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, February 28, 2005

Lefties shading the truth? Naaaahhhh!

To follow up on my remark on the Oscars, Robin Williams made an appearance and made light of (paraphrasing here) the recent flap where Christians conservatives supposedly claimed the cartoon character Spongebob is gay. Well. I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that the lefties don't quite have their facts straight. Of course they're really talking about Dr. James Dobson with Focus on the Family. Conventional wisdom quickly became that Dobson said Spongebob is gay, so we shouldn't let our kids watch it.

Here, you can read Dobson in his own words.

I think you'll see that Dobson did not say what lefties are claiming he said. I know that's hard to believe, but make up your own mind. What Dobson was really talking about was how that and other cartoon characters were being used by an organization with a definite pro-gay agenda.

Crack ups

Getting into work was slow today as there was a rather nasty looking accident on southbound 35W, just before 694. It was an odd one, there were two vehicles practically side by side, and then one behind them, all had some significant damage, indicating the impact speed must have fairly high, especially for a rush hour.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, most accidents happen because someone does something stupid. Here, I bet someone was going way to fast for rush hour, didn't realize traffic was slowing down ahead of them, and plowed into two cars, or maybe one and it knocked it into another vehicle.

This will be another busy week. Meet with my school group tonight, Mom will be coming through tomorrow night, Wednesday our school group might need to meet again, on Thursday there's a talk that's related to my school work so I'll go to that, for some ideas on my capstone project. As far as I know, my Friday is still free!

I finally got around to watching the rest of the Westminster Dog Show. The winner seemed worthy enough, the German Shorthaired Pointer. (Yessir, it's these kinds of immediate results that you can only get in blogs!) Although, the Best in Show judging seemed more of a competition between which dog could stand still at attention and focus on their handler the best. It didn't seem to be about what it's supposed to be about, which dog compares to its standard the best. (Which is about as subjective as you can get.) In the Hounds groups, none of my favorites even made to the first cut. Boooo. One wildly terrific thing this year is that they have videos of the Breed judging on line! So, I could peek at the Irish Wolfhound judging. Very neat to see all those dogs at once. I didn't realize the breed also came in kind of a yellowish coat. It seems like the darker gray coat always makes it to the Group judging. Maybe there's a bias against the lighter coats.

Only watched a little of the Oscars last night. Yawn. I hadn't seen any of the movies, don't really care to. Although maybe Ray would be somewhat interesting. Sounds like there was some of the usual Hollywood politicizing. I say keep it up, Blue Staters. You don't realize how much that alienates you from a large segment of the country.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

En-titled

I've decided to start using the Title feature for the blog. So, expect to see snappy titles on the posts. Or, just something I quickly came up with.

Got some more snow overnight, so shoveled that off when we got home from church. It was the typical late winter snow, rather wet, sticky and heavy.

When we brought the kids into their room at church this morning, the teacher said they were going to listen to the Zaccheaus story. I said to them, you know that one! And John said, "Zaccheus climbed up a tall tree, and he saw Jesus, and he wanted money!" Ha.

Last night John was on the computer playing Candyland. So, I got out my laptop, which I have at home in case I need to connect to work. My laptop has the necessary VPN software to do that. Plus, it is XP, and my desktop at work is XP, so I can just use XP's built in remote communcation to connect between the two. I don't need PC Anywhere.

Anyway, I got out a network cable I had downstairs, plugged it into my DSL modem, connected it to the laptop, and went over and sat on the couch and surfed the Net! Technology is cool sometimes. Maybe not as cool as wireless, but neat nonetheless.

Well, drove the Tacoma on Friday. I think we're probably leaning that way. It's a good quality truck. I like the changes they've made for the 2005 models. (I still think "Tacoma" is a rather lame name. Not like the cool "Dakota" or "Ranger" or "Explorer".) The brakes seemed a tad soft, I want to check that out. So, though it pains me not to get a domestic vehicle, I know that the Toyotas are built in the US, with US workers, and that anymore there's no such thing as a vehicle belonging to purely one country. Even in the Fords, I know some of the parts are built overseas, and assembled here.

We still want to drive it again, and bring it home and see what it looks like in the garage. I'd also like to see if the dealer has a satellite radio package they could install. I'm thinking about getting that. I know Ford does, but I don't think I saw that available in the Toyotas.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Tonight we'll probably test drive a Toyota Tacoma. Sounds like they're good quality vehicles. Ford has let me down though. The Ranger doesn't come with the full-size back seats, 4-door cab we need. The Explorer SportTrac does, but the bed is a teensy bit short, and worse, it's still based on the older Explorer base. I don't think it's going to be updated till maybe 2007. The newer Explorer base has better rear-wheel suspension for a better ride, the bed might be bigger in the updated SportTrac, things like that. I don't know that I want to wait that long for Ford to develop the new SportTrac. I don't like Chevy trucks. The Dodge Dakota is nice, but's it's almost gotten to be as big as a full-sized truck. So, we may have no choice but to fall into Toyota's hands.

School day tomorrow. I'll be home tonight, so will play with the kiddies. We haven't gone swimming yet this week, maybe they'll want to go tomorrow. I don't like swimming in the winter though, I always get chilled. John got chilled last weekend when we had to swim in the colder pool. I wonder if that contributed to him getting the coughing sniffles this week. Hanna has been coughing a bit this week too.

Julia was sick today, so I took the kids to Jessica's house this morning. I need to shovel off the driveway. I got behind after an icy snow we got a couple weeks ago, and now the driveway has a pretty good layer of ice and compacted snow on it that probably won't come up till we get a good stretch of warmer weather. Which may not be too far away, March is just around the corner.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

OK sports fans, how long did it take you to figure this out? It took me three tries.

As I left the house this morning, a nice gentle fluffy snow was falling. Which of course meant the rush hour was a steenking mess.

So, the Vikes have traded the Superfreak. Can't say I'll Moss terribly much. True, when it comes to just heaving the ball up in his general vicinity, there is none better at coming down with the ball. But, is it worth all the other nonsense? The Vikes record is not that great over the last few seasons with him. Now that he is starting to have a few more injuries, it may be worth it to jettison him and bring in some new talent.

However, I don't think the Vikes got very much for him. The 7th overall pick is nice, but that's about it. The LB they got is nothing special, neither is the 7th round pick. It's a sign of how much other teams were wary about getting involved with Moss, and how much value they placed on him.

The real curious thing is how much Fowler knew about this. If he knew nothing, he's gotta be hopping mad, and maybe considering pulling his bid. It's not clear at this point what he knew. He did say a few days that Moss wouldn't be going anywhere (if and when he were owner.) So, did he sign off on this? One of the reasons the Dome has been sold out for a number of years now is Moss. If Fowler thought he was buying that assett, and now it's gone, I'd say hmmmmm. Perhaps it's a sign that Red thinks there's a chance the sale won't be approved and he'll still be the owner.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Here is a Washington Post article concerning adoptions in Russia. There have been some changes there recently, and many adopting parents have noticed the changes. I am ever so glad we didn't have troubles with John and Hanna.

We are starting to look around for a new vehicle, to replace the aging Skylark. Last night we test drove an F-150, and an Explorer SportTrac.

The F-150 is a nice machine, but too big for us, more horse than we
need. Also a tight fit in our garage. The gas mileage would probably be
criminal, especially with me driving to and from work.

I did like the SportTrac. If you haven't seen one of those, it's the
familiar Ford Explorer, turned into a pickup truck of sorts. It has a
four door cab, regular back seats, but a pickup bed on it. The bed
isn't terribly long though, it looks slightly stubby.

If I could get a full tarp of leaves in there in the fall though, then
that would probably suit our purposes. We don't carry too much that is
long and bulky. If we did, we can always take seats out of the van to
get stuff in.

Rhonda has been wanting a Toyota Tacoma. I'm not keen on foreign
trucks, I'm a Ford man. But, they're supposedly good on quality. A bed on it
would be longer too. The Tacomas do come with a four-door cab with
regular back seats, too. I had wanted to get a Ranger again, but the
Rangers don't come with regular back seats. (Which we need for the
kids' car seats)

Ranger sales have been dropping, maybe that's why. And maybe the new
Explorer SportTracs are meant to make up that gap in their line.

