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Monthly Archives: October 2012

We finished off the prequels last night, with Episode III – “Revenge of the Screenwriters” – taking a large chunk of my intellectual and emotional capital.

 

It surprised me to learn that this film earned close to a billion dollars at the box office. And that it was received better by the critics than the first two – I admit, maybe it makes more sense than Episode II, but I would assume that by the time this puppy was released, the critics would already have their hate mail pre-written.

Hayden Christiansen is not a “bad actor”, no matter how many times Ethel may have yelled that at the screen during the last two movies. No, I don’t think that he has any chemistry with Natalie Portman, but then I’m not one of those guys who really looks at Natalie Portman.

But Hayden did a passable job in Jumper, which is the only other film of his that I’ve seen. I very much enjoyed that one.

At any rate, now we’re free to watch the original last three episodes. But I’m wondering – how will they look, on a 65″ HD television, almost forty years after the first one was filmed? I remember watching those ships fly around in…when was it, 1976?…and being totally amazed.

But have the intervening years gotten me used to special effects that no longer look like special effects? Will it all seem primitive and clunky?

Or will Hans and Chewbacca still be Hans and Chewbacca, and it won’t matter what sort of hardware I see around them?

 

 

Ethel and I have watched football in Alabama.

We’ve watched football in Bisbee, in a small house shoved against the canyon wall. We’ve watched football in suburban Tucson, in a stucco-and-tile California-style home like every other new home east of Houghton Road.

We’ve watched football in our basement in Vermont, and in our basement in Park City. We’ve watched football in a larger version of the Tucson home in Anthem, AZ, and we’ve watched football out here at the Chocolate House.

We’ve watched football in our small ski condo, the Love Grotto, for the last two years. But we’d never watched football before where you look in one direction and you see the Crimson Tide in a 3-4 defense, and look the other way and see this :

This is the view from the Money Pit, and it is a very nice view indeed. Those mountains are “thirteeners” – i.e. just over 13,000 feet elevation at the peaks. Very soon now, they’ll be covered w/snow, and Ethel and I will be watching football after coming in from the ski hill.

Now, truth be told – full disclosure – here at the Chocolate House, we do get to watch the entire New River Mesa turn this color of red just about every evening.  And we like that just fine. But I have to admit that I prefer the Rocky Mountains to the Sonoran terrain features. I reckon I’m just an ingrate.

Three weeks and three days.

Driving in from Purgatory down to Durango, we see this coming around the turn at Honeyville:

 

This was early yesterday, when it was overcast. Everything except the evergreens was gold – even the grass along the side of the road was gold. (Okay, some of it maybe wasn’t “gold”, but it was very bright brown : )

We missed the aspen turning up here at the condo, but down in Durango, the aspen, cottonwoods and maples are all in competition. It’s not a bad consolation prize.

And even up here the world has a gold-ish tint – the fallen aspen leaves are gold, the stands of aspen have a silvery look to them with some gold tinting that I can’t explain, and the October sun throws a golden cast over everything. It’s just plain beautiful.

Today we were supposed to head down to make a noon meeting, and then go play golf this afternoon – but now that has been cancelled. Seems that we have to go to Silverton to transfer the title on our Hyundai Santa Fe to Colorado, since we live in San Juan County. Our address is Durango, but that doesn’t matter to the state of Colorado. The eight-tenths of a mile between our condo and the county line demands that we drive north 20+ miles to Silverton. Oh, well. It’s not like it’s an ugly drive : )

MOVIE REVIEWS – we’ve seen a couple of Redbox movies the last few days, and I’d like to comment on them. Summary – I like ’em both, and will watch both of them again.

MONEYBALL – since I tend to think of baseball as a sleep-aid, I wasn’t too high on this one. But it was a very good telling of a very interesting, thoughtful story, and I would give it high marks anyway – however, one thing that makes it must viewing is Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Robert Redford. Yes, yes, I know, he was playing Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland A’s, but the man seemed more Robert Redford-ish than Robert Redford does.

SAFE – Okay, sure, this should be a good movie, Jason Statham playing a down-and-out character who finds a reason to protect a little Chinese Girl, gee what a surprise he’s an ex-Special Forces or Black Ops type who is good with guns and fists. Sounds like standard fare.

And it IS – but to my mind, it’s the best so far. It’s like a fine filet – sure, it’s more steak, but it’s the best example of steak you’re liable to come across, and a reminder of what’s good about steak in the first place. I’m going to buy it.

