Wednesday, December 14, 2016


black kitten 01

I find myself in the middle of December of 2016 wondering where the year went. Of course much of the elapsed time was spent being ill, yet there was even more weirdness eating up precious seconds, hours, and days. Included in the strangeness are the subcategories of politics, sports, technology, things breaking down, and celestial events. Just how many super moons can one year have?

This is starting to read like a year end post and I’m not willing to concede 2016 just yet. In the spirit of losing time…

Thursday, November 10, 2016

President Elect Donald Trump and Other Post Election Thoughts

Well, Tuesday was some night for many of us and unfortunately for me, I overdid things making the upper respiratory infection that was nearly gone return. While I’m physically having some breathing problems, I can say that mentally, emotionally, and spiritually the atmosphere has lifted allowing me to metaphorically breathe easier. Time to ramble a bit for posterity.

President Trump. A year ago I was telling people to get used to saying this only to be greeted by laughter.

Monday, November 07, 2016

2016 Election Thoughts

A highly abridged collection of my thoughts on the 2016 election written without any real structure with the purpose of jogging my memory later on.

What a bizarre election. It reminds me of reading accounts of Italian or Greek elections more than an American one.

Normally there is more excitement surrounding local candidates around here, but the strange presidential race has sucked most of the attention away this time out. One of the consequences of the immense damage the autocratic Obama administration has wrought over two terms is this weird (by American standards) faceoff between a billionaire populist not wanted by his party leadership and the most corrupt candidate to ever run for the office. Both have high negatives so it has been a marathon to see which one will be the most disliked.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Chicago Cubs Win the 2016 World Series!!!

108 years since their last World Series title, the Chicago Cubs are once again champions. Being a recovering Cubs fan, I wasn’t emotionally invested in it the way I once would have, but I do wish my late mother could have seen the series.

Game 7 was one for the ages, a hard fought 8 to 7 victory in extra innings. While the Cleveland Indians had to be defeated, it was the multiple managing errors of Cubs manager Joe Maddon that they really overcame. His pitching changes and an insane 3-2 safety squeeze that ended in a strike out killing a rally were the things of every Cubs fan’s nightmares.

However, the team did not give up and took advantage of a rain delay after the ninth inning to regroup in time to break a six all tie in the 10th. Cleveland narrowed the lead in the bottom of the inning to give heart attacks to many a Chicago fan, yet the Cubs managed to hold them off.

This may have been the best game sevens of a World Series ever in one of the best series I’ve seen. It really showcased what makes baseball such an amazing sport.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Russian Spam Returns

UPDATED: There has been a flood of 3 hit drive by spams out of Russia via Ukraine ever since these hit. In fact, there are too many different ones to look into so it appears that we’re under siege again.

Original Post:

It looks like I spoke too soon about Blogger having improved on blocking Russian spam referrals. Once again a flood of unwanted fake referrals showed up in Stats and of course it is all from Russia or rerouted through Ukraine. Reinstalling TOR to check out the sites was an annoyance I’d never planned on doing again, but I’m in a bad mood these days so once again it is time to inform people of the garbage being pushed out.

Remember, never click on suspicious links in your Blogger referrals. I’ve taken the precaution of running an anonymous browser system within a virtual machine to take these screenshots because you never know what kind of malware might be pushed through the code embedded on these pages.

On to the spam…

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Yet Another Cat Missing

Baron October

I was going to post a generic update with cat photos for my next post, however it looks like yet another cat has been lost. It has been a miserable week with a virus leading to bronchitis that I’m having trouble getting over, so I hadn’t noticed Baron being absent for a couple of days. His brother Top has been acting weird which isn’t a good sign.

While there is a remote chance the soon to be neutered tomcat has gone wandering, this has never turned out to be the case out here. They vanish completely, most likely consumed by the out of control coyote population or some other predator. As a result, there isn’t much hope of seeing the loud and hyper affectionate tabby tiger again.

Funny, I’d just been lamenting how I’d been unable to get any good photos of Baron and his brother because they refuse to sit still. The photo above is probably the last one to ever be taken of the sweet animal.