So, we'll test drive a Tacoma in the near future. At this point, I'm leaning towards the SportTrac, but we'll see.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

24 Day 4 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

A Review

It is a refreshing touch that this episode doesn't begin with one of those time warps 24 is famous for. I mean, we start right off with Pa and Beiruts making their way into the basement at the hospital. We didn't start off with Beiruts finishing up a pre-med program.

It is a remarkably deserted hospital, though. Pa was roaming the floors and stairwells above, gunning down people in the hallway, with no one in sight. And no one is in this basement? Especially in a hospital laundary?

Jack wants a thermal scan of the hospital, and within 4 minutes, he has it. Now, just how is this done? If you recall, it seemingly took Jack and Chloe about six weeks to get a satellite retasked to aid in tracking one of the terrorists. How did they get this scan done so quickly? I know, I know, never mind.

The magic thermal scan reveals there is a laundary chute leading into the central computer core, I mean, the laundary room where Pa is disciplining his wayward son.

Back at Gestapo HQ, Edgar is falling apart with grief over the loss of his mother. (We assume Mama has gone to the Great Oxygen Tent In The Sky anyway.) Well, not so much falling apart as he merely says he is, with the same tone of voice and expression as every other line he has ever delivered. Driscoll, in her main role as Spreader of Cheer and Sunshine and All Around Team Encourager, asks her little camper to buck up, as there is work to be done in stopping the evil influence of the Flux Capacitor.

Which, again, leads me to one whopping question. Just how does this Override work? I had assumed that the Override allowed the baddies access to the reactor computers, and the terrorists uploaded some kind of programs that sent the reactors into China Syndrome mode. But here, it seems like the terrorists are still actively using the Override to try and gain complete control over the computers, which would imply they are still communicating with the computers. Now, before we saw that the whole kimnapping of the SecDef and show trial was to create so much Internet traffic the Override attack would be masked. That says to me the baddies are using the Internet to attack the computers with the Override. If that is true, isn't there one breathtakingly simple solution here. JUST TAKE THE BLOODY REACTOR COMPUTERS OFF THE INTERNET!!! Just unplug the phone line from the wall. Am I missing something here? I'm getting a headache.

In a delicious scene, Curtis begins the interrogation of Marianne. This has got to be every man's dream. You have carte blanche to torture your witchy ex-girlfriend who has abused you and lied to you. I could almost see Curtis licking his chops.

Powell, er, the Ex-Powell, is wheeled into the room as a warning to Marianne, in a nice Whither He Goest, Thou Might Goest Also moment. Marianne, in a play to keep her neck out of the guillotine, says there is a computer only she can access, that might have some information to lead CTU to whoever is behind the attacks. Actually, Powell and Marianne could access the computer with their thumb prints. I'm sure I wasn't the only one suggesting to the TV that CTU just hack off Ex-Powell's thumb and cart it over to this computer. (By the way, have you caught the irony here? The computer can only be accessed in person. It's not available over the Internet apparently. Hmmm, that's good security. The good guys could learn a few things from these baddies.)

Back at the hospital, Tom Cruise begins his descent into the central computer core. I mean, Jack is lowered down the chute. Is that rapelling equipment standard issue in the backs of the CTU SUVs? How did they retrieve that and get it in place so quickly? And those little dental mirrors must also be standard issue.

Rather than just leaving the harness in place (what is Jack worried about anyway, that Pa will notice it? How long was Jack planning to just sit down there?) they decide to haul this large clunky harness back up through the narrow metal chute. Do you see what's coming? Of course you do. The harness hits the chute, emitting a loud clank. Pa hears it, and comes to investigate.

And what follows is perhaps Jack's biggest moment of incompetence ever. Ever. There is a struggle with Pa, Pa's gun is knocked away, Pa is knocked to the floor, and.... Jack doesn't move to secure him. He backs off, and lets Pa get up, hands free, legs free. Jack even lets Pa get close enough to resume the hand to hand struggle. I'm no law enforcement expert, but I suspect such people are taught more effective apprehension techniques then that. Worse, Jack seemingly forgets all about the gun, and Beiruts. Too bad, because the young whippersnapper picks up Pa's discarded gun and shoots Pa. Why? No idea.

But think for a moment, Jack has allowed the single most important suspect to be killed. Pa knew everything, names, places, etc... They obviously have removed all protocols at Gestapo HQ restricting use of torture, so they surely would've wanted to bring Pa back there and zzzzzzt him till he sang like a canary. But alas. They no longer have that option. And Jack doesn't seem to care that they have lost an important source of information. Instead, he immediately goes to Ma and asks her what she knows. Ma doesn't know as much as Jack thought she did. So double darn, would've been nice to ask Pa the same questions. Ma can only cough up the address of a place that was used to plan the operation, so off they all troop. Luckily, as with everything else in this universe, it's only a few minutes away. And, again, even though Jack has no idea what they might encounter there, Ma and Beiruts are brought along, potentially putting the star witnesses in danger.

At Gestapo HQ, Frau Obergruppenfuhrer Driscoll visits Sarah in the infirmary. When Driscoll asks if she needs anything, Sarah should've said "Yeah, a very good lawyer." Instead, plucky Sarah agrees to return to work. These CTU employees are made of stern stuff.

Curtis and Marianne traipse out to access this computer. Luckily they bring a security team with for protection. So they're safe, right? *snort* Also, Audrey is sent off to assist the local Defense Department office. I didn't know there were local DoD offices. I wonder where it is in my neighborhood. I'd like to install my own antiaircraft site. Perhaps they can help me get the necessary permits. And, apparently Audrey is no longer needed to coordinate between the National Guard and the local yokel cops. Perhaps the reactor fried so many people there is no longer a traffic problem worth worrying about. So off she goes.

A underground lair is found at the Empty House of Terrorists, and Sarah immediately discovers that the house is owned by a company that Audrey's wet fish Brit-soon-to-be-ex-husband is involved with. This would be the same Paul that was freely roaming the halls in the very heart of CTU mere hours before. Yessir, this CTU runs one tight ship. Of course, Paul's whereabouts are not known at this time, so Jack has Audrey call Paul to find out said whereabouts.

I'm really not certain why this was necessary. We just saw a couple episodes ago that Edgar could use Magic to locate a cellphone if it just rang four times. Audrey had Paul's cell number. Why couldn't Audrey give the number to CTU, and they could locate Paul the same way? I know, I know, because then we couldn't have the dramatic scene with Audrey and Paul in the hotel.

I'm also not sure though why there was a power cord running down into this lair. Did the house not have a basement? If not, did they just dig this whole room out? Wouldn't it have been easier to get a house with a basement? And if it had a basement, wouldn't it have had outlets?

Jack asks Tony to take Ma and Beiruts back to CTU. This would be ex-con traitor civilian Tony. I'm sure there are protocols about who takes responsibility for such important prisoners, and I'm pretty sure they don't include ex-con traitor civilians. But no one puts up a fuss. And Tony is even offered a CTU job. He accepts. I guess because he realizes he wants more in his life than a cheap Barmaid.

Now, in one the lamest twists in this season yet, Audrey decides she has to go meet Paul in person. Why? Apparently she thinks he might get nervous because he knows she is minutes away. Why? Apparently Audrey felt the need to tell him that, even though we never saw her actually say that. Oh well, Audrey is not a trained agent. Mistakes are made by amateurs. I guess Paul assumes that people don't get hung up in LA traffic, given how easily CTU people flit all over LA with such ease.

SecDef Heller is not pleased to hear his Little Princess is off playing Rambo. Here's one reason I'm not a big fan of William DeVane. He always recites his lines like he just learned them minutes before, that he has no idea what the scene is about, he could just as well be doing a scene in Winnie the Pooh, so he just speaks the words as written. Heller even calls Audrey, who is bound and determined to put herself in danger for no good reason. Well, strike Audrey from the list of characters I like and put her on the list of Very Stupid People.

Tony arrives at CTU with Ma and Beiruts. Yes, sports fans, that means it took less than 10 minutes to get from the Empty House of Terrorists to CTU. Goodness, CTU is smack in the middle of all this terrorism going on right in its backyard. Driscoll asks Sarah if she knows about Tony. Sarah should've asked if that was the ex-con traitor civilian. Sarah shows herself to be CTU material though, and threatens Driscoll unless she gets a raise. Driscoll, knowing full well the danger of having people capable of such things working in the very nerve center of CTU, agrees.

