4 posts from February 2003

Oldies: Sunday, February 16 - Saturday, February 22, 2003...

Saturday, 22 February 2003: If you read yesterday's entry, then you have probably put 2 and 2 together to realize that I spent my morning having my tire patched and put back on my truck. Luckily, it really doesn't cost a whole heckuva lot. But, it's just the principle of the whole thing. I don't want to have to pay to have tires fixed as often as Katie and I have been needing to the last couple of years. When will all the madness end?

Friday, 21 February 2003: I dunno what it is with Katie and me. Maybe it happens to everybody and we just don't notice. But, today, after having a pretty nice evening to ourselves, we went over to Jared's to pick up Katie's ring that I bought her and she had resized. As we pulled into the lot, I heard a big bang under my truck like something hitting my muffler. So, I got out in the lot and heard the telltale hissing of a rapidly flattening tire. Yeah joy. Our next move was to go to Target (in the next plaza) to pick up some Fix-A-Flat which did absolutely nothing to help us out.

I reluctantly decided that I had to put on my spare tire. However, since the flat was so far along, I couldn't get the jack under the "ideal" jackpoint of my chassis. So I jacked the truck up enough to get the flat tire off but it wasn't enough to get the good tire on. How did I resolve the situation? By getting the good tire on just enough to support the weight of my truck. Then Katie put her foot against the tire to help hold it in place and I quickly lowered the jack and put it under the "ideal" spot and rejacked the truck. Now, it was finally high enough to get the tire on properly.

With all the repositioning and the normal struggle that people have with lugnuts (the lugnut wrench that comes with my truck sucks so Katie found me a good one at Target), we finally finished the whole process about an hour later. What a wonderful end to an otherwise fun day.

Now the official tally is at five flat tires in just about a year and a half. Katie: 3, Kevin: 2. Hey hey, I'm catching up. I'm just happy I have a truck with a full-size spare tire.

Thursday, 20 February 2003: Move over Vader, Maul, and Sidious, here comes the new Sith Lord... Darth Gar. You see, I have gone completely over to the dark side. I watched Survivor: The Amazon last night marking the first full episode that I have seen of this show. And the verdict? Yes, I enjoyed it. Dammitalltohell. I can now understand why it's all so addicting. I now know why every Friday after the airing of a new episode, my coworkers Stevie and Eric would be yelling back and forth to each other about the show. After last week's episode (which I actually saw the Tribal Council sequence from), Eric said that this is easily the best Survivor yet so I figured I'd give it a shot this week. It's pretty damned cool. Men vs. Women. How can you not want to watch that? The thing I find the funniest, though, is that all these participants harbor such antiquated "this gender is better than that gender" illusions. I thought, as a society, we'd at least started to move past gender superiority issues already (aside from pay scale equity, that is). Apparently I was wrong. Some of these guys are talking like they still drag their significant others around by their hair. Barefooted and loin clothed as well. Pretty sad. But it makes for regular viewing, that's for sure.

Wednesday, 19 February 2003: If you haven't done so already, I would highly recommend that you go out and get farked. Please, do not take immediate offense at what I just said. "Getting farked" refers to becoming a registered user over at fark.com. This site consists of links to unintentionally (okay, some are intentional) funny news and information links around the web. People submit these links to fark and come up with witty headlines to accompany them on the webpage. Also, you will find Photoshop contests where someone submits a photo and everyone is allowed to go to town on it using some kind of photo editor and post their work in the comments section where registered users can vote for their favorites.

Yesterday, I finally entered my first Photoshop contest with a picture of a frozen over sapling tree. I took the liberty of turning it into a plaything for Michael Jackson. The voting results, thus far, are pretty positive for my "work of art." I'm in 11th place with about 42 votes as of this morning at 8 a.m. Well over 70 photoshopped pix have been voted on thus far, so I'm happy with my placement considering this is my first attempt. If you would like to vote on this contest, go over to fark.com and join their ranks. Then scroll down the homepage to yesterday's (Feb. 18) listings and look for the entry entitled "Photoshop this poor little tree in Drew's yard" (about 13 down). If you click on the number in parentheses to the right of the title, you will be taken to the area where you can view everyone's images and place your votes. Just remember, you must be a registered farker to vote.

