Good news--we got the car back! My mom's mechanic even knocked $300 off of the repair--a much better deal than we would have gotten taking the car in to the dealership ourselves (especially a dealer in the Bay Area, where everything is more expensive). It still was a big gulp to swallow, but at least we'll be good to go for another 100 k miles.
So tomorrow we'll be heading up to the mountains. That means no blogging until after New Year's. We're hoping for snow. It's supposed to snow tonight, but at the higher elevations and Kevin's not sure where Green Valley Lake is in relation to that. We're going up in the daylight just in case we have to use chains. Yes, Kevin has chains, although he's never used them. That and his fire extinguisher--always ready for any emergency! Everyone think good thoughts that there won't be any more mudslides.
My allergies continue to plague me. Ugh. My eyes have been really affected--red, watery, and very itchy. In fact I ended up scratching one of my eyelids and it hurts now :(. The air in my parent's house is a lot drier than in our house. I think it's because they have central heating that, you know, actually works.
Did I mention that we got our wohnung (apartment) in Hamburg? There were two available in the building and we're not sure which one we got. One was larger but had a rather strange stall shower (Kevin calls it the Phone Booth). The other was smaller but has a bathtub. It wasn't clear if the kitchen in the smaller flat was full-sized. Last time Kevin lived there (different building) his refrigerator was the size you find in dorm rooms. Anyway, we were hoping for the tub as long as the kitchen was full-sized, but it may have gotten reserved before we got in. So we'll see. We now know our official address. Whichever apartment it is, we know we're number acht (eight). See how well I'm incorporating my German? Why, I'm practically a native speaker!
So I'm a little late. Blame the holidays. Here's the Friday Five:
1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year?
That's easy...getting better! The best accomplishment of the year was not spending a single day in the hospital. Hooray!
2. What was your biggest disappointment?
You know, I really have nothing to complain about this year. Last year was so horrible it would be very hard to get worse than that. Instead, I got a great year. Oh, I am a little disappointed that Santa didn't bring me that $10,000 Tiffany's gift card he promised. Bastard.
3. What do you hope the new year brings?
We have a lot to look forward to in 2004. Mostly I hope to continue my good health and to continue to be very happy with Kevin. Anything else would be icing on top. I do, however, have some specific hopes for the year:
-That Germany will be an enriching experience
-That I will become at least passably fluent in German before we leave
-That we are able to make the most of our time in Germany and get to travel to many places
-That I get accepted to graduate school
-That I will be able to start grad school when we return from Germany
-That we'll be able to buy a house in our new location
But like I said, health and happiness would be enough for me.
4. Will you be making any New Year's resolutions? If yes, what will they be?
I don't generally make New Year's resolutions but I do have some goals for this next year. I want to continue my writing and my goal is to tighten my discipline in sitting down to write. I also want to make the most of our time in Germany and make a real effort to get out and experience everything Hamburg has to offer. I want to practice and use my German, no matter how shy or embarrassed I am about my skill level (I can't learn if I don't use it!). Those are pretty much my goals for the coming year. At least the first part of the year.
5. What are your plans for New Year's Eve?
Well I've already mentioned that we hope to go up to Kevin's grandparent's cabin in the San Bernadino mountains. I'm a pretty low-key person when it comes to New Year's and this year I'd like to spend it in front of a roaring fire with Kevin and Scout, completely relaxed. Things are going to get really crazy when we get back to San Jose, so I want to take this one last opportunity to relax and enjoy our time together. Even if we don't make it up to the mountains we'll just celebrate here, so I'm not too worried.
My grandparents flew into town last night. We had a very nice dinner with them, and then Kevin and I vacated the guest beds and slept on the couch. Unfortunately I seemed to be very allergic to something in that little corner of the living room and was tormented with itchy eyes and sneezing. The good news is that a Benadryl seems to have cleared it up.
Rain is forcasted again. Hopefully there won't be more mudslides, particularly on the roads to the cabin, where we still hope to spend New Year's provided the car comes back to us. Other than that, not much else to report.
Saw Return of the King today. Wow. I think this is my favorite of all three movies. I was a little worried because sometimes the movie doesn't live up to all of your expectations after the first two, but this one was awesome. Best line: Eowyn saying "I'm no man!" The audience clapped and cheered at this point.
Bad news about the car though. The Ford dealership doesn't have the part and blah blah blah, we won't get our car back until Monday at the earliest. I hope that we're able to get it back in time to actually go up to the mountains for New Year's. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
I'm a firm believer in Santa Claus. I love the tradition and all he stands for. I love seeing Santa at the mall or in the park or wherever you run across him. I think Santa is great.
The other night we were sitting around talking about Santa Claus. The city of Torrance has a very cool tradition where Santa gets together with the police department. They set up a sleigh on a flatbed trailer, and Santa drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, stopping in front of houses for all of the children on the block to come and visit. Santa had come by the night before we arrived.
We got to talking about different Santa traditions and the famous "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" letter came up. This brilliant letter written so many years ago holds true even today. It encapsulates my belief in Santa and Christmas and all of the good things of the season. Click below to read the text of the original letter.
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to have men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive of imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest mean, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
What a wonderful day we've had today. It's been busy and the weather was awful, but nothing could dampen such a great holiday. Merry Christmas to all of you!
We started this morning opening presents with me, Kevin, Mom, Dad, and Scout. We got some very nice gifts--some clothes and gift cards and a funny dog garden sculpture (it's a little hard to explain so you'll have to wait for the pictures). Scout got a stuffed beagle chew toy in her stocking. It's just like the toy we already have, Stretchy Dachshund, and she loved it instantly. She took it in her mouth and trotted off to the bedroom immediately. We then had our traditional Christmas breakfast. Mom brought fresh Polish sausage all the way from Chicago from her visit there earlier this month. You just can't get real Polish sausage in California.
After breakfast we headed out to Orange County to Kevin's Grandparents to see his family. His folks and brother came by and we opened presents with them as well. Scout got some more great gifts--a new ball, a Petco gift card, and a box of Milk Bones from Harry (Kevin's parent's dog). We also got nice gifts. As Grandpa Lee said, "We shop at Wells Fargo." Cash--the gift that keeps on giving. Can't argue with that!
