Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! Saffron is under the tree, Sophie is wearing her Santa hat, the house is decorated, and stocking are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there...

Stitching, Baking, and Waiting for Santa

The cards and packages have been mailed, the decorations are done, and the presents are wrapped. It's time to settle down and cross-stitch while I watch It's a Wonderful Life and wait for Santa.

I'm stitching a sampler by Blue Ribbon Designs called "Peppermint Twist":

I don't do many samplers but I found the Christmas colors and motifs irresistible! So far I've only done the poinsettias in the upper left corner. I'm stitching on linen called Wood Smoke and the color actually looks like this photo. It's 40 count (i.e., 40 "squares" per inch). You stitch over two squares, so it works out to 20 stitches per inch. This is the smallest linen I've ever worked on and I really like it! I use a magnifier, so it's not hard at all -- and I only need to use one strand of floss.

Speaking of needle work, I haven't yet blogged about our most recent needle felting class on embellishment. The class was taught by Deb (from Stitches 'n' Things) Dec. 13 and I attended with stitching buddies Laurie and Sue. We started the class by wet-felting a Christmas ornament; the rest of the class was devoted to embellishing a sweatshirt with felting. (If you've never heard of needle felting or want more info, refer to Needle Felting Basics.)

Wet felting was what I always thought of as felting. We used hot water to shrink the wool over a styrofoam ball, then embellished it with layers of sparklie floss or textured ribbons and more wool. It was fun and I really like my purply ornament, but wet felting involves lots of pressing and rolling which didn't help my tendonitis.

Embellishing the sweatshirt with needle felting was fun! Here's my finished product:

This is much like the shirt Deb made and used in the class description. When I told Mom about the class and showed her Deb's shirt, she said she wanted a shirt just like Deb's, so that's what I made her for Christmas. (Yes, she knows about it, otherwise I wouldn't be blogging about it before Christmas.)

I cut open the front of the shirt, then trimmed off the ribbing at the neck, cuffs, and hem. I used a stencil to create the flower-and-vine pattern then felted the raw edges. It went amazing fast and I'm very pleased with the result! The shirt is easy to care for, too: just toss it in the washer and dryer.

By the way, if you want to try needle felting, I don't recommend working about Siamese cats (even mixed breeds) who are notoriously attracted to wool. Sophie, my Siamese Snowshoe, tried to help with felting the raw edges and was really miffed when I wouldn't let her lay on the shirt, suck on the already felted portions of the shirt, or play with the wool roving.

Tomorrow I plan to stay home and do more stitching when I'm not baking. I'm making a Red Velvet Cake for my brother's birthday (it was the 19th but we'll celebrate it on Christmas Eve at our family Christmas party). It's been a long time since I made a cake from scratch and I hope it turns out OK! If it doesn't, I'll still have time to get to the bakery before Christmas Eve. :) If I have enough energy left after the cake, I might also make my grandma's date cookies (very similar to this recipe).

Whatever you are doing to celebrate the holidays, I hope you are having peaceful, relaxing Christmas season!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Barney Cam 2008

Every year I look forward to Christmas at the White House. I've never been there but I always enjoy the photos and descriptions on the White House Web Site. My favorite part is always Barney Cam, a Christmas video of the Bush Scotties Barney and Miss Beazley decorating the White House, with cameos by Willard (the Bush cat), President Bush, Miss Laura, their daughters and son-in-law. Other than First Family, the guests vary from year to year.

To see the White House decorated for Christmas or watch this year's Barney Cam, visit the Red, White, and Blue Christmas page. There also link for the previous seven years, in case you'd like to see the decorations or videos.

This is Barney's last Christmas in the White House and I sure am going to miss Barney Cam! I wonder if we can buy them all on DVD? (If so, I haven't yet found the link.)

A Winter Poem

The temperatures have plummeted from the 40s to the 20s with a single-digit wind chill. (Translation for our metric-using friends "temperatures have plummeted from 8 C to -4 C with a -14 C wind chill.") In honor of this freezing weather, I would like to share a poem sent to me by my friend Bob in England.



SHIT, it's COLD!

The End

Stay in and stay warm!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Strange Blogger Problem

Now that my end-of-the-semester grading is done, I have time to think about blogging again. A while ago I noticed a strange problem with blogger but have been to busy to actually write about it. Since I added the code for expandable posts, Blogger's Layout/Page Elements feature is disabled. (For you techie geeks, the error message says:
Error interpreting blog template

Invalid data reference GoogleMarkupException: No dictionary named: 'post' in: ['blog']
This means that to edit my layout I have to remove the related code from my template, update the layout, then post the code back in so I don't mess us the expandable posts. It doesn't take long but I find it annoying, which is why I haven't updated my summer reading list until now.

Does anyone know a better solution?

I tried Blogger Help and several discussion boards with no luck. I'd post the code in question, here but Blogger won't let me. If you want to see it, e-mail me and I will send it to you.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sweet Saffron

I'm busy with my end-of-the-semester grading, but my beautiful, sweet Saffron is keeping me company in her favorite spot.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Way to Go, Kevin!

In today's Flint Journal: Filmmaker Kevin Leffler takes on Michael Moore, Moore-style

I've pasted the story here, in case the link disappears.

Filmmaker Kevin Leffler takes on Michael Moore, Moore-style
by Carol Azizian | The Flint Journal Saturday November 29, 2008, 12:20 AM

From "Shooting Michael Moore"
In his documentary, "Shooting Michael Moore," Davison native Kevin Leffler uses the same tactics against Michael Moore that made him famous. The movie is being shown in commercial theaters for the first time.

Kevin Leffler turned the cameras on Michael Moore -- and now he's getting a wider audience to show the results.

In his documentary, "Shooting Michael Moore," Leffler adopts the famous filmmaker's guerilla interview tactics to harp on what he sees as inconsistencies and hypocrisies in Moore's popular and high-grossing movies.

Leffler, a Davison native who attended high school with Moore, said he wants the public to "see the other side of Michael Moore and make their own decisions."

The movie premiered a year ago at the Flint Film Festival and is being shown for the first time in commercial theaters -- from Dec. 5-11 at AMC Great Lakes 25 in Auburn Hills, AMC Forum 30 in Sterling Heights and AMC Laurel Park 10 in Livonia.

Leffler says he is not a right-wing critic or even an indie filmmaker. He's an accountant and Baker College professor who taught himself how to use a film camera and spent $250,000 of his own money to make the film.

