September 28, 2004

Go

I watched this, for the second time, last night. When it first came out in the theaters, (1999), I wasn't too interested in seeing it. They kept showing Katy Holmes. I had written her off as that, "Dawson's Creek", girl and figured that the movie would probably be lame. Anyway, a couple of years ago, Helena's friend, Shannon, brought over a rented copy to watch on our DVD player. I was parked in front of the computer, intending to ignore it. Anyway, it started, and I was hooked. So, I put it on my rental queue, over on Netflix, and watched it again last night. It's a great movie! Done by the same guy who did Swingers. I haven't seen Swingers, yet, but it's on my rental queue. Anyway, "Go" is four different stories that end up being intertwined. A lot of people compare it to "Pulp Fiction", another movie that I loved.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2004

A Picture Of My Uncles Car

I posted awhile back about my Uncle Bob, who was killed in an auto accident, when he was ejected from the car. This is a picture of the car. It was a Dodge Intrepid. The quality is not the greatest. This is a scan from a copy made from a newspaper article. My uncles girlfriend, who was not buckled in, survived. She had to be cut out of the passenger side with the "jaws of life". My uncle though, if he was buckled in, could have very well survived. If you look closely at the picture, you can see that as bad as the car looks, the passenger compartment is relatively intact.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2004

Heartbreakers

I watched this the other night. It wasn't such a bad movie. Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt are a mother/daughter con "women" team. They decide to do one last con. This time for a little bit more money. So, they target Jean Hackman's billionaire tobacco magnate character. But, there is a small hitch. Jennifer Love Hewitt starts to fall in love with a guy she is conning on the side. I think this may have been hammered by the critics. But, it wasn't such a bad movie.

Posted by Valkyre at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2004

Happy Anniversary Mike!

September 23rd, 1986 - September 23rd, 2004

18 years!

Posted by Valkyre at 05:24 PM | Comments (2)

September 22, 2004

File This Under, "Duh"!

Caught the following on the online site of a local paper:

Man allegedly under the influence saves Torrance police a trip

He shows up at police station, admits to "smoking meth." Officers find a gun in his truck.
By Larry Altman
Daily Breeze

A Torrance man made things easy for police officers when he showed up at the station under the influence of drugs, police said Tuesday.

Robert Steven Williams, 48, showed up at the Torrance police station just before 7 p.m. Monday and walked up to the front desk with an unusual problem.

"I think somebody is following me," he reportedly told the officer.

The man went on to complain that someone was "stealing his land" and that he needed police to contact the federal Department of Homeland Security, Lt. Brad Wilson said.

The service officer at the counter asked him if he had been using drugs, Wilson said.

"He said, 'Yes, I smoked some meth about an hour ago,' " Wilson reportedly said.

The watch commander checked the man out and suspected he was under the influence. Officers searched Williams' brown Chevrolet pickup parked outside and "lo and behold there's a loaded gun," Wilson said.

The .22-caliber handgun was inside a toolbox that also contained ammunition.

A glass pipe used to smoke methamphetamine was hidden under the brake in the driver's compartment, Wilson said.

Williams' visit to the police station was immediately extended. Officers booked him on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia, carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle and being under the influence of a controlled substance. He was held on $2,500 bail.

"That's what drugs will do to you," Wilson said. "He made our job easy."

Posted by Valkyre at 08:10 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2004

The Bunny Car!!!

Years ago, my sister sent me this picture in e-mail. I loved it! I saved it away and forgot about it. Until tonight. While I was chatting with my oldest daughter, Helena, in AIM, she sent me the link. I went crazy! The Bunny Car! I love this picture. I saved it again. This time, renaming the file, "bunnycar", so I will be able to find it, if I need to. Now, it's posted here. This one is cropped a bit from the original so it would fit in the margins better.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:38 PM | Comments (3)

September 15, 2004

Rock Star

This was actually pretty good. Not something that I would have paid to see in the theater, but it wasn't too bad. Mark Wahlber stars as Chris Cole, lead singer in a cover/tribute band. He idolizes the lead singer, Bobby Beers, of a band called Steel Dragon. His dreams come true when he replaces Bobby as the lead singer for Steel Dragon. But, the real rock star life is not all it's cracked up to be. This movie is supposed to be based on a true story:

The film was inspired by the real-life story of Tim "Ripper" Owens, singer in a Judas Priest cover band who was chosen to replace singer Rob Halford when he left Judas Priest.

I got the above information (in italics) from the IMDB

Posted by Valkyre at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2004

No more, "The Check's in the Mail!"

