Tuesday, November 30, 2004


The match I am watching is U.S.A Tomahawks VS. (World Champion) Australia Kangaroos at the Liberty Bell Cup. I cannot believe what I am seeing. The score at half-time is 24-6 Tomahawks! This is like a high school football team leading an NFL team at half-time. Go Tomahawks!

11/13/04 - My favorite part of CP - the single track! Riders can really blow the leaves out of the way. Still I should have brought my bike on this day. With the leaves making things very slick, high speed whips would surely kick some ass. Although I would have probably ended up acquainted with one of those trees in a bad way! Posted by Hello

11/13/04 - I couldn't have helped but notice the bike tracks on the "hiking" trail next to my own dawg tracks. Where are the whistle-blowers at C.L.I.M.B. when you need them! LOL Posted by Hello

11/13/04 - Damn, all those leaves! LOL This is a lookout along the hike trail at Catherdal Pines. You could barely make out a rather unused line here. It leads down to a little valley between two hills. I would love to try this line on my Jamas one day, but you could hardly make it out on that day. Posted by Hello

11/13/04 - So where is the trail? Decided to do a bit of hiking to clear my mind a bit and enjoy a sunny, mild day in November. Many leaves had fallen at Cathedral Pines and more will surely make their way to the forest floor in coming weeks. You could hardly tell where the trail was, really. Luckily, everything is tagged fairly well so I wouldn't get lost. Yeah, right. Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A Filmaholic's Movie Review: SAW

As promised I have finished my review of the movie SAW starring Cary Elwes and Danny Glover. Rather than go through the usual plot summary that can easily be cut-and-pasted from IMBd.com I will focus on special points of interest within the film's plot line with a synopsis and star rating at the end.

Star Rating Key:

no star - Awful, better left on the shelf.
* - Poor, if you are desperately curious rent it otherwise wait for cable.
** - Fair, if the shelves are bare at Blockbuster this is an honest attempt.
*** - Good, a quality film worth a look for many fans of the genre.
**** - Excellent, cross genre appeal, a must see film for the year.

When I heard about SAW I was very excited not only because the story centered around law enforcement's pursuit of a serial killer but two of the stars of the film are my personal faves. Cary Elwes is pretty cool and has a lot of range as an actor. Although his choice of projects can at times make my left eyebrow rise a bit. Danny Glover is very good as well as. I've been a fan of his for some time. He tends to give even the role of a hero a certain bit of frailty, making it all the more human and believable. Plus he can play a real son of a bitch equally believable (see his performance in The Color Purple). With the rest of the supporting cast SAW had the pedigree to be another SE7EN or Silence of the Lambs. Yes, I was excited to see the film.

One thing that immediately struck me in the opening scene was the strong use (and non-use) of color. The use of monochromatic lighting for each of the torture/puzzle chambers created by the psychopath did an excellent job of making you feel as though you were no longer in this world but trapped inside the mind of the killer. Each unique scenario created had its own color tone. It brought back memories of 50's film noir with its use of shadows (later on colored hues) and off-angle camera shots to create an eery feeling in the viewer. SAW plays on this technique tastefully. Often enough these monochromatic scenes are broken up by copious amounts of "blood red" adding more to the visual macabre that is SAW.

Films with dialogue that is not "pushed" are a real delicacy in this genre. SAW's dialogue was surprising light and humorous for a film with such a morbid plot. However, this humor was overshadowed most of the time by the shocking visuals making the experience of watching SAW similar to navigating a timed obsticle course under heavy gunfire. This is exactly what the victims experience in the custom made scenarios created by the killer. By being placed in a situation with impossible choices with limited time to think and act adds to the sense of rapid pace that SAW had. In reality, the story progresses at a typical pace leading to the big twist at the end. I will not divulge the twist ending but I will say that it does fall a bit short when compared to the endings of films like The Sixth Sense or Angel Heart.