No, I'm not shamelessly soliciting votes. Hell, hardly enough of you read this page religiously enough to really affect the vote. I'm mentioning it because there are some great entries that just crack me up like a spoof of a Shel Silverstein book and several good Charlie Brown samples as well as a great reference to the movie The Christmas Story

To create this image, I had to cut away all the background from the original tree image and flip it upside down. Then I found the MJ pic on Google's image search engine. I had to paste the tree on top of Mikey and then make a copy of his left leg (right from our perspective) and paste it on top of the tree in the correct spot. Then I had to cut away from the tree on Mikey's left (our right) hand so it looked like his fingers were wrapped around it (I did the same with the other hand as well). I also had to move his right (our left) arm down because it was too high up in the air for it to reasonably appear to be grabbing the tree. So, not only did I pivot his forearm at the elbow, but I pivoted his hand at the wrist. I wish I still had a copy of the original MJ pic so you could see how it looked. The scream on his face was just too perfect... true pleasure derived from extreme pain. When you want great facial expressions, there are few better celebs to go to than Michael Jackson (okay, include Jim Carrey on that list).

Tuesday, 18 February 2003: Warning: Do not read this entry if you have not seen the two-hour season finale of Joe Millionaire and still hope to be surprised by the ending.

Now that you've been sufficiently warned...

I gotta say that I was about ready to rename the show Schmo Millionaire. Katie and I, and it seems Zora as well, felt that he was going to pick Sarah over Zora. His speech to Zora had the perfect amount of suspense to keep viewers glued throughout despite his unceasing "beating around the bush." I swear, when he said that he chose Zora, Katie and I both jumped a little in surprise because we were convinced up to that point that he wasn't going to choose her. Thank God he made the right choice. Sarah was in it for the money, despite what she said to him. I love those little "asides" that she has with Melissa because that's when you get to see the real Sarah. I would love to hear what Evan's reactions are to watching the show in its entirety and seeing the girls behind the scenes. I'm hoping that's what we get next week with the reunion episode. For those who don't know, next week's final episode will be the first time that Zora and Evan get to see each other since the show finished taping.

What was also cool was about this "finale" was that Zora got even with Evan by giving her own little misguided acceptance speech. I wasn't sure if she was going to say yes or not. However, her speech wasn't quite as extreme as his was. Once she started speaking a little more positively about him, you knew she was going to say yes. But, with Evan, he just kinda dropped the "I choose you" like a bomb in the middle of what could otherwise be construed as a negative outlook on the situation. It makes me wonder if both of their speeches were prewritten by someone on the crew of the show. This someone went in and wrote positive and negative speeches for both girls to be delivered by Evan pending his decision as well as pos/neg speeches for each girl to deliver to him pending her decision. They just seemed to be too perfect, didn't they? Just the right amount of suspense and misdirection with the ultimate happy ending. Things that make you go hmmm...

Finally, was it just me, or was Fox playing Zora up as the next coming of Mother Teresa? Geez, could she be portrayed as any more of a saint? I will admit that she has done a lot with her life and she should be commended for it (hell, she's done more for others than any ten Americans combined), but to frame a still image of her face with flowers is going a bit overboard, don't you think?

Monday, 17 February 2003: Ah, to be able to start the week by adding yet another victim to the "Darwinism Missed Me" files. There are few greater things. But, combine that with the chance to board my soapbox and you have the makings of a great Monday morning.

Today's honor goes to Pennsylvania State Representative Steve Barrar who is a Republican from Delaware County right outside Philly (thank you to Fark for turning me on to this article). He is attempting to introduce a resolution this month that would order the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to prohibit state stores from carrying and selling wine/booze from, where else, France. Why? Because of France's lack of support of the U.S.'s desire to go to war against Iraq.

Here are some actual quotes from Barrar (his quotes are in italics and my commentary follows each one)...

"I am tired of America always being there for the French through the 60 years of the Cold War, and with billions of dollars in aid... We had thousands of Americans on their beaches at Normandy during World War II, and they still don't respect us."