When "Shooting Michael Moore" first premiered at the Flint Film Festival in 2007 -- it won an audience choice award -- Leffler said he was a registered Democrat with no political ax to grind.

His motivation was simple. He wanted people to see the Michael Moore he knew.

"Mike is out for Mike. I don't have a problem with him making money, but don't tell me you're fighting for the underclass and people without a voice," Leffler said.

Moore could not be reached for comment, but Leffler's film is not the first to criticize the filmmaker. Another one titled "Manufactured Dissent," was released in 2007 by Canadian filmmakers.

At the time, Moore told The Journal: "There have been about 10 films made against me. I haven't seen any of them. ... I get so used to listening to the stuff people say about me, it becomes entertainment ... like a fictional character has been created named Michael Moore."

Throughout his documentary, Leffler poses as a "Mini Mike," wearing a baseball cap -- Moore's signature garb -- while he interviews subjects and even a cameraman from the Oscar winner's films, reads contradictory quotes from his books and takes a critical view of Moore's movies.

Leffler sometimes interviews people Moore himself previously interviewed and who claim their comments were taken out of context.

In the film, Leffler tries to contact Moore to get some answers.

When phone calls and letters fail, he trespasses onto his picturesque northern Michigan property -- where arrives by boat -- and plants a life-size cardboard figure of President George W. Bush.

He eventually catches up with Moore at the Traverse City Film Festival, where he introduces the famous filmmaker to the parents of the late Sgt. Raymond Plouhar who was killed in Iraq. They tell Moore that his cameramen didn't divulge the real nature of "Fahrenheit 9/11" when they took footage of Plouhar recruiting potential soldiers in Flint.

Leffler also says Moore's stance against corporate America conflicts with his financial practices. Leffler shows a tax return from a nonprofit established by Moore that invests in major corporations such as Exxon Mobil, Halliburton (from which Vice President Dick Cheney retired) and major drug companies.

Leffler also flew to Cuba to dispute Moore's somewhat rosy view of the country's universal health care in "Sicko."

He said he plans to take the film to some of the same film festivals where Moore's films were a big hit. And he's looking for a distributor.

Is Leffler concerned about Moore taking legal action against him?

"I'm willing to accept that risk," Leffler said.

I'm so glad Kevin did this so people outside of Davison can see what Michael Moore is really like. I can hardly wait to see this movie!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Tips

I don't shop on Black Friday (no deal worth getting up that early for or worth the hassle. I did notice a cool tip in the newspaper the other day. Here is it from an online source:

4. Get the best price without hassles by knowing price-match and return policies. Many stores offer price-match guarantees (if a competitor offers a lower price, they'll match it). Increasingly, Black Friday sales are exempt from all this. Others have a return policy that, in effect, is a price-match guarantee for the store itself (if they drop the price, the difference is later refunded to you if you ask for it). If you know which product you want to buy, and can find a store with a price-match guarantee that honors Black Friday prices, buy it! When Black Friday rolls around, you can go looking for the best price, and not have to worry about whether the store is out of stock. If a store is willing to refund the difference between its own normal price and its Black Friday price, buy it early for the same reason.
Read more at 12 Black Friday Secrets Retailers Don't Want You To Know. Happy shopping!

The Perfect Thanksgiving

Happy Black Friday! To all you sane people who are not out shopping, here're some more thoughts on Thanksgiving. Thanks, Andy. What a wonderful column (even if it did make me cry)!

What's your perfect Thanksgiving?
Posted by Andrew Heller / The Flint Journal November 24, 2008 13:13PM
Categories: Andy's Journal columns

Don't you wish you could live the perfect Thanksgiving?

None of us ever has. But most have had moments of perfection at a bunch of Thanksgivings that in our memory get squashed together to form sort of a utopian day. It's the day we long for that never comes because it can't.

But what if, just once, it did? What if you could have one perfect Thanksgiving?

Mine would look like this:

Cartoon smell tendrils of turkey and cinnamon rolls -- a glorious mix of breakfast and dinner -- would waft down the basement stairs, grab me from slumber and drag me upstairs.

In the kitchen, mom would say, "Go watch TV until breakfast is ready."

Hey, no problem there. Thanksgiving morning has the parades from all over. New York, Chicago, Toronto, Detroit. Such exotic places. To a kid anyway, especially a kid raised in the Upper Peninsula.

I loved the parades. Every kid did way back then. (Kids these days can't be bothered. I try to interest my kids. No go. What's a parade when you've got Xbox?)

After parades, a big breakfast with my whole family -- dad at one end, mom at the other, the six of us in between. Somehow my wife and kids are there, too. Everyone is loud, happy, in pajamas.

We eat 'til we bust.

Then we shower. Then I play football or Hot Wheels with my brothers and kids. Dad puts on a fire and plays albums on his Quadraphonic music system. The kids all take turns trying to find the sweet spot in the middle of the room where you really can hear four distinct sounds.)

Then it's time for the Detroit Lions game on TV. At halftime, my mom brings in a tray of cheese and crackers to "tide us over" until dinner. We're still stuffed from the late breakfast, but we eat anyway. It's Thanksgiving.

The Lions win. (This is a fantasy, remember?) My grandmothers come over. At some point, Grandma Jean, the Scottish princess, stands between my dad and the TV, which she used to do to get his attention to ask a question. Man, he hated that. We kids thought it was hysterical.

Then my Grandma Rose -- the Southern belle -- would play Cribbage with me and my dad. When he would get up to fetch a drink, we would cheat and stock my hand with 5s, astonishing him with a 25-point crib.

At some point, I'd tease Rose about her South Carolina accent, so out of place in the U.P., which would be her cue to tell me to "Go to the first four letters of your last name." (Sounds harsh, I know, but she was kidding. We all loved it.)

Then it's into the kitchen to snitch pickles and olives off the "relish" tray, as my mom used to call it.

Then dinner. Oh, dinner. The table is covered with a red cloth and candles. The good dishes are out, the ones we only see twice a year. And the food. Oh, my. The table looks like an English king's feast, minus the roast pig biting the apple.

We eat. We dessert. We clear. We wash dishes.

The evening is here. We play games. We laugh. We snack. No one fights. No one is sad or dead or missing or scattered to the winds and not able to make it.

Finally, I drop into bed, happy and full in more ways than one.

And then I drift off to sleep.

Wishing it could always be thus.

Got something on your mind? E-mail Andy at

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is having a peaceful, happy family holiday.

