Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Finally saw The Incredibles last night -- rated it a 7. I wasn't rolling with laughter the way I had expected based on the reviews that I had been hearing, but it was still funny. Just a little too family oriented for my tastes. However, the animation was amazing -- I mean, just absolutely beautiful. FYI - I have a ton of pictures from Christmas that I hope to organize and post soon. I'm just still in the midst of Holiday madness right now.

Friday, December 24, 2004

House Status 2.0!!!

We signed a contract!! We made a deposit!! There are stakes on our lot!! It's really happening!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

House Status 1.4

We met with the builder last night on the lot to talk about where the house will actually sit. There is actually a big digging machine and some pipe laid out, so work on the drain should begin soon. The builder is hoping to actually stake out the house next week. I think this whole house thing isn't a dream anymore. :) As for movies, I watched a few this weekend. Saw Collateral and rated it a 7. The acting was tremendous, and the story started off very interesting. But the last ten minutes were much too predictable and just didn't live up to my hopes. Also watched Secondhand Lions -- rated it a 8. In retrospect, that rating may be a little high, but this movie suprised me. I didn't really expect much out of it, and ended up enjoying it quite a bit. Too bad I don't have any uncles that spent time in the Foreign Legion. hehe

Friday, December 17, 2004


Watched I, Robot last night -- rated it a 5. Although everyone is right in that it was not as bad as the preview made it seem, it still wasn't all that great. Maybe if I weren't such a big Asimov fan, some of the themes might have been more interesting, but instead it seemed childish to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Watched the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King last night -- rated it a 10. It is a nice cap to the series, and I really enjoyed some of the additional footage. Just to update with several other movies I watched this weekend: There was Dracula -- rated it a 6. This is one of those movies that is better when you watch it as a younger viewer. My memory of it was certainly better than the reality of it. Then there was Human Stain -- also rated it a 6. I liked the story, but ... gosh darn... it... moved.... so... slow. Next we improved a little with Seabiscuit -- rated it a 7. Again, a good story that moved slow. I'm not into horses that much, so it didn't really grab me, but it was still well-done. We tried to lighten things up with Uptown Girls -- rated it a 7. I enjoyed the comedy, despite the fact that it was very predictable. You have to like a child that acts like an adult.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

We're better than you

Watched Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story last night -- rated it a 6. Yes, it was silly and goofy and predictable. But it made me laugh, and that is what comedies are supposed to do. Sometimes it's nice to think life can be as simple as throwing a ball at your enemy.

Monday, December 06, 2004


Watched The Core last night -- rated it a 3. Nothing else worthwhile to really say about it.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Here is the story of my family's first fake Christmas tree (at least since I have been old enough to walk). Here we see the excited workers beginning with a positive attitude. By 11:30 am the pieces are laid out and the unravelling has begun. Posted by Hello

Here is a closer look at the work. One person unfolds the branches, while the other wraps on the lights. Posted by Hello

This is great fun! Posted by Hello

Whew! 12:45pm and two whole rows completed! This will be a piece of cake. Posted by Hello

By 2:50pm, work on the middle section has begun. Posted by Hello

It's getting to the goofy stage for some. And it's only 3:45pm! More fun is yet to come ... Posted by Hello

Maybe we can skip a section. Do you think anyone will notice? Posted by Hello

It's now 5:45pm and time for our scheduled break. Posted by Hello

Mom knows the most important part is not always the biggest. Posted by Hello

Alright, it's time (6:25pm) to move the tree to its Christmas spot in the corner. Let's look at it and discuss the best approach. Posted by Hello

First, we have to rotate to get the "front" in the front. Posted by Hello

Let's make it lighter by first taking off the middle section. Posted by Hello

What's left can easily be scooted across the floor. Um, right? Posted by Hello

Okay, now put the big pieces back together. Posted by Hello

Now we just put the last section back on top. Almost done.... (by now it's almost 7pm). Posted by Hello

Hmmm... something doesn't look quite right. Are angels supposed to be lying down like that? Posted by Hello

Let's just fix this..... but carefully! We don't want anyone falling over.  Posted by Hello

What is the last thing we need at this point? How about a cozy cat? No Christmas tree is complete without a snuggly companion to sit underneath. Posted by Hello

Here is the completed tree in all its glory. The hard work was well worth it! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Where's the fighting?

