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

Thursday, March 31, 2005

We happy few, we S-band of brothers

The more I think about it, the more I like XM's strategy on sports. It hints at their marketing strategy. Whether it wildly succeeds or not, well, that's the beauty of the marketplace.

XM felt like it shouldn't overpay for the NFL, and for NASCAR. Sirius has the NFL now, and will have NASCAR in 2007. Both sports have devoted followings, obviously. Sure it would be nice for XM to have, but has Sirius overpaid for these? Are the NFL and NASCAR sports that translate well to listening on the radio? Most fans would probably want to see those events on TV. (Yes, there will be those on the road who want the events available on radio.)

In getting baseball though, XM has a sport that translates very well to radio. Baseball and radio have been intertwined for decades.

Ano now, with XM signing a long term deal with the PGA, XM goes after a demographic that traditionally has more disposable income. XM's press release said "Beginning this summer, the PGA TOUR Network (XM Channel 146) will air live tournament coverage each week, plus daily programs designed for golf enthusiasts. XM is partnering with the programming company PureGolf, Inc. to produce dedicated programs for the new channel."

I'm a golf fan, and I look forward to their golf coverage, and being able to listen to tournaments online at work on Thursdays and Fridays when I can.

XM seems to be going after a specific market, without paying through the nose for everything.

In its music programming, XM seems to have a target in mind as well. XM's playlists tend to be much deeper than Sirius. Sirius seems to be trying to bring the FM strategy to satellite radio. That is, have a more shallow playlist, where popular songs are played more often. This strategy has worked in radio markets. Oldies stations, for instance, can succeed by playing only 200 or 300 songs over and over.

(To be sure, there are folks who like some of Sirius's music stations more than corresponding ones at XM. Different strokes for different folks. There's something for everyone between the two.)

XM has a different approach. Their playlists look to create variety, interest. Sirius doesn't have as much DJ introduction, where XM seeks to have listeners build relationships with their DJs. The XM DJs don't talk a lot, but are more visible than at Sirius. And all that is what appeals to me. Listening to music in the car is fun again. I haven't been excited about that in years. XM is introducing me to music I've never heard, or rarely get to hear anymore.

XM could beef up their talk lineup a little more. But overall, I'm hooked.

The lion ate the lamb

March rarely goes out like a lamb in these parts. Last night we had a decent rain, and strong winds all day. The winds continue today.

I had a meeting with my school group project, at our customary place.

On the tricky drive home I enjoyed my XM Satellite Radio, as usual. Despite nighttime rain, the wind, the clouds, my reception was as clear as if it were a sunny cloudless day. Me likee.

We went a little later than planned, trying to hammer out some OO design issues for the project. As such, the kidlings were asleep by the time I got home. This morning, they wanted to listen to the Zaccheus song, so I brought in the CD. (It's the Beginners Bible song CD, with the gal who did the voice of the Little Mermaid. Grandpa and Grandma got the cd for them. We usually listen to it on the way to Sue's house. They like the Noah story.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Time to break out the ark

Some strong rains are coming across southern MN today. As I was driving into work, it was looking darker and darker to the south. Started not too long after I got in the building, thankfully.

Rhonda got the kids some large stuffed Care Bears. Hanna likes to sit them up on stools near the table while we're having dinner.

We had a conference with John's preschool teacher yesterday. He's doing really well, has made improvements since last fall. Attention span is still short, and needs some direction from his teacher, but is able to sit longer in groups. Still has to work on not pushing other kids, he doesn't realize it hurts them. A lot of this may be related to sensory integration things. The teacher says there is someone from the county (or school district?) that can come for free and observe him, so I think we'll do that. His teacher is such a dear lady. Again, God is looking out for us to have this person handle John for his first school experience.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Strike up the S-band

It will be interesting to see how the competition between XM and Sirius plays out. Whether they will eventually merge, if one will fail, or if there will be room in the marketplace for both to succeed.

Sirius is making a definite play to attract listeners with its sports programming. They have the NFL, NHL, NBA, they just signed NASCAR away from XM in a big deal, they broadcast the NCAA tourney, and they broadcast English Premiere League soccer.

(I do wish XM had the NFL and the soccer. I'd like to listen to those.)

XM, in their effort to play in that sandbox, carries major league baseball, and just signed a deal with the PGA to broadcast golf tourneys. It is surprising that XM allowed NASCAR to slip away.

In my head, I know that at least in the near future, I probably wouldn't listen to a whole lot of NFL games, but in my heart I'd at least like the option.

So, it's not clear yet if Sirius has overpaid for all their sports. Or, if that will be a deciding factor in attracting customers.

Sirius also signed Howard Stern in a megadeal. That's one thing that turned me off about Sirius, that they were willing to give an uncensored forum to that filth jockey. (Of course, to compete XM now has Opie and Anthony, shock jocks in their own right but not as bad as Stern.) However, Stern does have a significant audience, so may be another factor in Sirius' rise.

Right now, XM has by far the larger number of listeners. The next year or two will be very interesting in this market.

Here is an interesting article on the technology involved.

24 Day 4 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM

A Review

As the episode begins, we hear that Marwan has "covered his tracks"? How? (Note: you'll notice that "how?" is the theme of this week's review.) The van switcheroo took only place a short time ago. If he hadn't covered his tracks, what would he have done? Stood along side the road with signal flares?

We are told Dina's body has been found in a van. Farewell, Dina. We will miss you. The acting behind this character was probably the strongest of all the cast this season.

Someone in CTU, Michelle I think, says they need a license plate on the van. Is this the same van that CTU tracked coming out of the tunnel? If so, they already *have* the license plate number!

Michelle utters another of 24's Greatest Hits. She says "Alright everybody, listen up!" And the CTU drones gather around as the speaker gives us a little blurb summing things up. It struck me this is kind of the equivalent of using newspaper articles to bring readers up to speed, as is often done in fiction. Michelle says Marwan is planning an attack "today". Um, it's already 9 pm. Are you so sure the attack is going to come in the next 3 hours? Why not tomorrow?

Mr. Annderrrson wanders around the airplane hanger, and kills a hapless technician working there. The tech had said a broken part on the airplane has grounded it. Landings would be impossible. (There was a look then on Anderson's face that was curious. Not sure if they were trying to hint that Anderson planned on going on a mission where he wouldn't need to land the plane. But Anderson is a white guy. Why would he agree to go on a suicidal mission? Do infidels get 72 crystal raisins too?)

Tony says they can only assume that Jack was taken at the same time Dina was killed. Uh, brilliant deduction, Tony. Jack has been missing less than 30 minutes. You lost contact with him in the van. When the hey else would he have been taken?

Tony also says "chatter" has been decreasing. So, Tony surmises maybe the threat posed by Marwan is passing. Ah, ye olde "chatter". Just who is doing this chatter? In the real world, talk about "chatter" is usually in the context of weeks and months leading up to an attack. Not the day of. There was a serious attack on nuclear power plants. Why wouldn't baddies be "chattering"?

Tony says Audrey is a pro, and can handle the news about Jack. A pro? A pro what? She's not a law enforcement agent. Isn't she pretty much SecDef Heller's assistant? So then, we are shown just how much of a "pro" Audrey is. She gets real catty with Tony and Michelle, demanding to know what is being done to rescue Jack.

We cut to yet another terrorist hideout location. Goodness they have a lot of them. Jack is handcuffed against a wall. Marwan tells us there were "many dead" around the San Gabriel nuclear plant, the first reference we've had to a casualty number.

Marwan's flunky tells him that a relative showed up at Air Force guy's house, noticed the family was missing, and called the police. Goodness, these terrorists have some good resources. Just how do they know that?? Marwan is worried the report involving an Air Force pilot will cause red flags to go up in CTU, and decides they need to "distract" CTU.

We see a territorial grudge match in CTU, with Edgar and Chloe squaring off like a couple of baboons. Chloe thinks Edgar answers to her and should obey her orders. Edgar thinks Chloe should answe to him. Curtis says it has to look on paper like Edgar is Chloe's boss. Well, if it just has to look that way on paper, who cares what the situation is like in reality? And when did this become an issue? Why are we hearing about this now?

Marwan phones CTU (he got the number how?) to say he has Jack. Michelle wants them to compare the voice to Marwan's voice on tape. And just how did they get these tapes? Marwan wants to trade Beiruts for Jack. (This is the distraction. CTU will be so busy worrying about this swap they will miss the flagged report. Do you think this lame plan will work? What do you think?)

The first commerical break is odd. The break was only 3 minutes long, yet 24's clock went from 9:13 to 9:18. So much for sticking to the "real time" gimmick.

The terrorists note the report about the pilot has been flagged. Again, how do they know this? And why would it have been flagged so fast? Why would the family be considered missing after only an hour or two? Maybe they went out to eat or something, or to a movie. No, this is just made up stuff to serve the crackplot.

Chloe says she has voice tapes of Marwan from MF. Huh? When did they get these tapes? And how? Jack didn't get any tapes when he was there. And didn't the EMP pretty much wipe everything out over there?

Curtis wants to interrogate Beiruts, to find out why Marwan wants him. And so, we see another of 24's Greatest Hit, our dear friend "Richards"! Yes, Richards in his usual shirt and tie and little shiny case filled with strange chemicals. (Yes, we have seen Richards before this season.) Whiny Beiruts is given a shot to get him to talk.