After the grandparents we were off to my brother and sister in law's. There we had even MORE gift opening (it didn't stop there either!). We got to give our gifts to the kids. We got books for both Corie (8) and Seana (16 months). Seana was so cute. Everytime she got her hands on a gift she would say "Ohhhhhhh!!!"
And after that it was over to my Aunt Sharon's house for dinner. We had a nice crowd there--me and Kevin, Mom and Dad, Grandpa, Aunt Sharon and Tom, Erik (my cousin), and Brad, Corie, and Seana. Unfortunately Katrina was sick so she stayed at home. We had more gift opening at Aunt Sharon's. Scout got a doggy stocking full of rawhide chewies and a new toy. What a lucky dog! We got a beautiful set of olive oil dipping dishes. Lots of nice stuff.
There we celebrated one of my favorite family Christmas traditions: Pic 'n Claus. There's a long story behind this. First you need to know that there was a chain of stores here in Southern California called Pic 'n Save. Pic 'n Save is one of those closeout, discount stores--like the 99 cent store before there were 99 cent stores. When Brad and I were young, we used to spend Christmas at our house in Palm Desert. Since we had the whole family there, we did a gift exchange where we drew names and selected 5 gifts for your person. Therefore everyone got 5 gifts at Christmas. Well, Dad decided that wasn't quite enough gifts under the tree, so he would make a trek out to Pic 'n Save. Now at that time, the quality of items at Pic 'n Save was very, er, lacking. Dad would roam the aisles of Pic 'n Save and pick up anything that remotely reminded him of one of us. Then he'd buy a roll of Pic 'n Save gift wrap (invariably the wrap would be misprinted, like with Santa's face and the coloring for Santa's face a quarter inch away) and wrap all of the Pic 'n Save gifts in them. This tradition became known as Pic 'n Claus. We'd open the gag gifts on Christmas morning and had a great time.
Pic 'n Claus has come faithfully every year until *gasp* Pic 'n Save got bought out by a much larger chain--Big Lots. Sure we could still have the Pic 'n Save tradition, but what about Pic 'n Claus??? Kevin saved the day by suggesting the name "Saint NichoLots." So now St. NichoLots visits with his gifts for all. This year St. NichoLots brought us two computer games--a railroad game for Kevin and the third installment of Myst for me. I love this tradition!
After a very nice dinner at Aunt Sharon's, we're back at home relaxing with some wine. It poured rain all day today--really ugly. Aunt Sharon said she heard on the news that it was the first time in 20 years that it's rained in Southern California on Christmas! This is great news for us, however, because rain down here means snow in the mountains! We're heading up to the local mountains to Kevin's grandparent's cabin for New Year's, and they were supposed to get 4 inches of snow these last few days. It will be great to have snow up there.
And that was our Merry Christmas!
We made it to LA with no further incident. No car fires this time around :). Turns out my parents hadn't even felt the quake--how funny. Unfortunately Disneyland fell through. My friend Jamie wasn't able to get tickets to us in time. But as luck would have it, it's been pouring rain all day today and isn't supposed to letup until after Christmas so it would have been miserable at Disneyland anyway. So I'm not too broken up about it.
What I am broken up about is Kevin's car. His clutch is really going (100k miles on the original clutch) and we took it in to my parent's trusted mechanic. Turns out he can't fix it because of some weird Ford configuration under the hood so it's off to the dealership. He also estimated the cost as over $1000. That's going to suck. Hopefully we'll get the car back in time to go up to the mountains for New Year's. Our mechanic sent it over to his friend at the Ford dealership and says we should have it back Friday--pretty good considering it's Christmas Eve and then Christmas.
My niece Corie is staying with my parents these past few days. It's fun to have her here (she's 8). Today she and my mom assembled a pre-baked gingerbread train. I was going to help but I was wiped out so I took a nap instead.
Before we left on Monday the last Amazon package of Kevin's presents arrived (of course, we unwrapped on Sunday night!). There were 6 gifts in there and he was surprised and pleased with them, but it wasn't quite the same as opening wrapped gifts. Oh well, what can you do? There's one more box coming so we had to leave a note at the neighbor's to ask him to keep an eye out for it.
A blog scoop! Here's the news before anyone's reporting it. We just had an earthquake here. Very minor for our standards, by the time it reached us, but nice and big at its epicenter which appears to be San Simeon, CA (home of Hearst Castle). This map shows the earthquake and you can see San Jose above the large square which shows why we felt it. According to this chart, the epicenter was 121 miles from San Jose City Hall, which puts it 122 miles away from us. The magnitude was 6.5 which is actually pretty large. It felt like a low 4 to us. It was a very long earthquake--most small quakes are fewer than 10 seconds but this seemed to last about 30. That's a totally unscientific observation, however. San Simeon is near Central California's wine region--the Paso Robles, Santa Maria area. There's not much around there so I wouldn't expect huge damages despite the size of the quake. To put the size into perspective, this quake was 6.5. The Northridge quake in Los Angeles that destroyed some freeways was a 6.7. The Loma Prieta quake in the San Francisco bay area that collapsed the Bay Bridge and did tremendous damage was a 6.9.
Kevin just got off the phone with his parents and they felt the earthquake as well, in Orange County.
Remember, you heard about it here first! Well, actually, the US Geological Survey has the first news, but close enough.
Update: At the USGS earthquake site you can fill out a form to say how you experienced the quake at your location. Here's the map it generates. Looks like fellow San Jose residents felt it as a "weak" quake, level III, where a bunch of Torrance residents (where my parents live and where we'll be going in a few hours) felt it as a "light" quake, level IV.
The epicenter is right along highway 101, one of the two main highways going from Los Angeles to Northern California. Obviously we won't be taking the 101. Hopefully this won't increase traffic on Interstate 5. I doubt it will.
Update: And now the media picks up on the story. Here's the San Francisco Chronicle and CNN. Looks like Hearst Castle was evacuated. Also interesting is that it looks like the quake came from an unknown fault alongside the San Andreas.
