December 2006 Archives

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December 31, 2006

One of the things the media always does at the end of a year is to remind us of the people — celebrities of one sort or another, usually — who passed away during the year.

This year is no different, really. Gerald Ford, Steve Irwin, Don Knotts, Milton Friedman, Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, Kenneth Lay, Coretta Scott King, Red Auerbach, James Brown. And plenty more.

Here's a name you won't know: Dick Williams.

Dick was a charter member of the "greatest generation." Having flown with a squadron of B-29s in the Pacific theater in World War 2, he reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. When he bought a new car in the mid 1990s, a Mitsubishi, he joked that fifty years earlier he'd been dropping bombs on the factory that had made it.

After the war, he went into the insurance business in Santa Barbara, CA, and was an active member of the community. There, probably over a rubber of bridge at the University Club, he met my Dad, and they became very close friends. Despite an age difference of 45 years, he was my friend, too.

Dick passed away a couple of weeks ago, aged 89. He was not famous, he wasn't a big name. What he was, was a decent and kind man who did his part to make the world and his community better.

He was a good man. I'll miss him.

Posted by Russ at 08:05 PM | Comments (2)
December 30, 2006
Poetic Justice
For Saddam's hanging
Meryl Yourish has haikus.
Go, read, write your own.
Posted by Russ at 01:44 AM
December 29, 2006
Theme Song

In honor of the final event of Saddam's life, I'd like to offer this song.

[Lyrics here.]

I should have worn a necktie to work today. Dang it.

11pm update: good riddance to bad rubbish.

Other commentary:
Outside the Beltway
Confederate Yankee
Captain's Quarters
Hot Air

Posted by Russ at 04:30 PM
December 27, 2006

Those of you who don't reside here in North Carolina may not realize it, but there's more to culture than merely agriculture in the South.

Case in point: the exhibition Monet in Normandy, running through the 14th of January at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

While my mother was visiting last month, we took the opportunity to see the exhibition. Admittedly, it is not something I would have done on my own, without a wee bit of goading from Mom, but I'm very glad I went.

Claude Monet is one of the world's best-loved artists. His images of Normandy — its poppy fields, poplars, haystacks, Rouen Cathedral facade and, above all, its extraordinary coast — are regarded by art historians as revolutionary. The Normandy paintings embody a new vision, a fresh way of seeing, that assured Monet a place among the giants of art.

The exhibition features 50 paintings Monet produced along the Normandy coast of France.

For those of you here in the Raleigh area, I highly recommend spending an afternoon at the museum.

Posted by Russ at 10:40 AM
December 26, 2006
Quick Movie Review

(Directed by Ericson Core, starring Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks and Kevin Conway)

Think "Rudy turns pro."

Good football/underdog/inspirational/true-story movie, excellent family fare.

4 Stars

Posted by Russ at 10:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 25, 2006
Good News
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6
Posted by Russ at 09:00 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
December 24, 2006
Catty Holidays


Mycah is ready for Christmas.

[Click for larger.]

"There had better be treats and skritches in this box. Or else."

The Friday Ark is boarding — go visit!

At IMAO, Laurence Simon presents a Christmas Eve edition of the Carnival of the Cats. He misses Piper. I don't think he's alone in that.

Posted by Russ at 08:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Christmas Memery

Having been tagged by Stander, and not having done a meme in a while, well, it's time.

The rules of the game: I whip up a quick blurb about 1) the 3 things I want most for Christmas, and 2) the 3 things I definitely DON'T want for Christmas. Then, I proceed to tag players B, C, D, E and F (that's five other other people, for the sequentially-challenged) in the Comments section of one of their recent posts with a note leading to my post inviting them to do the same thing. Simple, easy, and free traffic for everybody involved. What's not to love?

Here we go...

1) Sing along with me: "All I want for Christmas is two working knees."
2) I want one or two more cats. Too bad Mycah doesn't play well with others.
3) Mostly, I want to see my family this year. OK, I already got that.

Don't Wants:
1) Don't get me something just for the sake of getting me something. I already have a lifetime supply of stuff.
2) Nothing girly. No scented soaps, no precious little figurines, etc. I like being a man, and would prefer not to be mistaken by visitors for anything else.
3) Please: no "self-help" anything. Ever. I believe in the principle of "it's the thought that counts," so if you send me something that implies I'm not already perfect in every way, I'll know what you're thinking.


Jim at Smoke on the Water
Vinnie, of Vince aut Morire
Maggie, she of the meanderings and shameless plugs
Lori at Downtown Chick Chat
Bob, at Confederate Yankee

Posted by Russ at 07:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Quote of the Day

The very quotable Steve H.:

Oh, yeah. While you're having fun, remember that Christmas has something or other to do with that "Christ" guy. In a world where most religions see God or the gods as selfish, capricious jerks or apathetic administrators who don't care about human suffering, Christianity alone recognizes God as a person who loved us so much He came to earth in the form of a man and allowed Himself to be tortured to death by His jeering enemies so we could be free of the consequences of our own evil deeds.

