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Responses to this rant
Rebecca   Friday, 6/13/2008 9:50 PM
bart   Saturday, 6/14/2008 1:43 PM
Amber   Thursday, 6/19/2008 12:00 AM
steve   Saturday, 6/21/2008 12:16 PM
steve   Saturday, 6/21/2008 12:27 PM
bart   Sunday, 6/22/2008 8:46 PM
bart   Sunday, 6/22/2008 8:50 PM
steve   Monday, 6/23/2008 3:14 PM
bart   Monday, 6/23/2008 2:25 PM
Older rants
Nov 20, 2018   My cubicle revisited, really-old ComicCon stuff, Emeli's Art, More Disney Adventures, The Zoo and Safari Park
September 9, 2018   Perimeter - an eBook thriller
September 3, 2018   Take Back the Sky Starcraft Evolution
August 11, 2018   Idaho Dunes Awesome soda Ethanol-free gas an awesome Bald Guy card Our rough dig Harry Potter Interlude story
July 21, 2018   The Cup in the Shadows (The Forbidden Powers Book 1)
June 24, 2018   Jake, Lucid Dreamer
June 13, 2018   Troll-stalking
May 23, 2018   Another badbartopia email spoofer, A sunny-day Disney adventure, Raymond E Feist book signing
May 15, 2018   A rainy-day Disneyland trip The Bassoon King
Apr 28, 2018   Down and Out in Purgatory
Apr 13, 2018   Operation Hail Storm
Mar 4, 2018   American Exodus
Jan 22, 2018   Christmas, Didn't Get Frazzled, The Sea People, The Rooster Bar, Last Burial Night, Doctor Who and the Krikkit Men
Dec 15, 2017   Mistrial, City of Death and Disneyland
Nov 14, 2017   Grace Vanderwaal - Just the Beginning
Nov 11, 2017   Tim Powers Signing at Mysterious Galaxy for Down and Out in Purgatory
November 4, 2017   Return to Disneyland, Halloween at the office, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Long Cosmos Maximus One year After War Dogs, Killing Titan Daddy, Stop Talking
October 29, 2017   Bruce Campbell Signing, Hail to the Chin, Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor
October 20, 2017   Meg & Dia, Imagine Dragons in concert, 2 Years 8 months and 28 Nights
October 17, 2017   All Apologies
October 16, 2017   Thrawn
Septempber 7, 2017   The Rage of Dragons, The Lincoln Myth
August 10, 2017   The Molly Ringwalds, Dia Frampton Musical awesomeness, Beauty and the Feast
July 28, 2017   The IT Sweatshop revisited, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, American Gods and The Magicians, Rogue One, Camino Island
July 24, 2017   CRV glovebox difficulties, San Diego Comic Con rant
July 11, 2017   Beauty and the Beast at the Lyceum, Earthweeds, Sons of Neptune Book 1, Aftermath, Empire's End, If Chin's Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor
June 30, 2017   Eastwood: No Direction Home book 2
June 23, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 4/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes, my new record, record player, and Emeli's site is live!
Jun 14, 2017   A noteworthy eBook mention before I return to my vacation ranting - No Direction Home
June 9, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 3/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes...almost. More pictures of spooky old houses, trees, rocks, and other things that nobody cares about! Plus, Goonies stuff
June 2, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 2/4) - The PCH family vacation tale continues... And more pictures of trees and other things that nobody cares about!
May 31, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 1/4) - Way more detail than anyone wants about our vacation up the coast of California and Oregon. And lots of pictures of trees!
Apr 26, 2017   Resurrection America, Pizza Studio art, AmandaLynn, Emeli art, and Disney art, and Gifted
Apr 14, 2017   My San Fransisco OSI PI adventure & "Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be"
Apr 12, 2017   Neil Gaiman speaks, Norse Mythology, American Gods comic adaptation, The Magicians TV series, and Dirk Gently on TV
Feb 2, 2017   A trip to the ever-less-magical land of Disney, The Prince of Outcasts, the Whistler, and a brief mention of The Magicians.