Chloe and Edgar bicker about who should do what. Chloe says she is too busy tracking Beiruts. Huh? Tracking him? They know where he is. He's in the back room getting hopped up on goofballs. So, a flunky somewhere else is given the task of looking at the flagged reports. Oh, the tension is unbearable! Will CTU notice the report involving an air force pilot?

Back at the air hanger, Mr. Anderson has changed into some techie clothes and goes into someone's office and says the part really isn't defective, and the plane can be cleared to fly. The guy at the desk clears it to fly. Now wait just a minute. Who is this guy at the desk? If he is in charge of maintenance, doesn't he know his own team? This complete stranger wanders in and says the plane can be cleared and the guy doesn't ask "hey buddy, who the hey are you"? And he clears this several hundred million dollar plane to fly just on the word of this stranger? No no no no.

Chloe wants Audrey to sign some "standard nondisclosure" forms. Huh? For what? What is not to be disclosed? We get a little scene with Chloe babbling away inappropriately. Usually I like these little scenes, but this one seemed a little forced, like the writers know the fans like the blunt Chloe so we get this obvious little scene.

We see Beiruts, and he looks fine. Apparently they didn't give him the really strong stuff. Beiruts says Marwan had been to their home. Oh? That's news. Marwan actually going to Navi's home isn't exactly good operational security.

Chloe and Edgar bicker again. Chloe has a great line. She tells Edgar he has to look through the flagged reports, because that is the duty of the "lead tech, if that's what you think you are." Ha.

Another scene of Audrey acting like a pro. Snort.

Now, Bill from Division shows up, to take point on this Jack for Beiruts swap. To introduce him, Michelle gives us another "everybody listen up". Michelle says department heads are to run things through Bill. Um, how? And what things exactly? What does this mean? I know, never mind.

Now, no one will be admitted during the breathtaking "Edgar gets distracted" scene. He is given a disc with the flagged reports, but he doesn't have time to look at it, as they need to set things up for the swap.

Tony tells Audrey the swap can create an "exposure point" for Marwan. Ooh, I love it when they use jargon!

Marwan calls in again, and Edgar answers with a way too chipper "Edgar Stiles!", like he is some insurance agent. He did that earlier in the episode too.

At some point, we saw Jack trying to manipulate some wires in a box near where he was handcuffed.

It is decided to swap Beiruts for Jack, and off they go. And they reach the dam in less than 10 minutes. Sigh. And, Jack is taken off too, and the terrorists reach the dam in about 5 minutes as well. Goodness, space-time geometry is sure warped around LA.

We see a sniper on a roof. His orders are to kill Jack once they have Beiruts. I wonder if this is the same sniper that took out Powell earlier in the day.

The swap goes down. Beiruts walks toward the baddies, and Jack walks to the CTU people. As they pass, Beiruts tells Jack "I don't want to die!" Then, a CTU agent pops up out of nowhere and shoots the baddie sniper. Now just how did they know that sniper was there?

Beiruts is grabbed and the baddies drive off. Jack gets on the phone with CTU and says he shortcircuited some phone wires in the warehouse where he was being held. CTU should look for 2 service obstructions around downtown and they could find where Marwan is.

Oh, as Beiruts is being taken away, he is given two tracking devices. One in a wristwatch, and another is planted beneath the skin in his head. The terrorists quickly find both of these. (They cut the one out with a knife, causing Beiruts some discomfort.) So, CTU based their whole plan of tracking Beiruts on the hope the baddies wouldn't find the tracking devices? Well, I suppose it's not such a bad plan. What are the odds the terrorists brought with them one of those little electronic scanners that beep when it finds a bug. The baddies sure are prepared.

At CTU they need a satellite to track Beiruts. Now just how are they going to do that? They no longer know where he is.

The episode ends with Mr. Anderson taking off in the plane. It looks like it is a Stealth fighter.

Approximate Body Count: 106 (plus "many dead" near the nuclear plant)

<- 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
10:00 PM - 11:00 PM ->

Monday, March 28, 2005

Easter past

Was a very nice day here yesterday. Sunny, temps in mid to high 50s. Temps might hit 60 today.

Last night we colored Easter eggs. A bit different than the usual though. When Rhonda went to Target, they were utterly stripped of coloring kits. The only one they had left was a Spiderman one! Yes, the traditional Spiderman easter eggs.

They had some shrinkwrap things to put around eggs. Also, four plastic webs and cardboard spidey figures, so I put those together. It looks like Spidey throwing out a web to catch an egg. The stands to set eggs on are little cityscapes. The kids had fun doing that.

Rhonda had set out eggs with candy in them on Saturday night, so on Sunday morning the kids had a little egg hunt. John just loves doing that.

Later on, John was outside playing. He was getting out various trike and bikes and riding them down to the street. Hanna, being the little mommy, stuck her head out the door and said to John "John, you come out of the street!" Then she said "Say 'OK, Mommy.'" Ha.

Coolness from beyond the ether

I've got it. XM Satellite Radio. I can tell already I'm going to like this. On Friday night I went to Best Buy and purchased the hardware. I got a Delphi Skyfi2. (The box included the vehicle kit.) I also got a boombox for home, as I can then just pop the Skyfi2 out of the truck, bring it in the house, and pop it in the boombox and listen there.

On Saturday afternoon, I took it over to Best Buy and they installed it. They appear to have done a fine job. They ran the antenna (which is surprisingly small) out the brake light at the top of the back of the truck. Not sure how they ran the wire then to back behind the radio. That must have been some work. They mounted it just to the right of the radio, below the vent on that side. There was a little plastic piece that pops off, and there was an area there they used. That area I think is used for the airbag switch off in some Tacomas, but I didn't have that option.

(One niggling thing. The indicator light for the engine immobilizer system doesn't go out now. It's supposed to blink a few times after you shut the engine off, and go out. Except now it doesn't go out, so something must have been set wrong when they were working behind the dash. The manual says to call the dealer when that happens, so I gotta do that. Oh well. At least BestBuy did the installation for free, which was not a bad deal. There was some work involved.)

On Sunday I finally got the radio activated. Their systems have been having a little trouble lately. I think they've been quite busy with people locking in the lower prices before they go up on April 2. (It's too bad they raised the price so much. The $9.99/month was one of the features that first attracted me to it. Now, at $12.95, it's getting close to somewhat pricey. I prepaid for two years, meaning my montly cost will be $8.96/month.)

XM has such a nice variety of things to listen. Just about any kind of music. Rock, several kinds of jazz, dance, Euro, several kinds of classical including one devoted to voice. They have channels for decades, like 40s music, 50s music, all the way up to the 90s. There are a few Christian music stations, including a gospel one.

In news, they carry feeds from Fox News, CNN, ABC News, CNBC, MSNBC, C-Span, BBC, and the Weather Channel. (I looked yesterday, the XM feed of Fox News is about 30-45 seconds behind what you see on the cable tv station.)

Some sports channels. ESPN Radio, Fox Sports, Sporting News, NASCAR radio, and all the Major League Baseball games, including a channel devoted to MLB news and talk. Some college sports channels.

A couple of kids channels. Then, a number of talk stations. Comedy, both liberal and conservative politics channels, Christian talk, and some neat ones like Discovery Channel radio, Books and Drama and something I'm looking forward to, Old Time Radio, where they play classic old radio shows, like Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, Abbott and Costello, the Shadow, Dragnet, Fibber McGee and Molly, and some others.

They have traffic and weather stations for a number of larger metro areas, like Boston, NY, Chicago, LA, etc... Minneapolis/StPaul is included. So, if you were driving through those areas, you could get information on what traffic and weather is like there.

I'm thinking about maybe getting a mount installed in the van. Then, we could take the same Skyfi2 and take it with in the van when we go on trips. (Except the kids would probably rather have the dvd player on.)

This morning on the way to work after dropping the kids off at Jessica's house, I listend to some 40s music (Tommy Dorsey) some 50s (Cupid) and others. Neat. One of the DJs said "Good morning, America!" Yup, I'm going to like this.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

For lo, the winter is past...

Sunshine today, Easter Sunday should be very nice, and temps could be in the high 50s by Tuesday. Begone, Winter!

Last night I went over to Best Buy and got my XM satellite radio pieces. I got the SkyFi2 receiver, and I also got a boombox for use at home. I'm going to bring the truck over there at 2 today so they can install it. Then, just gotta order the subscription. I'm still not clear yet on whether you get the online listening service if you pay now at the lower prices. Prices are going up on April 2, and you can prepay multi-year subscriptions now at, say, less than $9/month. But I don't know if that will give you the ability to listen online then.

We took the kids to Bridge Park last night after supper, till it got dark. I was pretending to be a monster and chase them. They'd scamper down the slide. Once I was kinda growling, and John wanted me to talk normally again, so he said "Can you be a Daddy now?" Ha.

Once an airplane flew over, and Hanna giggled. I started making airplane noises and put my arms out, and Hanna said "You're not an airplane! You're a daddy!" Ha.

We'll probably go swimming later this afternoon.

We got to talk to Grandma this morning. So nice to hear her speaking. Still had a little trouble, but very clear a lot of the time.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

On into the Easter weekend

This morning when I came into the kitchen John has having some mini-wheats. He stood up on the stool and I kinda held him and fed him some of his breakfast. Hanna was pushing around the green jeep. She had the Spiderman figure standing in the drivers seat, Spiderman was "driving" the jeep. She'd say "goodbye!" and drive off.