Driscoll greets Tony, and gives him a badge and a gun, I think. At least she didn't take him down to HR so Tony could fill out paperwork, and get his lunchroom pass, and have new employee orientation, and get a desk assigned. No, at CTU people get right to work, thankfully.

Marianne and Curtis arrive at wherever this computer is. The place seems to be empty. The crack security team (consisting of a grand total of two guys) take up positions outside the room, and Marianne tries to access the file. Darn the luck though, the crack security team is overwhelmed by some baddies. The baddies burst into the room, and in a moment that I'm sure brought forth cheers from the throats of fans all over the country, they shoot Marianne.

The baddies spare Curtis, as they want to know how far CTU has gotten in their investigation. We're not real clear on why, if the baddies were aware of the danger posed by this computer, and the baddies were already there, they just didn't destroy the computer, or take it. One of the baddies is an American named Forbes. So, evil rich white guys (obviously capitalist pigs, with a name like Forbes) are in cahoots with the terrorists. Why? There's a chance we'll find out, then again, this being 24, we might not.

At the hotel, Audrey begins to schmooze Paul. Paul starts pouring champagne. And pours several glasses of the bubbly stuff. I was worried we were going to have a scene where a drunken Audrey, unruly hair hanging in her eyes, one shoe off, top two buttons undone, blouse untucked, would be stumbling around and laughing hysterically, and telling Paul everything. "They're on to you Paul! GGGAAAA hhAAH hAAAA! They're coming here!!! HAAA BWWWOOooH hhaa hhaaa"

Paul, classy gentleman that he is, suggests they go to bed. Audrey can't even get out an "Excuse me?", presumably because she chokes on her own spittle, but has the presence of mind to decide it is time to leave.

At this moment, Jack bursts in, even punches Paul, right in front of Audrey. And this nutty episode comes to a close.

In the previews for next week, there is a brief clip of Jack preparing to torture Paul right there in the hotel room! Mein Gott! These people have gone insane!

And what was this preview with The Mummy in some office, standing up in some cube and firing shots? Does he have a day job as a telemarketer, and he just couldn't get the day off?

(He's been away for a few episodes because he violated protocols, and we've been torturing him in the back room. But, once again, here's guest critic Paul Foth)

Hoo boy.

We got two magic devices. First was the satellite that could read heat
signatures in a hospital basement. Maybe it's plausible--at least it
looked like the scan was at an angle rather than from straight
overhead--but what made them decide they were looking at humans?
Couldn't heat signatures in a laundry room be, umm, DRYERS?! The second
magic device was that bistable hoozenganger that Pa plugged into his
cell phone. We know it was magic because of the evil green glow it
emitted. Its function may have been explained in an episode I missed; I
don't think it came up in this one. My guess is that it's a cell phone
scrambler (technology which CTU apparently doesn't have yet in order to
mask its own massive cell volume) and coffee maker.

Loved the Upsidedown Jack Suspender(tm). Could it have been any more
obvious that it was going to clang against the ductwork? Why not cover
the LARGE SLAB OF METAL with foam rubber? Why not use a strong plastic
instead? I hear that it's both quieter and lighter than metal.

Was it any surprise that Beiruts killed Pa? Nope.

So this house/building that Ma led Jack and Tony to: If the terrorists
had gone to all the trouble of building a secret underground lair,
doesn't it make sense that they would've thought to include an outlet
or two? "Let's hide the hatch under a false floor, and then DRILL A HOLE
AND RUN A POWER CORD DOWN THROUGH IT." Then again, I guess if the
terrorists are going to leave all of their planning documentation
tacked to the walls, it only makes sense they'd miss a little thing like a
dead giveaway that the spider hole is there. Then again again, I kept
expecting Jack to find the hidden explosives and barely get him and
Tony out of their before the explosion (SWAT guy would be dead meat, of
course) destroyed all the evidence--or at least all of the evidence
except the one charred clue that will lead Jack to the next rung up the
ladder to Mr. Big. Maybe they'll hold off on that particular "surprise"
until next week, when the forensic team (which apparently missed the
van and is taking public transportation to the hidey hole) gets there.

Just what inspired confidence when someone asked if Curtis was going to
be all right taking Marianne outside and the reply was, "He'll be okay;
he's got a security team with him."?! Hasn't CTU figured out yet what
happens to EVERY SECURITY TEAM THEY EVER SEND OUT TO ASSIST ONE OF
THEIR BEAUTIFUL SUPERVISORS? Why didn't those two goons just shoot themselves
in the head and be done with it as soon as Curtis posted them outside
the door? At least it would've given the terrorists pause to wonder why
there were two dead guys who they hadn't personally shot. Marianne is
dead (that was one freaky shot of her lying there with her eyes open)!
Huzzah! Her job over at CSI: Las Vegas must be getting her more money.
(Ayisha's a good actor, though. Marianne and her character at CSI are
two very different people. Her CSI personna is quite likeable.)

Speaking of CTU security teams, just where does this endless supply of
cannon fodder come from? How can the recruiters keep their faces
straight while denying that death is a virtual certainty for these
people? And what's it like there in Mole Central when it comes time to
pick a security team to accompany Jack or Curtis or whoever into the
field?

Driscoll: I need a team to go with Jack and root out the terrorists.
Johnson, it's you and Alvers.
Johnson: Oh, sorry, Ms. Driscoll. My old shrapnel wound is acting up.
I'd only be a liability. I think Manetti's available.
Manetti: Wish I could, but I think I'm getting the flu. [runs to
the
bathroom to induce vomitting]
Alvers: Uhhh, my cat just died.
[Johnson sneaked out while Driscoll was distracted with Manetti and
Alvers.]
Driscoll (to Alvers): Then you have nothing left to live for--perfect!

And OF COURSE Mr. Audrey had to show up again. I guess this was
something of a surprise, based on David Palmer's disappearing
girlfriend from last season, but not much of one. Why couldn't Audrey have waited
for Jack to arrive before going to see Hubby? She told Jack that he
knew she was only a couple of minutes away from the hotel. Whhhaaaa---? She
told Hubby she'd be there soon. She didn't say a thing about where she
was or how long it'd take to get to the hotel. Does this hint that she
still has feelings for him and actually WANTED to see him alone for a
bit? It sure didn't seem that way once she got there.

It looks from the previews for next week like Jack resorts to the
patented Driscoll Method of instant torture interrogation. Does no one
at Mole Central know that torture, in addition to being illegal, simply
isn't a reliable way of getting information? It's only a matter of time
before they're torturing everyone--suspected terrorist, actual
terrorist, CTU agent, mole, SecDef, the kid who delivers the papers--on
the principle that everybody knows something.

Sarah sure dove into the Mole Central dirt-gathering-and-double-dealing
game rather quickly. The only thing that would sensibly explain her not
swatting Driscoll's makeup right off her face and demanding she be
slapped in irons is if she really is a mole. (Which means, according to
CTU logic, Driscoll will think to herself, "Why is Sarah still here?
Why didn't she leave? She must be a mole!" and start torturing her all over
again, only to find out that no, she really, really isn't a mole. At
which point it'll start again.)

Again I say, hoo boy.


Approximate Body Count: 81

<- 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM ->

Monday, February 21, 2005

The other day someone had left some pop out to share with whoever wanted some. It was "Holiday Pepsi". It had a kind of cinnamon zing to it. I hadn't ever seen that kind before, so wanted to try it. It was regular pop, though. I've drunk only diet pop for a long time now. I don't think I've had a full can of regular pop in years. So, while I enjoyed this holiday pepsi, it was so sugary and syrupy. Blech. It didn't entirely agree with me. I'll stick with my tasty diet pops, thank you.

On Saturday morning, as I was driving to pick up Mom at the train station, I saw an amazing sun pillar. I don't think I've ever seen one like that. It was so prominent and brilliant. I was amazed at how quickly it faded though. It had noticeably dimmed within five minutes or so of when I noticed it, and was gone maybe ten minutes after that.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Getting some snow here today. I blew out the driveway this morning.

Yesterday Mom came in on the train, and then we took her to the airport in the afternoon. We took the Light Rail down to the airport, our first time on that. That was fun. We drove downtown and parked, and got on at the Government Center station. The kids were very excited.

