Friday, July 28, 2006

More Lazy Summer Fun

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Here's a portion of my Summer Lego fun. The middle building was designed as an apartment building, and hosts a candy store in the front (straight form the Harry Potter sets), to the right is the Episcopal church of the Blessed Aelred, to the left; a cyber cafe with apartments above.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sudoku Lovers Take Note

Alerted by a friend of Prof. Mendelsohn's passing and significance in the under-pinnings of this particular puzzle fad, I humbly pass this on to you, who like me, may find Sudoku's logical reasoning relaxing. May Nathan Mendelsohn find himself a place where the perpetual Light of peace and grace shines upon him.

NATHAN MENDELSOHN, SCHOLAR 1917-2006 Absent-minded polymath who taught mathematics at the University of Manitoba for 57 years made his name in combinatorics, a dazzling bit of science that no Sudoku puzzle can be without

TORONTO -- Nathan Mendelsohn may well have been the absent-minded professor from central casting. He would go to work by car and return home by bus. His wife would send him shopping and he would come back with the wrong items ("I'll cook what he brings," she once said with a shrug). And there was the time he took his family to the movies and agreed to stand in the rain to buy the tickets while his wife and two sons took shelter indoors. Prof. Mendelsohn decided he didn't want to see the movie after all, so he drove home.

Then there was the brilliant mathematician who saw beauty in the abstract. The Order of Canada member who made his own furniture, jewellery and wine, and delighted in performing hypnosis and magic tricks. The one who never wrote anything down because he didn't have to. With his sly sense of humour, he would appreciate the designation of polymath.

Prof. Mendelsohn taught mathematics at the University of Manitoba for 57 years, ending his career in 2005 as distinguished professor emeritus. He headed the math department for about 20 years, authored 140 research papers -- about double the average professor's career output -- and was a leading light in a branch of pure mathematics called combinatorics, which deals with the abstract relationships of objects to each other. One application is the math that underlies the popular Sudoku puzzles.

His and others' theories bore practical applications in such areas as scheduling, cryptography and software testing, often decades after they were promulgated. Helen, his wife of 62 years, had another name for her husband's work: "dreamy mathematics"

Our Latest American Hero #29

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
[That's only 29 remembered here out of the estimated 2892 soldiers killed so far in uniform while performing their duty under the auspices of our President and Congress in the "War" on Terrorism. And by the time you read this, there's a very good chance that it will be 2893 or 2894 or more. So far in July 37 soldiers have died. It's been a relatively quiet month for most of us. Have you given the soldiers who have died in the past couple of weeks much thought this month? If not, there's something wrong here.]

Army Staff Sgt. Michael A. Dickinson II, 26, of Battle Creek, Mich.; assigned to the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, 4th Psychological Operations Group, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died on July 17 when his dismounted patrol encountered enemy forces small arms fire in Ramadi, Iraq.

“He's Not Supposed To Come Home Like this”

After three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Army Staff Sgt. Michael A. Dickinson II of Battle Creek was preparing to leave the war.

"He told me he was on his last mission and he would be home," Dickinson's mother, Vicki Dickinson said Tuesday, a day after her son was killed by a sniper in Ramadi, Iraq. "But he's not supposed to come home like this."

Dickinson was with a Marine Corps patrol when the sniper killed him and wounded another soldier, his family was told. He was one of three American soldiers killed in separate attacks on Monday.

A member of the 4th Psychological Operations Group from Fort Bragg, N.C., Dickinson was scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of the month. He was packing and training his replacement. He wanted to continue his studies to be a physician's assistant and work in a clinic in his wife's native home of Puerto Rico.

Now his mother and other members of his family in Battle Creek are preparing to travel to Fort Bragg to join Dickinson's wife, Glorygrace, their daughter, Abigail, 2, and his wife's four children for a memorial service Thursday. Local services are not yet scheduled.

A 1998 graduate of Harper Creek High School, Dickinson and his adopted brother, Darrell Morris, decided in the 11th grade they wanted to join the Army, following his late father and both grandfathers, who were in the military.

"He came from a long line of fighters," his mother said, "and he believed in his country. He left for the service one month after graduation."

