- March 30, 2005 -

It's still early in the morning, but I figured I'd sleep a bit, and then get up and do ballots, I've done fifteen and now I've had enough of the ballot entering! I've completed about 80 of them and there are 85 questions on each... they're for the Topeka C-J Best of Topeka contest by the way if I'd not mentioned it before, and there are several thousand ballots, and six of us entering them I think. I really enjoy the ones where people only filled in 20 or so of the questions, but those can be very few and far between.

Terri Shiavo is very much in the news still, and I'm confused by the argument that she's not on life support. Many have said on the TV that she's not on a ventilator, she just needs to be fed. I don't see much of a difference, seeing as we need both food/water and air to live, and if the body cannot take in air to breath, and when a machine is required to carry out that function it is considered being on life support, but if one cannot eat or drink, and a machine must be used to pump nutrients into the stomach to keep someone alive, why then is that not life support in everyone's eyes. --I do feel there should be better laws for when family disagree over the care for someone that is unable to make a life and death decision, perhaps it should be made part of the marriage paperwork if only the spouse can make the decision, or if the decision should remain with the parents.

- March 29, 2005 -

I got most of the parts for the computer I'm building for Brent possibly. It's been a while since I've put together a system, so I pondered it would be good to put one together. My goal is to put together a the best system I can and still have it be under $250. I ordered a hard drive and video card yesterday, and those should be the last parts for it.

The National Geographic Channel had a program on about the Super Volcano under Yellowstone yesterday. It covered the history of the park, past eruptions, and what a future one would be like- The show on Discovery will be more of a movie following the lives of people through an eruption event. I was just flipping through and National Geographic had this on..

- March 28, 2005 -

I finished the newsletter late last night and entered a few Best of Topeka ballots while I watched TV, and I saw an upcoming must see TV event. April 10th on Discovery they will air "SuperVolcano". It's about the massive magma pocket underneath Yellowstone National Park, and what it would be like when it erupts again. There is a caldera in Yellowstone that erupts with near clockwork every 600,000 years, but the last event was 604,000 years ago. The scale of the last eruptions have just been massive- 2,500 times the size of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. What makes a supervolcano different from a normal volcano is that there isn't much of a rising or mountain with a supervolcano, it's just a giant pocket of magma deep underground that builds in pressure until the Earth's crust above it can no longer hold it back, and then it all explodes. St. Helens sent two cubic kilometers of volcanic ash into the atmosphere, but geologic studies have shown that supervolcanos can release thousands of cubic kilometers of ash. When Yellowstone erupts it will certainly alter the planet's climate, and be the end of many species.

- March 27, 2005 -

It came out today that Tom Delay was the one that released a memo on Capitol Hill to fellow Republicans that the Shiavo ruling was a gift that they should try to legislate seeing as it was a topic Democrats would find difficult to handle, in polls however a majority of Americans side with the Democratic position that the government should not be involved in such personal matters. It was also in the news that several years ago Delay chose to take his own father off life support... which leads me to think it was much more of a political maneuver than a deeply held belief.

Bush released a new ad today for his social security plan- It opens with a narrator saying that Bush has tried to explore every option to fix social security... but what plans have Democratic leaders had? It then shows a stop watch that ticks off several seconds to give you time to think about it, and then it states that they have no ideas. If one were to pay attention, I think the Democratic plan has been restated a million times over. Repeal the Bush tax cut to people making over $200,000 a year. Nancy Pelosi stated a couple weeks ago that she was more than willing to work something out... a repeal of the tax cut for people making over $300,000 a year would be enough to fully fund social security permanently, and also provide money for paying off the national debt.

It's Easter Sunday, most of the weekend I spent working on the newsletter for the Capital-Journal, which I still have more I need to do.

- March 23, 2005 -

My Power Supply came today, it's wondrous! It has a titanium black finish, so it looks like a dark mirror, 600Watts, and it has blue LED fans with windows in the sides.

Kyrgyzstan's government is in turmoil, and a minority party has seized control of a government building there... my only thought was... "Kyrgyzstan?"

