June 27, 2004

Uh!? Okay....

Went back to work today after 8 days off..... My boss came up to me, said he was glad to see me. Yelled at me for something I should have been doing. Yelled at me for something that happened while I was gone and had absolutely no control over. And then, he gave me a raise? Maybe that's how he shows his admiration? Whatever.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:33 PM | Comments (2)

June 26, 2004

Murphy's Airplane Flight

It will be a loooooong time before I fly again. I flew yesterday. This is the first time I've ever been on a plane since 9/11. It's also the first time I have ever flown alone. My daughter and I took a road trip to Arkansas. I will post more on this later. Anyway, we took her and her car to Jonesboro, Arkansas. We left on the 19th, and I flew back alone yesterday. Caught an America West plane out of Memphis. When we got to the airport, the clerk told us that the plane was 40 minutes late. Which was nice, since I only had 45 minutes to make my connecting flight in Phoenix. But, she told me that if it did touch down late, I could make another flight at 7:30 that would get me into Los Angeles at 9:00pm, instead of the original 5:44pm. The plane was to take off at 2:25pm. She told us to get to the gate at 2:45pm for boarding. From about 2:30 on, we were looking out at the runway to see the plane touch down. 2:45 passes and still no plane. At 2:51, we walk to the board to see if it was showing whether or not the plane had touched down. It still showed up as being here at 2:45. At about 2:59, the clerk saw me and told me the plane was loading! So, I say goodbye to my daughter and start to go through security. I had to remove my shoes because they had metal lace holders. My very large overstuffed purse went through the viewer. "Excuse me, Ma'am? Would you step over here?" WTF!? Ah shit!!!! I had to go through a more thorough search! And, it turns out that my underwire bra was triggering their fucking wand, so I had to get padded down around my boobs by a female security officer. But, what was worse than that, at least to me? They went through my purse! They went through everything. After several minutes, they were through. I ran to the plane and there were only about 5 people left waiting to get on. I climbed in and went to where my seat was. I had a window seat. I had a window seat next to a man who weighed about 500 pounds, I kid you not. He had the armrest up and was taking up half my seat.

He was a very nice man, but, I really didn't feel that comfortable with him butted up against my thigh the whole flight. He tried to make conversation, but I buried myself in a book so I wouldn't have to talk. The plane landed at 4:20pm, my connecting flight was 4:24pm. I had to go to some sort of Customer Service center at the Phoenix airport. Well, you would think that since about 35% of the people on that flight missed their connecting flights, that there would be several clerks at the desk. When I got there, there was only 1 clerk. The line was about 15 people long. After awhile, another clerk showed up. By that time, the line was probably about 30 people long and spilling out into the main aisle of the airport. I get up to the desk, finally and explain to the girl what happened. She looked over at the girl next to her and said, "The 'Memphis' people are starting to show up!" Then, she pulls out a stack of tickets and told me that my ticket should be there. Guess what!? It wasn't. She had to look me up on the computer. Fortunately, I was booked for the next flight at 7:30pm, so she printed out a ticket. I had 2 hours to kill, but there was no way in hell I was going to leave that terminal and have to go through security again. I walked down to the gate where the plane was going to take off from and started reading again. After about 15 minutes, some restless little brat sitting in some chairs perpindicular to the ones I was sitting in started kicking the last seat in the row I was in. I looked up, looked around and nailed him with a dirty look. Then, I looked at his clueless, inattentive father. The thunking continued. I looked at the brat again, and this time we made eye contact. He stopped kicking. About 30 second later, the kicking starts again. This time, the woman next to me nailed him with a dirty look and also glared at the father who seemed to realize what was going on. The kicking stopped. Finally, their flight was called and they left. Peace and quiet! No, Chatty Cathy on her cell phone sits next to me and starts to yak loudly until our flight was called. And, of course, the woman who is announcing the flight and the group numbers to board the plane is soft spoken. I could barely hear her above Chatty Cathy next to me. I got up and walked over to where the people were queueing up to get on the plane. Finally, my group number was called and I boarded. I was in 7C, an aisle seat. Even better than that? We were in front of the door to the plane! Right behind first class. There were three rows of first class seats, then about 4 rows of coach seats, where I was at. Then, there was the large open space near the door and the rest of the passengers. This was a Boeing 767.

