August 31, 2007

10 years ago

I remember where I was when I heard that Diana, Princess of Wales had died. I couldn't believe it. I remember getting up early in the morning to watch the funeral. I recorded it on a VHS tape, but I have been unable to watch it again.

Article here

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Exactly a decade to the day since Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash in Paris, her youngest son Prince Harry said Friday he wants his mother to be remembered for the way "she made us and so many other people happy."

Speaking during a royal memorial service in London as part of a series of tributes, Harry, 22, said: "We miss her. She kissed us last thing a night, her beaming smile greeted us from school."

As the camera panned around the room people could be seen dabbing their eyes with tissues.

"She will always be remembered for her amazing public work, but behind the media glare -- to just two loving children -- she was quite simply the best mother in the world," he said.

Diana's elder son, William, 25, also spoke at the special thanksgiving ceremony in the Guards' Chapel. He read from St Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

The princes delivered their speeches in front of their grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, Diana's former husband Prince Charles, other members of the Royal Family, Diana's family and about 500 guests who had gathered for the ceremony.

However, Charles's wife Camilla stayed away. She decided not to attend amid criticism that it would be inappropriate for her to be there. Read more about Camilla's decision to stay away from the service

Diana's death at the age of 36, in the early hours of August 31, 1997, stunned the nation and led to a mass outpouring of public grief.

Distraught mourners wept openly in the streets and people flocked to her home, Kensington Palace, leaving behind a carpet of flowers. Photo See photos of Diana's memorial

Diana and boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed when the Mercedes-Benz limousine they were traveling in hit a pillar in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris.

They were being pursued at the time by the paparazzi after leaving the Ritz Hotel.

Driver Henri Paul, who was also killed, was drunk and driving at high speed. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was the sole survivor.

Dodi's father Mohamed al Fayed held two minutes' silence in honor of his son and the princess at his Harrods store in Knightsbridge, London.

Al Fayed maintains that his son and the princess were murdered in a plot by the British establishment and security services.

But a UK police investigation concluded in 2006 that the Paris car crash was an accident and not an elaborate murder plot. A French probe had already reached the same conclusion.

In an address at the service, The Bishop of London called for an end to using Diana, Princess of Wales's memory to score points, declaring: "Let it end here."

He said the commemoration should mark the point at which "we let Diana rest in peace."

Guests at the Guards' Chapel service include Elton John, Cliff Richard and celebrity photographer Mario Testino, as well as Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major.

The princess's former butler, Paul Burrell, who was accused by William and Harry of a "cold and overt betrayal" for publishing a tell-all book, and others who sold their stories, have also been left off the guest list for Friday's service

Posted by Valkyre at 11:59 PM | Comments (3)

August 29, 2007

Greenfingers

How could I have overlooked this little gem? I had never heard of it. However, based on my movie ratings over on Netflix, this came up as a recommendation. I'm glad it did. Number one, it stars Clive Owen, who is easy on the eyes. And, it's got a great plot to boost. It's loosely based on a true story. Some hardcore prisoners are sent to an experimental prison for rehabilitation. There, they are required to take on jobs to prepare them for release. Clive Owens character, Colin Briggs, discovers he has quite the green thumb. So he, and some other inmates become gardeners. Eventually, under the tutelage of Georgina Woodhouse (Helen Mirren), they are invited to compete in a national garden competition. The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

Rest in Peace Time Lady

As far back as I can remember, you could call 853-1212 and get the "Time Lady" who would then give you the exact time, down to the seconds. That was one of the first numbers my parents would let me dial. If you tried to get ahold of her a few minutes before midnight, on New Year's Eve, you would most likely get a busy signal, due to everyone else trying to call. Well AT&T, in the infinite wisdom, has decided to get rid of her:

Article here

David Lazarus:

Consumer Confidential

Time of day calling it quits at AT&T

August 29 2007

It's the end of time, at least as far as AT&T is concerned.