Among the many things I am thankful for year is Saffron. After getting worse in Oct. (so much so that we thought she might not make it through the weekend), she perked up and is holding her own. She is comfortable, hungry, and purry. She still has some trouble with gingivitis and is too frail for dental work. Fortunately, there's a injectable antibiotic that fixed that problem -- and it lasts for two weeks. (Amazing!). She woke me up today, as she does most days, by hopping on the bed to give me kisses. She is enjoying her Christmas village and sleeping under her small Christmas tree. I hope to put up our big tree tonight so she can enjoy sleeping under it. I'm just so thankful that my sweet kitty is purry, happy, and here to eat turkey with us.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Star Trek Movie Trailer

After reading "Inspirations for a Whole New Enterprise: How the old 'Star Trek' influenced the new film" by Jeff Jenson (published in Entertainment Weekly Oct. 24), I had high hopes for the new film. It is supposedly influenced by "Balance of Terror" (original series episode), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (movie), "Unification" (one of the few Next Generation episodes I could stand to watch), "Yesterday's Enterprise (ditto), and Diane Carey's 1992 novel Best Destiny (one of the best Star Trek novels ever, in itself a rarity).

The cover story of the same issue of EW, 'Star Trek': New Movie, New Vision also by Jeff Jenson, made me change my mind. That's Zachary Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as Kirk pictured on the cover.

I'm worried. The characters look great, but it appears they are ignoring the Trek timeline by putting all the main characters in Starfleet Academy at the same time (thus making them all close in age).

Jensen's article confirmed my fear. Director J.J. Abrams "was engaged by the possibility of a Star Trek movie 'that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.' That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed."

Oh crap!

More stuff that makes me nervous: "The storytelling is newbie-friendly, but it slyly assimilates a wide range of Trek arcana, from doomed Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to Sulu's swordsmanship to classic lines like, 'I have been, and always shall be, your friend.' More ambitiously, the movie subversively plays with Trek lore — and those who know it. The opening sequence, for example, is an emotionally wrenching passage that culminates with a mythic climax sure to leave zealots howling 'Heresy!' But revisionism anxiety is the point. 'The movie,'' [Damon] Lindelof [friend of Abrams close collaborator] says, 'is about the act of changing what you know.''

What the hell does that all mean?

On the plus side:
  • Quinto campaigned for the part of Spock and looks quite comfortable (and convincing) in the role. I suspect he's a good enough actor that when we see the film we won't even think about Sylar (his evil character on the TV show Heroes).
  • Abrams wouldn't make the movie without Leonard Nimoy (the original Spock). Jensen hints Nimoy will appear in a scene with Quinto and/or Pine. I figure that means time-travel is involved. (No wonder the time cops hate Kirk so much!)
  • Abrams gave "Randy Pausch, the now-late author of The Last Lecture and avowed Trekker, a cameo in the film."

On the other hand, the new trailer (shown before the James Bond file Quantum of Solace) doesn't encourage me:

Only six more months until we can see it and decide for ourselves. In the meantime, keep an eye on Star Trek: The Official Movie Site for updates.

Update Nov. 23, 2008: This scene-by-scene analysis of the trailer did not make me feel any better about the movie.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Holy Crap! Michael Crichton Dies

Holy crap! This was not the news I was expecting to see on CNN today: 'Jurassic Park' author, 'ER' creator Crichton dies.

I've pasted the story here in case the link disappears.
'Jurassic Park' author, 'ER' creator Crichton dies

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Michael Crichton, who helped create the TV show "ER" and wrote the best-sellers "Jurassic Park," "The Andromeda Strain," "Sphere" and "Rising Sun," has died in Los Angeles, his public relations firm said in a news release.

Michael Crichton, here in 2005, was a director and best-selling author. He co-created the TV series "ER."

Crichton died unexpectedly Tuesday "after a courageous and private battle against cancer," the release said.

He was 66.

Crichton, a medical doctor, was attracted to cautionary science tales.

"Jurassic Park" -- perhaps his best-known work -- concerned capturing the DNA of dinosaurs and bringing them to life on a modern island, where they soon run amok; "The Andromeda Strain," his first major fiction success, involves an alien microorganism that's studied in a special military compound after causing death in a nearby community.

Crichton also invited controversy with some of his scientific views. He was an avowed skeptic of global climate change, giving lectures warning against "consensus science." He later took on global warming and the theories surrounding it in his 2004 novel, "State of Fear," which attracted attacks in its own right from scientists, including NASA climatologist James Hansen.

Crichton was a distinctive figure in the entertainment business, a trained physician whose interests included writing, filmmaking and television. (He was physically distinctive as well, standing 6 feet 9 inches.)

He published "The Andromeda Strain" while he was still a medical student at Harvard Medical School. He wrote a story about a 19th-century train robbery, called "The Great Train Robbery," and then directed the 1979 film version.

He also directed several other films, including "Westworld" (1973), "Coma" (1978), "Looker" (1981) and "Runaway" (1984).

In 1993, while working on the film version of "Jurassic Park" with Steven Spielberg, he teamed with the director to create "ER." The NBC series set in a Chicago emergency room debuted in 1994 and became a huge hit, making a star of George Clooney. Crichton originally wrote the script for the pilot in 1974.

"Michael's talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of 'Jurassic Park,' " said Spielberg, a friend of Crichton's for 40 years, according to The Associated Press. "He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth. ... Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place."

Crichton was "an extraordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful," "ER" executive producer John Wells told the AP. "No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation."

Michael Crichton was born in Chicago in 1942 and grew up in New York's suburbs. His father was a journalist and Michael loved the writing profession. He went to medical school partly out of a concern he wouldn't be able to make writing a career, but the success of "The Andromeda Strain" in 1969 -- the book was chosen by the Book-of-the-Month Club and optioned by Hollywood -- made him change his mind, though he still had an M.D.

Though most of Crichton's books were major best-sellers involving science, he could ruffle feathers when he took on social issues. "Rising Sun" (1992) came out during a time when Americans feared Japanese ascendance, particularly when it came to technology. "Disclosure" (1994) was about a sexual harassment case.

Crichton won an Emmy, a Peabody, a Writers Guild of America Award for "ER," and won other awards as well.

"Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand," the news release said.

Crichton was married five times and had one child.

A private funeral service is expected.

I am stunned, sad, and speechless.

