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Disney Animated Feature #47: Bolt

Well, here it is...the unofficial end to my quest.... I'll be writing up a "final" wrap up soon to tie it all together....





Annual Fantasy Baseball Post

I generally don't post about Fantasy Baseball because I'm pretty sure that no one is interested in it beyond the people who are "playing." I actually don't like talking about it even when I have a team that is doing well.  It pretty much ranks right up there with Star Trek/Star Wars conventions and World of Warcraft. Geeky and strange. Maybe not to the same extreme, but certainly nerdy. But I figure once a year I can say something about it....

Anyway, "my team" is already done for the season. I'm not even going to pretend that I have a chance to win. The pitching staff has been abysmal and I'm already certainly out of the running.  I'm now pretty sure my prediction of *not* finishing last is wrong. I saw that one of my "phenoms" Clayton Kershaw got destroyed again today. There's not much I can do to change it since A) I have no control over how well my players do and B) I'll never find five pitchers to replace the five rubber arms that currently make up the pitching roster. I'd be better off not having pitchers at all.

It's actually a relief because now I can go through the summer without being annoyed at myself for worrying about an imaginary baseball team.

*I still struggle with the spelling "TEXIERIA"


You Dirty Rat (Snake)

Because I'm in a van all day and constantly bombarded by movement and noise I've taken to not only actually taking a lunch break (as opposed to eating while I drive), but I've been taking my breaks at one of the many nature trails that can be found scattered among and around Holland. The last two days I've gone to Pine Creek Trail. It's on the north side of Holland out towards Lake Michigan. The creek runs through a marshy area and empties into Lake Macatawa. The trail itself has several stretches of dry ground, but is mostly an elevated boardwalk over the ponds and creek.

I entered the trail from the south yesterday and walked about 100 yards before I came to a bridge over the creek. There was a small gradual waterfall (probably man made by the looks of it.) At the end of the waterfall was a mallard hen bathing. I went and sat on a little grassy incline next to the bridge to watch her. She was a little nervous about me being there so she circled away with the current a few times and then retreated to the bank just down stream to preen her feathers.

About this time an elderly woman and a three year old boy came sauntering along. The boy said hello and sat down next to me to toss stones into the creek. I pointed the duck out to him and he quickly got up and rushed down the trail to get closer to her. The grandma followed him and they both watched for a few minutes until the boy stepped off the trail to get a closer look. Right then the grandma let out a small shriek and yelled, "A snake!"

Since this is Michigan I figured it was most likely a Garter snake or perhaps a Blue Racer, but when I got up to take a look I was surprised to see that it was a Black Rat Snake. He had been sitting next to the trail, but the commotion from the grandma and the boy forced him down to the sticks and logs along the creek bed. He was actually a pretty small one. They can grow to around 8 feet long, but he was two or maybe three feet at the most.

I told the grandma and the boy everything I could remember about rat snakes. "Do they eat rats?" the grandma asked, "Is that why they call them that." Exactly. They are constrictors who prey on small rodents. They are also known for their ability to "climb" trees. Not just trees with low branches, but they can actually slither up the side of large tree trunks.

After a few minutes the boy decided that the best thing to do would be to throw a large stick at the snake. It's a snake after all; snakes are bad. (Just read Genesis if you don't believe me!) I politely told him not to do that because I vaguely remembered reading that rat snakes are protected under state law. (This turns out to be true. The DNR website lists Black Rat Snakes as a "species of special concern" because they are apparently rare and in declining numbers.) He's only three so I give him a pass, but he's going to grow up to be one of those kids who likes to torture animals. I've never been so sure of anything in all my life.
Grandma chimed in; "Yes, honey don't do that. We need the bad animals too." 

I'm no Steve Irwin so I don't claim to know that much about snakes, but I wouldn't consider a snake that is really only a danger to small pesty animals like rats and mice a "bad animal." In fact I'm not sure I would consider any animal bad. Except for house cats. In my house anyway.


Those Who Labor In The Earth

Ready For Planting, originally uploaded by G Bev.

"Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God..." - Thomas Jefferson

Thanks to a break from the rain and cold we were finally able to do part two of our square foot garden project. This is exciting because it isn't just some hobby we're undertaking here; this is an attempt to be more self-reliant.

We mixed our "soil" together (compost, peat moss, peat humus, and perlite) and then deposited it into our garden box. We haven't started our own compost pile yet so we had to purchase some. We also chose not to use vermiculite because of possible links to asbestos and also because they produce it through strip mining. We don't play that around here.

Next up is dividing the box into 16 squares and choosing what to plant. Then we have to figure out how to keep critters away without killing them needlessly.

The most exciting part of this is letting the kids help put this together and teaching them about the importance of good foods and the satisfaction of growing them yourselves.

As always you can visit our Square Foot Garden Flickr Set to follow the progress..


Not Indispensable.

"Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor."--Henry David Thoreau

I read Henry David Thoreau's Walden in college. Not much of it stuck with me, but I've always remembered the quote from above. I've always believed that if we really sat and thought about many of the things that we think are necessary that we would actually find ourselves much happier if we tossed them aside.

