Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Retrospect, 2015 Looms

New Years Eve is upon me much faster than expected since life has been complicated of late. Of course, it has been for the entire year so I should have expected 2014 to end that way. To sum up the year it was a relentless grind.

Starting off with my father’s cancer battle, 2014 proved to be a bad year demonstrating 2013 was no fluke. Life got harder, so the blog didn’t get the attention planned for it, along with many other things.

Normally, I write a post with statistics for the blog, however this year I’m discontinuing the practice. Why? It is clear that growth is dead. Other than the front page and one post on spam, the top twenty pages viewed all were originally published in prior years.

Suffice it to say that visits decline by a quarter thanks to Google’s constant screwing around with their algorithms and my producing fewer posts. Having matured, the Web is now a pay to play business rather than the bold new frontier of the past.

Good thing the blog wasn’t created to garner wealth or fame!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

Hard to believe it is the 24th of December, yet here it is. Though Christmas has degenerated into a materialistic if not secular holiday, a little of the real spirit has manifested itself here and there.

Ragnar the Viking Kitten

Helping keep things in perspective is the kitten I rescued a few weeks back. Ragnar the Viking Kitten (as I’ve dubbed him) has responded well to antibiotics and now terrorizes the house with great glee. He was big for his age to begin with so his growth spurt has been impressive since getting healthy. Consequently, the little tiger feels like he can throw his weight around which has led him to discovering what being disciplined is about.

It is something he takes to heart. His wetting my bed in retaliation for our being out for an entire morning got him a smacked rump to accompany a nose rubbed in his own product. Since then, nary a problem of peeing where he shouldn’t. Rags doesn’t like me being angry with him which is a rare quality in an alpha male.

Still, the varmint likes to climb me when playing video games, especially ones where I’m playing online and talking to friends. Yes, he has gotten me virtually killed like a proper ravager out viking should. So far he’s winning that battle.

Other than that, Rags is an utterly endearing kitten filled with love and affection. He’s very grateful to have a warm home, kitten chow, and people to sleep on. Unexpectedly, he turned out to be good with the somewhat terrifying two year old niece of mine. She’s not a huge fan of cats despite being around ones in her house, yet she and Ragnar hit it off after awhile.

In turn, I’m grateful for his presence that has breathed new life into the household. Due to his attitude, I’m trying to improve mine and get some of the holiday spirit going. In the end, it is all about being with the ones you love, right?

At least as far as the secular side goes. There’s a lot more to it when you understand the immense gift given to all of us when the Savior was born.

So a merry Christmas to all, may you find that which is truly of value and share it with others.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Spam for Christmas

It seems that the dark elves responsible for pumping out unwanted spam of all kinds have the Christmas spirit of giving right now. Unfortunately, they completely misunderstood the true meaning of the season and are bent on raking in money for themselves.

Whether it be email or Blogger referral spam, the filters have been tested to the breaking point in December. Earlier, I posted an update on seoairport suddenly returning with a flood. A new approach that I haven’t seen outside of emails showed up too and that’s what I’ll be covering in this post.

I hope by now that everyone knows not to open an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) attachment from a stranger when they get one in their inbox. This has been a way to deliver trojans and viruses onto PCs for many years.

Easy Aromatherapy Spam 01Easy Aromatherapy Spam 02

So it was surprising to see referral spam that linked to PDFs including one hosted on Amazon’s cloud service which arrived as s3 . amazonaws . com / pdf-1ydO / qyR20YHDImN9.pdf on my Blogger stats page.

Why would anybody use such a discredited way to get hits? Another referral and a little digging provided me with a theory.

Remember to not click on links such as these, leave it to security pros and madmen to investigate. In my case, it is the latter though a virtual machine and an anonymous routing service were employed to keep my PC uncompromised.

SEO Spam or Fear the Penguin

One of the most irritating con jobs on the Net is selling links to people desperate to get traffic to their websites. This is part of what is known as “black hat SEO” with SEO standing for Search Engine Optimization. So it was rather interesting to get two false referrals from seoairport . com / site / product / in my Blogger stats today. UPDATED: December 2014 has seen a massive amount of hits from seoairport . com / site / recommended with no end in sight. New screen captures added at the end of the post.

SEO Airport Spam 01

Firing up the trusty virtual machine, I checked it out. Remember folks, don’t click on strange links and leave that to daredevils or those of us with more than one operating system on a machine. The name told me what to expect out of the site and I wasn’t disappointed.

The home page above is of basic design, which will be important later on.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

So I Was Driving Along a County Road…

And I saw what looked like a dead cat with a kitten nestled up to it near an intersection. A half mile or so further down the road I turned around when I saw nothing moving in the rearview mirror. Stopping the car and getting out revealed no dead cat, but three kittens huddled together for warmth right at the edge of the road. They were completely lost and crying for their mother.

Concerned for their safety, I managed to corral two and carry them across the road to the farm where I suspected they belonged. The third eventually followed me to the safety of familiar territory while one jumped off me when the dog residing there started barking. However, one was just fine with me carrying it and was comfortable nestled in my arm.

Talking to the surprised owner of the property it turned out their barn cat mother had taken them hunting. His surprise was my carrying them, since he had tried wooing them and never been able to lay a finger on the critters.

Looking at the purring kitten looking back up at me, I realized that another four legged denizen was going to be added to our household.

Kitten 01

Not the best picture, but I had the wrong settings on the camera again. He’s a pretty little cat with a face like a bobcat and quite a bit bigger than his siblings. Fairly sure he’s a he, since it is the old semicolon ; rather than colon : formation in back.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Paint it Black Friday

Normally I like to post something about being thankful around Thanksgiving, however I’m in no mood to do so this year. It has been the kind of year where every blessing has revealed a Faustian twist behind it souring things considerably. Suffice it to say that actively working on being grateful has been a task and as of this week I’m completely depleted of the emotion.

A large part of my foul mood has to do with having been ill for several weeks with an upper respiratory bug that only now is clearing up. Much more aggravating is continued problems for Dad involving a leaking feeding tube. It was replaced on short notice Monday and now is worse as of yesterday. So he isn’t able to feed at all at the moment while we wait for a return call from the department involved.

Well, it looks like we have to go in, no surprise. I’m suspecting an infection thanks to discharge I just saw. Going to be another long day if we can get out in the first place. Tractor path is going to get used, methinks.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Pipes are Freezing, Danny Boy

Struggling with an upper respiratory infection made last week difficult, yet the cold weather has been just as frustrating. Today’s fun was finding the hot water lines frozen, the fan used to duct air from the basement into the crawlspace broken, and a window mysteriously out allowing wind directly in.

How that window came to be lying outside is baffling, for there is no way the wind could have sucked it outside, frame and all. We’ve had the opposite problem with windows blown in before which makes sense. I’m wondering if a varmint came in through the cat door and couldn’t figure its way back out. That’s a longshot, a Twilight Zone kind of improbable, due to the location having nothing to climb up to the window in question.

With the temperature at 10 degrees F (-9 C) and a wind chill of –1 F (-18 C), it will take a long time to thaw the pipes. In fact, the thermometer is dropping with the sun setting so it is going to be very cold tonight with wind chills of up to – 20 F possible. Hard to believe it is the middle of November.

I may have to make an emergency run for a fan tonight if things don’t improve within the next couple of hours. If this is what autumn is going to be like, I don’t look forward to winter.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Snow and Other Discomforts

A short guide to configuring a LG 27MP33HQ monitor for a better picture follows after an account of how I ended up having to do so. Not what I was planning to write, but what else is new?

Yesterday morning greeted the residents of rural Yucatan with a small accumulation of snow. As I type this, more of the white stuff is falling leaving the yard a patchwork of green and white. Winter has shown up early in Southeastern Minnesota and shows no signs of letting go in the immediate future if the forecasts are to be believed.