I guess Sue is going to take the kids over to a nursing home, and visit with the "grandpas and grandmas". They apparently, and understandably, enjoy the visits from the little kiddies.

I'm looking around for some running boards to put on the Tacoma. In the next few days I want to go to Best Buy and talk to them about an XM satellite radio, and what would be involved in installation. (One thought, maybe we could go tonight, and Rhonda could watch the kids in the bacon and egg area while I go to best buy.)

Got some assignments to work on for school tomorrow. Ugh. This is supposed to be the worst semester. The next two semesters will just be two classes again. I've been trying to get some work done on my project, but there's just so little time right now.

March is my month to count money, and this being Easter sunday, there might be a fair amount. I suppose it might take awhile. Also, this will be the last Sunday of the month for us to be in the 3-yr old class.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

And I would drive 500 miles

Back from our trip to ND. Got back last night around 8, a little later than planned. More on that in a moment.

Had a most enjoyable visit with Grandpa and Grandma. The kids enjoyed themselves immensely. We went to the water park on Sunday. Water was spectacularly cold, but John and Hanna liked going down the Yellow Slide, after anticipating it since our trip last year. John and I even went down the Orange Slide. It's faster than the yellow one, and was much harder to hold on to John, so at the bottom we both went under. Since the water was cold, we spent more than a few minutes in the hot tub, which itself was not all that hot.

We had some good meals. Grandpa took the kids to the park. Ventured out to see Keith and April's new place. (A place that cries out for Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Deerhounds and Borzois!)

Tuesday it was snowing when we awoke. The forecast the day before hadn't said anything about snow. Oh well. It came up through the central Dakotas. Roads going out of Minot were quite sloppy, slowed us down. (By the time we got to Jamestown, we were out of it, and things were all dry.)

We had talked to Grandma the night before about stopping in to say hi, and we got to Martin about 10:30. Went in the house, and didn't see her. That was odd in itself, as usually she is up and about if she knows we're coming. She was in her bed, looked to be sleeping, but when Rhonda checked her more closely to make sure she was alright, it was apparent she had had a stroke of some sort. Couldn't talk, couldn't move one side. So, we called Joan, and Joan arranged to have the ambulance come from Harvey. It arrived fairly quickly and took her to Harvey. By then she had improved somewhat, but still affected. Last report was that she was stable, and about the same. So, Grandma is in our prayers, for sure.

The kids didn't nap in the van, so they were ready to hit the hay by bedtime. As I was putting Hanna in her bed, I asked her if it was good to be in her own bed, and she said "Daddy fixed my bed". She was impressed when I put her little Princess toddler bed together and still comments on it. Then she said "you're strong like Samson". Awwwww. Ok Hanna, you can have a pony!

John slept in this morning, for him. He slept till 7:30 or so. He was tuckered out. He went to sleep very quickly last night, but then snored quite loudly. I haven't heard him snore quite like that before.

So now, back to the grind. Have an assignment due on Friday, but our group hasn't done much on it lately. We were all gone for the spring break. We're going to meet tonight, so I'll just stay down here.

24 Day 4 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM

A Review

I will not let this show beat me. I will not. Though this behemoth could crush me beneath its treads, with my briefcase and shopping bag I will stand in front of it and face it. If it turns, I will move to keep myself in front of it. For clearly, something malevolent is at work here, something designed to take away our humanity and turn us into weeping drooling blithering heaps. Sigh.

As this episode begins, Jack is on the phone with Audrey, giving her the happy news that there's a good chance Paul will be out of the way soon, and they won't need to bother with a messy divorce. Er, scratch that. Jack is clearly fishing for a response from Audrey. He tells her Paul saved her life, etc... and is hoping Audrey will say something like "gee honey, what a close break, so glad you're fine". Instead, she is all a-weepy over Paul.

Jack didn't exactly break it to her with tact. He said "Paul has been shot", and then says... nothing. Um, Jack? Hello? Audrey is silent because she's just received shocking news. Say something. Help her through this.

Monumentally confusing point. Why are they flying Paul back to CTU? Why not to some first-class trauma unit? There must be good units in LA accustomed to dealing with gunshot wounds. Why go to the clinic at CTU? (This would be the same medical unit that took such good care of Young Maya Driscoll.)

SecDef Heller has a conversation with El Presidente, who is still on Air Farce One somewhere. El Presidente is obviously a Wascly Wepublican, because he's thinking they should go straight to martial law, to deal with the unrest the already jittery public will exhibit the Mummy's as yet unknown plan will cause. (The President did not say which he was more worried about, being covered in flies, or the killer sand storms.)

As Paul is being wheeled in, and Audrey has her weepy bedside moments with Paul, we receive some astonishing news. CTU has recovered a name from the encrypted document Paul had saved. Gonk. What? We're still only about 5 minutes into the show. Paul gave Agent Castle the document at the end of the previous episode. There had to be a little time to get the document over to CTU. Which means CTU took this printed piece of paper and somehow magically decoded it within (almost literally) seconds. Wow, good going CTU. You have some slick technology there. (Or the encryption scheme was spectacularly pathetic.) Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go weep for a moment.

The name is Jospeh Fayed, a chemical engineering professor at "Green University". The man is tied to Marwan, or so says the magically decoded document.

(This is an obvious ripoff of the story involving Sami Al-Arian. He was a computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida. He was involved with raising money for terrorist groups.)

Jack immediately has the genius idea to use Dina Araz to get to Fayed. Dina will pretend to have Jack as a hostage. Jack says this is the only way, because Marwan would've vetted his inner circle carefully, and Fayed would kill himself rather than help CTU. Um, yeah. Marwan sure did a fine job picking Navi and his goonball teenage son with a thing for infidel white girls. And, there was that terrorist at the warehouse that gave Jack information when Jack just threatened to rough him up a bit. Never mind all the help Dina has been providing.

Marwan has a little scene with Mr. Anderson, and tells him to proceed to a certain hotel.

We then cut to a scene in a hotel, where some Air Force guy is getting jiggy with some dame not his wife. Said wife calls said dame's cell phone, thus surprising Air Force guy. But, wife is not calling to scold Air Force guy for taking liberties with his marital vows. No, she and the children are being held at gunpoint, and will be harmed unless he cooperates. He is flustered, and turns out only to find said dame pointing a gun at him. She is the classic honey pot.

Mr. Anderson shows up (showing he and Marwan were only minutes away from this hotel. Naturally.) The dame is paid and she leaves, and Mr. Anderson needs Air Force guy for something.

Back at Gestapo HQ, Jack uses Beiruts to force Dina to go along with this insane plan. We hadn't seen Beiruts for a few episodes. Luckily he is still alive, even though he is still being held at CTU. He's apparently just been sitting in his cell with his usual cross-eyed Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer expressions.

Jack says if Dina helps them, they can go into the witness protection together. Otherwise Dina will never see Beiruts again. Dina agrees to help.

The crackplot story is that while Jack and Dina were going back to CTU, Navi's men attacked them. All were killed except Dina and Jack. Dina managed to get a gun and take Jack hostage. The cover story didn't explain why it took her hours to get to Fayed's house, even though it takes mere minutes to get to any other location in LA. To add truth to the story, Jack stabs himself in the gut with a knife. (Not kidding here.)

(Oh, in another example of hysterically weird cosmic serendipity, after I was done with 24, I was flipping around the channels, and came across an early episode of MASH. Those were the best years, with Col Blake and Trapper. This episode had one of MASH's funniest characters of all time, Col. Flagg. In this episode, Flagg let some prisoner escape, and to cover it up, Flagg messed up the tent to make it look like a struggle had taken place. Then, Flagg, conked himself in the bean with a telephone, and then ran headfirst into a wooden locker, to make it look like he had been injured and overpowered, using the same ruse Jack would use decades later. Ha.)

In a meeting to discuss this crackpot plan, Edgar is obviously distracted. Apparently he is still thinking about his mom. (Tony says that the mother did take her own life. The fate of the mother has been somewhat unclear. I'll now add her to the body count.) Michelle determines that Chloe is needed to help oversee all the satellite technology that will be involved in monitoring Jack and Dina.

Michelle calls Chloe. Luckily Chloe is home, and as irascible as ever. Michelle asks her to do this for Jack, and presto chango, Chloe arrives at CTU within minutes. As she arrives, she immediately corrects Edgar on his procedures. She mutters technobabble, but it's great to see Chloe in action again.

Jack declines to tell Audrey that he is going on this crackpot mission. He obviously is a little miffed over Audrey's newfound concern for Paul.

Speaking of crackpot, I hereby coin a new word to describe this season of 24. Crackplot. Describes this season perfectly.

There is a nice scene as Dina quickly says goodbye to Beiruts. The actress does amazing things with just her eyes, conveying all the emotions involved.

Minutes later, Jack and Diane, I mean, Dina, arrive at Fayed's house. I've said it before, CTU is smack in the middle of this nest of terrorists. They are all mere moments away from CTU.

Surveillance teams are there, looking very unobtrusive with their parabolic mikes stuck out the window of the vehicle.

At Fayed's door, he claims to know nothing of any Marwan or Navi. Dina says Navi knows him. Dina says she has a hostage Marwan wants. Fayed eventually lets them in, and then conks poor Jack on the head.