Dickinson had been working in the relatively safe area of Fallujah, his family said, but was concerned about some members of his unit in Ramadi and volunteered two or three months ago to transfer there.

Ramadi, which has more than 400,000 residents and is described as one of Iraq's most violent cities, has roadside bombings and gunbattles every day. U.S. patrols have been confined to small sections of the city, and tribal leaders who have cooperated with U.S. forces have been assassinated or forced to flee the country, according to the Associated Press.

"He was safe but he felt they needed him and he was going to be with them," his sister, Carmen, 27, said.

"He volunteered because he was confident he could bring those boys home," his mother said.

Michael Dickinson felt it was his job to make sure everyone returned from the mission and that was true even on the mission where he died, family members said.

"The Marines really respected Michael," his mother said. "The men cared about him and they said they will find the sniper who shot him. He died a hero."

Active in football and basketball and in the band, Dickinson is pictured in his high school yearbook wearing a football jersey, a gold chain and his signature smile.

Al Miller, principal of Harper Creek High School during the 1997-98 and 1998-99 school years, remembers Dickinson's grin.

"He was always friendly and outgoing," said Miller, who currently serves on Harper Creek's school board. "He had a positive attitude and always dealt with people in a mature and positive way. He was admired and respected by both staff and students."

It was in high school that Dickinson began spending time with his best friend, Jason Feasel.

"I considered him my brother," Feasel said Tuesday at his Springfield business. "I have known him since seventh grade but we started hanging out our freshman year. We did everything together. When you click with someone you just click with them. He was easy to get along with and he was a great guy.

"He would do anything for anyone just like he did for his country."

Feasel was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in July 2003 and, when Dickinson returned from Iraq that month, the first stop was Feasel's hospital room.

"It meant a lot to see him coming through he door," Feasel said.

"He had just bought a DVD player and he said, 'Hey man, you got a better use for this.' And I watched a ton of DVDs. He would give you the shirt off his back."

Feasel talked to Dickinson on Thursday. "He was telling me the place he was at was crazy and he was so happy to come back home. He was talking about his daughter and he had pictures to send me but he I didn't get those pictures."

"I lost my best friend. It's a killer. But I am glad I got to be part of his life and I am glad he got to be part of mine."

Dickinson didn't tell his family much about the war or his job.

"We didn't understand how much danger he was in," Carmen Dickinson said. "He didn't talk about things over there."

"But he supported the military," Vicki Dickinson said. "What they asked of him was what he was going to do. It was his job and he was going to do his job."

She said people should remember her son as someone who was caring and "who took his responsibility in life seriously and wanted to do nothing but good."

"And what is more patriotic than giving your life for your country — willingly. He thought he was needed so he answered the call. I am very proud of my son."

A Chink 'N Sync?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Apparently, not everything about the five young men was synchronized. Lance Bass has just announce his sexual orientation as gay. Bravo, Lance.

When asked in a pole on AOL "Should Lance have come out sooner?" the 53,235 respondants chose the following responses.
No, it was his decision to make 87%
Yes, to avoid the rumors 13%

And I agree with the no respondants, how one choses to reveal the truths of their life is their business. I would want everyone to be open, but for some people, it's just too scary, still.

A second question was posed and responded to by 55,050 with the following results: "Bass says coming out sooner may have affected *NSYNC's popularity. Do you think it would have?"
Yes 75%
No 25%

Here I disagree. It would have legitimized a section of the fan base, and the girls would still have 4 others to swoon over! But seriously, that response defies my sense of justice, but certainly justifies Lance Bass' choice of timing.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Moment Worth Remembering

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I grew up not far from Detroit. Just 29 miles south of the center of the city. My father worked for the auto mobile industry until his retirement in 1986. Only one other event in the wider world had a greater impact on my adolescence (the Viet Nam War). And it seems that these two things are intimately related.

(From the Writers Almanac)

It was on this night in 1967 that a riot broke out in Detroit, marking the beginning of the decline of one of the greatest manufacturing cities in the country. An all-white squadron of police officers decided to raid a bar in a black neighborhood where there was a party to welcome home two recent veterans of the Vietnam War. The police stormed the bar, rounded up and arrested eighty-five black men and began loading them into vans.