Okay, I’ve been typing this while I’ve been icing my Achilles tendon, which is taking a hit as I transition from elliptical back to running. Now that’s done, and we’re going to try to get the car titled this morning, rather than waiting until this afternoon, which would allow us to still play golf this afternoon.

Well, we’re back up in Colorado!…this time, we came for golf.

Things just got more expensive in Phoenix; it seems that greens fees went way up on 1 October. So I ‘splained to Ethel how we could drive to Durango, where we already have a membership, and we’d come out a lot cheaper just playing golf for a week.

I really believed it, too; and it would have worked out that way, had Ethel not decided that we needed fancy new push carts for our golf week.

These are “CaddyTek CaddyCruise One” carts. The one on the right is folded up – one button push, and it collapses down to that size.

I did the “assembly” in just a few minutes – all that meant was sticking the wheels on and hanging the mesh bag on the back. The carts feel smooth, sturdy and, while lightweight, seem to have the proper amount of heft – in short, they feel leek money.

I’ve done the math, and it will take ten rounds of golf for us to come out even – that is, ten rounds of riding in a cart pays for these push carts. Bit, truth be told, I prefer walking anyway, except in Phoenix in the summer. It feels more like golf when I’m walking. And nobody hears me cuss.

These carts remind me of the Droidecons (I think that they were called) in “The Phantom Menance” – the ones that rolled into place, then unfolded and started shooting at Jar-Jar Binks. I do hope that they do not become self-aware and try to take over, because I’ve already taken the boxes to the dumpster.

Excuse me – I gotta go get ready to go play golf now. Since this is a vacation, that means “sit in the jacuzzi for a while – maybe take a nap”. And then drive down to Durango with the droidcarts in the back of the car, listening to see if they start unfolding on their own….

Here’s a Nissan Leaf parked at the (only) “Electric Car” parking spot in our Scott$dale parking lot.

When I see this, my sarcastic, irony-seeking-missile of a mind wonders what innaheck is going on here.

Eco-friendly? We’re in the middle of a steenkin’ desert, during air-conditioning season. Electricity in Arizona is very expensive – okay, maybe that’s not true. I see this from the perspective of a native North Alabamian, where the Tennessee Valley Authority’s hydroelectric and nuclear plants provide cheap clean power (yes, I said clean. Only thing coming out of those smokestacks at Browns Ferry is steam). To me, APS seems to really like their electricity a lot, and they don’t want to part with it cheaply.

How “eco-friendly” is a car that is sucking up electricity that was probably produced at Boulder Dam near Las Vegas and run several hundred miles over high-tension wires, losing amps, watts and volts by the mile?

I’m reminding of the ecologist’s rant in Lucifer’s Hammer . Think about an electric razor – sure, it doesn’t take much electricity to run the thing, but have you any idea how much power is used just to make it? The mining of the metal, and then it gets tossed into a landfill.

Most of these “green” decisions strike me the same way. Somebody trades in his older vehicle – which had many more years of service, with a little maintenance – for a new Nissan Leaf. So the old vehicle winds up in a dump, with all of the possibly-remaining miles in its frame and engine wasted, so that somebody can buy a trendy vehicle (with no established useful lifetime) that actually sucks electricity out of the walls.

Huh.

Not that I mind. I’m a real environmentalist, as I’ve said before. I have a real, abiding respect for the environment. I suspect that an ecosystem that can absorb a 10-mile-diameter iron-nickel asteroid impact can probably handle some styrofoam cups and petroleum fumes.

 

My daughter-in-law took this picture of Floyd and I as a vehicle to show our family resemblence:

 

Now, I’m not detached enough from the whole thing to know if there are actual physical resemblances here; I wouldn’t wish on anyone the label of “looks like Jim Puckett” and I’m sure that Floyd would agree that that’s not a label that he wants, either.

But I can’t help but notice that the fellow on the right – with the pointy chin, the tuft of fur, and the loose, flappy neck skin – looks an awful lot like an iguana.

So I reckon I’m not going to worry too much about my person appearance anymore. No matter what, you can’t

a) make an iguana pretty, nor

b) make an iguana ugly.

This might explain Ethel’s reluctance for the whole kissee-kissee thing. And it sure takes the pressure off for formal wear.