The Schiavo Case appears stalled... Frankly, I don't understand how no one seems to be able to get along- it just seems like everyone is trying to impose their will. I don't understand why the parents want to continue to try and keep her alive against what she wanted, but if they are not ready to give up, on the reverse side, the husband says that he only wants to comply with what Terri wished, but I think she would probably chose to continue on living without thought- if it were to avoid all that is and has happened, the hurt her parents feel, and being such a focus for the media and government. Then there's Jeb Bush, who has been imposing his will on the case for nearly a decade, all of his acts being declared unconstitutional by the state of Florida, and now the President. -People today, including children, were arrested for trying to take cups of water in to try and give to Terri- I'm not sure if they just don't pay attention or don't understand what is wrong with her. The right is trying to mislead the public that she does not require any type of life support, and only requires to be fed- one person on TV declared; "Babies require the same care, why not then do will kill all the other handicapped people and babies that cannot care for themselves?" It's just a totally illogical argument. Terri completely lacks the ability to carry out any cognitive process, and did not wish to live this way, further- she is totally unable to swallow... any attempt to just dump water in her mouth would cause her to suffocate and die a much quicker death.

- March 21, 2005 -

Recently I'd been having some computer problems, one of my hard drives had problems and lost a partition, and I could hear a very quiet "meep" about once every six hours. For some time one of my monitors had also been displaying a little strangely with a slight echo, but I felt that was probably a separate problem as it had been that way for months, and the meeping and the drive problem were new. I pondered the power supply in the computer I built (which is the one that ate up the hard drive) was going bad... so I went and ordered a new one online for $80, (it's a super power supply though, 600W with blue lighting)... so I unplugged the computer... but then an hour later I heard a meep... and I was like "Bloody ell! Who just meeped?!" but the power supply can hold electricity and still do that... but to be sure... I took the computer and sat it in the other corner... so I worked most the night on the other computer... and then "meep" and it came from the corner of the room I was in... so I took both computers and put them in the other room and just waited... and then finally I heard another meep... So I came to discover it was a battery backup system I had my computers plugged into! Bah, so now I have a new power supply on the way I don't need. I have so many good spare parts, perhaps I'll build a new one. Battery backups are a wondrous thing, They take in and store power, and then slowly deal it out as needed, so if you have a brown out, or even if the power goes out, the computers stay on and happy. Somehow though, the backup started to malfunction, and apparently began to give one of the computers less and less power, so they were running in a constant brown out. Now that I did away with the battery backup, all seems well, so now I guess I'll see if I can recover the hard drive that got hurt.

- March 17, 2005 -

Karate was tonight, and I went to work early to make up for the time I lost in San Francisco... I also got my photos developed, when to PetSmart to get food for the puppies, and after work I went over to Susan's to get the rest of the info for the newsletter, and tons of ballots for the data entry job... I've now got every minute of my life booked into May!

- March 16, 2005 -

Today after work I went to a storm spotter seminar with Brent, Teresa, and Brent's new tenant/friend here in Holton-- It was extremely boring though.

One of the dogs Mom took in yesterday died tonight, there is another one that is not responding, but the remaining five try to eat, and they have the energy to get up and walk around the playpen some.

- March 15, 2005 -

We woke up early and saw Ben off to work, and then Teresa and I packed up our stuff and picked up our mess some, we double checked that we had everything, and then exiting into the hall and pulled the door shut locking it behind us... it felt so final, and we were off to the bus stop. We didn't have to wait very long at all before it arrived, and there were very few people on it since it was mid-morning after rush hour had ended. After a few stops I knew we were getting close to where the Cal-Train station was, so I went up and asked the driver if where we had just stopped was the closest to the station, or if the next was, and he said the next would be slightly closer, and that we'd have to walk back the way the bus had come just a little bit, but then a lady getting on the bus heard where we were going and blurted out the that train station was closed today, and that we could not get on there. I was a little nervous at hearing that, and I asked why the station was closed, and the lady said they were renovating the station... and since they'd been working on the station the entire time we were there, and we used it the day before, I figured the lady was just misinformed. We got to the station, got our tickets, and a large school group was there too. I can't really imagine being a teacher, and be responsible to navigate the many forms of public transportation with 20 students in tow.