This is an interesting article that I was on our credit unions website:

New checking system will eliminate 'in the mail'

By MARY DEIBEL
9/13/2004 6:14:00 AM

Starting next month, don't try telling creditors, "The check is in the mail." That claim won't work after Oct. 28, the day the Check Clearing in the 21st Century Act _ or "Check 21" _ kicks in and lets banks instantly process your checks electronically and return a digitally-imaged "substitute check" instead of the original.

The change starts with next month's bank statement:

_ Your bank will no longer be required by law to return your canceled checks with your statement so you'll need to keep close watch on the checks you write and the balance in your account.

_ Your check will clear the moment a creditor images it to your bank, denying you those extra days of "float" between the time you write the check and the money actually gets subtracted from your bank account, increasing the likelihood you may "bounce" a check.

You'll see Check 21's instant impact first on your bigger checks _ mortgage payments, insurance checks, tax bills and the like _ because it's worthwhile for big creditors to invest in instant digital imaging technology that lets them deposit your money and put it to work ASAP.

No. 1 retailer Wal-Mart, for instance, already scans your check, debits your account and hands the check back to you at many store cash registers to speed payment, cut costs and minimize fraud. Smaller retailers likely will be slower to invest directly in the change at first, but their daily bank deposits will be processed faster.

Up until now, federal law has required that checks be physically presented for payment, which meant the 42 billion checks Americans write each year had to be trucked and flown around the country for "presentation."

But three events convinced Congress and President Bush to change the law:

_ Americans increasingly do business online. Sixty million e-filed tax returns this year. And 13 million U.S. households now pay bills online _ a number that should grow to 22 million by 2010, according to Online Banking Report.

_ Soaring use of credit and debit cards has sent the use of cash and checks plunging from 81 percent of consumer spending in 1990 to 61 percent last year. And just as credit cards once included carbon copies of sales slips, banks are betting that consumers are willing to accept the "substitute check" instead of the original.

_ The 9/11 terrorist strikes brought transportation and check clearing to a halt, leaving $47 billion worth of checks floating in financial limbo for days and convincing the Federal Reserve Board to urge the change.

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan acknowledges that, even in the digital age, many people still prefer paper checks because of privacy and security concerns and a "deep psychological connection between money and tangible wealth."

Donald Ogilvie, president of the American Bankers Association, says that "electronic and paper systems will continue to coexist" even as the change stands to save his industry an estimated $2.1 billion a year during the transition.

But when online payments cost 10 cents apiece to handle _ about a third of what it costs to process a paper check under the current system _ smart money says the change is likely to be accelerated.

By Oct. 28, your bank:

_ Must install the technical means to accept "substitute checks" for collection.

_ Let you and other customers know what Check 21 is and how it affects you.

_ Establish procedures for "recrediting" your account in case of payment disputes.

Also, Congress and the administration left it to the industry to develop standards for acceptable "substitute checks," which needn't be the same size, color or background pattern as your original check

Consumer groups say the Fed hasn't gone far enough in requiring consumer protections for Check 21, which gives you the right to demand "recredit" of a disputed check amount of up to $2,500 plus interest within 10 business days of notifying your bank of the problem while it investigates.

You must discover the error and complain by phone, in writing or by e-mail within 40 calendar days of the mistake, however, and you must present the "substitute check" as evidence your account has been improperly debited.

That assumes you have the "substitute check," which your bank may or may not have sent you in your monthly statement. Also, in all likelihood your bank doesn't have your original check back in case fraud is suspected, and "substitute checks" cannot be examined by handwriting experts for pen pressure and for watermarks, microprinting and other anti-fraud techniques.

After you report the error, your bank has 45 calendar days to determine if your claim is valid and refund you any balance plus interest that remained in dispute.

Even though federal regulators didn't buy calls from consumer groups to make the rules more "consumer-friendly," Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America are urging consumers to sign an online petition at cu.convio.net/check21. Their goal is to convince banks to speed up consumer deposits the same way they subtract checks from their accounts and to waive fees initially for bounced checks. Consumers can sign the petition online at cu.convio.net/check_21.

Meantime, if you hope to avoid problems, Consumers Union senior attorney Gail Hillebrand says:

_ Make a written request that your bank "recredit" funds mistakenly subtracted from your account.

_ Ask for substitute checks to be returned with your bank statement every month.

_ Don't write checks unless you have the money in your account, or you'll pay big time for bounced checks.

_ Decline your bank's invitation to voluntarily give up return of your checks, so-called "voluntary check truncation," or you'll have even fewer rights to dispute bank account mistakes.