More Halloween Cats

For those who thought Saffron looked ticked in the previous photo:

She really is the sweetest, most tolerant cat I've ever known.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Our Halloween Cats

I bought the kitties a costume at the after Halloween sale. They were so excited, the couldn't wait until next Halloween to wear it. Here they are, still celebrating Halloween:

One of my friends thought Saffron (top photo) looked mad and Sophie (bottom photo) looked playful. Actually, Saffron is just waking up in that photo; she took the whole thing well and didn't mind the hat at all. I got several photos of her. Sophie, on the other hand, was not cooperative and this is the only photo I got of her. I'll have to sneak up on her when she's sleepy and try again.

Farewell, Opus

My all-time favorite comic character, Opus, retired yesterday. Berkeley Breathed has decided that, in light of the political climate, it's time to end his Opus strip.

To see the last panel* of the last strip, which revealed Opus's resting place for eternity, readers had to visit the Human Society web site. It was a satisfactory fate for our beloved little penguin (the only thing better would be finding his long-long mother) but I'm still sad and annoyed to see the strip end!

Good night, little buddy, and sweet dreams. May Berekely change his mind and wake you again some day.

* For those who didn't understand the panel: it's a reference to the children's book Goodnight, Moon. It's also an allusion to the fact that although Opus won't be appearing in a regular comic strip, he will appear in Breathed's children's books.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Enjoy this vintage postcard from 1911. In case you can't read it, it says:

All Hallowe'en

When the World is wrapped in slumber/
And the moon is sailing high/
If you peep between the curtains/
You'll see witches riding by.

I like this one so much I bought counted cross-stitch pattern by Lavender Wings! See lots more vintage (and very expensive!) Halloween postcards at Old Postcards (click the Halloween link).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

RIP Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman, 1925-2008.

Obituaries at NY Times and Omnivoracious

Bibliography * Unofficial Web Site

Photo courtesy of the NY Times.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kevin Leffler Gives Michael Moore a Taste of His Own Medicine!

In case you missed it in this week's Davison Index read how Kevin Leffler Gives Michael Moore a Taste of His Own Medicine! Davison film director heads to Miami for movie premiere.

I've pasted the article here in case the link disappears.

Davison film director heads to Miami for movie premiere
By Monica Dufour
VIEW Staff Writer

DAVISON — Davison resident Kevin Leffler was scheduled to head to Miami Oct. 22 for a premiere and release of his movie Shooting Michael Moore, a humorous documentary that looks seriously at Moore, the Davison-raised filmmaker.

Leffler, a certified public accountant and college professor, said he’s been talking with David Baker Enterprises of Burbank, Calif., for a little more than six months about getting the movie contracted. “We were picked up by American Movie Cinemas,” said Leffler. “The first showing will be in theaters at the AMC Mall of Americas in Miami, five times a day, Oct. 24-30,” he said. “I’m very excited.”

Leffler will be in Miami all week. He’s scheduled to give interviews and answer questions Thursday and Friday.

“If all goes well, the movie will show in New York and California Dec. 5,” He said.

“We took the movie to the University of Miami about six months ago for people to watch, they loved it. It was amazing,” he said.

Leffler also won the People’s Choice Award at the Flint Film Festival in May 2007.

He’s been working on his film, which shows “the other side” of Moore for about four years. “I’m working on my master’s degree in making this movie,” he said jokingly.

Leffler a life-long Davison resident, who went to school with Moore in Davison, said a lot of people think Moore has done a lot of good with his movie releases such as Roger and Me and Sicko.

“I thought people should know there is another side of Mike, that he’s out for himself,” he said.

During the filming process Leffler said he was upset when he found Rhonda Britton, the Rabbit Lady in Roger and Me. “Michael gets $3 million for the film and this poor woman got $100. She ended up going bankrupt and tried contacting Michael for help, and he acted like she didn’t even exist,” Leffler said.

“My question to him is: how do you say you’re for the underclass and the blue collar person?” he asked.

With his movie on the road, Leffler now is looking for a distributor to sell copies of the movie.

He estimates his total out-of-pocket cost for the movie is about $500,000. “I’d like to break even,” he said about movie sales.

Leffler said he will be donating 10 percent of the proceeds from his movie to the Flint and Davison school districts.

While he hasn’t said anything specific about any upcoming projects, Leffler said he has some ideas.
For more information about Shooting Michael Moore, visit Leffler’s website,

Kevin, you are my hero! It's about time someone made it clear to those outside of Davison what a selfish %^&** Moore really is. I hope your movie goes national and wins TONS of awards.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things I Will Never Make Again

After a failed attempt to make a cloche hat I have add a new item to the list things I will never make again:

A Kilt
A Cloche hat
Anything made out of stretchy fabric

Why? I fought the hat and hat won -- it's way too big (even though it's a small), and the stretchy fabric is a nightmare! I'm going to suggest a sparkly headband with a feather for Hannah's flapper costume instead of a cloche hat. She'll look adorable for Halloween!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Come On, Frost!

I am doing a frost dance! According to Weather Underground, the low tonight will be 27. Three hours at that temp and all the ragweed will be dead!

UPDATE Oct. 22: Yup! Got it. That should be the end of the ragweed. Hoo-ray!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Just in Time for Halloween: Zombie Tag

Just in time for Halloween! Zombie tag is a new fad on college campuses (according to and article I read last week in USA Today). It sounds like fun but I haven't seen our students playing (yet).

Read the USA Today article and "How to Play Zombie Tag" (from Wikihow).

Dead man on campus: 'Zombie tag' a growing game at colleges

by Matthew Daneman, USA TODAY
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Al Palmer has a slim build, an easy smile, and a near-insatiable hunger for human flesh.

Palmer, 27, of Litchfield, Maine, is an industrial-design student at Rochester Institute of Technology. He wears in his headband the IDs of 17 students who had been humans until he tagged them, turning them into zombies.

"I get the biggest kick out of walking up behind someone who's looking all around except behind them," he says as his group prepares to head out into the night. "It gets your heart pumping, that exhilaration."

Welcome to the world of Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ), a tag-like game that is the latest trend in campus entertainment. An HvZ game typically involves hundreds of students and runs 24 hours a day for days on end; dwindling numbers of humans try to fend off and outlast growing legions of zombies.

The rules are fundamentally simple: Zombie tags human, human becomes a zombie. Unlike movie zombies, with shambling walks and undead makeup, zombies in the game just wear headbands to distinguish them from armband-wearing humans. And they are free to sprint.

Humans ward off zombies with Nerf guns or by hitting them with a balled-up sock — a defensive move that stuns the zombie, usually for 15 minutes. The goal is to still be a live human at the end.

