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Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Terrible T and the kids and I visited Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, this past weekend, during their yearly "Ramble". If you ever get a chance to visit it, in Miami, it's well worth the time. Unfortunately, it always seems to be hot as Hell when we go. It wasn't too too bad, Sunday. But it would've been nicer if it was a bit cooler.
They have a 100 year old calliope there. The owner was actually able to play a particular song, for me (The Colonel Bogey March)!


The calliope has been restored a number of times, and it's owner is still able to purchase about 3 new songs sheets for it, each year. These sheets look like fan-folded cardboard with punched out dots and lines. In a way, it's like an early punchcard-reading copmputer; able to repeat the same instructions to the musical instruments, each time it's played. It doesn't just have air-powered calliope pipes, but drums and bells, too! The little figures you see mounted on this monster each strike a bell, when commanded to.

They also have a new Lilly Pond with Amazonian Lillies. Each of these suckers can get as big as six feet across. The ones pictured looked to be about 3-4 feet across.


I'm not sure of the name of these next two plants, but we all found them very beautiful.



The red flowered plant was marked with some Latin sounding name, but I had no pen and paper to record it with.

The kids had fun. Marc got a coconut he thinks he may be able to grow and Alex got her face painted like a tiger.

We went to our favorite Cuban restaurant, Las Vegas, when we got home... and Alex insisted on keeping on her tiger face throughout dinner.
We got lots of smiles out of that... from all of the staring patrons.


Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Cost of True Faith 

If you've been keeping up with the news, you've probably already heard of the lady, near Fort Lauderdale, who is selling a ten year old slice of a grilled cheese sandwhich. Let us call this the "Miracle Meal."
Not because it lasted ten years in a plastic container that is far from hermetically sealed without getting all moldy (though that is certainly unusual).
Not because it has, toasted upon it, the image of The Virgin Mary. (It certainly does seem to have some freakish face looking back at you).

No... The Miracle is that some idiot has bid $15,100.00 to purchase it on ebay! (As of the time of this writing.)

Of course, I must report this as a self proclaimed skeptic. People see faces in objects all the time. It's called:
Terrible T started ripping the wallpaper off of our bathroom walls, a while back. Of course, some of the paper stuck fast to the wall. The area around it that was unpapered looked creepily like a
Nosferatu-type vampire.
I didn't take a picture and T has continued peeling off paper. So Nosferatu is now gone.

As for the cheesy ebay item? Well.. I guess that one person's garbage is another person's religious artifact.
It wasn't as easy to find the item as I thought it would be when I looked it up. That's because there are now hundreds of items containing the words "grilled cheese" in their titles. Most of them are items for sale making fun of the real thing or celebrating it or trying to make a buck off of this new fad. Currently for sale: Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese T-Shirts, Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Mugs, Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Ornaments, Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Trading Cards, Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Charms, and even a customized grilled cheese sandwich. (The winning bidder gets to choose whose image will be toasted into the sandwich.)

Yes, I now know the true cost of faith. It's $15,100.00 and rising.



I recently found a link to one word, on a friend's web site. One word is a sort of stream-of-consciousness excercise.
Click a button.
Read one word.
That's all there is to it. One thing, though: You only have sixty seconds to finish writing. So you're not really supposed to think about it much. You just write. When you complete your sixty second essay/story/poem, you get to see what everyone else has written. Let me tell you... there's some pretty whacked out folks participating in this project. Each day brings a new word.
The same folks bring you poetc and onecaption.
At poetc, all visitors team up to make a poem. Here's the trick, though: you only get to see the four most recent lines. This makes for some very strange poetry, mutating into something different - every five lines or so. Sometimes the results are simply silly. Other times, the poems may actually seem to make some sense. As on one word, you only get sixty seconds to write, and the poem changes daily.
Onecaption delivers a strange photograph for you to add a caption to. Same sixty seconds to come up with something witty.
Personally, I think that these are great exercises for one's creativity. These web pages seem similar to some of the games that surrealists would play. Some day, I'd like to get together with a bunch of like-minded (and I use that term loosely) people and try some of these surrealist games.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Madama Butterfly 

Well... somehow, we managed to pull it off and see Madama Butterfly, in Miami.
I'm not the greatest fan of opera, but it's wonderful to get the opportunity to see it live. And Madama Butterfly is, apparently, the classic opera that's produced by all companies, every few years. I can see why. It has an easy-to-follow plot and fairly simple staging. The music is exciting and the story so moving. (Yes, I did cry... a little.)
I'm grateful to The Big A for getting us free tickets - in the fourth row, right-center orchestra. We were almost too close, since we had to crane our necks back, a bit, to read the translations above the stage.
All in all, it was a very successful, if tiring, week night event.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

In Other News.... 