That wasn’t the only sight to rudely greet me yesterday. Turning on my computer monitor revealed waves of green rolling through the right side of the screen. Having seen this before, I knew it was hardware failure. Still, doing all the right things to eliminate software driver and cable issues were undertaken to no avail. In fact, the not terribly old Asus VH236H decided to get worse by the minute.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Beautiful Pictures

Sorry, there will be no photographs in this post. However, the title is appropriate as will be revealed.

The last couple of weeks have been physically taxing, hence my failure to keep updates on what has been going on. I was lucky to get even one Halloween themed review up this year. Between a short notice visit, election night precinct results madness, a cold, and a lengthy day at Gundersen’s East Building, it has been a tiring pace for a CFS sufferer.

Ah, I should explain the post title. It comes from that day at the clinic when Dad was put through the PET scanner to see if cancer had come back. Going in the tube involves a long process starting with imbibing the tracing dye, waiting for it to go through the system, and then the scan itself.

Even after that ordeal, we had time to kill before seeing Dad’s doctor. Suffice it to say that my Nook HD’s battery has rarely ended up as depleted that Thursday afternoon. Too many crossword puzzles took its toll on it and me.

Eventually we got to see the good doctor and when she walked in she couldn’t wait to show Dad his “beautiful pictures.” That will probably be the first and last time that phrase will be used about pictures of him. Although, I have heard him described as a cute old man.

Don’t tell him that.

Of course this meant good news. No tumors were visible and the blood tests showed no signs of cancer. Officially, my father is in remission.

That is a ray of light in what has been a dismal year, not just for us but for other people I know. For some reason, 2014 has had a brutal character about it. May it improve for others too is my fervent hope.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Stephen King’s IT (1990) Review

A strong cast competes against shaky material in this ground breaking television adaptation. Based on the famous horror novelist’s decades spanning story about a group of friends battling a mysterious entity in a small town. When murders resembling those from thirty years before begin, the group must reassemble to face what appears to be a killer clown. However, nothing is what it appears to be… But I  do promise a cameo by Godzilla.

IT Title

Even a miniseries isn’t enough to cram in everything from a Stephen King novel and his 1985 novel IT manages to be even more daunting thanks to excessive metaphysical noodling contained within. Still, the story had the benefit of a young group of adolescents like King’s Stand By Me along with the striking visual of a clown for the villain. So it is no surprise that ABC television network got the rights to adapt the tome for a big event. Put together with great care by director Tommy Lee Wallace, the show was a hit featuring some memorable images.

But was IT any good?

IT Little GirlIT Mike Hanlon

Part 1 starts off the whole affair off with ominous music accompanying pages from a photo album showing seven kids from the late 1950s or early ‘60s before shifting to the current time. Well, “current” being the late ‘80s (1990 to be specific) which of course is almost a quarter of a century ago now. Inadvertently a double period piece for modern viewers, IT does show IT’s age. There will be both pompadours and big hair for you to decide which is the more frightening.

Time of Eve Blu-ray Going to a Wider Release

Awhile back, as in over a year ago, I posted about the Kickstarter campaign to fund a Blu-ray release of Time of Eve: The Movie. By the time it closed, they had garnered far more money than projected and easily passed stretch goals added along the way.

This turned the project into something much bigger and complicated with the promised product only delivered last month. It was worth the extra wait, but in the process they went $10,000 over budget mainly due to horrendous shipping costs to Europe. Although always meant as a work of love, they have enough remaining sets put together from production overruns to recoup that money. They need and deserve help.

So if you didn’t get in on the Kickstarter, here’s your chance to get the deluxe package at their webstore. The Blu-ray is glorious, as are the insert materials and the included soundtrack CD. I cannot stress just how special the anime is enough and if you haven’t seen it, it is worth the blind buy – I can promise that without a doubt.

Also now available is something that fell together after the Kickstarter ended, which is the English version of the associated novel, Time of Eve: Another Act. I preordered that just before writing this post.

Meanwhile, preorders for the standard and deluxe editions of the movie are now up at

Again, I can’t praise this film enough. Eventually I hope to review the set and movie, but it will be a major undertaking compared to most of my reviews. It would be best done in multiple posts due to the massive amount of content and extras.

Buy it, you will not regret it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Autumn Is Called Fall for Good Reason

Seeing the best Fall colors in years has driven me slightly crazy this month. In trying to get back into photography, the lure of brightly colored leaves been a source of frustration thanks to uncooperative lighting and trees refusing to synchronize with each other. Then there are the winds making sure that I remember autumn is called Fall because of the leaves dropping from trees.

Fall Colors 2014 052

In the midst of this pursuit for the elusive perfect autumnal picture life has gone on.

Friday, October 10, 2014

RIP Jazz

To describe 2014 as a bad year would be a gross understatement. About a month ago, my father and I noticed one of our cats was having health problems again. Jazz was afflicted with periodic bouts of upper respiratory infections since his birth and usually managed to shake them off. This time he lost a lot of weight before getting over the bug, but he’d always been a very strong animal.

Jazz 01

The weight loss continued in dramatic fashion and we took him to the vet two weeks ago. From the symptoms and sky high calcium in the blood, it was surmised he had a tumor hidden somewhere in his stomach. Such irony, given my father’s lymphoma in the same location.

Refusal to eat followed and he began to decline rapidly. What’s amazing is that he held on to the point of being in absolute misery. With no other choice, I had to put Jazz down today.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 Review

At first glance an obvious attempt to pander to anime fans by combining cute girls with guns for comedic effect, Stella Women’s Academy aspires to be more than just another cute girls show. Filled with kinetic airsoft gun battles, teen girls being silly, and meditations on self worth, this little anime teaches the lesson that one should never judge something by its cover – including the series itself.

C3 Title 01C3 Title 02

Rather than reviewing anime series episode by episode, tackling them one season at a time will be the new approach on the blog. So please bear with me, since this is something I’ve only attempted once before and the review will be a little rough around the edges.

First off, I need to present a disclaimer.

I really don’t like the cute girls doing nothing subgenre of anime. Aimed at otakus without social lives, the rise of these moe dominated series are my bane along with jiggly T&A ecchi fests. Mindless and irritating, I can’t stand them. This will color my review.

C3 The GirlsC3 Club Banner

So why am I reviewing a cute girls show, you wonder?

Well, I’m gun owner and enthusiast, so giving the first episode a shot was mandatory, if distasteful. To my astonishment, the show was funny and hinted at hidden depth which made me stick around for the next episode. Before I knew it, the emerging serious themes in the storyline combined with well written characters to hook both me and my senior citizen father.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

General Conference

I know it is October because it is time for General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints again. It used to be that Halloween candy displays would alert me to the year waning, however they showed up early last month.

The second talk of the first session that just wrapped up is going to be hard to top. “Which way do you face?” was the question asked and challenges those faithful to Christ’s teachings to stand by them in the face of increasingly hostile peer pressure. If the last two General Conferences could be characterized as being defenses of Christian standards, the tone of the first session feels a bit more feisty.

Another thing that caught my personal attention was the first time a speaker used his native language rather than English to deliver a sermon. My complaint is a minor one: I wished it had been subtitled on the English stream rather than verbally translated. This was done for ease of comprehension, but I like to hear the inflections of the speaker.

Also of interest is the new Church move to embrace social media more completely. Now they have set up a way to easily share to Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and other services along with a page showing messages that have gone out. While not a fan of the Web 2.0, I can see the younger folks using this a lot.

I wish I was feeling a little more alert while watching the stream for the cold weather has made rest difficult and pain high. Thankfully, I will be able to download the talks later and listen to them as many times as I want to gain further insights into the Gospel. As President Uchtdorf said in the conclusion of the session, “the process of gathering spiritual light is the quest of a lifetime.”

Not only do I love his talks, I’ve grown to love that man.

