Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Monday, January 31, 2005

And on into another week we plunge. Sigh. Here's an interesting blog post about what the elections in Iraq might mean for the bad guys there.

The flap about CBS and its fraudulent story about Bush's National Guard story based on fraudulent documents still flutters in the wind. Here is a good article on the matter.

It always amuses me, this Big Media desire to "get the scoop", to be the first one to air a story. They must think it proves to us great unwashed masses that they are worthy of their journalistic credentials. But, I rather (ha!) doubt that all over this great land, mothers sit in darkened rooms rocking their babes to sleep while whispering in their ears "Sleep peacefully, my child, CBS is out there somewhere, working for us, working to break the big story." We don't really care who breaks the big stories first.

And finally, a note about changes. We human beings are often resistant to change, especially as we grow older. We take comfort in the familiar, in the routine. Yet, it is an odd contrast that we human beings also love stories. I have talked elsewhere about how we learn by seeing patterns in things, and that stories provide patterns that help us make sense of what we see and experience around us. The oddity, though, is that one thing we value most in stories is the element of surprise. We love the twist at the end, we eagerly follow the plights of fictional characters just to find out happens to them next.

Why do we value surprise in our stories, with which we make sense of our lives, when we most value familiarity in our lives? Perhaps it is the risk-free nature of change in stories. We can accept change there, knowing our real-life world will remain stable. We experience the thrill of upheaval vicariously through story. Whatever the answer, there is more to understanding to understanding Home Sapiens than just cataloguing eating and sleeping habits. There is no one story that could explain us. Perhaps that is why there is such a vast sea of literature and art produced by human hands and minds.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Today is a momentous day. Iraqis went to the polls to freely decide their own future. If anyone doubts how precious freedom is, and what it costs, consider where the Iraqis have come from, what they have endured to get here, and what it cost the magnificient US military to purchase this day. Despite all the violence and threats from the terrorists who want to keep people in terrible bondage, the Iraqi people, in large numbers, joyously cast their votes, and what will become a symbolic answer to the terrorists, the purple fingertips of people who voted, will be a reminder that people can defeat even the worst murderers thugs when they band together.

This is a day to thank President Bush, for without him Saddam would still be torturing and murdering people, and there would be no vote today. Thanks especially to the US military who has endured much. Without their professionalism and determination, there would be no election today. They can be proud of what they've given the Iraqi people today.

Now, around the region, people who are still enslaved by tyrants, in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere will look at Iraq and wonder in their hearts why they can't freely vote, too. This is why Bush took us into Iraq, to set in motion these waves of freedom that will jostle evil regimes in the region, and begin to shake them loose.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Class day tomorrow, so been doing the reading. There's a bit of it this time around, with three classes. Plus, I hadn't gotten the books before the first day, so I have last week's in the mix as well. (We still pay for the books, but part of the program is that they buy the books for you, and they were available in the office during work hours, so I didn't get over to pick them up ahead of time.)

Had our small group again last night, for the first time in a couple months or so. We had dinner there too. We have a new couple, they have two small children. John was a little rambunctious again, those kinds of settings are a lot of stimulation for him, and it's hard for him to be still and not so wild.

In the episode of the West Wing for this week, they were following the candidates as they stumped through Iowa ahead of the presidential elections (in the show's timeline.) One campaign stop briefly mentioned was the Hamburg Inn, which is in Iowa City, two blocks from the physics dept. I went there many times. Good breakfasts.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

24 Day 4 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

A Review

Jack begins picking off baddies one by one, outside the compound where Heller is being tried in the Terrorist World Court of Justice. I assume that silencers are part of the standard equipment CTU carries around in those SUVs. Otherwise, pretty convenient that Jack happened to have one with.

These terrorists must not be terribly committed. Jack grabs one and makes him divulge Heller's location on his PDA just by threatening him. Wouldn't any self-respecting terrorist leap at the chance to become a martyr, and not give up any information, even if it meant a bad case of lead poisoning in the brain?

El Presidente remains committed to blowing up his own SecDef in front of the world, worried that having his SecDef executed in front of the world would be embarassing. Well. Perhaps there just wasn't enough time to get a missile strike in place, as it is going to be a little late, so perhaps they could've gone ahead with the rescue anyway. In any case, Jack only has a few minutes before the missile strike commences.

A nice little scene with Audrey in her cell. Obviously hard for Jack to leave his gal behind, and that was acted with the right amount of restraint, no emotional skyrockets way over the top.

Jack manages to catch Heller's eye, just as the sentence of death is to be carried out. A rather short trial, eh what. Jack gives Heller some kind of hand signal that seemed to indicate "5-0". Which, either means for the wide receiver to run a post pattern, or, the military has so many signals worked out that they even have one that means "fall over backwards in your chair when you're tied up."

Jack starts a firefight, manages to be hit by not a single bullet, and frees Heller. Somehow the head terrorist, Omar, made it out of that room without being shot, never mind that he was right next to Heller when Jack started shooting. Jack and Heller find that Audrey is no longer in her cell, and later we see she was quickly kimnapped by Omar.

Heller and Jack end up outside behind a car, and get into another hail of bullets firefight. None of these bullets seem able to penetrate through more than a car window or door. Just as the good guys run out of bullets, the Marines fly in and save the day. (There was no indication that the Marines knew where Heller was at the time, so they were somewhat cavalier in how much they shot back. They even tossed in some kind of grenade, presumably not knowing if Heller was there or not.)

Omar emerges with a gun to Audrey's head, but Audrey, in a very brave move, takes the knife Jack had slipped her and stabs Omar, who is then finished off by the Marines.

A commerical break, followed by another of those mindblowing Jedi tricks 24 does with time. As we went to commercial break, it was 12:15 or so, and Heller was in his orange jumpsuit next to the car. When we came back from commercial break, it was 12:17 or so, and Heller is in a shirt and sportcoat! Huh? This is the main priority in the first two minutes, to get Heller into a change of clothes, that quickly? Also, a nurse was looking after Audrey, other soldiers were rounding up bodies. That was an awful lot to get in place in two minutes.

Audrey's husband, Paul, calls, and we immediately know we're not supposed to like him. Why? Because they gave the character a weak, dead fish British accent, a sure sign that we're dealing with a fool, one that certainly doesn't deserve someone like Audrey. Seems like another example of bad security though that Paul was sitting in the heart of CTU. Was there a need for him to be in such a sensitive installation?

Marianne helps Curtis by producing some codes (remarkable that they weren't protocols) that she procured somehow.

Back at the Araz estate, Beiruts overhears Pa talking about how the Heller operation did not go as plan, but Pa is not upset. Beiruts, by contrast, is upset, as he apparently had to kill his infidel girlfriend for nothing. Pa lovingly corrects his son, explaining that other games are afoot. Someone named Tariq shows up at the front door, and Beiruts is sent off with Tariq.

