumanji."

At 8 AM this morning, it was 84 degrees and raining! The temperature is predicted to be over 100 degrees and the humidity is predicted to be 100 percent! Yikes!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Oops!, You've Got Mail, -and- Legend

Oops! - daughter sues parents over fall in driveway
You've Got Mail - lawyer steals inheritance, loses it in email scam
Legend - Bigfoot researcher sues over keepsakes

On this day in history: July 20, 1994 - O.J. Simpson offers a $500,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the "real killers." To this day, progress remains elusive, although Simpson's golf score has improved somewhat.

We watched "Umney's Last Case" last evening. [Starring William H. Macy, Jacqueline McKenzie; Teleplay by April Smith; based on the short story by Stephen King; directed by Rob Bowman. After the death of his son, writer Sam Landry (Macy) is so desperate to lead another life, he writes himself into his own book, forcing his long-time character (also played by Macy) to change places with him and live in the modern day. But things get deadly when Landry realizes Umney is trapped and cannot write himself out of his new reality.] This was a fast-paced, inventive, and entertaining tale. Macy's performances were excellent.

We then watched "The End of the Whole Mess." [Starring Ron Livingston, Henry Thomas; Teleplay by Lawrence D. Cohen; based on the short story by Stephen King; directed by Mikael Salomon. The world had changed. Violence, war and hatred have been replaced with kindness, peace and love. But at what price? Renowned filmmaker Howie Fornoy (Livingston), with just one hour to live, recounts the details of his brother's (Thomas) worldwide experiment gone terribly wrong.] The early part of this tale was entertaining, but it soon became boring and highly unrealistic.

I must admit that all attempts to create a suitable caption for this photograph failed miserably. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bigger Is Better, Ssssss!, -and- Lovin' It

Bigger Is Better - 103-inch plasma screen to go on sale in September
Ssssss! - snake in mailbox leads to charges
Lovin' It - couple win lottery, keep flipping burgers

On this day in history: July 19, 1692 - Five Salem witches are hanged for the crime of witchcraft, based primarily on the accusations of little girls who were bewitched. Eventually, the village executes a total of 20 witches.

Next week's big online gambling conference in Las Vegas may turn out to be a washout as a number of individuals invited are thinking of cancelling their trip in the wake of the indictments of senior directors at BetonSports. The annual conference, organized by, is a must-go event for industry executives, but the arrest of the BetonSports chief executive, David Carruthers, and other senior directors on entry to the US has made people think twice about attending.

I decided to get serious about hog hunting and had a special vehicle built for this purpose. Click to enlarge.

The hunt was a great success! Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cluck!, Cops Gone Wild, -and- Residents Can't Copa

Cluck! - store wants to shock chickens to death for customers
Cops Gone Wild - deputies terminated over scandalous acts
Residents Can't Copa - locals driven insane by Barry Manilow's crooning

On this day in history: July 18, 1969 - Driving home from a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Ted Kennedy's car goes over the side of Dike Bridge and flips over into a pond. Kennedy manages to free himself from the automobile, but his passenger, one Mary Jo Kopechne, drowns. Kennedy tells no one about the accident for at least an hour, and waits until the following morning to notify local police.

Today's birthday: Hunter S. Thompson (1937) Thompson was a journalist known for his flamboyant writing, most notably deployed in his novel "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," which blurred the distinctions between writer and subject, fiction and nonfiction. His style, known as gonzo journalism, has been widely imitated. Thompson's big break came when The Nation magazine asked him to spend a year with the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang and write about his experiences.

It was 113 degrees here yesterday at 4 PM. It appears that it will be very hot again today. It was 82 degrees at 8 AM.

Amid mounting criticism that they could do more to combat the threat of Internet paedophilia, MySpace, Bebo, and other "social networking" Web sites are meeting parents, teachers, and police to improve online safety. Online safety campaigns have traditionally focused on telling children not to reveal personal details over the Internet - an approach experts now acknowledge to be unrealistic.

With all the problems spawned by the storms that hit New Orleans that dominated the news here in the USA, newspapers gave little coverage to the devastating floods that hit the west coast of Ireland. This photo gives just an inkling of the desperation of these stricken souls.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Politicians Gone Wild, Come Out with Your Hands Up, -and- Beam Me Up

Politicians Gone Wild - Dutch court okays pedophile political party
Come Out with Your Hands Up - police surround house in five-hour standoff, but nobody home
Beam Me Up - British geek wants to buy Moon plot

On this day in history: July 17, 1996 - TWA flight 800 explodes off Long Island NY, killing 230 passengers.