Jan 21, 2017   An update to my nerd wall at work, Found out about Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac) being gone, A list of all the stuff (or most, anyway) I've given up to new homes, A review of Dave! and Warp, and a couple of new doodles.
Dec 23, 2016   My final visit to Potterland and a couple of doodles
Dec 11, 2016   Books and related comics, and free/cheap stuff. Not taco Bell Material, President Me, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, The Hedge Knight (comic), The Sworn Sword (comic) Ooma, Ringplus, Amazon prime and other money-saving stuff.
Dec 4, 2016   I'm sharing my sad doodles with the world again. They're not very good, but I'll bet they're better than your scribbles!
Nov 12, 2016   Yet another trip to The Wonderful World of Harry Potter!
Nov 7, 2016   Blathering on about a few of the books I've read recently - Spire, The Check, and Dangercide, Pirate Detective
Oct 7, 2016   Yet another Visit to Harry Potterland. Oh, and my lease-mileage calculator.
July 25, 2016   Another Visit to Harry Potterland, a new car, a new shirt, a new dog, and a whole lot of the same old complaining
May 17, 2016   Email spoofers, Phishing emails, and scammers galore!
Apr 30, 2016   Winter's Edge and a Management zombie attack
Apr 23, 2016   Harry Potter land re-visited
Apr 9, 2016   Xenia...again
Apr 2, 2016   Sing Street, Batman vs Superman, Craigslist griping
Mar 1, 2016   The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood preview, fun at work, Xenia's new song, A Vanishing Glow, Our Fair Eden, Race Wars, The Force Awakens
Jan 27, 2016   Text Wars, Books I've read... Yup, that's pretty much it
Jul 30, 2015   Xenia Martinez news Still selling stuff on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half (the book), The Path Between the Seas, Trigger Warning, In Fifty years We'll all Be Chicks
Mar 17, 2015   Selling my treasures on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half, the Long Mars, Gray Mountain, Anathem, The Golden Princess, The Given Sacrifice
Mar 12, 2015   You'll be sorely missed, Sir Terry
Jan 21, 2015   More BBC 4 radio dramatizations by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: The Amazing Maurice, Guards! Guards!, Neverwhere, Night Watch, Small Gods, Wyrd Sisters
Jan 10, 2015   JabberWocky, Neil Gaiman style!
Dec 24, 2014   The Good Omens BBC treatment
Aug 03, 2014   Every hobby has to end eventually, right?
Oct 8, 2013   Warning: Extreme Geekness ahead!
Oct 1, 2013   The Bloody Crown of iGoogle
Aug 26, 2013   Headphones at work
Aug 22, 2013   The guvmint is gonna getcha
June 25, 2013   Dweebs vs Big Bang vs IT Crowd
Jul 3, 2012   Xenia Martinez & Dia Frampton concert
Feb 24, 2012   Reading...just not much
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Being an idiot with Lev Grossman
Jan 7, 2012   If it ain't broke...
Aug 22, 2011   non-ComicCon report 2011
A Thousand Splendid Suns
An Act of Self Defense
May 5, 2011   On Stranger Tides
vs.
On Stranger Tides
March 2, 2011   I'm a gigantic slacker...
Ikariam
Wild Guns
Lord of Ultima
Metin 2
Lord of the Rings Online
Dec 15, 2010   Bring out your dead!
Aug 17, 2010   San DiegoComicCon 2010
August 11, 2010   I'm not dead yet...
May 3, 2010   Hero Comics
Liberty Comics
Dr Horrible
Neil Gaiman & Sam Keith in Batman
The Guild, Felicia Day
April 27, 2010   Mean Gene Wilder! Grrr!!!
April 24, 2010   If it's not one Jihad, it's another...
April 20, 2010   The Satanic Verses
March 15, 2010   Unseen Academicals
Feblueberry 8, 2010   The un-reading shelf (from most of 2009)
Feblueberry 2, 2010   Emily the Strange, the Lost Days...a novel
Nov 25, 2009   Happy Halloween, Mom!
Nov 18, 2009   Summer Vacation in Idaho
Aug 20, 2009   San Diego ComicCon 2009
Aug 12, 2009   I'm a big, fat slacker