The brief note in customers' bills hardly does justice to the momentousness of the decision. "Service withdrawal," it blandly declares. "Effective September 2007, Time of Day information service will be discontinued."

What that means is that people throughout Southern California will no longer be able to call 853-1212 to hear a woman's recorded voice state that "at the tone, Pacific Daylight Time will be . . ." with the recording automatically updating at 10-second intervals.

"Times change," said John Britton, an AT&T spokesman. "In today's world, there are just too many other ways to get this information. You can look at your cellphone or your computer. You no longer have to pick up the telephone."

Indeed, time already has stopped in 48 other states, he said. California and Nevada are the two remaining holdouts.

In Northern California, the prefix for calling time is 767, or P-O-P on a telephone keypad. For decades, locals up there have dialed POPCORN any time they have had to reset their watches or reprogram electronic gadgets after a power failure.

"In California, our equipment has gotten old," Britton said. "It's reached the end of its life span."

Time's up statewide Sept. 19. Britton said Nevada service would live on borrowed time for an unspecified period, until the equipment in that state similarly starts breaking down.

One upside: AT&T says doing away with time would enable the creation of about 300,000 new phone numbers in California beginning with the 853 or 767 prefixes. (No such numbers have been issued to date because, when coupled with any four other digits, you get time.)

To be sure, time marches on. Yet for many Californians, the looming demise of the "time lady," as she's come to be known, marks the end of a more genteelera, when we all had time to share.

"It was always there," said Orlo Brown, 70, who for many years kept Pacific Bell's (and subsequently SBC's) time machines running in a downtown Los Angeles office building. "Everybody knew the number."

Richard Frenkiel was assigned to work on the time machines when he joined Bell Labs in the early 1960s. He described the devices as large drums about 2 feet in diameter, with as many as 100 album-like audio tracks on the exterior. Whenever someone called time, the drums would start turning and a message would begin, with different tracks mixed together on the fly.

"The people who worked on it took it very seriously," Frenkiel, 64, recalled. "They took a lot of pride in it."

In a twist of historical irony, Frenkiel went on to play a leading role in development of the technology that makes cellphones possible -- the very device that's now instrumental in killing time.

Phone companies have been providing the time to callers since the 1920s. In the early days, live operators read the time off clocks on the wall.

In the 1930s, an Atlanta company called Audichron devised a system for the time to be provided automatically. Audichron leased its technology to phone companies nationwide, often with sponsorship from local businesses.

Time ladies -- and a few gentlemen -- came and went over the years. Then, in the 1950s, a woman named Mary Moore emerged as the nation's leading time-teller.

Her reading of hours, minutes and seconds was delivered in a distinctive if somewhat prissy tone. Moore's odd pronunciation of the numbers 5 ("fiyev") and 9 ("niyun") influenced a generation of operators, much as flying ace Chuck Yeager's West Virginia drawl is said to have been adopted by innumerable airline pilots.

By far the most prominent time lady was Jane Barbe, who succeeded Moore at Audichron in the 1960s. A former big band singer, Barbe (pronounced "Barbie") went on to become the voice of recorded telephone messages in the 1970s and '80s in the United States and elsewhere.

Along with her interpretations of the time and current temperature, Barbe delivered the bad news too, telling you that circuits in a specific area were busy, please try again later, or that your call cannot be completed as dialed.

And who will ever forget her heartbreaking rendition of "I'm sorry, the number you have dialed is no longer in service"?

Barbe died of cancer-related complications in 2003 at age 74. It's estimated that at the height of her fame, Barbe's voice was heard worldwide about 40 million times a day.

AT&T's Britton said the company started using Audichron's machines in 1948 and then switched to a different system manufactured by rival Weatherchron, also of Atlanta, in the 1960s. He was unable to identify the current time lady, saying that perhaps no one at AT&T knows who she is.

Ellis Bryant, the 83-year-old president of Weatherchron, also was unsure whose voice Californians hear when they call time. So he dialed 853-1212 and listened to the recording.

