Friday, December 28

Bob(the cat), meet Rico the cat, movie star.

This is a movie I ran across on TMC thursday night. It's a well made documentary about people living in The Century Plaza.

The people living there are mostly down on their luck. I can't believe how candid some of them are - just like there wasn't a camera present. It makes you appreciate how well you have it in life. The movie has some very good special effects (time lapse) and is well edited. I liked it.

Rico the cat ties everything together as he takes you around in the hotel. He is almost a dead ringer for our Bob (the cat).

Anyway, it's worth looking for if you have cable.

The Century Plaza

The Century Plaza

Kevin Crust calls it "expressionistic and compassionate." - LOS ANGELES TIMES

more reviews

Director's Statement

When most people walk their familiar paths each day, they travel from point A to point B, never connecting with those around them. The buildings and landmarks they pass are the only constants. Everything else is a blur. Arthur Libin said it well, "The homeless have always been pretty much irrelevant; they are like characters in play." A character is something you see on television, read in a book, watch on a stage. We like to experience characters because it is easy: they evoke an emotion, and then we go home and forget about them.

My hope is that my film lingers just a few moments longer. Long enough for people to look at their own world and check out a perspective not often seen on our familiar paths.


Built at the turn of the twentieth century, the Century Plaza was at one time as elegant as it was esteemed. Indeed, businessmen, and those simply passing through the city, made a point to patronize this five-story complex sandwiched in the heart of industrial Portland. Sadly, as the century gave way to the development of high-rise and commercial lodging, the Plaza began a downward spiral into the shadow of its towering competition. By the 1960¹s, the future of the plaza appeared as bleak as that of the nomads and vagabonds who had come to inhabit it: A decaying remnant of the past in which to conceal the likewise inferior members of society.

Rico the Cat

Through Rico the cat, the only enduring resident of the hotel, the untold stories of this nebulous culture slowly unfold as he wanders his urban enclave.

Bob, a convicted pedophiliac on parole, resides in a cramped room of the plaza. Struggling fruitlessly to find more suitable housing, his throne is a dirty mattress and his only source of entertainment a television alight with 1970¹s technology. A rusted sink substitutes for a toilet in the corner; his four walls represent more an early prison than home. On the other side of the chicken-wire laced window, and not ten feet away, squats a family of three; Manuel, Chaz, and Devon. Devon is a five year-old boy who spends his time playing alone, while his father Manuel recovers from ear surgery. Should an argument erupt between the two, Bob will inadvertently hear every word, as conversations criss-cross in the light well between apartments. Privacy is a commodity not afforded to these tenants.

Other residents of the Century Plaza include a prostitute, a stripper, an alcoholic, a poet, and a recluse. For some, it is a meeting place, a safe haven for the exchange or abuse of illicit drugs; for others it signifies a luxurious break from the streets and a heated room and bed. Quality is of little importance. Although the conditions may seem appalling to the general population, the patrons are concerned with more important matters than their standard of living. The plaza affords refuge and survival.

Stories unravel by those gripped with mental illness, drug addiction, and disease. Through spontaneous conversations, their captivating tales and diverse personalities will draw your attention, and engross you in their private world. Their contentment with simple pleasures is remarkably humbling. The Century Plaza shows us that there are myriad ways to be, and personalities that are, homeless. Homelessness is not a title and should not be treated as one. Similar to the word homosexual, or Christian, homeless is thrown around as if it encompassed everyone who identifies with the title. The Century Plaza illustrates how truly complex such a title can be.


Bob(the cat):

Tuesday, December 18

Cold shot.

Icicles at work.. Metaphorically I suppose they could remind me of prison bars - but they don't really. Anyway, a short  four (4) shot slide show:

We have big glass windows facing the east. Monster size icicles grow from the roof and gutters because our building wastes heat, which rises and in turn melts the snow on the roof.

I tried taking some pictures around lunch time but by then the sun was overhead / west. Anyway, how many different pictures of icicles can one look at before getting bored? I'm guessing three (3). Ha.

I may try taking some more tomorrow when the sun is still in the east.

Wednesday, December 12


(rated R)

I enjoyed it. Violent, sexy, well cast with interesting, mostly believeable characters. It is about 100 minutes of action and character driven performances. For a direct to DVD movie I felt it is better than many that have made their rounds in theaters. Thanks HBO. (Of course, having Milla in it didn't hurt any.

Kat (Milla) is a beautiful bad girl who has hunger for danger. Kat's boyfriend Big Al (Angus) sell handguns on the streets of New York.

Kat is smart and self-confident but loses that around Big Al. She likes the sex (he is named Big Al for a reason) but also has to endure beatings when he goes off in his jealous rages.

She attempts to strike out on her own. As Kat begins to make her own deals on the street, she finds that Big Al's right-hand man (Stephen Dorff) has deep feelings for her.

And added to this, Reilly (Sara) also wants to be Kat's lover along with Liz (Aisha), the counselor assigned to hers from a battered-women's program.

Kat must try to use her smarts and beauty to get what she ultimately wants, rid of Big Al.


Milla Jovovich: I remember in first seeing her in The Fifth Element. She plays kick-ass, tough characters quite well; Leeloo in The Fifth Element, Alice in Resident Evil, Violet in Ultraviolet, Joan of Arc, The Messanger: The Story of Joan of Arc.

Angus MacFadyen: He looks a little like a blend of Russel Crowe and Tom Sizemore to me. He was in Braveheart, as Robert the Bruce. Also he was in Blackbeard, Saw III and Saw IV.

Stephen Dorff : I saw him in Shadowboxer with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Helen Mirren. Strange movie.

Aisha Tyler: She is beautiful. She has appeared in Friends, 24, CSI, Ghost Whisper, and Balls of Fury.

Sara Strange: Love her big eyes. She reminds me a bit of Illeana Douglas. She has been in Stargate SG-1, Men in Trees, and my favorite late Saturday Night Canadian fare, Da Vinci's Inquest.

Thursday, December 6

Morning fare (faire).

I always have liked Barbara Walters (though how she thinks Posh Spice is one of the world's top 10 most interesting people totally escapes me).
Quick bit of text from Richard Roeper's column, "...there have to be at least 748 public figures that are more fascinating than the Beckhams. The only thing fascinating about an interview with them would be if David could explain the attraction of a balloon-breasted stick figure who "sang" with one of the worst pop groups of all time."