Well, it's not that we were really trying to help France, per se, in World War II. If Italy or Spain had been the best bet for a beach landing, we would've done it there. We were just trying to stop the spread of Nazism and the French beaches were the best place to spearhead the effort. Not that the French really had much say in this decision nor did they really actively seek out our help saying "please start the attack here, the wine season's coming up soon!" Fighting the Cold War was also a primarily-U.S. led war on another competing political ideology - Communism. Yes, there were many other countries involved and it was for the betterment of the world, supposedly (even though Russia's economy has gone to hell as a result). Yes, we may have helped the French, but you could argue that this was just helping even the score for them being our primary ally when we wanted independence from Great Britain in the late 1700s.

"By not supporting us now, this is the last straw. Something needs to be done, and what better way than to hit them in their pockets?"

Okay, so maybe it would hurt them considering Pennsylvania has the largest standing order for French liquor of any of the 50 states (what this says about Pennsylvanian sobriety is a whole other issue). But, people will just order direct from the Internet or from some liquor store elsewhere in the States or abroad. Ah, the Web is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

This rationale is a bit akin to Prohibition-era thought. Did passing laws really stop people from drinking in the 1920s and 30s? No. Do laws prohibiting the purchase and possession of automatic weapons stop people from being killed by them? No. Has the war on drugs stopped people from toking up or snorting a line? Again, no. Soon, Pennsylvania will just have one heckuva big black market in French alcohol. Ah, what the hell? Go for it, Barrar. This could be fun.

Finally, the creme de la creme...

"I even said to my kids I'm not buying french fries, I'm so mad at the French."

Yes, he really did say this. Do I really need to say anything about this one? This comment alone is worthy of the award. Barrar may have been able to get some people to stand behind him on his resolution until he said this. All this quote does is show how ridiculous his entire proposition is.

I'm sorry, but this whole thing is ludicrous. What's next? Banning German beer and wienerschnitzel? Not allowing Russian vodka and Internet/mail-order brides to enter the country? Forbidding Turkey from exporting... well... whatever it is Turkey exports? France isn't the only country against us in this. Just the most outspoken.

Here's a link to the entire article as it appeared on PennLive.com.

To Steve Barrar... get your head out of your ass. You are really looking like a complete and utter dipshit right now.

Oh, and my congratulations, your award is in the mail. *cough* bullshit *cough*

Soapbox dismounted.

Sunday, 16 February 2003: Happy Birthday, Hon. And don't let her try to tell you all that she's 24 or 25 as she's apt to do. She's neither. So use your imagination.

And, no, she's still not better. So, still no dinner tonight, but we did still head downtown for a showing of "The Guys" at the Lake Shore Theater. Pretty good, two-person show about a fire captain working with a writer to develop eulogies for eight members of his ladder company that were killed in the 9/11 felling of the WTC Towers. True story, too. Pretty compelling. A bit depressing, but how can you exactly make light of what happened? You can't and that's just it. It was definitely well acted though and I would recommend it if it comes to a theater near you.

Oldies: Sunday, February 9 - Saturday, February 15, 2003...

Saturday, 15 February 2003: Well, this has been a helluva weekend so far for Katie. Yes, this is her "big weekend"... being that it is both Valentine's Day yesterday and her birthday tomorrow. So, how does she celebrate? By getting a fever of a 100.3 degF (dunno how to do a little superscripted "o" in HTML to create a degree icon) and a sinus infection. Fun, huh? Kinda blows many of our plans. Since she's not likely to be over it by tomorrow, we're gonna skip going out to dinner for her birthday until such time that she is completely healthy and can drink. Hey, when you're legal and celebrating something, what better way to do it than by drinking? Not a lot, probably just a couple of beers or margaritas. We shall see. Let's all will her good health so she can go out and get blasted sometime very soon.

Friday, 14 February 2003: I'll start by saying Happy Valentine's Day to Katie. I love you hon.

Now, if you recall, last month I posted a few different images with some kind of political comedy. The first was a beautiful Photoshop image of Bush wearing the "One Ring" while the other was just a comparison of Vladimir Putin and Dobby from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Well, even though there was no Photoshop element to the Putin/Dobby pix, I'm still going to include them as part of a new feature on this site that I am dubbing "Photoshopolitics." It will be kinda like my "Darwinism Missed Me" files... just placed in the body of the homepage. They will not have their own page within the website. Not yet, at least. I plan to include various images that I collect of funny original or doctored political persons or situations. If you have any you'd like to donate to the collection, send them on to kapgar5@hotmail.com and, if I like them, maybe I'll post them.