Curtis sees the briefcase at the compound, sees a logo of "MF", and begins a search for what it might be, sensing a tie between the train crash and the events of the day.

Then, at 12:28 Jack and Audrey arrive at CTU. Huh? It took no more than 10 minutes then to get Audrey to CTU. The reason for the missile strike was that a rescue operation wouldn't get there in time to prevent the US from losing great face. Where were the Marines coming from, Hawaii? If the compound was only 10 minutes from CTU, couldn't they have rounded up every available CTU agent and headed for the compound?

In another hilarious moment, when Audrey gets there, it is *Marianne* who greets her and escorts her off somewhere! Ggaaaahhh! Marianne is a freaking temp, she's been there for five minutes! Why is she the one greeting the daughter of the SecDef, and how does she know what is supposed to be done with Audrey?

Curtis finds that the case belongs to a defense contractor, and clearances are needed to get the CEO to divulge what he knows. Luckily, CTU has a SecDef in stock.

In the Araz house, there is a strong scene. Lady Macbeth finds out that Tariq went off with Beiruts to kill Beiruts, as Beiruts hasn't exactly been a team player. This is a strict organization. But all joking aside, it's a powerful revelation. As a mother, Lady Macbeth is distraught, but seems to balance the dreadful news with a devotion to the mission. If you ask me, Pa oughtta be put up against a wall too, for mismanaging his goober son.

In CTU, we do see Stoner again. Thank goodness his brain doesn't seem to be melted. We hear that Stoner was removed from the Mind Defragmentizer as soon as Heller's rescue was made known. Well, that means by that time Stoner had been off the machine for no more than 30 minutes. But, he didn't seem too worse for the wear. The effects must wear off quickly. Then again, the effects must take awhile to build to peak efficiency, as Stoner had been on the machine for a couple hours and apparently hadn't talked.

In another powerful parent-child moment, Heller authorizes CTU to work Stoner over to get the information out of him. Stoner goes back on the machine, and given his expressed agony, it is amazing the previous two hours on the machine didn't do anything.

Tariq and Beiruts drive up to some out of the way place to bury L'il Debbie, and in his best Wesley Crusher imitation to date, Beiruts clubs Tariq into oblivion and escapes his planned death. It was an odd place for such a sensitive task as burying a white teenage girl. They were on this cliff overlooking a wide valley. (The Valley?) Not exactly secluded. I pictured the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, as Indy and his team were digging over the Well of Souls just as dawn broke, many workers in silhouette against the sky.

Audrey has a scene with her dead fish hubby, the Brit. Yawn.

Audrey realizes where she had previously seen the guy she recognized in the compound. (That man wasn't found among the bodies, no clue how he escaped.) She had seen him at a Heritage Foundation dinner. The HF is a real organization, it is a conservative think tank. So, not clear if the writers were trying to imply that conservatives are perfectly likely to consort with terrorists and commit treason. Doubtful, as Heller has expressed some conservative viewpoints, and Heller is not made fun of as a character, his viewpoints are presented as legitimate, or at least not ridiculed. So, the writers are probably not trying to smear conservatives in general.

The suitcase turns out to have contained a device that can give someone control of nuclear power plants. CTU discusses the probability that Heller's trial was meant to generate so much internet traffic that it would disguise an attack on the firewalls at the power plants, so that the remote control device would work. It's a clever idea, but a complete howler. If there was a massive attack on a firewall, the techies there would know it. That's a very specific attack, against a specific target, and there's no such thing as it getting lost in other general net traffic.

Finally, we find out that Marianne is a mole. Not surprising, I guess, given her evilness. But, yet another example of CTU's pathetic security. Given their trouble with moles in the past, a bad idea for CTU to let someone in off the street to work in the heart of CTU during a national crisis. And of course, Marianne calls out on her cell phone. CTU still hasn't learned their lesson there.

Approximate Body Count: 64

<- 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM ->

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Whew, a busy weekend. Mom was here for a visit, and we had lots of fun. We had some cake to celebrate her birthday. Also, it was our treat to go see Mamma Mia on Saturday afternoon. It was a bit more risque in spots than I had anticipated, and I could've done without that. But, the music was the big draw, and it was boatloads of fun. Then, we followed that up with an amazing, delicious Peruvian meal at Machu Picchu, a restuarant on Lyn-Lake, right across the street from It's Greek To Me. Excellent seafood, and I had a delicious chicken-shrimp dish.

(And thanks to Mom for staying an extra night so she could watch the kids during the business meeting.)

The seats for Mamma Mia weren't the best. They were sold as limited viewing, and that was the case. We were on the side, and the chairs in front weren't low enough, so seeing around people was aggravating. That must have been about the only seats left, as I tried to get others. And it did look full in there.

From my seat, I could see down into the orchestra pit. There was a guy on one of the keyboards, and he didn't seem to play as much as the others. So, when his bit was finished, he'd pick up the Star Tribune and start reading, even if the song was still going, or while the scenes on stage were going on. Weird.

Then, Sunday night was the business meeting at church, which I moderated as chairman of the deacon board. An interesting meeting. Hopefully, the important things decided there will help settle some issues.

I didn't sleep much Sunday night, so I watched the football games I'd taped. Or most of them. The Eagles and Patriots looked tough, but I give the edge to the Patriots.

Last night we had a lovely dinner at the home of one of the Trustees. Great meal and conversation.

Friday was the first day of school for the new semester. Three classes this time around. Looks like it will an enjoyable time. Hard to get back into the swing of things, though. Gotta start doing the reading again. Lots of it to do.

Hopefully I'll be able to watch 24 tonight. We'll do our usual Tuesday night swimming at the Y.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Well, finally. Blogger has been having some kind of problem, and I haven't been able to publish blog entries since Monday. This morning all seems to be well. So, I had a few backlogged ones, and a couple of reviews of 24 episodes, that are there now.

So, one thing I was unable to publish was a Happy Birthday to Mom!!! Hope she had a fun day. She'll be coming down to visit this weekend, so we'll have a little celebration then. We're going to see the musical Mamma Mia (with the ABBA music) Saturday afternoon, and then probably go to dinner, am thinking about this place.

Also, Mom's birthday, on the 17th, marked the two-year anniversary of this blog! Whheeee.

Last night as I was tucking John into bed, he was talking about some things, and I said "You have a good imagination! You like to use your imagination!" And he said, "yeah, I do." Ha. Then he said something like "here's another thing I like to use my imagination for, I play the bear game with Grandpa". haha

And all this was after an evening of me chasing the kids around. That's John's most favorite thing to do, is play chase. Hanna loves to join in as well. So, we played the Giant game. I pretend to be the giant from the Jack and the Beanstalk, and say the fee-fi-foe-fummy bit, and then go look for them. They like to go back behind the chair by the plant and hide, so I'd look, then sit down in the chair and pretend to sleep, and then they'd come running out toward the kitchen, taking my gold or whatever, and I'd chase them around the kitchen and start all over. Man, gets tiring!