Elapsed time within SAW also posed a problem when dealing with the two major time lines; Cary Elwes trapped inside the killer's puzzle chamber with the clock ticking and Danny Glover's investigation of the murders and tracking down the killer's identity. The scenarios created by the killer are extremely well planned and look like they would have taken months to years to set-up. The scenarios seem sensationalized a bit - too complex to be developed and carried out by a single person. At no point during the film do we have this sense of calculation, patience and sinister execution. Clues are discovered so rapidly, leading to the next phase in the investigation, that we are lead to believe that the time is much shorter than it really was. The killer must have had infinite patience as well as seemingly unlimited resources and time for creating each unique puzzle scenario. One final note for the scenarios, where did the killer get all the electronics and gadgets necessary for creating the puzzle chambers? Obviously, not ALL of the technology would be readily available on the streets. Normally, when items need to be collected to create weapons or bombs, the authorities are able to track down the companies that sell or make the items in hopes of tracking down the person who bought them. This is not explored at all in SAW. Obviously, this would have shortened the investigation some what.

In the last half of the film, SAW does take some dubious short-cuts leading us to the exciting conclusion. For one, I felt that the identities of those involved in this sick game were revealed too early. It took a lot of the shock value from the twist ending mentioned earlier. The effect the film makers were aiming for can be seen done to perfection in the movie Copycat starring Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter. In addition, the erradic behavior of the detectives seemed to have added unnecessary chaos to confusion leading to the ending scenes. Lastly, I feel the main character did not pull off effectively the utter breakdown necessary to lead to the horrible self-amputation. No, I'm not going to say what is cut off but needless to say when it did unfold I immediately thought, "where the hell did that come from?" At that point in the film, I feel the character was not driven to that "level" madness to perform such an act.

All in all, SAW was entertaining and did leave the viewer was some shocking visuals to ponder. The shock value made up for the short-cuts taken through out the film. Most likely these were the result of the studio demanding more edits in order to make the film fit into a 120 minute frame. I would be interested in the release of the DVD and hopefully a director's cut which might add dutifully to the story. I think SAW fell a bit short of SE7EN, Silence of the Lambs and Copycat but deserves a look by fans who appreciate this genre.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

What a dreary Turkey Day!

Upon rising this morning I immediately put the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. This has been a customary practice of mine for many years. I enjoy watching the performers, floats and the balloons especially. The weather guys did say there would be a good chance for a real wet Turkey Day and boy were they on the money. I couldn't help but change the channel as it dawned on me that I would not have anyone to watch the parade with. Perhaps I can return to this tradition in the future. Right now in light of recent events I do not feel quite up to the Holiday spirit. I guess deep down I am eagerly looking forward to 2004 ending. This would come as no surprise to those of you who are aware of how the year has treated me so far. 2004 can take a flying fuck in plain english!

At least I have my dog Caesar here to talk to. I think he has realized what has happened in his own way because he is being much more clingy, following me around the house and generally being underfoot. I don't really mind the added attention. I talk to Caesar at times like he is capable of participating in a conversation. Watching his head cock to the side whenever I say something profound makes me chuckle because at times people do the same thing. So I don't feel too bad.

I made up my mind to stay here at the house for Thanksgiving allowing me some time to be alone and meditate on things that have happened and what I need to take care of in the upcoming weeks. Yes, my father did offer to bring me to my aunt's for dinner. My uncle also stated I was more than welcome at their house for dinner. I decided that I needed some time away from people after the funeral. Hopefully this will help me squash some more demons still lingering around in my mellon. This probably will become less of a challenge in upcoming weeks and months.