The riot that broke out raged for five days. Thousands of soldiers from the Michigan National Guard were called in, along with tanks. The National Guardsmen fired off more than 150,000 bullets over the course of the riot.

Forty-three people were killed and whole blocks of the city went up in flames. After the riots, many of the white residents of the city moved to the suburbs. Thousands of homes were abandoned, and the city's population plunged from 1.6 million to 992,000 in just a few years. By 1990, Detroit was one of the poorest cities in America, with one in every three residents living in poverty.

Score One For Reason

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
When it was time for me to get my masters degree in education, I did what practically everyone in central Kentucky did. I enrolled in Georgetown College's Graduate School of Education. GC is located in Georgetown, who's only other claim to fame is the home of Toyota's first stateside factory and producer of their Camry series.

But I digress. As a Baptist affiliated institution, I arrived from an undergraduate institution where I was named the senior male most typifying what that college stood for in its graduates. Asbury College is a formerly Methodist school with strong Wesleyian-Armenian theological roots. We all knew who our enemies were, and chief among them are the Calvin-Augustinians of whom the Baptists are the pre-eminent expression.

Of course, I making it sound like the conflict in the Middle East, when it was really a battle imagined by tired old men and idealistic ignorant young zealots (all fought on the plains of abstract ideas; i.e. theology).

Nevertheless, when I first set foot on the Georgetown campus I wondered what I might find, how I might be treated, sensitive to learning the nuances of navigating in these "foreign" waters. To my utter pleasure, I found the experience personally affirming and professional enriching. While there I was appointed to the grad student-faculty advisory board. I was ask to serve as an honor guard for the graduation ceremony at my mid-point in the program. I met exceptional factulty, the Dean of the Program, the Law Professor who taught education law, the Art Prof who let me do some independent studies involving technology and iconography.

So imagine my delight after reading this article forwarded to me by my ex-. From the New York Times, an exerpt only.

"Feeling Strains, Baptist Colleges Cut Church Ties"

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (July 22) -- The request seemed simple enough to the Rev. Hershael W. York, then the president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He asked Georgetown College, a small Baptist liberal arts institution here, to consider hiring for its religion department someone who would teach a literal interpretation of the Bible.

But to William H. Crouch Jr., the president of Georgetown, it was among the last straws in a struggle that had involved issues like who could be on the board of trustees and whether the college encouraged enough freedom of inquiry to qualify for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Dr. Crouch and his trustees decided it was time to end the college’s 63-year affiliation with the religious denomination. “From my point of view, it was about academic freedom,’’ Dr. Crouch said. “I sat for 25 years and watched my denomination become much more narrow and, in terms of education, much more interested in indoctrination.’’

Georgetown is among a half-dozen colleges and universities whose ties with state Baptist conventions have been severed in the last four years, part of a broad realignment in which more than a dozen Southern Baptist universities, including Wake Forest and Furman, have ended affiliations over the last two decades. Georgetown’s parting was ultimately amicable. But many have been tense, even bitter.

Officials at Georgetown had long been concerned that differences with state Baptists might become irreconcilable.

Then, a year ago, the Kentucky convention turned down a nominee for Georgetown’s board for the first time. Around the same time, Dr. York asked the college to look for a religion professor who would teach theologically conservative positions.

“You ought to have some professor on your faculty who believes Adam and Eve were the first humans, that they actually existed,’’ Dr. York said.

Dr. Crouch and Georgetown’s trustees decided it was time to exercise their escape clause.

Bravo for Georgetown, my check's in the mail! Remember children, in the land of "Free Speech," money still speaks in a way that is easiest to hear and remember.

Our Latest American Hero #28

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Staff Sgt. Paul S. Pabla, 23, of Fort Wayne, Ind.; assigned to the Army National Guard's 139th Field Artillery, Kempton, Ind.; died on July 3 in Mosul, Iraq, of injuries sustained from enemy small arms fire during combat operations.

“Shining Star Recalled”
Hundreds attend funeral for funny, generous soldier

HUNTINGTON – Pausing several times, once to reach for a tissue, Aaron Lamport said he’s felt a lot of emotions, including anger, over the recent death of his friend Staff Sgt. Paul S. Pabla.