Watched Cradle 2 the Grave last night -- rated it a 5. I keep hoping that Jet Li will finally be put in a good American action movie. Not only is he probably getting too old for that anymore, but it seems that Hollywood doesn't know how to make action movies anymore. This movie was not as bad as some I've seen lately. The action was not too bad, and the plot was decent, but pretty predictable and not really plausible. Jet Li is still enjoyable to watch though, so it wasn't a total loss.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

House Status 1.3

Well, the permits have been approved by the city -- finally!! The sewer lines have been staked out on the lot. Now just cross your fingers and hope the weather stays good so that our foundation can go in and set up quickly.

More mediocre

Watched Taking Lives last night -- rated it a 4. Why do I continually get lured in to watch these predictable thrillers? It's not thrilling at all. Although, I had to give it a point more than 3 just because there was one scene that made me jump out of my seat. Otherwise, same old; same old.

Monday, November 22, 2004

They don't know what to do with just one of me

Watched the director's cut ofThe Chronicles of Riddick last night -- a friend got it for me for my birthday -- rated it a 7. It's an enjoyable movie, but tries to take on too much. The world is too expansive for that short of a movie. That's why Pitch Black works so much better -- it is focused on one planet and the survival of one small group. Anyway, the director's cut does better in some areas such as adding explanation to a few plot points that were glossed over in the theatrical version. However it also does worse is other areas, such as changing some memorable lines and adding some dorky dream sequences. Still, in the end, I enjoyed the film overall and am happy to own it.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Well, it is time to tell the story of St. Louis. We decided to go to the city for the weekend, as a little get-away and do some disc golfing and geocaching. First mistake -- we found our hotel online, basically choosing the one closest to downtown yet cheap. We ended up in the not-so-nice part of the neighborhood, but the room was decent and it was quiet, so we stayed. We drove out there Friday afternoon and tried to get a geocache in right before sunset. Second mistake -- driving around an unfamiliar city without a street map. We almost gave up, but was able to find it by using the light on Justin's LED keychain. Our next stop was the Walgreens on the way back for a map. That night we try to find a nice Italian restaurant to celebrate Justin's birthday. Third mistake -- driving around in an unfamiliar city on an empty, grumbling stomache. We settle for the questionable "Fresh Italian" that looks like a grill and bar from the outside. The food was not so bad, but it was crowded and loud. Luckily, there was a Baskin Robbins across the street, and we were able to end the day with some tasty ice cream. The next morning we did a little disc-golfing, but got disheartened when neither one of us played very well and we couldn't find the back nine (they were doing some construction, so we think it was just cut off). Anyway, we decide to focus on getting in a lot more geocaches, which starts off okay. We got to see a Spanish/German settlement established in 1789. Then we found an old Catholic grotto on the campus of UMSL made out of these awesome river stones (I wish I had taken a picture). Although one of the caches we gave up for lost, and the Souper Salad lunch was not great, the better part of Saturday went pretty well. We got cleaned up and headed downtown for dinner. I managed to somehow talk Justin into going to Landry's Seafood house and had an incredible crab feast that still has me smiling several days later. However, Justin's burger was so-so, and the waiter was unbelieveable, so instead of ordering a nice dessert there we end up at Baskin Robbins for a second night. Sunday morning the plan was to get in as many geocaches as possible before lunch and then head back to Kansas City. Our very first cache went fine, but then things slowed down as the next cache turned out to be on the far side of a small lake, which took about a 30 minute hike to get to. The third cache of the day was just inside Illinois, right next to the Mississippi river near the Old Chain Rocks Bridge. This bridge is now a small park, and I thought it would be cool to park on the Missouri side and walk across. I mean, how often do you get a chance to walk across the Mississippi river? So, I pull out my camera and take a few shots. Here you can see a cool lighthouse in the river, and at the left-hand edge of the city in the background is a very faint St. Louis Arch. Turns out this trip was our final mistake -- I hadn't paid attention to the sign that Justin had seen reading "Be sure to lock your car". We trek the one mile across the bridge, hike around in the woods to find the geocache on the far side, and then trek all the way back. As we are nearing the car, Justin calmly states, "Someone smashed your window." "What?" was all I could initially respond. I thought he was joking. "Someone broke your window," he repeated. And then I thought, "Oh no!" and looked first at the radio, which was untouched, and then to the floor where my purse should have been. Long story short -- four cars in the parking lot were all hit about the same time. One witness thinks it was a suspicious car full of teenagers, seen driving slowing in the lot. They hit the windows quickly, grabbed purses in a snatch, and hussled out of there. When the police arrived, they told me that this has been going on all summer -- this was about the 20th report he'd gotten in that area. Of course, most of the time I put my purse in the trunk. Or at least carry some cash and ID on my person. This would, as Murphy would have it, be the one time that I did neither. Furthermore, they grabbed Justin's backpack, which contained his cell phone and wallet full of cards too. The only upside was that I did have my cell phone, which enabled me to call my parents to the rescue. Without any identification, we couldn't even get a cash advance from any credit companies or wired money. We did manage to scrape a few dollars together from the change bucket in my car, and get enough gas to meet my parents half-way across Missouri. And now, although we are dealing with the hassle of cancelling all accounts and getting new credit cards ordered; new driver's licenses; new social security cards; new everything -- I am very thankful that no one was hurt; the window was the only damage to my car; I did have my cell phone so I could call 911; and the only valuable item taken was Justin's phone -- we probably only lost about $350 in total. The moral of the story -- don't go to St. Louis unless you have an armed guide.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