A quick cut over to some air base. Air Force guy enters at the gate. Gate security checks the car over, finds nothing. The car proceeds into the base. Mr. Anderson emerges from a spot behind the back seat. (Was that Air Force guy's car? If so, mighty convenient he had such a space.) Mr. Anderson tells the guy his family is already dead, then shoots him and puts him in the trunk. Harsh. Oh, and then proceeds to cut off one of the now dead Air Force guy's thumbs.

Fayed calls Marwan to tell him the happy news. Dina is there with an infidel CTU agent as hostage. Marwan tells Fayed he wants to meet them, and says to follow his instructions. Jack is on the floor in the back of the car.

A mere 10 minutes after Fayed and Marwan speak on the phone, they drive through a tunnel. CTU surveillance is behind them, a ways back to avoid detection. Chloe and the rest of CTU are looking at overhead shots tracking Fayed's car via satellite.

There is some kind of construction going on in the tunnel. As the car slows, construction workers quickly move to Fayed's car and remove Dina and Jack, placing them in a van. Fayed is given some kind of briefcase. Fayed then drives out of the tunnel. CTU can't see what is happening in the tunnel.

When Fayed's car emerges, CTU casts a 9th Level Detect Infrared spell, and sees that there is now only one person in Fayed's car. They know they've been snookered. (The surveillance team sees Fayed's car now, which means they have passed through the tunnel, and would've gone right by where the switch was made, but never mind all that.)

(Another monumentally confusing point. How did Marwan pull this off? Did he set up a fake construction site in the tunnel in mere minutes? Or, did he happen to know of the tunnel construction site, and was just keeping it mind for use in just such a situation, as a contingency plan? Either way, the Mummy is truly an immortal.)

Chloe quickly looks back through LA traffic camera shots, and they see the van, and get the license plates. (I forget what made CTU look at that van. Please don't make me remember.) CTU stops Fayed's car. Fayed, being a good loyal terrorist, blows himself up with the bomb that was in the briefcase. He takes at least one CTU agent with him.

Marwan and company then go to some location. Dina is ordered to shoot Jack as a test of loyalty, to prove that she really did take Jack hostage, and isn't doing this in cooperation with CTU. Dina points the gun at Jack's head, then points it at Marwan and pulls the trigger. The gun clicks. It was empty. Marwan says something like "I thought so". Jack is taken away. Dina is taken to an adjoining room, shoved out of camera range, and the thug shoots Dina. Harsh. I'll miss Dina, she was one of the more interesting characters this season. Certainly a fine fine actress.

The episode ends with Mr. Anderson using the severed thumb on a security device, then walking into a hanger, where a jet plane is sitting.

(Not clear why Curtis couldn't use Ex-Powell's thumb in the same way in the 4-5pm episode)

We knew this before, but all logic and reason has been put on ice. The writers no longer even pretend to care about how long it takes to get around LA, or giving even a shred of possibility to plot points. 24 is dead. Long live 24.

Approximate Body Count: 105

<- 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM ->

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Beware the Ices of March

Well, right on schedule, a sizeable snowstorm is said to be headed our way. Of course, we're playing to head for Minot tomorrow. Not clear what exactly driving conditions will be like. Sounds like it might be nastyish till Alexandria or so, then maybe get better by Fargo. We'll have to see.

We'da left today in a heartbeat, but I have a deacons mtg tonight. Oh well.

Just been so busy lately, things are dragging on me, with all the schoolwork, deacons, etc...

I'd really like to get XM satellite radio. Sure wish it was already in the Tacoma. (I wish the Tacoma had the side air bags as well.)

I'm in a little March Madness office pool at work. Picking the 5-12 seed matchups is always fun, because there's usually one such upset every year. I went back and forth on the Alabama (5)-UWM (12) game, eventually picking Alabama. And of course, in keeping with my usual luck, UWM is currently ahead 69-57 with 4:28 to go. Sigh. I did pick another 12 to win, GW over Ga Tech, but since UWM will probably win, that will be the quota, and I'll get that other game wrong as well. Double sigh.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

With Apologies to the Bard

(this is for all those watching 24 this season...)

What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Wendell? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are now
To do this show loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more watch this show.
By Jove, I am not covetous for internal logic,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my reviews;
It yearns me not if men my blog read;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet something that maketh sense,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not another episode.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, through my internet host,
That he which hath no stomach to this viewing,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd Season 4.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of 24.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is the next episode.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on the fourth day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Jack the King, Tony and Michelle,
Edgar and Curtis, Marianne and Driscoll-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son to avoid;
And 24 shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that watches this show with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen on their couches now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That watched with us upon this fourth day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

24 Day 4 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

A Review

I think this must be the scenario. For Christmas, a teenage boy received a new EZ-Screenwriter software package. Because he's new to the software, he doesn't yet understand how to leverage all of its capabilities, so at first he sticks with the built-in wizards, like the one under the Tools menu, "Assemble Script From Cliches". This must be how 24 is being written this season, as we've seen more cliches than in past seasons.

At the beginning, we once again get the warning about graphic violence. Perhaps this is just an attempt to cover up the lameness of the show's internal logic this season. We'll just bludgeon the viewers with violence every episode to the point they're so desensitized they won't notice a whole lot of things don't make much sense.

(In the recap of last week's episode, the MF bad guy, Conlon, is heard warning a couple of guards that Jack is heading "down" near them, and not to let him near the EMP. Hmm? I would think you would want an EMP device as high up as possible for maximum effectiveness. Why isn't it as high in the building as it can get? Why "down" somewhere?)

Curtis says MF's suspicious behavior is evidence against them, but not proof. Um, I'd say setting off an EMP on a moment's notice to cover up dirty details at the very least meets the standard of "probable cause", Curtis. Go get' em.

Then, in an unintentionally comic scene, we cut back to MF, where Paul is getting worked over by some baddies. They want to know what Paul did with the document he printed out. Poor Paul. Just a couple hours Jack wanted some information from him, and Jack electrocuted the poor boy. Now, once again, Paul is getting kicked around because someone wants some information from him. Remind me again why Paul wants to stay married to Audrey, the SecDef's daughter, and be involved in all these international intrigues? I would think Paul is about ready to settle down with a nice diner waitress somewhere in rural Nevada.

Jack bursts on the scene and shoots the baddies who are whupping up on Paul.

Paul tells Jack where he hid the document, and they retrieve it. Paul says he can't make any sense of it. Well, duuuhhh! It's an encrypted file! If someone could read encrypted files just by reading and studying them for a few minutes, it's not a very good encryption scheme, is it?

(What would've been really funny is if Paul had been beat up so badly he couldn't remember where he left the document.)

It struck me here that the cover-up is sure going well for MF. Within the space of 30 minutes, they've set off an EMP, attacked federal agents, etc... Good plan there, MF bad guys!

Back at Gestapo HQ, Michelle begins to make her presence known, with her usual trademark sideways (and highly annoying) glances. Michelle, what's so interesting over there? Can't you just look someone in the eye? Michelle has a new look, now that she's a bigger cheese. She looks disturbingly like Frau Farbissina.

With Michelle now in charge, Tony is put to work doing searches on guys associated with the Mummy.

Sarah tells Michelle that the area affected by the EMP has an 8-mile radius from the MF building. Now wait a minute! At the beginning of the episode, Curtis was in contact with someone who said the area affected was 8 square miles. Sigh. I realize that most Hollywood people are probably the types who cut algebra class all the time in high school, but think for a minute. A circle with a radius of 8 miles would give an area (A = pi*r*r) of 201 square miles. That's just a wee bit bigger than a circle with 8 square miles!!! So which is it, CTU? I would think being off by a factor of 25 is not good enough even for government work.

Michelle decides to wait to send in a rescue team to find Jack and Paul. They'll wait till electronics work again. Huh? Don't good old fashioned firearms still work? Jack is in trouble, go find him! Don't wait till your iPod works again!

Tony and Michelle have a little marital spat, for old times sake. Tony, who once had Level 6 clearance, is miffed that he will only get Level 3 clearance. If he needs Level 3 clearance to do his work, he should just try framing Edgar. That's how Marianne got her Level 3 clearance.

Marwan has a phone conversation with someone named Anderson. (At least the Mummy didn't call him Missstteerr Annderrson.) Anderson is to commence his task, and he pulls an Air Force uniform out of a closet. (And Paul, this is for you, Marwan says he'll go tell "the others".)

After a commercial break, Jack sees a helicopter landing near MF. Paul is still suffering the effects of his beating and can't move very fast. CTU sees the helicopter on their Magic radar, and knows it isn't theirs.

The helicopter lands near MF and disgorges a number of well-armed, armored soldier-types.

Someone at CTU makes the comment MF also trains mercenaries. Oh goodness, this is just getting silly. So MF builds the Flux Capacitor, they have been selling arms to terrorists, and now we find they train mercenaries.

Wel, they must be good, to get this team all suited up, and arrange for the helicopter all within 30 minutes, when Jack first arrived at MF and they put this mother of all cover up plans into action. (Are these guys on permanent standby in a warehouse somewhere?) Conlon meets the mercs, and tells them their mission is to retrieve the document. Conlon will personally deal with Jack and Paul, as the head merc as qualms about shooting a federal agent. As well he should, but he might want to wonder about everything else that is going on, and what he is getting involved in.