Over most of my "adulthood" I've spent unending hours struggling internally over what's really important to me. I go to bed sometimes certain that the next day I'll stop wasting so much time. Countless times I've resolved to simplify my life and clear out distractions so that those things that are truly important can have more of my time. I've made changes dozens of times only to end up hating myself weeks later for not following through.

Last week Clay Jenkinson's Thomas Jefferson Hour was all about Walden. He discussed his love for the book and what its message might mean to us here in the 21st Century.

He asked questions about the cost to our mental stability, pace of life, and our soul's health to cling to things like Time Shares and iPod docking stations and other unnecessary financial and mental burdens. At show's end he challenged the listeners to read the book again and ask these questions. It isn't necessary for us to go live in a shack in the forest, but perhaps if we prune our lives down to a lower number of things, then we will, as Jenkinson said,  "come alive again and our soul and spirit will begin to thrive again because they will not be smothered by stuff."

I still have my copy from college and I plucked it from the shelf this weekend to begin reading. I'm sure I will never reach the extremes that Thoreau went to. But even he doesn't suggest that. He says on the book's second page, "As for the rest of my readers they will accept such portions as apply to them." I'm interested to see what I feel does apply to me.

This Is Just To Say

There is a poem titled "This Is Just To Say" by William Carlos Williams and it goes like this...

This Is Just To SayCollapse )


Curtis Granderson Is Not Walking Enough

It's raining today so....

This morning we ate breakfast at a cozy little restaurant in Holland's cozy little Washington Square. The place is called "The Biscuit." It's a little pricey, but the food and atmosphere are much more inviting than IHOP. I ordered the Mediterranean omelet (spinach, kalamata olives, red peppers, onions, artichoke hearts, and feta cheese) which was a reasonably sized compared to your average omelet that tends to take up your entire plate. It was fantastic...I even emailed the owner/chef to tell her I rated it a 10!

Later at home I was going through a box and came across an hold Jigsaw puzzle of C3-PO and R2-D2 that I haven't put together in about 25 years. So I naturally spent about a half an hour sitting quietly and assembling it. It's missing one piece, but it isn't a piece that is crucial so I'm not going to spend much time looking for it.

Right now I'm trying to decide between watching an inning of the Tigers game or two pages of a book, before the girls start asking me if they can get up from rest time yet.

I like days like this.


Storm Signals Are Up At #17

As part of our hectic vacation schedule last week we took the girls to see the Broadway In Chicago production of Mary Poppins.

When you love something as much as this family loves the film Mary Poppins you automatically cringe at the though of anyone trying to do a new version of it. It was perfect before so why bother trying? Oh, yeah, I forgot...$$$

Anyway, I went into it aware that they had made drastic changes to the background story, cut many of the songs, changed the lyrics to others, and added new songs to fit the new storyline. So I originally intended to treat it as a completely different version and judge it on it's own merits. The only problem is that they won't let you forget the source of this version so I ended up comparing it anyway.

I won't say that I loved it and I won't say that it stinks. The second act is much stronger than the first act which is really long, confusing, and disjointed. Most of the new songs aren't memorable at all and many of the changes to the old songs (including the settings) are jarring.

The showstopper is "Step In Time" and is topped off with Bert (played by Gavin Lee) walking up the wall and upside down on the arch at the stage front. I don't think you were supposed to see the ropes, but from the angle we were sitting at they were difficult to hide. Once he started up the wall they disappeared and the illusion worked pretty well.

There is also a subplot that has Mary leaving the Banks home at the end of the first act only to be replaced by a "Villain" nanny named Ms. Andrew who was Mr. Banks nanny when he was a boy. (He calls her "The Holy Terror") Unfortunately she isn't around very long. She was probably the most entertaining character in the whole show.

And of course at the end when Mary Poppins leaves she exits the stage by opening her umbrella and flying out over the audience.

The real star of the show, IMHO, is Gavin Lee...and the sets and special effects. The new story involving the Banks parents isn't interesting in the least. Mrs. Banks instead of being a strong advocate for women's sufferage is now a former actress trying to transition into the life of a dutiful housewife. BORING

So I'd give it an O.K. But the kids loved it so it was worth it.

Other notes***

In "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" Mary Poppins actually recites the entire word backwards instead of breaking it up into segments like the movie.

"A Spoonful of Sugar" is sung while Mary Poppins helps the children clean up the kitchen they just trashed.

There are several "magic tricks" in the show involving Mary's carpet bag but they aren't staged well and aren't very effective. She pulls the coat rack out of her bag, but you could hear it "telescoping" as she yanked it out.



Am I the only person who is baffled by the governments outrage over the A.I.G. bonuses? The government are the people who should shoulder all the blame for this debacle.

Should you really be surprised when people who have been greedy and irresponsible act greedily and irresponsibly? What exactly happened between the time the time bankers climbed from the primordial muck and when they started begging for help that led the three ring circus of our government to believe that they had learned their lesson? This is a classic case of enabling. It's like giving a bag full of crack to a crack addict who just entered rehab; they can't help but fall right back into the same pattern of behavior.

Now the government wants to act like they are doing something about it by threatening to tax 100% of the bonuses and announcing stipulations for future "stimulus" money? Where were the stipulations BEFORE you gave them the first 'bail out."

This country is doomed....