Friday, November 25, 2005

Light Blogging Ahead

Judy and I will be taking her mother home this morning, and this evening we'll be celebrating my brother's 60th birthday. Tomorrow I'm having lunch with some old friends (from high school, so old is the operative word). Sunday, we'll drive back down to scenic Alvin. Until then, feel free to flirt with other blogs like those linked on the right, but remember to return here faithfully on Monday.

This NOT from the Weekly World News

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Foods 100 Yearsrs Ago

Discovery Channel :: News :: Thanksgiving Foods Different 100 Yrs Ago: "One hundred years ago, many Americans on Thanksgiving were eating deep-dish onion and egg pie, which they washed down with homemade root beer, according to a museum director who believes holiday dinners a century ago often were very different than the 'traditional' meal that today is enjoyed on the fourth Thursday of November."

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving will have a great day. Judy and I will be going to our daughter's place in Houston later this morning, and of course Judy's mother, who's been spending the week with us, will go along. Allen, our son, will drive down from Austin. We'll eat too much, watch a little football, and maybe even talk a little. It's going to be in the 80s here today, so we might even go outside and take a stroll around the park.

Tomorrow we'll take Judy's mother home and celebrate my brother's 60th birthday. On Saturday I'll be visiting with some of my friends from high school, and on Sunday we'll drive back to Houston. For me, this counts as a busy weekend. I hope I'm up to the challenge.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The New TV

Last week our old TV set gave up the ghost. In the morning it was just fine. In the afternoon, the picture disappeared. We figured that after 18 years or so, it was time for a new TV anyway, so we went out and bought a Samsung HD-ready LCD set. It's like the one on the right.

After we brought it home, the fun started. Well, it was fun for Judy, who got to watch me set it up. And listen to me. It was necessary to say a few magic words to get things just right. I finally got the cable box, DVD, and VCR hooked to the TV, which was working fine. I couldn't say the same for the DVD, however. We could get a picture, but no sound. It was a crummy picture, too.

By then it was bedtime, so I gave up for the night.
The next day, after a few more experiments with the mare's nest of cables, I got things right. All was well. Except, of course, that there was no HD because we didn't have an HD cable box. I called the cable company, and they told me that they'd bring out a new box and install it for a mere $49.95. And they'd be here in only two weeks.

I didn't want to wait, so I asked if I could just get the box and install it myself. Too complicated for boob like you, I was told, or words to that effect, so I set up an appointment.
Yesterday, however, I decided to e-mail the company and ask again. The reply said, "Sure, you can do it yourself. It's a snap. Come pick up a box."

So I drove to the nearest cable office in Texas City (15 miles), got the box, brought it home and got ready to go. I called the tech person, and she walked me through the installation. No picture, no sound. After an hour and a half on the phone with the tech, switching cables here and there, plugging and unplugging, etc., I threw in the towel.

The tech said the box was clearly faulty. I drove back to Texas City. Got a new box. Came home, called the help line and got the tech person (a different one, of course). I said, "I have brand new HD box here. I haven't done a thing. Walk me through the installation, step by step."
So she did. Guess what. Same result exactly. Changed wires, did this, did that, all the stuff I did the first time, with the same outcome. Then she said, "Have you installed the component cables?" Well, no, nobody mentioned those. It would have been nice if someone had, since the person in Texas City had told me I wouldn't need them. Got those installed.

By golly, it worked. All was well. Did my little victory dance.
Started watching TV. Discovered that I could no longer get anything but 16:9 and 4:3 pictures. All else is unavailable. No panorama, no Zoom 1, no Zoom 2. Back on the phone. Got the tech support. Sure enough, the woman (different person from the other two) tells me that those are now the only two options. No more Zoom 1, Zoom 2, or Panorama. Dang. The cable box chooses my picture size. Life sucks. But at least I saved 50 bucks and didn't have the cable guy come out.

(Next time, I'm having the cable guy.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

More Old Time Radio

Yesterday Judy and I drove to the big city of Thornton, Texas, to get Judy's mother and bring her to Alvin for Thanksgiving. Since the drive up takes a little over three hours, we listened to some OTR shows on XM Satellite Radio. The first one we heard was The Green Hornet. This was a big favorite of mine when I was a kid since it was very similar to The Lone Ranger. Only natural since George W. Trendel and Fran Striker were involved with both shows. Kato's dialogue sounds too close to Tonto's for comfort.

We also heard two episodes of The Whistler. I don't remember hearing this show when I was young, but it's pretty entertaining. Judy was a little chapped that The Whistler wasn't a crime-fighter like the Green Hornet. Instead he's the narrator, sort of like Raymond on Inner Sanctum, but without Raymond's bizarre charm.

And speaking of Inner Sanctum, that was the next show that we listened to. I always loved Raymond's little jokes, like the one on this show about the unsuccessful author who was murdered by her husband and buried in the cellar. As Raymond put it, she finally made the "best cellar" list.

After Inner Sanctum we heard Dangerous Assignment with Brian Donlevy, who also played the main character, Steve Mitchell, on TV. I remember seeing the TV show a few times, but I like the radio series better. Hardboiled fans will remember Donlevy best as the heavy in The Glass Key.

All in all, a pretty good morning's listening that made the trip seem a lot shorter.

Stark House Press

Stark House Press has a new, redesigned website, and it's very cool. Check it out at this link.

Link Wray, R. I. P.

From the Globe & Mail: Guitar player Link Wray, who invented the power chord, the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarists, has died. He was 76.

A native of Dunn, North Carolina, Wray's style is considered the blueprint for heavy metal and punk music.

Wray's is best known for his 1958 instrumental Rumble, 1959's Rawhide and 1963's Jack the Ripper. His music has appeared in movies like Pulp Fiction, Independence Day and Desperado.

I still have my battered 45 rpm recording of "Rumble." Thanks to these guys for the link to the obit.

And You Still Think We're Not Using Torture?

ABC News: CIA's Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described: "'They would not let you rest, day or night. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. Don't sleep. Don't lie on the floor,' one prisoner said through a translator. The detainees were also forced to listen to rap artist Eminem's 'Slim Shady' album. The music was so foreign to them it made them frantic, sources said."

Frantic? I'd be driven completely nuts. Or course there are those who say I'm already nuts, but what do they know?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Great Story for Con Game Fans - 75-year-old woman remembers jewel thief days: "This was how Doris Payne went about her work as an international jewel thief.

Never did she grab the jewels and run. That wasn't her way. Instead, she glided in, engaged the clerk in one of her stories, confused them and easily slipped away with a diamond ring, usually to a waiting taxi cab.

She is, says retired Denver Police Detective Gail Riddell, like a character from a movie — a female Cary Grant, smooth and confident."

National Treasure

Judy and I watched National Treasure last night. It was kind of a dumb movie (okay, it was a really dumb movie), but we had a new TV set and wanted to try it out. What I liked best about the movie was that Nicolas Cage's character was named Ben Gates. If you don't know why I enjoyed that, you haven't read as much paperback fiction as I have. And as a bonus, the sidekick's name was Riley Poole. I went to high school with a guy by that name. I can't really recommend the movie except as mild, mindless entertainment, but those two names gave me a little extra kick.