June 05, 2009   The networks are helping me cut back on my TV viewing
June 04, 2009   Mandy Moore's Amanda Leigh,
Chris Isaak's Mr Lucky
and
My name is Bruce?
and Emmy Rossum? Where am I going with this?
May 21, 2009   Randy would have really liked Fanboys...sigh
May 3, 2009   The Spring reading shelf
Apr 21, 2009   Holidays On Ice (a little late for Christmas)
Apr 18, 2009   Leviticus Cross and other Hector Sevilla comic book stuff
Apr 16, 2009   The fantastically amazing and banal Badbartopia RSS Feed
Mar 31, 2009   Neil Gaiman's Blueberry Girl
Mar 30, 2009   My Amazon mis-order turns out to be not so annoying as previously expected...
(AKA the Dr Horrible soundtrack)
Mar 23, 2009   Stephan Pastis & Richard Thompson have me looking forward to the 2009 SD ComicCon
Mar 19, 2009   Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog,
The Guild
Mar 08, 2009   The Wonderful Wizard of Oz comic adaptation,
Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Dream Hunters
Mar 04, 2009   Little Brother
Mar 1, 2009   Pete & Pickles
Feb 11, 2009   She & Him
Flakes
Pushing Daisies
Jan 26, 2009   The Scourge of God,
When You are Engulfed in Flames
Jan 14, 2009   On the Road = hippy nonsense
Jan 12, 2009   One-by-one, my fish have met their maker
Dec 26, 2008   My Azeroth-avoidance continues
Dec 23, 2008   Nothing to see...move along
Dec 15, 2008   New scribbles
Dec 10, 2008   The Oct-Nov-Dec reading shelf
Dec 1, 2008   Shalimar the Clown
the economic impact of the events in Mumbai
Nov 21, 2008   Star Wars: Allegiance
Nov 20, 2008   Daredevil Black Widow: Abattoir
Nov 17, 2008   Travel Team
Nov 16, 2008   A new comic adaptation of The Wizard of Oz
Nov 14, 2008   Berke's Books:
The Last Basselope
Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big
Mars Needs Moms
Opus: 25 years
Nov 13, 2008   Return to Azeroth?
Nov 12, 2008   Goodbye, Opus
Oct 29, 2008   Halloween costumes of 2008
Project Superpowers
Marvels
Ruins
Oct 23, 2008   The Graveyard Book
Interworld
Oct 16, 2008   Nation
Oct 10, 2008   The Joy of Programming
My foray into Ajax
Oct 9, 2008   My Saturn Scare
Opus ends
Terry Pratchett's condition
Oct 3, 2008   The Hitchhiker's Guide, Book 6...by Eoin Colfer?
Oct 2, 2008   Media master - music online
Sony builds a "better" camera
Sept 24, 2008   The September reading shelf
Sept 17, 2008   Still missing Randall
The Fish tank...again
The Graveyard Book
Sept 15, 2008   Slacking...as usual
The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang
Sept 9, 2008   The dearth of Opus strips
yes, I meant to say "dearth"
Sept 8, 2008   A new monitor goes bad...but it all ends happily
Sept 3, 2008   A Boy and His Dog,
Richard Corben,
H.P. Lovecraft's Haunt of Horror
Sept 2, 2008   A slightly newish look
(aka "why I will never be a graphic designer")
Aug 11, 2008   Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in all its incarnations Mike Kunkel's re-imagining of Shazam
July 29, 2008   San Diego Comiccon 2008
July 24, 2008   Neil Gaiman
July 17, 2008   Chris Isaak!
June 30, 2008   The Woman Who Wouldn't
Legends II
Mouse Guard Fall 1152
the Jetta's latest round of repairs
fishtank overpopulation
June 10, 2008   The Reading Shelf
Fish tank jungle
Attack of the bees
June 3, 2008   Missing Randall
May 9, 2008   My French Whore
Apr 28, 2008   Fish tank fatality
Flight of the Conchords
The Dangerous Alphabet
Mar 5, 2008   Gene Wilder book signing at Borders
new fish tank
subpoenaed!
Jan 11, 2008   The Jetta Strikes back!
The Plucker
The Anubis Gates
National Treasure II
Nov 8, 2007   San Diego on Fire,
A clean break from WoW,
UCSD Extension Java I graduation (kinda)
Making Money
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Oct 2, 2007   Back to school, Java class at UCSD
AT&T's Uverse
new sketches
Blockbuster movie pass
August 28, 2007   Mandy Moore concert!
Aug 19, 2007   ComicCon 2007 - Neil Gaiman, Iron Man and all the usual suspects