It's time to show something of the house. Nothing has changed since the last update becuase we're dealing with city government delays. At least you can see what the main floor should be like. We love the openness of the layout, and the fact that you can get on the deck from the dining room and the master bedroom. Posted by Hello

This is the basement. It will be walkout, but we moved most of the windows to one side, as the theatre will be in the upper right-hand corner of the floor plan. Eventually we hope to add a wetbar area, a bathroom, a work-out room and a third bedroom. Posted by Hello

Here is what our house will eventually look like from the outside. Posted by Hello

Friday, October 22, 2004

Peaceful existence for our underwater ally

Saw Napoleon Dynamite last night, primarily on the recommendation of my sister and a couple of good comments from Wilson. I'm rating it an 8 for now, and I'll see it again on DVD with Justin to make sure that fits. Although there were times I was groaning internally at the ridiculousness of some of the scenes, it did make me laugh. Also of course, the climax scene is hilarious and brings the movie together nicely. And I have to say I like it because I'm not a freaking idiot. ;)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Dancing, yeah

Finally saw Saturday Night Fever last night. Yes -- it was the first time I watched this disco-loving film. Rated it a 4 though, as the editing and scene transitions reminded me of a student film. Plus, it was hard to follow the core plot; the story kind of meanders. But I loved the music! :"> Anyway, I've been kind of lax with updating the site lately. I'm going to get some pictures of the house plans up here -- and before you ask, no nothing has changed yet; city is still working on the sewer. In the meantime, I've been playing around at ColorCell. Check out my latest:

Thursday, October 07, 2004

More Movies

Saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow last night -- rated it a 5. Basically the best thing about the movie is the 50s look. The cinematography is very comic-book-ish, fairly unique, and well-done. But the story was predictable in parts, and not very captivating. Also this week, I've seen two other documentaries. First Born Rich -- rated a 6. A nice first film from the inheritor of the Johnson & Johnson fortune. But nothing really surprising or interesting revealed there. Though it was kind of fun to see Ivanka's childroom room. Second, we bought Fahrenheith 9/11 and watched it again -- rated a 7. Michael goes a little too far in some parts, but overall I like his presentation, and am very interested in many of the points he has to make.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

This is life . . .