Another big decision I have made is that I will not be celebrating Christmas this year other than sending out Christmas cards. I do enjoy having a Christmas card list and sending out cards. I tend to write extra comments and cheers in each one. I feel that it makes the whole thing more intimate with friends and family. I will be making out my card early this year so that I can knock out both the "thank you" and X-Mas cards in the same week. Along with continuing to clean up the house and preparing it for viewing, this will help me get my mind off of things and look forward to future endeavors. The general consensus among those who care say I should get back on the horse so to speak and keep busy. This will help in light of the fact that, with Melissa gone home, I am in this house all by myself. At times the walls feel like they are closing in around me. To tell you the truth, I cannot wait until I move even though it won't be until sometime in February.

In the meantime, I will start sorting out the house and trying to get rid of the stuff I know I cannot sell or donate. It still feels like there is so much junk in here with just myself around. Actually, sans Pop's items and clothing, much of Melissa's stuff is still here. I know that it will be much cheaper to give them to her after I move. This way I won't have to be bent over the barrel paying shipping charges on some of the over-sized items. One good thing is that I plan on eliminating furniture that I will not need for the next two months or so. Once the house does close, I won't have to worry about finding a home or getting rid of left over items. The only thing that will be left will be the items I will be taking to my new apartment and Melissa's things, which I can always place in storage temporarily until she is ready to receive them.

Sounds good so far. Well that's enough of a break anyway. Got to get back to laundry and watching FA Cup Football on FSW. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and don't worry about going a bit overboard with the stuffing and eat plenty of turkey for me!


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Getting Back On The Horse

A few quick jabs before I write again...

For those who are wondering, the funeral was very nicely done and it touched me deeply. Not only was it a funeral but it was a military ceremony complete with members of the U.S. Navy, the Flag folding and presentation. This was a first for me and the whole experienced seemed a bit surreal. It was nothing like the ceremonies I had seen on TV and movies. It was much deeper. It was a fitting tribute to a man who, in the words of his friend and fellow Voyageur JD, "...Undoubtedly left a unique impression on all of us who knew him." For saying the words I had been feeling all along I thank JD and the rest of Pop's fellow Voyageurs, Legionaires, Veterans and friends. You were all GREAT friends to him and I will never forget how much you made Pop's life, as well as my own, that much fuller!

Pushed on the back burner for good reasons, my own review of the movie SAW will be finished shortly. I think I might make this a habit especially for movies that receive media attention both good and bad. I like reading the reviews of so-called "experts" and then coming to my own conclusion after I view the film. Besides, this is an obvious outlet for my movie-sickness as friends have called it.

My laptop is back in my possession and I have mixed news. The repairs and upgrades needed will end up costing me lots of duckets ($$$). So I have decided to in a month or so to get a new notebook. This way I will have something more portable and powerful to take with me when I am on the road. The only real thing I will not have functional on it is the CD-ROM/DVD drive but I will not need the drive at all really. I basically use my laptop for business applications, email, blogging when I am away from my office. Nothing to hairy, really. I have my eyes on a model that is pretty sweet and only weighs 5.5 lbs. That's about half as much as my current laptop. I'm looking forward to this mot so bulky upgrade.

That's it for now. Over the next four days or so I will be on a bit of a tear as for as blogging is concerned. I have decided to stay at home this Thanksgiving to work on the house and generally give myself a chance to be by myself. Something I have not had the chance to do in the last few weeks.

Happy Turkey Day to all and celebrate safe with your families!


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sour Time This Week

I apologize for not being as timely as usual with updating Walking Wounded but I suffered a great loss Wednesday. Pop passed away in his sleep early Wednesday morning. According to the staff at JJ Foley, his passing was peaceful and without pain which has been a blessing in my mind. A man like my grandfather should not have been forced to suffer for any prolonged duration. He will be missed by myself, his family and his many friends!

I will need a week or so to take care of family affairs and be with friends and family. I know everyone will understand and all thoughts and prayers are deeply appreciated.

I will be back shortly...


Monday, November 15, 2004

Red Skies At Night

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I Am The Ruptured Cowboy...

...no I do not have gonorrhea, tsk tsk!