May 22, 2007   World of Spamcraft (and other spamalicious topics), forum fun...gus, the woes of being a contractor and PIRATES!!
Apr 5, 2007   I'm a conservative - bite me!
Timbaland? Dumb!
Marie Antoinette - snaggle teeth and teasing glimpes. Sweet!
John Q - a lesson about fatherhood or a liberal-propoganda film?
Mar 30, 2007   Things that make me grumpy-er,
employed again at last,
Finn and assorted other ramblings
Feb 8, 2007   The search for employment continues..and the unemployment benefits are NOT pouring in!
Jan, 22, 2007   Freed from the bondage of employment, a very brief review of a few books and films
Dec 17, 2006   Sad excuses, The Innocent Man, 1776, THe Man in High Castle, Absolute Sandman, Wintersmith, garage sale treasures: Ghost in the Machine
Aug 20, 2006   Writers of the Future XXII/Tim Powers, more movie reivews
July 20, 2006   San Diego ComicCon 2006
July 15, 2006   Superman Returns, inconsiderate morons, Peewee's Playhouse returns, my plea for more pirate movies
July 8, 2006   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Wild Animal Park critters, site remodeling
Jun 27, 2006   The good, the bad and the mediocre (a bunch of movie reviews in the new forum).
June 15, 2006   Because of Romek - A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir
May 21, 2006   The DaVinci Code, Aeon Flux, Everything You Want
May 12, 2006   World of Warcrack, the Office, Coraline, my apologies...
Jan 24, 2006   Christmas Vacation 2006, Syriana, Traveling Pants, Wish You Were Here
Dec 19, 2005   Festive Neighbors, the death of Olivia, Media Misinformation surrounding Brent Wilkes/ADCS, Make Love the bruce campbell way
Nov 15, 2005   Microsoft Technet 2005 launch party, Lexmark printer problem, a bad, bad day, changing dentists.
Oct 22, 2005   Thud!, Anansi Boys, Where's my cow
Oct 18, 2005   Terry Pratchet Thud! signing, Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys signing
Oct 15, 2005   A very, very late Comiccon 2005 report.
Jun 23, 2005   The black hole of Warcraft, The Years of Rice and Salt, After the Sunset, Madagascar, Mr and Mrs Smith, Taxi.
Jun 3, 2005   All is quiet on the PM Front, War of the Worlds (the novel), Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Star Wars Episode III, Flight of the Phoenix
May 9, 2005   The program managers strike again, More of my horrendous sketches, Spanglish, A Lot Like Love, Elektra, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the film)
Apr 9, 2005   Stuck in Corporate Hell, a few of my recent sketches, Miss Congeniality 2, Collateral
Mar 21, 2005   Revenge of the Jetta (car problems), a Newegg purchase, a few new drawings, more Opus
Feb 13, 2005   The Mail mystery solved, more of my crappy sketches, A few new photos of the girls, bill-bert (introducing the new Project Manager), sweet phone skills, Opus, Dungeons and Dragons, In Good Company
Jan 27, 2005   Mystery mail, new photos of my beautiful kids, some new sketches, an Episode 3 spoiler, Opus, Going Postal, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ubik, Remember the Titans, Lemony Snicket`s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Dodgeball
Jan 7, 2005   Christmas 2004, Update to the site, Elf & King Arthur revisited, National Treasure, Opus, Blade Runner
Dec 18, 2004   A new Stephanie sketch, another Target web page goof, the SD Union Tribune confirms Greg Bear`s research for Vitals, Miramar VW proves my dealer service assertions wrong, neighborhood Christmas fun, Opus
Nov 24, 2004   More of my mediocre drawings, nw russian mail-order coins, Star Wars toys, a big green spider comes to visit, Opus, Dies the Fire, Digital fortress, The Incredibles, Twisted, Van Helsing
Nov 03, 2004   Some thoughts regarding the 2004 election, rants about the environment, a memory rebate update, new computer issues, Opus, The Lone Drow, Deception Point, Roswell season 2 on DVD