A group of students at Goucher College in Towson, Md., is credited with starting the game, which has spread across the USA. Addicted to the first-person shooter video game Splinter Cell, the students wanted to create a live version of it on campus; it turned into tag and then became zombie-fied, says Goucher graduate Brad Sappington, one of the creators.

"It just unfolded like that: 'We like zombies. Let's find a way to make real zombies at college.' It was alcohol-induced, I'm sure."

The Internet has played a big role in the spread of the game. Goucher students created a website ( that is a repository of information about and rules for the game. And YouTube videos of the game being played at Goucher have found fans at other schools.

Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., hosted its first student-organized HvZ game last fall after one student stumbled across online video footage of the game and brought the idea there, says Jason White, 23, a senior from Indianapolis who is organizing a tournament there this week.

RIT hosted its first HvZ game last fall after Zack Bessler, 21, a computer science major from Lyman, Maine, said he came across information about the game.

"It just sounded like ridiculous amounts of fun," Bessler says. "Does it get any better than zombie-themed tag?"

Daneman writes for the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle.

How to Play Zombie Tag (from Wikihow)

Okay, you know regular tag. This is somewhat like it but different.
  1. Collect at least 3 to as many as you want people.
  2. Choose a spot to play at. Make sure it is a wide space, for you'll probably need to run a lot. If there's a playground structure, you can use some of that too.
  3. Choose the one who is 'it'. They are the zombie.
  4. You all(not the zombie) get a start of 5-10 seconds. That way if you start out in a tight spot you will be able to get a head start without being tagged.
  5. If you get tagged, you are a zombie too. The previous one is still it. That means you are both it. The same applies for others.
  6. When only one person is left in not being a zombie, they win.
  7. The last person alive is the first zombie the next round, so watch out!
  • You don't have to walk like a zombie.
  • The more people the more fun.
  • Make sure you know who is a zombie at all times. Try staying with a friend who you know is not a zombie so that you don't get caught.
  • You could play a variation with a base if you like.
  • Other variations of zombie tag include randomly picking the zombie by way of handing out one marked piece of paper among many. Tagging rules that require both hands and touching the forehead are also fun.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Christian Twist on Halloween

I was appalled by this article in today's Flint Journal. These people clearly take Halloween far too seriously: City of Hope Church in Flint scares up message of redemption. The purpose is to scare people into converting to their brand of Christianity.

I've pasted the story here in case the link disappears.
City of Hope Church in Flint scares up message of redemption
by Rose Mary Reiz | The Flint Journal
Saturday October 18, 2008, 1:00 AM

Scott Statson | The Flint Journal
Satan, played here by Charlie Williams of Flint, scares those attending "Hell House."

FLINT, Michigan — "Warning: Some scenes may contain Christian content."

As they enter Hell House, visitors will be duly warned that what they're about to see will be very scary -- but with a twist.

"We're calling it a reality house, not a haunted house," said Tennison Barry, one of Hell House's designers and a member of City of Hope Church in Flint.

"We're going to scare you, but we're going to scare you more with reality than fantasy."

Tennison and his wife, Ginelle, both outreach coordinators at City of Hope, have spent weeks working with about 100 other church volunteers to create a frightening Halloween experience that also includes a message of redemption.

Joshua Kaminski, 20 of Flint, prays with actors before they begin at the City of Hope's "Hell House" haunted house.

"We really feel that Halloween has become Satan's holiday," Ginelle said. "The church doesn't know what to do with it. They either try to ignore it, or condemn it and everyone who participates in it."

An alternative, she said, is to create a frightening experience "that rivals the scary scenes of other haunted houses, but portrays the real consequences that people face as the result of their bad choices, including the ultimate choice of true life or death."

The Flint couple has organized similar Halloween events at other churches, but this year's project is different. It takes place, not in a church, but in an empty building located in the midst of other haunted houses and trails.

Hell House is in the former Lemon Wedge Antique Store, at 4476 S. Dort Highway, north of Maple Road, in Burton.

"Finding this building was key," Tennison said. "We're in the middle of other haunted houses. The other night, we had 10 carloads of people who stopped and wanted to come in, and we're not even open yet."

Beginning at 7 p.m. today and continuing for the next two weekends, visitors to Hell House will be met at the entrance by the Grim Reaper, who will escort them in groups of 10 through a labyrinth of dark corridors and grisly settings.

Scenes include a mock drunk driving crash, a party-turned shooting scene and a domestic violence situation that drives a teenage girl to slice her arms with a box cutter.

Crystal Pardo, 19, of Burton plays an accident victim in the drunk driving scene in "Hell House."

The actors are adults, high school and college students who "started with our initial ideas and then took off with them," Tennison said. "They're having a blast, and they're very good."

As visitors progress through the corridors, scenes get increasingly intense, culminating finally in depictions of hell and heaven, Tennison said.

"It gets scarier and more emotional until you arrive in hell, which has a fountain of blood and Satan, who tells you, 'You didn't think I was real, but I'm as real as you are.'"

In the final depiction of heaven, volunteers will tell real-life stories of how faith in God changed their lives.

"They've gone through some of the stuff that we're showing in the scenes, but that's no longer the life they're living now," Tennison said. "God restored them."

Hell House is intended for those 13 and older. Visitors who "don't want to be too scared" will be given the option to take a short cut to the final scenes, Tennison said.

All visitors will be given repeated warnings about Christian content "because we want to be as honest as we can be about what our purpose is," Ginelle said.

The ultimate message is one of redemption. But visitors who are brave enough to stay for the entire half-hour experience won't be disappointed, Tennison promised.

"They will feel they've gotten their money's worth," he said. "There's a lot of death depicted. No matter how many times I've seen these scenes, I still get shivers watching them.

"It'll send chills through you."

Sadly, Hell Houses are not new (just new to me). I believe there is a time and a place for sharing one's religious beliefs, but Halloween isn't it. These people are apparently so insecure about a wholesome secular family holiday that they will do anything they can to destroy it. I prescribe strong doses of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Disney's Ichabod Crane, and Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree -- and lots of candy, popcorn, and apple cider.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Beware of the Bear!

A friend sent me this and I laughed out loud. Happy Friday!

Teddy bear scares the crap out of people at the mall.

A Child's Perspective

My friend Joshua, 6, was reading a bedtime story with his dad the other night. Suddenly, out of the blue, he asked "Daddy, why do those people keep trying to kill Jesus every Easter?"