But my laptop is currently on the DL. SHIT! Seems that I was going through some CD-ROMs attempting to put them into a book to organize them. I found that one of them was missing, a Windows OEM CD-ROM. So I checked in all the usual places where we sometimes cram CD-ROMs to no avail. Then I decided to check my optical drive on my laptop and wouldn't you know it but I could not get the tray door to open. I decided to check out the drive in Windows Explorer to see if there was a CD-ROM in the drive. Turns out the optical drive was not showing up on Windows Explorer OR My Computer (?). This puzzled me for a brief moment because I was trying to remember when the last time I used the optical drive and could not recall. After trying to troubleshoot the drive itself and what not I realized that this was becoming a task a bit out of my league. So I had to chin-up and send it out to get looked at. I have been without it for a week so far and I miss it. Even though it was a desktop replacement model (meaning it is a bit heavy for laptops) I found it very convenient to sit down with on the couch while watching Bloomberg, CNN or random porn. It rested quite soundly on my lap due to its weight which offered stability while typing. I have a feeling though eventually I will make my laptop my main PC for my office and invest in a true "notebook" computer in the future. Notebooks now come as light as 3 lbs. which is a lot easier to tote around with the rest of your gear. Besides, my current laptop matches many peripherals already on my desk including my ViewSonic flat panel. By removing the underpowered Dell Desktop I currently have will definitely eliminate clutter as well as give me more power at my desk.

In recent years I have begun investing in tech gear that has the least footprint as possible. Not only are these things easier to pack up when you move, but they tend to eliminate that "cluttered look" to your home office. I find that when I am surrounded by clutter from either strewn magazines, papers or cables my concentration is compromised. Cables by far are my biggest pet peeve. I have spent a lot of time trying to find the best ways to organize and hide cables so that they are not underfoot or in the way at all. While many neat cost efficient products do make a difference I feel that eventually I would like to create my own desk/work space solution which allows for the best cable management. I like a desk that allows you not only to have the room to open up a notebook or textbook but also have your keyboard and mouse handy. It all boils down to multitasking which is something I have become pretty proficient at over the years. I guess I am a tech-junkie of sorts because I find trying out new products (especially wireless ones) to be pretty exciting as well as educational. How else can you find out what works for you unless you try it out in the intended environment?

Well, I guess everyone pretty much thought this year's Presidential Race and Election resembled something like this. I have found that in the past twelve years or so I have been presented with the daunting task to choose the lesser of two evils. I make it a point never to argue politics with anyone other than the members of the crew, so I will just leave this one at that. I will take this moment to return back to lament over my laptop hoping it is on its way to a full recovery. I will be updating soon regarding some hiking I did this week as well as how Pop has been doing. More to come on these and other issues soon. Computers are like cars - they are great when they work!


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

This Year Halloween Fell On A Weekend

But the ghetto boys and I were NOT trick or treating...

Instead, I decided to have dinner and drinks with friends at the Brickhouse Brewery on Saturday. Saturday was the annual Halloween Costume Contest night. I get a kick out of seeing people come out in their costumes. People really go all out, especially when their is a prize involved. The idea occurred to me to meet up with everyone after I had to go back to the Brickhouse for a second time to retrieve my credit card. It seems on the nights I end up starting a tab (having to submit a credit card to do so) I have been getting pretty drunk. When we settle the tab at the end of the night I forget to ask for my credit card back. Oh well. I always figure it out the next day or so and go back to pick it up.

The lady who tends bar during the lunch and dinner hours has gotten to know me pretty well in the last month because she always sees me during the week looking for my card. I sit down for twenty minutes or so, have a pint or two, shoot the shit and then go about with the rest of my day. In a way I am glad I am building up a rapport again at the Brickhouse because when the place first opened it was basically the first bar I considered my own "place." When it first opened up it was a mixed crowd. Then it went through a phase where the patrons were in their thirties which really was not too appealing when you are in your early twenties. For a period of about five years, my buddies and I avoided the place unless we were looking to have dinner. If we were looking to chase skirts we went to other "college" pubs. Now that I am in my late twenties I am finding the Brickhouse to be enjoyable again. The transition to a more mixed crowd is also a plus.