He’s questioned why it was his childhood friend had to die. And he’s questioned why it had to happen eight days before Pabla, 23, was to come home on leave.

But he’s learning to cope, he said Saturday during the funeral service for the Fort Wayne resident.

“I can’t blame God, though, because if I were him I’d want Paul all to myself, too,” he said, choking back tears. “That’s how I felt every time I knew I was going to see Paul. He was the guy you always wanted to be with.”

Lamport was one of several who spoke to about 900 people at the Huntington North High School auditorium, recalling the soldier who could make anyone laugh.

Outside the school, seven members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., protesting at the funeral had competition Saturday morning from about 100 other residents who were protesting the group’s presence.

Two people were arrested during the demonstration that lasted about 45 minutes.

A member of the Indiana National Guard and a 2000 Huntington North graduate, Pabla was killed by sniper fire July 3 while on patrol in the northern Iraq city of Mosul. He was a member of the Kempton-based 139th Field Artillery but was deployed in Iraq with the 150th Field Artillery from Bloomington.

First deployed to Iraq in August, Pabla had volunteered for the deployment and helped train police officers, military officials said. Before deployment, Pabla had worked in security at the Indiana Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne.

Gov. Mitch Daniels and Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Army adjutant general of Indiana, presented Pabla’s family with the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Though not fond of his duty to attend military funerals in the state, Daniels said it’s his most important task.

“These are the days a parent hopes will never come,” he said. “Friends pray for that. Families pray for that. Generals pray for that and governors learn to pray for that as well.”

Describing Pabla as a dedicated soldier who put the safety of others before his own, Army commanders who knew him said he had been marked as a shining star among guardsmen. Pabla was 22 when he was promoted to staff sergeant, a rank some soldiers 10 years his senior still hope to attain, said Lt. Col. Kevin Extine, a commander in the 150th Field Artillery Battalion.

“I remember him, I shook his hand,” Umbarger said. “He had that look that said ‘I’m trained, I’m ready.’?”

But his time serving in the National Guard is only one part of what Pabla’s family members and friends say they’ll remember about him.

Reading a statement from family members, Rev. Roger Vezeau said the man they called “Paul boy,” was an expert at Ace Ventura impressions, had a knack for doing the moonwalk and the robot.

He was as generous as he was funny, the statement said, and gave some of his earnings from the Army to Iraqi police for their training and bought toys for Iraqi children.

These are things that Lamport remembers, too. “If he knew you needed $1, he’d give you $20,” Lamport said. “If the only way to see you was to drive for hours, he’d do it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What I'm Watching #23

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Good, God! N-n-n-n-no, no, no, no, no--YES! More Vicar of Dibley! This latest DVD contains three episodes and an outtakes compilation. The first episode deals with gay bishops and features a cameo with the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, The Rt. Rev. Rowan Williams. A must see for all Dibley fans!

What do you get when you cross a turkey with an octopus? To discover the answer get the DVD!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

War On Terrorism Facts #1

I have been acutely involved in this little "war" for years now. I do not think that it is legitimate in that I do not think that the dots connect between cause...effect....benefit.....profit. Therefore I present this fact to you without any other bias. Blue states, red states, purple states: blood in the presence of oxygen is red and thus depleted becomes purple to blue. Colors are images, not facts. Facts allow you to draw your own conclusions.


Houston, TX ~ 27
Los Angeles, CA - 26
San Antonio, TX ~ 23
Brooklyn, NY ~ 14
Phoenix, AZ - 13
Baltimore, MD ~ 12
Las Vagas, NV ~ 12
Fort Worth, TX ~ 12
San Diego, CA ~ 11
Tampa, FL ~ 11
Philadelphia, PA ~ 10
Tucson, AZ ~ 9
Miami, FL ~ 9
Columbus, OH ~ 9
Jacksonville, FL ~ 8
New York City, NY ~ 8
Fayetteville, NC ~ 8
Portland, OR ~ 8
Austin, TX ~ 8
El Paso, TX ~ 8

Friday, July 14, 2006

Election Alert!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I know, usually when you see a photo of a young man or woman in uniform, I'm sharing their heroism as martyrs to our freedom. But happily, NOT this time.