Daddy was laughing so hard he had to leave the room to tell Mommy what was so funny.

For those who don't get the humor: Joshua thinks Easter is a recurring event in the present, not a past event.

I wonder what he thinks about Christmas?!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Romper Room

If you grew up in Genesee County in the 60s, do you remember Romper Room? I had forgotten all about it until I saw "Former Flint resident Lois Whitmeyer reflects on 'Romper Room'" in yesterday's Flint Journal.

I've pasted the article here in case the link disappears.

Former Flint resident Lois Whitmeyer reflects on 'Romper Room'
by Chick Jacobs | The Associated Press
Wednesday October 15, 2008, 7:36 AM

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina -- By today's computer-generated, HD-animated standards, "Romper Room" seems pretty tame stuff for kids. Just a show with a cute hostess, puppets and parades, and a "magic mirror" that didn't fool anyone.

But 50 years ago, Lois Whitmeyer notes, that flickering, black-and-white TV show was cutting edge. And in a time when a Do-Bee meant something altogether different from today, Whitmeyer was one of a lucky few starring in children's TV.

"Everybody and his uncle wanted to be on the show," the former Flint resident and host of the locally produced "Romper Room" show said. "It was new, it was exciting."

Whitmeyer's mementos of the early days of kid's TV are tucked in photo albums. She's not sure where the mirror is -- probably somewhere in a box in her Gates Four home.

And no, the magic mirror still doesn't fool kids.

"Really it was two mirrors," she said. "I'd hold up the first one, with a real mirror, and say the magic words.

"Then the camera would blur while I put down that mirror and pulled up the other one. Then I was able to 'see' the kids at home, or that little Johnny hadn't been doing his homework or whatever the parents had written to me.

"We laugh now, but back then it was a big deal to have Miss Lois say hello to you on Romper Room."

Unless you're a transplant from Michigan, you probably don't remember Miss Lois. Each town had a different "Romper Room" hostess. New York had Miss Louise. Baltimore had Miss Nancy. Every show across seven countries was unique.

The message, however, was consistent: Be polite. Viewers were pleasantly reminded to eat their vegetables, not to put rocks in their mouths, say please and thank you and generally do all the things that a purple dinosaur suggested two generations later.

Whitmeyer stumbled into celebrity through a combination of accident and desperation. The wife of TV programming pioneer Ernie Whitmeyer, she was a stay-at-home mom as her husband helped get Flint TV station WJRT (Channel 12) up and running.

One of the first shows on the station was "Romper Room." Lois would watch each morning with her son, Art, as the hostess led children in songs and activities.
"It got to where I knew the show by heart," she said.

One day, Ernie Whitmeyer received a panicked call from the studio. The "Romper Room" lady had been in a car accident and was hospitalized.

"I mentioned offhand that it couldn't be that hard," Lois Whitmeyer recalls. "I said I could do it."

The next morning, she was. She clomped around the cramped studio with six children every day while the regular hostess recovered.

Studio officials were so impressed that when the original "Romper Room" hostess moved to a bigger market, Lois was asked to be a permanent replacement.

"Remember at the time, TV was still evolving," she said. "'Romper Room' was a franchised show owned by Bert Claster. Each hostess was required to attend training school in Baltimore, to learn how to work with cameras and lights.

"Since I was with Ernie, I knew all of that from the beginning. Those poor girls were having to learn it. I was living it."

In Flint, she was a local celebrity. Kids would squeal when they spotted her shopping, and the TV station often sent her to events for publicity.

There were some close calls on the air. Since the show was live, there was no way to re-shoot gaffes.

"One time I was leading the children around in a parade, and the button holding up my skirt popped off," she said. "Luckily, the camera guy was quick and just moved the camera up above my waist, and we kept marching."

Whitmeyer proved so skilled that she was retained as a hostess. A few years later, she became one of the few "traveling hostesses" who flew around the country to fill in for others who were sick or often pregnant.

"You couldn't be pregnant and work on TV, even if you were married," she said. Often Art would accompany her, becoming an unofficial child of another city.

"I threatened him to never ever call me mom during the show," she said with a laugh. "God bless him, he never did. Some other kids would call me mom by accident, but he was real good about it."

Ernie's career took him to bigger stations in the mid-1960s, with milestones like the first televised basketball games at Madison Square Garden and the inaugural Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. Lois retired, returning to the other side of the magic mirror. Eventually the couple retired to Fayetteville.

Ernie Whitmeyer passed away a couple of years ago, and Lois has been battling a variety of illnesses. She doesn't brag about her past celebrity, but with a little coaxing, she can still sing the Do-Bee song.

"It was so much fun, and I feel I've been blessed with a wonderful life," she said. "I guess the only downside is I don't watch TV like most people. I'll sit there and talk to the screen."

Even without the magic mirror.

Chick Jacobs writes for The Fayetteville Observer.

Frankly, I don't remember much about Romper Room and I don't specifically remember Miss Lois. I do remember how excited I was the time she "saw" me in her magic mirror. (Back then I didn't realize I had one of the most common names for girls my age. I was only about 5 at the time and believed everything I saw on TV.) I'm sure kids today would be bored to death by Romper Room but I loved it and I'm glad this article made me remember it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy Saffron

Saffron has been pretty quiet today and not eating much (which scares the heck out of me). To perk her up we brought home her favorite toy in the world: the Christmas tree box. As soon as she saw it she got all excited and tried to get in before I could remove the tree! Once the tree was out of her way, she ran in, sat down, and groomed. Then she purred for the first time today -- very loudly.

We're not putting up the tree, but I did set up half of her Christmas village. (Our dining room now represents The Nightmare Before Christmas with a Halloween village on the desk and a Christmas village on the buffet! LOL.) Saffron has walked through a couple of times, but hasn't settled down to sleep in her Christmas village, stare into the little houses, or look at the pretty lights. Maybe tonight...

We're just glad to see her perk up at the sight of her favorite Christmas things.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Saffron the Wonder Cat

Saffron the Wonder Cat improved over the weekend. Dr. Amy examined her this afternoon and confirmed that her liver is more distended that it was last Mon. It’s the same as it was on Fri but not any worse. Her spleen is also somewhat enlarged, so the probable cancer is probably not limited to her liver.