Thursday, 13 February 2003: Usually when a movie I really liked at the theater comes out on DVD, I'll be there on the Tuesday of its release to snap it up and add it to our ever-growing collection of films. Well, Katie and I both loved the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding and it was released on DVD this past Tuesday. It's been out two days and we have yet to buy it. Why? Because the company that released this film on DVD really blew a golden opportunity. This was one of the biggest films of 2002 and is the highest grossing romantic comedy and independent film of all time and yet the DVD has practically no special features whatsoever. All it has is a feature-length commentary by Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, and the director. No documentaries. No behind-the-scenes footage. No outtakes, deleted scenes, or gag reels. This is a movie rife with possibilities for special features and yet there is nothing good on it. I hate running commentary. I tried it once with the movie Analyze This and I had to shut it off after a half hour because it got so annoying. So, in effect, there are no special features whatsover on this DVD. I think we're holding off to see if a special edition will be released. I would have loved to have seen footage of Nia Vardalos performing her one-woman stage show version of this movie. That would've made for a great feature right there.

Wednesday, 12 February 2003: I can't believe I forgot to mention this earlier. This past Friday,thedigitalbits.com announced they had received word that George Lucas (producer, writer, director, and all-around asshole - you'll soon understand why) never intends to release the original versions of the first three Star Wars movies on DVD. They are "lost to time," according to Bits Editor Bill Hunt. What Lucas plans to release is his super special editions which consist of the additional effects and scenes that were included when the films were rereleased back in 1997 as well as more stuff that he is continually working on for these films. We will never see the originals again apparently. If you'd like to read the entirety of Hunt's rant, it's available by clicking here (hopefully this link won't die down the line).

For those of you as pissed off as I am, there is a grassroots campaign starting up over at a new site called OriginalTrilogy.com. You can sign up for an online newsletter as well as help out when they start their all-out war against Lucas and 20th Century Fox. Here's hoping it works. I know I would rather just watch my VHS copies of the flicks than own these grandeur-induced visions by Lucas.

Tuesday, 11 February 2003: Please tell me that I am not the only one who was thoroughly infuriated by last night's episode of Joe Millionaire. What a load of BS! I can't believe that they would pull a flashback episode on us and make us wait another week for Evan's decision. I also can't believe I'm as into this show as I am. And I used to curse the very concept of "reality TV."

Well, I guess we have to wait yet another week for him to, hopefully, pick Zora. That's obviously who he would be best with. I was checking out some of the message boards on the Joe Millionaire site (go tofox.com to find them), and more than a majority agree that Zora is the best. She's the least pretentious of the two and the most similar in personality to Evan. Those that didn't pick Zora did so because they either feel that Evan and his big lie don't deserve her or they want to see Sarah's reaction when Evan reveals that he has no money. While I agree that I would like to see her reaction, I'd rather see him be with Zora. I still think she might actually forgive him for the lie. Long shot, but a better chance with her.

What's more interesting is that they're bringing back all 20 of the contestants for next week's two-hour finale. That should be interesting. They're going to air some of the women's opinions about Evan now that it's all said and done. Another poster on the message board thought it might be interesting if Evan were given the opportunity to go back and pick one of the women that he dropped earlier in the show to replace one of the two women that were still remaining. Interesting twist indeed. I dunno if it would work though. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Monday, 10 February 2003: I am truly getting tired of spam in my e-mail. "Save money." "Refinance Now!" "A Business Opportunity for You!" "Enlarge your penis five inches naturally!" "Hot wet teenaged girls get it on with a horse!" Okay, enough already! Do you really think I give a goddamn about any of this? What does it benefit you sending out all this crap? Isn't there some kind of law that prohibits this sort of garbage from being sent out especially when these porn e-mails are being received by kids under the age of 18?

That is the one big downfall of having a web-based e-mail address hosted by a big name like Hotmail. Back when I was with USA.net, the spam was very limited. Probably a combination of having a lesser-known e-mail service and that spam wasn't being sent at the level that it now is. So, I'm in the process of trying out new, free e-mail services in order to test to what level the spam gets through. No, this isn't some scientific experiment. It's purely personal. If I can find a good e-mail service that helps me avoid spam, I will have all my friends start e-mailing me there and reserve my Hotmail account for anytime I order something online or sign up at some website. Ideally, this new one I'm trying will work. I'll let you know. Maybe. Actually, I may not even announce my new e-mail on this site as I don't want spammers picking up on it from here. They will do that, you know.