Oct 12, 2004   An interesting quiz, mal-in rebates, a parrot joke, my new computer, thoughts on frame removal, web logs, Opus, Vitals, Star Wars trilogy on DVD, Ladykillers
Sep 23, 2004   My "Heath" sketch for Mark Oakley, an update on my a PNY rebate check, the fictitious AWNA Act, Browser Issues with the site, Opus/Pickles, The DaVinci Code, Garden State (Natalie Portman), Man on Fire
Sep 11, 2004   A new drawing: "Stephanie", redneck wisdom, my salary to hourly reclassification, funny video: news from iraq, an update on my mail-in pny rebate, a new rebate through Costco, Ella Enchanted, Highlander Endgame, Princess of Thieves, The Whole Ten Yards
Aug 27, 2004   Fun with my VW Warranty, Opus, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, The Land of SokMunster, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite, Hidalgo, Chasing Liberty, Out of Time
Jul 23, 2004   San Diego ComicCon 2004, the family summer vacation, Bruce Campbell, Opus, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, Angels & Demons, Folk of the fringe, Bourne Supremacy, i robot, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Cody Banks 2, Hellboy
Jul 19, 2004   *** PNY Rebate fun, IE Patch, Linux and socialism, liberal scum, Opus, BIM, timeline, master and commander, tad hamilton, stuck on you,cold mountain, 50 first dates, the terminal, spiderman 2, king arthur, a hat full of sky, the thousand orcs, meditations on middle earth
Jun 20, 2004   Memorial day pictures, Duplex, Mark Oakley/Heroes, Wild Animal Park Dinosaurs, B-52s concertman, Say After Tomorrow, Big Fish, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Eragon, A Hat Full of Sky, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
May 08, 2004   Pat Tillman, LOTR Toys, 13 Going on 30, Mean Girls, Tolkien Miscellany, Last Juror, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Pork Tornado
Apr 06, 2004   Roswell season 1 DVD and a some other mindless drivel
Feb 19, 2004   Highlander site contest results, new downloads, princess gallery updates, lord of the rings toys, harry potter, underworld. lost in translation, the hunted, a tolkien miscellany...
Feb 09, 2004   Murder at 1600, Radio, Cheaper by the Dozen, King Arthur, Spiderman 2, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Tolkien Miscellany, Mark Oakley, massive snow in Idaho...
Jan 28, 2004   Swat, Uptown Girls, Somethings Gotta Give, Along Came Polly, Seabiscuit, Ashley Judd Marathon, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Science Fiction Bok Club, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, RA Salvatore, Mythology (Alex Ross), Fastner & Larson, Best page in the universe, etc, etc...
Jan 07, 2004   Clint`s rules, X-Men 2, Holes, Pirates, Two Towers, Freaky Friday (Haley Hudson), new drawings, Thieves` World, Playskool Star Wars, new Interest section
Jan 02, 2004   nothing all that interesting...
Dec 21, 2003   Nemo, Highlander page, Christmas vacation 2003, star wars kid
Dec 12, 2003   E.T. (Erika Eleniak), new drawings, Opus, Santa Claus 2 (Elizabeth Mitchell), Legolas toy/pics, How to Deal (Mandy Moore), Myth update, Last Samurai
Nov 27, 2003   Another Fine Myth, Elf
Nov 22, 2003   Dude, Where`s Bill & Ted
Nov 18, 2003   Not much to say
Nov 15, 2003   Disneyland, Astronaut`s Wife, Dumer and Dumber-er, Monstrous Regiment
Nov 10, 2003   Terry Pratchett, Matrix Revolutions
110103   School of Rock, Terry Pratchett signing, Darth Vader MBNA bust, San Diego fires
Aug 17, 2003   Johnny English, San Diego Comic-Con
Jun 17, 2003   Assorted ramblings
May 28, 2003   Not much to say
May 24, 2003   Almost nothing of note
May 17, 2003   Matrix Reloaded, Pirates
Mar 23, 2003   The Police, Pirates, Lord of the Rings grievances part II
Mar 16, 2003   Lord of the Rings grievances part 1
Super auld stuff   A big list of old submissions with boat loads of broken links