Saffron is doing remarkably well for a kitty whose time is limited. She is alert, hungry, bright-eyed, purring, and wakes us up most mornings by hopping on the bed to give us kisses. We are keeping a very close watch on her for any signs of discomfort or organ problems, and loving her and spoiling her as much as possible. We know the vets can't tell us exactly how much time she has left, but we are happy that she’s still here and grateful that she’s not in any pain.

I thought you might enjoy this picture of Saffron in my Halloween village. She likes it, but not nearly as much as she likes my Christmas village. She keeps giving me a look that I am sure means "Where are my snow fabric and my little houses?". Since it's very unlikely she'll be here at Christmas to enjoy her village, we are going to set up at least part of it for her now so she can enjoy sleeping in the village, staring into the little houses, and looking at the pretty lights.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saffron Update -- Not Good News

It's time for a Saffron update.

The good news is that Saffron has recovered from the respiratory infection she had two weeks ago and has been acting much more perky, purry, etc., like always.

The bad news is that we saw the vet yesterday and got very bad news. Since Monday Saffron’s liver has become much more distended, so much that she could die any time now — any time as in we might not need our appointment next Monday. She is ravenous but that’s probably because her liver is pushing on her tummy so much that she isn’t getting much nutrition from what she eats.

She is comfortable, alert, hungry, and purry, so it’s hard to believe she can die from organ failure at any time. I’m trying hard to let go and be ready, but part of me is hoping she will surprise us all (again) and stick around for a while.

I'm very glad that I can stay home with her. I'm trying very hard not to think about the future and focusing on enjoying being with her, loving her, and spoiling her.

Thank you to everyone who has send kind messages with thoughts and prayers about our precious little kitty.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Stitchalot Weekend

Last weekend Stitches 'N Things (SNT, my favorite store!) hosted a Stitchalot Weekend at the Comfort Inn in Davison, MI. There were no classes this time, just lots of time to work on projects, visit with fellow stitchers, and shop in the mini-boutique SNT owner Deb and company set up on site.

I finished the needle felting piece I started at our last class called Black Cat Pumpkin Sitter (by Bird Brain Designs). This is the picture that came with the kit, not my actual piece. Mine looks very much like this, minus the spider on the cat's head.

After that I worked on a piece I bought (and blogged about) last year but only just started: Ursala Michael's Bewitching Banner from the September 2007 issue of Cross-Stitch and Needlework. I couldn't resist stitching this! (Don't they remind you of the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter? :)

This is the first time I've used DMC Light Effects floss. The colors are beautiful but they are a rayon-pain-in-the-butt! The floss is slippery and the stitches don't lie down like they are supposed to. Fortunately, Deb sells something called Thread Heaven, a thread conditioner which is like silicon beeswax. You run the floss over Thread Heaven to coat it and the floss lies nice and flat just like it's supposed to. Because it's silicon instead of wax, Thread Heaven does not stain the floss or the fabric.

I'm stitching this pattern on 28 count Opalescent/Raw Belfast Metallic Linen by Zweigart. The picture doesn't do it justice! It's pretty with a hint of sparkle. Note for non-stitchers: when using linen you stitch over two squares, so this design has 14 stitches per inch, not 28.

I prefer to stitch using a Q-Snap Frame to keep the fabric taught. Cross-stitch originated Denmark where it is traditionally stitched without a frame, so this weekend I also experimented with frame-free stitching. If you hold the fabric right you can avoid problems like carpal tunnel, tendonitis, etc., because the fabric is so light compared to holding a frame in one hand. It worked but felt very weird! I am now back to using my Q-Snaps with a stand to hold the frame for me.

After a fun and relaxing stitching weekend I am back at work, wishing I had more time for stitching.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bradbury at Book Fair

I wish I had been at the West Hollywood Book Fair! Ray Bradbury attended to talk to the audience about his love of writing. Regular readers of this blog (all two of you) know he's my favorite living author and I would love to meet him. I love his stories and I'm always inspired by his essays about writing.

I've pasted the complete article here in case the link disappears.

The Many Loves of Ray Bradbury

by Erik Amaya, Contributing Writer

Wed, October 1st, 2008 at 7:58AM PST
Updated: Wed, October 1st, 2008 at 8:45AM PST

Well before author Ray Bradbury appeared on stage, the audience at Sunday’s West Hollywood Book Fair eclipsed the number of available seats. When he arrived, Bradbury was greeted by applause. Needing no introduction, the writer began to tell the audience about love. “Over a period of years, [I’ve discovered] the answer to everything is love,” he told the crowd. Bradbury loves films, plays, and people. His passion for these things has afforded him an extraordinary life. With a new production of “Fahrenheit 451” opening soon, many of Bradbury’s thoughts focused around the novel and play. His story began with actor Charles Laughton. “Charles Laughton was my teacher and my good friend. He asked me to write a [stage] version of ‘Fahrenheit 451,’” Bradbury recalled. “He took me to Disneyland and I flew over [Peter Pan’s London] with Charles Laughton. You can’t beat that, can you?”

It was on this trip that Laughton asked Bradbury to write a long-form play. The result was “Fahrenheit 451.” “One night, he called me and took to dinner with Paul Gregory, his producer,” Bradbury said. “Over dinner, they gave me two double martinis before they gave me the bad news. My play didn’t work.”

Bradbury famously wrote the novel version of “Fahrenheit 451” in the basement of the Powell Library at UCLA. “When I first got married, and we had two children, it was hard to write around the house. I needed an office, but I had no money,” he remembered. “I was wandering around UCLA one day at the Powell Library and I heard typing downstairs. I went down to see what was going on.” It turned out there was a typing room in the basement with a pool of twelve typewriters. “You could rent one for ten cents an hour,” Bradbury recalled. “I said, ‘Oh my god! This is going to be my office! I don’t need money!’ I went to the bank; got ten dollars worth of dimes. I went to UCLA, moved into the typing room and in nine days, I spent nine dollars and eighty cents and wrote the first version of ‘Fahrenheit 451.’”

This drew applause from the crowd. “So it was a dime novel, wasn’t it?” he joked.

Written during the McCarthy era of suspicion and paranoia, Bradbury had a hard time placing his novel for publication. He recalled the person that eventually did publish it. “A young man came along. He was starting a new magazine. He was roughly the same age as I was.” Bradbury was twenty-six at the time. “He said, ‘I don’t have much money, can you sell me a story of some sort?’ I said, ‘Look, I’ve got this new novel in three parts, ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ can you buy that from me?’ He said, ‘Yes, I’ll give you three hundred dollars.’ So, in late winter of 1953, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ appeared in the first issues of Playboy Magazine. Hugh Hefner has been a good friend for fifty years.”