Sunday, 9 February 2003: A while back, I think I mentioned how Katie and I joined our park district fitness center. It's been paying off. We've both started losing weight again and we've been running very regularly (on treadmills, of course) and weight lifting. Yesterday, we both ran a straight two miles. This may not sound like much to some of you. But, to us, it's a big deal. Neither of us have done hardcore running in a few years (except me running outdoors a couple of times a week in December). Now, we're running four to five times a week for at least a mile at a pop. Now that we've gotten ourselves up to two miles, we may try to make that our goal each time. Oh yeah, I was running at a ten-minute-mile pace. That has improved from my twelve-minute-mile pace of three weeks ago. And I think I may even speed that up sometime later this week or early next week. It was feeling a bit slow during my two-mile jaunt. Here's hoping.

Oldies: Sunday, February 2 - Saturday, February 8, 2003...

Saturday, 8 February 2003: I should probably take a picture of it, but, Katie had a field day with my dry-erase schedule board in my office. Since this is "her month," she decorated it with her birthday, Valentine's Day, etc. and wrote several reminders of how many shopping days I had left until the big day... being her birthday, of course. Now, if she read this entry, she would learn that I bought her gift a week ago (which I did tell her, but I don't think she believed me) and it's in hiding somewhere at home. Let's see what she does. Oh, and for those of you counting, there's eight shopping days left.

Friday, 7 February 2003: Okay, so we have now been elevated to level orange in the Homeland Security Advisory System. According to the AP, a "growing number of intelligence reports warned of the possibility of terrorist attacks." Is any of this really affecting how any of you people react to the world around you? Do you really keep a more careful eye out on what is happening and who is near you when these terror threats are announced? Maybe I'm just weird because I truly do not give a rat's ass. If terrorists want to attack, I really don't think we're ever going to know when and where it will happen. Supposedly, this information came from terror suspects that are already in custody. What is the likelihood that they are telling the truth. In all honesty, I think they're just sitting in their cells thinking, "how can I mess with their heads a little more today?" In my humble opinion, I think all this Advisory System is doing is making some of us far more paranoid and untrusting of our fellow man. Isn't there enough hatred and distrust in this world already without having the government tell us to question those around us even more? I do appreciate that the government is just trying to help us by warning us of a threat, but how long will it be until we just get tired of all this "crying wolf" and cease to pay attention completely?

So, it is in this spirit that I say go out and have yourselves a grand old time, folks. Make friends with a complete stranger. Don't stress out over something you can't control. Live your life for it's far too short anyway. Don't forget to breathe (it's very important). And do not, I repeat do not, let your life become overwhelmed by fear. Too much fear is a dangerous thing.

Thursday, 6 February 2003: I don't really want to put this guy in the "Darwinism Missed Me" file because, honestly, it's not as though he's particularly stupid. This is just one funny story. According to a story on the Everything Alabama website (I got the link from Fark... I don't normally seek out southern-baked news sites), 31-year-old man from Athens, Alabama named Jesus Santana was busted for selling marijuana. Not typically your big news story, I know. However, what makes this one interesting is that Santana was busted while rolling joints with pages of the Bible as his rolling papers. Thus prompting God to spontaneously create the 11th Commandment, "thou shalt not smoke me." Heh. Sorry, bad joke. If you want to even call it that.

Wednesday, 5 February 2003: This should definitely be interesting. The Doors, the iconic rock group from the 60s, are reforming for a tour presumably this year. The only original members of the band returning are keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robbie Krieger. Drummer John Densmore has bad ears and tinnitus which would keep him from being able to play live and is, therefore, not returning for the reunion. And, obviously, Jim Morrison is not returning as he's currently suffering from a mild case of death (sorry, stole that little gem from last week's Scrubs). So, they've both been replaced. Densmore by former Police drummer Stewart Copeland and Morrison by former Cult frontman Ian Astbury. Thankfully, the band is not banking entirely on their past fame as they've changed their name to "The Doors, 21st Century." I guess just so long as Astbury doesn't walk on stage trying to act out his best Morrison impersonation it will be semi-okay. Hmmm...