"Oh, that's Joanne," Bryant said without hesitation. "Joanne Daniels. No doubt about it."

He said Daniels started recording the time for Weatherchron about 25 years ago. At some point after Pacific Bell switched to his company's system, Daniels became California's time lady.

Reached at her Atlanta home, Daniels, 65, estimated that her reach was once nearly as extensive as that of Barbe, who was a friend. Daniels is now retired.

"I've done the time in many areas -- Eastern Standard Time, central time, Pacific time," she said. "The fun part was doing the temperatures for places like Alaska."

Daniels switched to her professional voice, her soft Southern accent instantly vanishing. "At the tone," she said, "the temperature is minus 12 degrees." She laughed and her accent returned. "I liked that."

No one had told her that AT&T was about to stop time.

"I think that's very sad," Daniels said. "I was told at one time that my voice would last until well into the 21st century. Now it looks like I'm about to be laid to rest."

When that day comes, Daniels said, she knows what her epitaph will be: "She knew the time."

Posted by Valkyre at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2007

How to Tell it's the End of August

Because the stores are getting ready for Christmas...... This year flew by.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:49 PM | Comments (1)

August 22, 2007

And Then Things Get Worse

Monday, I have to leave for work in about 45 minutes and I notice my cell phone is almost dead. So, I put it on the charger, hoping that that 45 minutes would buy me a little time. And then, I leave and forget it. Of all days to forget my cell phone. Work was bad yesterday and I end up getting home at 8:00pm, which is really late. As soon as I pull up, my youngest comes running out, "Call Aunt Sally! She called and said that Grandpa has been taken to the hospital!" Crap! I call her on the land line. High fever, shaking, sweating. They think he has pneumonia. My mind swirls. First dementia, now this!? She actually doesn't want me to go see him yet. At that moment, he was still in the process of being checked in. "Could you please get his dog? She's been left alone at the house." I call Mike, who was not too far from the house and ask him to get her. I boil water, and pour it into my cup to steep the Green Tea bags. Mike calls. He doesn't have keys to the house and the dog is locked inside! Crap! I have to run down there. No time to unwind. I drive down there. The dog is so relieved to see us. We go inside the house and calm her down. Then I go around and shut any open window and lock them. Made sure all the doors were locked and left a light on in the living room, so it would look like someone is home. Since it was now pushing almost 10:00pm, I grab some fast food. I didn't sleep well. Got by on less than 5 hours.

Visited him today. He's in ICU being monitored. Tests, tests and more tests. They don't really seem to know what's going on. He can't swallow that well and they think that some food got into his lungs. It's a certain kind of pneumonia, but the name escapes me. He's on fluids and antibiotics. His blood pressure isn't all that great. He slept most of the time we were there. He woke up once for about 5 minutes and seemed happy to see us. We didn't stay that long. He was weak and wanted to sleep. So, we left. All of us feel that he may not come out of the hospital. Maybe we won't feel like this when they find out what's going on.

Posted by Valkyre at 12:11 AM | Comments (1)

August 19, 2007

Hurricane Dean as Seen From the Space Shuttle

This one could eventually make it's way to Texas. This was taken from the Space Shuttle, from 250 miles away.

Posted by Valkyre at 01:11 AM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2007

The Phone Call I've Dreaded

My Dad's health has been in a slow decline for the past few years. Decades of alcoholism have finally caught up to him. In late 2005, he had a manic episode which was caused by a reaction between two of the many prescription meds he had been taking. Once he was weaned off of those, he slowly got better. But, there was some damage done. We never did get our old Dad back. We had to slowly accept our "new" dad. Then, my sister called me the other day.

"Dad has been diagnose with dementia."

I am holding the phone to my ear concentrating on the cinderblock wall across from me. I notice details that I have overlooked almost every day the four years that I have worked here.

"So this is it, isn't it? There's nothing that can be done. No magic pills!? Nothing......"