As always, General Conference is open to everyone to see, not just members. Check out the October sessions here.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Return of the Russian Spam

A familiar pattern of false referrals has shown up in my September 2014 Blogger statistics making me wish there was a way to exile them to Siberia. Featuring a bevy of webpages originating from a site previously encountered, the spam is dedicated to parting you from your hard earned rubles.

While I don’t have any rubles to lose, precaution was taken in exploring the links. Firing up my trusty VirtualBox installation of Ubuntu 14 and using the TOR browser for anonymity I keep spam sites from looking at my real computer. Don’t try this at home unless you know what you are doing! It is best to never click on strange links.

detective01 Spam 01detective01 Spam 02

Oh the irony of the first spam to hit my blog. http: // detective01 . ru / offers private investigator services of all kinds and would be somebody to hire to find out where spam is coming from in Russia. There’s just the small issue of them being spammers. Like quite a bit of spam from that country, it is connected to St. Petersburg and in this particular case the agency is based there.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Testing the FujiFilm HS25EXR, Part 2

More fooling around without a clue in order to see Fuji’s camera can do. As will become obvious, there is a lot to be learned yet. More photos and even a video only scratch the surface of what this far too capable mid-sized digital camera is capable of.

DuskReal Dusk

Ever behind on the times due to a lack of money, I feel like I’m constantly reinventing the wheel. It doesn't help I've forgotten everything about photography in the past five years. Due to dependency on automatic settings, pictures are never quite what I hope for, so expect to do better than this if you get your hands on the HS25EXR or one of its close relatives in the HS family.

In my previous post, I mentioned how post processing is needed to get good results. Spoiled by my Canon’s producing great results straight out of the viewfinder makes this a new experience. The two unaltered (other than resizing) shots above are a good illustration of why EXR mode is threatening my sanity.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Testing the FujiFilm HS25EXR, Part 1

Or a complete amateur’s fooling about with a new used camera in hopes of replacing his well out of date travel camera.

After failing to make a decent video of a once in a lifetime swarm of tens of thousands of dragonflies flitting around the property, I came to the reluctant conclusion my trusty Canon S1 IS was truly out of date. A newer used camera with HD recording was needed – hopefully one that took good stills as well. Hunting on eBay netted me a steal in the form of a FujiFilm FinePix HS25EXR 16 megapixel “bridge” camera capable of true 1080P video at 30 FPS.

Rave reviews online of this intermediate between snapshot and DSLR classes convinced me this would be a massive upgrade in capability. However, first snapshots had me wondering if I’d taken a step backward. Equipped with a bewildering array of settings, the HS25EXR was far more exotic than anything I’d used before. Of course that didn’t stop me from trying on my own.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Frayed or Fried?

Since I’m not getting anything done in the way of reviews, a report on why is in order. Simply put, things have needed doing and they have exhausted all my energy while absconding with my brainwaves. The trigger was having to mow the lawn, which is not good due to depleting my limited stamina along with the fact I’m allergic to grass. Not just grass pollen, but the plant itself.

A week later and the itching is finally gone, but the sinuses still hate me. Can’t say I blame them.

Dad may finally making some small progress. For the first time since March there are indications of fluids (water in this case) making its way from the stomach to the intestine. Cheap no calorie drink mix with very potent red dye revealed this when his feeding tube in the small intestines became tinted pink. Having spilled this stuff on white clothing, I can say it was a positive match.

Also, he has been measuring oral intake in milliliters in comparison with what he drains from the relief tube in the stomach. In the past few days, more than one hundred milliliters of water has gone missing with the implication that they have passed through the gastric outlet.

Too early to get really excited, but hey this is something that hasn’t happened before.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidora (2001) Review

Giant Monsters All-Out Attack aka Godzilla: GMK

A darker take than usual in the Godzilla series of movies that adds a spiritual aspect to Japan’s battles with the giant lizard. While highly flawed, this is my second favorite Godzilla movie and only eclipsed by the original Gojira. It is the only other Godzilla movie in my collection other than the original and I purchased it from Hong Kong it was unavailable in the US at the time . That has since changed.  It also can be watched online at UPDATED: April 2012. UPDATED again September 2014 with Blu-ray details and HD screen captures.

Godzilla GMK HD Title

Toho Studios gave Shusuke Kaneko, the director of the competing rebooted Gamera trilogy, a shot at reinterpreting Godzilla and this production hit Japanese theaters in late 2001.  Domestically it was the most successful of the Millennium series of Godzilla movies. Yes, there have been so many films of the big ‘G’ that they are actually broken into subsets by era. GMK is a direct sequel to the 1954 movie and ignores all the others.

Godzilla GMK HD Admiral TachibanaGodzilla GMK HD Yuri Tachibana

The movie begins with the most boring of settings, a classroom. This one is filled with Japanese naval officers being lectured by Admiral Tachibana (Ryudo Uzaki) about the only battle fought by the Japanese Self Defense Force.  That battle was in 1954 against the giant monster Godzilla and was a great victory for the JSDF.  Huh?  Wasn’t the radioactive menace killed by the Oxygen Destroyer? Something’s fishy here.

As the lecture goes on, mention of a giant monster attacking New York and possibly being identified as Godzilla occurs. This leads to a humorous slam against the 1998 American Godzilla movie during a discussion by two junior officers. One asks if it really was Godzilla. The other replies: “Experts in America say it was, but Japanese ones disagree.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Working on Posts and Getting Old

The last couple of weeks have been difficult, so none of the reviews I’m working on have progressed very far. Dad simply isn’t showing any signs of getting better or a willingness to work at it, so I’m trying to push him to do things. That’s been difficult, not to mention time consuming.

As I’m typing, U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, is playing in the background. A free download until the middle of October, it is proof that the music industry is in trouble. CD sales have dwindled to nearly nothing and now digital download sales are in free fall. Streaming from Pandora and Spotify are being blamed, however the quality of product is more to blame in my opinion.

Songs of Innocence illustrates this well -- for you get what you paid for it. It isn’t even mediocre. Only The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone) is interesting at all, the rest is banal. In fact, the album sounds like a band trying to sound like U2.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Experimenting with Ads

Though I have too little traffic to ever make money off of ads run on the blog, I’m doing a test run to see if they negatively impact my organic traffic from Google. There will only be one on the sidebar since I’m looking to see if all the animal named algorithms G likes to unleash penalize the site.

Purely mad scientist stuff inspired by the fact that as time goes by there is less and less traffic from organic searches. In other words, I’ve got nothing to lose and curiosity about what destroyed my blog’s rise in late 2012 really was has taken over. Like before, I’ll be using Google’s own AdSense service, though I might toy with other services later on if nothing happens.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy In Theater Review

While not quite the perfect popcorn movie, Guardians is still a fun romp through Marvel Comics’ space settings. Featuring excellent special effects and an even better cast, heartfelt emotions are not neglected in favor of the many, many explosions. After all, how can one not like a movie with space pirates, deadly alien babes, rocket boots, and a talking raccoon who likes to shoot everything in sight?

Growing up in the 1970s, I was always attracted to the science fiction side of comic books, whether it be Green Lantern, Iron Man, or the lesser known Guardians of the Galaxy. So when I first heard a big budget movie was being made, I couldn’t wait. Then the other shoe dropped when the characters were announced as being from a more modern reboot.

With only one I liked, Rocket Raccoon, and two others I knew, Drax the Destroyer and Gamora, my expectations plummeted and interest waned. The original Starlord and Yondu were replaced with posers along with the addition of a scaled down ent. Yeah, that looked like a sure fire winner to me.

Once positive word of mouth reached me, I decided I’d see the flick after all. I’m glad I did.

Battle of Britain (1969) Review

An all-star cast fills in-between beautiful scenes of aerial combat in this recounting of the famous World War II battle over Great Britain’s skies. While the fictional characters are nothing to write home about, the real drama comes from the unfolding nightmare that really did happen. Glorious cinematography will make you want to see it on a big screen – the bigger the better. UPDATED August 2014 for a full rewrite, Blu-ray details, and HD screen captures.