A lot of religions require the sacrifice of human beings to please gods. Christianity's God sacrificed Himself for the benefit of human beings.

As end-of-the-year gifts go, that one is hard to top.

Pretty hard indeed.

Posted by Russ at 04:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 23, 2006
Quote of the Day

On Christmas shopping:

So how do I do it in 45 minutes? It's all thanks to a little wonder drug I like to call testosterone. Or, more likely, it's the relative absense of estrogen, which poisons the mind and causes people to wander in random directions in malls and on highways. A woman thinks, "I need to decide what to buy, so I'll go to the mall and shuffle around at two miles an hour until I bump into something appropriate." A man thinks, "I need to buy A. I can find it at store B. If I go at hour C, the crowds will be light. Then I will be able to get home early and view midget porn DVD D."

Steve H. of Hog on Ice, who is, I'm fairly sure, only kidding about the midget porn.

Posted by Russ at 04:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
December 18, 2006
The Wrath of . . .

Today, Monday, my new (new to me — it's an '03 Dodge Ram quad cab) truck arrives here from California, driven by my ever-so-wonderful sister-in-law. My ever-so-wonderful lead-footed drive-across-a-continent-in-three-days sister-in-law, accompanied by my multi-talented nephew.

But I think my old '93 Chevy Blazer (the full size model renamed "Tahoe" in '94), which I've driven since '96, may have figured out that it is about to be replaced.

I got off work tonight a little after midnight, as usual, and on the way home stopped, as sort-of-usual, at the 24x7 grocery store to pick up a couple of things. Kitty treats, mainly, to appease Mycah.

Finished with the shopping, I got into the truck, turned the key... and nothing. The dash lights came on, but there was no cranking. The starter was dead. Obviously, the Blazer has decided not to go without a fight.

After an hour of phoning tow truck companies in an unsuccessful quest to find a 24x7 mechanic, in desperation I called the local police admin number, where an exceptionally helpful and friendly young lady named Alicia gave me the number of the tow company they use. The tow truck eventually arrived, and five minutes after that I was on my way, and got home a mere two hours later than I had hoped.

The starter will probably have to be replaced before I can sell the Blazer. I was really hoping after last week that I had taken it for its last repair.

I've never named any vehicle I've owned, but it's not too late for the Blazer. Inspired by Herman Melville's Moby Dick,

"To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee,"
the Blazer is now "Khan."

But I still blame the cat for the brake failure.

I wonder what time Alicia gets off of work?

Posted by Russ at 03:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
December 15, 2006
My Faith In Science, Shattered Again

At Hot Air, Allahpundit notes that science has identified the saddest song ever.


That was my respect for science deflating just a bit. Not as much as it's done over this whole "man-made global warming" foofaraw, but a measurable bit, yes.

While a bunch of neurotic wussy europeans may inspire feelings in me, sadness doesn't come close to the top of the list — except when I think of the greatness that once was Western Culture. No, when I hear The Verve* what I feel is more akin to nausea.

If you want a sad song, try Rhett Miller's Come Around.

I'm thinking of adding it to my life's soundtrack album, probably between Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams and the Justin Hayward's Forever Autumn.

* Definitely not to be mistaken for The Verve Pipe, a band I actually like.

† Sorry, Mom, there's a bad word in there.

Posted by Russ at 10:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
December 13, 2006
One of These Days, She'll Succeed

On the way to work this afternoon, my brakes failed. Suddenly, the stain on the driveway near the truck's left rear tire made sense — it must have been brake fluid — and there was only one logical conclusion.

The cat did it.

I was, thankfully, not far from my mechanic's shop, so I nursed the truck there and left it. The funny thing is, I'm getting a new truck next week, so even if I'd wrecked the old Blazer, I wouldn't have been wheelless for long.

Still, I have to bear in mind that Mycah cut my brake lines. Which, you have to admit, is a pretty clever thing for a cat to be able to do. I mean, she can't even reach the doorknobs to let herself out. But given her history, can there be any doubt it's her doing?

Now I know how Clouseau felt about Cato.

Posted by Russ at 06:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
December 11, 2006
In the Mailbox

In today's mail:

I knew having an Amazon Wishlist linked here would pay off.

Thanks, Carolyn! Woohoo!

Posted by Russ at 05:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Quick Movie Review

Old School
(Directed by Todd Phillips, starring Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn)

The world needed a definitive "old people acting like college students" movie.

This ain't it.

Back to School, on the other hand, is.

Wilson, Ferrell and Vaughn couldn't have carried Rodney Dangerfield's jock.

1½ Stars

Posted by Russ at 09:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 08, 2006
Surgical Followup

I heard from the vet today. After Mycah's surgery, they had sent off the amputated portion of the tail for a full analysis by whoever it is who does such analyses. The tumor was indeed a malignant melanoma... and they got the whole thing. Still, watchfulness will remain important in case there's a recurrance elsewhere, in case the cancer has spread but wasn't detected by the oncological screening.