Update: Okay, so maybe it's not the bad ears and tinnitus that the first article claimed that is keeping Densmore from the reunion. Maybe his former bandmates never asked him to rejoin. Who knows why? All I know for sure is that Densmore has, as of this morning, filed suit against Krieger and Manzarek charging breach of contract, trademark infringement, and unfair competition. Densmore does not want them to use the name "Doors" as the two of them do not constitute an accurate representation of the original band. The apparently scorned drummer said that they should bill themselves as "former members of the Doors. It could be Windows, the Hinges, I don't care what it is" just so long as it's not the Doors. Manzarek and Krieger feel that using the name "The Doors, 21st Century" is enough to avoid any confusion in the minds of fans and distinguish them as not exactly the original Doors. Oh, and it may not be an entire tour that the new Doors (Hinges, Windows, etc.) will be embarking on, at least not yet. It's just one show in Los Angeles this Friday and Densmore is not looking to stop this show because he does not want to alienate longtime fans. He just doesn't want the name "Doors" to be used. Aye aye aye.

Tuesday, 4 February 2003: Okay, since the field has been narrowed down to two women, it's time to start passing judgement on some of the decisions that Joe Millionaire Evan Wallace Marriott has made thus far. My wife finally caught up on the last three weeks of shows last night and I was able to rewatch them to give myself a bit of a refresher on what happened.

It's hard to make any really thoughtful comments about the first two waves of cuts (20 down to 12 and 12 down to 5) since nobody - Evan included - really had much of a chance to get to know them. However, I am glad that Heidi was cut. She was a conniving bitch to say the least.

The next to go was Allison and I hated seeing her cut. She was my second favorite girl on the show. I know she told Evan she wasn't sure she wanted to keep going. But, as both of them stated in their camera "asides," this revelation really helped break the ice between them and the remainder of their date went very smoothly. I figured Evan would have been bright enough to take that into consideration and deduce that maybe her mind might have changed as a result. Bummer.

The next cut was Melissa Jo (or "Mojo" as we've all come to know her). I wasn't particularly sad to see her go as the whole poem and puzzle were a bit on the freaky side of reality. Perhaps she should have waited until she made it to the top two before she presented him with this "gift." Evan really dug her up to this point. Despite this fact, I'm really surprised that it wasn't Melissa that was cut considering the outcome of the dates. I know that cooking wasn't much of a date, but she put in no effort whatsoever. She just kinda stood around watching like a complete idiot.

Which brings us to last night's round of eliminations. Finally, Melissa got the old heave-ho (no pun intended) although I was hoping to see Sarah get cut. Yes, her fanciful nature and high-class tastes really intrigue Evan. But you think he could deduce that, based on her tastes, she's definitely in it for the money. Do you really think she could lower herself to a lifestyle where her husband only makes $19,000? Not quite.

My recommendation for the final episode is to pick Zora. She is my and my wife's favorite girl on the show and has been since the first episode. Yes, she's a bit removed from all the glitz and glam and doesn't really have a demeanor that fits in with the rest of the girls vying for Evan's love. But, she and Evan seem really great together. She doesn't appear to be putting up any sort of fake front to attract him. In fact, she seems like the most honest of the bunch. And, it should be obvious to Evan that she would be able to live with the fact that he's just a construction worker. Hell, she's only a substitute teacher (although I'm not sure Evan knows what their professions are - imagine what he'd think if he knew about Sarah's videos). She's not exactly accustomed to tons of money, would you think?

Well, I don't think any of them would really have to worry about the money aspect of things when you take into consideration that the post-Joe windfall would result in several of them being relatively well off just from making the rounds on the talk show circuit.

Soapbox dismounted.

Monday, 3 February 2003: I guess you can file this one under "I never thought I'd see this happen"...

The Vatican, via the Reverend Don Peter Fleetwood, has given its seal of approval to the Harry Potter series of books. According to an AP article, Fleetwood was responding to questions raised following the release of a Vatican document addressing the New Age phenomenon. In it, Fleetwood said, "I don't see any, any problems in the Harry Potter series." He further stated, "If I have understood well the intentions of Harry Potter's author, [the books] help children to see the difference between good and evil... and she is very clear on this."