Then, we went swimming, but, as happens all to frequently at the Y, the leisure pool was closed due to "circumstances beyond their control", whatever that means. We went swimming in the big pool for a little bit, but the water was freezing. Ugh. I didn't get in, and Hanna didn't either. John had fun for awhile, but got quite cold and wanted to get out.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Deacons mtg tonight. Another day of work all day, come home briefly, leave for the evening, get home after the kiddies are in bed. School day tomorrow.

I taped the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and started in on it. I'm through the Working group, and halfway through the Terriers. I always enjoy David Frei's commentary, he's been a fixture of the show for years now. But, I always get a chuckle out of some of his standard cliches. For instance, when asked what a judge looks for when the dog is trotting down and back, he always says something like "The judge is looking to see all the qualities in the breed's standard come together." Oh, I see. Crystal clear. How about a specific example?

Or, for the last few years he does a segment where he demonstrates a hands-on judging. But all he does is put his hands on the dog, from front to back, and mumble generalities about looking for things in the breed's standard. Again, how about an example? It would be nice to put a champion show dog side by side with a decrepit mutt of the same breed, to show specifically how one conforms to the standard and how the other doesn't.

Finally, my favorite, when the judges pick the winners in a group, they always point at the first place one, and pull them out, or have them move apart, etc... and Frei often says something like "I think the judge has some kind of order in mind". I just want to throw heavy metallic objects at the tv. I've watched the show for years, and I've never seen a case where the first dog the judge points to isn't the winner. Yet Frei always seems to try and make ya think there's still some uncertainty to the order the judge makes his picks.

I don't know which dog won this year, so don't tell me! But, I'm sure it wasn't one of my favorites. I love the Irish Wolfhound, the Scottish Deerhound, and the Russian Wolfhound. My dream is to have a country estate where I can have these dogs running around.

(There's a different host this year, not sure why they ditched last year's guy, who had taken over for Joe. I wish Joe was still around. He continually uttered the best cliche of all, when they went to commercial breaks, he said "We're working our way towards Best In Show.")

I just like watching the show to see the gorgeous dogs. I don't for a minute believe it is anything more than a highly subjective, and therefore meaningless, competition. Here is an interesting article on that point.

And finally, dreams. Yes, a bit of a gear switch there. I've noticed sometimes when I dream that if I find the dream particularly interesting, like a sprawling grade-A action adventure dream, I sense myself almost eager to see the dream continue, to find out what happens next. I wonder if there is any research looking at whether interesting dreams trigger the same receptors in the brain that addictive drugs do, so that we feel we really want to continue the dream.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Will probably meet with my class group tonight again. This time I'll go home for supper first, though. It'll give me a little time with the kiddies, anyway.

I've taken some initial steps in planning my capstone project. Am thinking about the GUI elements of the program, which will be the bulk of the program. I've never done much GUI work in Java, so it will be a new experience, and a learning curve. There's a fair amount of research to be done in how to use JAI, Swing, all that stuff, and learning the tricks such as spinning off intensive ops into their own threads, such as with SwingWorker.

Last night was the last session of swimming lessons. John will probably be an eel again, and Hanna will be a pike. In John's report card, she said he needs to listen to instructions better. Yeah, that's true. On Hanna's card, she said Hanna needs to develop more confidence. Perhaps Hanna was a little shy in the group, cuz when we swim on our own, she dives into the water with no hesitation.

We had a new padlock to use on the locker, and John was eager to try it out, but we can't find it. I wonder if John was playing with it and wandered off with it. He's not the best at remembering where he leaves things. Sometims he does, but not always. Hanna is a little more sharp at recalling where things are.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

24 Day 4 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

A Review

This episode was an odd sort of deli sandwich, a few pieces of cold Smart between two slices of Stupid.

As we start out, Curtis is inside talking to Driscoll about how to cover their heinies over the Marianne Affair. Another little 24 time trick, as only a minute or two before, Curtis was out in the parking lot nearly getting blowed up. Nice that his first priority was to dash into the building and talk to Driscoll. Never mind Marianne sprawled on the pavement, and certainly never mind the poor red shirt or two that really got blowed up. Surely it would've taken him several minutes to get back inside past all the layers of CTU security. Pause. bbbwwwwwooohhaa--haaaaa-hhaa. Ah, I knew I couldn't say that with a straight face. Curtis says he can diddle some files to help cover their involvement in bringing in Marianne. Not clear what files, or how that will work, given Driscoll and/or Curtis would surely have been involved in approving bringing in the temp Marianne.

It was strange that Driscoll and Curtis never expressed concern for their man (or two) that was just killed. No, instead, they're conniving with each other how best to save their skins. I felt a little oily just watching it. The person in charge of CTU and her chief deputy are putting their own necks above national security.

Curtis indicates Marianne is unconscious, which is a blessing, as we didn't have to listen to Marianne for the entire episode. I just wonder if Curtis has special Field Medic skills, to diagnose her so quickly and feel confident that he could dash into the building within a minute or two.

El Presidente is then on the line, wondering how Marianne slipped past the airtight CTU security. It wasn't clear where he was. Maybe he was in the basement of Air Force One. He is also told that the reactor at San Gabriel Island is about to meltdown. (It's not clear where this is, perhaps it is a fictional location.)

We cut back to Jack at the helo pad, scene of the magical death of Powell. He and Tony and a few others are quite casually strolling around the grounds. Keep in mind that a sniper popped up out of nowhere and killed Powell only minutes before. Jack is awfully calm about walking around in the open. How does he know the sniper isn't still in the area? There are numerous tales of soldiers in battle being pinned down by single snipers, sometimes dozens and dozens of soldiers. Jack might want to wait for more than a few minutes to make sure the sniper isn't trying to plink the rest of them.

Now, we come to the chewy center of the episode, in which it is evident that the writers took a Smart Pill when they wrote this one. The plot really holds together here in a way we haven't seen yet this season.

There is a brief scene where Pa goes to some woman's apartment, looking for Lady Macbeth. The woman is in a silky robe, and seemingly hiding something. Pa barges around, and some shirtless hunk comes out of the bedroom. The woman is having an affair with the man, and begs Pa not to tell her husband. After peeking at the woman's frilly underthings, Pa says the woman disgusts him. Let us dwell for a moment on what does and does not disgust Pa. .... ok, that's enough. (If Pa is such a devout Muslim fanatical terrorist that he has undertaken this mission, wouldn't he be a little more averse to seeing women in their altogethers? Wouldn't he try to shield his eyes and demand she throw on a burka or something?)

Jack looks at Powell's cell phone and sees that Powell has recently called a couple of numbers a lot. One is Marianne's phone (you remember, the one she was using right under CTU's nose), the other is traced by Edgar. Edgar says it is a mobile phone, and it needs to ring four times so they can trace it.

Now, in a genuine surprise, we cut to a hotel room where Lady Macbeth and Beiruts are holed up, and Ma's phone starts ringing. It is CTU trying to find the number Powell had called. Of course, the writers deliberately kept from the us the fact that Powell had been calling Ma, but oh well. CTU gets the location of the cell phone, and Jack is sent to investigate.

In a brief scene where Tony does that thing he always does, where, while talking, he continually looks 90 degrees to one side like something way more important is over there, Tony tells Jack he doesn't think he should be involved anymore. Jack says he is needed to help stop the terrorists and prevent the reactors from melting clean through to China. There must have been a lot of budget cuts recently, that CTU has so few resources that Marianne has to be brought in, and that there is no other option except to drag ex-con civilian Spanish-soccer-loving Tony along.

Ma's condition is getting worse, and needs more medical attention. Beiruts says Ma's brother, Naseem, works in a nearby hospital and he'll go there to ask Uncle for some pain medication. Ma reminds Beiruts that Naseem doesn't know what they have been up to these past few years.

There is a brief scene from the reactor control room, like out of some cheap horror movie. The crew there have been exposed to horrendous radiation levels, and they have obvious and severe burns. (Yet the voice of the one talking is perfectly calm and controlled.) They know they're goners, so they admirably remain at their posts trying to control the reaction. But, the radiation will soon reach the atmosphere.