Battle of Britain Title

From August 12 to October of 1940, a fierce bombing campaign by Germany took place in preparation for an eventual amphibious invasion of Great Britain. Badly outnumbered and riven by arguments over strategy, the British very nearly lost this critical battle during the early stages of the Second World War. Any attempt to portray this complicated history was bound to be flawed in one way or another, so it was perhaps too big a story to tell in one movie.

Three main focuses are interweaved throughout: the factual RAF Fighter Command struggle to form an effective strategy (based on book The Narrow Margin), depictions of the air war itself, and drama around fictional fighter pilots.  Most of the focus is on the second and features the best aerial footage I’ve seen in any movie not named The Blue Max. With the noted James Bond film series director Guy Hamilton helming the movie, great action was guaranteed.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Laboring Along

It’s been a week or so since I last posted, nearly two weeks now that I look at it. Things have been tiring with not as much drama as July. Currently suffering from a cold or the ilk, so the post will not be terribly lengthy.

Dad has been losing weight rather than gaining or stabilizing, which led to two appointments this week. One was an expected follow up to see how his gastric decompression tube was doing – no problems there. The second was with a dietician to review the weight loss issue.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Waiting for…

At the moment, my father is not in the hospital and not looking like he has to head for the emergency room soon. I’m not sure how to handle that after the events of last month. Currently, all we can do is try to get him stronger and see what happens.

Wednesday we had a round of appointments to go to as follow ups to the cancer treatment and the surgery. The first looks good so far and it will be several months until his next round of testing. It was the meeting with the surgeon that was most interesting.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Real Russian Invasion?

I’ve been watching Putin play the propaganda game with great success against the West this year which has allowed him to take the Crimea without real opposition. Sorry folks, but economic sanctions aren’t opposition when they leak like sieves due to countries like France. So when he put a huge aid convoy to Ukraine and started having armored vehicles painted with peacekeeper symbols on them, I knew he was about to do something.

Events lately have shown Obama is an uninvolved weakling obsessed with golfing while the world burns. With America out of the picture to protect Europe, somebody was going to start throwing their weight around and Russia is the only country capable of that today.

Knowing that, the news that Russian armor had crossed the border into Ukraine today (Hot Air is collecting links to news as they come in) came as no surprise. Now it is a waiting game to see how far Putin will push things. Don’t be surprised if he goes to a full on war for he has the advantage right now.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Russian Spam Invasion

Things have been relatively quiet on the referral spam front for awhile, but the last month or so has seen an uptick in my Blogger stats. Most are not shown as links due to Google filtering, however the country of Russia is showing a ridiculous amount in my “Audience” figures. In fact, it is close to matching my traffic from the United States which is mostly legit.

Remember not to click on strange links in your Blogger stats because you never know where they will take you. Leave that to people crazy or skilled enough to safely investigate.

Power Balance Spam 01

The latest spam from the Land of the Bear comes from a fake auction site. Oh you can really buy stuff there, but the timer is just a come on to influence you into an impulse buy. A long running con is magnetic bracelets for athletes and arthritis sufferers exploiting the placebo effect to work “miracles” through bogus science. Power Balance is one of those cheap trinkets being flogged at http: // power-balances . apishops . ru / proving that scams are universal or at least international.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Bobo (1967) Review

Famous comedian Peter Sellers anchors an excellent cast in this inconsequential yet highly enjoyable comedy about a penniless bullfighter tasked with seducing a beautiful gold digger. Gently charming humor, well written characters, and note perfect performances highlight this little known gem from the great comedian’s career. It also illustrates just why one should never trust a singing matador.

The Bobo Title

Ah, the 1960s. Though there was much going on in that decade, one defining characteristic of the era is all but forgotten today. That would be the airy and sometimes witty comedies from Europe that graced the silver screen like effervescent bubbles floating through the air. Often they were international productions filmed in Italy or England and featured actors from all over. These films were whimsically entertaining in a way that simply isn’t seen in today’s more vicious and crude culture.

Being old enough to have grown up with reruns of the genre on television, I grew rather fond of them during my childhood. But even then they were fading away so recountings of certain movies were told to me by my late mother and half brothers. One they kept regaling me about was The Bobo which turned out to be very obscure. In fact, I didn’t get to see it until the late 1990s on a cable movie channel.

Fortunately for me, the film was just as funny as they claimed.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

In Progress

Now that things have calmed down somewhat, I’m hoping to have a movie review up by the weekend. That is barring unexpected circumstances, which have gotten dangerously closer to the norm than one would wish.

Everything is done but the writing on the review and that was started over a week ago. Now to remember the film! There’s a reason I take several pages of notes…

Hints would be dropped about which film it is, but nobody would get it since it’s an obscure ‘60s flick. Instead I’ll tease that actor starring was most famously associated with the color of pink, was something of a goon, and wasn’t all there even when he was being there. For posterity and the random chance someone will actually pay attention to this post a final clue will be given to actor’s identity:

He was the kind of guy who drive his boss homicidally insane.

Now off to work on the thing…

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Complications, Part 2

First half here.

On my way back to the house from the hospital, I first stopped for gas then again at our neighbor’s place to make a request that he take over the driving once I started the return trip. Thankfully, Randy was home and willing so I tore up the hill toward the house.

Once in, the cellphone I needed so badly was nowhere to be seen. I’d been sure it was in a certain place, yet it wasn’t there. After minutes of running around and scaring the cats, I calmed enough to say a short prayer for help. Shortly after that, I spotted in a place I’d passed by before sitting in dark chair, belt holster and all.

I’d had problems getting my belt on properly in the earlier rush that morning so I thing it fell off while I was sorting that out. By the way, I found out later I still had the belt twisted. That somehow seems to have fit the theme of the day.

Saturday, August 02, 2014


The past week has been exceedingly difficult and two posts back I explained why I wanted July to end. In fact, I accused the month of refusing to go gracefully. True to form it exited in ugly fashion.

Wednesday I started coming down with a vicious cold and hoped that Thursday would be a slow day for my father so that I could stay home and rest. At 10 AM I received a call from a nurse that he was going to have the stent placement procedure in an hour. To my surprise, the PET scan thought to be done later in the day had been performed at 7 AM. There went any chance to rest.

In my rush to get dressed and out the door for the forty-five minute drive, my cellphone holster fell off the belt.That one little event turned a bad situation far worse as the day progressed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Slowly Developing Picture

Quite a bit has happened since the last post with further events yet to come as well. Where to begin?

The endoscopy yesterday morning had to be aborted before completion due regurgitation threatening to get in the lungs. Even so, the specialist saw an obstruction of the gastric outlet that looked like lymphoma to him. A biopsy was taken to be tested and a PET scan is needed to decide if cancer is still present.

I should rewind a little to explain how this cancels the surgery planned for today. Yesterday afternoon it was thought the nerve damage diagnosis was correct, therefore a drainage tube was going to be implanted into the stomach in order to relieve future build up. They have pumped 1.5 liters of fluids and matter out of him as of today, plus all he vomited before.

Imagine a two liter of soda residing in the stomach with nowhere to go but up to get an idea of what my father has been contending with.

Getting back to the new data, if Dad is cleared of having lymphoma that implies inflammation or scar tissue causing the blockage. Another EDG would be attempted with the goal if placing a stent in the outlet. This may be attempted even if the cancer is present, conferring with oncology is yet to be done.

There are no guarantees we won't be revisiting the original surgery discussed, of course. However, there is now some hope that Dad might be able to eat again even if only liquids or soft foods.

The Achilles' heel of modern medicine is specialization especially when dealing with a problem spanning multiple fields. It is said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I'd add that the more links there are, the higher the odds of having a weak link or two. The medical profession is made up humans so imperfection (mistakes) are inevitable.