But wait, there's more. Then we played the Monstro game. Monstro is the big whale in Pinocchio, so I'd pretend to chase them on the raft, and when I'd catch them I'd break the raft with my tail, and toss them onto the couch.

And finally,, (whew!) we played tar wagons. I sit on the endtable, and they pretend to be James or Lady, and come running at me and crash into the tar wagons. I don't know who was more ready for bed, them or me.

In one of the Thomas stories, Oliver goes the wrong way after someone switches the points, they both like that story. Hanna talks about Oliver going the wrong way, because someone "pit da points!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

24 Day 4 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

A Review

As the episode begins, Jack is, well, jacked up against a police car. But, he has an out! He says, call CTU. So, the poor locals do, and find that yeah, never mind the laws broken, Jack is on official business. So, off he goes again. He even gets valet service from the locals, who bring his land dreadnought back from the gas station.

Again games are played with the time. Kalil punched the poor passerby and stole his yellow truck, and his cell phone, at about 10:56 am. So, how did that guy get to a phone, call the police and the police put out an APB on that truck all within five or ten minutes? Perhaps the passerby used his other cell phone. yeah, that's the ticket.

For that matter, how did CTU listen in on the passerby's cell phone so quickly, once Kalil started using it? There must be a lot of cell calls in the area, how'd they find that one so fast? (must have been a lot of searching through snippets till they got lucky... "No, Aunt Tessie, your shag rug is... " zzzt "I said sell at thirty, you dimwit!" zzzt "And, so, totally, like, I said, no way! And she said, no way! and I..." zzt "Welcome to MovieLine. For theater information..." zzzt "Kalil, where are you?" aha!

Jack roars off in tepid pursuit of Kalil, who by now is, finally, under satellite surveillance. (Hard to see why they had to be so sneaky about it. If Jack had called Driscoll and said Kalil is on the move, he's heading for Heller's location, we need to have the satellite, would Driscoll have really said no?)

The scene with Audrey and Heller while chained in the room was a strong one. Some good acting. It's not easy to portray the emotions involved where a character is facing certain death, and not go over the top with it. The actress who plays Audrey in particular did a good job. The solution to try and break the gas line was powerful. Not an easy thing for people to decide.

Heller though, the character, yikes, throttle back a bit. He was a bit rough on Audrey when she couldn't go through with trying to strangle her own father. Heller, bud, that's not an entirely unreasonable response. So, maybe ease up a bit, she's not a child who just broke the Ming vase in the foyer.

Back in CTU, we see once again the quality of individuals who work at CTU, who are protecting us against mortal threats both abroad and here at home. Marianne, who's a temp and been there for about five seconds, uses her leverage to get a level three clearance code. Edgar, having no idea who this Uberwitch is, or what she wants to do with the code, stands firm and protects all the secrets CTU holds. Uh, no, scratch that. He caves and gets Mariannae the code. We can only hope that there's a mole in CTU who starts taking hostages and shooting them every five minutes until his demands are met, and that he starts with Marianne.

Is this farewall to Chloe, then? Aw, we'll miss her. Goodbye, plucky little Chloe. I hope she'll be back in a few episodes, to do only something she can do. Like unlock a protocol or something. Her "Amateur" remark to Sarah was said with just the right amount of sneer and condescension, and had me on the floor.

Back at the Araz household, things have gone completely zooey. Lady Macbeth shoots the already dead L'il Debbie, so it will look like Beiruts was a good little terrorist and dealt with the problem. Pa comes in at that moment, and, seeing a dead white girl on the floor in his house, reacts as if... well, there was no reaction. Like it was the most normal thing in the world for there to be a dead white girl on his floor.

Keep in mind this is the day of the big operation that will change everything. That they had worked for four years on, or whatever it was. You'd think Pa would be a teensy bit concerned that maybe the operation was starting to unravel a little. I don't think dead white girls on the floor in his home was in the plan.

Kalil gets stuck behind another vehicle, and gets antsy as he is being delayed. Well, I mean "stuck" in the sense there was plenty of room for Kalil to just go around, but that wouldn't work for the plot, so, Kalil was stuck. A cop comes up behind, they eventually run the plates and a cop moves toward Kalil, but is called off just in time. Kalil, in the first flash of brilliance he has had, recognizes what has happened. He knows he can't lead his followers to where Heller is being held.

So, he does what every self-respecting terrorist would do, he decides to opt now for his 72 crystal raisins, and mounts one last glorious operation against the infidel truck drivers who are devastating his land. I mean, Kalil rams head on into an oncoming truck so he won't be taken alive. My first thought was, goodness, this is TV isn't it? Where is the small almost thermonuclear explosion? Ah, there it is. Was just delayed a bit. The truck went up in a nice little fireball.

Through the use of Magic, CTU finds what they believe is Heller's location. How? They compare heat signatures of buildings in the direction Kalil was heading. Apparently there is only one building in use now that wasn't in use before. CTU is lucky they didn't just find a house of a family that had been on vacation. Was Jack going to go charging through their patio into their breakfast nook with guns blazing? "Oh, sorry about Timmy, there."

By the way, just where in God's creation is this warehouse? Kalil has been driving for an hour or so now. Is it in Utah? It took Beiruts about ten minutes, literally, to get to this location. Where is everything located? We don't have a good sense of that.

Driscoll's daughter shows up at the CTU clinic. Again, in a side thread that seems to have no purpose. I'd assume it did have a purpose, but recall at the beginning of the last season, Palmer had his doctor girlfriend, and after the first few episodes she all but disappeared without a trace. So, can't imagine what role Maya is going to play here.

Back at the Terrorist World Court of Justice, someone smells gas. You'll recall a guard did look in on Heller at the beginning of the episode, but not after that. Of course, if he had, we wouldn't have the tension of whether Heller and Audrey would succumb to the gas, so the poor guard was just acting in service to the plot, give him a break. Heller and Audrey are revived with a few lights pats to the face, they cough a couple of times, and are fine.

El Presidente rejects a rescue attempt that *might* get Heller killed in the process, in favor of a devastating missile strike that certainly *will* get Heller killed in the process. I don't know, I'm missing something here. Why not try the resuce attempt? Anyone? Anyone?

Also, earlier in the episode, did you notice that shot of Air Force One, from above, against the clouds, stolen from the movie Air Force One? That same shot has been in countless shows since.

At the Araz houe, L'il Debbie's mother shows up looking for. Earlier, Pa had told Beiruts to park Debbie's car where it wouldn't be seen. Uh, where would that be? It's a residential neighborhood. Is he going to drive it into an abandoned barn, back behind the old Sweeney place? Whatever he found, Beiruts did it quickly. Now, Beiruts saves the day again, assuring Debbie's mother that phone ring she heard was just his, and that Debbie wasn't there. Pa is pleased. That's my good little terrorist boy!