MRE Madness
Marc, his friend, and I ate our first Meals Ready to Eat. YUMMMM!
More on that when I have time to write the article.

We (including Terrible T) all saw The Incredibles.
(click here for the entry on the Internet Movie database).
As good as the hype was, I tried not to expect too much. But this time, the hype was right. If you get the opportunity, run to the theater and see it. I sold my stock of this movie on HSX, a little while back. I sold it when there was more than a 40% increase over the price I'd paid. I made over $100,000 on 1500 shares. (Too bad it's only pretend money.)

I woke up early, this morning, to find a documentary playing on PBS. The movie is called Okie Noodling - about your average white down-home Oklahoma boys who like to wade in muddy waters and catch catfish... by hand. At first, it almost seemed like some kind of parody. But the more I watched it, the more I respected the guts it takes to try to tackle a slimy 60 pound bottom feeder that has no qualms about trying to bite your hand off. Too bad I had to leave for work (at 5:30 AM) before the film had finished.

Ready to Boycott!
I'm pissed off a Ticket Master because I found their site confusing. They took away the option of having your tickets waiting for you at the The Miracle Theater's box office (Will Call)... unless you live outside the country. The system won't let you bypass this. So I paid $14.00 to have them sent UPS, rather than taking chances on the USPS. When the system sent me the confirmation, I noticed a link telling me I could have printed the tickets up, myself, on my home computer. So... if that's a choice, why wasn't it given to me when it laid out the choices for ticket delivery?? I sent them a nasty note asking them to change the delivery method and return my friggin fourteen friggin' dollars. I'm not gonna hold my breath, though. However, it does look like I got some great seats for Shear Madness.

Sure, Opportunity Knocks... But Her Timing Sure Sucks
Of course, I think that Terrible T would much rather see the Opera. So what happened when I came into work, this morning? I see a message from our Communications Dept. offering (get this) free tickets to Madama Butterfly! For this Tuesday. Not a lot of notice, is it? I'm working third Shift and T works until 9:00 PM. I have no idea whether or not we can find a way to swing this one. What a great opportunity, though.



Tuesday, November 02, 2004

My right 

Terrible T and I were all prepared when we went to our voting place, after dropping the kids off at school. We'd brought along a little magnetic travel Scrabble set we haven't used for ages. (I remember using it while waiting in line to see "Return of the Jedi" on it's release day. A bunch of us took the day off and waited in line to see the first showing. We changed the rules of Scrabble to "legalize" the names of Star Wars characters and nouns from the Star Wars universe.)
When we arrived at our polling place we were surprised to see that this morning's long lines had died down. No Scrabble, this time. I'd hoped we have time to play and allow proper names of candidates.

We walked right in and only waited behind two voters, before signing-in. We only had to wait behind four other voters, to get into our polling "booths". Within ten minutes, we were back in our car and on our way to our favorite neighborhood breakfast joint. While sitting at our table, Tanya noticed an acquaintance waiting to pay for his meal and asked him if he had voted, yet. He said that he did not plan to vote, "because I can't decide if I should vote for the baby killer or the soldier killer." Apparently, this guy is totally color blind. He also appears to have no opinions about any other issues we are voting on, in Florida.
Now, I don't pretend to know about every candidate for all contested seats, nor do I have any idea whether or not we should retain our judges. But I informed myself well enough to vote intelligently on all eight amendment issues and for several seats. Oh... and I voted for Kerry, as planned. Don't wanna forget that!
I guess I shouldn't wonder how someone like Bush can get so many votes, but I guess we do have to allow everyone to vote. Okay, maybe not my next door neighbors (with the Bush/Cheney sign in their lawn) but everyone else.


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