Update: June 13, 2008

I totally forgot to mention my recent run-in with a traveling swarm of bees...but I now have.


The Reading Shelf

I've been inspired by Ms Clack (sorry, you'll always be Ms Clack to me), my eighth (and tenth, I think) grade English teacher to share a photo of what I have on my "reading shelf."

If I had shared the last photo of my reading list (from April), you would see that all the books that were there then are still there now. It's sad, I know. I am on page 609 of the book I've been reading forever, Legends II a collection of novellas/short stories from some of my favorite authors (and a few others I would never have read, otherwise, and will likely never read again).

While the books that were there before haven't gone anywhere, a few books have been added.

So here's what's on my shelf:

  • Knights Templar - A non-fiction look at the legendary Knights Templar, with lots of pictures.
  • His Dark Materials trilogy - I've been stoked to read this one since I saw The Golden Compass
  • Mouse Guard Fall 1152 - This is actually a hardcover collection of the six Mouse Guard Fall 1152 comics. I read the Mouse Guard Winter 1152 comics before I found out about these, but I haven't gotten around to these yet.
  • Peter Pan - When I saw this was on the BBC's list of 100 Books every child should read and then saw it on sale at Barnes and Noble, I picked it up so the "kids" could read it.
  • The Woman Who Wouldn't - As good as Gene Wilder's first novel (My French Whore) was, you'd think I would have read this one by now...but I haven't. Too many books, too little time.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - I know, I know. I actually picked this up before I saw the movie, but my intentions were good. The Star Wars novelizations were actually better than the movies (Episodes I, II and III) so I thought the same might be true of this one. I'll let you know once I've read it.
  • On the Road - This is supposed to be one of those classic "must read" type books, so when I saw it on sale at Borders, I picked it up.
  • Legacy of the Drow - I was drawn into reading one of RA Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden novels by the awesome cover art a couple of years ago. I've only read a few of the Drizzt novels (three, I think), but I bought this collection of his earlier adventures (the events occur earlier than those in the novels I've read) because I've really enjoyed the chracter and the writing (though it does border on "silly fantasy" from time to time).
  • The Bloody Crown of Conan - The Dark Horse Conan comic books inspired me to look further into Robert E Howard's Conan character, so I picked up a collection of his stories about a year ago,. This is the second collection (with only three of his longer stories) and has been waiting patiently on the shelf for several months as I work my way to it.
  • Shadow Puppets - It's been years since I've read any of Orson Scott Card's Ender novels, but I saw this hardcover on sale for a few bucks, so I picked it up. before I read it, I'll have to dig all the preceding paperback novels out of the boxes they've been stored away in out in the garage to re-read. I think I may be missing a book or two in the series - I guess I'll find out when I start it over.
  • The Path Between the Seas - I've never been much of a fan of non-fiction, but I do enjoy reading historical fiction (the more real history, the more engrossing the story). When I read David McCullough's 1776 I realized even non-fiction can be engrossing, if it's written the right way. I've only made it though 1776 and John Adams so far, but I plan to get to this one eventually.
  • The Johnstown Flood - Another David McCullough non-fiction slice o' history.
  • The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana - I've only read a couple of Umberto Eco novels (Focault's Pendulum and Baudolino), but they fall under the "historical fiction that feels real" category of books. As with Camus's writing, you never know if the novel your reading is what the author wrote or the translator's interpretation of the original Italian (or French, in Camus's case) text.
  • The Children of Hurin - I was stoked when I saw that a long, lost Tolkien story was being published. And I had high hopes that this would be more readable than The Silmarillion or either of the Book of Lost Tales that were puclished by JRR Tolien's son. I haven't really had a chance to get into it yet, so I'll find out eventually (I'v enever made it all the way through The Silmarillion...that is one dry piece writing. It reads more like a text book than a novel.
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist - I wanted to read The Kite Runner, but never found the motivation to pick it up. And now I can only find it in paperback. So I grabbed this one when I saw it on sale at Barnes and Noble (it sounds similar to the premise of The Kite Runner).
  • The Absolute Sandman Vol 1 - I really like Neil Gaiman's stuff, but I didn't discover him through the medium that made him famous: comic books. Sandman in particular. So when I later found out that these were the original Neil stories, I picked this up. It's only the first of four leather hard cover collections of his comics, though (and I've only read about half of this one). These suckers are pricey, so I don't know how soon I'll be getting the next one (though I've learned sincebuying this one that they are significanlty cheaper on Amazon).
  • Stardust - I actually read a non-illustarted version of this, another Neil Gaiman novel, a couple of years ago, but I think I've read that this story actually began life as an illustrated story (in comic book format, I think). I'm not sure if this is a collection of those comics or just an illustrated version of the story, but the illustrations are beautiful.
  • Conan - There's a stack of Conan the Barbarian, Savage Sword of Conan and a possibly a couple of other titles on the left side of the novels on my reading shelf that have been there for a couple of years. I picked them up for about a dollar each after a ComicCon and have read some of them, but I haven't made it though the whole stack yet. The artwork on the covers and a lot of the interior art is surprisingly impressive (I was never a big fan of Marvel's treatment of Conan in its comics, but these Conan magazines are actually really well done).