Today was a good day. We went to a Christmas party at the home of one of the guys in my writer's group. He's an artist at Pixar and his wife is an artist too. We got to see some of their work and it was really good.
When we got home we had "Christmas" (sans a bunch of Kevin's presents). Since we're heading down to LA tomorrow we did our present opening tonight. We bought a log for the fire and had a cozy little unwrapping. I got some great gifts, the Indigo Girls' latest CD and two Deb Talan CDs. We played the CDs right away and they're all really good. I also got the USB mini-drive I wanted--it's a tiny hard drive, about the size of a pack of gum, that just plugs right into your USB port and you can carry it around on your keychain. I plan to backup my book on that. It's really cool. I also got some great children's books--Kevin filled my collection with some of the latest Caldecott winners and a book I've been wanting for a while, The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country. I also got some adult books I had on my wish list (ha ha, "adult books" sound like pornos. Nope, just books that aren't written for children), and The Two Towers 4 DVD set. Very cool. I have to see Return of the King--maybe over this break. I got some other things too. It was a great Christmas.
Heading down to LA for a couple of weeks. We'll be going to Disneyland on the 23rd with Kevin's brother Zach. Hopefully it won't be too crowded. Disneyland at Christmas is really great. I really want to see the Haunted Mansion and Small World. Both rides have a special Christmas event. Unfortunately, we won't be getting in for free, or even for much of a discount. My friend Jamie works there and she offered to sign us in, but it turns out there's a blackout the week of Christmas all the way to New Year's. She's going to get us discount tickets but the employee discount is really paltry. Oh well, it will be fun. I haven't been to D-land in several years, and this is the first amusement park I'll visit since my heart condition. I'm a little worried about my stamina but I think it will be okay.
As for the rest of my blog readers in the LA area, give me a call at my folk's and we'll get together. I've got some free time in between Christmas and New Year's and hopefully we can work something out. If you don't have my parent's number, send me an email. I'll have my computer with me so I'll be able to check it.
I may not get a chance to blog again before Christmas, so let this serve as a very Merry Christmas greeting to all of you!
It was a relaxed day here at the Hogans. Scout spent the day in her crate (voluntarily). She still seems to be doing better. She came out to eat, which she didn't do last night, and when we got home she mustered up a little tail wagging. It's good that she's resting on her own. She seems to know her limits.
Kevin and I headed to the library to pick up some holiday reading. Out of the 9 books I was interested in, the library had only 1. Still, I was able to find four others so that should carry me over. Plus I have our book club book to read, and I think there's a slight chance, not to make any assumptions here or anything, but there's a tiny possibility that I may get a book or two for Christmas. Maybe.
After the library we headed out to Applebee's. I know, I know, with all of the great restaurants around here why would we go to Applebee's? It's because of their great buffalo wings. I am a total buffalo wing freak and Applebee's and Chili's make great ones. I love buffalo wings.
Well, it looks like Kevin's presents aren't going to show up before we leave, so I think we'll have Christmas tomorrow morning. It's a bummer, but I did get some of his presents so that's good at least. It should be a nice little celebration.
Scout is doing better. Within an hour of taking the medicine last night she was visibly in less pain. She even tried to jump on the bed with us this morning. Unfortunately, she's not allowed to jump for a while so we couldn't let her. She's resting comfortably in her crate. She still has her tail tucked in, but she's not arching her back or walking gingerly as she was last night. We've blocked access to her favorite sleeping spots--closed the door to the bedroom, moved the coffee table up close to the couch so she can't jump up, and piled blankets on the chair in the library. She's really going to be bummed when we go down to Grandma's and Grandpa's (my parents) because she covets their waterbed. At least she seems to be feeling a lot better.
We took her in to the emergency vet tonight rather than waiting until tomorrow morning. Her pain level just seemed to be increasing and it was heartwrenching. The final straw for me was when she lifted a hind leg to scratch and yelped in pain. It was awful. She is also walking around with her back arched up and tail tucked in.
The good news is that the vet thought it was really minor--a muscle or bone bruise. He said she probably fell right on her back when she didn't make it on the bed this morning and bruised it. She didn't show any neurological signs or signs of spinal cord involvement. We got her started on an anti-inflammatory which should decrease her pain, and she is on very restricted activity for the next 10 days. She'll be bummed out about that, but hopefully the medicine will relieve her pain and she'll be feeling better soon.
She's a good dog.
Happy Hanukkah to everyone who celebrates!
Here's this week's Friday Five:
1. List your five favorite beverages.
In no particular order: red wine (favorite of those: Pinot Noir), root beer, hot chocolate, lemonade, and white wine. And I also really like water.
2. List your five favorite websites.
Again in no particular order:
Amazon (my wish list!)
Lilek's Bleat (a blog)
Google (what more could you possibly want in a search engine?)
Yahoo (for news and free email, but NOT maps)
and of course, HappyBeagle
3. List your five favorite snack foods.
No particular...well you get the idea. I'm not sure of the difference between snack foods and appetizers, which are also snacky, but I'm going to stick with more traditional snack foods.
Cheese (esp. brie or manchego)
Beef jerky (also baaaaad)
5. List your five favorite computer and/or game system games.
Errrr, I don't really play computer games besides Clickomania, but here's some old favorites:
The Eleventh Hour (Mary will remember this one--we stayed awake for nearly 72 hours finishing it)
Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the Infocom game)
Dragon's Lair (okay, technically not a computer or console game, but it's an arcade game that you can play on the computer now)
Night Driver (an old Atari driving game)
(I'd originally said "Night Rider" but Erik pointed out my mistake. Not to be confused with Knight Rider...)
I think that Scout may have hurt her back :(. Long dogs like beagles, bassets, and dachshunds are particularly prone to back problems. When we lived in Missouri Scout hurt her back once before when the snow was really high and she had to jump around to go anywhere.
Scout likes to visit us on our bed after her morning constitutional. She doesn't like to jump up when the covers are pulled up because she has a hard time getting up on the comforter, which is kind of slippery and thick, so she scratches at the bed until we pull down the covers and make room for her. It's cute, but annoying at 6 am.
Click below to read the rest of the story...