On the Net: www.federalreserve.gov

www.aba.com

www.consumersunion.org

www.consumerlaw.org

(E-mail Mary Deibel at deibelm(at)shns.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com)

2004 Scripps Howard News Service.

All Rights Reserved.
Visit the Financial News Archive

Posted by Valkyre at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2004

Four Kitties

My brother-in-law, Nick, is still up in Seattle visiting his mother. We've been babysitting his cats while he is gone. I decided to take some pictures of them. The cat in the third picture is name Max, and the cat in the fourth picture is names Czarina. I'm not sure about the names of the ones in the first two pictures. He just got those recently. He is a foster home for unwanted and abused cats, until they can find permanent owners. Sometimes, that never comes about.

Posted by Valkyre at 12:23 AM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2004

September 11, 2001

Posted by Valkyre at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2004

Payback's a Bitch

I wish that it had been more than his wrist:

http://www.modbee.com/24hour/weird/story/1638027p-9347691c.html

Man shot in wrist by puppy

The Associated Press
Last Updated: September 9, 2004, 05:10:00 AM PDT

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - A man who tried to shoot seven puppies was shot himself when one of the dogs put its paw on the revolver's trigger.

Jerry Allen Bradford, 37, was charged with felony animal cruelty, the Escambia County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday. He was being treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to his wrist.

Bradford said he decided to shoot the 3-month-old shepherd-mix dogs in the head because he couldn't find them a home, according to the sheriff's office.

On Monday, Bradford was holding two puppies - one in his arms and another in his left hand - when the dog in his hand wiggled and put its paw on the trigger of the .38-caliber revolver. The gun then discharged, the sheriff's report said.

Deputies found three of the puppies in a shallow grave outside Bradford's home, said sheriff's Sgt. Ted Roy.

The other four appeared to be in good health and were taken by Escambia County Animal Control, which planned to make them available for adoption.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2004

Yeah, I think it's time to replace them....

My old work boots had had it. That's the pair pictured on the right. The pair where I have my finger jammed into the split. I call these boots my, "Uglies". But, that's an affectionate term. They have really done the trick, concerning the abuse they get put through almost every day. When I first got this job, I was wearing athletic shoes with soles that would grip the wet concrete securely. However, when they got wet, which was constantly, they would soak through and my feet would be soaked and pruned up by the end of the day. I wanted some boots, but I wanted some whose soles would grip as good as the shoes. I walk around on wet concrete all day and the last thing I want to do is slip and break my neck. Mike searched the 'net and found a place on line. (We looked locally, but it seemed that the only "work boots" everyone carried were the heavy duty suede kind that wear more for telephone pole climbing, etc.) The place Mike found was called Anderson's Online. I didn't see any boots on their site, that fir my criteria. However, I sent them an e-mail and told them what I was looking for and the conditions at where I work. One of the Andersons got back to me and said he knew the exact boot that would fit my needs. I ordered it. That was a year ago. They have served me well, but, the slash in the side was letting water it. So, it was time to replace them. I looked for the receipt, which I had kept all this time with the stock#, etc., in it. But, I couldn't find it. I took a gamble and wrote to Anderson's Online to see if they still had a record. Turns out, that not only did the have my record, they remembered me also. Made me feel kind of good. So, I re-ordered a new pair. You can compare them and see how much my old pair had degraded. Anyway, when I replace the new ones in the future, I will definitely deal with Andersons again.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2004

Fortunately, it's a dry heat!

I took this earlier. Right now, it has dropped down to 100 degrees. Thank God it's not humid. It's nice and dry. And the air is clear. There is no smog and we can see the local mountains. All this makes it a little more tolerable. We will probably go swimming later.

Posted by Valkyre at 02:44 PM | Comments (3)