I thought that was more funny than mean.


Sometimes I wish I was home mornings to watch "The View". Ha.

Kidding on the view, but I really do like Barbara.

This is about new panel member's (Sherri Shepherd) view on Christians and ancient history:

In her defense, I think she was thinking about Adam and Eve.

Saturday, December 1

Zooey, Tin Man.

I see another TV conflict is coming up.

Most Sunday nights I sample from the following: the cartoon block of shows (Simpson’s, Family Guy, American Dad) on Fox, ABC’s Desperate Housewives (no, I can’t stand Ty and Extreme Makeover or Grey's), (and if I'm doing well in the pools) football on NBC, Amazing Race on CBS, Planet Earth on Discover, Dexter on Showtime, plus whatever movies are on cable.

I’ll be watching the Tin Man on the Sci-Fi channel (at least the beginning - it's a mini-series - hope it plays out well). It’s gotten mixed reviews and has been mentioned as being very dark. Sounds interesting to me. Plus, Zooey's in it. I enjoy most of the parts she plays.

I’ve seen her in a couple movies and have always liked her odd, quirky characters she plays. She seems to have a “there’s no tomorrow with tons of confidence in herself” attitude about her. She reminds me of Jodie Foster's character in Stealing Home.

Her more well known appearances have been in Weeds, Elf, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and Almost Famous.

Someone who seems to agree with me and puts it much more eloquently is Ginia Belafonte of the NY Times reviewing Tin Man:

Quoting from her review:

Nearly from the first glimpse, DG, a woman-child with pigtails and a soul-squelching job as a waitress in a rural nowhere, seems like someone who would be happier almost anywhere else. She has a sketch pad and some vague artistic ambition, slouchy trousers and a voice so flat you could lay a lounge chair on it. “This town, that job, taking other people’s orders,” DG tells her parents like an emo-style Stella Dallas, “that’s just passing time.”

DG occupies the psychic center of the mini-series “Tin Man,” the Sci Fi Channel’s splashy, high-tech refashioning of “The Wizard of Oz,” which begins on Sunday. She is played by Zooey Deschanel, an actress whose expressions so vividly convey someone peculiarly out of sync with her surroundings that those words almost seem redundant.

Ms. Deschanel is a pleasure whenever she pops up; her brief tenure on “Weeds,” as an accidental kidnapper and keeper of spirit pets, only created a hunger for more of her. She has made a mark portraying young women whose oddness the world cannot quite accommodate, and “Tin Man” would be a lot less — or perhaps, more accurately, way too much — were it not for the presence of her disillusioned placidity.

By the way, if she seems like she looks familiar, her sister, Emily Deschanel is Bones on the TV show Bones.

Tin Man Trailer:

Tin Man Promo, SciFi Channel

Almost Famous, as Anita Miller.

Weeds, Showtime as Kat. (R-rated cut)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Trillian.

Tuesday, November 13

MNF, not really.

For me, Monday nights used to be reserved for Monday Night Football on ABC. For over 30 years I could watch an exciting game and catch the highlights of the other Sunday games during the halftime highlights show.

From Howard Cosell, Dandy Don Meredith and Keith Jackson (replaced the next year by Frank Gifford) to Al Michaels and John Madden, it was always something to look forward to.

Since 2005, Monday Night Football on ABC is on NBC on Sunday night as the week's showcase game of the week. Now, Monday Night Football is found on ESPN. Having big games on both Sunday and Monday nights, I tend to have less interest in them unless it's a really good matchup. Sunday nights I catch most of Fox and either Desperate Housewives or a good PBS mystery show if one is on. Football gets the commercials.

On Monday night, unless it's a really good matchup or if I'm doing well in my football pools, I skip most of the game and again watch regular network fare, catching parts of the game during commercials.

I was 5 of 13 in my pools going into Monday night's game (very bad). And, San Francisco vs Seattle is hardly a marque event to watch. On top of that, the game was lopsided (which is only fun to watch if it's your team leading).

So while Amy snoozed on the couch, I took some pictures of her pets as they were on a typical weeknight.

Saturday, November 10

On this day...

It's been 32 years today? Nothing below is original from me:

The sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald - November 10, 1975

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior 20 years ago. Gordon Lightfoot's song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" (1976, Moose Music, Ltd.) is a tribute to this ship wreck and the men who lost their lives. Some of the lyrics of the song are given below along with descriptions of related events.

"..The lake it is said never gives up her dead

when the skies of November turn gloomy

With a load of iron ore 26,000 tons more

than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty...."

On November 10, 1975 the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior. All 29 crew members died. At the time, it was the worst shipping disaster on the Great Lakes in 11 years. Other shipping disasters on the Great Lakes, in which weather played a role include:

  • Nov. 11, 1913: eighteen ships were lost killing 254 people.
  • Nov. 11-13, 1940: 57 men died when three freighters sank in Lake Michigan.
  • Nov. 18 1958: 33 men died on Lake Michigan with the sinking of the Carl D. Bradley.
  • Nov. 29, 1966: Daniel J. Morrell sank in Lake Huron killing the 28 crew members.

"The ship was the pride of the American side

comin' back from some mill in Wisconsin

As the big freighters go it was bigger than most..."

The Fitzgerald weighted 13,632 tons and was 729 feet long. In 1958, when it was first launched, it was the largest carrier on the Great Lakes, and remained so until 1971. The Fitzgerald was labeled "The Pride of the American Flag". In 1964 it became the first ship on the Great Lakes to carry more than a million tons of ore through the Soo Locks. On November 9, 1975 she departed from Superior, WI with approximately 26,000 tons of ore bound for Detroit MI. Shortly after leaving, the Fitzgerald made contact with the Arthur M. Anderson bound, on a similar route, for Gary IN.

On November 8 a storm was brewing in the plains and proceeded northward towards the Great Lakes. It appeared to be a "typical November storm".

"...and late that night when the ship' bell rang

could it be the north wind they'd bin feelin'."

