Friday, July 31, 2009

Cash for Cretins

Cash for a car? All of the criteria simply drive home the point that this legislation was created by the rich for the rich.

The well-to-do -- who can more easily afford to buy a new car -- get the benefits. I can't afford to buy a new car at all, regardless of my current mpg and regardless of $3000. Can I buy a VW Jetta TDI (capable of passing California's emission standards, 41 mpg highway) for $3k? Uhhhhh ... ... no. They're about $25k. (I would like one, though. Salsa Red.) It is, however, the 4th most fuel-efficient car on the market.

The other 3 models with better mileage also cost more. I notice that none of them are American. I also notice that my 9 year old VW Passat wagon gets 23 mpg around town, which puts it ahead of the brand-new Chevy at #11.

This does nothing to reduce our reliance on petroleum based fuel. In fact, it encourages us to continue to buy it, rather than switch to other engine types or mass transit. If the people don't feel the pain, they won't change their behavior.

And ... what does more for the economy? Me buying a used car outright (i.e., no loan), or me paying interest to some blood-sucking financial institution? I replaced my '99 VW with an '00 VW in January. Yes, I bought an 9 year old car. I was stuck with the insurance check from the ditz who totaled my 25 mpg car (which was 10 years old). Know what? you can't get much for $5400.

Never the less, my money is currently going to pay for food, clothes, school, etc. Where is it going? Into our lagging economy. Or my savings account, so that when my husband loses his job, we can pay our mortgage. Where is the money going for all of these people buying new cars? Into the blood-sucking gaping maw of money lending agencies, who sure aren't putting it back into the economy. Not even paying themselves bonuses puts much money into the economy. Where is this $3000 for a junker coming from? Our taxes. Which are being paid by everyone.

I would rather pay for unemployment benefits to be extended another week rather than for someone to buy a new car. Can't the government find something useful to do with my tax dollars? Like extend unemployment benefits or pay for COBRA? Support programs that refurbish homes in blighted neighborhood to encourage people to move there? Extend the tax write-off you can get by donating your car to charity organizations?

This rebate is superficial, feel-good legislation that lets us pretend our problems are being fixed.

Stop pandering to financial lending-institutions by "giving away" money to encourage people to borrow money. The only agency which benefits is the bank. Because this new car buying spree means more people pay more interest on their loans. More interest to bank = less money for them.

[review] Public Enemies

Public Enemies is about more than just Public Enemy #1.

Marion Cotilliard just takes the cake. She made the movie. She's Dillinger's girlfriend, and just nails the rather naive young woman who falls for the Bad Boy. Through the whole movie, she's believable. From getting stood up (inadvertently) by Dillinger to being interrogated by the FBI. Wow.

It's not like we don't know Johnny Depp is a good actor. [And I'm assuming you know who John Dillinger was.] He plays the Bad Boy, the other Johnny, with panache. From what I've read elsewhere about Dillinger, this seems to be a pretty well-done portrayal. Totally fearless of the law. And, in the script at least, rather witty at times. Christian Bale is Melvin Purvis, the FBI section chief in Chicago tasked with catching him. This is the rigid agent who completely believes the ability of science and organization under the aegis of Hoover is capable of overcoming any criminal. Crudup's Hoover is confronted by a Senate committee inquiring about a man's competence to run a law enforcement agency who has no experience as a cop or lawyer. It gives a vicious pleasure to see such a powerful man who later damaged our society raked over the coals; yet, what he was doing here was critical and beneficial.

Like watching Rome, I was perfectly aware the main character died, and equally like Rome, I wasn't sure if his not-tragic departure from this mortal coil would be included in the movie. Dillinger was killed sometime in the 30s, although I didn't know how/when. So, the movie's end remained an unknown for me throughout the film.