Finally, I'm getting real worried about Stoner. They didn't even mention him! Last we saw him, he was still in the interrogation room with his skull encased in the Mind Defragmentizer. His brain is probably leaking out his ears by now. And the whole point of roughing him up was to get information from him quickly, to save the SecDef. Well, there's about 10 minutes to go here before the trial, they don't seem too antsy to pump him for information anymore. Shouldn't they at least turn off the sensory deprivation thingy?

Jack is outside the warehouse at the end of episode. We see none of the scenes from the previous week's previews, showing Jack shimmying down a hill. But never mind that. Jack is told the President authorized a strike. And of course, since Jack has proven he has a problem with authority, he decides to go in anyway. After all, his woman is in there. I say, eh, why not. Go for the gold, Jack. You're gonna be in the Hall of Fame of Congressional Hearings.

Approximate Body Count: 48

(and now, because he hacked into my protocols, here is guest critic Paul Foth)

The previews for this episode distinctly showed Jack doing luging down
a weed covered hill, his handgun blazing and no doubt picking off
terrorists from hundreds of feet away with pinpoint accuracy. Was this
in the episode, though? Nope. And it wasn't in the previews for next
week, either. Did the producers decide that that was just a bit silly,
even for Bauer? Did they forget to have him find a large piece of
cardboard conveniently lying around that he could use as a sled,
because no one could slide down a hill like that without one, much less
stand up at the bottom and not be covered with dirt and weeds?

Kalil Blowed Up Real Good
Wouldn't it have made more sense for Kalil to just keep driving, to
lead Jack and the cops and the Marines as far away from Omar's
Underground Lair as possible? Was he that gung ho to shed the mortal coil? Wasn't his a premature martyrdom (and can it really be a martyrdom when the only infidel he may have taken with him (stress on may, because we don't know for sure) is a truck driver who may have told Osama bin Laden jokes in a bar)? When the crash happened, though, I almost cheered because, contrary to all the laws of Hollywood car crashes, and in keeping with all the laws of physics, THERE WAS NO EXPLOSION. I thought, "Can it be? Can the producers actually have deigned to take reality into account on such usual fodder for bright colors and loud noises? Did they realize that--" BOOM "--No, I guess not."

Secretary Heller is a True Friend--Kill Him
Who was that guy who bent the President to his will without so much as
breaking a sweat? He could be the Air Force One concierge, for all we
know. But since this is technofantasy we're dealing with, we know that
he's really a Dark Mage using a Mind Control Spell on the Prez, so the
fact that he caved in and acquiesced to assassinate one of his own
cabinet members should come as no surprise. Look for him to stab his
own puppy next. And just where is Air Force One, and where is it going?

Purple Haze
Meanwhile, at the last bastion of calm professionalism, the CTU bozos
forgot about Stoner Heller for an entire hour. He was halfway to
vegetative pulp after just twenty minutes of listening to that Sonic
Youth CD; he must be looking ready to succumb to ebola by now. He's not
going to be able to talk when they finally remember he's there, much
less tell them anything he may know. Of course, now that Maya is there,
under the care of a doctor who looks like he'd rather try out some new
interrogation techniques on her rather than get some schizophrenia
drugs in her, I look for her to spring Stoner from his cage. Or at least open
the door and see him in a puddle of his own filth.

<- 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM ->

Monday, January 17, 2005

24 Day 4 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

A Review

It's funny El Presidente isn't clever enough to at least ask if
Driscoll is just blowing smoke in response to his inquiris about
how things are going. She blithely responds that CTU is following
leads, blah blah, and he doesn't seem to have the politician's
instincts that maybe she is just pushing him aside to buy time.

Richard Heller (hereafter known as Stoner) continues his stint in the
interrogation room. He is not shot in the knee, in an abrupt
departure from standard CTU interrogation practices.

Speaking of which, there's more proof that CTU is taking its cues
from Star Trek. The uniformed guards in CTU are no longer white shirts,
but are now *gasp* Red Shirts! This obviously spells certain doom
for the anonymous guards. Also, in midst of all these crises, the CTU
staff just up and heads for the conference room at the drop of the hat.
This was SOP on Picard's Enterprise.

Kalil takes off down the freeway, tamely pursued by Jack. Oh, if only
Jack drove a White Bronco. Kalil is obviously experienced in the art
of countersurveillance, because after his donut to suddenly elude
any possible pursuers, he looks in the rearview mirror approximately
zero times.

Heller is asked to sign something, admitting to offenses. But what in
the world is the point? Is some legitimate court going to say, oh,
sorry Mr. Secretary, you signed this document, you go to jail? Is the
world not going to take into consideration the circumstances under
which this thing was signed? Oh well, terrorists aren't a particularly
astute bunch, not when they have their dander up over imagined offenses.

And, dressed in the orange jumpsuit so cleverly not cribbed from the real,
horrible beheading videos out of Iraq in recent months, was Heller
trying to be funny when he said "let's just keep our heads"?

Apparently the producers felt that with Sherry now annoying the Admissions
Clerk at the front gates of Hades, 24 needed another black female who
would sound like nails on the blackboard. A gal named Marianne
parachutes into the show, with no accompanying papers declaring why we
should care about her. She obviously has a history with Curtis.

(You'll be so proud of me, that I avoided any Ginger jokes!)

Chloe begins the longest satellite acquisition in the history of the known
universe. In past seasons, CTU could direct a satellite to a desired target
in seconds. Here, in service to the plot, Chloe has to start by building
the dang thing in the break room, then must steal a rocket from a local
physics department to launch it. Ok, I made up that last part.

Back at the Araz household ("The family that terrorizes together,
stays together") the L'il Debbie problem is becoming acute.

Stoner reacts negatively to being injected as part of his interrogation.
However, you'd think Stoner would be sublimely curious about having some
weird drugs injected into his system. "Dude, the last time someone did this to me, I saw green flamingos!"

Andrew gets roughed up in a secluded spot just off the road. Nobody stops
to help, thinking it just another routine day on California highways. Jack
does have a tough decision to make, should he help Andrew, or follow Kalil.
In the end, he does both, and leaves him a nearly insurmountable two seconds behind Kalil. Imagine what Jack could've done if he hadn't stopped to help Andrew.

Chloe wigs out in the bathroom. Nobody stops to help, thinking it just
another routine day in the CTU ladies room.

Marianne ("Marianne! Marianne! Marianne!" oh, sorry, couldn't resist) shows
up at CTU a mere 25 minutes after first contacting CTU. Again, that is some
kind of vetting process they have there. And, how convenient that Marianne
lives mere minutes away from CTU. Ya make one call, and presto chango
caninis transmuto, you're in the very nerve center of CTU, with your hands
on sensitive data, changing protocols and rekeying databases.