There are reports that looting has commenced in the zone affected by the EMP, and we soon see something that looks like it was cribbed from the Escape from LA movie. Cars are burning, etc... MF is looking for Jack and Paul, and someone says they saw "2 men" moving down a nearby street. Well, we saw a number of looters roaming around, I'm not real sure how the MF mercs didn't see them, or how they picked Jack and Paul out of that scene.

Jack bursts into a gun store. Jack utters one his classic lines, "Drop the weapon, now!" Ahhh, that never gets old.

We now get a scene that obviously was written in response to some guff Fox has received over the show's portrayal of Muslims as terrorists. (Funny, I didn't know 9/11 and subsequent trouble was actually caused by Norwegian Lutheran grannies.) The two guys in the gun store, (they were trying to protect their store from looters) are Arab Americans, and they launch into this spiel about how they are good Americans, they are angry that all this looting is related to the acts of terrorism, this country is their home, blah blah blah. Goodness, it was like being hit over the head with a hammer. We get it already. Noble, good, Arab Americans. Not all Arabs are terrorists. Ok, message received! As if we hadn't already figured that out years ago. At one point, we even see an American flag draped over something behind these two guys. Aaauuuggghhhh!

These two noble Arab Americans decide to stay and help Jack fight it out against the mercs, to protect their store.

Jack immediately tells these two guys most of what has been going on, about the terrorists, the EMP, etc... Gracious Jack, you're giving sensitive information to complete strangers? Civilians, who are Arab, in fact? Not good operational security, my boy.

Jack's master plan is to start a firefight with the mercs, so CTU will pick up the gunfight with their Magic, and will know where to find them, so CTU can come to the rescue. Just dwell on the wisdom of that for a moment.

At CTU, the SecDef, as patronizing daddy, has a heart to heart with a sniffly Audrey. Audrey is having second thoughts about Jack, given what she saw Jack do to Paul in the hotel room. At one point, Audrey says it was "a shock to see" that. Uhhh, was she trying to be funny? Were the writers trying to be funny?

In a delicious catty little scene, Sarah gets all huffy with Michelle, demanding that Michelle make good on what Driscoll promised her. In a shocking display of sensibility, Michelle immediately calls security and has them escort Sarah out. Michelle says she can't trust anyone who would make such demands. Wow. Usually people on 24 just immediately cave in to such blustering threats. Sarah sputters and says she is juggling active protocols, she's needed. Well, protocols or no, she's out. Maybe she's just getting canned for her poor math skills.

Now that they are really really shorthanded, someone is needed to help with Sarah's protocols or whatever. Curtis suggests Tony. Michelle agrees.

Tony somehow magically divines that Jack will try to start a firefight so CTU can pinpoint his location, and that CTU should move in. Michelle says no, they'll stay on the perimeter, as they might not be able to get to Jack if they go to one spot. It's not clear why it's better to sit on the perimeter of this 201 or 8 square mile area, take your pick, and how they could easily rescue Jack from there, but not from some point within the area, if they moved in.

Jack shoots at a merc, but deliberately misses, to get the mercs to fall into his trap. The merc says they're at the nw corner of Stringer, between Flower and Third. I couldn't locate that intersection with mapquest, so not sure if it is a real location.

Audrey sticks up for Tony in a conversation with Michelle, saying CTU could use him. But then, Audrey says Tony still cares for Michelle! How in the bloody blue blazes does Audrey know that?!?

Jack prepares his little group for the mighty battle. He tells the Arabs to stay down, even as one of them is standing up by a window. Um, Jack, you might have noticed that.

At CTU, Audrey asks if she can help Tony, Tony says he's doing some searches on Marwan. Huh? I thought he was taken off that, and put to work with Edgar covering whatever Sarah was doing? They talk about Jack, and the stress this kind of job puts on relationships. Audrey wonders why Jack would want to come back to this hell. In a line that will surely be in the movie trailer, Tony says some people are more comfortable in hell.

The firefight starts at the gun store. CTU sees it. The rescue team will take 5 or 6 minutes to get there. Okay. Perhaps it will take so long because they're mistakenly on the edge of a 201 sq. mile area.

Jack tells the Arabs to put on hunting vests and fill them with empty clips. Even I could guess what was eventually coming.

Here is a bit of silliness. Jack and the rest of his 7th Cavalry are holed up in a regular store. Modern military weapons can chop up a building like in no time. Look at some of the action in Fallujah. Here though, the mercs and Jack merely trade potshots. Apparently the thin facade of this store is made of tritanium or something, and can stop modern large-caliber military bullets.

After plinking a few bad guys, Jack says they should pull back to positions farther back in the store. The bad guys then enter the store. Jack tells the Arabs to shine flashlights in the mercs' eyes, as they are using night vision goggle. Now, I gotta think that is bogus. Modern NVGs are surely capable of adjust for sudden flares of light. They're not much good otherwise. But here, it works. One of the Arabs is plinked, but luckily the bullet bounces harmlessly off their homemade bulletproof vest. Sigh.

The firefight dies away, and CTU sees it. How they detect this inside a building, I don't know. More Magic. There is a 3-minute commercial break, in which everyone is just sitting around in the store, apparently.

Agent Castle is on the way with the rescue team. Conlon enters the store, but Castle guns him down with a few machine gun rounds in the back. Hooray. Everyone is saved, and the crucial document is preserved.

But wait, nnoooooooooo! Groan! In one of the hoariest cliches ever, Conlon is not really dead! We see his fingers move! Nnnnooooooooo!

Castle talks to Curtis, and Curtis tells him to "keep this line open". Um, wouldn't that be standard procedure? Do agents normally turn off their radios in the middle of a big operation?

Tony says they don't know yet if the document will help, but they'll check it out. Funny, minutes before Tony was chewing out Castle, telling him to go get Jack because the document was what this was all about. Make up your mind, Tony.

And now, the hoary cliche plays out. Nobody bothered to really check out Conlon. They even left a gun right next to Conlon. (You remember the story from Iraq about the soldier who shot an unarmed Iraqi terrorist, because the guy just moved a little bit? These mercs can't be trained too well if they don't police the area at all.) Conlon rises up, shaking off those bullets in his back admirably, picks up the gun and shoots Paul. Conlon is then dispatched for good.

But, will Paul live? He's hurt bad. Tune in next week.

In the last scene, Marwan talks to Anderson again. Marwan says the President of the United States is on a tight schedule. Huh? How does he know? Is the POTUS coming to the LA area? Why? If the President is flying around for these last 13 hours for safety, why would anyone know where the President is going next?

(In a wacky instance of cosmically weird serendipity, I watched a little bit of Gladiator after I was done with 24. It was on TNT, I had taped it, and I hadn't seen it since it was in the theaters. At the beginning there is a neat battle scene against some German barbarians. But, Russell Crowe's lieutenant is played by the same guy who played Conlon! Yikes. It must be proof of Intelligent Design. Or something.)

Approximate Body Count: 98

<- 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
8:00 PM - 9:00 PM ->

Monday, March 14, 2005

What is this, Siberia?

Good grief, the Vernal Equinox is only six days away, and morning temps the last couple days have been around 11 degrees. Daytime highs have been in the 20s, with occasional rocket shots to just above freezing. I don't think it's supposed to be terribly warm this week either. Ah, March in the Upper Midwest. More reasons why it is my least favorite month, hands down.

I see there are some more movie remakes in the works, like Willy Wonka, and a new Herbie the Love Bug movie. I never understand the motivation for doing these (well, other than to make a buck). There was nothing wrong with classics like these, they weren't lacking anything. So why try to remake them? At best, they'll be about as good as the original, in which case you've gained nothing, and at worst they'll be execrable trash, like Mike Meyers' Cat in the Hat (which, ok, is more of a remake of a book).

The kids have a CD of bible songs and stories, narrated by the gal who was the voice of the Little Mermaid. The first track is the story of Noah, and John and Hanna love listening to it. I've had it on in the truck as we go to Sue's house, and they want to hear it again and again. Over the weekend they wanted to go somewhere in the truck, just so they could hear it. (The cd also has the little talking donkey song, which Cousin Lisanne counts as a favorite. John and Hanna are starting to learn it too!)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Art is anything I can't do

I could take a bunch of cables and pipes, and tie them up into some jumble and call it art. I could paint a green square on a white canvas and call it art. But could I paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Never in a million years.

Recently, the artist Christo had a... well, something, in Central Park, called the Gates. He claimed it had no meaning, at least in form. And therein lies my visceral disgust with much of modern art.

Mind you, I like Jackson Pollack's work. But beyond that, there's not much I don't think should be left on the curb on sanitation pickup day.

Whatever happened to meaning in art? Isn't that the whole purpose of art?

For example, in Rembrandt's Mennonite Preacher, the meaning of the painting is seen in the use of light. The illuminated areas are the bible, the preacher's hands and face, and the woman. Other areas are darkened. This shows how the Word of God, the meaning of the Word of God, is transmitted through the minister's teaching and preaching to the woman.

Countless paintings in centuries past were done to instruct the viewer, either in some excerpt from classical literature, or in the Bible. Somewhere along the way we lost sight of the importance of meaning in art, of the power of the instruction that art can bring.