I don't think I noticed earlier that the movie's title is in the plural. Dillinger wasn't alone in the '30s crime spree in the Windy City. Other big-time bank robbers are both here, as are the rest of Dillinger's gang. It's not a one-man show, even if it's a one-man image on the news reels. Bale chasing Depp inadvertently finds Baby Face Nelson, another wanted criminal.

The music was well done, fitting original score with variations on tunes of the time. The setting and costuming was well done. Of course, there's photographic evidence of how people dressed, unlike Elizabeth or Rome. You know, no matter how much blue jeans and a pressed white oxford can look really sexy, there's something aesthetically pleasing about a jacket and tie and hat being standard attire for men.

Now, set design is one thing (well done). Utilization of that design is a completely different story. Perhaps the DOP should have, say, put a full moon on screen to indicate where all of that light is from. Or perhaps realized that running around the Indiana backwoods in 1934 would be far too dark to film. There had to have been a different way to do the same chase scene in a more plausible manner. Plausibility being a serious criteria, given the authenticity of the rest of the film.

And, with the photography, I must mention a strange thing. The feel of the filming kept changing. First it was ordinary, normal movie work: steady camera, and a realistic appearance, the sort of film appearance that lets you put in tons of CGI. The film then abruptly and without apparent rationale jumped to the shoulder-mounted documentary-live action look of Homicide: Life on the Streets or the Blair Witch Project. If you watch a 'making of' segment, they often show the finished film and then cut to images shot next to the main camera to show you what it looked like originally. You see an abrupt change in image quality. That's what was occurring here. I was confused. This didn't appear to be associated with a specific part of the story line or type of action or anything ... it's more like someone didn't notice which film canister she was using to assemble the final product. [side note, The Author mentioned it provided a more 'intimate' feel, to give you, the watcher, a better sense of what it was like for the characters. Cinda has written screenplays - I'll take her word for it.]

And, of course, there was absolutely no shortage of guns, bullets, or shooting. The sort of movie that makes me curious to learn more about the reality behind this 2-hour story.

Healthy Gopher's rating:
2 - definitely go see it in the theater at matinee prices.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hee Hee Health Care

Saying you're going to do health care reform without a public option is kind of like saying you're going to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan by invading Iraq. It misses the point -- on purpose.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mine is bigger than yours is ...

Pres. Obama's press statement yesterday concluded with:

So at the end of ... my conversation with Sgt. Crowley, there was a discussion about he and I and Prof. Gates having a beer here in the White House. We don't know if that's scheduled yet, but we may put that together.

He also did say he wanted to find out if there was a way of getting the press off his lawn.

I, I informed him that I can't get the press off my lawn.

He pointed out that my lawn is bigger than his lawn.

But if anybody has any connections to the Boston press as well as national press, Sgt. Crowley would be happy for you to stop trampling his grass.

All right?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Capitalize on Ethics

This is an interesting interview yesterday on Minnesota Public Radio's Midday Program.

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, speaking at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, discusses the limits of economic markets and the ethics of capitalism.

Top Quality Journalism despite cutbacks! ...??

2) How do you know when newsroom cuts are affecting what ends up on your doorstep? When you see a correction like this one printed in the New York Times this week:

An appraisal on Saturday about Walter Cronkite's career included a number of errors. In some copies, it misstated the date that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and referred incorrectly to Mr. Cronkite's coverage of D-Day. Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968, not April 30. Mr. Cronkite covered the D-Day landing from a warplane; he did not storm the beaches. In addition, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, not July 26. "The CBS Evening News" overtook "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" on NBC in the ratings during the 1967-68 television season, not after Chet Huntley retired in 1970. A communications satellite used to relay correspondents' reports from around the world was Telstar, not Telestar. Howard K. Smith was not one of the CBS correspondents Mr. Cronkite would turn to for reports from the field after he became anchor of "The CBS Evening News" in 1962; he left CBS before Mr. Cronkite was the anchor. Because of an editing error, the appraisal also misstated the name of the news agency for which Mr. Cronkite was Moscow bureau chief after World War II. At that time it was United Press, not United Press International.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

7.8 vs 8.2 - what's a little difference?