Anyway, this morning Kevin had temporarily vacated his side of the bed and I heard Scout jump up. She didn't make it and slid down the bed. I didn't think anything of it at the time as it's happened before and has not been a big deal. Once we got up, we discovered her in her crate. She's usually sleeping on the couch or on a chair in the library, but she goes into her crate when she feels sick or hurt, or when she feels particularly persecuted (like if a lot of people are over). Her crate is her safe spot. Again we didn't think much of it.
I went out to lunch with my girlfriends and when I came back Scout was rather listless, which is unusual. She came out of the crate to greet me, and then went right back in and was shaking a little, which she does when she's scared or hurt. She wandered back out and I heard a small whimper and when I looked at her she was trying to stretch but cutting it short. Then I heard a similar whimper and found that she'd just jumped onto the couch. I laid down to take a nap and she didn't join me, which is also very unusual. When I got up she was still on the couch. I went over and gently pressed on her back. She ignored it until I got to an area near the base of her tail where she looked sharply at her back when I pressed there. That happened twice.
I coaxed her off the couch for dinner, and then she didn't eat it. That's very unusual. I also noticed that she was keeping her tail tucked under her. Instead of eating she went back into her crate and was shaking again. After consulting with Kevin I decided to call the weekend emergency vet. She has an appointment at 9:45 tomorrow morning. Hopefully there's either nothing wrong or it's just a minor muscle pull.
The first time she hurt her back there was no question she was in a lot of pain. She couldn't jump anywhere and if you pressed on her back she emitted a heartwrenching yelping noise. The treatment then were some pain pills and about a month of crate rest. It was a pain because it was winter and she wasn't allowed to bound in the snow which meant that every time she needed to go out I had to take her and stamp down a path for her to walk on. Good thing there's no snow here! Also we don't have to worry about crate rest as she seems to be imposing that on herself anyway.
Poor little puppy. It's not nice to be hurt so close to Christmas. It's such a horrible feeling when your pet gets sick or hurt, because they don't understand what's going on and they are so dependent on you for everything. I'm hoping a night of rest will help her out.
Last night I (Kevin) posted a rant in Shelby's comment section -- a riff on the topic of 'not getting your presents in time for Christmas', venting about my recent experiences with a particular eBay vendor.
The short version -- don't do business with Phoenix Jewelers Supplies, who can be found on eBay as the user 'findingking', and who maintain a Web storefront at www.findingking.com.
For the longer version, please click below ...
On the topic of getting presents on the actual day (or getting them at all): let me say here that if (hypothetically) your little brother wanted a rock tumbler for Christmas, and (again, only hypthetically) you decided to get this gift for him, *DON'T* do business with Phoenix Jewelers Supplies, who can be found on eBay as the user 'findingking' and on the Web at www.findingking.com.
I ended the auction on December 6th -- now, almost two weeks later, I not only don't know when to expect my package, I don't know if my package has even shipped at all! Emails go completely unanswered, or are answered by a very stale 'automated' message (gosh, we just moved so everything's disorganized, plus our computer system crashed, and did we mention that we're experiencing an extremely high volume of messages -- but don't worry, everything will be back to normal by Monday, November 17th!) Naturally, phone calls go straight to an answering machine (their phone number is [REDACTED], by the way; they keep that pretty well hidden).
Unless 'findingking' pulls off a miracle or has a sudden customer-service revelation, it looks like I'll be turning to eBay's 'buyer protection' service. I guess it's my own fault for being reassured by findingking's 20000+ positive feedback and "Power Seller" status, without looking at the actual feedback page to see how much negative baggage this guy is carrying around.
(A side rant: what in the hell is wrong with people on eBay? I was looking through some of the positive comments in findingking's record, and some of the people leaving the usual "A++++++ SUPER SELLER!!!! A REAL ASSET TO EBAY!!!!! WOULD DO BUSINESS AGAIN!!! A+++" drivel didn't get the goods they ordered for over two months! In what kind of world is that "A+++++++" performance?)
I just mention this here in hopes that it will be picked up by search engines and later found by somebody searching for 'findingking' -- a public service, just like when we previously announced to the world in this space that Journey Shenandoah Sassafras Root Beer is most seriously foul, should some future searcher have the wisdom enough to research his/her alternative root beer choices before going out to buy.
(If you think I'm ranting, you should see the guy who cared enough to go out and create www.avoidfindingking.com.)
[ADDENDUM, 11/29/2005: A 'secret' findingking number — other than the customer sevice numbers that they publish on their Web site — used to be available in the user comments in this blog entry. However, apparently so many frustrated people, searching for another avenue to resolve their shipping complaints, used that number that the findingking people got upset and reported me to eBay. Now eBay has given me a 24-hour ultimatum: remove the phone numbers, or my account is suspended. (Would that my eBay complaints receive such a speedy and forceful resolution!) So, there we are. It's been almost two years since I last dealt with findingking, but it seems like they're still dishing out the customer 'service' that made me frustrated enough to write this entry.]
I enjoy listening to NPR, particularly the call in show on KQED, Forum. There is, however, one thing I cannot stand, and that is moron callers who waste everyone's time. Therefore, I have put together a little checklist of guidelines in case you ever feel like calling in to a talk show.
There. If everyone would follow these few simple guidelines, call-in radio would be more pleasant for the entire listening audience.
I finally alphabetized my blogroll as well as adding two more blogs I read daily: Buzzstuff and The Introverted Exhibitionist. Don't confuse Buzzstuff, a personal blog, with BuzzMachine, a media blog. Check 'em out!
Dave at Buzzstuff has been featuring a Christmas song every day. Today's (per my request!) is Dar Williams' The Christians and the Pagans. It's an awesome song, so check out the post here. Yesterday's song is also a classic--Cartman singing Oh Holy Night, complete with cattle prod. Well, you just have to hear it.
Oooooo, I like her. She's pretty! I've always wanted pointy ears. But I'd have to get divorced from my elfin hubby so I could marry Legolas!
If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Galadriel, Elf, Queen of Lothlorien, wife of Celeborn and grandmother of Arwen.
In the movie, I am played by Cate Blanchett.