While we were waiting to take off. A member of the ground crew gets on and walks up to talk to the pilot. In all the times I have flown, I have never seen this. He looked so out of place in his greasy work clothes. I was a little worried. I tried to read his face as he walked off to see if he was worried. I looked at the flight attendants, and they didn't seem to look worried or anything, so I wrote it off. Except that, about 5 minutes later, he was back on and walked up to talk to the pilots yet again. What was going on? He walked off yet again. I saw him talk to one of the flight attendants, before he exited and they both laughed after that little conversation. And, she didn't go running off the plane in terror, so I figured that everything must be okay. So, a few minutes later, the plane starts backing away from the gate. There were video screens hanging from the ceiling about every 10 feet. A safety video comes on. As everyone is watching it, suddenly the power goes off! The video disappears, the lights go off, everything. WTF!? A flight attendant comes over the wire, "Don't worry! We have shut off the number 2 engine and will start it again in a second. This is routine with this type of plane" Ummm..... I have flown a 767 before, and I didn't remember anything like this. The engine starts, the electricity comes on, and the plane starts taxiing to the end of the runway. We are now ready to take off. The plane starts accelerating and we are now taking off. Except, that there is this loud fucking hum that starts up on the side of the plane where I, and several other people are sitting. We are sitting on the side where the number 2 engine is. I couldn't describe this sound, except to say that it sounded like a very loud, old, turbo-prop engine. I could hear the regular plane engine sounds faintly, but this was LOUD. The passengers all started to look around at each other, wondering what the hell that sound was. The plane started to level off, and it felt like it deaccelerated slightly. Then, it started shaking. I really thought at that point that there was some serious trouble. I really felt at that point that we might have to go back. And, I thought, that we might not make it. I was terrified. I have never been that terrified. All the other passengers around me looked nervous too. But then, the plane climbed yet again, turned in the direction we were heading and then levelled off. The odd sound grew fainter, but was still there. At 9:09pm, we touched down. And taxied, and taxied and taxied. Past the terminals...... Okay, now I am thinking that they want to isolate the plane for some reason. No, the flight attendant comes over the horn, "It seems that there is no gate available for us right now. We will have to wait until a plane loads and backs away from a gate, before we can go in. It will take no longer than half an hour." A groan goes up from throughout the plane and everyone grabs their cellphones. People who only had minutes to make connecting flights are fucked. Oh, but not all of them.... It seems that some of their connecting flights were also sitting around waiting for gates to become available. An hour later, yes, an hour, a gate finally opens up and we taxi towards it. I left the plane at 10:10pm and ran down to the luggage carousel. The gods were smiling at me. My bag was one of the first ones off. In fact, I was one of the only people from that flight that got their luggage immediately. While the carousel part kept turning with only about a dozen bags on it, the conveyor that was dropping the luggage down stopped. Another groan went up from the passengers. At that point, I really didn't care, I had my bag. As I approached the door to leave the terminal, I had my ticket ready. Why? Because I was warned repeatedly, by printing on the ticket, and signs all over the terminal, that we would be checked to make sure that we had our own luggage before we could leave. Guess what!? There was no one there!!!! I walked right past where there was supposed to be someone posted and walked outside the terminal. I walked to the curb and waited for Mike to pick me up. Vowing, at that time, that I will never get on a plane again.

Posted by Valkyre at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2004

An Insane Week

Well, I am going to squeeze this entry in here, because this may be the only time this week that I may be able to post. The rest of the week is shot as far as I can see. This is the last week of school for the girls and I will be leaving Saturday for a road trip. A bittersweet road trip. One, that I have been wanting to write about, but just haven't found the time. I will be leaving Saturday the 18th and coming home on Friday the 25th. Then, the following Saturday, I will be going to a rock concert, believe it or not. A double bill, Blink 182 and No Doubt. This will be my first concert ever. Anyway, I will post about what has been going on these past few weeks, months, etc.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:41 PM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2004

Ray Charles 1930 - 2004

Ray Charles dies

By ANTHONY BREZNICAN, AP Entertainment Writer

Last Updated: June 10, 2004, 04:09:55 PM PDT

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - Ray Charles, a transcendent talent who erased musical boundaries between the sacred and the secular with hits such as "What'd I Say," "Georgia on My Mind" and "I Can't Stop Loving You," died Thursday. He was 73.

Charles died of acute liver disease at his Beverly Hills home at 11:35 a.m., surrounded by family and friends, said spokesman Jerry Digney.