Monster earthquake: 7.8 on the Richter scale - The South Island (Fjordland) of New Zealand is now 30 cm closer to Australia.

I suppose if STFU&GBTW can't have his home in Los Angeles, he's at least still got earthquakes. And, according to this news story, the biggest one ever on record was 8.2 in ... of course ... Wellington.

Mr. HumanTeam and I saw the consequences of one of these monster quakes (from '29?) while puttering through the South Island. One half of a mountainside just shot up several meters.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It sounds different when you put it that way...

Wrap your kid in cotton batting away from reality:

The website lists every incidence of violence, sex, and drug/alcohol in movies. The link above is for the most recent Harry Potter movie.

I realize that such analyses are likely more informative for parents than just PG or G. Most parents probably object to some things more than others. Still this is pretty silly sounded when sanitized and taken out of context.

The following is a small portion of what's listed for sex in Harry Potter #6
A teenage girl and a teenage boy are shown kissing passionately in a couple of scenes. A teenage boy and a teenage girl share a lingering kiss in a few scenes. A teenage girl, clothed in a robe, and a teenage boy stand very close to one another, they pause as if to kiss but they are interrupted before doing so.

A teenage girl blows a kiss to a teenage boy. A teenage boy and a teenage girl are shown holding hands in a couple of scenes. A teenage girl tells a teenage boy to take her hand and they hold hands.

A teenage boy stares wistfully at a teenage girl. A teenage girl looks longingly at a teenage boy. A teenage girl looks as a teenage boy and winks, flirtatiously. A teenage boy looks at a teenage girl suggestively, waving at her with a longing look in his eyes. A teenage girl sits down on a sofa next to a teenage boy and feeds him a cookie.

A teenage girl asks a teenage boy on a date. A teenage boy asks another teenage boy if he and a teenage girl "did it" -- not intending to inquire about sex, but the implication is there. A teenage boy angrily expresses his displeasure with another teenage boy who had run his hands over his sister.

While I realize that people, including myself, would like to know what's in a movie before letting my child see it - especially if it's something I would expect to be G but is rated PG - this is just over the top in the detail. Why not simply list the most egregious sexual act in the movie?

Teenage boy gives teenage girl a passionate kiss.
Teenage girl gives teenage boy a passionate blowjob
Teenage girl gives teenage boy great sex: penis shown
Teenage boy gives adult woman great sex: vagina shown

Come on ... if there's sex shown, it's a pretty safe bet that passionate kissing is also on-screen, and at that point, it's pretty irrelevant if kids are holding hands. And, strangely enough, it doesn't mention exactly how long any of this is going on. Nor does it mention how the activities are perceived within the context of the story line. Perhaps the passionate kissing scene is derided or ridiculed? (Although, assuming it's the big kissing scene I recall from the book, it probably is accompanied by anger and heartbreak from one of the other characters.) I think the context within the movie is as important as the individual activities.

To put this in perspective, Over the Hedge and The Incredibles are both rated PG, as is Harry Potter #6. I simply cannot imagine how these are on par with each other.

And, for Over the Hedge, IMDb's parental information page (so help me) states: On several occasions, we see Verne's bare turtle butt, but it's nothing explicit (and is played for laughs when his shell is off) -- a turtle's ass with no anus is sexual?? Hey, Marge, get that Barbie the hell away from little Suzie! Don't let her undress it! I think there are buttocks on the doll! Is Toy Story 2 rated PG because Mr. Potato Head is muttering to himself "I'm a married spud! I'm a married spud" after finding himself in a car with Tour Guide Barbie?

Okay, so after writing that I - of course - went to the Kids In Mind website and queried Toy Story 2. Sex rating: 1 of 10 (and, yes, it is possible to get a 0). Reason for this (again, so help me):
A few kisses on the cheek. Some "male" toys admire lots of dancing Barbies in swimsuits.

If movie is rated PG and you can't figure out that a few seconds here and there of heavy-duty kissing might be on screen, then you seriously need to learn what criteria the MPAA uses to assign ratings. Although, I must admit I like the German system (link in English) better, which is like:
no age limit -- 6 and under -- 12 and under -- 16 and under -- 18 and under

Ah, well - back to writing my paper. The Author & I have a date for seeing Public Enemies tomorrow if I've got the paper done.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Just cool

So, I don't remember this ... although I do remember seeing one of the manned missions, it might have been the last one in '72('73?). I was sitting in a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio, on June 20, 1999 watching TV & doing homework. The show From Earth to the Moon synchronized its episodes so that the Apollo 11 episode aired on 7/20/99, the 30th anniversary. (I find this mildly terrifying that this event I recall was actually 10 years ago.) As I sat & watched it, I had clear, vivid flashbacks to my parents TV room. I could see the carpet, the TV, the whole thing. So, yes, I watched some of the moon landing stuff waaaay back when.

Right around 6:30 min., it switches to "animation" and "CBS News simulation". While Cronkite is broadcasting, you're watching a little model in the CBS News room. Who needs to wait for the advent of computers for special effects to take over reality?


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Only in San Francisco...

Well, according to the AP, not really unique to S.F.

Penguin Love Triangle: gay penguin ditches partner of 7 years to get laid.
At the San Francisco Zoo, Harry left male partner Pepper for Linda. ... The blogosphere has been buzzing for days over the perky widow who stole the handsome gay guy from his longtime partner.

She's been called a "home wrecker" and the sobriquet that rhymes with witch, and lambasted as a wretch "who only lives for her own happiness, no matter who gets hurt."

Cherchez la femme notwithstanding, the saga of Linda and Harry and poor, cuckolded Pepper has ignited a fierce debate about whether homosexuality is a choice. Even People magazine has called for details.

I would think it funny, if I didn't think these people were serious about their emotional outrage on behalf of ... a penguin?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

[review] Will Not Occur

I was looking for showtimes for Public Enemies, trying to negotiate a girlfriend-date with The Author. The Transformers movie is showing in town. Out of morbid curiosity, since Yahoo's average rating from critics is C-, I looked to see if Ebert had reviewed it, thinking he might not submit himself to such drivel. I guess he needs a paycheck as much as the rest of us. His rating? 1 star. It's here.

I had no intention of seeing it before, and even less now. The review however, is really amusing. And, apparently, more amusing than the film was.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Business bonus points

Last night I was at the Varsity Theater over in Dinkytown. Behind the bar were two signs:

Bottled water: $1.50

Ear plugs: $1

Just as I'm in the midst of a series of papers on occupational hearing loss for PubH 6020 ... perhaps I'll mention it in my next paper. At least if I decide to go back there for a concert, I won't need to worry about having my own ear plugs. I'm curious to know whether or not the employees there have to wear them during shows?

[def] Quadrillion?

Imagine a $15 overdraft fee. Well, you probably don't need to imagine too hard.

Now imagine a quadrillion. That's 10^12. 1,000,000,000,000,000.
hundred x 10 = thousand x 1000 = million x 1000 = billion x 1000 = trillion x 1000 = quadrillion.

Now imagine this number showing up on your debit card bill: $23,148,855,308,184,500

With a $15 overdraft fee.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Russian poetry

After reading Polar Star, I was intrigued by the poetry quoted by two of the characters. It was a passionate interchange between lovers. The novel's text gave the impression the author was very famous and equally unapproved by the Soviet state. I looked, and - lo and behold! - it is a real author. The current view is that Anna Akhmatova is one of the greatest Russian poets in the 20th Century. While looking for her work at the library (which uses the Library of Congress system, ug!), I was forced to look through several other works of Russian literature. I checked out another author, Yevtushenko, published in the 60s. Given the front piece's claim "approved translation" and print date of 1966, I assumed this was going to be Soviet-filtered work and expected it to be an interesting comparison. So, here's a brief exerpt from both of their work:

Anna Akhmatova

Excerpt from White Flock, 1915

I don’t know if you’re alive or dead.
Can you on Earth be sought,
Or only when the sunsets fade
Be mourned serenely in my thought?

All is for you: the daily prayer,
The sleepless heat at night,
And of my verses, the white
Flock, and of my eyes the blue fire.

No one was more cherished, no one tortured
Me more, not
even the one who betrayed me to torture,
Not even the one who caressed me and forgot.

Excerpt from Poem without a Hero, a series written between '40 & '62

... the prince of Darkness, whoever
Would dare to bring him here?
Mask or skull or face, his
Expression of malice and ache I
Doubt even Goya could paint

The suavest and the sickest,
Compared with whom what sinner
is not incarnate grace? ...

Yvegney Yevtuschenko

A Russian Toy: Roly-Poly
[note, this is about a man creating a roly-poly toy - one of those things that, when knocked over rocks back up - for an invading Mongolian Khan]

For those peasants, buffoons
and simpletons at first seeming,
are like those dolls within a doll,
secrets within secrets concealing.
But Roly himself remained,
as the russian people remains,
and the spirit of Roly-Poly
every Russian sustains.

We’re the people of Roly Poly
By God we never been saved
But how many jackboots crushed us down,
flat on our backs like slaves?

But, putting their trust in Heaven,
they never knew our real worth,
neither the French nor the Germans,
nor any Prince or Czar on earth.

All they knew: we were Rolies.
And wanted us flat on our face.
But the fact we were Roly Polies
they forgot, and paid the price
who laughs undaunted, and rises
from the mud untrodden, mocking,
that simple peasant fellow,
to and fro slightly rocking

Vologodsky Province, 1962

None of Akhmatova's work (in the little volume I read) mentions peasants. In fact, one of the nicer 'romantic' ones is a young girl pining for the Czar who will come and make her empress (of course, he dies first - this is, after all, Russian poetry). Definitiely not supporting Socialist Realism. I find I really enjoy her work.

Not to be unfair, some of Yevtushenko's work is elegant. It's just liberally sprinkled with atheistic adoration of The Russian Peasant.


[review] Keinohrhasen

Keinohrhasen: In the tradition of seemingly incomprehensible, lengthy compound German words, we get the No Ear Rabbit. I suppose, since it's a romantic comedy, it might be the No Eared Bunny to be cute. I don't recall the last time I heard Mr. Gopher laugh so much; certainly not at a movie. I think I should get more German movies just to hear him giggle.

Ludo, a tabloid journalist, is sentenced to community service. Where? A daycare. Where, of course, there's a nice woman, Anna. If this was an American movie, she would look like Renee Zellwigger or Jennifer Aniston, depending on the film's budget. He doesn't like kids; he doesn't want to be there; he keeps interrupting his work by answering his cell phone to talk to his photographer about paparazzi tips; she finds him annoying; she's punishing him for his previous behavior to her. We discover they knew each other as teenagers, a fact which surprises him since he didn't recognize her.

Sure, the basic frame here sounds like an ordinary romantic comedy. This, however, is witty and far more realistic a view of romance in the modern world. Love is always interrupted by work, social obligations, getting caught in bed with the wrong person, and heart-felt disappointments. No, this isn't a stellar work of celluloid literature. It's a pleasant summer fun flick. A totally tepid review in English is here. Perhaps it is in expectation. I don't go to see romantic comedies expecting to be entranced or enlightened. I go to be entertained; this succeeded in meeting my expectation. Some of the scenes are visually so well done that I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.

Our copy has English subtitles, despite being purchased in Germany. If you find it on the Foreign Films shelf, I heartily recommend it.

Gopher Rating:
definitely go see it on DVD

Friday, July 10, 2009

Race v. Class

This is my newest sociopolitical pet peeve. I don't give a damn what color or ethnicity or national origin anyone is. Who gets screwed? The poor & politically disenfranchised.

Race Crimes? Not to belittle them - but they pale, they totally beyond comprehension pale compared to Class Crimes. Why do the majority of Blacks have no/little health insurance? It ain't because they're black, it's because they're poor.

"Inciting racial hatred is a crime and one which seems to occur too regularly."
Quoted by the BBC. A pair of men were convicted in England of producing and providing on-line materials inciting racial hatred. The fled to L.A. and applied for asylum, which was rejected. Apparently is is a crime to produce "obnoxious and abhorrent'' books, pamphlets and web pages. Hmmmm. I suppose the right to vote for women is pretty abhorrent. And, somehow I'm sure the gov't thinks the pestering little people screaming for public health care are pretty obnoxious, too.

All of the people railing against universal health care need to be indicted for producing "obnoxious and abhorrent" materials inciting class hatred.

Too much technology

In these days of technological wonder, one can easily get distracted by the cornucopia of electronic benefits. Until one's brain short-circuits.

I've got an on-line course this term. It involves lots of writing. It requires papers be submitted, of course, on-line. I turned in a paper last night. Out of curiosity, I wanted to check the readability/grade level scores. This requires running spell-check. uuhhhhh....

Dear. Professor Linde, uuuhhhhh... I sent you the wrong version of my paper.

I've been using this electronic buffet to back up my papers, projects, and homework on a flash drive. If the computer crashes, at least I won't loose what is often dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of work. There's two different ways to get the documents transferred. I backed up my document, and inadvertently wound up with the final document on the flash drive, but uploaded it from my hard drive. aaarrrrgggh.

This also underscores my need to have something in my hands in hard copy to do a final proof of it. I loathe editing/proofreading on my computer.

Smarter than the Average ... ?

Are you smarter than the Average American? I guess I'm more knowledgeable. Although, I didn't even need to think about the answers.

Is this what we expect the average adult to know? How sad.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Teflon Coated Danger?

PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) is Teflon(TM), which people will tell you causes cancer or whatever. It might. If you ever get exposed to it.

People scream about "Risk!" without comprehending what it really means, even qualitatively.

Risk = exposure * hazard. therefore .... No exposure = no risk.

regarding your Teflon coated cookware which you threw out after being told that it would give you cancer:

The science is absolutely clear: Teflon-coated pans are safe up to about 780F, a temperature at which anything in the pan will have caught fire.

So, as a rule of thumb, you should be careful when flames start shooting out of your nonstick pan. Soon it might get hot enough to emit toxic Teflon particles.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bugs, Bibles & Buzzes

Back from the great North Woods. We spent the week at Kathio State Park, up near Lake Mille Lacs [trans: Lake of One Thousand Lakes]. We were pestered with pests. The mosquitoes are not nearly as bad as they were last year across the lake at Fr. Hennepin Park. The ticks, however, were horrible. For apparently the same reasons: it's cold. The heat should start the 'skeeters growing and the ticks dying. For all the time I've lived in Michigan, I've never run into ticks there. Haven't seen them in the past couple years here, either. But this week? Woah... and the park naturalist said "This? This is a pretty light year." Man, I do not want his job.

Jr.Gopher #1's favorite part of the trip? The fire tower: 100 feet (30.5 m) of mind-melting maternal terror depicted here in full color, Not To Scale (neither structural nor emotional).

looking up

at the top

looking down

Jr.Gopher #1 had a more active enjoyment of the trip. Playing soccer with the boys from the neighboring camp

While out walking about, we discovered some people fishing at the spillway between the Rum River and its headwaters, Lake Mille Lacs. A fellow had just caught something, so Jr.#1 and I waited around to see what was going to come in. Whatever it was, it seemed to be pretty big, based upon how much bend there was in the fishing rod. A 36" (91 cm) Great Northern Pike appeared. Now, this is a nasty fish with nasty teeth, which is accorded a great deal of respect as a hazard. It wasn't really happy. I'm not sure my son was, either.