Earlier in the week we had everything planned out. I was looking forward to Saturday because it would be one of those rare occassions where all of the crew would be in attendance. This didn't quite work out as The Cop got stuck pulling a double tour and did not make it out. Everyone else showed up which was cool indeed. I arrived first and grabbed a prime spot at the bar. Said bartender (why does her name escape me now?) greeted me as usual and offered me a pint. One pint turned into five before everyone else arrived. Let's just say I was feeling pretty good and as people were starting to arrive in their costumes the vibe was great. What was really great was that two of the first five pints were bought by the bartender. This was cool because she basically hooked me up before she left for the night.

The evening bartenders arrived in costumes of various degrees. For example, one girl merely had on a devil's horns and tail thingy with her usual street attire. While another bartender (also a girl) came dressed in a complete sheriff's costume, modified to accentuate her many endowments, complete with handcuffs. She meant business and basically took on the role of a law enforcement person, strutting around and carrying on. Before my first buddy arrived she asked me why I was there alone and I said I was waiting for friends. She immediately replied, "You really don't have any friends do you?" coupled with a wink and a smile. It was very light-hearted and won me another free pint.

Once everybody arrived and we ordered food it was basically standing room only. We all appreciated getting good seats at the bar so we wouldn't be forced to sit in the dining room while eating. Don't get me wrong the dining room is lovely but I wanted to check out all the costumes and the wacky goings on. I was hoping to see some fetish themed costumes like the sexy school girls, wanton maids, etc. The closest thing that night was this dude dressed as a caveman in loincloth. That didn't stop our fun though. A cover band played the usual fare but it was not as loud as other nights because they were using the PA to annouce specials and contest winners. As the hours rolled on everyone was vibing pretty sweet. I'm glad I have buddies that care about me enough to keep track of what I was doing, because I was in no condition by 11:00pm. Turns out the bartender chicks were very generous with their buy backs. We decided to settle the tab early and go dutch for the rest of the night because my buddy Mike had to leave to meet his lady friend back at his apartment. This was no big deal as Mike said he was game for next weekend (sweet).

Mike could see straight at that point so he looked at the bill and began doing bar mathematics. Turns out I was drinking pints of Oktoberfest the whole night and there were 21 of them on the bill. No one else was drinking Oktoberfest in our group. Obviously, I was having a great time. When Mike told me what my count was up to I did cut myself off and had lemonades for the remainder of the evening. I had a blast and it wasn't just the alcohol consumption. I have been truly blessed with a great group of friends who are all witty and can really party. This was the perfect start to a great weekend. What was in store for me Halloween night was unknown as we strolled out to the parking lot saying our good byes. Technically, it would be an ordinary Sunday night, but more to come on that subject in my next post.


Monday, November 01, 2004

Busy Week That Finished Strong

In a week with constant running around it seemed I accomplished little. In reality, I took care of many small errands that were piling up, leaving time to devote to bigger projects. I was able to transfer my stereo from the pick-up to the Explorer and install an alarm in the Explorer for the insurance discount. I also worked in the yard finishing up a needed Fall clean-up effort. It will be necessary in the next two weeks to redo the racking a bit as the sycamore trees have not yet shed their leaves entirely as well as finish up the trimmer work so everything looks neat at least. This will help highlight the landscaping a bit and make the yard look better for potential buyers as well. In all, it was a productive week.