I’ve been expecting the worst ever since getting the brothers since nothing good ever happens to me. Still hurts though it is getting harder to care about anything other than simple survival. If it weren’t for scar tissue, I wouldn’t have a heart at all these days. I certainly don’t have any hope.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

After the Rain


It hasn’t been a good year, but there have been worse ones, or so I try to remind myself. The world hasn’t been filled with much in the way of good news which make it easy to forget the better moments that happened. One needs to keep an eye open in order to catch those fleeting moments of magic that make life worth living.

A sunset drive last night in search of food to break the monotony of my diet featured an unspectacular sky leading me to leave my camera behind. So of course, I saw something I’d never seen before --  a column of rainbow light coming from the middle of a cloud on the horizon. No rainbow arch, just a nearly straight shaft of prismatic color descending from the sky like a psychedelic tornado, it caught my disbelieving eye.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Yucatan Floods 2016 Edition

Torrential rain and over saturated soil combined to cause more flooding in the SE Minnesota area with Yucatan Valley being no exception. We got off light compared to nearby parts of Iowa and Wisconsin, yet it is annoying that yet another “flood of the century” has hit our township. So far we’ve had this or worse levels of unwanted water in 2000, 2007, 2008, 2013, and now 2016.

Yucatan Flood 2016 05

Having gotten out and about later than I should have, I missed out on some of the event while discovering the bumper crop of densely packed corn concealed a great deal of the damage. This year saw a change in planting methods to double yields by sowing the seeds so close together that you can’t walk through a field anymore. As a consequence, there wasn’t much in the way of dramatic photographic material.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

No Excuses

While I’ve been struggling with my health and what few activities I’ve had, having an entire month go by without posting is ridiculous. That will be rectified in the near future, as I’m going to be making some changes in my life to reduce demands on my time and energy.

At the moment, I’m too tired to write anything at the moment, however there will be more posting on a variety of topics coming after I get over a bug I picked up this weekend.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rambling Rather than Ranting

Once again, it has been more than a month since last posting. I wish this was due to being really busy having summer fun, however it is solely due to not being up to my normal levels of subhuman energy. Every day has been a tightrope walk managing health versus activity ever since spring arrived.

Adding to the misery has been chronic problems with the new silicone hydrogel contacts and trying to figure out just what is triggering allergic reactions that make me look like Christopher Lee as Dracula. What is mystifying is how one or the other eye acts up, but rarely both at the same time. Maybe a trip to an allergist is needed since I’ve used every kind of solution and cleaning regime out there.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Buggy and Stormy Start of Summer


I haven’t been posting much due to ongoing issues with Dad’s health, my health, and no excess energy to speak of. My father ending up back in the hospital for two days of observation to start June which capped off a disastrous May when his removed gastric tube opening took too long to heal. A raging fever, loss of balance, and the return of the uncontrollable hiccups led to reopening that wound along with the hospital stay.

While he was in Gundersen Hospital, I had a visitor on the kitchen screen door that spooked an aquaintance delivering some electronics for me to wipe. The frightening creature turned out to be one of the large Polyphemus moths that live in the region. There is no need to fear being bitten by these gentle giants for they don’t even eat as adults. Sadly it causes them to have a short lifespan of a week or so due to starvation.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Milestone Passed

It was an early morning to venture out, but Dad had an important appointment to make that required blood work to processed first. Not only was it the last time we’d see the fellow who treated him for cancer, Dr. Chalasni, it was the official two year checkup after finishing chemotherapy.

While we are sad to see her move on to bigger and better things in another state, the results were negative for reoccurrence which is something to celebrate. At the two year remission mark, the odds of this type of lymphoma coming back drops dramatically. Now Dad only needs to go back every six months instead of every three months.

It is amazing how much his battle with cancer along with all the complications consumed so much time and energy. Most of the past two and a half years are a blur to me, ironically confirmed when I visited the optometrist later in the morning. The last time I’d been there was before Dad wrecked the Subaru which was the beginning of the travails.

So it is nice to be able to record this good news, especially after a hard month dealing with problems associated with his vent tube being removed from his stomach. Multiple runs to the ER and clinics made it seem like the bad old days were back for awhile. Thankfully that is now healing and the old man is once again mowing the yard with a push mower.