Around this time, twenty-seven of Bradbury's stories were adapted by EC Comics. “They stole the stories! I caught them at it!” he recalled with a smile. “I trapped them and they started to pay me and the adaptations came out very well. The illustrations were beautiful. I am very proud of my association with that comic magazine.”

Despite the way that situation began, Bradbury feels his stories appearing in comics form made sense. “I started my life with comic strips. When I was nine years old, Buck Rodgers came into my life. I looked at Buck Rodgers. He pulled me into the future and I never came back. Buck Rodgers is one of my fathers. It’s natural I would want to be in comic strips.”

Shifting from the stage and magazines to the screen, Bradbury talked about his early cinematic experiences. “I started going to films when I was three-years-old. I saw ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ with Lon Cheney. I saw ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ I saw the dinosaur film, [The Lost World], when I was seven and dinosaurs changed me for life. I met Ray Harryhausen when I was eighteen and we promised each other to someday do a film together.” In 1952, Harryhausen created the creature for “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” based on Bradbury’s short story, “The Foghorn.”

“The Foghorn” grew from Bradbury’s boyhood love of dinosaurs. Like “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” that love would lead to another film, John Huston’s 1956 version of “Moby Dick.” “[‘The Foghorn’] was the first story in [the short story collection] ‘The Golden Apples of the Sun,’” Bradbury explained. “I gave a copy of that book to John Huston. He read that first story and later told me he gave me the job because he read my story about dinosaurs.” Working on the film was not the happiest of experiences and would later form the basis for the novel, “Green Shadows, White Whale.”

It was during this time that the stage entered the circle of Bradbury’s loves. “I went to work in Ireland for a whole year writing screenplay of ‘Moby Dick,’” he remembered. “While I was in Dublin, I saw the work of Sean O’Casey on the stage there. I saw George Bernard Shaw’s production of ‘Saint Joan’ and these productions began to teach me to write for the stage.” All the while, he would receive letters from friends sure that Bradbury would come home and write something about Ireland. He would write back with, ‘No, I don’t think I will.’ Eventually, that position changed. “When I’d been home about a year, a voice cried out inside my head, ‘Rick, darlin’!’

“I said, ‘Who is it?’

“He said, ‘It’s your cab driver that drove you every night from Gillcock to Dublin and

“I said, ‘Yes.’

He said, ‘Would you mind putting it down?’ So I began to write one act plays about Ireland and I didn’t know if they were any good or not.”

Eventually a friend of Bradbury’s asked about the plays. “He said, ‘Come to my house next Thursday night. I’ll have some actors there and they’ll stand up and read your plays to you and you’ll be able to tell if they’re any good.’ So, the next Thursday night, I went to his house and he had actors there and they read my plays and we fell on the floor. The goddamned things work! So at long last, I was thirty-seven-years-old, [and] I was beginning to write plays that worked.” This would eventually lead to his long form play about Ireland, “Falling Upward.”

Working out of Desilu Studios (now part of the Paramount lot), Bradbury put on productions of plays such as “The Pedestrian” and “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.” Performed with amateurs and minimal lighting and direction, Bradbury discovered despite the technical difficulties, his plays really did work. He opened “The World of Ray Bradbury” in New York in 1964. “You feel your way, don’t you,” Bradbury said. “You love something and you do it. Then it works, or it doesn’t. Then you do something else that you love.”

Eventually, Bradbury even made that stage version of “Fahrenheit 451” work.

I knew some of his stories had been adapted for The Twilight Zone but didn't realize they had also been adapted by EC Comics* (which were collected in Tomorrow Midnight). Now I have new books to look for -- just in time for October (which is Bradbury time, you know). :)

* With apologies to my friend Bill W. who told me this but I had forgotten!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Go Blue!

After a miserable start to the season, Michigan made a huge comeback yesterday in the second half of the game against Wisconsin. I was literally about to turn off the TV in depression and disgust when Michigan intercepted then scored 4 touchdowns in 12 minutes. That's what I expect from the Wolverines!

I nearly had a heart attack when Wisconsin got a touchdown with 13 seconds to go, putting them just two points behind Michigan. Fortunately for us, there was a penalty on their two-point conversion (which would have tied the game), and then they missed the two points. Whew!

Read the details of the game on My Go Blue Football, The Michigan Daily, or The Big Ten Network.

Good comeback, Blue. Bo would be proud.

Photo courtesy of The Big Ten Network.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sophie the Wonder Cat

Sophie, our Siamese Snowshoe, has a new trick. She waits patiently for one of us to turn on the bathtub...

... so she can get a drink!

A close-up of the fine art of drinking out the bathtub faucet:

She also tells us when she'd like to be brushed...

... and she likes to help put the laundry away.

After all that, she likes to crash in her video beanbag. Yup, it used to be mine; now it's hers.

Ah, what a life!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Remnants of Ike in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo got about 10 inches of rain after the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through Michigan. A friend in Kalamazoo sent these pics of the downtown area.

Kalamazoo Kings Battlefield:

National City at Crosstown and Park:

Downtown near Bronson:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall, At Last

At 11:44:18 a.a. EST the sun will cross the Equator, marking the Autumnal Equinox. Happy Fall! Now if the darn frost would just get here to solve my allergy problems...

BTW, it's also Bilbo and Frodo's birthday. If you don't know what that means you need to read The Lord of the Rings. The story starts in the fall, with Bilbo's magnificent birthday party, so I always want to read it at this time of year, when I'm not reading Ray Bradbury.

Ah, Fall... cool weather, beautiful colors, and good books. If only it lasted longer!

Friday, September 19, 2008

SNL: Gov. Palin and Sen. Clinton

In case you missed Saturday Night Live last week, here's the hilarious opening sequence: Gov. Palin and Sen. Clinton Address the Nation.

I never noticed how much Tina Fey looks like Sarah Palin!

Remnants of Ike

Last weekend we got at least four inches of rain (a lot for us) thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Ike. The ditch behind our apartment building looks like a creek!

Black Creek in the Davison Regional Park is also unusually full.

No news on how the new Davison storm sewers, which are not quite complete, are handling the excess rain.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Why I Love Frost

These are yesterday's allergy maps (courtesy of showing the levels of the two things I'm most allergic to: mold and ragweed. Look at Michigan! Now you know why I hate summer and am counting the days until the first frost (usually the first week of October in mid-Michigan).