I am not moved by swaths of fabric fluttering in Central Park. I am moved by all that I've seen in the Louvre, the British Museum, the Vatican, the Pushkin Museum, the RijksMuseum. And I am content to live in those past centuries, thank you very much

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The universe was not created by singing elves

Last night I went to a lecture at St. Thomas, given by a physicist, Dr. Stephen Barr. The lecture was part of a series sponsored by a group that does a lot of such event around here in the realm of Science and Religion. The talk was about design arguments that point to the existence of God.

Was quite interesting. Barr brought up how there is a difference between cosmic design arguments, and biological design arguments. The former tends to look at how things are ordered by natural laws, whereas the latter looks at how biological systems are grouped by function.

He made the point that atheists claim life is also based on natural laws (natural selection) but that such arguments overlook that order does not arise from disorder, but that order arises from order that was already there.

In physics, and nature, this order is often related to symmetries, which is a complex field of study.

(Here is Barr's new book. He seemed to indicate that most of the lecture was taken from things in the book.)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Circle Turns

With alarming speed, baseball spring training is once again under way. It seems like only last week the RedSox were completing their historic season. (I commented on that here.)

It's part of baseball's allure, that the season starts out in such a gentle, almost reticent fashion. In sharp contrast to the crashing, frantic spectacle of the World Series, spring training is almost like the pickup games kids play on sandlots everywhere. Just guys playing pitch and catch. The stars only play a few innings, the rest of the game given over to kids trying to make it in the bigs.

The games take place in Arizona and Florida, warm climes far from the arenas where the game will be played for keeps. Here, snowbirds seeking relief from the long punishing winter mingle in the sunshine with the players, filling small ballparks and basking in the smell of hot dogs and sounds of a game renewing itself.

The games mean little. We don't pay attention for the final scores. We pay attention to help shake off our winter slumber, and begin to gather ourselves for the races that will take us through the coming summer. Baseball is here again.

Monday, March 07, 2005

24 Day 4 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

A Review

The episode begins with Operation Mop-up. Marwan managed to slip through the extremely tight security cordon CTU had put up around the Rockland Building. I wouldn't have thought you could slip a knife through that security, but somehow Marwan managed it.

In the meantime, the data gnomes at CTU have been busy. They've already figured out that Marwan is/was an employee at McLennen-Forster (MF), working there under the alias of Harris Barnes. The show oughtta make up its mind how it knows things like this so fast, or at all. An hour ago, at 5:09, CTU magically determined that Marwan used the Barnes alias. Did it take them an hour then to match Barnes up to MF? I know, I know, don't ask questions. The point is to feed info into the plot like little coins in a vending machine.

Jack and Paul are going to head over to MF to look for info on Marwan. Why them? Because they're closest. I wouldn't think that matters in this LA, where everyone is 5 minutes away from everywhere else. And why is Paul going along? Because apparently he helped install a computer system there, and left backdoors that could allow him access.

Now, just that alone oughtta set off all kinds of klaxons in Jack's heroin-addled brain. MF is a defense contractor. Slipping in backdoors that could allow unauthorized access is a beeeeeeeeg no-no. A crime, certainly. But Jack thinks this is just the kind of fellow to bring along when the nation's security is at stake. And no one else. (But then, we have already seen that CTU is woefully undermanned these days.) In addition, just an hour ago Jack was frying Paul's chest with lamp wires as Paul was under suspicion of aiding the terrorists. All Paul did was wonder if there was some info on his laptop. That's all it took to throw Jack off the scent? Paul is no longer under any kind of suspicion? Yeah, let's take Paul along.

The little woman is sent packing back to CTU. But, Audrey feels the need to call Jack en route and ask him to look after her wet fish Brit hubby. Hmmmm. Is Audrey conflicted? Do we care? It was a nice little scene between Jack and Paul on the drive over, though. Done with just enough honesty and restraint.

Back at Gestapo HQ, Driscoll says good-bye to Maya. A rough road ahead for Driscoll. Edgar asks the question all of America is asking, why weren't the medical staff keeping an eye on Maya. Sarah snaps at Edgar, then trots off to tell Heller about what has happened. Driscoll comes in just at that moment, and Heller dumps the most patronizing oooohhhh, I'm sooo sooo sorry on Driscoll ya ever heard. Ugh.

Driscoll wants to stay on, as she's worried about other sleeper cells Marwan might be trying to activate. Hmm, do they really think this is how Marwan would operate? That he wouldn't already have "activated" these sleeper cells long before this day, the day of the Big Glorious Operation Against The Infidels? Do they think these cells have been sitting home all day watching CNN, er, Fox News, and thinking to themselves, hmmm, I'm a sleeper cell, here for some mission, this reactor meltdown thing is pretty big, I wonder why I wasn't activated for this. Maybe I missed a memo or something. Is this what CTU thinks is going on?

Driscoll is a trooper, though, and says she can perform her duties. A second later, she and Heller are on a call with the President.

(Incidentally, El Presidente is still flying around in Air Force One. You remember how much grief the lefty press gave Bush for not instantly returning to Washington on 9/11, and instead stayed away for a few hours not knowing for sure the nature of remaining threats? Imagine what the press is going to do with this El Presidente, who has been hiding up in his plane like a scaredy cat for hours and hours.)

El Presidente informs us that the meltdown at San Gabriel has been taken care of. Huh? I hope not because control of the Flux Capacitor was regained. You just don't stop a meltdown with a healthy computer program. Once a meltdown starts, it is a monumental task to stop it. The control rods may not be enough to absorbe enough neutrons to slow the reaction.

Driscoll informs the President that Marwan is still at large, and blithely tells El Presidente that CTU is continuing the search. She conveniently forgets to tell the President that CTU agents were within 10 feet of Marwan a short time ago, and that the incompetent boobs neglected to seal off the building, let alone the floor Marwan was on.

In fact, Marwan hops out of an alley, and flags down a bus like some taxi. He smiles lovingly at some infidel boy. Huh? I would think he would look at the infidel boy like a dog, the offspring cur of a people who deserve to be killed in large numbers.

Then, right on cue, we get a scene where we see Driscoll is not really capable of leading CTU, with ye olde Someone Talks But Driscoll Doesn't Seem To Hear Them scene. In this scene, once again Sarah is a little snippy with Edgar. She still must be feeling the effects of the tasering.

Then, holy cats! Audrey arrives at CTU! Goodness, they must have been using the afterburners. It only took her 5 to 7 minutes to return from the Rockland building. When Curtis and Marianne went from CTU to the Rockland building, it took them over 20 minutes to get there, almost a half hour in fact, if I recall. Boy, either they ran into traffic, or they didn't know the secret shortcut through Old Man Sweeney's place.

As the brain trust discusses things in Driscoll's office, Driscoll feels a little faint. Tony calls for medical assistance, and, get this, a medical person arrives 5 seconds later. 5. With latex gloves already on. My. The medical staff must be nervous about their jobs, or their lives, after screwing up with Maya. So, they must be trying extra hard to be conscientious and had someone posted right outside Driscoll's office just in case they were needed.

Heller knows Driscoll must be relieved, and wants someone from Division. Tony lobbies for the job, and gets it. Heller must not be aware that hard-drinking ex-con traitor Tony, who nearly screwed the country once before, might not be the best person for the job. At least, Heller is going to have fun explaining that decision to the Congressional Hearings that are certain to follow.

We find out MF is a weapons manfacturer. If that is so, why are they making devices like the Flux Capacitor.

At MF, we see the cover-up beginning. Sigh, they haven't learned the lessons of all scandals. It's not the original crime that gets you thrown into a stinking pit, it's the cover-up. The hapless CEO is talked into commiting a felony by obstructing CTU's investigation. And oh, they're not just going to obstruct it. More on that in a minute.

There was a certain logic on the underling's part, that the firm might go under if everything gets out. But, think for a moment. Do they know what CTU knows? Do they think they can make it go away by just closing their eyes and wishing really hard? CTU is already in their lobby. This is not the time to be making up cover-up plans on the fly.

There is a remarkably touching scene between Heller and Driscoll. 24 doesn't usually go in for this good writing, character-driven stuff. Audrey interrupts. Driscoll tells Heller to go look after his daughter. The unspoken thought is "At least you still have a daughter. I don't anymore."

Curtis isn't going to take Tony's promotion sitting down. Given his apparent ambition, it's a mystery why Curtis didn't get along better with Marianne.

At MF, Paul and Jack begin their hacking. (At least they didn't say "I'm in!") The evil MF minions are watching their every move, and are trying to stay one step ahead of them on their computer. Don't ask how this is accomplished.

In a spectacular howler, Paul says the deletion dates aren't coming up, and Jack says maybe they were deleted today. That's like telling your plumber that the sink is still dripping because you got a haircut the other day.

In an even bigger howler, MF decides they need to set off an EMP bomb to head off CTU's investigation. Oh my, my side hurts from laughing. Please give me a minute here. Whew, oh dear. MF is sure subtle, ain't they.

(As soon as I saw that shot of the lit up skyline, I knew all those lights were going to get blown out.)

Speaking of lit up, night has fallen. This is always a transition of great interest on 24, the changes between night and day. Here, they do so with little fanfare. No shot of a blazing sun sinking beneath the horizon. It's not called to our attention at all.

Driscoll takes the walk all people who are leaving the show do, past a silent crowd who don't even say adios.

Tony and Curtis get in a verbal shoving match, playing pingpong with poor Edgar.