That’s a far cry from the skeletal figure that looked a moment away from death’s door two years ago.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Man of Steel (2013) Review

Rebooting a film franchise is always divisive, however this bold reinterpretation of Superman’s origin may qualify as one of the most controversial in cinema history. Big, brashly violent, and unabashedly emotional this is definitely not the Christopher Reeve’s superhero that so many have fond memories of. Instead it is a science fiction story about what it would be like to be a perpetual stranger in a strange land while trying to find your own unique identity.

Man of Steel Title

See the title above? You won’t see that until the movie ends. Nothing is allowed to get in the way of this freight train of a story that hurtles through the two and half hours the movie runs. Contained within is a densely packed journey of discovery alternating with loss combined with all the repercussions of finding out alien life exists and may not be friendly.

Don’t expect much comic relief in this very serious take on the first comic book superhero. It stands in stark contrast to the relatively cheery 1970’s Superman film series.

Man of Steel BirthMan of Steel Krypton

Like Richard Donner’s classic from 1978, the movie begins on the dying world of Krypton somewhere far off in space. Hans Zimmer’s masterful soundtrack thrums away before giving way to a heartbeat of a baby being born. Amidst the decay of a spent people, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) have done something not allowed in hundreds of years: they have had a baby by natural childbirth rather than artificial engineering.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Musings Before the Storm

With the “Super Tuesday” caucuses nearly upon us, I’ve been thinking about a few things while cutting out nearly three hundred ballots with a pair of scissors while preparing to convene one site here in Minnesota. Political volunteerism is far less glamorous than TV or movies make it out to be, what can I say?

The debate last night on CNN was stormy, uncivil, and the last before Tuesday’s big event. Rubio won it handily, to my surprise. More shocking was watching Ted Cruz not only fail at debating, but have a melt down while arguing with Trump. The pressure is clearly on and the tag team attacks on The Donald were unlike anything seen so far.

It is questionable whether or not this influences the upcoming vote, though it may allow Rubio a chance at Minnesota. He’s got more than a few supporters keeping quiet, I suspect. As it was, I’d expected Trump to win the state by a narrower margin than his previous wins with Marco coming in a close second. Now I really don’t know what to think.

Of course, predicting elections is more like gambling in a lottery than a science. The odds are always against you.

Monday, February 15, 2016


So far February has been a troublesome month mainly due to transportation issues. An excellent example being how the borrowed pickup truck refused to start this morning, thereby forcing a rescheduling of Dad’s quarterly cancer checkup. Aiding and abetting all the annoyances has been the job of the winter weather. Aching bones are not conducive to rest or ambulation, I’m finding.

Limiting long range trips to medical or repair work has resulted in my not getting out to church in weeks. Again, the winter weather has exacerbated the situation since the driveway is a challenge for most drivers that I’d call on.

Still, one must trudge on despite all loose gravel, deep snow, and slippery ice in life.

Using scrap wood and old MDF shelves going unused, I’ve been rebuilding the old TV stand a bit at a time into something that better houses the HDTV, receiver, and disc players while making more room for the center speaker of the surround system. Having no workshop, there is only so much I can do while it is cold, so final finishing will have to wait until much warmer weather allowing windows to be open.

Feeling a little dizzy and generally unwell today, so the truck not starting early this morning may not be such a horrible thing after all. It has been charged and started, albeit after eating up all the travel and blood work time that was allotted. Wanted to get the rebuild of the TV stand done today – not going to happen.

Hopefully, notes will be taken for the next movie review this week as there are hopes of getting those rolling again.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

A Short Comment on Last Night’s Debate

Updated: Yep, it cost him big time as my late friend Al would have said. Rubio’s support went over to Jeb, prolonging that campaign just a bit longer. All it took to stop Marcomentum was Christie, though neither did well looking at totals with 77% reported in.

Original post follows:

New Hampshire’s caucuses are the big moment for Marco Rubio to break out after his surprisingly strong showing in Iowa. Thanks to his wretched performance last night he may have blown that opportunity, though voters are always unpredictable.