And, a gratuitous picture of the dreamy Legolas...
Via Dean's World
I got the buggers! Ad-Aware found 115 nasty things on my computer and cleared them all up. No more popup problems! Hooray!
Well I did an incredibly stupid thing. I visited a website that automatically started a download. I was looking for an mp3 and BAM! I got hit. I stopped the download frantically but it was too late, I had a bunch of crap on my computer. The result was that it deleted my Google toolbar and installed a bunch of spam links and popups. Arrrrrggggg! My Google popup blocker had been doing an excellent job up until now. Kevin spent nearly an hour cleaning my computer of these programs, but I'm still having problems. I'm wondering if I should just uninstall and reinstall IE. I could kick myself for my stupidity.
Update: Kevin reports that uninstalling IE would be fruitless and he's pointed me to a download that will clean up all kinds of stuff on my computer.
In other news, well, there's not much other news, hence the light blogging lately. We're all ready for the holiday despite the fact that about a third of Kevin's presents haven't arrived yet. So much for cheaping out with the "Super Saver" free shipping on Amazon. I'm not so much hung up on getting the presents on the actual day, it's the fact that we'll be in LA for two weeks and I don't want boxes piling up on our porch or (as happened once) thrown over the fence and exposed to the rain. I guess we'll have to ask our neighbor (the cooperative one) to pick up our packages for us. Still, we have the rest of today and tomorrow and Saturday. Maybe they'll come.
We had a delightful visit to Christmas in the Park, a large Christmas display in the park near Adobe. They have these little animated scenes interspersed with trees decorated by community organizations like scout troops. They even had a "snow machine" which spit out bubble foam every few minutes or so. It actually looked like falling snow. We have the constant Christmas music playing in the house and we're very festive.
Well I got a great Christmas present today. The check engine light in my car went off! Strangely enough, it went off at the exact gas level that it went on at, a little less than half a tank. There's a connection between the gas cap not being screwed on tightly and the check engine light going on. I'd hoped that filling up the tank and tightening the cap would fix it, but it didn't. Then I procrastinated and lo and behold, it went off all by itself. Thanks, Santa!
Today wasn't such a good day for small dogs though. Scout had to go to the vet to get a bunch of shots and an exam to do the paperwork for Germany. We went to a new vet and they were very nice. Scout didn't even whimper for each of her three shots. But she did have an owie spot on her tummy. Every time the vet palpated the area she would give her little "Ouch!" squeak. He said he didn't feel anything abnormal, however, and just to keep an eye on her and if she has to go to the bathroom more or drinks a lot more water, to bring her back in. Hopefully it's nothing. She's not acting distressed at all, so who knows.
Today was an absolutely darling day at church. It was the children's program. At our church they integrate the children's program with the regular worship service (rather than having them act out the entire Christmas story). Costumes are pretty minimal and all of the children participate. Today the main feature was the children singing "Go tell it on the mountain." Singing? More like shouting at the top of their lungs. It was absolutely adorable. There was a little angel in front who took her role VERY seriously, singing as loud as she could. The preschoolers played sheep with white hoods and ears. Everything was just so cute I could hardly stand it. Reminds me of my own days in chorus, where I was the stand-out singing (off-key) as loud as possible.
This is a great day for the world and a huge step toward peace. Way to go, American servicemen and women!
Well my favicons showed up again without any intervention on my part. Whatever. It's good to have Scouter's face back.
Big shopping day today. We went to Target and loaded up on presents and essentials. I hate shopping but I love Target. They have such nice stuff, and it's not expensive either.
Finishing up Christmas cards today. Kevin's doing the addresses and then we'll get some stamps tomorrow and mail them out. We're on time this year!
We also need to stop by Kinkos and get some passport pictures taken for our visas. Everything seems to be coming together. It looks like we've found an apartment. Our German liason, Helma, is negotiating for us. We asked if they take little dogs and sent along a couple pictures of Scout and apparently the pictures sealed the deal for us. She's such a cutie! The apartment we found is really nice. It's about a block away from an U-bahn (subway) station and only a few blocks from the language school. It's also close to a park. I hope we get this one. The pictures are pretty cool looking.
There's a little picture of Scout on the icon before the web address and in your favorites folder if you save this page. Other sites have icons there as well. Unfortunately in IE they disappear randomly for no reason. I lost my little Scout faces today and nothing has worked to fix the problem. I tried restarting, tried emptying my cache, nothing. What a bummer.
Things have been good in the Hogan household. We've gotten lots of packages in the mail. Today there was a package for Kevin that is a present for me. So far I've gotten two packages that are for Kevin. Hooray for Internet shopping!!! It's quite likely that some of our Amazon packages won't arrive in time. We're planning on asking our neighbor Sonny to pick them up for us. Sonny is super friendly and is NOT the daycare neighbors (who are actually very nice to us, but with tension as Kevin has had to complain about their noise level and parking problems). Sonny breeds and shows champion bulldogs and his dog is very well-behaved, unlike Duke, the german shepherd (ex police dog) next door, who seems like a nice dog but barks a lot. Anyway, the idea is that we won't have a lot of packages sitting on the porch, which is exposed to the street, for a few weeks while we're gone.
Kevin got a new digital camera. I would have bought it for him for Christmas but one, he has the money, and two, he knew exactly what it is that he wanted. The new camera arrived yesterday and he's been playing with it ever since. Haunting the dog (who hates the flash) and taking little movies. Personally I don't see why we need a new camera. We have a perfectly functional digital camera already. But that one becomes "mine" now, so that's good. Kevin is an actual photographer and takes artistic pictures and everything. Now me on the other hand, I'm a terrible photographer. All of my pictures of landscapes and stuff all look terrible. So I have a policy where I don't take a picture unless there is a person in it. My nature pictures are just a total waste of film. I can take decent snapshots of people, but you know, it's just not my talent. Kevin likes this new camera because there is an automatic mode (for me) and a manual mode where he can adjust the settings to his liking. He's a very good photographer and I'm sure he'll get a lot out of his new camera, but I'm still a little leery about the money spent. I think that money could better be spent on...a diamond for me!!! Oh well. When I get that huge advance on my next novel I can have my diamond :D.