Curtis decides to try sensory deprivation on Stoner. Again, I'd think that
would be Stoner's natural state, and immune to any nasty side effects.

Marianne reveals herself to be this season's Uberwitch, by ensnaring sweet Edgar.

L'il Debbie shows up at the Araz house, invited there by Lady Macbeth.
Nothing good can possibly come of this. A deranged teenage stalker meets
a deranged middle-aged terrorist.

In going for the all-time record of laws broken in the first four hours of a day,
Jack decides to hold up a gas station in order to delay Kalil. The sight of
the terrorist meekly standing in line with the other infidels was just too funny.

Inside the gas station, there is Doug, dressed like I'm sure most station
owners in the greater LA dress, like Bubba in the hills of Arkansas. Also
there is some girl who obviously is not going to get any speaking lines, so
she won't have to be paid more.

The satellite bit continues to drag on interminably. This is another sign that
the writing this season is not quite as crisp as in the past. Jack continues
to vamp, including nabbing a law enforcement officer who just happens by.
Jack puts them all in a locker, threatening to turn the episode into a
Marx Brothers routine.

Driscoll has Sarah spy on Chloe, but forgets to tell Sarah to inform her if
Chloe disappears from her desk for long periods of time.

Then, in another sign that the writing has taken a turn for the worse, Heller
tries the oldest cliche in the book. The old Prisoner Fakes Health Problem
So Guard Will Enter Cell and Get Clobbered By Said Prisoner Trick. Sigh.
Heller manages to pick off a couple of the baddies before being re-kimnapped.

Back at the Araz house, L'il Debbie is poisoned by being made to eat one of her own Swiss Cake Rolls. The wisdom of this escapes me, since her car is still parked out front, and she might have told someone where she was going And indeed, in the previews for next week, Debbie's mom shows up. All in all, the terrorists might have done a better job picking their point team.

Proving no plot can be too crowded, Driscoll is revealed to have a
personal weakness. Her daughter, Maya, calls. Maya suffers from
schizophrenia, hasn't been taking her meds, and will be brought to the
CTU clinic. Which, I'm guessing is in the same building as CTU, so it
can lead to more mayhem later.

(Guest critic Paul Foth points out: "Don't know if the writers should be
accused of planting something like this, but you may recall that to Hindus,
the world is maya, illusion. What better name for a character who hears
voices that aren't there? Yeah, you're probably right: that'd be giving these
guys too much credit." Me: Ha!)

Meanwhile, everyone seems to have forgotten all about poor Stoner, who has been left hooked up to the Sensory Demolecularizer, on a setting of 11. They just might turn the boy's brain, what's left of it anyway, to mush, and he won't be able to tell them anything.

Mean-meanwhile, the friends of Unit 9 show up at the gas station,
apparently using the tracking device embedded in Unit 9's neck, as we have
no clue how they got there so fast.

Jack pulls Kalil and uses him as a shield to "escape". Jack leaves him
along the road, assuming Kalil will to try to obtain other transportation and
lead CTU to the bad guy hideout. Jack doesn't stop to think that Kalil might
do this by killing some poor innocent bystander, and the driver of a yellow
truck is lucky that Kalil only punches him out. (Don't most people in greater LA know better than to pick up people along the road?)

The episode ends with Jack being stopped by law enforcement officers. One
can only wonder how he'll escape, since in the next episode he's free. Perhaps Marianne makes a call and threatens the police if they don't obey her every demand.

Approximate Body Count: 46

<- 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM ->
Brrr. The northern part of Minnesota saw some brutal temps overnight. A few places were around 50 degrees below zero. Tomorrow, here in the Twin Cities, it might get up to 25 above or so, but could be very windy.

I read the kids the Curious George book where he goes camping, so now Hanna asks if we can go camping. Um, not for a little while yet.

Hanna has had a cough lately, yesterday she was a little slower than usual.

The Vikings? Bah. Absolutely no surpise to that results. The Eagles are a very good team, the Vikes are a bad team, with a pathetic defense. The linebackers should be staked to an anthill in the desert. And what was with that fake field goal play? Isn't it the responsibility of the coaching staff to be prepared for that?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

So, was nearly -15 degrees overnight, only got up to 2 or 3 today. What does that mean to you? Yes, it's swimming weather! We took the kids swimming at the Y after lunch. Actually, ended up somewhat busy. The pool seemed a tad warmer than usual, so it wasn't too bad. Kids had fun. Of course, it ended up past Hanna's naptime, and she was a little cranky. She's sleeping now.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Something I think I forgot to mention. Last Saturday we went ice skating. I finally got around to looking up where the public rinks are near us, and turns out there is one up at Sand Park, just a few blocks away. We've been here going on 5 years now, and I never knew that was there. There's also one down at Golf Ball Park. The kids enjoyed it for the most part, but it's hard for them to stand up on the skates. We brought along a stool that they could lean on and then we helped push them around the ice. We also brought a plastic tobaggen, and I pulled them around the ice on that. That was probably their favorite thing. John then wandered around the park. He and Rhonda walked through a stand of trees there, and they called it the "Hundred Acre Wood".

Mucho cold today. Brrr. Wind chills that you don't want to be out in for very long.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Last night I was playing with the kids in the downstairs guest room. John would go out, close the door. Then, he'd open the door, come in and say "He burst into the room!" Ha.

Hanna likes to refer to herself as "Mommy" sometimes. Like, she'll say "Let Mommy have it" when she wants something. Can't remember if I said this already, the other day I was playing with her in her room. She likes to make supper for me on the little play kitchen set in there. I sit on the floor, and she gets me things like pizza and fruit. Something new though, she wanted me get her attention by asking "Mommy?" and then she'd say "hmm?" while busying herself with the kitchen set. Funny.

Last night I asked John to spell some things. He can spell his name just fine. He tries and does a good job with other words too. To spell Daddy, he said "d-a-d-i". For other things, he was the right idea. For cat, he said something like "c-a-mprs". He's quite a sharp little boy. Hanna is sharp herself, she doesn't miss anything. Lately she'll sit down and "read" her dollies a book.

At bedtime I've been reading them stories from the children's bible we have. They both like the story of David and Goliath, and always want me to read that one. I'm going to have started reading new ones first before that one, or they'll never want another one. John likes the one about the walls of Jericho, too.

The bitter cold has started to descend. Temps are on their way down below zero, and could stay below zero till Monday, or perhaps even Wednesday. Sigh. Last night I went out and got the driveway shoveled and chiseled up the tire tracks, before all that would freeze real solid. In the online StarTribune today, in an article on the weather, there was a photo from Minot! Looked like the highway intersection on the south side of town.