Chris Christie has been dinging Rubio for using canned sound bites that are very rehearsed and not at all extemporaneous. When he went after the Florida senator, the response was exactly what the governor was mocking. Pundits have noted that Rubio is robotic in his responses and he sounded just like a vinyl record being stuck during that exchange.

Occasionally politics will present truly surreal moments that make one question the nature of reality. Now I’m wondering if Life Model Decoys developed by SHIELD are real.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Iowa Caucus or Iowa Circus?

Once again the first in the nation caucuses held in Iowa have concluded without leaving any definite conclusion as to who the eventual nominees will be. For those of us who follow politics, the relief from the sheer overflow of punditry and prognostications is large, to say the least. So much hot air, so much speculation, so much money spent… and rarely does the GOP winner go on to win the whole shebang.

Frankly, the Democratic Party results are more fascinating than that of the Republican record setting attendance. I’ll get back to that in a moment.

I live near the border of Iowa, so the results were of interest to me, especially from Winneshiek County. Trump beat Cruz 274 to 251 votes while Sanders beat Clinton 56 to 54 delegates in the Iowa Democrats very twisted methods of counting. Oddly, there is no secret ballot and the process is very peer pressure driven with little accountability.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Yet Another Deer Collision

Deer Collision 1-26-2016

Well, tonight went downhill quickly. My father hit another deer and the Ford Freestyle looks like it may be a goner. Unfortunately, the insurance policy wasn’t comprehensive so our options will be limited. We’ll know more tomorrow, but being without wheels with the closest town being twelve miles away is going to be a problem.

We never catch a break.

Cat Follies

At the beginning of the month, my father and I picked out a pair of kittens of mixed breed. At the time we and the people who had them thought the yellow and white one was female. Well three weeks later it turns out Toph was a late bloomer and is actually a boy.

Top 01

To be fair, this was a hard kitten to sex until the past week. A large growth spurt has revealed all beyond a shadow of a doubt. It helps that he has developed into a lap cat and can finally be examined without it being considered a call to wrestle.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Gorgon (1964) Review

Director Terence Fisher redeemed himself after the fiasco of The Phantom of the Opera with this gothic romance featuring a predatory woman with looks that kill. Featuring Hammer Films lurid use of Technicolor, it chooses to bring chills rather than scares compared to prior releases by the studio. Tragic love, severe calcification, and an ensemble cast combine to deliver the goods in this mostly forgotten movie.

The Gorgon Title

Having bombed spectacularly with a remake of The Phantom of the Opera two years before, Terence Fisher was on the outs with Hammer Films. Fortunately for him and for horror fans, he was given another chance with a new property to direct. Stepping away from remaking old classic monster movies, Hammer took a risk by reviving a monster from Greek myth as the star villain. While the results looked silly even by the standards of the time, the rest of the movie almost made up for it.

The Gorgon Artist and ModelThe Gorgon Sascha's Secret

Like many a Hammer intro, a matte painting of a castle on a hill opens the movie while serving as a backdrop for the title credits and a short crawl defining the setting. It is a strangely comforting indication that we’ll be getting one of their typical stories set in the 1800s filled with lavish sets, lovely women, and fiendish villainy.

Well, once the scroll finishes the story goes straight for the middle part, at least.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

New Year, New Kittens


Having lost a cat last may that was one in a billion, I had no intentions of ever adding more cats to the household. Watching the vitality ebb out of our home and the remaining cats, it became apparent that something needed to be done. Watching my number one cat, Snooky, gain a massive amount of weight since Ragnar’s disappearance made me realize just how sedentary she had become without a male to show off in front of.

My sister’s quest for a long hair tiger tabby for the holidays ended up roping me into things including a visit to a pet store. Eventually she got a short hair tabby tiger after no luck.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Winter Mornings


It is a marvel how much clear skies and a morning sun transform the dullness of winter into something spectacular. Two mornings ago was such a day, so I tried to photograph the beautiful frosting on the trees around the property. Sadly, they photos were blurry messes thanks to me having a subpar day which even the autostabilization on the Fujifilm HS25EXR couldn’t overcome.

Winter Flag

Second chances are far rarer than people would like to admit, especially when trying to capture a moment in time. Thankfully, today gave me such an opportunity.