Girl's night out was a blast last night. We ate at Pho, which is, as I've now learned, is pronounced "fuh." Actually it's pronounced with a vocalization that I'm not able to make, but fuh is the closest approximation. And all this time I thought it was pronounced "foe." Goes to show you. Anyway, however you pronounce it, it's Vietnamese noodle soup. Perfect on a cold evening. After dinner we just hung out and talked, which was very fun. Dorothy, Hai-Nhu, and Sandy still work for IBM (that's where I met them) and I have to say, after hearing their stories I'm SO glad I don't work there anymore :D.
I must really love Kevin because I put on TWO of his Christmas albums. The Brave Combo Christmas and the Toolbox Christmas. The toolbox Christmas has different songs made out of people playing the saw and things like that. It's a little, uh, funky. To say the least :D. I hate to say it, but I think it's time to invest in some different Christmas music. I love to fill the house with music at this time of year, but our CDs get old playing over and over again.
It's that day of the week you've all been waiting for...Friday! Which means it's time for the Friday Five:
1. Do you enjoy the cold weather and snow for the holidays?
You know, this is one thing that really irks me is people who believe that their experience is everyone's experience. There's no snow in San Jose, nor is there in Torrance where I grew up, nor is there in Palm Desert where we used to spend Christmas day. It does get "cold" but that depends on your definition of cold. Cold for California, pretty darned nice for other parts of the country. That said, I do enjoy snow unless I have to drive to work in it. Cold I don't particularly like that much.
2. What is your ideal holiday celebration? How, where, with whom would you celebrate to make things perfect?
I really enjoy my family, and my mom makes a mean Christmas breakfast. But the Christmas after I got married, we stayed in Morgan Hill and spent the day with our good friends Marc and Wendy, and that was really nice as well. I don't really have expectations for a "perfect" Christmas, therefore I'm not disappointed by anything. I just love Christmas overall and there are very few things that can spoil that day for me.
3. Do you do have any holiday traditions?
My family has a few. One is a large Christmas breakfast instead of dinner. We used to get fresh Polish sausage made by my Grandpa. Then for dinner we'd go to Carl's Jr. (fast food). Another tradition is that my mom would buy a Christmas-themed puzzle and we'd set it out on the coffee table. All throughout the month we'd work on the puzzle as a family and we couldn't open presents on Christmas morning until we finished the puzzle. Nowadays we open the puzzle a few days before Christmas and it's a push to finish it, but it's always fun. We also get a new Christmas book every year.
4. Do you do anything to help the needy?
Sometimes. We give throughout the year but usually don't make a special effort over the holidays. I'll also occasionally drop some money in the Salvation Army kettle even though I disagree with some of their discriminatory policies.
5. What one gift would you like for yourself?
A fancy blue diamond--woo hoo! Also a house. Also to get accepted to the grad program of my dreams. You know, just a few small things.
You are Kermit the Frog.
You are reliable, responsible and caring. And you
have a habit of waving your arms about
"Hi ho!" "Yaaay!" and
"How Green Was My Mother"
LAST BOOK READ:
"Surfin' the Webfoot: A Frog's Guide to the
Sitting in the swamp playing banjo.
I had this great dream this morning. It was very vivid and I was actually laughing in my sleep. I dreamt I was a freshman in college and my friend Jenny and I decided to go grocery shopping. So we teleported ourselves to the Ralphs by my parent's house, except Jenny didn't do it properly and was still invisible. She was pushing the shopping cart around the store and she didn't know that she was invisible and all you could see was this cart moving around on its own. It cracked me up. Then I had to wake up.
Girl's night out tonight with Dorothy, Hai-Nhu, and Sandy. We're eating at In 'n Out--mmmmmm.
This morning for some unknown reason I was thinking about a woman who was in my graduate program. She was quite loud and outspoken and generally annoying, although her worst trait was to constantly speak in sports analogies. Except her analogies always mixed sports and made little sense. Like "We're going to have to punt, but hopefully we'll hit a home run!" or "It was nothin' but net; he was completely down for the count." It really made you wonder if she understood the sports she was talking about. Yet she had so many analogies it was impossible for her to come up with all of those sports terms without having some familiarity with them. It was very odd.
My cardiologist just rocks. His nurse already sent me copies of some of the documents in my file to take to Germany. That will be really helpful if something goes wrong.
I got my first Amazon package today! Note to Kevin: you are not to be poking in the box by the Poang in the library. We also got our first real Christmas card. Sure, we've already gotten Christmas cards from Kevin's Boy Scout camp association, our DSL provider, and the body shop who worked on my car earlier this year, but this card was from real friends. And they even wrote a personal message!
When we were at the Hanging of the Greens at church the other night, something became pretty obvious. Nobody really knows the words to one of the most popular Christmas songs. I know it's hard to believe. Christmas songs are inherently easy to remember and if you don't know them you've heard them enough by the end of one holiday season that you know it anyway. But I found myself, and many church members, at a loss when it came to a particular song. And I have a very good memory when it comes to song lyrics. So here's the question: do you know all of the words to "Here Comes Santa Claus?" Here's what I remembered:
Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus
Right down Santa Claus lane
He's got a bag that's full of toys
For boys and girls again
Bells are ringing, children singing
all is merry and bright
so jump in bed and cover your head
'cause Santa Claus comes tonight.
Oh, Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus
Right down Santa Claus lane
Blitzen and Vixen and something something
Something Something Something
Something Something, Something Something
Something Something Something
So hang your stockings and say your prayers
'cause Santa Claus comes tonight.
Know any more words than I do? Click below for the full lyrics.
Here comes Santa Claus!
Here comes Santa Claus!
Right down Santa Claus Lane!
Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer
are pulling on the reins.
Bells are ringing, children singing;
All is merry and bright.
Hang your stockings and say your prayers,
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.
Here comes Santa Claus!
Here comes Santa Claus!
Right down Santa Claus Lane!
He's got a bag that is filled with toys
for the boys and girls again.
Hear those sleigh bells jingle jangle,
What a beautiful sight.
Jump in bed, cover up your head,
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.