At the rate I've been reading lately, I'll be luck to finish half of them before I die.

But wait, there's more...

I have a big stack of comic books that won't fit on the reading shelf (that seems to be growing streadily as I find less and less time for reading). I'd go through the titles, but that's probably even less interesting than the novels I've listed. Let's just say that there's a bunch of Star Wars titles, a few Witchblade, probably a few issues of Buffy, some Red Sonja, maybe a few Grimm Fairy Tales and maybe a Zorro or Lone Ranger. Right on top is the latest (and last) issue of Evil Dead (illustrated by the amazing John Bolton and with writing that stays true to the Bruce Campbell character).

Comiccon is in about six weeks, so my stack of unread comic books will probably be a lot bigger soon.

Fish Tank Jungle

The fish tank is quickly becoming a live-plant jungle and the fish are loving it (not another fish has died yet).

I think that I mentioned the three "betta bulbs" that were planted in the tank a couple of months ago. The three bulbs have not only all sprouted, but have flourished. And this is after receivng a dire prediction that at least one - and maybe all three - probably wouldn't grow at all from the employee of the pet shop where we purchased them.

Interestingly, the three bulbs are not all the same type of plant. Two of them seem to be, but the third is a flowering plant that grows vine-like stems up to the surface of the water (and its leaves also float on the surface). And even more interestingly, the flowering plant seems to be spreading its love in the tank (there are at least four new plants sprouting up in the gravel).

We also added a couple of banana plants, but they don't seem to be doing much, other than taking up space and adding some natural color.

The betta and the five tetras (3 neon, 2 glo-light) are constantly swimming through the forest of leaves/vines in the tank. As the greenery spreads, I think the fish will become even happier with their little artifical home. The two chinese algae eaters and the three amano shrimp don't seem to have much interest in the plants, other than as potential surfaces for algae to accumulate on (the algae problem has not recurred in any form since bringing these guys into the tank).

Unfortunately, the two mystery snails we added to the tank do have more than a passing interest in the plants - they consider them food! They've even been muching on some of the new sprouts popping up in the gravel. Despite their ravenous nature, I think the snails are probably the most interesting critters to watch in the tank and they've even added at least one baby snail to the tank since they've been here. The two snails are constantly stuck together. Can snails be nymphomaiacs?