Long Beach Airport vs. LAX

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is about 7.8 miles from our house. It's close enough for us to hear and see the planes coming in. That makes it nice and convenient. But, I would rather have my wisdom teeth pulled, without any Novacaine, than go to LAX. Especially if I were to be dropping someone off over the Labor Day Weekend. If you take the freeway in, there is only one offramp to the airport. It splits off into two lanes. However, on busy days, traffic will back up for several miles onto the freeway at that exit. There is a train, called the green line that runs up the center of this particular freeway, however, it stops about a mile or so from the airport. Duh!? You have this nice train that could go all the way into the airport and cut down the number of cars that go in? Oh, and if you manage to make it into the airport, good luck finding parking inside, if you need it. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Long Beach Airport (LGB). Long Beach Airport is 16.2 miles from our house. It is well worth it. It's like taking a step back in time when you go there. This morning, I took Mike, and his brother, Nick, to Long Beach Airport. They are flying up to Seattle to celebrate there Mum's 80th Birthday. They were catching a flight on Alaska Airlines. We took the San Diego Freeway (405) to Lakewood Blvd. Hardly any traffic. In fact, I was the only car that got off at the Lakewood Blvd exit heading towards the airport. We take that down to Donald Douglas Drive. I get into the left turn lane and am among, maybe, about a half dozen vehicles going to the airport. The long term lot has a lot of empty spaces. I didn't get a good look at the short term lot. Their short term lot is directly across from the terminal which is pictured above. I pull up to the passenger drop off right in front of the terminal. There were already two vehicles there. There was quite a crowd in front of the terminal!!! Yes!!! There were about 20 people there, including the skycaps! That's a lot for Long Beach! Due to the holiday, I noticed more of a police presence, but they looked like they were slightly bored. Mike and Nick get out and I pull away. Going to this airport is like going back in time. The terminal, pictured above, was built in 1941. The luggage carousels are outside under covered areas. It's a real nice break from the hustle and bustle of LAX. And, while Mike and Nick waited to board their plane, LAX was shut down today, for two security breaches. That doesn't happen at Long Beach, probably because it doesn't have as much passenger traffic as LAX. I hope it stays that way.

Posted by Valkyre at 12:02 AM | Comments (1)

September 03, 2004

A Real Life "Sophies Choice"

I don't know if you are familiar with the movie Sophie's Choice. Sophie, during the Holocaust, basically has to choose which of her two children will be sent off to die. Well, that's just a movie. However, in Beslan, Russia, a woman had to make that decision. Chechnyan rebels had taken over an elementary school. They allowed some people to leave. Others, weren't so lucky:

From the Los Angeles Times:

September 3, 2004

THE WORLD
Killers Set Terms, a Mother Chooses

Militants offer a woman and her baby freedom -- but only if she leaves her other child behind.

By Kim Murphy, Times Staff Writer

BESLAN, Russia Zalina Dzandarova cradles her son Alan as he sleeps with his small face buried against her stomach. He is the child Dzandarova was able to save. The child she chose to save, really.

It is the other one, little Alana, her 6-year-old daughter, whose image torments her: Alana clutching her hand, Alana crying and calling after her. Alana's sobs disappearing into the distance as Dzandarova walked out of Middle School No. 1 here Thursday, clutching 2-year-old Alan in her arms.

Guerrillas armed with automatic rifles and explosive belts who are holding hundreds of hostages at the small provincial school in southern Russia allowed 26 women and children to leave. About a dozen mothers, like Dzandarova, were allowed to take only one child, forced to leave another behind.

"I didn't want to make this choice," a stunned-looking Dzandarova, 27, said in the reception room of her father-in-law's house a few miles from the school. "People say they are happy that my son and I are saved. But how can I be happy if my daughter's still inside there?"

Violence often selects its victims randomly, but seldom is a mother asked to make a Sophie's choice: Save one child and leave behind another, possibly to face death. The standoff in North Ossetia republic involving about 20 guerrillas most likely linked to the neighboring separatist republic of Chechnya or adjacent Ingushetia has stunned a nation accustomed to war and its horrors after the many ethnic and territorial conflicts that accompanied the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Even with the downing of two Russian jetliners and two street bombings coming in just one week, the thought of schoolchildren surrounded by veiled female suicide bombers and masked guerrillas has traumatized the country. "They Have Taken Hundreds of Our Children," read a banner headline in the daily newspaper Izvestia.

And they took Alana.

"They said they would let us go only after the [Russian] troops are withdrawn from Chechnya," said Dzandarova. She said the attackers had identified themselves as Chechens. "I said we have nothing to do with that, but they wouldn't listen."

Her description provided one of the first accounts of what was happening inside the school, where Dzandarova said as many as 1,000 children and parents were being held in a gymnasium planted with explosives. Authorities officially listed the number of hostages at 354, a figure Dzandarova disputed.

"The director of the school was taken to a TV where they were saying there were 354 of us in here, and the director came back and she was in a state of shock, because there were in fact many more people there," she said.

"There were definitely 1,000 people in that one room," she said, referring to the gym. "I saw it with my own eyes."

On Wednesday, Dzandarova took her daughter to the first day of first grade. As students and parents began lining up, they saw the attackers sweeping into the school. Dzandarova ran with her children to hide in a classroom, but they were rounded up with the others and taken to the gym.

"Everyone was ordered to sit down, and they began to set up booby-traps around the perimeter, right in front of our eyes. They had lots of guns and explosives with them."