Question of the day: Why do so many baddies in the Middle East wear ski masks? Where do the masks come from? The Middle East doesn't strike me as a region where a lot of skiing takes place.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

John had a bit of a fever last night. He gave his surest sign that he wasn't feeling well. When Rhonda got home with them from Sue's house, John went up to his room, got into bed and fell asleep. Rhonda didn't know where he had gone, ha. He never does that unless he isn't feeling well. So, I don't think he went to preschool today, and maybe just Hanna will go to swimming lessons tonight.

I had a meeting last night, and put in a tape to tape 24. But, someone took it out and put in a kiddie tape. Argh. Well, Paul taped it, so he might come over Friday night and we'll see the two hours then.

I made polenta for dinner last night. Was rather good, I'd never had it before. I had gotten some precooked polenta from the store. So, no idea how it compares to homemade stuff, but was good. It's made of some kind of cornmeal, so it was a lot of like cornbread. Which the kids both love, so they seemed to like this. I just sliced it up and fried it a bit.

Monday, January 10, 2005

24 Day 4 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM

A Review

It seems like 24 months since the show was last on, but the show has made a welcome return to FOX. The late start means FOX can show an episode a week all the way to the end, without any breaks. The wild ride will only be faster.

This day takes place 18 months after Day 3, which took place three years after Day 2, which took place 18 months after Day 1. So, we're a ways down the road in terms of timeline. Jack Bauer now works for the Secretary of Defense, James Heller, and is seeing his daughter, Audrey Rains. Their day begins with the two of them in a hotel room, discussing their relationship, and looking forward to another routine day on the Secretary's calendar. If only.

The episode began with fiery train crash. A commuter train runs into a vehicle parked on the tracks, which explodes on impact, derailing the train. Later, 32 people are said to have died. Before the crash, we see a couple of wary, armed agents of some sort protecting a McGuffin, er, a briefcase. After the derailment, a waiting figure on a motorcycle conveniently finds the person with the briefcase within seconds, dispatches him, and takes the briefcase.

The train was said to be a commuter train, and the day begins at 7 am. Yet, the train crash took place in the dark, and in a remote area. So where is this commuter train coming from, East Jackrabbit, Nevada? Heading for LA?

CTU, now headed by Erin Driscoll, monitors the crash, with the aid of the eternally sour, but crankily loveable, Chloe. Our favorite keyboard jockey has become even more sharp-tongued in the last 18 months, to the point of insubordination.

We didn't get a half-hour into the show before we had our first mention of "protocols", with several more mentions to follow. CTU loves their protocols, whatever they are. But if we ever hear CTU start running the Zion Protocols, we'll be very afraid.

At some point, a hacker friend of Chloe's is "downloading" software, when another window pops up on his computer, and we see a bunch of characters rapidly scroll. Being a software developer myself, and a longtime computer user, I immediately recognized this a sign that something ominous was happening. Erp. Yes, well, visual tricks to clue the viewer about something unusual aside, the hacker in mere seconds determines that a threat to the Internet has been launched. A coworker ominously says that the entire Internet could go down. Yes, Gentle Reader, this is how real computer work is done. We get our research and work done within seconds, and spend the rest of the day just shooting Nerf rockets at each other.

The meat of the story hinges around an apparently unhinged upper-middle class family involved in the plot to steal the briefcase. The Araz family is apparently Turkish, which is going to raise some eyebrows. Turks are not Arabs, do not speak Arabic, and generally in the ongoing Terror War have little to do with the bloodthirsty nihilists causing the problems in Iraq. So, it is a curious choice of nationality for the terrorists.

The family, headed by Navi, with his wife Dina, (hereafter known as Lady Macbeth), and their son Behrooz, are expecting the briefcase to be brought to their house, at which time Behrooz will bring it to another location. This is a plot contrivance of the first degree. The reason Behrooz has to be bring the briefcase is because Ma and Pa must "account for their whereabouts". How they will do that when they're just sitting in their kitchen is not immediately clear. Perhaps they will call a local TV station just to say yup, we're in our kitchen today.

Also, the person bringing the briefcase to the Araz adobe cannot just bring it to the final recipients themselves, because, "Navi doesn't want them to know where the people they work with are located." Huh? It's not possible to meet in a public place somewhere? Do the classic spy movie cliche of putting the briefcase down beside a table and have someone pick it up, or do a quick handoff?

No, we can't do that because the plot requires Behrooz to be involved. Why? Because Behrooz has a thing going with an infidel girl, Debbie. His parents are aware of it, and want the relationship stopped. Here's another plot hole that 24 routinely drives trucks through. This family has been planning this operation for some years now. It is of vital importance to them. If so, why is Pa still dealing with this ON THE DAY OF THE OPERATION? Why wasn't this potential security breach handled long ago?

Well, because the plot requires that L'il Debbie follow Behrooz to where he drops off the briefcase, so we can have exciting drama in the next episode about how they will handle Debbie's intrusion.

Back to the SecDef. Jack goes to CTU for a meeting with Driscoll, and we find that Driscoll fired Jack, as he was a junkie. (See last season for details.) The meeting is the excuse to get Jack back into CTU. Where, he proceeds to commit another act that in the real world would lead to a scandal of immense proportions. Think of the Abu Ghraib, and the way the media flogs that. Here, a suspect in the train bombing is brought in, and won't crack under brutal, intense, questioning. Well, maybe not so brutal. The agent just asks him things. So, Jack disables a security card, gets into the interrogation room (showing us, the viewer, that CTU security is still as good as it ever was, since it follows the Star Trek Security Manual). Jack somehow (read, conveniently. There are lots of conveniences in 24) uses the keypads on the doors to disable the keypads and prevent anyone else from getting in. Jack then shoots the guy in the knee, who then is motivated to tell Jack that the SecDef is a target of a plot. Can you imagine the hubbub in the media if it came out that someone working for the SecDef attacked a CTU agent so he could get in to shoot a suspect in the knee?

The SecDef has stopped off that house of his loser son, who is going to make some leftwing nut speech that will impress his father, and the President. There were a couple of lines in these scenes that rather surprised me. The SecDef referred to the loser son's "sixth grade Michael Moore philosophy". Other comments poked fun at the son's political beliefs. Usually it is right-wing, conservative characters on TV that are portrayed as idiots. The reversal here is welcome, and stunning.

The SecDef is kimnapped at the end of the first hour. The very end. Meaning, we get another of the tricks 24 uses to shoehorn things into these hour-an-episode constraints placed on it. The SecDef is taken as the clock ticks to 8 am. The next hour begins with cops walking through the scene. The cops got there within a minute? Not bad. The media is also doing reports from there within minutes. Not bad.

William Devane is not bad as the SecDef. I usually have a little rule, that anything with Devane in it is not going to be all that good. Here, he has some presence, and the scenes with Audrey as they are held prisoner are strong, with the glaring exception of the drippy "say we're going to be rescued" scene.