To give the plants a chance to get a little larger and stronger before they become snail food, I've decided to move the snails and any offspring I find to the smaller bowl for a week or two (depending on how happy they seem in the new bowl). The bowl they will be in is unheated, unlit and not a great home for fish, but I hope it will suffice for the snails. I even moved the banana plants over to give them a little greenery.

I suspect one of the shrimp might be carrying around a belly full of eggs, but nothing has happened yet, so it might be my imagination. If it does lay the eggs, they'll probably just become fishfood for the beta and tetras anyway. They'll eat brine shrimp when I give it to them, so I assume they'll eat baby Amano shrimp too. The two non-pregnant shrimp were chasing each other around the tank yesterday. They can be pretty entertaining when they're active, too.

Invasion of the Bees

Late-spring/early-summer often brings swarms of bees flying through the area (I'm guessing they're looking for a new place to call home, but I'm no entomologist). A few weeks ago, I drove though a bee swarm at the end of the my driveway as I was coming home from work and felt a moment of panic when I realized my window was down about a half-inch (the roller-upper thing doesn't work, so unless I manually push it up from both sides of the glass, it stays down). I'm not allergic to bees, but I am a big pansy and I tend to freak out when they get too near me.

First a flashback to give you some perspective of my irrational fear of bees...

Many years ago, I was driving through the North Dakota countryside (I'm pretty sure it was North Dakota) in my no-frills Daihatsu Charade - which featured, among it lack of frills, no air conditioner - with the windows rolled down. My friend, Billy Martin, was a passenger in the car. As I was driving, a bee flew inside the car, buzzed around the back windows as it tried to escape and then flew toward my neck and disappeared. Not that it matters, but I was wearing a blue button-down dress shirt that day.

When I lost track of the bee (that had probably just flown back out the window), I was absolutely sure that the bee had disappeared inside my shirt. I swerved to the side of the road, stopped the car, opened my door and jumped out of the car in a panic. I ripped my shirt off (possibly losing a few buttons in the process, I don't remember) and began flailing it around as I did the "I'm a big sissy girl" dance by the side of the road. Billy just sat in the car and laughed at me.

Now you know how I feel about bees.

Returning to the less-distant-past, as I was driving through that swarm (and we're talking hundreds, if not thousands, of bees) I was initially a little worried that one might have managed to get in my car though the slightly-ajar window. I made a quick check and was satisifed that the car was still bee-free. But I wasn't out of the woods yet - I did have to get out of my car and into the garage through what I pictured in my mind's eye as a fog of bees swarming around me. I steeled myself and ran inside. Somehow (probably my super-human speed), I managed to get inside without being furiously attacked.

I warned the wife and kids about the bees and of course they had to rush out to see the swarm for themselves. Except...there was no swarm. There weren't even any bees to be seen, which made me look like an even bigger girl.

And now, my more-recent run-in with bees...

I was taking the yard-waste cans out to the curb Tuesday morning of last week as I do every week (every two weeks, actually). I generally remove the lids before taking them out to the curb because they're easier to carry that way, so I thre the first lid off, moved the can to the sidewalk and then pulled the lid away from the second can. As I tossed the lid to the ground, something buzzed by my face and my first thought was that it was just a fly. And then I heard the buzzing and saw the mass of bees on the side of the garbage can.

To my credit, I didn't scream or even flail my arms like a little girl, but I did run as fast as I could away from those bees. And slowly returned to the scene of the crime, edging as far from the only-slightly-agitated bees as I could to sneak back into the garage. I didn't think to take any photos that morning, but I did warn the wife and kids about the bees (and when they checked out the validity of my report, the bees were actually still there this time).

By the time I returned home from work, I discovered that the bees had moved on. But I didn't realize they had only moved a few feet until my wife pointed out the seething mass of bees on the inside of the garbage can lid sitting on the ground. This time I took a few photos (and even a video with just one moment of panic as a bee came too close).

They had moved on again (out of the yard) within a couple of days, but they left a surprise on the inside of the lid: a partial honeycomb. I'm not sure why they went through all the effort, but as I said...I'm no entomologist.





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