This is Patrick Murphy. He is, among so many other things, a veteran of the Iraq conflict. And he is running as a democrate to unseat the Republican Representative to the US House from the 8th district of Pennsylvania. A relative once described that state's political views to me as "Pittsburgh and Philadelpia with Alabama in between." Well, Patrick pushes north and west away from Philly into "Bamavania" and he's in the lead.

Go to his website. Watch his video. Send him a buck or two.

More Red to Blue predictions to come.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I Am Disturbed By This

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Tonight, after returning from a quick trip to Philadelphia, I happened to entertain a volunteer from the Human Rights Campaign Fund. She knocked on my door. She was a slight and perky young woman. She had been directed to my door by her coordinator after an incident at a home a couple of blocks over. No doubt the rainbow flag and HRCF stickers on my car and truck, suggested that I would be a sympathetic stranger -- a safe haven.

Seems that after she knocked on the door of a home nearby; presented her introduction, she was dismissed by some elderly woman with SPIT lobbed upon her face! She then proceeded to sit upon the curb and cry....

I know people hate. I know people fear. I know people justify their actions based upon their theology. It might be a leap, but such a leap is aligned with the lionshare of my experience when it comes to such acts of discrimination.

My theology is centered around sacrifice, grace, forgiveness, and love. Like any theology, it's pie in sky thinking. That's the nature of faith -- it's not about what is, but what could be. For most believers in this world (Muslim, Jew, Christian) that means how to force others into their molds or out of their spheres; but for me, it means, how to open doors so that others are free to belong: i. e. diversity and community.

And so my heart is thinking about these questions tonight: How do we create a society without losers or winners? How do we live in a world where everyone has an EQUAL shot at self-actualization?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Walk In The Park, #3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I regret that these were posted in reverse order.... blogging is not like webbing.

This is one of the many moments that make Sligo Creek so magical -- the reflection of the sky in the water through the foliage with bolders.

A Walk In The Park, #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Here an ancient, double-trunked, white oak took the spill in the storm and it's root ripped up the guard rail and a portion of the edge of the road.

A Walk In The Park, #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Over a week after the storm, many stretches of the Sligo Creek Parkway remain closed. I wondered why, when the ones that I walk seem relatively okay. And then I met this scene on Sunday morning. With no readily availble cause, seven days after the storm, the top of an old beech tree came down upon the roadway. Ouch.

What I'm Watching #22

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Cachorro" is really a delightful film. It's takes its share of predictable and unusual turns. Three points stand out.

1) The Bearish sex is blatant -- there are no sublties about it.

2) The lead character is a man. He struggles with what life has dealt him, but he does not play dead easily, and he never gives up.

3) The kid is wonderfully understated by an large, but he has a spirit that will affirm your hope in the future!

One caveat, the dialogue is so fast, that reading sub-titles was distracting.....

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Felicitações Portugal!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Okay, I know, Germany won... But hey Portugal has way cuter players! Case in point, Nuno Gomes, the young man on the left in the photo and in the inset who scored the only goal for team Portugal in the match. On his right is perenniel team portugal favorite Luis Figo, who I think I heard is retiring after this match. Shame, wish he could have moved into the next phase of life on a win.

Humble Little Bumble

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Came home from work on Thursday and found this little bumble bee just resting on the downward facing petal of one of my asiatic lilies. I watched him for awhile and could not tell if he was drowsy on a warm and muggy summer's afternoon, or just stupor drunk on pollin. What would a bee imagine in a moment like this, if a bee could imagine?

THE BEE is not afraid of me,
I know the butterfly;
The pretty people in the woods
Receive me cordially.

The brooks laugh louder when I come,
The breezes madder play.
Wherefore, mine eyes, thy silver mists?
Wherefore, O summer’s day?

~ Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Early Summer Haiku

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
My arm for a pillow,
I really like myself
under the hazy moon.

~ Buson, 1716-1783

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Our Latest American Hero #27

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Sgt. Jason J. Buzzard, 31, of Ukiah, Calif.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died June 21 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HEMTT cargo truck during combat operations in Baghdad.