Jingle Jangle? Who knew?
I had a routine follow up cardiology appointment today, along with an echo. Everything is going well. My ejection fraction, the number we've been keeping an eye on, is at 41% (it was 42% last time, which is considered the same). It's good that my EF is holding steady. Even if it doesn't improve beyond that, I'm happy with staying there. My heart is still making improvements though. It has reduced in size 0.5 cm since my last echo, which was about 3 months ago. That means that although there is no change in EF, I'm still getting better and actually healing the damage. That's good news! What a change from last year at this time when I was on the transplant list. Thank God for modern medicine!!!
It's raining here. It was clear but cloudy this morning and I didn't think to bring an umbrella to the doctor's. Due to my echo and appointment on the same day I was there from 10 until 2, and when I looked outside it was pouring! Fortunately I didn't get too wet getting back to my car. By the time I got to San Jose it was cleared up, and I saw a huge rainbow, and actually saw both ends of the rainbow so it was a bow and not just a line. That was cool. On the bad news front, the check engine light is still on and Kevin's clutch is on its last legs, so we'll proabably have some pretty pricey car expenses soon *sigh*. Oh well, what can you do. We need to prepare the cars for storage anyway.
My doctor said that going to Germany is fine and I don't need to find a doctor there. He's having his nurse make some copies of some important documents from my file so I can take that with me, which will be really helpful. He joked around with me (he's very jovial, and if he had a beard he'd look just like Santa Claus) and said "don't drink more that one stein of beer a day!" I'm glad I have formal permission to sample some of Germany's brews. I can't wait! I mean, "I can't wait to go to Germany for the cultural experience," not "I can't wait to go to Germany and get plastered on high quality beer!"
Well, pink isn't exactly my favorite color, but I think the description fits.
Your dominant hue is red... you are passionate, energetic, and unafraid of life's changes. You're all about getting out and trying something new, even if it means taking risks that other people would be afraid of. Hey, if they're afraid and you're not, more power to you, right?
Your saturation level is low - You stay out of stressful situations and advise others to do the same. You may not be the go-to person when something really needs done, but you know never to blow things out of proportion.
Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
I've added two new blogs to my blogroll (on the right hand side of the screen, or, if you're my dad, at the very bottom). One is one that I've mentioned before, my esteemed sister in law Katrina at Rosicheeks. The second is a blog I've been reading for a long time but haven't gotten around to linking yet. Mr. Hassle's Long Underpants is a blog by a doctor in her residency. It's like ER but real! She's also into birding.
Kat's blog took the place of a blog who used to be on my list but is no longer there because I just don't read it anymore, Instapundit. It got a little too right-wing for me and although the linkage is interesting, there's too much politics and talk about the war. Two subjects that I've had my fill of lately.
You may remember reading about our anniversary trip to San Francisco and our letterpress class. Well I keep forgetting to post this, but Kevin scanned in the book we made and you can find it here. The book only has one page of text to which we all contributed. We split into pairs and worked on a section of the book, with Kevin and I doing the half-title and title page.
Can you spot the typo on the text page? And no, it's not the blob after the last entry--that was done on purpose (sadly).
Christmas is coming! Today Kevin put up the lights outside, hung the advent calendar, and put out some stuffed Santas. He even bought some of the old-fashioned bubble lights and lined them up along our front kitchen windowsill. It looks great. We're listening to Christmas music now.
Tonight we had Hanging of the Greens at church. It's an annual event with a potluck, carols, Santa, and making ornaments to decorate the trees. We had a good time with the exception of one very embarrassing moment on my part. I approached LeRoy, whom I haven't spoken to in a while.
Me: Hi LeRoy, how's it going?
LeRoy: Oh, you know, the same (he always gives this answer)
Me: Hey, how's your father?
LeRoy: Well, um, he passed away in June
So I'm only 6 months behind the times! Yikes! I apologized profusely and made a quick escape.
There was also a band there made up of church members, and we all sang carols. I love Christmas music. Even the annoying songs like Jingle Bells. It always puts me in the mood. I'm such a Christmas person. I'm thrilled when the decorations go up and the stores start pumping out the music. I love Christmas!
No Friday Five this week. What a bummer as I'm right on time for it! I checked out several sites and decided to do a Thursday Thumb Twiddler instead. Only 3 questions instead of 5, but close enough. Unfortunately the TTT is discontinued so the following questions were their last.
1. If you were offered a 60-second slot during the Superbowl to say or promote anything you wanted, how would you use that time?
I would promote organ donation. I am really amazed and saddened that people would rather let their organs go into the trash can than give a very sick person a second chance at life. It seems like such a no-brainer to me. If my death could, in any possible way, benefit someone, they why not??? If I were to (God forbid) lose Kevin prematurely, it would bring me tremendous comfort to offer help to one or more sick people. Please discuss your wishes about organ donation with your family. The sticker on your driver's license doesn't mean anything without your family's approval.
2. Besides the Thursday Thumb Twiddler, what else did you think would last longer than it did?
My teddy bear, Teddy. Teddy has been my faithful companion since infanthood. I always expected I would outgrow him but I never have. He's been on a shelf instead of my bed for the last 4 years or so (coincidentally--or maybe not--since the time Kevin moved in) as he's too fragile for everyday use (now I have a Snoopy, from Kevin, who has taken up the task), but I never thought I'd keep him for as long as I have.
3. If you could say good-bye to someone you never got a chance to, who would it be.
I would have to say my Grandma Rosiak. I was young when she died and even younger when she had her debilitating stroke, and I don't think I really understood what her passing meant or how much I would miss her as an adult. Actually rather than a chance to say good-bye, I would really want a chance to talk to her when she was healthy and I was older and gotten her perspective on life and her advice and wisdom. Not to mention more of her cooking.
Ever feel like you have a personality-altering parasite? It's probably from your cat! According to the article, cats can transmit a parasite to humans that alters personality:
Infected men, suggests one new study, tend to become more aggressive, scruffy, antisocial and are less attractive. Women, on the other hand, appear to exhibit the “sex kitten” effect, becoming less trustworthy, more desirable, fun- loving and possibly more promiscuous.