On November 9 at 7 p.m. the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a gale warning for Lake Superior. In a gale, the wind speeds range from 34-40 knots. The NWS predicted east to northeasterly winds during the night, shifting to NW to N by the afternoon of November 10. At approximately 10:40 p.m. the NWS revised its forecast for eastern Lake Superior to easterly winds becoming southeasterly the morning of the 10th. At about 2:00 am November 10 the NWS upgraded the gale warning to a storm warning (winds 48-55 knots) with a prediction of "northeast winds 35 to 50 knots becoming northwesterly 28 to 38 knots on Monday, waves 8 to 15 feet". Around 2 a.m. the Captains of the Anderson and Fitzgerald discussed the threatening weather and decided to change their route. This safer route would take them northward, toward the coast of Canada. The northern route would protect them from the waves that the storm generated.

  • The fetch: This is the distance of open water over which the wind blows. The larger the fetch the larger the waves.

    • At 3 am the winds were reported as coming from the northeast at 42 knots. The Fitzgerald and Anderson proceeded together, the Fitzgerald ahead of the Anderson. They had radio contact and the Anderson's radar located the position of the Fitzgerald.

      At 7 am. the storm passed over Marquette MI and started across Lake Superior.

      "The wind in the wires made a tattle tale sound

      and a wave broke over the railing...."

      On the afternoon of November 10 a wind shift was evident. At 2:45 p.m. the winds had backed to NW and were 42 knots. Steady winds at 43 knots and waves of up to 12 and 16 feet were reported by the Anderson. At around this time the Fitzgerald contacted the Anderson and reported "a fence rail down, two vents lost or damaged and a list". A list is when a ship leans to one side. Also around this time, the storm's fury had closed the Sault Ste. Marie locks.

      A shift of winds to the NW is very important, as this increased the fetch, allowing large waves to build. The Fitzgerald and Anderson were no longer protected by land.

      Late on the afternoon of the 10th, the captain of the Fitzgerald made radio contact with another ship, the Avafor, and reported that they "had a bad list, had lost both radars, and was taking heavy seas over the deck in one of the worst seas he had ever been in." Captain McSorely was a seasoned sailor of the Great Lakes with 44 years of experience.

      "...At seven p.m. a main hatchway caved in

      he said 'fellas it's bin good to know ya'

      The captain wired in he had water comin' in

      and the good ship and crew was in peril

      and later that night when 'is lights went out of sight

      came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

      At 7 p.m. the Anderson made radio contact with the Fitzgerald and had her on their radar. When asked how the Fitzgerald was making out they replied "We are holding our own". This was around 7:10 p.m.. Shortly afterwards the Fitzgerald disappeared from the Anderson's radar screen.

      This phrase of the song, while romantic, makes it sound as if the crew knew they were doomed. In reality the sinking of the Fitzgerald was very rapid and it is likely they did not know the seriousness of their condition. Indeed, after the wreck a severely damaged life boat was found, and only part of the second. The conditions of these lifeboats suggests that no attempts were made to leave the ship. No distress signals were ever issued.

      "...They might have split up or they might have capsized

      they may have broke deep and took water...."

      What caused the ship to sink? There are a couple of theories cited in the "Marine Casualty Report" by the US. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation Report. Since there were no survivors nor witnesses, their report is based on testimonies and an underwater survey of the wreck. This report suggests that the Fitzgerald was taking on water due to earlier damage from the storm and that around 7:15 p.m. it plunged headfirst into a large wave and sank abruptly.

      Factors contributing to the sinking:

      Raising the wintertime load line.

      When a ship is filled with cargo, there is a level at which the ship rests in the water. This level is referred to as the load line. The height load line is set as a function of season and determines the weight of the cargo the ship can transport. Between the time of her launch and its sinking, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald load line was raised 3 feet 3 1/4 inches, making her sit lower in the water. This increased the frequency and quantity of water that could flood the deck during a rough storm.

      Leaking Hatchways

      The ore was loaded through hatchways located top side. On October 31 routine damage was noted during an inspection and were scheduled for repair after the 1975 shipping season. The hatch covers were not sealed properly and were therefore not water tight, thus allowing water to enter the cargo areas. Once water entered it could migrate throughout the hold. There was no way to determine if flooding was occurring in the cargo bay until the ore was saturated, much like a sponge. Throughout the storm the ship was probably taking on water in the cargo hold though the hatches. Increased water loading, and the lower load line, made the ship sit lower in the water, allowing more water to board the ship. Eventually the "bow pitched down and dove into a wall of water and the vessel was unable to recover. Within a matter of seconds, the cargo rushed forward, the bow plowed into the bottom of the lake, and the midship's structure disintegrated, allowing the submerged stern section, now emptied of cargo, to roll over and override the other structure, finally coming to rest upside-down atop the disintegrated middle portion of the ship" (Marine Accident Report SS Edmund Fitzgerald Sinking in Lake Superior). This sequence of events would lead to a rapid sinking, with no time to make a distress call or attempt life-saving operations. The conditions of the recovered lifeboats support this in that they appear to have been torn from their storage racks.

      "Does anyone know where the love of God goes

      when the waves turn the minutes to hours? "

      For more information on the SS Edmund Fitzgerald see:

      The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald; Lyrics by Gordon Lightfoot, Moose Music Ltd.

      Holden, T., 1991: Lake Superior's wicked November storms. Mariners Weather Log, 4-7.

      Knox, J. A. and S. A. Ackerman, 1996: Teaching the extratropical cyclone with the Edmund Fitzgerald storm. 5th AMS Symposium on Education.

      Ludington (Mich.) Daily News, November 11, 1975.

      Marine Casualty Report, SS EDMUND FITZGERALD; Sinking in Lake Superior on 10 November 1975 with Loss of Life. US. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation Report and Commandant's Action. Report No. USCG 16732/64216, Department of Transportation, Coast Guard.

      Marine Accident Report SS Edmund Fitzgerald Sinking in Lake Superior, November 10, 1975. May 1978 National Transportation Safety Board, Washington DC. Report Number: NTSB-MAR-78-3

      Stonehouse, F., The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. ISBN 0-932212-05-0, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, MI 49806, 1977, 208 pp.

      Please refer questions to Dr. Steve Ackerman/ or John Knox/

      Friday, November 9

      Sidewalk flower.

      (Without a flash)

      Last Sunday I pulled down all the morning glories that had grown up the sides of the porch. I also took down the Halloween lights, "cobwebs" and corn stalks. Now with everything being out in the open, the porch is totally filled with blowing leaves. The wind whips around just right, causing leaves to settle just out of the wind in front of the side door.

      I mentioned that because I couldn't see the doormat when I let Cubbie out last night. It was buried under a pile of leaves. Makes me look like I never rake. Ha.

      Actually if I let them go, they blow into my neighbor’s yard. His business is lawn care. He has a noisy yard vacuum that he likes running when I’m outside trying to listen to the radio. Other than the sound annoyance, it works out for both of us.

      Anyway, it was mild out at about 10:00 PM. In the corner of the porch, by a wood table I usually have potted plants on, I saw a bit of color poking out of the rust shaded leaves.

      (taken at 10:00 pm with a flash)

      It was my sidewalk flower, (my flickr group) a wild petunia that’s been growing out of a crack in the porch concrete for the last 3 or 4 years. I forget about it every year until all the other ones have been frosted to death.

      Some years the flowers are white and red, this year they are lilac. It’s a tough plant; it gets just enough shelter so it doesn’t freeze as early as the other flowers I have around the house. It’s my last link to summer. I’m always amazed it comes back every spring.

      I got another picture published in the Northwest Herald. They used to display a 3 x 4 picture. Now it’s shrunk down to just fit in the header. Thinking back, I should have sent in a landscape oriented picture, not portrait. Less of it would have been cut off.

      This is the picture of the weed that I don’t know the name of. If anyone does, let me know.

      Thursday, November 1

      Joy Division and Control.

      This is one of the bands I liked that always fell under my radar when they were all alive. I always liked rock sound with English accents. Ian Hunter was one of my favorites. And Bowie. And the Stones. And The Jam.

      (One of my current favorites, LCD Soundsystem makes fun of that in their lyrics North American Scum)

      Oh oh oh

      oh i don't know, i don't know, oh, where to begin

      we are north americans

      and for those of you who still think we're from england

      we're not, no.

      we build our planes and our trains till we think we might die,

      far from North America...

      That was an aside. Got off the subject. Love their fake accents though.

      For all the times I heard this song (below), I bet I couldn't tell you who the band was.

      They were, (thanks wiki):

      Joy Division were an English rock band that formed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester. Originally named Warsaw, the band consisted of Ian Curtis (vocals and guitar), Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Peter Hook (bass guitar and vocals), and Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), who replaced three short-lived drummers in late 1977. Music critic Jon Savage said "Joy Division were not punk but were directly inspired by its energy." Joy Division gradually moved away from their early punk rock influences and developed a dark and gloomy sound that placed them as pioneers of the post-punk movement of the late 1970s. In May 1980, after the suicide of Ian Curtis, the remaining members reformed as New Order and went on to achieve much critical and commercial success.

      Here is one of their songs, Love will tear us apart. It's got more than a 1/3 of a million hits so I guess I'm not the only one that likes it.

      A new movie came out in this year, Control.

      (more wiki):

      Control is a black and white biopic about the late Ian Curtis (1956-1980), lead singer of the post-punk rock band Joy Division. The screenplay is based on the book Touching From a Distance, by Curtis' wife, Deborah, who is also a co-producer of the film. The film details the life of the troubled young musician, who forged a new kind of music out of the punk rock scene of 1970s Britain, and the band Joy Division, which he headed from 1977 to 1980.

      It also deals with his rocky marriage and extramarital affair, as well as his increasingly frequent seizures, which were thought to contribute to the circumstances that led to his suicide on the eve of Joy Division's first U.S. tour. The title is a reference to one of Joy Division's more memorable songs, "She's Lost Control". The song title is believed to be a reference to an epileptic girl Curtis befriended while working at a Job Centre in Manchester. The girl died during a seizure and thus inspired the title.


      Which brings me to one of my favorite covers of Love will tear us apart, New Order.

      And a little dated but pleasing, Transmission and She's lost control.

      And lastly a 10 minute, mirror ball, flashing lights, guilty pleasure of mine:

      Perfect Kiss by New Order.

      Monday, October 29

      A black cat, a shovel, a shallow plot, Bloody Sunday.

      Aimer's new cat, Teddie Bear, scared the hello out of me Sunday morning. I went to get something out of the closet and saw eyes looking back at me. It was really dark in that corner, so dark I had to use a flash to take this picture.

      The shelf is at eye level. I'm amazed Teddie was able to get up there without pulling all my stuff down. It sure doesn't stop him around the rest of the house. I'm constantly picking up something he has knocked to the floor and then started playing with. Usually it is pens or papers but he has also dumped a couple of our things off the coffee table (remotes for the digital receiver, regular TV, DVD, stereo receiver,VCR, and the cordless phone Amy never put in the charger - which unsurprisingly is usually dead).

      By the way, looking at the picture, I can see where I put my gloves away last spring. I've been wondering where they went. Good, I thought I had lost them.

      We got our first real frost Saturday night. It killed off almost all my flowers. The ones above survived because they were next to a fence of cucumber vines that must have blocked the chill. Most of my plants in containers survived too because they were close to the house.

      I spent the afternoon digging up dahlia bulbs. I have them in the garden, behind the garage, and outside the house. After they die from frost, you need to dig them up (they are in clumps). I hauled them down to the basement where they can dry out and then be stored till spring. It took me most of the afternoon but in I at least feel that I accomplished something. An alternative would have been watching the Chicago Bears play Detroit. (I can't believe the Bears were in last year's Superbowl. And I can't believe in 8 games I've only picked them right 3 times.)

      While I do all my chores outside, Cubbie just follows me around, hardly ever getting under my feet. We have a lot of dogs in the neighborhood so he is constantly marking spots or sniffing those spots marked by other dogs.

      U2, Bloody Sunday. I just happen to like this song and it fit with this post's title.

      Tuesday, October 23

      The Trail of History.

      Trail of History.

      Sunday afternoon I went to the Trail of History. The McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) holds this every third weekend in October. It is held in one of our nicer conservation areas, with large kames giving it a border to the east and a stream to the west.

      From the parking lot, you must follow a path about one mile thru prairie grasses to get there. I came by myself (meeting Clint and Jen later) so I was able to take my time and snap some pictures.

      Walking up and over a kame, you see a field that is full of tents. That is a kame below though the narrow path running up it was off limits for the day. We came in on a much wider path.

      Each campsite is like a different snapshot of the past.