“Army Sgt. Jason J. Buzzard, 31, Ukiah; Killed in Truck Explosion in Baghdad”

As always, Michele Buzzard ended her last conversation with her husband, Army Sgt. Jason J. Buzzard, by telling him to remain safe, to come home alive and, of course, that she loved him.

"He would never say, 'Good-bye'; he would say, 'Later,' " she said, recalling the talk, conducted via instant Internet messaging on Father's Day.

Buzzard, a 31-year-old father of two young children, was killed three days later, on June 21, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his cargo truck in Baghdad.

He was born in the Northern California town of Willits and grew up in Ukiah. The Ukiah Daily Journal reported that he was the first soldier from Mendocino County to die in the Iraq war. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas.
"He was commanding a convoy of four vehicles," his wife said in a telephone interview. "He took most of the force."

Michele and Jason Buzzard were high school sweethearts, she from the coastal town of Fort Bragg and he from the county seat of Ukiah. He graduated from Ukiah High School in 1993, where he played tuba in the band. He enlisted in the Army in 1998. "He wanted to defend his country," his wife said. "He liked getting away from Mendocino County. We were in Colorado for five years. He went to Korea for a year. We were stationed at Ft. Hood."

Buzzard left for Iraq two days after Thanksgiving last year, and came home on leave in May. "He explained he had a lot of close calls," his wife said. "He promised he would do everything [he could] to come home alive."

During his visit home in May, Buzzard watched his son, Tristin, 9, play catcher in three baseball games, and his daughter, Michala, 12, play outfield in a softball game. "He really enjoyed watching the kids," his wife said. "He was a proud dad."

Buzzard had a competitive streak of his own, enjoying bowling and other games with his family and friends. He loved to fish with his father, Jerry, go pheasant hunting and dive for abalone off the Northern California coast. He also was proud of his prowess at the barbecue.

"He was a fun-loving, great husband and dad," his wife said. "He was everything to me."

He also helped train Iraqis. He was convinced that the U.S. mission was proper, his wife said, saying the country needed "to finish what they started. He thought they were doing a lot more good over there than what people see."

The Kiss Of Death

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Clearly that's me! 'Cause every team I get excited about, looses it's next match! Sorry, Mexico, Ghana, Portugal..... either your bad or I'm a bad luck charm....

So it comes down to France v Italy? Well, here goes nothing, I'm backing Italy. Given my record, this will make my ex- happy, as he is a Francophile from crown to toe. Sorry, or should I say: "Chiedo scusa ai miei amici italiani."

Something Wicked This Way Came!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Well, I didn't get out to any fireworks on the 4th. Instead the action came to me!

Around 5 PM a horrendous storm BLEW through. I had torrential rains, hail, and straight-line wind clocked at 50 mph sustained for over a minute at a burst. The results were flooded basement, lots of plant debris, and several large trees toppled into things like automobiles and power lines.

The electricity came back on about 2 AM, and at about 11:45 PM, unable to sleep without the ambient noise of my electrified abode, I took a drive around the area. It was amazing how widespread the power outages were. It actually made me feel a little better about my own dark state.

I have experienced 5 of the most powerful electrical storms in recent memory this year since mid-May. After living here for 12 years, the creek below my home has now flooded twice in that time frame, and the only other time that it has done this was last August. In order to accomplish this, it must increase its normal capacity by a magnitude of x 70! as it sits in a gully well below the streets that cross it or the trails that meander beside it.

Strange and amazing at the same time....we do live in interesting times.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Nueur Galleirie Scores

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Big time. And the price was only 137.5 million.....

Congrats and looking forward to my next visit.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Our Latest American Hero #26

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Pfc. Kristian Menchaca 23, of San Marcos, Texas; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died on or about June 16 from injuries sustained in the vicinity of Baghdad. He was previously listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown. His unit came under enemy small-arms fire while manning a checkpoint during combat operations and was taken by enemy forces. This incident is under investigation. Also killed were Spc. David J. Babineau and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker.

“Hundreds Turn Out for Arrival of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca”

BROWNSVILLE -- The body of Army Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, arrived at the Brownsville airport Monday, June 27th in a solemn ceremony broken only by the sobs of his young widow.