Despite writing that, I think the rollercoaster ride could have been smoother. It would be no surprise if more bumps are on the way.

Monday, July 28, 2014

July Refuses to Go Gracefully

Normally complaining about a month involves that eternal and universal topic of weather. Yeah, the weather has been weird with ferocious gnats making the good days outside miserable, but it has been the unrelenting bad news that makes me want the month to just leave already.

The latest is my father having to be hospitalized again. After more than 24 hours of vomiting brown blood, he caved and we journeyed to the ER to see now familiar faces. At the rate he’s going, we’ll start being invited to family outings of the staff. Symptoms are the same as two weeks ago, but in greater volume and violence.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Following Through

Despite a paucity of energy, it is time to get reviews written again if only to see if I can still string words together in a coherent fashion. A review is already in the pipeline to get things rolling again. Okay, I only have the DVD out and am looking at it intently, but one has to start somewhere.

In a post in October of a previous year (I will not state which one), a list was put forth of movies that would be reviewed or have their reviews rewritten. Out of 26, only six remain to fulfill the promise made there. That should keep me busy, plus I did pick up the ritzy Criterion Blu-ray release of Godzilla/Gojira which means a rewrite of those reviews at some point.

I had considered finishing out the orphaned anime series reviews started before. However, this is one case where following through is unlikely as much as I despise not finishing a project. Instead, I may write an overall series review as a conclusion for each with other series getting that treatment in the future.

Hopefully, there will be time and energy for all this. It’s hard to believe that July is more than halfway over. Time really flies when you aren’t having fun.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Repeat Season

Summer is known for reruns on television so being back at the emergency room with Dad seems oddly fitting. Once again he's vomiting brown and black blood due to the ulcer. Vitals are good this time around and his hemoglobin is acceptable, so at least that's relatively positive.

The new feeding tube area looks good with no signs of infection for another positive, but he's pretty miserable thanks to hiccups and the vomiting. Anti-nausea medication is being administered through an IV and that's where we stand at the moment.

More will be posted as soon as it is known.

UPDATE 11AM: Dad has been admitted to the hospital.

UPDATE 2 4:30PM: After consultation, the despised NJ tube has been pulled out to see if its absence helps with some of the symptoms. Dad is continuing to be monitored and treated. So far he's not anemic, so there is some hope of his going home tonight. My bet is on an over night stay.

UPDATE Monday 10:30 AM: Yep, they kept him and will be tonight as well. Blood results have fluctuated plus he's low on iron. The latter will be rectified by injections. First feeding via the new tube will be done and it sounds like the old routine will stay in place once my father is home.

That's a little disappointing for we'd hoped the volume of nutrients would be increased allowing greater freedom. Traveling looks out of the question now though he will at least be able to hook himself up without assistance.

Friday, July 11, 2014


I can recall complaining about feeling like I was spinning my wheels in regards to life awhile back. Now it feels like I’m having to run around more than I can handle. Today was a good example of why. But I really need to go back to the events of the last couple of days in order to explain why.

The lead up to my father’s surgery to get a feeding tube implanted in his lower abdomen made for an interesting enough week after the hectic visit by family during the previous week. Exhausted by that, we both were trying to recover strength for the ordeal on Thursday. Of course, things are never that easy around here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

If You Love Science Fiction…

…There’s an anime on Netflix you need to watch. Knights of Sidonia started streaming on July 4 with options to watch it in Japanese with subtitles, English, and Spanish. Closed Captioning is a separate option as well. Adapted superbly from an ongoing manga series, Sidonia is a dark, no holds barred look at the possible last days of humanity on a “seed” ship trying to survive in the far off future.

Having taken the opportunity of a free month to try out Netflix again, I decided to test the service with an exclusive anime that adapted a manga I was familiar with. This is their first exclusive streaming deal for an anime and boy did they choose well.

Following the classic structure of following a hero from obscurity to fame during a desperate war, the series is filled with brooding atmosphere, interesting characters, and an intricate plot filled with mysteries slowly unraveled. Rendered in CGI, some people will want to skip it for that reason alone. They would be foolish, to say the least for it is visually beautiful in representing the harsh light of space and the worn interior of the vast ship.

Alien foes are truly alien with questions of whether they are sentient or animals being a major subplot (amongst many) while the humans seem to be having a hard time holding on to being human. Genetic and gender manipulation has been performed to keep humanity going with even darker scientific secrets lurking below the surface. No one is safe and the body count is extremely high with two episodes having casualty rates we normally never see.

Accompanied by an evocative soundtrack reminiscent of the better efforts of synth composers of the ‘80s, the show is often very intense and individual episodes fly by before you realize it. At only twelve episodes the show ends at a point leaving you wanting more and thankfully a second season has been green lighted.

It is tough to give more details without spoiling the story, so I’ll try to list what science fiction it resembles in some way or another. If you are a fan of any of the following, you should check it out: Battlestar Galactica (reboot), 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Dune, Akira, and Evangelion. Knights brings back memories of how amazing anime was decades ago, capturing a lost vibe that made the medium so fascinating.

I should note that it is not for children at all. While rated TV-MA, I’d say it is a hard PG-13 with relatively tasteful obscured nudity that never shows everything (it’s also a necessary plot point), many deaths, blood shed, and horrific alien monsters. Besides all that, there are sophisticated themes pondering politics, war, the nature of humanity, and loss that are a bit beyond kids ability to process. Okay for teens and up is my judgment in the end.

Knights of Sidonia is one of the best animes I’ve ever seen. Don’t be turned off by it being a “cartoon” for it is well worth watching. This may be the perfect series to show people who’ve never watched an anime how serious the medium can be. Go watch it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

That’s Not the Headlight of a Train

So after many travails, there is a light at the end of the tunnel in regards to my father’s cancer. After closer review of the PET scan, the radiologist concluded there was no definitive evidence of the lymphoma returning. There are nodules that don’t show uptake that would indicate cancer and the next scheduled appointment for a follow up with oncology is in October.

While we still haven’t had the chance to talk directly to the specialists involved, it appears Dad is clear of cancer. That’s quite a reversal from last week, when things looked dire again. I’m too tired to be relieved, interestingly enough.

UPDATE: I received a voice mail with more information as the holiday week phone tag game got out of control. Final verdict is the spots were pneumonia in the lungs and there is no lymphoma. Now to get him stronger.

Next week brings surgery for a more permanent feeding tube, which is also good news relatively speaking. Poor Dad had to have another NJ tube replaced yesterday when the third one blocked up beyond recovery. It will be awhile before the switchover is made in using the new tube implanted in his side for he has to heal first.

It will make feedings much easier I’m told.

Meanwhile, we are dealing with FFT (Forced Family Time) as my sister is here with her family for Independence Day, though they are actually leaving on the 4th. So things are hectic again.

It is nice to post some good news for a change. Not sure how to handle it, I’ve forgotten what it’s like. Something about smiling, right?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Not Looking Good

Today was the day Dad was supposed to get the all clear on cancer. Instead, initial test results indicate the lymphoma has spread elsewhere despite the tumor melting away. We’ll have more information tomorrow, but barring some other reason for all the spots showing up on the PET scan it doesn’t look good.

If the cancer has returned, it paints the decision by the family to cancel the last round of chemotherapy in a very bad light. As it stands, my father will have to have the feeding tube surgically implanted before any new assault on the cancer can begin. It may be a different cocktail of drugs from RCHOP and might be combined with radiation. Everything is again uncertain.

He’s also begun vomiting dried traces of blood again. Whatever is going on in the stomach, it isn’t remotely good.

Meanwhile, he’s lied about taking the drug to restore motility to help his stomach function again. Not only has he not increased the dosage like instructed over a week ago, he’s been skipping on it. I’m more than a little angry about it.

Suffice it to say that things are getting more difficult rather than easier. Dad’s stunned and might take fighting the cancer more seriously.