Mycah continues her recovery, but I've noticed that all she does is eat, sleep, and poop. Come to think of it, that probably means she's fully recovered.

Her feline vanity and territoriality have asserted themselves fully. She won't show off her shaved bits — I'm still paying for posting that photo. And I came out of the shower today to discover that she has claimed my Levis as her own.

[Click for larger.]

So I guess we can say that she's back to normal.

It's Friday, so don't miss the Friday Ark for all your critter needs.

And you can get your cat-specific blog fix at the Carnival of the Cats, this week at the House of Mostly Black Cats.

Posted by Russ at 07:02 PM | Comments (3)
December 07, 2006
A Little Slice of Hollywood

I arrived at work today to find a film unit, perhaps 20 crew and actors, occupying a largish portion of the office. They're filming a promotional spot of some sort, with a "24" theme involving our corporate aptitude at defeating virus threats.

Big whoop.

They'd better not point a camera at me. I can't afford to pay for a shattered lens. I wonder if their insurance covers that sort of thing?

Posted by Russ at 05:19 PM | Comments (1)
Pearl Harbor Day

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.

This is the battleship U.S.S. Arizona in the 1930s:


And this is the U.S.S. Arizona and 1177 of her crew today:


Never forget.

More at Michelle Malkin's site, and plenty of photos at Castle Argghhh!

Posted by Russ at 12:00 PM
December 06, 2006
Memo to The Cat

To: Mycah
From: the Food Provider
Subject: Pre-dawn barfing

Please don't.

One lapse in decorum is more than adequate.

Posted by Russ at 06:07 AM
December 05, 2006

I wish I had stayed completely away from the net today.

Laurence Simon, the king of catblogging, has offered many kind words and plenty of encouragement throughout Mycah's health problems.

Now, suddenly and unexpectedly, his Piper is gone. I wish I could adequately return his kindness.

Damn, Lair. I'm sorry for your loss.

I started thinking about something after another friend lost her cat.... We invest a part of ourselves in our cats, dogs, and other pets, and they repay us with shed fur, chewed slippers, stained carpet, scratched furniture, and vet bills. And we know they'll go before we do. Despite all that, we love them.

From time to time, these mutts and furballs pay us with affectionate tail-wagging or purring, and we love them all the more.

And then one day they're gone, and it hurts, and there's no getting around the fact that if you love your pets, it's gonna hurt a lot when they go.

And knowing that, we still have them, and we still love them.

It's worth it.

Update, 9Dec06: Strange Ranger says more, and much much better.

Posted by Russ at 10:40 PM | Comments (1)

What with an ongoing regular shortage of sleep and feeling generally worn out, as well as the "coming down" period after having visitors and the stress of Mycah's surgical ordeal, I've needed to turn my brain (and my PCs) off for a while.

I think it actually started at work, around 8pm Sunday. Good thing it was a slow night at the office.

With luck (and perhaps some chemical assistance) I'll manage to get a full night's sleep tonight before I start my work week tomorrow. I'll need it — I suspect it's going to be a busy week at work, and I have a side project I need to work on for a friend.

Maybe I'll take a nap before I go to bed.

Posted by Russ at 07:27 PM
December 03, 2006

I've been called many things before.

"Stretch," "Tiny" — classics. "Sasquatch," "Lurch" — a bit more creative. "Uncle Russ." My all-time favorite.

I won't get into the various insults.

But I don't think I have ever been called a "fine blogger."

It's not actually true. . . but I'll say thanks anyway to Jay Tea, who is 100% correct in the rest of his post on election dirty tricks. No one, but no one, gets a pass to mess with the integrity of our elections.

Posted by Russ at 12:36 PM
December 01, 2006

Mycah is doing very well after her tail amputation.

As predicted, the catheter didn't last — it came out less than 3 hours after she got home.

De-catheterization notwithstanding, the followup appointment with the vet yesterday morning was all good news. Her bandage was removed — the wound hadn't leaked or bled or anything like that, so the bandage stays off.

From some angles, her shaved tail makes her look a bit like a big rat.

The vet was pretty confident about the projected course of Mycah's recovery. It's remarkable how contagious a dose of confidence can be; I've been rather worried all week, but I find myself immensely reassured. Still, though, "cancer" will be on my mind if Mycah's ever under the weather in the future.

And as for Mycah, well, she's acting almost as if nothing had happened. She was never on terribly good terms with her tail — barely a passing acquaintance — so I don't think she's actually missing it. All she's really doing is eating and sleeping, with intermittent interruptions for litterbox visits. She gets two doses of painkiller a day, which, I might add, she fights against as if I was trying to squirt hot lava down her throat.

She happily takes all the treats and skritches I can dish out, though. Some things never change.

You'd best go see the Modulator's Friday Ark.

And if you miss the Carnival of the Cats at Catymology, you're a poor excuse for a human being. :-)

Posted by Russ at 02:54 AM | Comments (4)