At first, she said, everyone was allowed to drink water from the tap. But the hostage-takers soon stopped that, she said, because they were angry that officials, including the presidents of North Ossetia and Ingushetia, had not come to meet with them.

Without water, the powdered milk the guerrillas supplied for the children had to be spooned into their mouths.

The gym was sweltering, even after the window panes were broken out.

"They were telling us, 'Your government is not allowing enough water for your kids.' "

In just two days, she said, the problem became acute. "You see, the kids won't survive these negotiations," she said. "They're not getting enough water. What we have to hope is that they'll survive this night without water."

At the beginning, 20 men in the gym were led to a different room. On Thursday, Dzandarova said, 10 of the men returned. The hostages presumed that the others were dead.

"They told us that it was 'your own side' that had executed them, who had shot them dead," Dzandarova said.

Two women who had been wearing suicide belts apparently detonated them Wednesday in an adjoining room, she said.

"They left the gym, and all of a sudden we heard two loud explosions. We thought the storming [by Russian police] had begun. But then they told us, 'Our sisters have won a victory, and there's no other cause they want to pursue.' "

The male guerrillas, she said, "took it calmly."

Much of the time, she said, the guerrillas appeared tense: running around the room, waving their guns in the hostages' faces, shouting at them to sit still and stop talking.

When Alan began to cry from hunger, Dzandarova was allowed to join several other mothers in an adjacent room, which had its own water and was several degrees cooler.

After a former local political leader visited the school Thursday, the women in the adjacent room were told there was "good news": They would be released.

"They said, 'Pack your things quickly, and take your babies with you,' " Dzandarova said.

Shortly after, she learned that she would have to choose between taking her son or her daughter.

Dzandarova had both Alan and Alana with her and made a snap decision to pass Alana to her 16-year-old sister-in-law. But the guerrillas saw through the ruse and refused to allow her to take the older child.

"Alana was clinging to me and holding my hand firmly. But they separated us, and said: 'You go with the boy. Your sister can stay here with her.' I cried. I begged them. Alana cried. The women around us wept. One of the Chechens said: 'If you don't go now, you don't go at all. You stay here with your children and we will shoot all of you.' "

She couldn't save both of them. She could only die with both of them or save one of them and herself.

"I didn't have time to think what I was doing," she said. "I pressed Alan even stronger to myself, and I went out, and I heard all the time how my daughter was crying and calling for me behind my back. I thought my heart would break into pieces there and then."

Dzandarova cried as she talked. Her tears fell on Alan, who was sleeping. Even when his mother shook quietly with sobs as she cradled him, he didn't awaken.

Times staff writer Sergei L. Loiko in Moscow contributed to this report.

What an awful decision one would have to make. She must be agonized over her decision.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2004

Stomach Flu

Woke up with the alarm yesterday. My head was spinning. I felt somewhat nauseated and attributed it to the spinning. But, there was something else. I was sweating. I was sweating so bad, my hair was soaked. Sweat was dripping off me. And, I was freezing. I got out of bed and tried to see if I could get the spinning to stop. It made it worse. I sat down, in front of the computer and after about 10 minutes, the spinning seemed to slow down. And then I felt it..... That feeling you get in the pit of your stomach. I can't explain it. It's not really a pain. More of a tightness. But, I knew what it meant. I had the stomach flu. And, I barely made it to the toilet. I haven't been this sick since I was in my twenties. I called work, hit the answring machine and told them there was no way I could come in. The toilet became my best friend all morning. I really don't know what was worse, the sweating, the spinning or the vomiting. After things seemed to calm down, I went back to sleep, woke up, visited the toilet. And so on. About 1:00pm, I woke up yet again. I wasn't sweating, I didn't feel the urge to run to the toilet and the spinning seemed to have stopped. I tried to go out on the 'net, but the glare of text off the screen was really bothering my eyes. I sat on the couch, which was right near the open front door. The open front door, which had a nice afternoon breeze blowing in, and decided to watch TV. And found out that there really isn't anything worth watching at 1:00pm, unless you are into Court TV shows. So, I plop in a rented DVD. It's a Wayan's brothers comedy (They did the TV show, In Living Color), called Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. It was actually a pretty good movie. It spoofed, Boys in the Hood, along with some other films from that genre. While the movie was playing, I found one can of Sprite way at the back of the fridge. Whenever I was recovering from the stomach flu, when I was younger, my mom used to have me drink a 7-Up. That always seemed to help. I took sips of the Sprite and it stayed down. I nibbled on some Saltines and they too stayed down. It looked like I was getting over this. Seriously, I would rather have a cold that lingers for a couple of weeks, than one day of the stomach flu.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:57 PM | Comments (2)