Now that we can step outside of the building without bursting into flame (read: “it’s mid-October”) I enjoy a walk around the offices in the early afternoon.

When one walks through the Go Daddy parking lot, one is bound to see geeky, nerdy stuff, such as this rear windshield on a Cooper Mini with a child seat:

 

Note that I said that I ENJOY it now – I was doing it during the worst of the summer, but not enjoying it so much. Physical activity seems to help me get my digestion going without slowing down my cogitation; sometimes it seems that lunch without walking results in…. my….. mind………. slow……. ing…….. down……… like Hal 9000 at the end of 2001. Sometimes I even start singing “Daisy”.

I changed my pattern this morning a bit. Usually, I go to the gym and do my cardio and my core and resistance work before I come to the office. Today, I decided to put the resistance work off until the end of the day, on my way to the 5:30 meeting. I figured that this might give me more energy during the day. It hasn’t, so far as I’ve noticed, but it’s the first time I’ve tried it. I reckon that I need a larger sample size. If I had only tried marriage once, I wouldn’t have whatsername.

Speaking of whastersname, she and I are heading up to Colorado this weekend. We’re going to just play golf for a week – a week that WON’T cost extra money, and a week that won’t be in the Tucson heat, so we’re hoping that it’ll be a fun, relaxing, cheap week : )

I’m taking the week off. I get six weeks of vacation per year, and there’s no way that I can take all of it, but this year I might get close to at least not letting it build up too much. I’ve got next week off, and I”m taking three weeks at Xmas/New Year’s. When that’s done, I’ll only have….about six weeks left, accrued….wow.

And I’ll also have my two floaters back : )

 

 

 

 

Here’s Ethel, being horsey at Pusch Ridge Stables during our anniversary trip.

Sorry about the subject line; I was reading Foxtrot this morning, and Jason was pretending to be a Viking, and he asked his father what a “Norse” was, and his father said, well, you can imagine…

Horseback riding was fun, but – like scuba diving – it’s one of those things that I wonder if I would want to do enough to make it a hobby. When I’m scuba diving, I see cool fish and underwater stuff – but how many fish can be how cool and how much different underwater stuff is there to see?

Our land here is “horse property” meaning that it is zoned to allow me to have horses on my 1.05 acres. If I had a horse, I’d feel obligated to ride him. And that would mean that I wouldn’t have time to do the other stuff that I already feel obligated to do.

For instance – running. Now, currently I’m not running at all, due to a calf tear; it feels better, but when I run, I always run far enough to aggravate it. So I go back to ellipticating while waiting for the physical therapy to work. But, since I have so many running shoes and running clothes and a nice treadmill, I feel obligated to RUN, which means that I hurt the calf again, which means…

Golf. Ethel and I have already paid for all of the golf that we can play up in Durango, but Ethel won’t go to Durango, and greens fees have gone too high here for me to feel comfortable playing – but I’ve got nice clubs and a nice bag (see yesterday’s Fat Charlie) and there’s so much invested that I think that I should be playing golf.

Rock climbing – I’ve got great gear, but the gear is in Purgatory. So I can’t go rock climbing unless we go up to the condo – and then I’ll feel more obligated to play golf.

Skiing – thank goodness, I don’t feel obligated to go skiing right now, since, well, ski season hasn’t started yet. But, by far, I have my largest investment in skiing (counting two ski condos) so I always feel obligated to ski every single day while I’m up there.

Probably the biggest obligation with the smallest ROI is our swimming pool. I don’t think I’ve got my cost per swim anywhere near $100 yet. And now it’s too cold to swim – we’ve had a cold snap recently, and even though the solar heater is running, the water temp as we speak is 76 F; it’ll probably be back up over 80 F by the end of the day, but the air temp isn’t going to hit 80 today. So I feel obligated to jump into the pool, even though, as soon as I do so, I feel obligated to get the heck out of there.

(My friend Rich is a swimmer from Wisconsin – I don’t think that swimming in 76 F water bothers him, because as I understand it, up in ‘Shanksin they have to push the ice chunks out of the way to get their laps in. But I was raised swimming in the Gulf of Mexico; if it’s under 86 F or so, I lose interest).

I’m sitting here within six feet of my GoldTone banjo, and it’s an excellent banjo that Ethel got me for Xmas some years back, and I feel obligated to play it, but if I’m playing that, then I’m not playing the guitar or ukulele that Ethel bought me. And if I am doing any of those things, then I’m not studying Spanish with the very expensive Rosetta Stone license that we purchased last year.