Blind by age 7 and an orphan at 15, the gifted pianist and saxophonist spent his life shattering any notion of musical categories and defying easy definition. One of the first artists to record the "blasphemous idea of taking gospel songs and putting the devil's words to them," as legendary producer Jerry Wexler once said, Charles' music spanned soul, rock 'n' roll, R&B, country, jazz, big band and blues.

He put his stamp on it all with a deep, warm voice roughened by heartbreak from a hardscrabble childhood in the segregated South. Smiling and swaying behind the piano, grunts and moans peppering his songs, Charles' appeal spanned generations.

His health deteriorated rapidly over the past year, after he had hip replacement surgery and was diagnosed with a failing liver. The Grammy winner's last public appearance was alongside Clint Eastwood on April 30, when the city of Los Angeles designated the singer's studios, built 40 years ago, as a historic landmark.

Aretha Franklin called Charles "the voice of a lifetime."

"He was a fabulous man, full of humor and wit," she said in a statement. "A giant of an artist, and of course, he introduced the world to secular soul singing."

"People remember the big hits and the visual image of him, but they forget what an innovator he was in the 1950s as a jazz musician," said country music singer Marty Stuart. "He made inroads for all of us when he did 'I Can't Stop Loving You.' It took country music to places it hadn't been before."

"I lost one of my best friends and I will miss him a lot," Willie Nelson said in a statement. "Last month or so, we got together and recorded 'It Was a Very Good Year,' by Frank Sinatra. It was great hanging out with him for a day."

Charles won nine of his 12 Grammy Awards between 1960 and 1966, including the best R&B recording three consecutive years ("Hit the Road Jack," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Busted").

His versions of other songs are also well known, including "Makin' Whoopee" and a stirring "America the Beautiful." Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell wrote "Georgia on My Mind" in 1931, but it didn't become Georgia's official state song until 1979, long after Charles turned it into an American standard.

"I was born with music inside me. That's the only explanation I know of," Charles said in his 1978 autobiography, "Brother Ray."

Charles considered Martin Luther King Jr. a friend and once refused to play to segregated audiences in South Africa. But politics didn't take.

He was happiest playing music, teaming with such disparate musicians as Chaka Khan and Eric Clapton. Pepsi tapped him for TV spots around a powerfully simple "uh huh" theme, and he appeared in movies including "The Blues Brothers."

"The way I see it, we're actors, but musical ones," he once told The Associated Press. "We're doing it with notes, and lyrics with notes, telling a story. I can take an audience and get 'em into a frenzy so they'll almost riot, and yet I can sit there so you can almost hear a pin drop."

Charles was no angel. His womanizing was legendary, and he struggled with a heroin addiction for nearly 20 years before quitting cold turkey in 1965 after an arrest at the Boston airport. Yet there was a sense of humor about even that - he released both "I Don't Need No Doctor" and "Let's Go Get Stoned" in 1966.

He later became reluctant to talk about the drug use, fearing it would taint how people thought of his work.

"I've known times where I've felt terrible, but once I get to the stage and the band starts with the music, I don't know why but it's like you have pain and take an aspirin, and you don't feel it no more," he once said.

Said John Burk, who worked recently with Charles as producer of the upcoming duets album "Genius Loves Company": "There were a couple of times where he would say, 'I'm not feeling well today but I'll take a stab at it ... I can come back to it later.' And he never had to come back to it later."

He said Charles' gift was "finding and communicating the human emotion in a song. ... That's what we strive for in the recording process, is to find that human experience."

Ray Charles Robinson was born Sept. 23, 1930, in Albany, Ga. His father, Bailey Robinson, was a mechanic and a handyman, and his mother, Aretha, stacked boards in a sawmill. His family moved to Greenville, Fla., when Charles was an infant.

"Talk about poor," Charles once said. "We were on the bottom of the ladder."

Charles saw his brother drown in his mothers' laundry tub when he was about 5 as the family struggled through the Depression. His sight was gone two years later. Glaucoma is often mentioned as a cause, though Charles said nothing was ever diagnosed.

After he was sent away, heartbroken, to the state-supported St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind, Charles learned to read and write music in Braille, score for big bands and play instruments - lots of them, including trumpet, clarinet, organ, alto sax and the piano.

His early influences were myriad: Chopin and Sibelius, the Grand Ole Opry, the powerhouse big bands of Duke Ellington and Count Basie, jazz greats Art Tatum and Artie Shaw.