Eighteen-year-old Christina Menchaca of Big Spring, Texas, received her husband’s body shortly after noon, surrounded by family, her little boy, and the Rev. Carlos Villarreal.

They watched as 11 members of the 101st Screaming Eagles Military Funeral Detachment team provided full honors as they carried the varnished brown coffin from a chartered Falcon jet to a waiting hearse.

The coffin was draped with an American flag.

"He was a young man who had dreams and hopes and they just vanished," U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz said after watching the arrival of Menchaca’s body with local officials who showed their respect at the Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport.

"He deserves a hero’s burial," Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, said.

While in Brownsville in the mid- to late 1990s, Menchaca attended Porter High School and Vela Middle School, which is no more than a mile north of the Brownsville Event Center – where his visitation will be held today.

For the last week, the flags — of the United States, Texas, and Mexico — that line Ruben M. Torres Boulevard have all flown at half-staff. They’ve been accompanied by banners and tickers reading "in honor of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca."

On Monday, when Menchaca’s body was returned to Brownsville, hundreds more flags appeared on the boulevard.

In addition to the police procession that accompanied Menchaca’s hearse, hundreds of Brownsville residents, some noticeably weeping, drove slowly to the city’s events center. From city officials to "Los Escondidos," a biker group, every member of the procession carried his own American flag.

"By coming here I am showing my respect," said Frank Garza, a former soldier. Even though he doesn’t know Menchaca’s family, Garza’s nephew, who is currently assigned to Border Patrol duty, will be driving in from Arizona for the funeral.

Like Garza, Adelaida Rey showed her support by waving a small flag from the side of the road. She brought her grandchildren along to share the experience.

"El estaba peleando por nuestro freedom, y por eso estamos aqui," she said. "He was fighting for our freedom and because of that we are here."

Although Rey speaks only Spanish, she carefully pronounces the word "freedom" in English. For the woman waving both Texas and American flags, it’s a word too important to be translated.

While the procession drove by, Rey’s grandchildren were as solemn as she was. "Es importante que lo vean," she said. "It’s important that they see this."

Under a blue sky with foreboding rain clouds on the horizon, stood Henry Valdez, sweating from the 90-plus degree humidity.

He stood far from the small crowds of people that dotted Paredes Line Road up to the event center, the motorcade’s final destination.

"I came to pay my respects," the former U.S. Marine said.

"So young, man. So young," he said with a sigh.

"So young."

Menchaca will be buried in uniform and with several medals: America’s Meritorious Service Medal, a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Prisoner of War medal.

"He earned them, he goes down with them," Ortiz said.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I saw this latest creation of Pixar's amazing animators on Sunday with my ex- and "our" grandmother, Miss M. Is it my imagination, or have we been watching trailers for it since early 2003!.... And with all that anticipation, I was even late to the show when it finally showed up.

But never mind that, in a world now saturated with Pixaresque digimation, it's no longer easy to create masterworks. Yet Pixar continues to find a way. It's just mind boggling. Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Toy Story....and others, they create masterworks of animation, characterization and story-telling.

Some advice though: Please! NO MORE false teeth gags (every trailer at the theater for some future digimation film included at least one....) And if you count Fred's bumper detaching whenever he got excited, so did Cars!

Also, are insects really THAT much fun to animate?

But overall, BRAVISSIMO!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The World Cup Semi-Finals

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Are set! It will be Germany facing off against Italy; and Portugal vs France. Powerhouses Brazil and Argentina were both packing the last round.

It's not the final four that I would have liked to have seen rise from the 16 finalists from the opening rounds, but it's not a surprise slate either. I have a habit in these sorts of things to root for the under-dog. It's why I was thrilled with Mexico and Ghana's early successes. So I'll through logic to the wind and my support behind Portugal.

Sorte boa a todos!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Midnight Snack?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
While researching an answer for a crossword puzzle, I happened upon this interesting little lost recipe.

"In 1968, Ladies Home Journal offered fearless eaters a recipe for a Siamese Sandwich, which combined peanut butter with mayonnaise, shrimp, raisins, apple, celery, onion, powdered ginger and lime or lemon rind."

Yum Yum! And I'm not even pregnant!