Sunday, August 21, 2005

On My Own Schedule

So, I haven't written anything for a couple weeks, by far the longest drought on this blog since I started it several months ago now. My German blog has been idle for about twice that long, maybe longer. There is no particular reason for it. I used to blog a lot at work. My old work had long since failed to be exciting or challenging, so blogging was part of my way of filling my extra time with something else. Now that I have a more rewarding job, it is less of a priority. Also, months ago when I first started with this blog, politics was really starting to frighten me, and I just needed to make myself heard. It seemed that there would be no end to the power that conservatives would wield. I have seen their power start to wane now, and the pendulum is slowly swinging to something approaching normalcy. After a number of bad policy moves and public policy overstepping, the president and his party are rapidly falling out of favor with the public, and I feel the cool breeze of change in the air. Regular people are starting to stand up to the "turn back the clock on science and everything else we don't like or understand" types. It will be a little over a year before we know whether it is really a solid trend or not, but I am less concerned than I was, and therefore less motivated to write about politics. I'm sure the mood will strike me again, and probably soon, but not as often or as urgently.

Some quick movie reviews. I have seen several movies in the last few weeks, much more than usual. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was very clever and very funny. It definitely beat the original in my mind. I give it 8 out of 10. American Wedding, extremely funny, laughed through much of it, some implausible parts, but hey, it's comedy, 9 out of 10. Meet the Fockers, 10 out of 10, and I rarely put a movie there, one or two a year at most, laughed out loud through most of it. By the way, I think I'm in love with Alyson Hannigan. Hahhah! Can you blame me, really? No, not the nympho character she plays...she's kind of dippy in the movie. It's her "real life" looks and personality, cute, but very approachable. Approachability, if that's a word, is important! I'm afraid my wife would probably veto me though. Such is married life.

What else, oh yes, we are off to Europe next weekend. Last September we went on a tour of Switzerland for eight days (went through Globus Tours), including a tiny bit of northern Italy and the tiny country of Liechtenstein. It was my first trip to Europe, and second for my wife, first for those countries for both of us. This year, I made all of the Europe arrangements myself, plane, rail tickets, and hotels. Yes, there will be many pictures on here when I return! We will fly in to Munich, spend two nights there, train to Salzburg, a night there, train to Vienna, two nights there, and then all the way back past Munich to the town of Hechingen, near Stuttgart, where my cousin Jordan, his German wife and stepdaughter live. They have lived in Germany for about five years now I think. The trip will be great fun and the total price for the whole thing is exactly $1,590 each, which includes all transportation, hotels, and breakfasts. It will almost certainly come in under last year's total, and give us more free time. Of course staying at my cousin's helps too, but still it would be quite a bit less. Here is a picture of Schloss Hohenzollern, which is in Hechingen. We'll be taking a tour of that for sure.

The very next weekend we will be flying to Albany, NY for the wedding of one of three people I am still friends with from high school. They live in Boston, but I guess his fiance is from the Albany area originally. That is the aforementioned "flying on 9/11" trip, on the way back. Big deal, I say. Just please make sure the plane isn't going to lose cabin pressure is really all I ask. Oh, and then a few weeks after that I fly up to Rochester for my tenth college reunion. That should be a lot of fun too. I will actually be solo for that one though because Chris has a big event at work that she has to prepare for that happens the next week. I've never flown this much in that short a period before. I guess I'll get more used to air travel. Safer than driving, plus I get to nap. Anyone else got anything exciting going on? Do tell!

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Wrath Of (People That Think They Are) God

Maybe Frist isn't as unreasonable as I thought. When you get the thumbs down from the evangelicals, it makes me think that maybe he's doing something right. Support potentially life-saving research after seeing how it is done, and *gasp* studying the issue in more detail? Allowing a compromise instead of further partisan bickering? Can't have that! Consumed by their own wrath. I suppose it's fitting.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Something Oxymoronic About W Talking About "Intelligent Design"

I'm not going to actually write much more about that topic because it's just silly. "Species had to have been created by a creator because stuff's...well, stuff's too complicated...or something." Sorry Gomer, that's not science. Not that it will stop you from thinking it is. That goes double for you too, W. People fear what they don't understand, and you really don't understand it. If not for 9/11 you'd be barely a footnote in history. Hopefully Mark Warner will be able to undo the damage you have done to critical reasoning and research if elected in 2008.

So my new job as you have surely noticed is leaving me a lot less time for blogging. I actually had a really good training session today where for the first time I felt pretty close to being a subject matter expert on the things that I work on. That was a good feeling. The ramp-up time for this job is longer than any job before, but that's good too because that means it's complex, at least moderately vital, and it's not the kind of job that trained chimps can do.

I'm really starting to look forward to my Germany and Austria trip in less than four weeks. You may recall that we are going to Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, and Hechingen (near Stuttgart, where my cousin and his family live). I'll take LOTS of pictures, and post some of the better ones here.

In baseball news, aside from the better news that football is starting soon, what the hell is wrong with the Nationals??? Even worse, what the hell is wrong with the Orioles? They are tanking even worse, but I care even less, so I guess that's not so bad.

I'm currently enjoying a fascinating documentary on the Battle of the Bulge that I found on Netflix during my exercising time. It's all very interesting. The Germans had started near radio silence before the attack because Hitler was not telling much of anyone much of anything. He was of course extremely paranoid and thought that even some of his closest officers might be spies. We intrepreted this as "giving up" or at least a sign that he was conceding eventual defeat. Instead he was massing a quarter million troops for a counter-attack on a line that was thinly defended with mostly green troops across Belgium and Luxembourg. The Germans actually pushed quite a ways into Belgium before Patton swung around from his move on Berlin to halt the advance. It was a mix of complacency and confusion that caused the battle to be so costly for us.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Frist Sees The Light!

Yes, it had to happen sooner or later. Frist comes to his senses "suddenly" about stem cell research. Well that's good. It took several years, but he finally figured out that it's a good idea to do it. You don't become the leader in medical research by letting other countries beat you to the punch.

That "Energy Bill" is about the biggest piece of pork to come out of Congress, in all of US history, and that's saying a lot. We are giving energy companies billions in tax breaks at a time when they are making record profits, because we hope that maybe they will spend some of it on environmentally friendly projects and on producing more oil in the US? That's funny. That would be really, really funny, if it weren't also so incredibly naive. Republicans should be enormously upset about this nearly unprecedented level of pork too, but for some reason, they are not.

By the way, what's up with the Nationals and the Orioles in baseball? They were both leading their divisions, and now they aren't even in the wild card driver's seat! What happened???