Went and saw Garden State in the theatre last night -- I think I'm going to rate it a 9. I want to watch it again before confirming this number, but it was very, very good. Nothing completely surprising, but just quietly enjoyable. A few pacing problems probably a result of inexperience from this first-time director. This is definitely one that I will be owning on DVD.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Spotless Minds

I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last night -- rated it a 9. It is one of Jim Carrey's better performances, i.e. he doesn't overact and grab all the attention. The editing is amazing, and I really enjoyed many of the suttle special effects that help put you in the right frame of mind. BTW, I highly recommend watching this a couple times so you can fully follow what is going on. It's a little hard to follow the first time, but VERY worth it -- think "Mememto"-ish.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Delayed Litho update

I apologize that I did not report the outcome of my lithotripsy any sooner. It's just that I started feeling so much better, and I wanted to focus on increased recovery as fast as possible. So the basic outcome of the procedure is that it was successful. Low-down on the details: I went back to the hospital and got drugged up again. They don't put you completely under anesthesia for this, but I did get Valium as well as some other relaxing drug. Then they put me up on this table that has an opening across the middle. Basically you are situated with your butt hanging down so the "machine" (which I couldn't see) can have easy access to your kidney or the area where the stone is at. Above me they used an x-ray-like device to pinpoint exactly where the blockage was. Then, they just start pounding. At least that is what it felt like. A little, blunt hammer tap-tap-taps away at my back. This goes on for about 40 minutes. If the pain starts to bother me, I just raise my hand, and the nurse comes in and gives me more drugs through my IV. If I remember correctly (which of course is hard in my drug-hazened memory), I raised my hand like 3 or 4 times during this. When I got home, I slept for 4 hours just to get all the pain medication out of my system. I had a little naseau for a few more hours, but after that, I started feeling terrific again. I mean, almost back to my normal self! So, long story short -- instead of one big stone, I now have a bunch of little ones. And for those of you playing the home game, none of them have passed yet. But at least I don't feel any pain, and right now that's a big relief for me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Update from the doctor

I got the call. They are scheduling me for the lithotripsy treatment Thursday morning. I can't wait for this to be over.

Medical Update

Well, this kind of stuff I wouldn't normally publicize on an open forum like this -- however, many people are going to be asking me the same questions and I really don't think I can tell the story more than a couple times. So long story short -- I have a kidney stone. It started last Friday just after dinner. Justin and I had a nice meal at Panzon's and decided to take a quiet drive out to our land in Linn County; about an hour drive. I was driving my car, and started to feel some pressure in my back. At first, I thought it could just be some sore back pain. Then, I began to think that it was some of the mexican food we ate. By the time we got to the development, I had Justin drop me off at the restroom. Nothing spectacular happened there, but I did feel a little better. We drove to our lot, took a look around, and then started home. I made Justin drive on the way back, as the discomfort was getting progressively worse. We tried stopping at some more restrooms, but that didn't really change anything. By the time we got home, I was really miserable. I thought that just lying down would help, but when my mom saw me, she and Justin agreed that I needed to go to the hospital. Nothing I did would make the pain any better. I kept trying different positions, but it was just a constant burning in my back and side. Plus, I was having bouts of naseau that just made everything worse. While sitting in the ER waiting room, I threw up my dinner, which did help my naseau. They finally got me into a room and started an IV. Once some demerol got into my system I began to feel much better. They wheeled me down to CT and the cat scan showed that it was definitely a kidney stone. The good news -- this is very treatable. The bad news -- it is 7 mm. Keep in mind that by this time it is about 1am Saturday morning. The standard procedure for a kidney stone is to treat the pain with narcotics, drink a lot of fluids, and try to let the body pass it normally. They told me that with the larger size of my stone, that it may not come out by Monday, and if so, I was to follow up with a urologist Monday morning. Most likely, they would try a lithotripsy treatment -- which involves using ultrasound to break up the stone into smaller pieces, so that it can pass more easily. Anyway, by about 3am I was pleasantly drugged up and on my way home. Saturday seems a blur now. The codine was keeping the pain manageable, but I didn't really have a lot of energy for anything. I know I sat around and napped a lot, but don't remember much else. Sunday morning rolled around, and the nausea was back. I couldn't keep the pain medicine down. I couldn't keep any fluids down. Which meant the pain came back in a bad way. We decided to go back to the ER and hope for a hospital admittance. We got to the ER around 11, and by 3ish I think we were in a room. They put me back on demerol with another drug that was supposed to help the nausea, and at least the pain was manageable. They told me that the urologist would contact me Monday morning to schedule some sort of procedure to hopefully fix me up. I have mixed feelings about hospitals. It's nice to be in a place where you can just press a button and get some help, but the smells and the sounds all night are really kind of eery. In the end, I think I prefer to have my remedies at home if at all possible. Plus, the food was really awful. Anyway, Monday morning the doctor came and talked to me. He said he was going to send me to x-ray so he could get a look at where the stone was at this point. He hoped that if it had moved far enough down, he would put me under and try to remove the stone with a cystoscope. If it was still too far up the urethra, they would put in a stint to help relieve the pressure and follow up later with lithotripsy. Around 11:30 Monday I went in for the procedure. I don't even remember being wheeled into the operating room as they had me so drugged up before the anesthesia. Anyway, it turns out the stone hadn't moved very far. So they just put in the stint. Now I am at home. The pain is much less, but there is still some discomfort. They want me to be on antibiotics for a few days to make sure and clean out any possible infections. I should be getting a call from the doctor today to find out next steps. In the meantime, I think I'll go take a nap now.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