"Yes...."

He thinks he's living in either 1947, or 1977. He has lost all interest in the things he used to love.

I know that now, he probably needs us the most. To visit him, and support him. But, I don't want to see him. Not like this. I feel like shit.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:26 PM | Comments (2)

August 16, 2007

Fortunately, My Whole Day Wasn't Like This

Let' see.... I get home from work. I drop my Zen mp3 player on the floor. It survived. I take a break and then peruse the freezer to see what to make for dinner. Ah! Orange Chicken. Pretty easy. Cook the chicken pieces in the oven and drizzle the hot orange sauce over them when they are done. The freezer is packed. I am having trouble getting the box out. I pull out other items to get out the box I wanted. One of them drops onto the floor. I bend down to pick it up. A one pound pack of, frozen solid, pork chops falls about four feet from the freezer and hits me on the head. Instant headache. The kids go grab some Excedrin. I need something to drink it down. Go to grab a Diet Coke from the 'fridge and a Dr. Pepper can falls out when I grab the Diet Coke. When the Dr. Pepper hits the floor, it springs a leak and starts spraying sticky soda everywhere. I get it to the sink. I notice that my head doesn't hurt too much, but my ears are ringing. Later, I go to pull the pan of hot chicken pieces from the oven and my hand gets burned through the pot holder. I grab it with two pot holders and set it down on the table. Not noticing that the hot, straight from the oven pan, is touching a plastic cup. Which is now sporting a nice hole. Then, my daughter Teresa asked me if I remember that I had left the hose running into our above ground pool. Oh no! It was only a couple of inches low. I only need ed to run the hose for about 15 minutes. This was about an hour later. So yes, the pool is now overflowing. I'm glad this all happened at the end of the day. I don't think I would have made it through the day, if it had started out like this.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2007

I Miss the Big Dope

They were having a birthday party at the place I work. A "Moon Bounce" with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme was ordered for the front yard. The front yard is where Max, the Great Dane lives. So, I was asked to baby sit him for a couple of days. I loved having him here. It's nice to have a big, dumb, dopey dog around. They may be dumb, but they're lovable. Max reminds me of our old dog Dufus who we had for about 13 years, before he died. This is Max getting a ride back to his home. He fills the whole back seat.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:22 PM | Comments (2)

August 12, 2007

This is Supposed to be Me

Me

It's geared towards younger girls. That's why I look like I'm in my teens or twenties. I wish I was still that thin.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2007

Rest in Peace Fishzilla

Back in August of 2005, I posted about our goldfish, Fishzilla. He was a fish that was bought, along with about a dozen others, to feed to our snake. He was rescued, due to his pretty colors, and thrown into our ecosystem 10 gallon tank. I don't have any idea how old he was. He was at least around 5 years old. Anyway, he died today. It was really strange. Teresa and I had looked at him on Sunday and noticed that he had grown quite a bit. I wanted to take more pictures and post them here. But, now I can't. This is one of the images from August 2005. He was much larger on Sunday. Oh well, I guess it was he time. He led a good long life for a fish who was bred for food. He will now "live on" as he contributes to the ecosystem. Tomorrow we are going to buy more feeder goldfish and dump them in the tank. Only the strong ones will survive.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2007

Paradise Road

Why did it take me so long to see this movie!? This finally came up on my Netflix queue and was sent to me last week. I really didn't have high hopes for it. I think it may have got mediocre reviews. Anyway, it was much better than I thought it would be. Not syrupy sweet like I was expecting. It's about women from all walks of life who end up together in a Japanese Concentration Camp during WWII, on the island of Sumatra. Tortured, starved and fighting off malaria along with other diseases, they manage to form a "choir/orchestra" that hums some of the classics. It's based on a true story. I have a feeling that even though the movie portrayed some brutality, it was much, much worse. I would like to get the book that it is based on and read it.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2007

80 Years of Women in Film

This is beautiful:

Posted by Valkyre at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)