Then, Marwan meets Bob Dylan in a dark alley. Evidently there is still some plot involving an Air Force base. These terrorists plan well. They still had this second operation going, even though a hundred reactors were supposed to have melted down by this point. Was the plan to mop up any Americans still left alive after all the reactors melted?

Marwan says CTU knows who he is. Uhhh, just how does he know that. From hearing something over a CTU radio? But then he wouldn't know what CTU knows about the Barnes alias.

Marwan tells Dylan that someone named Prodo can get him out of the country. Ha. How? Well, Prodo and Pam will split off from the Fellowship, take the road straight through Pordor and get Dylan out that way.

Luckily Paul can rebuild the files from empty directories. How? Don't ask. Out of the blue, we hear MF has been selling arms to terrorists. Huh? Huh?

Someone named Research Six is told to set off the EMP. Now, this guy got up this morning not thinking he was going to set off the EMP for real. He hears the order and thinks, ok, no big deal. I'll just set this EMP thingie off for real. Yawn. And look at the clock, about time to go home and watch the ball game.

This EMP is something out of Dr. Who. Greenish glowing pulsing lights. A rubber monster and we're all set to go.

With the capacitors charging, CTU starts to have communication problems. They can't contact Jack. So, Tony decides to message them. Now, just hold the phone for one cotton-pickin minute. You do not just message someone in another network. (Investigate the net send command on your windows machine. This is like what Tony must have used) This is why companies have firewalls, so you just don't waltz into their network anytime you want. But never mind that. Tony instantly (ha) messages Jack over at MF.

Jack gets on another terminal and conveniently sees a little flashing doohickey that tells him an EMP is about to go off.

Paul finds an encoded file. In yet another howler, he just prints the dang thing off. Oh my, I'm on the carpet by now. He only prints off a few pages. There would not be very much info in that.

There's agent material in Paul, as he fakes out the MF minion, and runs off with his precious printout.

Jack uses ye olde Throw Something Over There To Make Dipstick Guards Go Investigate trick. I can't believe it worked! (Just like earlier in the day Heller used another old standby trick to get out of his cell.)

Jack gets into the EMP chamber, but it goes off a couple feet from his head. And Jack's brain is fried to a crisp, and the show is over. Oops, I mean absolutely nothing happens to Jack. All those powerful EM waves flooding through his skull. I guess the waves found nothing there to interact with.

Paul hides out. A pretty good hiding spot. But not good enough apparently. After the minion leaves Paul gets up and trots out, and is promptly captured.

As the episode ends, in the moment we've been waiting for, Division has sent someone over to relieve Tony. Who? Of course, it's Michelle my belle! Tony tells Heller they were married once, and Heller has zero reaction. You'd think Heller would be a teeny bit surprised. But there's no time for a reaction. Episode's over.

Incredibly, there are no new bodies in this episode! Maybe the helicopter crew, but that can't be confirmed.

Approximate Body Count: 86

<- 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM ->


March is an ugly month. Snow melting, mud everywhere, slush, turning back to ice, everything is brown. Yuck. But, yesterday was a hint of things to come. Temps got up to nearly 60. Ahhh. Saturday was around 40 as well, so I took the chance to scrap off the remaining ice on the driveway. Yesterday then, I got the booster seats put into the truck. (A back seat in a 4-door truck, what a concept!) Hanna wanted to go for a ride yesterday, but alas, had to wait till I took them to Sue's house this morning. So, John and Hanna had fun climbing around the bed of the truck.

John got on his rain boots and rain coat, and proceeded to head straight for all the water. He got his mittens utterly soaked.

But, as quickly as that warm day came, it is gone again. Temps are back down in the 20s for most of this week probably. Argh.

My school groups meets yet again tonight. Shouldn't have to meet again this week, though. There's a talk on Science and Religion Wednesday night that I might like to go to. Will have to see if the Lord High Spousal Overunit is agreeable.

Last night we all sat down and watched Cinderella. It's a rather unsatisfying ending though, in that we never see the wicked stepmother and stepsisters get their comeuppance. I mean, they treat poor Cinderella like dirt, and they never suffer any consequences, as they should in this kind of morality tale. The worst that happens is that the stepsisters don't get to marry the prince, but every one else in the land suffered that fate as well. There should be an added scene where the stepmother and stepsisters are thrown out of the house and are forced to live as maidservants, doing all the work they made Cinderella do.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A New Word

I hereby bequeath to the world a new word, "roughstimate". Maybe not as snappy as "guesstimate", which I'm not the first to think of, but roughstimate, as in rough estimate, has its own niche. Use it, trade with your friends, collect the entire set. (And yeah, Google says there have been other uses of the word, but I thought of it independantly, so I'm gonna plant my flag on it. Let the natives take a shot at me if they wish.)

I drove the truck to work yesterday. Aaaahhhhh. When I pulled in the garage last night, Hanna came running and said "I want to see the new truck!"

Hanna was in pigtails this morning, the Cutemeter set to High. I asked her if she was Hanna Longstocking, and she said "No way!"

The other day I was talking with someone who is in a Smalltalk group here. (I think the Smalltalk community is really a cult.) He's Czech, with a deep voice, thick accent, sometimes hard to understand. Anyway, out of the blue he asks me "Are you far removed from your Czech ancestors?" Ha. I said, "It's been awhile." (Note: The name "Kouba" has Czech origins, related to "Jacob" or something like that. Though, that side of the family is not really Czech.)

I want some of these balloons!

If you haven't looked at it lately, I've added some new links along the right panel.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Chariot of Steel

Well, we took the plunge. Last night we bought the '05 Toyota Tacoma.

It's the Silver Streak Mica with Graphite interior. A 4x4, naturally, with the 4-door Double Cab. The shorter (5-foot) bed.

This one has the TRD Off-Road Package #2. This means it comes with: towing package, off-road tuned suspension with Bilstein® shocks, 16-in. alloy wheels with P265/70R16 BFGoodrich® Rugged Trail T/A tires, locking rear differential, engine skidplate and fuel tank protector, front tow hook, 115V/400-watt deck mounted power outlet, multi-function overhead console with compass and temperature gauge, sport seats with sport fabric and driver's lumbar support and sport fabric, and TRD Off-Road graphics, fog lamps, chrome grille surround and rear bumper, color-keyed front bumper and overfenders, metallic-tone instrument panel trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, variable intermittent windshield wipers, sun visors with sliding extensions and vanity mirror, and SR5 badging and upgraded seat fabric and driver’s seat with lumbar support, power windows/door locks/outside mirrors, remote keyless entry system, cruise control and sliding rear window with privacy glass

In other words, a pretty sweet vehicle. I've been wanting to get back in a truck since we traded the Ranger in on the mini-van. I hadn't been really thinking about getting one now, but Rhonda brought it up, and she did a lot of legwork on this, so thanks much to her. Also, thanks to Rich, the husband of Rhonda's friend Jennifer. He helped get us a good deal.

I drove it to work today, parked it in the ramp in a more remote region of the parking ramp. I have my school group, but will probably drive the Skylark there. For awhile I'll probably be paranoid about parking it in public lots, especially until the new plates come and it isn't so obvious a brand new vehicle.

I think Ford got behind the curve on this one, that I as a customer went to Toyota. Their Ranger doesn't have the full 4-door double cab, and they don't really have plans to update the Ranger in the near future. The 4-door cabs are becoming increasingly popular. The Ranger is a nice vehicle, and is competing on price these days. The Explorer Sport Trac fills in that gap, but is still based on the older Explorer base. The updated model is not out yet.

So, I went with the Toyota quality. It is built in California (build date on my truck is January 2005). True, a good chunk of parts, like the engine, are from Japan, but even in domestic vehicles parts come from all over and are assembled here.

Mom came through yesterday. I picked her up at the airport and took her to the train last night. So, she really allowed us to get the truck deal done last night. She watched the kids while we went and sealed the deal. So, thanks Mom for that!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Here's a link to a great essay about what entails a good liberal arts education.

On the topic, here is a column by Bill Gates, with his thoughts on how we are not adequately preparing students for college. (registration might be required)

Very busy with school stuff this week. Argh.

Am getting closer to pulling the trigger on the '05 Toyota Tacoma.

24 Day 4 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

A Review

Jack is either a psycho, or a sadist. It's sad to see a once great man fall so far. He didn't even bother trying to question Paul first, and give him a chance to explain himself. Nope, he went straight for the torture. Jack would've looked kinda silly had Paul immediately started talking. Jack would've gone to all that trouble to rip open Paul's shirt and douse him with water for nothing. (By the way, was that a sponge? Where did that come from? That's not exactly standard hotel room amenities. Along with the teensy Munchkin bottles of shampoo and mouth wash, I've never seen a sponge sitting on a hotel bathroom counter.)

But what is Paul thinking? If he is truly innocent, why didn't he immediately disclose the information that might be on the laptop as soon as he saw Jack trying to hotwire a lamp? Why did he wait till he had been jolted twice?!

(At one point during the proceedings, Audrey had a look on her face as she watched Jack like she was imagining a future day, with Jack asking their teenage son why he had been out too late. "Where were you last night? Tell me!" zzzztttttttt)

It might be plausible that Paul was unaware of what the Empty House of Terrorists was being used for, and he said the lawyers usually handled such things. But CTU said it was Paul's signature on the lease. (again, rather quick analysis, eh what) Is Paul usually in the habit of just signing anything his lawyers put before him without knowing what it was, a la Radar trying to sneak something past Col. Blake?