Edgar sees reports about the meltdown (they all have time to watch FOX News in CTU in the middle of this crisis?) Now, this being 24, they did have to sprinkle in a few nuggets of Stupid. It can't all be Smart. Turns out Edgar's Mum lives near the reactor. She is in an invalid, and hasn't been evacuated. Everyone else has gone, and she is stuck.

Now, why Edgar wasn't checking up on her before isn't clear. Edgar was the one who saved the day with the reactors. And he knew which six reactors were still not controlled. He should've known long ago that the reactor near his mom was one of the six and should've showed some concern for her then. But no, for some reason we are subjected to this little weepy side plot where Edgar tries to do something for his mom. Edgar asks Audrey to see if she can get the National Guard to go pick her up.

Jack and Company reach the hotel (in minutes, of course.) CTU Agent Castle is there, and rightly is not keen on Tony being involved. Jack, having broken numerous laws already, isn't about to stand on ceremony, and tells the Agent to deal with it.

In a tense, well-done scene, they burst into the room. Ma almost commits suicide with a pistol, but the gun is knocked away just as she fires. Agent Castle presses on Ma's bullet wound to try and get her to talk. Tony knocks him away. Castle is not pleased about that, and Jack asks him to lay off Tony, for Jack's sake.

Beiruts gets to the hospital and finds Naseem. Uncle is a little suspicious about the boy showing up asking for pain medication for his mother, claiming they couldn't get a prescription. So, in a remarkably logical turn, that both makes sense for that character, and creates a serious plot problem in a sensible way, Naseem calls Pa, asking if everything is alright, and explains that Beiruts is there asking for pain medication. Pa says that Beiruts is on drugs, and asks Naseem to keep there until he gets there. Naseem thinks he understands now, and, again, totally in keeping with that character, agrees to try and keep Beiruts there at the hospital till Pa shows up. I could hardly believe it. No fairy sniper popped up and shot someone or nothing. It all made perfect sense within the story.

Jack offers Ma a deal. They'll give the boy immunity if she helps them find the Flux Capacitor. (Again, don't bother trying to understand why CTU wants it now. The damage is already done. They should be trying to fix the computers at the reactors.) Ma wants to see a piece of paper from the President.

There is some strong acting here. Ma is downright frightening, as she says she believes in her cause, and would like to see the reactors melt down. That takes a cold-blooded person to say that. Jack says the people are innocent, they nothing about her war. Ma says no one is innocent.

Within minutes (almost seconds) they get the letter from the President. But, after the President hangs up the phone, he says "make sure it is non-binding." Eek. Lovely. A dishonest President.

Audrey tells Edgar there are no available people to go get his mother, everyone is trying to manage the mass panic, er, evacuation. Roads are jammed.

There are live news reports of helicopters flying over the reactor. Um, excuse me? Hello? Who thought this was a good idea? The reactor is pumping out enough radiation to fry birds in mid-air. These helo pilots are going to be toast. (At Chernobyl, several helo pilots flying over that reactor trying to dump sand and concrete suffered fatal doses of radiation)

Edgar says he'll keep trying to rescue her, but Mum says she wants to kill herself, she doesn't want to suffer the effects of radiation poisoning. Yikes. Another plot tangent we could do without. Edgar grabs his coat and is on his way out the door. Driscoll stops him with ye olde "what would your mother want you to do right now?" bit. Edgar, who at times seems like he was inspired by Flowers for Algernon, agrees to return to work and try to save the people by the other reactors.

Ma gets her piece of paper, and agrees to help the government if they protect Beiruts. Ma calls the dear boy, and tells him she's been captured, but the agents want to protect him, and that they are coming to pick him up. He is to wait in the emergency room. Ma will come there in person to prove she is not being coerced.

So, Beiruts tells dear Uncle he has to leave. Naseem says that he called Pa, and that Pa is coming to pick him up. Poor Naseem, he only thinks he is trying to help a troubled druggie youth. Then, in a scene where Beiruts clearly demonstrates he took to heart all that training he must have had about operational security, in a public hallway he yells out what the family has been doing, and that Pa is a terrorist who caused the reactor meltdown. Okkkaaayyy. Beiruts runs. Down some deserted interior hallway, of course. And runs into Pa. Pa shoots Naseem dead, and grabs Beiruts and drags him into a stairwell. Pa can convincingly portray hate and anger, I'll give him that.

Pa puts a gun to Beiruts head. All over the country people are chanting "Shoot! Shoot!" No, I mean, Beiruts says Ma has cut a deal and will tell all if he is killed. This only makes Pa madder, and they head for the parking garage.

Jack and Company arrive at the hospital, and see security guards running outside. So, they know something is wrong. Jack goes inside. He enters the hospital, armed, with no identification, dressed in his black clothes and vest. A security guard, who has just heard a doctor has been killed, merely asks Jack if he can help him. Nice going guard, you have no idea who Jack is, he might be the one who shot the doctor. But no matter.

Everyone heads for the garage. Naturally, Ma being the most valuable witness they have at the moment, the only link they have to the Flux Capacitor, Tony drives straight into the garage with her, the garage where they know there is an armed, dangerous terrorist. I'm sure that is standard procedure. But then, Tony is a little out of practice. (The incident will be just more fodder for the Congressinal Hearings. "Mr. Bauer, please explain how you left the most important witness you had in the custody of an ex-con traitor, who proceeded to drive into the middle of a firefight, and got her killed, eliminating your last lead that could've saved the reactors. Which, I needn't remind you, melted down and killed 90 million people.")

Jack gets to the basement as Pa is driving off. Jack then empties a clip into the car, this as Ma is arriving. Keep in mind, Ma only agreed to help if the boy is safe. So here is Jack spraying the car the boy is in with bullets. He must be real sure of his aim. The car knocks Jack up into the air, against the windshield, and Jack rolls off. He merely shakes it off.

Ma is going nutso, understandably so. Pa gets out of the car and drags Beiruts into a basement. Why Jack knew that stairwell went to a basement, who knows. And why would a stairwell in a parking garage go only to the basement, and not to the upper floors as well. Of course, the answer is the plot needs Pa to be trapped in a basement for next week's episode, as this episode comes to a close.

Approximate Body Count: 76

<- 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM ->

Monday, February 14, 2005

Mom is here visiting for the weekend, I'll take her back to the airport tonight. NWA had some good deals this weekend, so she flew down. I had class on Saturday, and behold it turned out John came down with strep throat. He was falling asleep during the day, which he never does, and crawled into bed by himself and fell asleep, which he only does when he's sick, so it seemed something was amiss. Rhonda took him to a clinic, and now he's on some antibiotics.

Yesterday was a milestone of sorts. I took John to his first movie in a theater! I took him to the Pooh/Heffalump movie. It was cute. John enjoyed it, laughed at some parts and was a little bored in other spots. It was mostly about Roo and his newfound friend the Heffalump, Lumpy. Lumpy steals the show, voiced by a (then) 5-yr old British boy.

Since Mom as here to watch the kiddies, Saturday night Rhonda and I went out. We first had a wonderful meal at Babani's, then saw the play "The Violet Hour" at the Park Square Theater. The play is by Richard Greenberg, who won a Tony for "Take Me Out". It was an enjoyable. A publisher just starting out in 1919 somehow receives delivery of a strange machine. He is trying to decide whether he should publish the novel written by his secret paramour, an older black woman, or publish the sprawling novel of his good friend. The strange machine starts spitting out pages and pages, which turn out to be from books published in the future. The publisher discovers the consequences of choices he will make, or might make.

I always enjoy productions at the Park Square. They do a good job with sets. (Out the window of the office set, we see a New York cityscape, but given the title, I would think the sky should be more of a violet, not the blue we saw.)

You've probably seen these commercials on TNT where they ask "What is drama?", and a host of actors furrow their eyebrows and try to out-pretentious the other. Well, I have my own thoughts on the answer to that question, and slight variations on the question.

What is....

comedy - when someone else steps on a rake and it hits them in the forehead
drama - when you step on a rake and it hits you in the forehead
romance - a boy and a girl meet when they both step on a rake at the same time and it hits them in the forehead
science fiction - a rake hits you in the forehead, and then you step on it
mystery - someone hits you in the forehead with a rake
documentary - examines the physics involved, specifically angular momentum and torque, when someone steps on a rake
history - examines prehistoric rakes discovered in the Lo River valley

Friday, February 11, 2005

In an article in the latest issue of National Review, Michael Potemra reviews a new collection of essays, etc... from Christopher Hitchens. I'd like to get it eventually. Anyway, he relates a little joke Hitchens includes in the book.

"And from this book, an anecdote in which an Irishman is seeking work at an English construction site. A surly English supervisor rebukes him: 'You donít look to me as if you know the difference between a girder and a joist.' To which the Irishman indignantly responds: 'I do, too. The first of them wrote Faust and the second one wrote Ulysses.'"

As part of this capstone project for my masters program, this program I'll do will be a Java GUI interface, which I haven't done before. All my Java stuff has been backend stuff. So, that's something new I gotta learn, and am starting my reading on that.

Paul pointed out that on his website, Stephen Donaldson (one of my favorite writers) made the following comment.

"I've already discussed vocabulary earlier in this interview. But the short answer is: yes, I used exotic and unfamiliar words deliberately (in an attempt to make the Land feel "real" through sheer language); and I acquired my vocabulary by making word-lists when I read other people's books."

Hmm, I see once again I'm not original. That is something I like to do, too, in my writing, and I make note of interesting words I come across.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Yesterday I went over to the U to talk more with an astronomy prof and his grad student about a project I might do with them for my main project for the masters program. They showed me a program they have now, and we talked about how to improve it, maybe add to it, etc... Sounds like fun. It would involve a fair amount of work with graphics, something I've not done a lot of, especially in Java, so it would be a good learning opportunity. I've already been doing some thinking about how I might organize the project, and the process I might follow.

Then, in the evening I meet with my group from class to do some assignments. We met down in Richfield at a coffee shop at 66th and Lyndale, so I just stayed down in Mpls, rather than go all the way home and then back. I had dinner at Christos. Mmmmm, I had one of my favorites, a combo plate with Mousaka, koupepia, and spanakopita. A good Greek salad, too.

So, I didn't get home till after the kids were already asleep.

I've read the David and Goliath story to the kids so many times, that John practically has it memorized. He'll "read" it by himself. Hanna will "read" it too, she kinda adds her own special flair to it. Ha. She likes to sit and "read" the 101 Dalmations story, too. That's cute.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Getting some snow here this morning. At noon I'm going to head over to the U campus to talk about my capstone project from the masters degree.

And tonight, have to meet with my group in Richfield to get some assignments done, so I'll just stay down here at work, and get dinner somewhere.

A lot of reading to do this time around. Always a chore to find time to do it all.

Lately Hanna has been saying more or less out of the blue "Don't say eenie-meenie-miney-moe". So of course I say it, and she says "no, only girls can say it." Ha, no idea where that came from.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

24 Day 4 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

A Review

I'm beginning to worry about El Presidente. I wonder if he is a psychotic airplane buff, and he ordered the Oval Office to be rebuilt and transformed into a copy of Air Force One. Because, he is *still* flying around somewhere. Forget the nuclear threats. Let's have CTU start looking for the President.

A nice little scene in Tony's vehicle. The surreptitious call to the SecDef was handled well. And while in the vehicle, the writers get us up to date on Tony. He was pardoned, and Michelle has left him. As was mentioned, seems a little harsh. Tony did go through all that to save Michelle.

I wonder what the government's real plans are for evacuations in emergencies like this. El Presidente goes on the air and basically starts a mass panic in these six cities. You think the roads are bad in metro areas during a normal rush hour. Let's see what happens when everyone and their dog is trying to get out of town quickly.

The Mummy wants to handle the Override himself. Which brings me to yet another thing that has my eyeballs sproinging out of my head. The Override was described as a prototype. Pause. A PROTOTYPE???? Then why in the name of all that is good and holy are *all* the reactors in the country already set up to respond to it? If it is something that is being tested, why not just one reactor? In software development, the usual practice is to have three different systems, one for development, one for test, and one for production. You begin work in your development sandbox, then move to test, and when all looks good, then and only then do you move things to your production environment. This sounds like they developed one thing and threw everything into production right away. Smart. Real smart.

Pa assures that his wife and son will be dead soon. Fair enough, as Pa will be dead soon as well for horsing things up so badly. Speaking of wife and son, Ma's bullet wound is in great need of attention. I forget how the baddies planned to monitor all of the emergency rooms in all of LA. It surely wasn't something they hadn't planned on, and it would take enormous resources to do. Indeed, as it turns out, Marwan and Company apparently had no inkling Ma and Beiruts went to this hospital.

The doctor there wasn't buying the rusty nail bit, to his credit. And as they are required to do in all cop shows, the doctor calls the authorities to inform them a patient came in with a bullet wound. A police car drives by the front of the hospital, a policeman is even mere steps away from the emergency room. Yet, they are no match for Beiruts and his special Dematerialize Enemy skills. Because, he and Ma just waltz straight out of the hospital, bloody arm and shirt and all, and no cop is in sight. They are left to flounder around outside as they watch Beiruts drive off. Sigh. But wait, there are some even more spectacular conveniences to come.

Back at Mole Central, Marianne is getting nervous, but Powell orders her to stay. I finally made the connection that the guy Audrey saw at the warehouse is the same guy Marianne talks to on the cell phone. Just a little slow on the uptake am I.

I loved how, as Marianne walked to the CTU ladies room (scene of many a scene, erp, over the years) she asked someone named Jackie to monitor something for her. Jackie chirpily said "Sure!" Jackie should have said "Um, who the snot are you? You're that temp, aren't you? I've worked here for years, no idea who you are. Why should I do anything for you? What are you doing here anyway?"

Now, after four years of screaming at the TV for CTU to do just this, Heller launches a plan to have the DoD monitor communications out of the building. Pause again. Why oh why isn't this standard CTU practice, especially in a crisis? With their experience with moles in the past, when the moles all but stood at the window and used semaphore to signal their contacts, CTU ought to be a little wary of the way anyone can just up and call out with no one knowing about it. In any case, Operation Whack-a-Mole is launched.

We finally get to Tony's house, and we get some wonderful character moments here. I loved Tony's little line about the neighbor's dog liking his yard. Inside, we see Tony is now shacked up with some skanky barmaid. Tony has fallen on hard times, apparently. He makes a comment to Jack "Haven't you kept me from watching enough TV by now?" But, uh, at that point it had only been 30 minutes since Jack first called him. Is Tony so far gone that he can't be away from his Spanish soccer broadcasts for even that long?

Tony is still has some m@d h@cker computer equipment though. Jack and Audrey use it to ID Powell, and even send the image to DoD for further identification. Tony, dude, why can't you get a job? Your computer skills should help you go far in this world. (Precious moment: When Barmaid says to Jack, "I have a job. He (Tony) doesn't". OUCH!)

Meanwhile, at Mole Central, Marianne somehow manages to frame Sarah by sending something to her computer over the AC power lines. Erp. Let's not dwell on this for very long. If you try to figure out how that was done, you'll only get a very big headache. (You can transmit signals over power lines, but how you then get connected to Sarah's hard drive so you can actually write something there, that's another story.)

Which brings us to the saddest moment in the episode. CTU has now turned into Gestapo HQ. CTU thinks Sarah is the mole, and after only a couple question, we see one of 24's favorite memes. A nattily dressed guy with a shiny little case comes into the room. And proceeds to taser poor sweet little Sarah. Good heavens. Driscoll makes a comment about learning her lesson, and doesn't have time to mess around with Sarah. Not clear what that was referring to exactly. If she meant Stoner, well, yes, they did have him hooked up to the Mind Defragmentizer for nearly three hours with no results. And they just let him go. But, I'm not sure if the lesson was they should've tasered him first thing to save some time or what.

Heller tells Jack the mole has been whacked, and they all immediately just assume there was only one mole, so they start broadcasting all their plans and locations in the clear. Perhaps not the wisest assumption, but they get away with it.

DoD quickly comes back with an ID on Powell, and, conveniently, they already figured out that he is going be catching a helicopter flight within minutes. The helo is in Van Nuys, which in the northern part of the vast LA metro area. But of course, Jack gets there within minutes.

Tony tags along for the ride, armed. There must be a hundred and ten laws being broken here, an armed, private citizen, ex-con, assisting in a federal operation? But off they go.

Powell pulls a gun on the pilot when the pilot says the flight has been ordered grounded. Not clear how this works though. If he actually does shoot the pilot, Powell isn't going anywhere. Of course, the pilot is not keen on getting shot just to prove the point, so they prepare to leave.

Jack comes sneaking up, nabs Powell, and then occurs one of the most ridiculous things ever seen on 24. A sniper just pops up out of nowhere, kills Powell, and disappears. What is that?? What is THAT?!?!? You can't do that. That's cheating of the first magnitude. How convenient that Powell is no longer to talk. Why not just have King HuggaHugga of the Space Puppies beam down and kill Powell with his Death Laser? Makes about as much sense, and just as convenient. Poor writing, just poor shoddy writing. Are we to believe a sniper was positioned there just in case Powell didn't get off the ground. If he was to silence Powell, why didn't the sniper shoot long before Powell got in the helo? No sense at all.

Back at Gestapo HQ, we have a 24 first. A Gestapo HQ employee actually gets a little suspicious and takes the initiative to investigate a security threat. Go Edgar! Marianne is nailed, and seeing her nervously chew her nails just about makes all the silliness worthwhile. She bolts. (Of course, CTU being what it is, she just waltzes straight out the door to her car in the parking lot without passing a single guard.)

Curtis catches her at her car, starts to walk her back inside, when her car EXPLODES!!!! WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!?!??! Did someone rig her car to explode to silence her? That's the quietest way they could think of, to blow up a car in CTU's parking lot? The scene ends with Marianne apparently knocked out by the blast, though Curtis doesn't have a scratch on him. I'll tell you right here and now, if Marianne is conveniently dead so she can't talk, I will seriously think about never watching the show again. This show has done jumped over the shark. It's not only over the shark, it's in orbit. Sigh.

Well. Our intrepid heroes are really in the soup. Their leads to find the Flux Capacitor are rapidly dwindling. Indeed, from the previews (which always give away too much) at least one the reactors might actually melt down next week. With grave consequences I'm sure.

(A relatively body free episode. Just the two hapless red shirts at Marianne's car and Powell. However, if a reactor melts down next week, I'm going to have to upgrade my counter, and add a few digits.)

Approximate Body Count: 75

<- 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM ->

Monday, February 07, 2005

Another Super Bowl comes and goes. For eats, we tried a pizza from a new take-n-bake place that opened up nearby. Pretty good. Next will try some of their more exotic fare. Looks good anyway.

The other day John was playing with a clear plastic container, it's big enough for him to fit inside, but he turned it on its side and put it on the endtable in the living room. Then, he wanted me and Hanna to be Dalmations, and he looked through the bottom of the container at us, and said it was a TV, and he was Thunder. He was pretending to do the scene in 101 Dalmations where the dogs were watching their favorite TV show! We'd say "look out Thunder!" and he'd kinda do a little scene. He even wanted Hanna to sit on my head, like one of the puppies (Lucky?) sits on Pongo's head! Clever boy.

We kinda developed a couple more games. The Zaccheus game, where they go racing up the stairs, and I say to them "you come down out of that tree, I'm going to your house today", and then they jump off the stairs and I catch them. They figured out the "Baby Game" all by themselves. They hug each other, and then kinda fall on the floor. They figured that one out by accident. John had bumped himself or something, and Hanna gave him a hug, and they tripped or something and fell on the floor, and they thought that was great fun, so now they do it on purpose.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Here is a page that catalogues various problems caused by software errors.
Belmont Club has a terrific piece here about the Sudan, Churchill, the Four Feathers, and Islam.

I started reading a book Dad had found about the long siege of Leningrad. Excellent so far. Does a good job of setting the scene, how there were plenty of rumors of war, but on the day the Germans invaded, Russians were still going about their normal life, going to the theater, or for walks in the park, etc... They had no idea of the horror that was to descend on their country. (Of course, Stalin brought his own horrors.)

The book mentions some familiar places in Moscow, such as the Alexander Gardens, just outside the Kremlin wall. We walked through there a number of times. Also, it describes officials entering the Kremlin through the Borovitsky Gate, on the SW corner of the Kremlin. That's the Gate we went through when we went into the Kremlin for our tour.

I built a snow fort in the front yard last night. Rhonda had started on, had a low mound of snow, so I got a 5-gallon bucket and built it up. I also cut open a large cardboard box and put it around one side as a kind of wall. Of course, temps are going to be near 45 for the next couple days, so we'll see how much it melts.

Rhonda took Hanna with to Kohls last night. Apparently she was chatting up other shoppers there. John and I played with Lincoln Logs after going inside, building a couple of forts. Or, as John called them, a house of sticks, which he, as the Big Bad Wolf, enjoyed blowing down.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The last couple days Hanna has been telling me about this goose on the ceiling in her bedroom. The goose comes down and eats from her hand while she's sitting in her bed.

The other day John was kinda standing on a dining room chair, which he isn't supposed to do, and Hanna saw that and said to him "John, get down, please." She's funny.
Here's a fun Movie Quiz. Some of them are a bit difficult. You are a true movie maven if you get anywhere near all of them. (Email me if you want the answers)
Last night as we were getting ready to head out to swimming lessons, John and Hanna were playing the Giant game. At one point, John grabbed the hen that laid the golden eggs, and took off running saying "I have the hen!", and Hanna, who was the giant, went running after him saying "Hey, bring back my chicken!" Ha.

Swimming was fun. John wasn't too antsy, he did have a hard time sitting on the wall, but at least he stayed near the wall. Later, I played Monstro with John, where I throw him up into the air and he splashes into the water. He likes that.

Why is it that when we look back for a happier time in which to escape, we look back to our childhood? (At least if it was a happy childhood.) We had no power as children, most of our decisions were made for us. Of course, I suppose the attraction is because we had no serious responsibilities. Our work was play. It is a curious contrast, that we sometimes consider the idyllic life to be one of no responsibility, even if it means no power. Ambition in the adult world is considered the opposite, lots of power, which brings with it lots of responsibility. Perhaps that is another twist in this fallen world, that what we might think is most important is ultimately empty, and that what is of most value is something simpler, and we still carry a memory of that somewhere within us forever.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

This morning as I was getting ready to leave, John did something he does once awhile. He usually doesn't want me to go to work, he wants me to stay, so this morning he went downstairs and stood against the door so I couldn't get out. Ha.

Warmer temps here, in the 30s, could hit the 40s tomorrow. Hopefully it will melt the compacted gunk off my driveway.

Last night we went outside and I shoveled off the driveway. With temps above freezing, the gutter at the bottom of the driveway had some standing water. Guess who quickly found that and was laying in it, splashing around?

Hanna once in awhile can be a little pill. Rhonda went to the regular meeting at the agency last night, and they talked again about shame there. Perhaps Hanna is acting out of a sense of unworthiness, an "I can't be loved" feeling. Well, we just keep trying to show her that's certainly not the case.

Swimming lessons again tonight. John has a hard time just sitting still when he's not doing anything, I think it irks his teacher, a high school gal that hasn't been around little kids much. The impression I get anyway. So, I try to be near and help settle him down.

24 Day 4 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

A Review

I'm starting to have that same feeling I had about 30 minutes into The Matrix Reloaded, when they were spending so much time in Zion, and seemingly forgetting all about what made the Matrix films so bewitching, the Matrix itself. I was thinking, they're not really doing this, are they? Surely they'll come to their senses any minute now?

Alas, here in Day 4, I'm beginning to suspect the writers have at last slipped the surly bonds of sanity, and all pretensions of logic and reason have been shot and buried in someone's crawl space. I continue.

As the episode opens, Jack is preparing to go to Felsted Security, which has the camera footage from the Heritage Foundation dinner Audrey attended, where she remembers seeing the guy she recognized in the compound. It is decided Audrey should go with Jack, to save time. A fair enough set-up. Heller is understandably resistant to seeing Audrey leave.

As they're on the way out the door though, Paul stops Audrey to rehash one more time their status. Would someone please tell me why, during this national crisis, a mopey Brit is allowed to wander freely around the very nerve center of CTU, pining for Audrey or the fjords or whatever? Security? Security?

Later, Heller has a little talk with the mopey Brit. Devane's face has some character to it, it looks like a satellite relief map of the Andes.