And, at the end of the day, I feel obligated to watch football or movies on my 65″ FWD (Football Watching Device) – if I had bought it this year, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I bought this FWD back when 65″ was a big FWD, with a big price tag.

I reckon that I’m just over-obligated – so I’ll just give up and go sit on the couch.

Oh – and while I’m on the couch, I need to read my Neal Stephenson book that Ethel bought me…

Everybody knows that impulse buying is a bad thing.

Unless, of course, it’s a crtimson-and-houndstooth golf bag.

We saw this bag at the pro shop at El Conquistador Golf Club in Tucson, and Ethel just bought it. She wouldn’t even discuss it. And then she gave it to ME, which makes me the guilty party in the impulse-buying transaction : )

I gotta tell you – I am not sure that I was supposed to show you folks this picture.

It has taken a ridiculous amount of time for me to get the picture posted, like this. It seems that WordPress has it’s own *&^%$ ideas about pictures. This photo was taken as a horizontal photo, but  rotated it in Paint on my laptop before uploading it to WordPress.

WordPress didn’t care. It made it horizontal anyway.

So I loaded it back into Paint and rotated it again, and saved it with a different name, and uploaded it again. And WordPress said “No, I don’t care. That’s a horizontal photo, and you will not be allowed to upload it any other way”.

So I loaded WordPress’s photo editor. It would let me rotate it, but it seems that, once you edit a photo in WordPress, you have to press sixteen or seventeen different buttons as you back out in order to get the photo saved into the post. You have to “Save All Changes” and “Update” and then you have to select the photo from a list and  then Insert Into Post.

I am beginning to believe that WordPress has a very advanced business plan – they allow you to use the “FREE BLOGGING!!” product, and then they degrade the service and make things more and more difficult until you buy the Pro Package. Everywhere I look in this environment, there are “Upgrade to Pro!” buttons. I am wondering if, before long, those won’t be the only things on the page that actually work.

Well, it won’t work. I will not be bullied. In the blogging editor world, think of me as like a Louis L’Amour character – I won’t be pushed, and I won’t run! I’ll stand here, lantern-eyed and steely-jawed; maybe I won’t even be able to type anything, but I’ll be not-typing on my own terms.

ANYWAY – back to the golf bag. Yes, I now have the prettiest golf bag I ever imagined, and it’s stupidly expensive. I’m sure that it would have been reasonable had we waited and bought it online, but perhaps it was the act of impulse-buying it during our anniversary golf trip that makes it more special.

Maybe : )

The problem is, it’s getting more expensive to play golf now that the season has changed. Greens fees in Phoenix have skyrocketed; of course, we have free golf at our club in Durango, but Ethel won’t go to Durango. I do not know why. It’s fall up there, and the aspen have turned.

I have to admit; I’m starting to really wonder about this. We can live ANYWHERE. But Ethel won’t do it. She just sits there, while we grow older and older, sitting here in Phoenix. It’s the kind of thing that somebody who already knows what it’s like to regret something (that would be, well, ME) would go to any lengths to avoid; before long, I’ll be eighty years old, sitting here in the middle of the desert gumming my tongue and wondering why I didn’t go ahead and live life to its fullest.

So now I’m sitting here in the desert, grinding my teeth because I know I am right now living through the years that I will be sitting in the desert looking back on while I’m gumming my tongue wondering what happened. And Ethel just stares off into space like Les Miles chewing Bermuda/Fescue.

There’s a feeling of helpless frustration there that is difficult to describe. To do something, knowing that I’ll be regretting it later, has to be one of the most aggravating things that a person can do. And knowing that I can’t do anything about the not doing anything, and won’t be able to do anything about the regretting, just makes me crazy.

And I can’t even do anything about it making me crazy. – that makes me crazier.

There has to be an end to this cycle, and of course there is – it’s called “bedtime” ; )

 

I’m busy, but had to drop this in on you folks.

Image         
I’m in a phone interview for life insurance, and they were asking me about my avocations. When we got to “skydiving”, she said

“When is the last time you participated?”  — last year

“when do you next intend to participate?” — not currently planned

“Is safety equipment required?”

(long pause, followed by both of us breaking up laughing : )
“Uh, yes. Parachutes.” : )