I give this guy snaps. In a day and age when it seems oh-so-fashionable to say that Harry Potter and its author J.K. Rowling are out there trying to corrupt the youth of the world, here comes a higher up from within the Vatican thwarting these zealots. This really restores my faith in the ability of the church to see these books for what they really are... diversions with a positive message. This should get all these anti-Potterites out there to shut the hell up. Not likely, but one can hope.

Sunday, 2 February 2003: Yesterday, despite what happened during the morning, Katie and I had a really good day. Neither of us had to work, so we had a pretty lazy morning and afternoon. We watched some of the Columbia reports, obviously, as it was nearly impossible to tear yourself away from it or find a channel that wasn't covering the events in some way, shape, or form. When we finally did pull ourselves away, we watched some of our taped TV shows from last week.

That night, we went out to the Woodfield Mall area and grabbed dinner at Joe's Crab Shack before we headed in to the All-State Arena (formerly the Rosemont Horizon) to catch the Smuckers Stars on Ice. Wow. That's really all I can say. If you can find me a bunch of athletes that are in better physical shape than figure skaters, I'd like to see it. These men and women are in the best physical condition of anyone I've ever seen in my life. Yet, they look good doing it. They're not like body builders who are just all muscle. That tends to get to be a bit too much. This show featured the likes of Kurt Browning, Katarina Witt, Todd Eldredge, Jamie Sale, David Pelletier, Elena Berezhnaya, and Anton Sikharulidze, among others. They put on a show like no other. I was completely entranced.

Okay, so maybe some people look at it as a bit sissified for a man to like figure skating. Especially for a man who's supposedly such a big fan of the rough and tumble nature of football. One who went to three Bears games this season and watched football every weekend only to follow the Super Bowl weekend with a trip to Stars on Ice. I don't care. I love figure skating. I will admit it loudly and proudly. To top all this off, our tickets were free and we had private box seats courtesy of the Daily Herald (a local newspaper). Even better than that was that I got to see Jamie Sale live. Yes, gentlemen, she's just as beautiful in the flesh as she was at last year's Olympics. Damn.

Oldies: Sunday, January 26 - Saturday, February 1, 2003...

Saturday, 1 February 2003: It's never a good sign when you wake up to the news that Katie and I, as well as the rest of the world, woke up to this morning. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry today. When I first turned on the TV, I was watching images of the vapor trails that the shuttle was leaving in its wake as it traveled across the Texas sky. Then I saw it breaking up. I thought I was watching the Challenger footage until I remembered that the Challenger was moving upward in all video accounts and blew in two different directions. The sight this morning was of several streaks moving parallel to each other. That's when I knew something was horribly wrong and I wasn't watching archival footage. The fallout from this is going to be nasty to say the least.

May God bless the souls of those who died.

Thursday, 30 January 2003: Today, you can just call these the "Political Picture Pages." I've got a few shots here that are really pretty funny so, by all means, enjoy... [pictures disappeared into the ether]

This explains soooo much...

Also, there has been debate raging lately on the Web about whether or not Russian President Vladimir Putin served as the basis for the appearance of the character Dobby in the film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. From what I hear, Russian lawyers are taking aim at Warner Bros., hitting them with a lawsuit regarding likeness rights or some such crap. You tell me... separated at birth or not?

Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for Vladimir Putin and I am really intrigued by the guy. He has such a shady past as a former KGB honcho and is now the president of an un-Communist version of his country. He's got a tough job, but he seems to be doing pretty well thus far. Plus, he doesn't support attacking Iraq without exhausting diplomatic options first. Seriously though, the likeness is pretty uncanny. I'd like to learn more about him. Can anybody recommend any good books on him?

Wednesday, 29 January 2003: Just finished up a big old argument in the office this morning. One of my coworkers believes that Dubya was "right on" in his State of the Union address last night. She thinks that going to war with Iraq is the right thing to do and it needs to be done immediately. I do not agree, nor did three other people in my office. As far as I'm concerned, he has yet to give any proof that Iraq is doing anything wrong. Which is apparently what Colin Powell is presenting to the U.N. on February 5. That should make for good sound bites.

One thing Bush was big on was instilling the fear of death in us by conveying the idea that Iraq could arm terrorists with chemical and biological weapons that could be used to kill people here on our home turf. Yes, that's possible. But it's always been a possibility. Hell, in effect, the U.S. has done the same thing in the past. Who do you think armed Iraq in the first place? We prepped them for their war against Iran and then they start to use our supplies and intelligence against us. We did the same with Afghanistan. We armed them in their 10-year war with the Soviet Union. When the government was overturned in the 90s, the weapons, training, and intelligence wound up in the hands of the Taliban and, ultimately, Al-Qaeda. Now that's what I call planning.