We had an AC unit installed in our living room on Friday in anticipation of what was forecast to be an unusually hot weekend. Saturday was relatively cool, and the new AC unit was not engaged. Sunday was a good deal warmer, but the AC was used only briefly. I am relatively certain that if the AC unit had not been installed, the weekend would have reached record high temperatures!

My mother joined us for dinner on Sunday. I made a potato salad with white potatoes, radishes, hard-boiled eggs, red bell peppers, Jalapeño peppers, red onion, celery, and chopped black olives. Laura dressed it with various seasonings, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, and spicy mustard. Laura roasted two racks of baby back ribs. She applied a spicy dry rub and roasted them bone-side down over indirect heat for 2 1/2 hours, spraying each 10 minutes with cranberry juice. They were easily the tastiest ribs I have ever enjoyed, and Laura and Mother agreed when I espoused that claim. Using cranberry juice alone created ribs that were juicy and sweet, with a slightly tart aftertaste. I highly recommend using cranberry juice the next time you roast a batch of baby back ribs! Laura cautions that the spraying must be done each 10 minutes (rather than the usual 20-minute interval when using extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar) in order to keep the meat moist.

We watched "The Rapture" on Saturday. [Promiscuous switchboard operator Sharon (Mimi Rogers) seeks meaning and salvation by becoming a "Born Again" Christian. Yet, as an apparent apocalypse approaches and God demands an Abraham-like sacrifice, Sharon faces a cruel choice: It seems choosing between Heaven or Earth could mean losing one or the other. Screenwriter Michael Tolkin makes his directorial debut with this film co-starring David Duchovny, James LeGros and Will Patton.] While the story sounded good, and the preview looked promising, the story was not based upon Scripture, and there was nudity and explicit sexual scenes. I do not recommend it.

We also watched "Flywheel" on Saturday. [Dishonest used-car salesman Jay Austin (Alex Kendrick) reaches an important turning point in his life when he finally realizes the errors of his ways in this inspiring family drama. Disgusted with his lies and manipulations, Jay sets out to win back the love and trust of his wife (Janet Lee Dapper), his son (Richie Hunnewell) and the community. Once he makes the choice to live an honest life of love and faith, Jay never looks back.] This was a wonderful movie with a very positive message. Alex Kendrick wrote the screenplay and wrote and performed the soundtrack. He also produced and directed the movie and played the lead role. I highly recommend this movie.

We attempted to watch "The Constant Gardener" on Sunday. [Based on John le Carré's best-seller, this tale of political intrigue centers on Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a member of the British High Commission based in Nairobi. When his wife (Rachel Weisz) is murdered, Justin refuses to leave the matter to his superiors and begins his own investigation. Not even the rumors of his wife's affairs will stop him from uncovering the truth -- a conspiracy much larger and more dangerous than he'd imagined.] Apparently, it was not enough that the story was disjointed and convoluted, so the producers made it boring, as well. After 41 minutes of incredible boredom, I announced to Laura and my mother that I could bear no more. They agreed. Obviously, I do not recommend this movie.

Friday, July 14, 2006

No Pain No Gain, You Don't Know Jack, -and- Unlicensed to Drive

No Pain No Gain - coaches accused of using screws to torture gymnasts
You Don't Know Jack - notes in margin of book identify Ripper's identity
Unlicensed to Drive - police dog puts vehicle into gear, runs down woman

On this day in history: July 14, 1881 - In the Sumner, New Mexico home of his friend Pete Maxwell, notorious outlaw Billy the Kid steps into a darkened bedroom and is shot dead by sheriff Pat Garrett. Billy's last words are, "¿Quién es?" (Who is it?)

Many Canadians may soon have to travel no further than their neighborhood pharmacy to treat what ails them, and critics are up in arms over changes they say will turn pharmacists into pill-pushing entrepreneurs intent on over-medicating the population.
A growing number of Canadian pharmacists want the power to prescribe drugs without a doctor's consent. The controversy erupted recently when Alberta declared it was moving forward with a plan to let pharmacists independently prescribe most medications. Earlier this month, New Brunswick pharmacists announced they want the powers as a way to improve service to residents.

Microsoft has increased security and authenticity verification for new Windows XP Professional installations. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I Robot, Going Ape, -and- Halt!

I Robot - "bionic man" can control robotic arm with his mind
Going Ape - Tarzan's son in fight over dad's loincloth
Halt! - bridge trolls caught by cops

On this day in history: July 13, 1946 - Cheech Marin's birthday. He's actually (gasp) Iranian, and his name is Richard.

We watched "Battleground" last evening on TNT. - Starring William Hurt. Teleplay by Richard Christian Matheson, based on the short story by Stephen King, directed by Brian Henson. Jason Renshaw (Hurt), a professional hit man, successfully murders the CEO of a prestigious toy company, only to face the biggest fight of his life when a package from the toy company is delivered to his house with surprising, deadly contents. - This was an excellent show! It managed to maintain an atmosphere of excitement without any dialogue. It was shown without commercial interruption.