We got off the Cal-Train in Melbrae, CA, and then got our BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) tickets, and a train pulled in from the north, and I was a little confused because we wanted to go north, and there was another set of tracks on the other side where the train pulled in, so I pondered we really needed to get to the other side of the tracks to catch a train going in the other direction, but we couldn't see how exactly we could do that.... and then the train pulled out and went back north, so we missed our train. Teresa made friends with a lady from Boston while we waited, and luckily trains come quite frequently, and it we like all got on the next one 15 minutes later.

The San Francisco International Airport is the first stop, so we got off, and got on the airport's Air Tram, which is an automated system that you get on... a nice female voice announces the terminals and what airlines are associated with each, and curtly scolds passengers if there are too many people and it takes too long for everyone to get on, and it was kinda rude I thought. We made it to our terminal, and then got somewhat lost since SFI had all the directions marked for all the airlines except Midwest, but we found our way, and then checked in. It was about half an hour before Mary Lou got there. She took the Super Shuttle back, and was the first person they picked up... and then had to wait for the driver to pick up other people, and some were late. On the plane back I sat with Mary Lou and worked on a very difficult crossword puzzle and Teresa made a new friend with a lady from St. Joe- Mary Lou and I would look over, and they'd both be chatting away like crazy, though they did get tired and passed out for a short while, but before we knew it they were busy conversing again about every aspect of life.

When we got back to KCI we got on the shuttle to take us back to Mary Lou's car, and our section of the lot was the last, but Teresa noticed that her bag was gone, and we were left with an extra bag with the name tag Molly James on it, so the shuttle driver took us over to where all the cars would have to exit, and we flagged down each and asked for them to double check that they had their bag. It was like the fourth vehicle to pull up, and the man in it thought we were the ones that were going to take his parking toll, because he had gotten his money out and was ready to pay us... I asked if there was a Molly James, and the lady in the passenger side jumped out in an excited manner, and ran to the back of the truck and we exchanged bags.

Mom got seven German Shepherd/Australian Shepherd puppies in. Someone out in the country went on vacation until Easter, and left no one to care for the dogs. There were twelve pups in the litter, and when the mother began to starve she couldn't feed the pups any longer, so they all became so malnourished that their digestive systems shut down. Three were killed in the road near the house where they were found, two of the pups that seemed pretty well off went to another foster home, and Mom took the seven sickest.

- March 14, 2005 -

It was Monday, so Ben had to go back to work, so we all got up early and caught a bus to take us in to the Cal-Train station. Ben helped us get tickets and we got on the train to go into San Francisco to meet up with Mary Lou and her sisters for lunch. This was my first time on the train here in the states, and it was really very neat! It was a double decker train, and you could go up some tiny stairs and get on the top part, that had railing, because the center section was cut out, so you could see down to the bottom floor from the top.

Once we got to San Francisco we got off the train at the end of the line, but it was still in the southeast section of the city, and Cow Hollow was on the other side... so Teresa and I figured out the MUNI, which are electric street cars. They have dozens of routes all over the city, and only cost $1.25 for four hours of travel.

We got off the MUNI about five blocks away from Cow Hollow, so we walked around a bit and then waited for Mary Lou to come back (because we were very early). Between all the walking and the hills, I can understand why so many people are in good shape here. For lunch we all went out to a restaurant that had several dozen awards on the wall for having the best burgers in the bay area, and they lived up to their awards.

After lunch Teresa and I walked to a nearby MUNI stop, and were somewhat accosted by a man that talked to us about how the jet contrails in the sky had chemicals in them and that were drifting about and dispersing down to the ground and he was serious concerned about what damage it could be doing... and he talked about it on and on, but then the street car pulled up, and we all got on... but then there was shouting as an older crazy man and two girls got into an argument, there was a big hullabaloo and commotion and the driver ran back and yelled at them a bit and said he'd park the bus and and have his manager come down. He then separated everyone and we rode down to the wharf. We went to a maritime museum, and took a ferry ride around the bay. There were very few people on the ferry, and it was probably the most memorable part of the trip. We went out along the shoreline of SF, under the Golden Gate Bridge and back under it again to go past Sausalito and between Angel Island and Alcatraz. It took about an hour in all, and if anyone plans on going there, I would say it's the one thing that you must do.

After the Ferry ride Teresa and I meandered just a bit before we got on the MUNI to head back to the Cal-Train station and we went back to Palo Alto. We weren't really certain about catching a bus, and we pondered it wasn't that far, so we tried to walk it, and we were over half way back to Ben's when he picked us up.