Jack lets Paul use the laptop, and then conveniently disappears into the bathroom so we can have a touching scene where wifey Audrey nags poor henpecked hubby Paul. Jack is awfully trusting to leave someone he just tortured alone. How did he know Paul didn't have a gun?

Paul discovers the lease was related to someone named Harris Barnes. CTU quickly determines it was an alias, and that someone names Marwan also used the alias. Now, how on God's Green Earth did they figure that out so quickly? Did Marwan fill out paperwork where he indicated "My real name is Marwan, but I'm going to use an alias of Harris Barnes." Isn't the whole point of using an alias is so you're real name isn't discovered? And, almost immediately thereafter, Sarah is telling Driscoll that Marwan probably has the Flux Capacitor! Wait just a cotton-pickin minute! At that point they only knew someone named Barnes was linked to someone named Marwan. How could they be sure about the Flux Capacitor? Marwan could've been just some flunky terrorist. Boy, not only do they use Magic at CTU, they have special Psionic abilities.

This brings us to our main theme for this review: Incompetence. This is something Rhonda helped me figure out. Everyone is incompetent. Always check your receipt at the grocery store because the clerk rings up the wrong things. Always check your order at a fast food joint because the surly teenager might have forget to put half your order in the bag. Your life insurance company keeps losing your paperwork. The cable company can't fix your cable problem and has to keep coming back. Everyone is incompetent. In this episode, we see some egregious examples of incompetence.

In the building where Curtis was conked on the head (and Marianne was blessedly returned to the Great Temp Agency In The Sky) Marwan talks with someone named Ali. (Ali looked way too much like Yakov Smirnov. I kept thinking, "Why are the Commies involved with this plot"?)

Ali works at a company called IDS Systems. (Ross Perot's company was called EDS. Is this another hint that the bad guys are evil rich white guys?) He tells Marwan that CTU is using a "Drinfeld Module" to resist their efforts. A Drinfeld Module is something from the world of complex math. I suspect someone was just trolling through the Net for cool-sounding terms.

Marwan goes upstairs to a cubicle farm to do his work. Why? Why would he sit in an open cube where anyone could walk by and peek over his shoulder and see what he's doing? Why not stay down on the deserted floor with Ali?

Also, folks at IDS seemed awfully chipper. I wasn't at work on 9/11, I was in Astrakhan, Russia. But, when I got back people said not very much work got done that day. People were mostly monitoring media reports. Here, six reactors are on the verge of melting down, one nearby already has, yet here people don't seem the least bit concerned that something very serious is in progress. You'd think people would be very aware of the reactor problem, which would make it even more dangerous for Marwan to be doing stuff related to reactors on a screen in plain public view.

We see that you just can't get good help these days, and the flunky bad guys tasked with getting rid of Curtis are incompetent. They were (essentially) told to kill Curtis, then get rid of the body. They didn't follow instructions. They were going to get rid of the body first. A mistake that cost them. Curtis regains consciousness, and does his Gymkata routine on them. (Curtis would've had a rather nasty bump on the back of his head/neck. Yet he comes to quickly enough and never seems to have any lingering effects of being knocked out stone cold.)

At Gestapo HQ, Tony tries to fit in with the team and show he can be a tough interrogator. He's a little rusty though, as he doesn't immediately jump to torturing Dina. In an odd moment though, Tony asks that recording devices be turned off, but then he takes Dina into the control room to rough her up. Why? You wouldn't think the control room is normally monitored, so why bother to turn off the devices if you aren't going to stay in the interrogation room?

CTU is starting to figure out Curtis is not in contact. He's only been out of contact for 20 minutes or so, on a key mission. Nice sense of urgency of CTU's part. Ya think we should worry? Marianne nearly got blowed up in our parking lot, Curtis took her to some building who knows where, with only two crack security guys, should we worry they haven't called in for 20 minutes?

Marwan, who is pressed for time, still feels he has time enough to walk down a floor and talk to Ali. Apparently Marwan couldn't just call. He tells Ali to start ripping phone wires out of the wall. Some poor technician is going to have fun putting that back together.

At Gestapo HQ, Maya is giving Dr. Mengele and crew some trouble. It's obvious Mengele doesn't have much experience dealing with patients with such tough mental problems, because he was there trying to reason with Maya. And getting about as far as you'd expect. You do have to feel sorry for Driscoll, as a parent, seeing her child suffer from such problems.

But, isn't sedation an option here, or even restraints? Mengele said Maya was fighting sedation. Huh? Either tie her down and inject her, or, if the dosage wasn't having much of an effect on Maya, give her enough to put down an elephant. This medical staff strikes me as incompetent. More on that in a moment.

As an option, I was kinda urging the medical staff to use torture to subdue Maya, especially as Maya got more abusive with Driscoll, but that was before the tragic ending. More on that in a moment. (Driscoll seemed especially bothered by the abuse, and you can certainly understand that, but you'd think that in dealing with Maya for so long, Driscoll would've seen it all, and experienced it before and so would not take it so personally, knowing it was a very disturbed person talking.)

Dina coughs up some names, after Tony threatened to put dear Beiruts in a prison with lonely psycho biker gang members. CTU immediately links all these names to Marwan. Goodness, they have some good intelligence for such an incompetent organization. Where did this information come from? Obviously Marwan and the gang haven't been very circumspect, if they've left behind so much evidence that CTU has them all linked in minutes. But then, we've already seen gross incompetence in this terrorist organization.

(What is Tony doing though, handing Dina a pen? Was I the only one worried about Tony getting stabbed in the neck with the pen?)

At this point, there's about 20 minutes till the next meltdown, (reactor, not Maya) conveniently about the time left in the episode.

Because CTU is so shorthanded, Jack is the first one that can respond to the missing Curtis problem. Jack heads for the building.

Curtis konks Forbes on the head, gets an access card and cell phone, and calls into the office.

Driscoll briefs the President, who is still flying around in Air Force One. On a bulletin board, someone said that the 24 producers had said the President is flying around as a safety measure. They sure didn't make that clear in the show, though.

On the drive over, there is a touching touch between Audrey and Paul. Does she still have warm fuzzies for her wet fish Brit hubby?

Jack arrives at the building. Curtis has dispatched a guard in front of the elevator. But, instead of greeting the folks arriving, Curtis waits till he and Jack nearly shoot each other to say hello. Jack doesn't want a big strike team storming the floor. Why? More incompetence? What is he worried Marwan might do? Type faster on the keyboard? If time is of the essence, why not go in with guns blazing and find the guy as soon as possible.

(by the way, it was nice to see the return of another of 24's Greatest Hits. That is, SWAT agents piling out of a vehicle while someone was shouting Go! Go!)

Instead, Jack and Curtis take a gentle stroll through the busy office. Marwan notices them after Ali calls to warn him, and fires shots in the ceiling, sending the civilians screaming for the exits. Of course, even though they were mere feet away, Jack and Curtis can't get to Marwan, and Marwan escapes. Too bad Jack's team didn't think to guard all exits leading down from the floor above. And it sure would've been handy to have more personnel up on the office floor. Oh well. Live and learn, Jack.

(By the way, how did the baddies not notice all these CTU agents coming to the building? They found Curtis and Marianne within minutes after they arrived there.)

Curtis quickly takes over the Flux Capacitor, and gets Edgar into the magic Channel 11. Say, how did Edgar know to try F5-Shft-Esc? CTU didn't know of the existence of the Flux Capacitor till a few hours ago. Has Edgar been boning up on tech manuals?

(I can imagine all the good folks over at KARE-11 wondering what all this reactor stuff was coming over their computer screens.)

Hooray hooray, the reactors are saved just in time. That's it, show's over, season is over, nothing left to do.

Ooops, I guess there are still 13 hours to go. OK, onward we go.

Jack discovers a dead CTU agent, and warns the others Marwan is one of them. There was a nice creepy scene as an agent looks behind him and sees Marwan. Though, ya wonder how that agent let Marwan get so close to him. Does this team not know each other, that the agent didn't wonder who this guy was when he didn't recognize him. Is it incompetence? Truly, because Marwan does escape. I hope we don't spend the next 13 hours chasing him through drug stores and shopping malls.

As all this is unfolding, a flunky tells Driscoll she is really needed in the clinic. She brushes him aside, then heads for the clinic. Poor troubled Maya has ended her own life.

It was a heartbreaking scene, and every parent's worst nightmare to find their child like that. The actress did a good job of handling that difficult scene.

But, let's cut to the chase here. This is stupefying, staggering incompetence on the part of Mengele and his staff. First, they allow Driscoll to discover Maya like that unprepared, while they are just standing around. And why are they standing around? They're medical personnel. Shouldn't they be doing something? Covering Maya up? Something?

But worse, who was watching Maya?!? This clinic is not that big. How did Maya have time to go off in this room, get ahold of some sharp instrument, and kill herself. Argh. The medical staff is going to be taken to the back room and tortured, I bet. Utterly incompetent.

In the previews for next week, looks like maybe Driscoll is out, which may be the whole point of this Maya thread. Argh. (And Tony is going to be the interim director? Hooboy! But I'll save my fire for next week.)

There are more bodies in this episode. Ya think at some point the local police are going to call CTU and say hey, there are dozens of bodies piled up in the county morgue here, any sign of this carnage letting up any time soon?

Approximate Body Count: 86

<- 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM ->