La Cigale et la Fourmi

La cigale ayant chanté
Tout l’été,
Se trouva fort dépourvue
Quand la bise fut venue :
Pas un seul petit morceau
De mouche ou de vermisseau.
Elle alla crier famine
Chez la fourmi sa voisine,
La priant de lui prêter
Quelque grain pour subsister
Jusqu’à la saison nouvelle.
« Je vous paierai, lui dit-elle,
Avant l’août, foi d’animal,
Intérêt et principal. »
La fourmi n’est pas prêteuse :
C’est là son moindre défaut.
« Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud ?
Dit-elle à cette emprunteuse.
— Nuit et jour à tout venant
Je chantais, ne vous déplaise.
— Vous chantiez ? J’en suis fort aise :
Eh bien ! Dansez maintenant. »
-Jean de La Fontaine


Gaily bedight,
   A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
   Had journeyed long,
   Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.
   But he grew old—
   This knight so bold—
And o’er his heart a shadow—
   Fell as he found
   No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.
   And, as his strength
   Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—
   ‘Shadow,’ said he,
   ‘Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?’
   ‘Over the Mountains
   Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
   Ride, boldly ride,’
   The shade replied,—
‘If you seek for Eldorado!’


– Edgar Allan Poe

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


-Dylan Thomas

Bill Hastings

Listen to me, college boy, you can
keep your museums and poetry and string quartets
’cause there’s nothing more beautiful than
line work. Clamp your jaws together
and listen:
It’s a windy night, you’re freezing the teeth out
of your zipper in ten below, working stiff
jointed and dreaming of Acapulco, the truck cab.
Can’t keep your footing for the ice, and
even the geese who died to fill your vest
are sorry you answered the call-out tonight.
You drop a connector and curses
take to the air like sparrows who freeze
and fall back dead at your feet.
Finally you slam the SMD fuse home.
Bang! The whole valley lights up below you
where before was unbreathing darkness.
In one of those houses a little girl
stops shivering. Now that’s beautiful,
and it’s all because of you.

-Todd Jailer


Thanks Tootie for sharing this poem with me!

Skol, Vikings!


Might not last, but it feels good for now!

Some movie reviews

**Warning – the following will contain spoilers. Do not proceed unless you don’t care about ruining your own viewing experience!!**

I have seen three movies in the last week. I anticipate seeing many more in the weeks to come. There are three things fueling this prognostication.
1) Brenden is offering $5 movies Monday – Thursday, all showings, so it’s actually affordable.
2) It’s awards season and, just as happened last year, my friend Betty is engaged in an effort to see as many of the Oscar (and Golden Globe) nominated movies as possible prior to the ceremonies. And also like last year, I am joining her (at least to an extent) in that pursuit. So far, I’ve seen 10 of the 34 movies that are involved in the Golden Globes.
3) I’m not taking an evening class this semester so I have more free time than I’ve had in the past 6-7 months.

So, first, here is a list of the movies that I have seen that are up for a Golden Globe.
• Black Swan
• Inception
• The Social Network
• Alice in Wonderland
• Red
• Easy A
• The Town
• Despicable Me
• How to Train Your Dragon
• Toy Story 3

So I have two more Best Picture-Drama to see (The Fighter, The King’s Speech), and 3 more Best Picture-Musical/Comedy to see (Burlesque, The Kids Are Alright, The Tourist), as well as numerous other films that made it in other categories. I plan to see The Fighter and The Tourist (and possibly Burlesque) next week. Pretty good!

**Begin (potential) Spoiler section**

The first movie I saw recently was True Grit. This version is supposed to be much closer to the book than was the original movie starring John Wayne. In preparation for seeing the new release, I made a point of watching the original (for the first time!)
I enjoyed the original although of course it seems a bit dated now. But I liked this new version better. Westerns from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s seem to offer a sanitized version of the 1800s. The actors rarely appear to get dirty and never swear for example. I prefer the (theoretically) more accurate representation we get nowadays (but for all I really know, they’re just as romanticized and skewed as films of past decades).

On Tuesday evening, I went to see Black Swan. I didn’t really expect to like this movie; I was only seeing it because it’s on the list. I was surprised to discover that I really did like it! I didn’t know much about the premise or story before going in. And I’m not sure how much others know about what the movie is all about. If I’m NOT worried about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, I’d say that it depicts what mental illness might look like from the perspective of the person suffering it. That the sufferer in this case is a ballerina strikes me as especially true to life. I have known a few ballet dancers and while their experience may not be typical, this movie reminded me quite a lot of what I saw in them. I’ve had one friend opine that the cause of Nina’s mental illness may stem from an overprotective mother. It makes me ponder about possible associations between mental illness and ballet. Do those sufferers gravitate towards ballet? Can ballet push one over the edge? Is there a reciprocal connection? I’ve just known too many dancers who knew that they weren’t supposed to eat anything, who were pushed to punish their bodies for the sake of dancing, who ultimately turned out to have real emotional and/or mental problems. Yep, I am not a fan. But, like I said before, that is what I have witnessed. YMMV.

Finally, last night I went to see Tron: Legacy. One word: Meh. Like with True Grit, I made a point of watching the original TRON recently so I would be all primed for this sequel. I was sort of surprised at how poorly the original held up over the years. As I was watching last night, I found myself wondering if, in 20 years, we will think that these graphics looked cheesy and dated. Right now it looks pretty darn good; except for the CGI Jeff Bridges. I think they should have waited another 5 years to let the technology advance a bit. They still don’t get faces right. Olivia Wilde looked amazing though. All in all, I can’t see that this is a sequel that needed to be made. The premise of the original was pretty thin and this one isn’t much more robust. I still don’t understand why programs are forced to play games. Oh well.

Stay tuned….

How I spent my winter vacation

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, my time off work really needs to be down-time for it to do me any good. Upon returning to work yesterday after being off for 11 days, a coworker told me that she hadn’t accomplished anything (housework, cleaning, organizing, whatever) during the break. I replied that this sounded like an awesome break to me. I know plenty of people who use their weekends and vacations to go do all the things that they normally don’t have time to do. Even their stories of whirlwind travel, snow or water skiing, hiking, camping, running around, shopping, parties, and family gatherings leave me feeling exhausted. It’s a wonder they have any energy to get up and come to work on Monday. But, that is what rejuvenates and re-creates them. This is not me. I enjoy doing stuff but not nearly to the extent that these people do and certainly not all at once. It’s almost like my goal is to do so little when I’m off that I’m excited to go back to work. (Yeah, it sounds sort of thin to me too but let’s just go with it.)

That being said, I had a very relaxed and stress-free break; starting Wednesday, the 22nd. The boss told us to go home at 1:00 in the afternoon and we were only too happy to do so. For the entire span of my break, unless otherwise stated, I spent my time watching tv and playing LOTRO. I don’t remember what, if anything, I did on Wednesday evening. Probably nothing, which is perfect! Thursday evening I went to Camp 4 to see my buddy Aaron play his last Modesto gig before moving down to southern California. It was a pretty good show. The place was packed! I had a really nice time chatting with people, taking photographs, and enjoying the music.

The next day was Christmas Eve and by golly, I don’t remember doing anything all day. Until nighttime anyway. I was the sacristan for Midnight Mass. I also took some photos during and after Mass. It wasn’t as cold out at midnight as I remember it being in past years. Saturday and Sunday I guess I pretty much did nothing (SCORE!!).

Monday was a game day at the House of Robot Pets (HoRP). Ross ran Brandon, Jay, Kathleen, Mike, and I through a short little adventure that involved searching for a missing smuggler and dispatching some goons that were trying to muscle in on his operation. Giacomo (my dwarf bard) acquitted himself admirably.

Tuesday was a rather frustrating day. I had on my schedule: donate blood, take my friend to a movie using passes that I was to get from the blood bank, and play guitar for the first time in months at a home Mass. I went to the blood bank for my appointment and had to wait 15 minutes for them to open; always annoying. Then of course there’s the donation process. I do aphaeresis which involves taking my blood out of me, separating out the parts they want, and returning the rest back to my body. This used to mean a needle in each arm for about 90 minutes. Nowadays, it’s a single needle/arm but it takes closer to 120 minutes. I’d rather it be the first way. (There are other complaints I have about recent changes, but you’re bored enough already.) Anyway, after being there for 2½ hours, I went to redeem some points for movie passes only to be told that they don’t do movie passes anymore. Grrrrr! So I had to call my friend and, with 30 minutes notice, tell her we’d have to postpone seeing the movie. The upshot of the whole experience is that I am DONE with the blood donation thing. At least for the foreseeable future.
The only part of the day that went as planned and therefore well, was playing for the home Mass that evening. Turns out I haven’t forgotten anything about playing, although I have lost all my calluses.

Wednesday and Thursday must have been uneventful as I do not remember those days.

Friday I ran around paying some bills then drove to Copperopolis to do a photoshoot with my percussion group, Burning Sky Musicians. I think the shoot went reasonably well. As I was racing home to meet up with a friend (we had plans to see a movie), I got word that she was feeling ill and had to cancel. *sigh* I wasn’t having much luck with movies to this point. That night, I was in bed by 9:30 and slept right through the commencement of 2011.

Saturday, I finally made it to the theater to see a movie! My friend (from Tuesday) and I saw True Grit. I really enjoyed it! I had watched the original a week or so earlier and liked that version, but I liked the remake better.

The rest of the weekend was uneventful/can’t remember.

Regarding tv. I watched all of the first season of Magnum PI, most of the first season of Lie To Me, some Rockford Files, and various other things on my dvr and computer. Speaking of Lie To Me. I really like this show! It’s too bad that it’s on Fox as that network has broken trust with me. I’m not sure I will ever forgive them for cancelling Firefly. In any case, I refuse to watch new shows on Fox because God only knows if they’ll make it through even a full season.

Regarding LOTRO. I spent most of my playing time leveling my captain, Aluatis and doing the winter festival event. Good times.

So, dear reader, thank you for sticking with this lengthy post to the end. Feel free to leave a comment indicating what you think the reward for your perseverance should be.


Maintenance post

What have I been up to? Well, let’s see. I just finished up a couple of classes here at the college; a radio broadcasting class and a speech class. Work’s been pretty sucky. I’m pretty burnt out.

I just got a new TiVo, the TiVo Premiere. It’s a great upgrade from the box I already had but I’m having trouble getting the mcard digital decoder from Comcast to work. I have a cable technician coming out this afternoon so we’ll see. I re-signed up with Netflix because this box will stream directly. That’s been cool.

I’ve been playing lots and lots of LOTRO; I’ve been enjoying leveling up my Captain. I haven’t been to the theatre much but I have watched several movies at home recently. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Toy Story 3, RED, Knight and Day, some others I can’t remember.

I joined a Middle Eastern/Tribal/World Fusion percussion group and I’ve been playing for a lot of belly-dance events. You may have seen pictures on flickr or facebook. I ordered a new drum that is supposed to arrive on Tuesday. It’s called a cuica. This is a Brazilian friction drum that’s used in samba music. I can’t wait to get it and start mixing it in for our playing.

Family Christmas gathering tomorrow. Work MTW next week then 11 days off. I hope it helps.

And then there were four…

First off, let me apologize for all of you experiencing asphyxiation. It has been overlong since I reported on the burger challenge. Rounds 3 and 4 are complete. We now move to the semi-final rounds.

Here are our results from the last two qualifying rounds (remember, points can range from 8 – 40):

Round 3 (September 29th)
#3 P Wexford’s Irish Cheddar Burger with 26 points
#2 Fast Eddie’s MOAB (Meal on a Bun) with 27 points
#1 Fudrucker’s ½ pound burger with 30 points

Fudrucker’s ½ pound Burger advances.

Round 4 (October 13th)
#3 Sips Sliders with 32 points
#2 Scenic Drive In Knock Out Burger with 33 points
#1 Harvest Moon Dinah Burger with Swiss Cheese with 34 points.

Harvest Moon Dinah Burger with Swiss Cheese advances.

Wow! Round 4 really had some high scores!
In my opinion, the Harvest Moon Dinah Burger was the best burger we’ve tried all semester. Certainly the points support that, but we’ll see what happens when it goes up against winners from previous rounds.
Coming up, the highest point earner, Harvest Moon, will go up against the lowest winning point earner, Chili’s. Two weeks after that, Bacchus vs. Fudruckers.

Stay tuned and don’t forget to breathe!

For Rachel

For some reason, several frozen yogurt shops have sprung up in the greater Modesto area over the last several months/years. I’m not complaining, but I am at a loss as to why this has happened all the sudden. For years and years, we’ve had TCBY and the Yogurt Mill. But all of the sudden, we have LA Cultures, Yogofina, Yogolicious, Oodles, and probably some I don’t even know about!

I’ve tried all the ones listed here and I have no complaint about any of them. I do have a preference for the places where you create your own serving and pay by the ounce. So of all the places listed here, I like Oodles the best. Not for any particular reason apart from it is the self-serve type and it happened to be ‘on my route’. I like that there are lots of fresh fruits to choose from for my toppings and I typically go for a vanilla or banana flavor yogurt with lots of fruit.

However, there is one flavor that I will not pass up. That is the Irish Mint. I’m a sucker for mint. I get this flavor with chocolate chips, Andes Mint topping, or both. Love it, love it, love it!!

The heat of the summer is gone and we’re headed toward fall and winter. I hope that Oodles and the other froyo shops can make it through the colder time of year so that they are all thriving next summer. I know I’ll do my part. Will you? Yes, I’m talking to you Rachel! When are you coming down to help support my froyo habit??!!?! Make it so!

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