The bad guys use Magic, that much is clear. How else could they find where Chloe's hacker friend works so fast, and how they can they listen in on his cell converastions so fast? Well, without it, we wouldn't see the baddies chase this guy to a train station. Where, Jack is heading as a newly reinstated agent to meet the hacker. Why Jack? Because he won't tell where the hacker is. Again, imagine the hubbub if someone withheld this kind of information.

So, the namby-pamby agent who has Jack's old job ends up on the ground with slugs in his chest, and Jack goes chasing off after the baddies who kimnapped the hacker? Why do they want him? Because they want to know who he told about discovering the evil, but visually very arresting, thing that is happening to the Internet. Never mind that in listening in to his calls, they know that he already told CTU.

Despite the usual silliness with 24 plots, it's a crazy thrill ride that rarely slows down, and we'll be all a-twitter waiting to see what happens next.

(now, having nothing to do with the grand tradition of Count Pointercount, here are some comments from guest critic, Paul Foth)


Protocol protocols are launched. Several sockets to follow.

The sun was coming up just after the train attack, around 7:05, so this
season's taking place in either February/March or October. I'll have to
check my WeatherGuide calendar to be sure.

People are going to be confused when they see Dennis Haysbert in those
Allstate commercials during the show. "He was the President! What's he
doing insurance commercials for?"

The New Faces

Does CTU cycle through a whole new set of recruits every couple of
years? Lessee, we've got Curtis the Model, who seems to be a bit lower
on the totem pole than Tony was. He may have Tony's old title, but just
hasn't worked his way up to the same level of experience yet. When he
does, he'll have married Sarah Michelle Gavin and be all ready to
commit treason. Sarah Michelle hasn't really distinguished herself yet--other
than as an object of Chloe's scorn, which just makes her a member of
the human race--but she does look just a bit like Clowdia from last season,
who, after being shot, was resurrected with a Brooklyn accent and is
now fighting crime with Gery Senise and Milena
Kanakanackarackanackarackaredes. Then there's Edgar Eidetic Memory
Stiles, whose lack of need for a laptop (because he "memorized
everything") will surely come into play during crisis moment six
thousand seven. I've seen that actor before, but since the web site
doesn't see fit to post a cast list (because it would spoil the fun to
stop pretending that it's just a television show?), and since I'm too
lazy to check just now, I don't know his name. I like him, though. He
seems like a regular Joe.

Then there's Erin Driscoll. Or maybe that should be Aaron Driscoll. My
bet is that before the season is out, we're going to find out she was a
man until about five years ago. (Okay, maybe not. That may be going a
bit far for this show. But watch for FOX's new reality show, "Who's
Your Daddy, Er, Mommy?") It sure didn't take long for her and Jack to get
off on the wrong foot, did it? How is it that CTU gets ~anything~ done when
its managers get along well with virtually no one?

Oh, and the new Jack, Ronnie Dead Meat Lobell. The only surprise there
was that they waited until the second hour to kill him. I guess he and
Jack had to have an argument first. I bet he was wearing red boxer
shorts. (By the way, whenever Dave Letterman gives an audience member a
box of meat, it's from Lobell's Butcher. Lobell's Dead Meat. HA!)

Andrew Paige is being played by Lukas Haas, who was the little boy in
"Witness." I'm enjoying seeing him be in essentially the same situation
several years later, except that now they've killed his mom, too. Does
this mean Harrison Ford is going to be heading CTU once Driscoll gets
promoted to DIVISION? I was sorry to see his buddy Melanie get killed.
She was a cutie and a half.

I'm also enjoying the relationship between Rumsfeld Heller and Audrey.
Audrey has some real presence to her, so it's hard to tell whether
they'll kill her by the end of the season.

The Old Face

Chloe's actually looking kinda hot. I don't know if it's because of the
way she's dressing, but it looks like she's slimmed down. She's colored
her hair a bit and is wearing a little makeup. The changes aren't huge,
but they're enough to indicate that she's probably got more of a life
outside of CTU than she had last season, and that's good. I'm also glad
to hear her acid wit is still in place. She stands up to everyone,
Driscoll included, and even though she knows the computer systems there
better than anyone else, she knows she's not perfect. She's probably
the most human character in the show.

The Story

My guess is that the kidnapping of Rummy and Audrey is a decoy, or at
least will be foiled quickly. There's the business reason that they
wouldn't have hired Devane for the part if all he was going to do is
play victim the whole time. There's also story reason for it.
Whatever's in the briefcase is what's really important. I want Robert DeNiro to
show up and say over and over, "What's in the case?" a la "Ronin."
There's also the "Pulp Fiction" precedent, where we ~never~ found out
what was in the briefcase (beyond that it glowed yellow), but I don't
expect they'll go that route. The episode guide says the case is made
of titanium, so it must fold out into a fighter jet.

Another guess is that Dina is not sympathetic to whatever Mild Mannered
Navi is up to. Again, business reason: the woman who's playing her is
too well known (she was, I think, nominated for an Oscar for her
performance in "The House of Sand and Fog") to be just a thug, or a
thug's wife. She's either an agent for the good guys, or is part of
some other faction that also wants whatever is in the case. Story reason:
the look she was giving the case wasn't "at last, our plans are coming to
fruition;" it was "I've got to figure out how to steal it."

Does Little Debbie have snack cakes in her car? Let's see, what's going
to happen there? Behrooz will call her to his house, Navi will use his
subtle charm to figure out whether she saw anything, Behrooz will get
upset and klonk his dad on the head, and Behrooz and Debbie will run
away. Thereafter we will be able to refer to them as Rick and Kim. Why
teenagers? Whyyyy?


This season reestablishes right away that this isn't a technothriller
series; it's a technomagic one:

Exhibit the first: Andrew's Power of Innocence (despite the fact that
he was stealing software--kids will be kids) drawing forth the NOK
List--er, Node List--of Evil, and giving him the insight to realize
that it was a harbinger of doom for the entire Internet. All of it.
(Incidentally, I'm thinking there might be more to this major piece of
dark magic than simply putting that video of Heller on every screen in
the world. Andrew said it was going to cripple the Net, and so far all
it's done is turn it into one honkin' big Al Jazeera affiliate.)

Exhibit the second: There is a Dark Pall of Evil hanging over CTU that
no one has recognized for years. I speak of the complete inability of
any security officer to keep the building secure. These people could
probably guard the President like he was a gold bar in Fort Knox, but
as soon as they punch in at CTU central, they become gibbering lunkheads.

Exhibit the Third: Jack's ability to get through an electronic lock by
using a code that evidently hasn't been changed in a year and half and
then making that same lock impenetrable to the nation's elite
counterterrorist agents.

Exhibit the Fourth: Jack shooting Vin Diesel in the knee and then
clouding the mind of his former boss so that she lets him go.

Exhibit the Fifth: Kalil's Briefcase of Cell Phone Detection. This is
apparently built from a variation on the incantation Stephen Saunders
used to create his SkyVision RealTime Agent Detector last season.

Exhibit the Sixth: Andrew's Power of Innocence again. From the episode
guide: "8:10: Kalil calls Navi Araz with news about the person who
compromised their server [and remember, Andrew's Wild Magic did
this without Andrew even realizing it was happening]. Navi instructs
Kalil to kill that person." And yet, at the train station, after Kalil finds
Andrew, binds him, throws him in the back seat of a car and tells him
to lay down (Kalil: the grammatically incorrect terrorist), then kills a
gate guard and Dead Meat Lobell in broad daylight, Andrew is STILL ALIVE.

Exhibit the Seventh: Polygraph tests. In the real world, they're
notoriously unreliable, rarely used, and inadmissable as evidence in
trials. Here, they're as common as dysfunctional relationships.

Exhibit the Eighth: Computers. They're omniscient. Until, that is--and
this is their True Chaotic Magic--the moment of maximum crisis, at
which point they make it worse by crashing. This hasn't happened yet this
season, but look for it to figure in Eidetic Memory Stiles's Moment of Glory.

Where the show is most successful in the portrayal of its magical world
is the way in which its characters don't recognize the magic as magic.
To them, it's nothing special, in much the same way that our own
technology-driven world would appear mysterious and eldritch to the
folks at CTU.

9:00 AM - 11:00 AM ->
Heilege cats, what got into the Vikings? I gotta admit, I didn't think they had it in them. They actually played with some fire. And Randy Moss? Is death too harsh a punishment for him? Egads. And what's with that hairdo? It looks like a bizarre cotton candy experiment inside his skull exploded.

We had nursery duty at church last night, so had to tape the second half of the game and watched it later. There were a couple of other kids there, so they all had fun playing together.

Sunday afternoon, we went all the way down to Hopkins for the Grandfather Frost festival. (That must have been the best place they could get.) Hanna made a little reinder craft with a small paper bag, and for John, I cut out the outlines of his hands, and made reinder antlers to put on his head. He liked wearing those around. With all the commotion and stimulation, he was a little ansty and wanted to roam. One neat thing, someone brought a couple of real reindeer. Not sure who, or why they had them. But, both kids loved looking at them, and petting them. We went out there several times.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Cliffs are the great garbage cans of the movies. If you want some character to disappear, just have him fall off a cliff. It's quick, clean, gets the character out of the way, and the movie can continue on untroubled by a character clamoring for screen time.

I've discovered something odd about myself. I'm really not that much of a tech geek, even given as much of a geek as I am. I don't have a Palm Pilot, and don't really want one. I don't have a Blackberry, and don't have a need for one. I could have a network of Linux or FreeBSD machines behind a firewall in my house if I wanted, but there's no point. I'll never have TiVO, I just don't see the need. The little I do watch I can just tape on ye olde VCR. I keep track of stuff on paper, if at all. I make my living as a sofware developer, I have degrees in physics, astronomy, computer science, so I am not adverse to technical things. Maybe that's why, I am more of an analog person just to get away from the tech stuff for awhile.

Finally, there was this in today's Star Tribune, talking about our bizarre winter...

"Call it the season of no-show snow. Despite storms to the north and south, a measly 2.8 inches has fallen in the Twin Cities, a whopping 20.2 inches below normal. That's the least measured here at this time in 114 years.

This is also one of the longest waits on record for a metro snowfall of 1 inch or more. If none falls before Sunday -- the forecast says some clouds, maybe flurries -- that 60-year-old record is toast, too."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

We've been looking around for traditional Russian recipies we might try tomorrow night, to observe the Orthodox celebration of Christmas, to keep in touch with the kids' heritage. One thing we'll make is Kutya, and also mushroom soup, and some of the other things on that list. I got the wheat at the store last night, so we'll soak that overnight tonight. I wonder how this is going to taste, with pretty much just wheat, poppy seeds, and honey as ingredients.

(For an explanation of why the Orthodox celebration is a different date than December 25, see here.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

from today's Star Tribune, something I didn't know...

Basketball inventor James Naismith's college roommate, Max Exner, was the first physical education professor at Carleton College in Northfield.

He brought the game to town in 1893. It caught on with women more so than men, according to one historian, because men thought the game wasn't macho enough.
Here is a page with some interesting before/after tsunami pictures, illustrating the devastation. Eek.
Took the kids swimming last night, it was the first of a new session of swimming lessons. For John's group, they had two teachers, which was good. It's needed for that age group. Hanna continues to progress too, she loves to just stick her whole face in the water.

The whirlpool was closed off by the time I wanted to get in, which rather irked me. I get rather chilled after swimming, and like to warm up in the whirlpool. Then, there are usually only two showers that ever get real hot. The handicapped one, and one in a corner. I always grab the corner one as John likes to take hot showers. Seems like most people don't know this, which is fine with me, otherwise there'd be a stampede for that one shower. I wish the Y would get on the ball and make those showers hotter.

Here is an interesting article on Haydn, by the always interesting Terry Teachout.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Here is a long, sobering, but very informative, article on the demographic struggles Russia is facing.

The other day I received this spam...

for spam to be effective, don't they have to at least offer products
you've heard of, and might want to buy?

And then what am I supposed to do, just reply to the email? there was no
info about how to do whatever it is they want me to do... Moo, I guess...

Canuck Prhamayc
*****on premediation requisite*****
* Lowest Prices
* Valor, Xray, Vitality, Supa, Amor, Philosophy, moo!!
* Fearful Desire
*****on premeditation requisite*****

Monday, January 03, 2005

John has a little mealtime prayer he learned in preschool, "God is great/God is good/Let us thank God for our food/Amen". Well, this morning he improvised a little bit. He said "God is great/God is back/God is furry/God is green/Amen". Huh?

Rhonda clipped his hair with the clippers she uses on me. Haircuts always make him look so much older.

We went swimming last night. Was rather busy there. The kids start lessons again on Tuesday.

The pathetic Vikings lost, again, but still stumbled into the playoffs at 8-8. What a team.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

We had our first 3-yr old sunday school class today. We only had one other girl, besides Hanna. And, John was comfortable there so we just kept him with us. The lesson was about John the Baptist, telling the people that Jesus was God's son. There was a picture for the lesson, and John said, about John the Baptist, "he's dirty!"

When something gives Hanna an ouchie, she says "It very hurts me." Ha.

Next Sunday is the Grandfather Frost festival. We'll make an appearance, I'm sure.

Gotta go back to work tomorrow. Yay. Whee.

Oh yeah, another thing we did in St. Louis was go to the Magic House. John just loved it. He kept asking to go back again, and even since we're home he's mentioned it.