Me? I’m tired and discouraged. Nothing has gone right since the second round of chemo and the whole affair has been nightmarish. Lately the emergencies have been such a drain that I’ve gotten nothing done in the way of cleaning the house or writing for the blog.

Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to improve. I want to be wrong.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stuck in Place

Monday has arrived bringing improvement to my father's condition, albeit with no release from the hospital. Another day of observation and continued treatment is planned, so tomorrow will be the earliest he might come home.

In addition to the antibiotics and antacids, two units of blood have been put into him with a third on order. Dad's hemoglobin count is still lower than the doctors are comfortable with. However, he is responding nicely with the hiccups gone and the vomiting ending.

He also got a good night's sleep, which I can't claim. At least Dad is showing signs of life today though far from bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Alas, as I was typing the RN entered to announce his being taken for an endoscopy, a surprise that wasn't welcome. They'll be yanking the NJ tube out to do that so that horror will be repeated

And then that just got canceled just as the cart arrived for him.

It's enough to cause whiplash, though I don't think it would stand up in court.

We'll have to wait and see how it all plays out. Seventy years of robust health and then all of this happening is still disorienting after half a year.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Never a Dull Moment

Dashing this off in a hurry before attempting to get some sleep. Dad is being held overnight for observation at the hospital with a good chance of being discharged in the morning. He has pneumonia more serious than the mild case from before and maybe a bleeding ulcer. Still waiting to hear more about what caused the vomiting and whether it was blood or not.

Coughing and phlegm issues began to bother Dad yesterday, which I noticed. What went unnoticed is his drinking soured milk that had actually curdled. Apparently his taste buds couldn’t detect it.

When I arrived home from church today, he was suffering hiccups like under the chemotherapy treatments. This was a rude surprise since they had vanished around a week ago. Vomiting followed and so did a mild fever. Calling in and speaking to one of the doctors involved, the decision was made to bring him in.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Knowing Is Better than Not Knowing

Time for an update on what is going on with my father’s battle with cancer. With the last chemotherapy infusion cancelled at his request, the hope had been that it would accelerate the schedule for surgery to do something about in improperly functioning stomach. That hope has been dashed as of today.

Results from the barium study indicate that there no longer is an obstruction of the exit from the stomach. However, the flow is still not much and it appears that nerve damage has been caused by the RCHOP regime. The upshot of this is that Dad will probably never eat food again.

A longshot attempt to increase motility in his system will be tried for a week by increasing Regulin, a drug he was already on for side effects. When that fails, a permanent feeding tube will have to be surgically implanted into his small intestine. More information will be provided by the PET scan next week and decisions will have to be made afterword.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blog Comment Spam Researched

Over at Imperva, an online security firm, they have put up a fascinating Acrobat document showing how spam comments are made with automated tools. It is well worth reading for anyone who runs a blog and wonders how or why all the fake comments with links flood in.

Of course it mostly boils down to trying to elevate rankings of websites in Google’s search engine, surprise, surprise. Particularly interesting is the small percentage of sources responsible for most of the spam. I have no doubt automated tools like the ones shown in the report are used to generate fake referrals as well.

One of the things I’ve wondered about is how the text is composed for the comments and figured they just rotated prefabricated scripts. It turns out it is more complicated than that, using software to generate topically correct comments to get past filters or Google’s spam detection.

Most of the comment spam aimed at this blog isn’t that sophisticated, however. Usually it is blatant attempts to sell drugs, sex, and shoes. What, you were expecting rock and roll? Yeah, it is disappointingly unoriginal.

Ironic that I’d run into this just after marveling how an article at Wired was over run by comment spam. You’d think a big website would have their act together, but that clearly wasn’t the case. Anyway, thought this would be of interest and I hope they keep the report up for posterity.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chatty Spam

A wave of referral spam recently hit my Blogger stats that looked like it might be real referrals, but as you have probably guessed from the title, it was spam again. The culprits are from freenode . net in two incarnations and I’ll be showing where the links lead to. Also included is some bonus spam involving the sex trade, travel, and an error message.

Remember to never click on suspicious links and leave that to those of us crazy enough to do so! You could end up with all sorts of nasty stuff on your computer.

Miller vs. Hagedorn: Round 2

Things have once again gotten out of control on the GOP side in the run up to the 2014 elections. A primary to decide who the candidate is to be after an endorsement fails to unite the activists brings back unpleasant memories. Think of this as the return of the Brian Davis strife from 2008, but with the potential to get uglier.

What I’m about to write will make some enemies (if anyone actually bothers to read this post), but some harsh truths need to be said even if it appears to give the Democrats ammo. It doesn’t, they already have more than enough thanks to ham fisted politicking already under way.

Over the past decade, the Republicans of Congressional District 1 in Minnesota have indulged in circular firing squads and tribalism to the point where sitting Democratic Congressman Tim Walz has become all but unbeatable. A large part of it has been the result of an influx of Ron Paul supporters into the caucus system exacerbated by the purging of too many old hands who understood how to fund raise and campaign. Paul supporters for the most part aren’t willing to do the work required to elect candidates once things go to the general election and that continues to astound me.

Why? Because of all the work and effort they put into getting said candidates endorsed and taking over of party leadership positions. They are really good at that, then pretty much vanish into the ether other than doing an occasional phone bank. There seems to be a fundamental disconnect from the reality of politics reminiscent of the underpants gnomes from South Park:

  1. Collect endorsements and BPOU leaderships
  2. ?
  3. Victory!

So what does this have to do with Jim Hagedorn reentering the race to contest endorsed candidate Aaron Miller in the primary?

Monday, June 09, 2014

Still a Long Road to Travel

It’s a Monday and I’m dead tired as usual. Things have moved ahead of schedule in regards to my father’s cancer treatment. His last chemotherapy session was canceled last Thursday so he is done after five rounds of the misery. Now we are waiting on the GI specialists so that something can be done about his nonfunctional stomach.

In fact, that’s why we asked to have the last round of chemo canceled. Dad has hit the wall in putting up with not being able to eat, spending half his life hooked up to the feeding machine, and choking constantly on phlegm or reflux. Getting stronger for whichever surgery is decided on is a must and he’s lost too much ground already.

Now he has a chance to recover, if he’d stop over exerting himself. It takes next to nothing to do so, yet he gets delusions of being able to do things like mow grass with the push mower. Of course that results in him getting weaker and crankier, setting off another cycle of difficulty for him.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Godzilla 2014 In Theater Review

It is said that it is better late than never and I hope that applies to this review, not to mention the movie. If it weren’t for the local theater in the small town of Spring Grove, I wouldn’t have gotten to see the new Godzilla on the big screen at all. Happily I can report the film is good and worth of the name.

Showing influences from more than just the Godzilla franchise, the film contains elements borrowed from Rodan, Cloverfield, Battle Los Angeles, and even the abominable previous Hollywood attempt from 1998. Oh what a difference proper execution and intelligent usage of those concepts make!

Since I’m late to the party, I’ll start off be addressing some of the criticisms of the film. Might as well take the bull by the horns before extolling the virtues of the piece.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003) Review

A muddled mess of a Godzilla film that is a direct sequel to 2002’s much better Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla this is probably the worst of the Millennium series. A weak script that links back to the original Mothra makes it more of little kids movie ala the 1970s entries. UPDATED with “HD” screen captures and Blu-ray details.

Godzilla Tokyo SOS HD Title

When I was a kid growing up, often there would be showings of Godzilla films on broadcast TV, usually Saturday night at 10:30 or in the afternoon. It dawned on me it might be fun to review some of the monster destroying cities films for the blog. So I chose Godzilla: Tokyo SOS as a guinea pig for this project.  I now regret that as I had to sit through the film twice like I do for every review.  Yes, you’ve been warned. Be afraid.

Godzilla Tokyo SOS F-15JGodzilla Tokyo SOS HD Mothra Intercepted

The movie starts out promisingly enough, with a sequence of code showing Mechagodzilla’s DNA based computers being tested segueing to Godzilla’s eye opening in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Moments later a US Air Force base picks up a UFO flying at high Mach speeds towards Japan and notify the local authorities.  Two F-15J Eagles are scrambled to intercept the UFO which has slowed to Mach 2 and is disturbing the cloud layer in a fairly decent CGI sequence.  Warning shots are fired ahead of the object without it reacting.  However, the lead pilot hears singing women and ground control doesn’t believe him.

The giant moth called… well, Mothra, emerges and the two jet fighters engage her with missiles.  Suddenly, the supersonic insect emits a golden cloud of glitter which fools the missiles into missing.  Who knew the beloved Japanese monster had chaff dispensers?

A Week Gone By

Things have been hectic the past week, hence the lack of posts. My sister arrived late on Memorial Day and stayed through until Friday night. Between mowing the lawn and teleworking, she also got  some paperwork moving forward on getting some kind of financial assistance for Dad. Cancer racks up amazing bills even with Medicare insurance and then there was the horrific heating bill due from the very harsh winter.

We’d previously gotten things moving on the latter and some help will be coming via SEMCAC with the possibility of more from the state of Minnesota. Initial application for help to the local county social services has produced a denial letter and we’ll have to follow up on that since I’m not sure what all my sister applied for in Dad’s name.

A rare bit of socializing for me occurred on Friday, the first in months was made possible by her being able to watch him. My friends, the Kuglers, had me over for dinner and conversation for a welcome break. Fun was had and I found myself very tired once I arrived home.

Things being the way they are, that socializing came at a penalty.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Thoughts

My first thought about today’s holiday honoring fallen American soldiers was not about their sacrifice, I’m sorry to say. Instead it was muted surprise that the date had advanced so far into 2014. Time flies when you aren’t having fun. Thoughts did turn toward the real meaning of the day, but more on that later in the post.

Yesterday was a rough day starting out with another minor emergency with my cancer stricken father. After the overnight feeding through his nasal tube, it stopped up completely for a good hour after finishing. I’m supposed to flush it with a 60ml syringe and it back blasted after 10-15ml of water. Second attempt blew open the secondary port on the tube. Talking to the nurse on duty, I was told to bring him in to the ER again within four hours of the failed flush.

There went plans to teach Sunday school at church and we ended up at Gundersen again. He had about 8 inches of tube coiled in his stomach, yet the end was in the right place in the small intestine. The nurse called from home had no problem flushing him and pulled the extra length out leaving the tube dangling quite a bit. That’s actually turning out to be handy in regards to flushes and feedings.

She also gave me smaller 20ml syringes that generate more pressure plus adaptors to get a more snug fit into the port. With that, we headed home and I collapsed in bed from total exhaustion.

When the same thing happened again this morning, I was not pleased. Multiple failed attempts to flush complete with water blasting out the secondary port had me stewing. This time I didn’t call in or take Dad to the ER, choosing to wait and see if things would change after an hour.

Turns out it took a little more than an hour, but I was finally able to flush the tube. Something odd is going on with it and it may be related to Dad sleeping on his back rather than at least 45 degrees upright like he should. As it is, my plans of going back to bed and getting some rest didn’t pan out this A.M. which means I get to inflict this post upon the virtual world.

Back to the title topic!

In the spirit of Memorial Day, I’m going to list the war films that I own that accurately depict the sacrifices of our service men. I recommend them to anyone who wants to understand the sacrifices made to protect our country and aid others.

In no particular order:

  • Patton
  • Tora, Tora, Tora
  • Blackhawk Down
  • Hamburger Hill
  • The McConnell Story
  • The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Three television series also make the cut:

  • Victory at Sea
  • Band of Brothers
  • Dogfights.

I do own other war movies, but these are the realistic or factual ones. Sorry, I don’t think watching the superb Kelly’s Heroes qualifies as observing Memorial Day. It should be a day of sober remembrance, not just an excuse to cook outside with family and friends.

PARENTAL NOTE: Blackhawk Down, Hamburger Hill, and Band of Brothers are all R rated for good reasons and contain nudity, prolific profanity, and realistic gore. They are unflinching in showing the horror of combat and immoral behavior of soldiers.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Gamera the Giant Monster (1965) Review

Only one giant monster series managed to compete with Godzilla -- and it took a flying turtle to do the job. Done on the cheap amid a great deal of internal doubt about the project, Gamera spawned a franchise that lasted for years to the delight of many children. The American edits are the ones most have seen, but the original Japanese version turns out to be a slightly more serious film with Cold War themes. It also portrays the life of one very disturbed little boy. UPDATED with HD screen captures and Blu-ray details.

Gamera HD Title

When Toho’s Godzilla series suffered a false start in the ‘50s, many a movie studio tried to horn in on the big monster action including Toho themselves with Rodan and Mothra. But it was not until the head of Daiei Studios saw a turtle shaped cloud while flying across the Pacific Ocean that the only true rival emerged. With none of the accomplished directors at the studio wanting to make the movie, it fell on struggling young Noriaki Yuasa to make the mad idea work. Equipped with a quiet agenda of his own, he led a production crew into uncharted waters for Daiei had never made a movie like this. Did he succeed? Oh, yeah he did -- and then some.

Thanks to Shout Factory, we finally can see what the Japanese audiences originally saw in a completely restored and remastered version. Please join me for a slightly less snarky review than that of the NTA version, Gammera the Invincible. If you want to see what professional mockery can do with the Sandy Frank version, check out my Gamera: MST3K review.

Gamera HD Eskimo VillageGamera HD Soviet Bombers Buzz Ship

Gamera the Giant Monster starts with Soviet bombers flying over the Artic ice and a Japanese scientific expedition arriving at an Eskimo village. I may have missed it, but the reason to be there never seems to be fully explained. It is more important that our three main characters just happen to be there to witness events. They are Dr. Hidaka (Eiji Funakoshi), his assistant Kyoke Yamamoto (Harumi Kiritachi), and news photographer Aoyogi (Junichiro Yamashiko).

Buzzed by the Soviet bombers which look suspiciously like British V-bombers (specifically the Victor), Hidaka makes a comment about the Cold War going on. The fears and tensions of the not so hot clash between East and West forms the backdrop for the film, unlike Gojira where it was the simple reaction to the atomic bomb drops that ended World War II. Eleven years had gone by with new concerns replacing the old which is perfectly understandable given Japan’s geographic location. They were smack dab between the two superpowers of the Soviet Union and the United States of America.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Delays in Reviews

At least I got the Godzilla flicks promised earlier posted, though the bonus one was a bridge too far to complete. That’s my sole consolation because there is nothing in the pipeline due to how things have gone with my father’s health the last few weeks. His having taken up residence in the living room, I can’t evaluate any movies with 5.1 sound until he starts feeling better and can stay awake for two hours of film.

Note: A sure way to put him to sleep is to put on a movie. Only exception is if it is loud, which is a characteristic of most surround movies these days.

At the moment, I’m thinking of going to the older classics in my film library for material to review. Monaural sound is something I can do on the PC with headphones, ditto for stereo. There are a few older reviews that need rewriting and better screen captures, so maybe that will be a way to get some writing done.

It’s Always Something

“All in all, it was a good day.” – My father.

Yesterday turned into a minor crisis event when Dad’s feeding tube malfunctioned. First clue something wasn’t right was the slower than normal rate of liquid food being pumped into him with it taking an hour longer than usual. It was his vomiting up the horrible stuff that caused alarm, because it meant the tube might be in the stomach, not the small intestine. Flushing it resulted in water back blasting the syringe out of the adaptor on the tube which would indicate a blockage or crimp somewhere.

Phone calls to the oncology and nutritionist departments followed with the latter responding. Checking the tube for crimps discovered none and the recommendation was given to bring Dad into urgent care, which we discovered is a department of the emergency room. Before leaving, it checked the tube one last time since Dad was choking and gagging on it.

It wasn’t long before he was uncontrollably heaving and unable to catch a breath. One thing about emergencies that fascinates me is the time dilation effect experienced. Thoughts race at faster than normal speeds, at least for me, which leads to an increase in calculations – not to mention movements. Slipping on the last pair of vinyl gloves in the box we have, I carefully and very quickly pulled the tube out so Dad could travel while still breathing.

With that done and him no longer in distress, we headed for La Crosse and the ER. After a long wait, he was wheeled to the clinic building and the fluoroscopy unit to have a new NJ tube put in. After briefing the RNs involved, I went to the waiting area expecting it to be awhile due to difficulties involved the first time compounded by the possibility that the night’s feeding had ended up in the stomach.

Sure enough, it took a great deal of time and effort including pumping his stomach which was filled and unable to drain. But the new tube is in. We’ll be monitoring it closely since we suspect that if this happens again a surgically implanted one will be necessary. Last night’s feeding went well according to Dad and was the most restful one in days. We’ll be modifying his feeding routine to shorten it from being 12 hours straight at night. The new schedule will be 11PM to 7AM nominally, then noon to 4PM.

If you are wondering why my father said what he did at the beginning of the post, it has to do with the fact of how well he physically handled the day. While it was “a challenge,” he got outside under his own power and even burned trash. He was up and down going to his PC transplanted to the dining room as well. Energy and activity levels were up despite the major malfunction.

Silver linings, to be sure.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Second to Last

Normally the three words “second to last” has a negative connotation ameliorated to a mild mercy by simply not being “last.” Yet there are exceptions to that wretched feeling and that’s when the words are used to describe being near the end of a series of trials. That’s where Dad is after his second to last chemotherapy infusion yesterday.

Make no mistake about it, he’s still miserable and terribly, terribly weak. Side effects from antibiotics have made things even more challenging than before to the point of his discontinuing them two days before the end of the course. I’m not happy with that, but as he slowly gets stronger he gets harder to deal with. It’s ironic that when he’s at his lowest he’s the easiest to deal with when caring for him at home.

Some progress has been made in that he’s gained a couple of pounds despite the side effects, his white and red blood cell counts have improved into acceptable ranges, and he’s more ambulatory now. My father has walked to his appointments at the clinic rather than having to be wheeled everywhere like earlier in the month. After such a steep decline, any regaining of lost ground is most welcome.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Godzilla 2000 (1999) Review

Radioactive Rage Month continues with the movie that started the Millennium series of Godzilla films. After the disappointing American attempt at Japan’s iconic monster, Toho Studios decided to bring the big galoot back years ahead of schedule. The hastily put together result was a messy mash up of ideas from previous decades, special effects experimentation, and the occasional spectacular scene.

Godzilla 2000 Title

Toho originally planned to make a new Godzilla movie for the 50th anniversary of the character in 2004, leaving the franchise temporarily in Hollywood’s hands. Though profitable, 1998’s Godzilla was a large disappointment. Consequently,ideas for a trilogy were scrapped. A mere year after that turkey posing as a kaiju skittered onto the silver screen, the real Godzilla returned to fight another monster on Japanese soil.

This review covers the American edited and dubbed release, one of the very rare ones to hit theaters in the States. It only made $10 million in North America, so it was here and gone again in the blink of an eye. There were some good reasons for this…

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Going Backwards


Dad is home and we await results of a chest x-ray and the ultrasound. The EKG wasn't a perfect reading, but didn't reveal anything significant from what I can decode.

We're back to feeding at a lower rate per hour to see how that goes.

Then there was a big discovery once at home that I made. Tessalon Perle is the medication prescribed to quell the hiccups. On the prescription, it says to take 1/2 or 1 pills up to 3 a day as needed. Guess what pill should never, ever be cut or ground up?

The known side effects at WebMD and Wikipedia read like a check list of many of Dad's symptoms that currently prevent him from drinking or swallowing anything. So that one will be out of the rotation to see if certain condition improve -- especially since it has failed to suppress the hiccups the last few days.

As a side note, my father's voice is getting a little better and had been up until yesterday. After the transfusion, it seems to be slightly stronger. He's been anemic due to the chemo, so no wonder he's been weak.

Update 2:

X-ray results show the feeding tube is where it is supposed to be. Unfortunately, it also revealed a mild case of pneumonia. Going to have to pick up antibiotics tomorrow.

Original post:

Dad is in terrible shape and the scheduled chemotherapy has been canceled. That doesn't mean we are free from Gundersen Clinic today.  At the moment, my father is receiving a blood transfusion due to a low red blood cell count and a host of debilitating symptoms.

Prior to that an EKG and ultrasound tests of his heart were done to assess whether there is a problem there. Results are pending, so the waiting game has returned.

The deterioration has become alarming. Almost as alarming as Dad's appearance. Doctors, nurse, and staff who've seen him before get such a look on their faces -- I'd describe it as a mix of shock and dismay.

Between his appearance and the hiccup induced weird sounds he makes, he had the other cancer patients looking very uncomfortable in the waiting area. My father was probably a reminder of how bad things could get.

He's as weak as a newborn kitten and has to have help dressing himself. This is a radical downturn after a promising Tuesday where he overexerted himself. Not that he really did much, but going up and down the stairs was a bit too much. Yesterday I moved his PC downstairs to reduce temptation.

Though last night's feeding through the tube failed at the halfway point, we will continue the regimen. No choice in the matter since he's become unable to orally ingest anything without choking. Everything is like pulling teeth, it seems.

Somehow I've managed to keep from falling apart health wise. The last two weeks have been brutal and flirtations with lower respiratory problems have shut me down at times. Since Dad has become such a handful, the realization that there can be no more time or efforts devoted to my health or interests has become something that cannot be ignored.

Last night illustrated that when I played a video game and couldn't figure out why my father was trying to slam shut the bathroom door repeatedly. Because his behavior has been erratic, my assumption was that he was having trouble with the humidity swollen door.

Then he showed up at the doorway to my room trying to shout with his fried vocal chords. He'd somehow managed to unplug the pump from the feeding tube and had been trying to signal me for help. Apparently part of it involved thumping SOS in Morse code.

So no more gaming, watching movies, or listening to music will be possible until he gets much stronger. If he does, the latest setbacks make me think that end game preparations need to begin in earnest. No matter what the outcome, contingency plans need to be made.

More later as the situation develops.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Just What I Wanted: More Spam

While the blog hasn’t been hammered with referral spam recently, there have been a few drive byes. Also in the mix was an attempt at comment spam that shows how the Web 2.0 emphasis on social media makes it easy to establish a false identity on the Internet, thereby lending an appearance of credibility to a post.

Remember not to click on suspicious links, folks. Leave that to crazy people like me who use layers of security and virtualized computers to poke cyber hornet nests.

First up is from Russia, without love:

Trust Combat Spam 01Trust Combat Spam 02

Trust Combat’s spam came in as http: // www . trustcombat . com / faq . htm and appears to be an SEO (search engine optimization) outfit wanting money to help boost your web page ranking. They want to help you so badly that they accept Bitcoin, Litecoin, Nextcoin, Primecoin, and Paypal for payment. Links to proxy services are also found on the site.

trustcombat Blog Spam 01trustcombat Blog Spam 02

UPDATED: Taking advantage of Blogger’s ease of setting up blogs to fake a legitimate presence is nothing new. What’s new is trustcombat . blogspot. com showing up in my referral data, complete with a Google Plus account. Tips and tricks for link building and creating a fake social media presence along with every single link going back to trustcombat . com fill the page.

I’d steer away from them, nothing good would come of doing business with what looks to be a fly by night operation. While neat and tidy, this is a barebones site that probably was set up in an hour or so of work. Avoid clicking on this link if it shows up on your Blogger stats.