Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Random Memory Dump

Just finished re-reading the last two Harry Potter novels (Order of the Phoenix & The Half-Blood Prince)... they were both much better the second time around, probably because I wasn't expecting them to be like The Goblet of Fire, which is my favorite of the series. It's also good to read them back-to-back, because there is a great deal of "flow" between the two novels.

Monday night was "where'd everybody go?!" night at Fresno Gamers, so John & I ended up playing Queen's Gambit and St Petersburg, both games I enjoy a great deal and don't get to play nearly enough. My attitude about the evening isn't hurt by the fact that I won both games, either - as the Trade Federation, I managed a Darth Maul duel victory while Anakin evidently stopped for a 7 course meal on his way to the control ship... and in St Petersburg, I out-built John, buying both theaters + a number of other high point thingees.

This is an "easy" week at NewLife, as we have a guest speaker for the Sunday morning service. That means I've been able to help Shari Jo prep for the women's retreat she's leading this weekend - mainly by taking care of Braeden & Collin.

Speaking of Collin, he's in that "woodchuck" stage right now, where EVERYTHING looks edible to him. Braeden never really did this, but left to his own devices, Collin will attempt to chew the binding off of a board book.

The guest speaker, btw, is Allen Troxler (well, DOCTOR Allen Troxler, now)... who was the first associate pastor of the church @ hickory hollow. Spending time with him is always fun - and since he's a brilliant teacher, I end up learning a chunk whenever he does stuff like this.

Newest book in the reading queue: Sundown Towns by James Loewen. It's about the vast American heritage of towns/suburbs that practiced "racial exclusion" - in other words, these are the places that put up those "N----r, don't let the sun go down on you in ________" signs. Where my mom & dad grew up (the Ozarks), this happened in many places - and in a weird "haven't heard the name of my hometown in THAT context", he even mentions Placentia while talking about Brea's sundown status. Of course, Placentia didn't become a sundown town because it was a "Mexican" place. Again, weird. (BTW, Loewen has written two other books that ought to be required reading: Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America.)

Anyone else having odd flashbacks to the days when watching the Olympics was more like a Western movie, what with the white hats (Americans, or if we stunk in a particular sport, Australians or West Germans) and the black hats (Soviets, East Germans & Chinese)? I don't want those days back, mind you - but this is the first time it's really struck me about how much has changed in the last 30 years internationally.

One last Olympic-related comment: the new figure skating scoring system has made the pairs & men's competitions less interesting, but it's done WONDERS for ice dancing. (Hi, Charles, my ice-dancing, Settlers-winning buddy... you said you were going to call me back!)

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