By the time he was 15 his parents were dead and Charles had graduated from St. Augustine. He wound up playing gigs in black dance halls - the so-called chitlin' circuit - and exposed himself to a variety of music, including hillbilly (he learned to yodel) before moving to Seattle.

He dropped his last name in deference to boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, patterned himself for a time after Nat "King" Cole and formed a group that backed rhythm 'n' blues singer Ruth Brown. It was in Seattle's red light district were he met a young Quincy Jones, showing the future producer and composer how to write music. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

Charles developed quickly in those early days. Atlantic Records purchased his contract from Swingtime Records in 1952, and two years later he recorded "I Got a Woman," a raw mixture of gospel and R&B, pioneering what came to be called soul. Soon, he was being called "The Genius" and was playing at Carnegie Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival.

His first big hit was 1959's "What'd I Say," a song built off a simple piano riff with suggestive moaning from the Raeletts. It was banned by some radio stations.

Producer Wexler, who recorded "What'd I Say," said he has worked with only three geniuses in the music business: Franklin, Bob Dylan and Charles.

"In each case they brought something new to the table," Wexler told the San Jose Mercury News in 1994. Charles "had this blasphemous idea of taking gospel songs and putting the devil's words to them."

Charles played "America" for Ronald and Nancy Reagan in 1985 at an inauguration ball, and was one of the legends receiving Kennedy Center Honors in 1986.

His last Grammy came in 1993 for "A Song for You," but he never dropped out of the music scene. He continued to tour and long treasured time for chess. He once told the Los Angeles Times: "I'm not Spassky, but I'll make it interesting for you."

Charles, who was divorced twice and single since 1952, was survived by 12 children, 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. A memorial service was planned for next week at Los Angeles' First AME Church, with burial afterward at Inglewood Cemetery.

Associated Press writer Dave Zelio contributed to this report

Posted by Valkyre at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2004

Road to Perdition

I had bought this movie on DVD when it first came out. And, it has been sitting around in it's shrink wrap ever since. I decided to watch it yesterday. I loved it! It was a great movie! It takes place in the early 1930's. Tom Hanks plays Micheal "Mike" Sullivan. Paul Newman plays John Rooney, an Irish Mafia Don who "owns" a whole town. John Rooney took Mike Sullivan under his wing and raised him as his own son. He also taught him the "business". Mike Sullivan is a hit man/bodyguard for John Rooney. Daniel Craig plays Connor Rooney, John Rooney's real soon. He's a major screw up with a hot temper. Mike Sullivan lives what looks like a bucolic life, a wife and two young sons in a farmhouse. When his son Paul, who is 8, asks his father what his job is, their mother, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, tells them that their father's job is keeping a roof over their head. Micheal "Mike" Sullivan Jr. is played by Tyler Hoechlin. His character is 12 years old in the movie. He is also curious as to what his father does for a living. When his mother sent him to get his father for dinner, he saw him remove a gun from under hit suit jacket before he took it off.

One night, Mike Jr. hid in the back of his fathers car when he went to one of his jobs. This particular job was to just "talk" to a guy who had insulted John Rooney earlier. John sent his real son Connor along and told him to take Mike. You can see why as Connor talks to the guy. Connor is a real hothead and ends up killing the guy and Mike ends up having to save his ass and kill the bodyguards. This was witnessed by Mike Jr. And, soon enough, Mike Sr. and Connor find out that he witnessed the whole thing. Mike reassures Connor that Mike Jr. won't talk. John Rooney is upset with Connor for messing things up and showers favors on Mike. It's enough to drive Connor to try to set up Mike and have him killed. While that's going down, Connor goes to Mike's house and tries to kill, who he thought was Mike Jr., but it turns out to be Paul, Mike's younger brother. He also kills Annie Sullivan (Jennifer Jason Leigh). At this point Mike Sullivan Sr. and Mike Jr. take off. Mike wants to protect his son, but he also wants revenge. He also finds out that blood is thicker than water as John Rooney took his real son's side, albeit begrudgingly. In a sad and twisted way, Mike Sullivan Senior bonds with his namesake Junior when they are on the lam. Mike Sr. wants to take his son to his maternal aunts house for safety reasons. She lives in a beach cabin in a town called Perdition, hence the movie title. There is much more to the movie, but I feel that I have given a lot away already.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2004