      Living history interpreters from across the country portray different things that would have occurred in 18th and 19th century America. There were hunters, blacksmiths, candle makers, canoe makers, doctors, innkeepers, etc.

      The main stage had dancers (square dance of course). Another area had jugglers and a couple of times a day battle re-enactments were held in a bordering field.

      The conservation area is located less than 15 miles away from home. I have to admit I’ve only been to it a couple times. I used to drive twice as far to go to another one I was more familiar with. Not anymore. I really liked this place.

      On non-event days there are miles of paths you can follow. Hills, trees, prairie areas, ponds and a stream make you feel close to nature. Our county is one of the fastest growing in Illinois so it’s nice to have places like this set aside, off the beaten path.

      Slide show:

      Tuesday, October 16

      Fall and deadfall.

      Watch out for the truck Gage. Oh well, fate is fate. If he was George of the Jungle it would have been a tree.

      Poor Gage. Poor Winston Churchill.

      Not related but by the way, Aimers came home with a little black kitten last week. Said she was watching it for a friend (Amanda) who was going to be out of town for a week.

      That fabrication fell apart when my brother in law saw Amanda at work a day later. We have a new kitten.

      I have to admit he is cute though dangerous. He has almost tripped me twice running between my feet while I'm walking in the house. I wish I had that energy.

      Keeping with Amy's local sports team nomenclature (Cubs and Chicago Bears), he is named Teddy Bear to go along with her dog, Cubbie Bear. And ironically, the Bears are in a stretch where they are playing like Teddy Bears.

      It had pretty much quit drizzling Sunday afternoon so Cubbie and I went out to the backyard to take some pictures.

      Our backyard borders a field that will eventually be developed. (One good thing about the slow housing market.) The land is sold, but until houses are built, farmers lease the empty land. They rotate corn and soybeans each year. This year it was soybeans.

      I took a bunch of pictures of this plant. I grew up on a farm and should probably know what it is but I don't. Help. I'm betting it is something really common and I'll feel stupid. Until I started taking pictures of them, I didn't even notice the pretty little things. They remind me of crowns or wrapped candy.

      At the end of the garden I have a large burn pile. We throw all yard waste on it and usually burn it in the spring and in the fall. This summer, morning glories grew wild on it almost covering it. I am holding off burning till it freezes and kills the flowers.

      With the pieces of wood and branches, along with the growth, the burn pile reminds me of the deadfall from the movie Pet Sematary. Mine is only as wide as a burn pile would be, but I could imagine it being over twenty some feet wide as in the book.

      To me, that was one of the scariest parts of the book. Below, I've included text that mentioned and described the deadfall as found in google.

      Excerpts and notes:

      Louis experiences what he believes is a very vivid dream in which he meets Pascow, who leads him to the "sematary" and refers specifically to the "deadfall," a dangerous pile of tree limbs that form a barrier at the back of the cemetery and warns Louis to not "go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to."

      Louis wakes up in bed the next morning convinced it was only a dream, until he discovers his feet and the bedsheets covered with dirt and pine needles. Louis still dismisses the dream as the product of the stress he experienced during Pascow's death, coupled with his wife's lingering anxieties about the subject of death

      Its a this point that Louis notices the deadfall on the far end of the Pet Sematary which separated these woods from the Indian woods. It occurred to Louis that this deadfall seemed too "convenient, too artful, to perfect, for the work of nature."

      deadfall - a tangle of weather whitened old branches at the back of the clearing. It's maybe twenty-five feet from side to side and about nine feet high. At either end are thick knots of underbrush that look impassable.

      Thursday, October 11

      Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child.

      Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize in literature
      The Associated Press
      Wednesday, October 10, 2007
      STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Doris Lessing, author of dozens of works from short stories to science fiction, including the classic "The Golden Notebook," won the Nobel Prize for literature Thursday. She was praised by the judges for her "skepticism, fire and visionary power."

      I read "The Fifth Child" this spring while waiting for the last Harry Potter to come out. I didn't know anything about it when I started reading it but quickly found it to be quite different and interesting. It is only about 130 pages but is full of very realistic characters and emotions.

      I'm glad I read it. I will be checking out some of her other ones, probably some of her science fiction. This reminded me a little of Robert A. Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land". In both, there was always a large communal gathering of friends and family around holidays with people staying for days.

      By the way, I got the book at our local recycling center's book sale. $ 1.00 for a hard cover first edition. Yea.


      From the book jacket:

      Harriet and David Lovatt want the same things - fidelity, love, family life and above all a permanent home. Stubbornly out of line with the fashions of the 1960s they decide to marry and lay down the foundations of their haven in a rambling Victorian house.
      At first, all is idyllic. Children fill their lives and re-united relatives crowd round the kitchen table at Christmas and Easter, greedily enjoying the warmth and solidity of the Lovatts home. It is with the fifth pregnancy that things begin to sour. The baby moves inside Harriet too early, too violently. After a difficult birth, he develops faster and grows much bigger than ordinary infants; he is unloving and instinctively disliked by his brothers and sisters. Inexorably, his alien presence wrecks the dream of their happy family. Harriets fear grows as she struggles to love and care for the child, finding herself faced with a dark sub-continent of human nature, unable to cope.

      With The Fifth Child Doris Lessing triumphs in a realm of fiction new to her. She has written an ominously tangible novel, a powerfully simple contemporary horror story that makes compulsive reading to the last word.

      Received the Grinzane Cavour Prize in Italy

      Nominated for the 1988 Los Angeles Times Book Award

      Tuesday, September 25

      Into the Wild, paper and digital.

      Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is a true story of “a young man from a well-to-do family who hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter."

      I read this book last spring. Usually I read fiction. And if I am going to read a non-fiction book, I wouldn't normally pick one that ends in tragedy. A friend lent it to me - she thought I would like it. I had read Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air about climbing Mt. Everest and liked his narrative style.

      I put aside whatever John Sandford or Harry Potter (I'm predictable) I was reading at the time to read it. It's not a really long book but it gives a really good picture of Christopher's character. He uses the name Alexander Supertramp during his travels which I thought interesting - dropping out of society to live in the wilderness but maintaing a link to rock and roll.

      What impressed me the most about the story was how much people he met liked him and wanted to help him.

      The book includes stories from people who knew or met Christopher during his journey. Sean Penn made it into a movie that was just released with Emile Hirsch playing Christopher. I never heard of him and think that should actually help the movie - I think he should be unknown to us as we learn about him.

      Here is an excerpt from the book Into the Wild:

      April 27th, 1992

      Greetings from Fairbanks! This is the last you shall hear from me, Wayne. Arrived here 2 days ago. It was very difficult to catch rides in the Yukon Territory. But I finally got here.

      Please return all mail I receive to the sender. It might be a very long time before I return South. If this adventure proves fatal and you don't ever hear from me again I want you to know you're a great man. I now walk into the wild. --Alex.

      (Postcard received by Wayne Westerberg in Carthage, South Dakota.)

      Jim Gallien had driven four miles out of Fairbanks when he spotted the hitchhiker standing in the snow beside the road, thumb raised high, shivering in the gray Alaska dawn. He didn't appear to be very old: eighteen, maybe nineteen at most. A rifle protruded from the young man's backpack, but he looked friendly enough; a hitchhiker with a Remington semiautomatic isn't the sort of thing that gives motorists pause in the forty-ninth state. Gallien steered his truck onto the shoulder and told the kid to climb in.

      The hitchhiker swung his pack into the bed of the Ford and introduced himself as Alex. "Alex?" Gallien responded, fishing for a last name.

      "Just Alex," the young man replied, pointedly rejecting the bait. Five feet seven or eight with a wiry build, he claimed to be twenty-four years old and said he was from South Dakota. He explained that he wanted a ride as far as the edge of Denali National Park, where he intended to walk deep into the bush and "live off the land for a few months."

      Gallien, a union electrician, was on his way to Anchorage, 240 miles beyond Denali on the George Parks Highway; he told Alex he'd drop him off wherever he wanted. Alex's backpack looked as though it weighed only twenty-five or thirty pounds, which struck Gallien--an accomplished hunter and woodsman--as an improbably light load for a stay of several months in the backcountry, especially so early in the spring. "He wasn't carrying anywhere near as much food and gear as you'd expect a guy to be carrying for that kind of trip," Gallien recalls.

      The sun came up. As they rolled down from the forested ridges above the Tanana River, Alex gazed across the expanse of windswept muskeg stretching to the south. Gallien wondered whether he'd picked up one of those crackpots from the lower forty-eight who come north to live out ill-considered Jack London fantasies. Alaska has long been a magnet for dreamers and misfits, people who think the unsullied enormity of the Last Frontier will patch all the holes in their lives. The bush is an unforgiving place, however, that cares nothing for hope or longing.

      "People from Outside," reports Gallien in a slow, sonorous drawl, "they'll pick up a copy of Alaska magazine, thumb through it, get to thinkin' 'Hey, I'm goin' to get on up there, live off the land, go claim me a piece of the good life.' But when they get here and actually head out into the bush--well, it isn't like the magazines make it out to be. The rivers are big and fast. The mosquitoes eat you alive. Most places, there aren't a lot of animals to hunt. Livin' in the bush isn't no picnic."

      It was a two-hour drive from Fairbanks to the edge of Denali Park. The more they talked, the less Alex struck Gallien as a nutcase. He was congenial and seemed well educated. He peppered Gallien with thoughtful questions about the kind of small game that live in the country, the kinds of berries he could eat--"that kind of thing."

      Still, Gallien was concerned. Alex admitted that the only food in his pack was a ten-pound bag of rice. His gear seemed exceedingly minimal for the harsh conditions of the interior, which in April still lay buried under the winter snowpack. Alex's cheap leather hiking boots were neither waterproof nor well insulated. His rifle was only .22 caliber, a bore too small to rely on if he expected to kill large animals like moose and caribou, which he would have to eat if he hoped to remain very long in the country. He had no ax, no bug dope, no snowshoes, no compass. The only navigational aid in his possession was a tattered state road map he'd scrounged at a gas station.

      A hundred miles out of Fairbanks the highway begins to climb into the foothills of the Alaska Range. As the truck lurched over a bridge across the Nenana River, Alex looked down at the swift current and remarked that he was afraid of the water. "A year ago down in Mexico," he told Gallien, "I was out on the ocean in a canoe, and I almost drowned when a storm came up."

      A little later Alex pulled out his crude map and pointed to a dashed red line that intersected the road near the coal-mining town of Healy. It represented a route called the Stampede Trail. Seldom traveled, it isn't even marked on most road maps of Alaska. On Alex's map, nevertheless, the broken line meandered west from the Parks Highway for forty miles or so before petering out in the middle of trackless wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. This, Alex announced to Gallien, was where he intended to go.

      Gallien thought the hitchhiker's scheme was foolhardy and tried repeatedly to dissuade him: "I said the hunting wasn't easy where he was going, that he could go for days without killing any game. When that didn't work, I tried to scare him with bear stories. I told him that a twenty-two probably wouldn't do anything to a grizzly except make him mad. Alex didn't seem too worried. 'I'll climb a tree' is all he said. So I explained that trees don't grow real big in that part of the state, that a bear could knock down one of them skinny little black spruce without even trying. But he wouldn't give an inch. He had an answer for everything I threw at him."

      Gallien offered to drive Alex all the way to Anchorage, buy him some decent gear, and then drive him back to wherever he wanted to go.

      "No, thanks anyway,"Alex replied, "I'll be fine with what I've got."

      Gallien asked whether he had a hunting license.

      "Hell, no," Alex scoffed. "How I feed myself is none of the government's business. Fuck their stupid rules."

      When Gallien asked whether his parents or a friend knew what he was up to--whether there was anyone who would sound the alarm if he got into trouble and was overdue Alex answered calmly that no, nobody knew of his plans, that in fact he hadn't spoken to his family in nearly two years. "I'm absolutely positive," he assured Gallien, "I won't run into anything I can't deal with on my own."

      "There was just no talking the guy out of it," Gallien remembers. "He was determined. Real gung ho. The word that comes to mind is excited. He couldn't wait to head out there and get started."

      Three hours out of Fairbanks, Gallien turned off the highway and steered his beat-up 4 x 4 down a snow-packed side road. For the first few miles the Stampede Trail was well graded and led past cabins scattered among weedy stands of spruce and aspen. Beyond the last of the log shacks, however, the road rapidly deteriorated. Washed out and overgrown with alders, it turned into a rough, unmaintained track.