Of course, the week was not total work as I was able to visit Pop four times during the week and Saturday. Pop is hanging in there at present not really complaining about his bed sore nor his feet, but both do not look any better. One good thing is that they have managed to prevent infection which is very crucial. If Pop develops an infection it would not only make his health worse but also effect his mental state and general level of discomfort. The staff have been administering a set of sedatives and pain meds to not only help his pain but level off his mood a bit. Not to make it sound like they are drugging a dangerous animal, these meds help with his mood in order to make him more agreeable to treatments. Otherwise, Pop will be more than likely to refuse everything out of sheer stubberness and anger/confusion over his situation. So far his appetite is below average but is a lot better than it was the last two weeks. It has been explained to me on numerous occassions that even though medications seem to be helping prevent infection in his bed sore ultimately nutrition has to play a role in the healing process. I guess it can be said that, barring infection, the bed sore is not healing like the physicians would like it to. This is a touchy situation, indeed, but I hope that at the very minimum the infection can continue to be thwarted.

Another set of issues that the physicians and staff have begun to address are the long list of other ailments that are starting to draw attention. First, Pop's circulation in the extremedies conitues to be poor as his legs and feet are continuely wrapped to treat ulcers that are still forming. Pop constantly touches his own hands and fingers because he is losing sensation there. Spots on his feet indicate that the arterial circulation is starting to fail - not a good thing. It has not been mentioned yet but if this gets worse I'm sure the subject of amputation will arise. I'm not looking forward to hearing this although I am preparing myself nevertheless.

Second, Pop's PSA levels are elevated in light of his recurring prostate cancer that was found back in April of this year. Rising PSA levels indicate that the prostate is growing, in other words the cancer is no longer in remission. This was one of the causes for Pop to become urinary incontinent, although at present he is completely incontinent. Pop needs to receive treatments for this in the form of hormone therapy and/or radiation, which will be another challenge for the staff to manage.

Third, a recent chest X-ray has shown that Pop is again starting to collect fluid within the plural space in his chest. The plural space is the space between the lungs and the thoractic cavity. The plural space fuinctions to help maintain the proper internal pressure to keep the lungs inflated. If the membrane surrounding the plural space were to puncture the result would be a lung that deflates or "collapses." In this particular case, however, if the plural space fills with too much fluid it would exude pressure on the lungs to remain inflated during breathing. Less air would be able to get in resulting in less respiration, in turn resulting in lower oxygen saturations in Pop's blood. Basically, his brain and other organs could be restricted from receiving the oxygen necessary for them to function. Not a good situation. Back in April 2004, Pop's plural space had to be drained for this same reason. It looked like the doctor was tapping a keg. The fluid even looked like beer because it was straw colored and had a foam which developed and rose to the top similar to the "head" in a glass of beer. Nearly two liters of fluid was drained in minutes because the pressure was that great within the plural space. It looks like they might be looking at doing this again. The doctor did mention that a CAT Scan would be used to determine just how much fluid is present determining the severity. Another strike against Pop, indeed.

Lastly, Pop needs to go back to the hospital to receive an endoscopy to follow up on his ulcerated esophagus and stomach. I saw the photos taken in the hospital about 8 weeks ago and they were not pretty. It basically looked like someone shot the inside of Pop's esophagus and stomach with BBs. The wall of the gastrointestinal tract was this greyish-pink color and each ulcer was a bright red spot. It was quite a disturbing set of pictures to see. Pop has been taking medications to treat this condition and a follow-up endoscopy will hopefully show some improvement. I might get the films scanned at my local photo lab and I will show a before/after set to give the issue true justice. I know this might be objectionable to some. Being a science buff, I have always found medicine interesting. In no way am I looking to produce a "shock value" in showing the films.

As far as Pop's condition is concerned, there seems to be more rough road ahead. Hopefully, his comfort level can be maintained and he will not become too agitated with the upcoming procedures that must be done. In the back of my mind I am always thinking of Pop's quality of life. I hope this can be salvaged as much as possible through our efforts. I feel much better knowing that there is a team I can work with en lieu of how it used to be when I was managing Pop's care all by myself.