The second show in the series, "Crouch End," - Starring Eion Bailey, Claire Forlani. Teleplay by Kim LeMasters, based on the Short Story by Stephen King, directed by Mark Haber. A newlywed American couple (Bailey and Forlani) honeymooning in London goes to Crouch End to have dinner with a friend. They soon learn the town is not what it appears to be, and the more they get lost, the more they become trapped in another dimension. - was mildly entertaining, contained altogether too much dialogue, and had too many commercial interruptions.

According to internal documents, Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer and leading destination for shoplifting, will no longer prosecute first-time thieves unless they are between 18 and 65 and steal merchandise worth at least $25. Wal-Mart said the change would allow it to focus on theft by professional shoplifters and its own employees, who together steal the bulk of merchandise from the chain every year, rather than the teenager who occasionally takes a candy bar from the checkout counter. I am extremely concerned that this new policy sends the wrong message and is an open invitation to shoplift!

I received an error message this morning I had not previously seen. Has anyone received this error message?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Smell That Smell, Twins, -and- Honk!

Smell That Smell - lethal levels of air pollution in filthy Florida home
Twins - man Googles own name, finds mirror image of himself
Honk! - Scottish children get nose-blowing lessons

On this day in history: July 12, 1979 - It is "Disco Demolition Night" at Chicago's Comiskey Park, where baseball tickets cost only $.98 if the purchaser brings along a disco record for the bonfire. During the second game of the doubleheader, thousands of vinyl LPs fly onto the field, generating enough chaos that the White Sox are forced to forfeit. ranked as the number one U.S. Web site last week, displacing Yahoo's top-rated email gateway and Google's search site, Internet tracking firm Hitwise said on Tuesday. MySpace accounted for 4.46 percent of all U.S. Internet visits for the week ending July 8, pushing it past Yahoo Mail for the first time and outpacing the home pages for Yahoo, Google and Microsoft's MSN Hotmail.

It is cool this morning! It was a mere 73 degrees when I arrived at my office at 8:15 AM. It is forecast to be well past 100 degrees this weekend, but for now it is cool.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cat Scratch Fever, Queerly Beloved, -and- Bewitched

Cat Scratch Fever - body found in house with 110 cats
Queerly Beloved - same-sex marriage bill goes to California appeals court
Bewitched - Virginia governor exonerates convicted witch

On this day in history: July 11, 1979 - The derelict space station Skylab finally returns to Earth, ignominiously breaking into 500 separate fragments, which are swallowed by the Indian Ocean. That is, except for the ones which crash into Woorlba Sheep Station, near Balladonia, in Western Australia. Shortly thereafter, President Jimmy Carter telephones the prime minister of that country to apologize for scattering NASA litter on his nation.

Gamblers who prefer laptops to blackjack tables will not like what Congress is doing. On Tuesday, the House plans to vote on a bill that would ban credit cards for paying online bets and could padlock gambling Web sites. To enforce that ban, the bill would prohibit credit cards and other payment forms, such as electronic transfers, from being used to settle online wagers. It also would give law enforcement officials the authority to work with Internet providers to block access to gambling Web sites.

Laura can bear the heat no more: She is scurrying to Home Depot today to make arrangements for the installation of an AC unit in our living room. It has been sufficiently hot of late that the EC unit has been ineffective.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Burn Baby Burn, Somebody's Watching You, -and- Speak No Evil

Burn Baby Burn! - blazing laptops leave Dell with image woes
Somebody's Watching You - FBI plans new Net-tapping push
Speak No Evil - man makes monkey noises following police chase

On this day in history: July 10, 1923 - Hailstones as heavy as two pounds kill 23 people in Rostov, Russia.

It was hot yesterday and is forecast to be hot again today. It was already 84 degrees when I arrived at my office at 8:15 AM this morning! Despite the incredible heat, Laura managed to grill a large London broil, Jalapeños, yellow squash, red onion, and white mushrooms. She braved the nearly unbearable heat and tended the grill, producing a delightful meal.

We watched "Apocalypse" - (1998) Bronson (Richard Nester) and Helen (Leigh Lewis) are journalists reporting on the beginning of a war in the Middle East. But right in front of their eyes, something unexpected happens: Millions of people disappear without a trace. When a new and enigmatic leader appears at the head of the European Union, performing miracles and claiming to be God, the couple find themselves wrapped in a mystery of biblical proportions. - The message was good, and the movie was entertaining, despite being a very low-budget, shot-on-video production.

We watched "Hope Ranch" - (2002) J.T. Hope (Bruce Boxleitner) is a former cop who owns a farm where he hopes to mend the broken lives of teens whose run-ins with the law have labeled them hopeless criminals. Drug dealer Keith Frazier (Brian Gross) proves to be the most defiant, even with the help of Hope's forthright team of Colt (Lorenzo Lamas) and Shorty (Barry Corbin). The boys meet the 12-hour days with resistance, but are eventually grateful for the second chance. - This movie was excellent--a well-acted, well-produced, highly entertaining production that I highly recommend.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Now Hear This, The Fats of Life, -and- Show Me the Money

Now Hear This - lightning strikes teenager listening to iPod
The Fats of Life - man offers to mow lawns for free to lose weight
Show Me the Money - ATM thieves thwarted by GPS

On this day in history: July 7, 1970 - 46 people are shot dead in the downtown area during a five-day race riot in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Cingular Wireless Corp. promised to provide uninterrupted service to AT&T Wireless customers when it acquired that company in 2004, but instead it nickel-and-dimed them and degraded their reception in an effort to persuade them to sign new contracts, a federal lawsuit said.

The lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract and violations of consumer protection laws, seeks class-action status on behalf of the more than 20 million customers AT&T Wireless had at the time of the merger. Many paid $18 "transfer" fees to switch to Cingular plans and were required to buy new phones or pay other fees, said the complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Queerly Beloved, Save the Babies, -and- No Sympathy for the Devil

Queerly Beloved - New York's highest court rules against same-sex marriage
Save the Babies - South Dakota tribe ousts president for abortion activism
No Sympathy for the Devil - Rolling Stones guitarist plays on religious CD

On this day in history: July 6, 1945 - The Joint Chiefs of Staff approve Operation OVERCAST, intended to "exploit...chosen rare minds whose continuing intellectual productivity we wish to use." The directive authorizes the immigration of up to 350 German and Austrian specialists, primarily experts in rocketry. Operation OVERCAST is later renamed Project PAPERCLIP.

We had a delightful dinner last evening: Sautéed talapia fillets, pan-seared scallops, and red potato oven fries. We watched two episodes of "Without a Trace," an episode of "Miami Vice," an episode of "The Secret Life of...," and retired early.

It is noticeably cooler this morning. It was a mere 75 degrees when I arrived at my office at 8:15 AM.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Don't Bite!, Swarm!, -and- Der Wiener-man

Don't Bite! - crazed cannibal attacks pensioner
Swarm! - super mosquitoes breeding in Greece
Der Wiener-man - man eats 53 3/4 hot dogs in 12 minutes

On this day in history: July 5, 1946 - Louis Reard's latest swimsuit creation, the two-piece bikini, goes on sale in Paris.

The weather was perfect for Independence Day. It was hot--but not too hot--and there was a nice breeze in the evening.

We watched several episodes of "Simon and Simon" during a marathon on the Sleuth channel, followed by several episodes of "Cops" during a marathon on FX.

I made a batch of Cajun beans and some toasted garlic bread, and Laura roasted two racks of baby back ribs. She cooked them for three hours, bone-side down, on indirect heat, spraying them every twenty minutes--first with a mixture of 1/2 apple cider vinegar and 1/2 apple juice, then with a mixture of 1/4 extra-virgin olive oil and 3/4 balsamic vinegar. My mother dined with us. It was a scrumptious meal.

Following dinner, we watched "Monsters Inc." Laura and I had seen it previously. It was my mother's first viewing. It is a particularly delightful movie.

My mother departed for home at 8:30 PM. We watched several episodes of "The Twilight Zone" on the SciFi Channel. We had intended to walk to New Life Assembly for the fireworks display, but the neighbor two houses away from us put on such a stellar display that it was unnecessary to travel!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Shallow Al, Hold On!, -and- Surprise!

Shallow Al - MIT professor: Gore is wrong
Hold On! - man jumps on alligator to save dog
Surprise! - boy wins 11-inch knife at fun center

On this day in history: July 3, 1971

Jim Morrison is found dead of an apparent heart attack in his Paris apartment bathtub.

Apple faces the music as public discord with iPod grows. Internet chatrooms are carrying accounts of "unreliable machines," while questions are being asked about working conditions in the Chinese factories where they are made. New figures from YouGov's brand awareness index show a steady fall in the popularity of the Apple brand. Apple's share price fell to an eight-month low last week after an analyst predicted that the launch of several new models would be delayed.

The overall brand index is showing a definite downward trend up to the beginning of April. The index for quality is going down - from a rating in the high 30s in October to the mid 20s. Shortly after the launch of its iPod Nano last year, Apple admitted that some models had faulty screens that scratched too easily.