      In summer the road here would have been sketchy but passable; now it was made unnavigable by a foot and a half of mushy spring snow. Ten miles from the highway, worried that he'd get stuck if he drove farther, Gallien stopped his rig on the crest of a low rise. The icy summits of the highest mountain range in North America gleamed on the southwestern horizon.

      Alex insisted on giving Gallien his watch, his comb, and what he said was all his money: eighty-five cents in loose change. "I don't want your money," Gallien protested, "and I already have a watch."

      "If you don't take it, I'm going to throw it away," Alex cheerfully retorted. "I don't want to know what time it is. I don't want to know what day it is or where I am. None of that matters."

      Before Alex left the pickup, Gallien reached behind the seat, pulled out an old pair of rubber work boots, and persuaded the boy to take them. "They were too big for him," Gallien recalls. "But I said, 'Wear two pair of socks, and your feet ought to stay halfway warm and dry.'"

      "How much do I owe you?"

      "Don't worry about it," Gallien answered. Then he gave the kid a slip of paper with his phone number on it, which Alex carefully tucked into a nylon wallet.

      "If you make it out alive, give me a call, and I'll tell you how to get the boots back to me."

      Gallien's wife had packed him two grilled-cheese-and-tuna sandwiches and a bag of corn chips for lunch; he persuaded the young hitchhiker to accept the food as well. Alex pulled a camera from his backpack and asked Gallien to snap a picture of him shouldering his rifle at the trailhead. Then, smiling broadly, he disappeared down the snow-covered track. The date was Tuesday, April 28, 1992.

      Gallien turned the truck around, made his way back to the Parks Highway, and continued toward Anchorage. A few miles down the road he came to the small community of Healy, where the Alaska State Troopers maintain a post. Gallien briefly considered stopping and telling the authorities about Alex, then thought better of it. "I figured he'd be OK," he explains. "I thought he'd probably get hungry pretty quick and just walk out to the highway. That's what any normal person would do."

      And the movie trailer, Into the Wild:

      Friday, September 21

      Nailed it. (riveting news?)

      The Northwest Herald: link to actual article here. This is our local paper (and local stupidity it seems too). I sent the article to the Obscure Store and reading room , who are usually are laden with Wisconsin oddities (our neighboring state - had to get a comment in). Ha.

      I love reading the paper every night after work. Make a drink, turn on radio in the garage, and take a seat on the picnic table. Read.

      We've had some entertaining news lately; a FORMER FISHING GUIDE TURNED
      vegan teacher trying to change the middle school menu (before he was suspended), a mother complaining it was too hot in the classroom for her son "Michael" and wanted air conditioning installed in every classroom in the school (which would budget out at about 7 million dollars) - which prompted other letters stating the fact that we have on average, only about 10 days a year where it is really uncomfortable in the heat. And that Michael was probably a "momma's boy". And she is an "IDIOT". Ha.

      The most unbelievable was the story below. Nails in mulch installed around the playground at a day care center:
      (everything below is copied from the paper)

      A sampling of the thousands of nails and other things found in the mulch laid in the playground of the Woodstock Early Learning center. (Kristy Ann Mann photo)
      Day care center, mill sharply divided over nail-filled mulch

      By JENN WIANT -

      Comments (No comments posted.)

      WOODSTOCK – When Melissa Norman learned that maintenance workers had found thousands of nails in the playground mulch at the Woodstock Early Learning Center, she was skeptical.

      Norman, the assistant director of the child care center near Routes 47 and 120 in Woodstock, also has a 3-year-old daughter who goes to the center and plays on the playground twice a day.

      “To knowingly provide this to a child care center, I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.

      The mulch came from G & C Mill, a 10-year-old lumber and mulch company on Route 14 between Woodstock and Harvard.

      Owner Cindy Ojeda said she had recommended a cheaper natural mulch that was not made from reprocessed wood, but the maintenance director for Woodstock Christian Life Services, which includes the Early Learning Center, chose a cedar mulch made from recycled wood that Ojeda said could include nails that would not be caught by a magnet.

      “I would never have put that cedar mulch [on the playground],” Ojeda said. “But this is my customer. Who am I to tell a customer no? If you choose this product, I’m not going to say, ‘Don’t buy my mulch.’ ”

      LeeAnn Atwood, spokeswoman for Woodstock Christian Life Services, said Director of Maintenance Rick Madsen had specifically asked for a mulch without nails and had not been told that the cedar mulch could contain nails. He chose cedar because it would help to keep bugs away, she said.

      The Early Learning Center ordered 40 yards of cedar mulch and kept adding 20 yards at a time until it was up to 120 yards. Ojeda asked why the center did not complain until four days after the project was complete.

      Atwood said the mulch originally was spread by a machine, so maintenance workers did not notice the nails right away. When a maintenance worker showed Madsen a handful of what appeared to be aluminum nails Sept. 5, he found it unusual but did not yet think it was a problem, Atwood said.

      As more truckloads were dropped off during the next two days, workers collected nearly 3,000 nails, Atwood said. Madsen called Ojeda to complain the following Monday, Sept. 10.

      “She was really unwilling to cooperate and help us in any way,” Atwood said.

      Ojeda said it was too late to take the mulch back or give a refund: She already had spent more than $1,000 to have the mulch processed and delivered, and was out about $3,000 worth of product.

      A local group that did not want its name released has offered to provide free mulch for the playground, which should open again in about a week, Atwood said. For now, a six-foot-tall pile of woodchips and nails sits in the Early Learning Center parking lot. Jim Tomasello of Tomasello’s Landscaping in Cary has offered to remove the pile for a reduced cost, but he is having trouble finding a place to take it.

      “Nobody wants it,” Tomasello said. “We’ve tried giving it away, but nobody will take it because of the nails in it.”

      Mulch made from reprocessed wood rarely is used unless is it colored because the dry wood holds color well, said Tomasello, whose company sells mulch. But even for recycled mulch, the number of nails that the Early Learning Center workers found seemed excessive, he said.

      “I was very shocked that [G & C Mill] sold them something that was construction debris and had nails in it, and they dumped it right on the playground, knowing that kids were going to be playing in this,” Tomasello said.

      Maintenance workers also found rusty hinges, rocks, pieces of aluminum cans, and chunks of plastic.

      No one was hurt by the nails and other debris because the playground, which is used by about 140 children ages 4 to 12, had been closed while the mulch was being replaced, Atwood said.

      Stacey Dougherty, who takes her three young children to the Early Learning Center each morning, said she was shocked to learn about the nails in the mulch on Wednesdaysept. 19.

      “I was very surprised that a company would risk the safety of especially children, but people in general, for the profitability of their company,” Dougherty said.

      Thursday, September 20

      Intertwined movies.

      Anthony LaPaglia is best known as FBI agent Jack Malone in the TV series Without a Trace (season 6 premiere coming up in a week).

      Here he plays a cop in the movie Lantana made in his native country, Australia.

      The name Lantana derives from the plant Lantana, a weed prevalent in suburban Sydney. It is a metaphor for the tangled, intertwined relationships that are present in the film. (wiki)

      Ebert says this movie reminds him of Short Cuts or Magnolia. I agree on the Short Cuts and would like to add 11:14 as another movie it brings to mind. Plus I liked 11:14 and always like a chance to post a trailer of a good movie. (It gets 100% on the Tomatometer!!!) I may review it later - I'm just posting the trailer for now. Watch it - it's good.

      Latana trailer:

      11:14 trailer:


      Release Date: 2002
      Ebert Rating: ***½
      By Roger Ebert Jan 18, 2002

      "Lantana" opens with a camera tracking through dense Australian shrubbery to discover the limbs of a dead woman. We are reminded of the opening of "Blue Velvet," which pushed into lawn grass to suggest dark places hidden just out of view. Much of the movie will concern the identity of the dead woman, and how she died, but when the mystery is solved, it turns out to be less an answer than a catalyst--the event that caused several lives to interlock.

      Ray Lawrence's film is like Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" or Paul Thomas Anderson's "Magnolia" in the way it shows the lives of strangers joined by unsuspected connections. It discovers a web of emotional hope and betrayal. At its center is a cop named Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia) in the process of meltdown; he is cheating on his wife, he has chest pains, he beats a suspect beyond any need or reason, he is ferocious with his son, he collides with a man while jogging and explodes in anger.

      Leon's wife Sonja (Kerry Armstrong), worried about him, is seeing a psychiatrist named Valerie Somers (Barbara Hershey). Valerie is married to John Knox (Geof-frey Rush). A few years ago their daughter was killed. Valerie wrote a book as a way of dealing with the experience. John hides behind a stolid front. One of her clients (Peter Phelps) is a gay man who wants to talk about his married lover, and Valerie comes to suspect that the lover is, in fact, her own husband.

      Other characters. Jane (Rachael Blake) is the separated housewife who is cheating with Leon. Her neighbors are the happily married Nik and Paula D'Amato (Vince Colosimo and Daniela Farinacci). When Valerie's car is found abandoned and she is missing, murder is feared, and Leon is assigned to the case. He suspects her husband John, and there is another suspect--Nik, the father of three, seen throwing a woman's shoe into the underbrush by Jane. When Leon arrives to question Jane, it is significant, of course, that they were lovers.

      This description no doubt makes the film seem like some kind of gimmicky puzzle. What's surprising is how easy it is to follow the plot, and how the coincidences don't get in the way. Lawrence's film, based on a play by Andrew Bovell, only seems to be a murder mystery. As it plays out, we're drawn into the everyday lives of these characters--their worries, their sorrows, the way they're locked into solitary sadness. Nik and Paula are the only happy couple, blessed with kids, happiness, and uncomplicated lives. When the evidence seems overwhelming against Nik, we can hardly believe it. Certainly Valerie's husband, or even an ominous dance instructor, might make better suspects.

      LaPaglia makes his cop into a focus of pain: He cheats, takes no joy in cheating, is violent, takes no joy in violence, is shut inside himself. LaPaglia is so identified with American roles that "Lantana" comes as a little surprise, reminding us that he has an Australian background. The other actors, especially Hershey, Rush and the two unhappy women in the cop's life (played by Armstrong and Blake) are so attentive to the nuances of their characters, so tender with their hurts, that maybe we shouldn't be surprised when the crime plot turns out to be a form of misdirection.

      One particularly effective scene involves a conversation between LaPaglia and Rush. It comes at a point when LaPaglia clearly thinks the other man has murdered his wife, and the Rush character almost willfully says things that will not help his case. In another kind of movie, his dialogue could be cheating--deliberately misleading the audience. Here we sense it grows out of a disgust he feels, that he is not a better man.

      Lawrence and Bovell ground their stories in a lot of domestic details involving children: the daughter Valerie and John lost; the sons Leon has alienated himself from; the D'Amato kids, who need baby-sitting and get earaches. After Jane reports her suspicions about the neighbors, she ends up minding the kids, and there is a wonderfully observed moment when the little one gets sick and the slightly older one knows just what medication is necessary.

      Lantana is, we learn, the name of a tropical shrub that, transplanted to Sydney, prospered and became a nuisance. What is its connection to the film? Perhaps suspicion can also grow out of control, when people get out of the habit of assuming that others are good and mean well.

      Cast & Credits

      Leon: Anthony Lapaglia
      John: Geoffrey Rush
      Valerie: Barbara Hershey
      Sonja: Kerry Armstrong
      Jane: Rachael Blake
      Nik: Vince Colosimo

      Lions Gate Entertainment Presents A Film Directed By Ray Lawrence. Written By Andrew Bovell, Based On His Play &Quot;Speaking In Tongues.&Quot; Running Time: 121 Minutes. Rated PG-13 (For Language And Sexuality).

      Wind and rail.

      Sunday my brother and sister in law had a birthday party for their daughter, Seneca.

      It was a nice late summer / fall-like day to mingle outside and watch bit and pieces of football games on the garage TV. Terrible reception but the Bears managed to win, making it worthwhile.

      He is an avid Saturday auction follower. Many strange things follow him home. The railroad crossing above is mixed in with Seneca's playset, jungle gym, trampoline, rope swing, and other assorted toys. (Did I mention it is his first kid?)

      Always something interesting. The windmill is in my brother's backyard. It's probably 25 feet high. I cranked up the shutter speed to stop the motion - it was windy out. He also has a real farm windmill he bought for parts. That is in much worse shape. We don't even get surprised at what he buys anymore. Ha.