9000+ Viruses

Perhaps I should have taken a screenshot.... The computer I am on now is not the one I normally use. That one is sitting on my desk torn apart and needing a new motherboard. This one, that I'm on, is used by nearly everyone in the house. A couple of weeks ago my daughter, Amanda, tried to launch WinAmp and got some sort of error. Then Windows went south and the computer would no longer boot to Windows. Mike ended up re-installing Windows. (There was more to it than just that, but that would be another blog entry!) So, he got this one up and running, and then, mine tanks. So, as I am surfing the 'net on this one, a little screen pops up and tells me that I am running out of room on drive E. Which seemed odd. "Did anyone check this computer for viruses?" I was met with silence. Every other computer in the house was checked, but not this one. So, I went over to Trend Micro's site and ran House Call. It took a couple of hours, but when it was done, it found somewhere along the lines of 9700 worm infested files. It seems that WORM/NETSKY was all over this computer. None of the files were cleanable. I had to delete them all. 26 of those could not be deleted because they were still running, supposedly. After some digging around, I found the culprits. I deleted those, ran House Call again and it came up clean. No one will admit to opening any suspicious executables. So, I guess while we were gone, some gremlins snuck in and dropped viruses on this computer.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:11 PM | Comments (3)

June 04, 2004

Green Tea

I love Green Tea. A couple of years back, I took my daughter to see her orthodontist. He, and most of his staff are Japanese. That particular day, I had a cold. My sinuses were clogged and my head hurt. The receptionist asked if I would like a cup of Green Tea. I had never had it before, so I told her I would like to try some. She brought out a cup and I just sat there for awhile inhaling the steam. After I drank it, I felt a little better. So, I have been hooked on Green Tea ever since. Since I quit drinking coffee awhile back, I've been looking for something to fill that niche. The people at the office told me to only buy the Green Teas from the local Japanese supermarkets that are located here and there. But, I have never been able to take the time to go visit them. So, Mike and I were at Sam's Club this past Sunday. We were walking up the "coffee" aisle, when I noticed a large box of Nestea Green Tea. I pick up the box and look at the ingredients: Green Tea, that's it, no preservatives, no additives. I figure, "Why not?" So, I bought a box. My new routine now, is to come home from work, take a shower and then relax in front of the computer while drinking a cup of tea. It's nice. And, the it tastes the same as the tea they served me over at the orthodontist's office.

Posted by Valkyre at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2004

Some Freedom for the Moment

The hand brace on my right hand was starting to turn from beige to black and felt wet all the time. Even though it wasn't. So, I pulled it off and am running through the wash right now. With it off, I am doing some of the things around the house that have been neglected. Like, washing dishes! I washed one sinkful and am soaking another pile right now. I am being extra cautious, since my hand still hurts, even more with the brace off. I don't want to do even worse damage. The doctor said for me to keep it on for a week. Can't remember if he said, "at least" or "for". Makes a difference. I can't see this getting better by Saturday, which will have been one week since I fell. It's not hurting as bad as it was, but, I think I am going to need the brace on for a little while more.

Posted by Valkyre at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2004

Just A Sprain

My right hand in the brace

My left knee all bruised up

Sorry it took me so long to update. Mike took me to the emergency room down at the hospital that is affiliated with our health plan. It was after 10:00pm on Saturday night. Though the parking lot was pretty full, thankfully, there weren;t too many people waiting. We walked up to the registration window, only to find out we were supposed to go to another window where there was nurse who had to check me out first. He asked me what my pain felt like on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst. I said it felt like a 7. He asked me how I fell and I started busting out laughing as I told him I tripped over a pooper scooper. He gave me a form and sent me down to X-ray to get both my right hand and left knee X-rayed. Both checked out fine. So, I was just fitted with the brace and told to take it easy with it, don't lift any weights, etc. If it doesn't feel better in a week, call. The swelling has gone down, but it still hurts a bit. It's been nice taking it easy at work too. No lifting the 50lb. bags of rat/mouse food, etc. Also, it gave me a good excuse to take it easy on Sunday, my day off. I just chilled and watched movies all day. It does suck though, as I am limited as to what I can do around the house until it heals. While I do write left handed, I do almost everything else with my right hand. And, I have to train myself to use my left hand to do anything, like remove lids from jars, etc. If I even attempt with my right hand, I feel instant pain.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)