- March 13, 2005 -

We got up and went out to a local bakery in Palo Alto for breakfast, and then after that Ben took us to see Stanford University. I was amazed at the size of everything- perhaps it was no larger, or smaller than KU, but the architecture was monumental, and I was kinda sad that I left my camera at home... I didn't think breakfast was going to turn into something so photo-worthy though.

Ben then drove us back in to San Francisco and took us to a park that was a great site for taking pictures of the Golden Gate and the bay. For lunch we had pizza, and it was like the best pizza on earth, though I guess I can't find the words to differentiate any ole normal pizza, from this pizza- it was certainly the best though... Ham and pineapple. After lunch Ben dropped Teresa and me off in a more central location in the city to wander some. Ben had somewhat of a blind date, so it would appear he's making some new friends.

Teresa also made some new friends though, besides her run-ins with the plentiful crazy people, she fell in love with the cable cars. She loved to hang off the side. She made sure to ask the conductor first: "Is it ok to hang off the side?!?" and he told her it was, but to be careful. Then everyone watched her as she exclaimed "Woa!".... She seemed like a puppy putting its head out the car window (only on crack), and I half expected her to shout: "I"m the King of the World!" because it was apparent she was having one of those moments. And it was probably one of those things that the natives probably shake their head at the crazy tourists... well, even the tourists probably shook their heads at it all. We managed to make our way over to Lombard Street, and as the sun started to go down, I realized my error in not bringing along a jacket. The weather in San Francisco is very interesting, it seemed to reach 70's in the daytime and 50's at night, and it never varied away from that, and seldom does no mater what time of year.

Ben picked us up after his rendezvous, and we went to an Italian restaurant on the North Shore neighborhood.

- March 12, 2005 -

I awoke to the sound of Teresa flipping pages in a magazine- she woke up very early and was apparently bored. Ben woke up shortly after that and made us breakfast, say what you wish about Ben, but he can use a toaster like no other man. After we got ready for the day Ben drove us in to the city and we ate lunch at Mell's Drive in, which was featured in American Graffiti then we drove downtown and walked up Nob Hill, a very nice area with expensive hotels.

After our big meal and brisk climb, we went and saw Well, which Mary Lou's sister Jayne Houdyshell starred in. I've not been to many plays in my life, though I did take a drama appreciation class in college where I had to sit through a number of plays.... but I found Well to be very interpreting and engaging to the audience, and it was very funny too. The Geary Theater was equally impressive. After the play everyone went out to eat together, though Teresa, Ben and I were still stuffed from lunch, I did order a slice of key lime pie though- all the food seems to taste better here. While we were eating Lisa Kron came in and thanked all of us from coming to see the play. Lisa was the writer, director, and co-star, and she was very nice and personable.

That evening Ben took Teresa and me to Ameba Music, a store that Robert suggested we go see, and I bought a Japanese CD there. We ate that night at a Thai restaurant, and I had a green curry dish that was very hot- Teresa couldn't stand it, but I thought it was really good. We went back to Palo Alto then and before we went to bed we watched an episode of Deadwood, it's an HBO series set in the gold rush, and Ben has really started to get into it, and I thought it was very interesting too.

- March 11, 2005 -

Trip day is here! In just a few short hours I'll be on my way... to Mary Lou's house, but from there we'll be on our way to the airport... I'm all packed and ready to go. Yesterday I went up to Sara's cubical to ask if she wanted to come with us, but she had already gone home for the day, so I extended the invitation to her friends Worf and B'etor, and they gladly accepted. I warned them that though I would book their passage, Teresa might have to care for them part of the time too. Worf said he didn't mind at all, and that it was "a good day to die," so I assume he understood the hazards of Teresa's care.

Teresa and I are still picking up more painting jobs, though today she took one and promised our services WAY too cheap! Teresa is grounded from entering the company into contracts from now on I say. We're like five jobs behind now... and all are spring/soon as possible/now type of jobs... and we've really got enough to keep us busy for the rest of the summer I think now! So... I got an idea that it's time for greater automation! I saw that the Wagner Power Painters were going super cheap-o on Ebay... so I ponder for a fence, deck, and exterior house project that would save us TONS of time! (and would also yield a professional brush-free finish.) Isn't it great that the bad Teresa blunders can be corrected with my keen ponderings?

Oh my, I stayed up so late-- well, I went to bed early, but then woke up and couldn't sleep, and then I just couldn't get up, so then I was in a mad rush to get ready and get to Mary Lou's so then I was too early. We made our way to the airport and everything went pretty normal, though when our plane was getting ready to go there was some type of instrument problem and a few people kept running under the wing to look at something. The plane had taxied out a bit and had to return to the dock, but after ten minutes or so they cleared us to take off again, and we were quickly in the air. I had a window seat, and got many photos of the country from high above. It was so fascinating to have the perspective of the cruising altitude, viewing the geography, and being able to take it all in.

We took a shuttle from the airport to Cow Hollow (The Hotel Mary Lou, Lin & Brian stayed at). Teresa and I had three hours before Ben was to pick us up, so we decided to go for a walk. San Francisco is a great city for exercise, all the hills really work the muscles in your legs, and there are so many sites to see... that you see something of interest over the next hill... so you're driven to go see what it is, and once you've seen it, there's always something else to move on to. We walked to a large dome that was constructed for the World's Fair, near the Presidio and up a massive hill, and then we attempted to walk to Lombard Street, but we could tell that we'd run out of time, so we made our way back to Cow Hollow.

Ben picked us up, and took us to a very small Mexican restaurant called Gourdo's. Their I had the best burrito I'd ever eaten. We then went for a short walk around the new Chinatown neighborhood where we ate- it was once a Russia Town, but recently many Chinese moved into the area, so they kinda took over. I got a cup of green tea ice cream there... I had it in Japan, and I never see it around here, so I had to get it. After eating and getting a short tour of the the Presidio, Ben drove us to his apartment in Palo Alto where we stayed while we were in California.

- March 10, 2005 -

Kazuhiro got sick and went back to Japan without coming to Topeka- It's too bad, I wish he could have come, and it's such an expense to come all the way over and just spend a few days here.

I'm nearly all packed and ready to head off to San Francisco! I still have more, and I should probably make a checklist... I should have a big blog when I return back! When I return I'm going to have so much work to do, a newsletter, and a lot of painting... every weekend for the next few months is booked!

- March 5, 2005 -

.....As you can see, I've changed the order of my Blog to be reverse chronological order, most people seem to do it this way, and I've not changed the other pages yet, but I will sometime.

It's Sandy's Birthday today! It's also Jolene Blalock's Birthday! Happy birthday Sandy & T'Pol! Enterprise was surprisingly not aired last night... Instead there was a double feature of America's Next Top Model on UPN and CBS put on a double feature of Paid Programming.

After Karate this week my wrist was VERY sore... I didn't notice it at all... until I got up from a chair... and pushed down on the arm of the chair to get up... and it hurt so much I fell back into the chair. When I woke up it was 100% better and I couldn't feel that anything was wrong with it at all.

Friday I saw that my snail had died. It had gotten really big and its shell was a couple inches across, and when it was out and moving the antenna (or whatever their sensory organs are called) could be six inches across. I'm not sure why it died, perhaps with the plants in the aquarium it didn't get algae buildup and there wasn't enough for it to eat. I think it was more old age, because over the last year, it had become spotted.

- March 3, 2005 -

Today is James Doohan's Birthday, though there is speculation if he is still alive or not.

There were two milestones today: The Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer landed safely and was the first jet to fly around the world without refueling with a single pilot, and it marks the 1500th soldier to die in Iraq.

The trip is coming up so fast... I think I'll start making a list of things I should take, and today Bob said I could borrow his suitcase, which is very good, because the one I had, but it was Way too big.

- March 2, 2005 -

I got a letter from Kazuhiro today- he's coming over from Japan at the same time I'm going to be in San Francisco, but I will get to see him the day before I go. I really need to start preparing to go, there are only nine days left!

There are just twelve hours left in the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer arrives back in Salina, but it's somewhat uncertain if it will make it all the way since it is low on fuel. They said that hours after it took off, some of its fuel was accidentally dumped.

Tonight I discovered we had the National Geographic Channel- It's very interesting! It could possibly be better than Discovery & History, or perhaps it was just the shows that were on tonight though.