I'm bitter, I admit. I know we're going to go to war regardless. That scares the hell out of me. I've got two brothers-in-law that are eligible should a draft be reinstated. My own brother could potentially be eligible based on age but may be excepted seeing as how he's 50% deaf. But, who can say for sure until it actually happens. I'm also bitter because one of my high school buddies who I still see from time to time is deploying on Friday. I just found this out about a half hour ago. He doesn't know where yet, just that he's going overseas. He's an M.P. with the National Guard and I know he's doing this willingly, but I still think it's wrong. We're getting in over our heads here. We've got troops in Afghanistan with more going over. Troops in Iraq and surrounding countries. If things blow up in North Korea, we may send more troops there as well. What happens if we are attacked here at home? Pretty soon, we won't have any military to defend us. We're spreading ourselves too thin and not thinking through things logically.

Tuesday, 28 January 2003: Is anybody else out there as terrified as I am about what Dubya's gonna say tonight in his State of the Union address? No matter what, the rhetoric is going to be overwhelmingly in favor of going to war with Iraq. That, obviously, goes without saying. I'm just worried about what lines of shit will be forcefed to the American public tonight and how many suckers out there are gonna buy into it. I'm hoping that not too many people will fall victim to what he claims is the truth. I've said it before and I'll say it again, going to war is wrong. Countries all over the world are branding Bush a terrorist. What happens when his own constituents start to feel the same way? All I really know for sure right now is that with how things are going, we will have a Democrat back in office in about two years. Bush seems to feel that this country, as well as the rest of the world, will fall in step with his views once the war starts. I'm sure that's what Johnson thought back in the Vietnam era. Didn't happen, though, did it?

Monday, 27 January 2003: I was listening to The Score AM 670 this morning for Murph and Fred's recap of the Super Bowl and they had on their phone-in guest host Gale Sayers formerly of the Chicago Bears. Sayers is on the show with them every Monday morning during the football season and is usually just around to discuss the Bears and how they're (not) doing. But, since the Bears didn't even come close to the playoffs this season, they've been discussing other teams as well. This morning, however, one caller asked about the aging QB situation with the Bears seeing as how both the Bucs and Raiders made it the big game with very aged QBs. Sayers felt that the Bears should ditch both Jim Miller and Chris Chandler and pick up a free agent and a 4th or 5th round draft pick. Murph said they should ditch Chandler and third stringer Henry Burris but hold on to Miller since he has the respect of the team. Fred said nothing. Dunno why, he just didn't.

Here's my $.02... Ditch Chandler. Keep Burris as a backup as I think he has some potential (ironic considering how I've ragged on him in the past). Keep Miller but not as a QB. The guy is injured far too often and has proven his immobility on the field and is, therefore, not deserving of a spot on the depth charts. The Bears have not had a QB coach in a while and I think Miller would make a good one. No, he's not the best QB in the league. Far from it, in fact. But, like Murph said, he has the team's respect. Skill and knowledge only go so far. To be an effective coach, you need to have skill, knowledge, and respect. So bring in Miller as a QB coach to work in tandem with (hopefully) a new offensive coordinator. Ditch a couple of the overpriced receivers on the team to free up some cash and pick up a first round draft choice and a free agent QB. But hey, I'm not in the front office, so what the hell do I know, right?

Sunday, 26 January 2003: I am totally stoked about how the Super Bowl turned out. Both Katie and I were rooting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and they pulled through in fine fashion. However, there were two points during the game when I did start to worry. The first Raiders possession made it look like the Bucs defense was going to get pummelled, but they kicked it in gear the rest of the game until the fourth quarter when Raiders QB Rich Gannon finally started to catch fire with a couple of beautiful bomb passes for touchdowns to the Jerrys - Porter and Rice. But, you just gotta love those last two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns by the Bucs. Katie even called the last one. She said it would be great if the Bucs just intercepted one more pass and returned it for a TD and, two plays later, it happened. She was pretty excited to have made that call. Jumping up and down on the bed and everything. A good time, indeed.