No doubt by now you've heard about the woman who was "trampled" trying to get into Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving by all of the people rushing in to get those $29 DVD players. Well, turns out she's a Frequent Faller with 16 injury claims, 9 of them at Wal-Mart. The article gives examples of claims she's made where she's slipped and fallen (5 of the 8 examples the articles give) and gotten back strain (2 out of 8) doing such strenuous jobs as working the snack counter and layaway. I don't know how you get back strain working the snack counter but boy those boxes of popcorn sure are a killer.
Sounds to me like this whole thing was staged for a little holiday publicity and some cash settlements. It's really an appalling shame that
frauds people like this continue to file injury and worker's compensation claims that make it hard for people who legitimately get hurt to get compensation.
Well my day got much better. After my little nap we went out to eat at my favorite Bento Xpress and then came home to watch a movie--The Muppet Movie! I hadn't seen it in like 10 years and Kevin hadn't seen it in 20 so he got it from Netflix. It cheered me right up. It's still a great movie, even 24 years later. Some of the songs aren't as catchy as others, but the humor is both overt and subtle. It definitely reminded me of my childhood. I still love Kermit but Animal is absolutely hilarious.
Today has not been my day. First I had to get up early for a doctor's appointment, and when I get in the car the first thing I notice is the check engine light. And you know the check engine light is never cheap. My car does a funny thing where if you don't screw the gas cap on tightly enough, the check engine light goes on. I only had a quarter tank of gas but I've had this happen before so I'm going to fill it up and see if that help. Cross your fingers for me.
Then I get to the doctor's and the computer running the machine for my treatment was broken! It was working at first, and then pooped out, and wouldn't even recognize the keyboard or mouse. I suggested rebooting (3 times) but it didn't help. What's worse, this is the second time this same computer has not worked for me.
Then on the way home, I realize my new jeans are falling apart. I'm so ticked off! I bought them less than a month ago, and they're already dying. They're Gloria Vanderbilt brand, bought at Robinson's- May. I think I may just have chosen a bad pair (what luck!) because I had some G.V. jeans before that were just fine. Anyway, first one of the belt loops came undone. Then today I discovered a small hole at the knee. Well, actually the worst part about these jeans is that they are black--really black--and they pick up all of the lint and dog hair in a two mile radius and it totally stands out. I should've gotten two pairs of Levi's instead of just the one. Well, guess what's on my Christmas list?
Then it started raining. Very gloomy. And as I watched the water get smeared all over my windshield I realized it's time for new wipers. Not a big deal, I know, but on top of everything else it's like geez, one more thing??
Then I went to physical therapy and realized that I forgot to have Kevin write a check for me, and my bank account is empty. Fortunately my PT is very understanding and said I could make it up next time. And no sign of the insurance check we're supposed to be getting for reimbursement.
Anyway, I'm going to take a nap now. Let's hope things perk up after that.
So I have this bizarre recurring dream. Okay, all of my dreams are bizarre, but this one keeps coming up over and over again (and no, it's not the one where they've discovered I'm one semester shy of graduating from high school and I have to go back as an adult and finish it up).
In this dream, I am rollerskating, or sometimes skateboarding. On the freeway. In the middle of a lane. Amazingly, I am able to keep up with traffic, but I'm terrified of hitting a rock or something and falling. Nobody around me seems to think that this is odd, but I know it's wrong and I'm very close to being flattened. Everybody ignores me, including the occasional cop who drives by. I'm skating for my life, with no particular destination in mind. Eventually I decide to take an exit and signal with my arms when I change lanes. Everybody seems to accept this as a matter of course. I have to slow down and stop at the exit to wait at the light. Usually the dream ends there, but occasionally I have to continue skating up city streets. Variations include a skateboard rather than rollerskates, although in the skateboard dreams I'm laying on my stomach and pushing with my hands. I'm always able to keep up speed. Sometimes I dream that I've been spotted by the local news who are following my progress with a helicopter while broadcasting it, and I somehow know that Kevin is somewhere watching me on TV wonder what the hell I'm doing. Although I'm never hurt, I'm always scared to death and left with an unpleasant feeling when the dream is over.
So what do you make of that??
Someone's in major denial. It's Siegfried of Siegfried and Roy (no, the other Siegfried--ha ha). According to this article detailing Roy's recovery from his tiger mauling (which is good. I'm glad he's recovering), Siegfried says:
Fischbacher (that's Siegfried) downplayed Roy's injuries from the Oct. 3 attack, describing the illusionist's wound as "a little punch hole" on the left side of his neck.
Um, hello? I'm sorry, but when a tiger picks you up and carries you by the neck off the stage, that's bound to leave more than "a little punch hole."
Fischbacher has suggested that the animal was trying to help Horn, but other animal experts disputed that.
Trying to help him? Help him do what? Get the most out of his medical insurance? Time for a reality check.
So I was a little busy on Friday...
Here's this week's Friday Five:
1. Do you like to shop? Why or why not?
No. I like buying things, but I hate shopping. I hate the crowds, I hate parking, I hate walking through the mall. I'm the kind of person who knows what I want, parks, goes directly to the store, buys it, and leaves. As my mom could tell you, the thing I hate shopping for most of all is clothes (well, shoes too). I do enjoy shopping online from the comfort of my home.
2. What was the last thing you purchased?
A Snoopy t-shirt at the Schulz Museum.
3. Do you prefer shopping online or at an actual store? Why?
Online, definitely. See #1.
4. Did you get an allowance as a child? How much was it?
I can remember getting $5.00 a week when I was quite young (reduced by a dollar each time I got in trouble, which wasn't too often). In high school I got $20.00 a week, from which I bought my school lunches and I got to keep the rest.
5. What was the last thing you regret purchasing?
Two things come to mind. First, a camcorder, which I've used like 3 times. Second, I didn't purchase it, but I begged and begged until Kevin got it for me: a Razor scooter. I've never even taken it out of the box. Bad Shelby!
Okay, the Haunted Mansion has long been one of my favorite Disneyland rides, but this is a bit much. I wonder where he fit those moving blue booths.
Disney devotee designed, lives in facsimile of Haunted Mansion