Driscoll and her troupe bandy about possible responses to the threat to the nuclear power plants. I must say, if you as an audience member were confused as to what the threat is exactly, fear not. You are not alone. If you did understand it, you probably live in a basement and fill entire walls with scribblings of complex math equations. None of this was explained last episode. We only knew there is some kind of Magical Device, some kind of remote control that could be used to control the reactors, once their firewalls are attacked. Or something. We knew nothing about whether in fact this firewall attack took place, or what the result was.

In a side note, they appeared to have reused some stuff from Day 2, when there was a threat of a nuclear bomb going off. They had talked about casualty rates, etc... and they seemed to use those same graphics here. They might also have used similar graphics in Day 3, talking about casualty rates from the bio weapon.

So, in this scene, we eventually piece together that yes, the reactors have been compromised, the Internet attack did install some code in the reactors software kernels, and presto chango caninis transmuto, somehow this will lead to a meltdown in the reactors. Again, how this happens is not explained. I would hope a nuclear reactor has better safeguards than going straight to a meltdown in the event of a computer problem.

The nature of this Magical Device is not explained either. Is it some kind of radio that can communicate with all the reactors all over the country? In the end, it's not important, as the only goal here is to set up some kind of threat that will keep Jack running like mad for the remaining episodes. In this case, it's a few reactors approaching meltdown.

Marianne sees Jack and Audrey leave, and asks Sarah where they're going. Sarah immediately tells the temp, and Marianne proceeds to call her contact, some guy named Powell, and divulge her information. Powell is one of 24's Greatest Hits, that we've seen in past seasons. This mysterious contact on the other end of a phone, a bad guy, but very well dressed, suave, an air of some sophistication. Powell tells Marianne to divert suspicion, because Jack and Audrey are going to be killed, and it will be obvious their location was known only in CTU, and there will be a mole hunt. (Another of 24's Greatest Hits.)

Sarah sees Marianne in a back area, Marianne lies about what she's doing. She says Edgar asked her to manually reboot a hub. (Later Edgar tells Sarah something that proves Marianne was lying, Sarah confronts Marianne, who lies her way out of it, and Sarah seems to accept the word of a temp who's been there five minutes, and has been doing strange things in the middle of this national crisis. Security? Security?)

We finally return to the Araz household. Pa is watching a report on Fox News (!), where the reporter is apparently standing outside the compound where Heller was held. Which made me think, I believe in earlier episodes, the compound was referred to as Pa's warehouse. It was never clear what business Pa is in. But, if that warehouse is in his name, or in his business's name, I would think the authorities would very quickly find out who owns that compound, and commandos would be crashing through the Araz estate windows any second now. But no. Let's move on.

Beiruts calls Lady Macbeth's cell phone, and wants her to come get him. He wonders why Pa wanted him killed. They arrange to meet at a train station. Lady Macbeth tells Beiruts to hide his vehicle. We know this is one of Beiruts' special skills, as he made L'il Debbie's car disappear in a residential neighborhood in minutes. However, Beiruts is distressed, so we can forgive the boy for not carrying out the task. He merely parks the car in a public parking lot. Ma prepares to leave.

Pa heard the phone ring, wonders who Ma was talking to and where she is going, and figures out it was Beiruts. Pa forces Ma to take him to where Beiruts is, as he'll try again to finish the job.

A quick cut to Jack and Audrey in the CTU vehicle. They are in the back seat, two CTU agents are in front, driving, and along for protection. *snort* Here again, obedience to the plot trumps all. When the plot requires people to be somewhere quickly, they can get anywhere in LA in 10 minutes. In this case, it takes Jack over 30 minutes to reach the security office.

In some technobabble that would make any Star Trek writer proud, Edgar comes up with a way to possibly regain control of the reactors. It involves precompiled headers, and some other things. I've been a computer professional for over a decade, and I had no idea what he was talking about. For whatever that's worth. He did appear to be talking about some kind of Assembly code though, which was a nice touch.

On the drive to Beiruts' location, Lady Macbeth had some amazing facial expressions. She is a tremendous actress, and in this scene, portraying a woman who is realizing her husband wants to kill her son, she is riveting.

From here, the Beiruts story takes a turn. Ma is supposed to drive Beiruts to another location, where Pa and a couple of goons will be waiting. Ma will drive up to Beiruts, and Pa is following in another car. Ma wants to save her son though, and tells him to run, to go get on the train and flee. Pa shoots at them, hitting Ma in the arm. Beiruts steps on the gas and drives from the passenger side. Apparently. Pa loses them in the oldest trick in the TV book. A bus pulls in front of Pa's car, and by the time they get clear, Beiruts and Ma are gone. It's not clear yet where they will go. Ma is going to need some medical attention.

After a commercial break, Navi goes immediately to Marwan's location. (Marwan is apparently the director of this operation. In a neato! moment, Marwan is played by the actor who portrayed the Mummy in, well, the Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser.) This is a coincidence of the first degree. What are the odds that the train station Beiruts happened to find himself at was only a few minutes away from Marwan's headquarters? I'm telling ya, the writers are getting very lazy about following their own constraints in doing a show in real time over a 24 hour period.

Marwan is understandably unhappy that the Beiruts problem is not taken care of, and Pa will eventually have to answer for it. Pa did show some courage in even going to Marwan and fessing up to his mistakes, knowing the likely consequences. It is agreed that they will watch hospitals and the like, and search for Ma and Beiruts.

Although, it's not real clear what the precise worry is. It seems the attack on the reactors was successful. Unless there is something else planned on this day, what does it matter if Beiruts talks to the authorities. What could they do about it at this point?

Back in CTU, there are a couple of scenes that contributed to my Matrix comments. First, Stoner is apparently freed. He didn't say anything while under the Mind Defragmentizer, so they're apparently letting him go. That's it? That whole thread went nowhere? Nothing came of it? Then why? Whhhyy? Heller did say to Curtis, "You tortured my son for 2.5 hours for nothing?" Curtis replied "You did authorize it, sir." Heller should've replied though, "I authorized a half hour, you tortured him for two hours before I ever knew about it."

Then, Driscoll's daughter is giving some medicine by mistake, she's allergic to it, and has a severe reaction. There is some nice acting here, as Driscoll is deeply concerned for her daughter. But again, what's the point? Why is this here? Just to give Driscoll a problem, how can she do her job while dealing with her daughter? There has to be more than that for this to mean anything. Sarah comes by to talk to Driscoll, she sees her distress and is about to leave, but Driscoll says ok, ask me your questions. Sarah does, and Driscoll eventually snaps at her, saying "Is there ANYTHING ELSE?" Uh, Erin, honey? You were the one who invited Sarah to speak!

There is a meeting at CTU as they discuss options with the President. Would someone PLEASE PLEASE tell me why Marianne was in that meeting? She's a temp! I've said it a million times! She's a temp! A temp! Why is she in this very important meeting?

Incidentally, El Presidente is *still* flying around somewhere in Air Force One! Where is he? Is he flying back from Outer Mongolia?

The episode concluded with Jack and Audrey at the security office. Audrey recognizes the man on a video clip, but just as she does, the security office is under attack. Whoever Marianne is working for has sent a hit team, they wipe out the CTU agents that drove Jack there, they wipe out whoever else is in the building. Jack and Audrey shoot their way out. But, Jack makes a phone call. To whom? "The only one I can trust right now", says Jack, realizing CTU has a serious leak.

They got the camera footage copied to flash memory sticks. Jack gives Audrey a gun, which she doesn't end up using.

Jack and Audrey wind up in a garage, Jack runs out of ammo, (I wasn't clear on why he didn't get the gun back from Audrey, that must have had ammo still) and just as the bad guys are closing in, who comes to the rescue? Tony! That was quite a surprise. (And oh so convenient that Tony happened to be only five minutes away when Jack called.) I forget what happened at the end of Day 3 though, I thought maybe Tony was in prison. Did Palmer pardon him?

So ends the episode. Ma and Beiruts are on the run. Pa is after them. Marianne is trying to cover her tracks. Edgar regained control of most of the reactors, except for six or so. (One of the six appeared to be in Minnesota, perhaps the Monticello one.) Jack and Audrey and Tony are on the run, not knowing who to trust.

Approximate Body Count: 72

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