House Status 1.2

Well, Justin spoke with the builder today and he's still waiting on the city to approve the engineering plans (grading/sewer/electrical). Once the plans are approved, they can actually build the sewer -- which he hopes to happen sometime this month. Then they have to finish the sewer, run electrical, and make driveway curb cuts before they can actually start on our house. So, nothing has really happened yet. But we are hopeful that something will happen eventually. On a side note, the poker tournament went really well. I'm not biased or anything, even though I was the one who won. ;)

Friday, September 03, 2004

I need a hero

I saw Hero in the theatre last night -- rated it an 8. It is as visually beautiful as the trailer hints at. The story is not bad either. I consider it much better than Crouching Tiger was, and this movie has the added benefit of not enduring too much hype. The editing gave the picture a sort of anime feel, and the use of color was so pleasant I will have to go see it on the big screen at least one more time.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Limited Seating No Limit Betting Limited Time Only No Limit Fun Texas Hold 'Em

We're hoping to have some poker fun on Labor Day. EVERYONE should be invited. Check out the details here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Coming home

After my GenCon trip (more info on that to come later), I watched The Way Home last night -- rated it a 7. It was cuter than I expected, but pretty slow. I think I enjoyed the pace more than usual just because I needed something relaxing after a hectic trip. I do highly recommend it to anyone with a grandmother -- it's very touching.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


I watched Talk to Her last night -- rated it a 7. This is one of those strange films that I can't even really explain why I liked it so much. Mostly because of the artist aspects -- they seemed to touch me in an indefinable way. The plot is kind of strange, and there isn't much to it, but the way that everything was presented felt enjoyable. I often complain about slow-paced movies, but this pace felt more comfortable to me. Probably I just like the concept presented by the title -- that women should be talked to.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Mini Marathon

Watched both Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 last night -- rated them 8 and 6, respectively. I did appreciate the second half a little more when watching it all together as a whole. But I still feel that the pace slowed down too much. That's one of the things I didn't like about Tarantino's last movie, Jackie Brown -- just too slow. I mean Volume 1 sets this "we're going to be action-packed and have lots of fun" pace, and then Volume 2 turns around with "nah, on second thought, let's slow down and have a bunch of character development". Not that I have anything against character development, but the two halves just dodn't seem to me to fit together seemlessly. And the truth is, as an avid action fan, I enjoyed the first one better.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Well, I finally went by to take some pictures of the plot the house will be built on. Here is a view from across the street. Hard to really see much at this stage, but the important thing to note -- lots of trees! Posted by Hello

This is a picture taken while standing in the middle of the lot... probably about where the back of the house will stop. It may be hard to tell, but there is still lots of yard and many trees there. One of benefits of this location is that the lots turned out to be extra deep -- about two times longer than a standard plot. We may need to get a riding lawn mower! Posted by Hello