After 3 days of clouds and wind and cold, on the 2nd we finally got a glorious day of blue skies, eventually warm, and windy. We popped over to the Fr. Hennepin side of the lake, where there was actually a beach. The boys went wading, Mr. Gopher went swimming, and I sat on the hot sand enjoying not being in cold water. If I'd been hot, I might have been willing to get in the water.

Daily nature presentations gave the boys a chance to see new things about the Great Outdoors. Sure, we had already seen deer (right of 2nd tree from left),

but, did you know that antler velvet is actually a source of nutrition for the deer? We didn't manage to see (or hear) any loons, but did you know they have 4 different calls? The little nature interpretation center had some pretty cool items, including a To Scale bald eagle's nets, along with an eaglet of your choice:

I also discovered that it is illegal to posses any part of a non-migratory bird, such as Great Horned Owls (ehm, Mr.BirdMan?) ... and that skunks are really soft critters.

After the naturalist presentation on tracking animals, we made a point on our hikes to look for tracks. Unsurprisingly, the most common thing we found were deer and horses. We did find one racoon and one dog (at least, I'm pretty sure it was a dog, since there aren't any wolves or coyotes in the neighborhood). Walking was - of course - a primary occupation for the trip, in the marshlands:

in the woods:

and even when we weren't sure where we were going:

After the joys of camping, we decided to hit St. John's University (the religious one, not the basketball one). The Benedictine Monastery there is the owner of the soon-to-be-finished St. John's Bible. I saw part of it while it was on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and was utterly awe struck. I was speechless (which is pretty impressive right there). While it isn't quite finished, parts of it are on display in its soon-to-be-home, about an hour west of our campground. Mr.Gopher had checked to ensure it was going to be open, being the 3rd of July yesterday. No notice on their website. Now, despite the fact that they used a computer to do the layout and line breaks for the bible, apparently they don't bother to post university holidays on line. So, we got to see the chapel, but not the big book we wanted to see. C'est la vie. However, in the chapel is a Madonna and Child, which is beautiful if you like 12th Century art:

And, to conclude the day, the neighbors pulled out their box of explosive goodies for a slightly early greeting of our national independence. Last year Jr.Gopher #1 freaked out at the firework display at the capitol for the Minnesota Sesquicentennial (i.e., 150th) Celebration. I took him to the back of the crowd. Not far enough. Further. Further. By the time we got to the bottom of the block where the Cathedral is, he decided it was far enough away. Hmmmm. At the beginning of the neighborly explosions, he insisted to sit on Mr./my lap with our arms around him. By the end of the evening:

The boys have gone nuts over Toy Story 2. Jr. Gopher #2 has decided he's Buzz Lightyear. For the past month or so, he has taken to climbing onto something (the front steps, chairs, boxes, etc.) putting his hands in the hair and proudly proclaiming "To Infinity and Beyond". Although, the clarity of this proclamation has finally arrived at a level comprehensible to the uninitiated. This week, they both decided they wanted to be Buzz. There being two Buzzes: the Toy Buzz (i.e., the character in the movie) and the Star Ranger Buzz (i.e., the character that the Toy Buzz is modeled after). This isn't really a 'real' Buzz vs. not 'real', since they're both real. They realized that since Emperor Zurg is Buzz's father, that Mr. Gopher needs to be Zurg, since they're Buzz and he's their father. When I asked "So, who do I get to be?" Jr. Gopher #1 looked taken aback. After a minute of thinking, I was designated to be Andy's Mom, since she's a woman, and I'm a woman. (she's also the only woman in the movie). After which point, Jr. #1 decided he ought to be Andy, since I'm Andy's Mom and he's my son.

Ah, geneological fantasy ...

We wish you all a happy holiday.