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Archived news items from August 2002
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Saturday, 24 August 2002 [22:18 CDT]

Movies I've seen since the last update:

Besides watching movies, I've also been back at school. The kids returned on Tuesday, and so I've seen every class twice. My biggest challenges this year will be corralling some sort of curriculum for CS-3 that covers everything on the IB exam without having to re-read half a dozen 600-page college textbooks, and figuring out exactly in what order I'm going to cover everything in Webmastering.

From what I've seen of the students it looks like I've got a good bunch of kids, except that the ones in Webmastering with prior programming experience seem to think they don't have to behave or pay attention. How soon they will learn.... And I think a few of the new kids in CS-1 and Webmastering are expecting nothing but a fun blow-off class. We'll see how long it takes before they figure out that both classes actually require quite a bit of work (though hopefully they are fun).

Monday (just before school started) I was able to give blood, though I didn't get the same cute phlebotomist as last time. I'll be eligible to donate again in mid-October, and if I've worked the dates right, I can give then and become eligible again just in time for the school's blood drive in December. We'll see.

I'll have been driving the new car for two weeks tomorrow night. I'm still pleased as punch with it, though one of its "features" got me Tuesday. My Camry, being a more "luxury" vehicle, would automatically cut off the headlights when you took out the key, even if the switch was still in the "on" position. It turns out the Corolla doesn't do this, and I left my lights on all day Tuesday. I also discovered that my jumper cables were still in the trunk of my old car. Fortunately Jim Strother, the book/parking lot guy had a portable jumper kit, which worked like a charm despite the negative jumper cable clamp having been severed.

And I finally filled up the tank and had gotten just over 34 miles to the gallon! This is a nice improvement over the roughly 20-25 MPG I was getting in the Camry. However, only my efficiency has increased, not my range, as this car seems to have a much-smaller ten-gallon tank.

Saving on gas even more, I biked to school Thursday (the first time since my move). The five-mile trek is fairly easy, and I don't work up enough of a sweat to need a shower once I arrive. The "ride" takes around 25 minutes, depending on how I hit the traffic lights. (By the way, I can't fathom why common usage calls traveling on an entirely user-powered bicycle "riding" but uses the word "driving" to describe sitting in a gasoline-powered car, merely pushing pedals and steering.)

Last night I took my bike up to school on my car and experimented with two different ways of biking in. One way features being on two busy roads with no shoulder or sidewalk, one stoplight, and one left turn across traffic. The other way features a more-deserted road with a nice sidewalk, and about half the distance off-road (riding across a dirt path through a hilly field). Both ways take me just under seven minutes under ideal conditions, and the busy-roads way takes longer if I catch the light wrong. I think you can guess which way I'm going to go from now on (and hope I don't blow a tire)....

Today I paid bills, did laundry, balanced my checkbook and otherwise just took care of several errands I've needed to do for weeks. It was a nice lazy day, and looking at the clock, it looks like I'm even going to get to bed early. Hopefully that'll make me well-rested for a good day at church tomorrow. Of course, if you've never stopped by Lakeline for a visit, you really should. I think most folks are pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, 17 August 2002 [22:35 CDT]

I started back up at school on Tuesday. Had some meetings and spent some time in my classroom getting things ready. I still have some things to do, but that's what tomorrow afternoon and Monday are for.

For Movie Night on Tuesday we watched X-Men, which was good. Then Wednesday night I watched The Green Mile, a movie I knew nothing about. (In fact, I didn't even know Tom Hanks was in it until I saw his picture on the cover.) I enjoyed it a lot, and even cried in a couple of parts. Both these movies were on DVD (w00p!).

Last night I played again at Celebrate! the annual variety show/fundraiser put on by Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Cedar Park. I was well-received, as last year, though I don't think I brought down the house as much. I'll be there again tomorrow night, and hopefully I can get some of the other musicians to sit in with me again.

After the show, tutoree Jesse and his older sister Cara went with me to have me try some vegan "ice cream" products. We struck out at H.E.B., but found most of what we were looking for at Randall's. We then ate the stuff in the parking lot, which is apparently a tradition for them. Then they dropped by to see the new apartment on their way back home, and ended up staying a little longer than they'd planned looking at yearbooks and such.

Today I slept in, worked up the multimedia to go along with the sermon tomorrow, and then watched all four hours and two minutes of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. This production features every word of Shakespeare's tragedy, and amazingly, I knew nothing about the plot of this one either. You'd find it hard to believe that a semi-cultured person such as myself would be able to live nearly three decades without learning any bits of the plot of such a classic, but somehow I'd done it.

I was amazed to see the sheer number of popular quotes that are taken from this play, from "To be or not to be" to "Good night, sweet prince."

And the "new" car still drives wonderfully.

Monday, 12 August 2002 [23:26 CDT]

Wow! What a weekend! (Look out for all the parentheses in this update.)

Friday I broke down and bought a DVD player. On the advice of an "Ask Slashdot", I got the inexpensive (at $63) but quite hackable Apex 1100W from Wal-Mart. Despite an unintuitive remote control, it works fine and even plays mp3 CDs. (Maybe one day I'll have one that plays ogg CDs... one can dream, I guess.)

And that same night while waiting for my company to arrive I watched The Wicker Man, a movie from 1973 I'd never heard of. (I chose it based on a good recommendation on the Internet by a video store clerk, who called it "a cool movie you may not have heard of." Spot on.)

My brother Paul and his lovely wife Julie (who's pregnant) came down this weekend (arriving just minutes after I finished watching the movie). We just hung around, went to go see Guy Forsyth play at the Saxon Pub (which Paul enjoyed a lot), ate out a lot, and made a pilgrimage to Fry's. Just as we were heading back to my apartment to pack and leave, we were in a car wreck. Paul was driving, I was in the passenger seat, and Julie was in the back left. The other car (a 2001 Volkswagen Beetle) hit us on the left side, right between the two doors. It was completely the other driver's fault.

The driver of the other car (an 18-year-old girl) had some minor cuts and bruises, and was pretty shaken, but physically okay. We're all a bit stressed but physically fine. Julie was wearing a seatbelt (and under the belly, like you're supposed to), and visited her doctor today, who says both she and the baby appear fine. The only issue will be if the impact caused any of the baby's blood (which might be B+ like Paul's) mixed with her blood (which is O-). This might precipitate an Rh-factor antibody response. Right now they're testing the baby's blood type. They can give her an injection to prevent the antibodies if it comes to that.

Neither door on the driver's side will open now, but otherwise the car seems to be perfectly drivable, and in fact last night they drove it uneventfully back to Longview, five hours away. The car is probably totaled, so they'll probably end up getting a new ride. I took a photo of the car yesterday. Once I get it developed I'll try to put it up here.

And speaking of cars, on the way down to see me, sharp-eyed Julie spotted a car for sale on the side of the road that looked like a Toyota. Many of you that know me know I've been looking for a fresh car, preferably a Toyota, for some time. Paul was on the phone with me at the time letting me know they were on their way, and turned around to go take a closer look.

The car turned out to be a white 1991 Toyota Corolla, for sale for $3250. It has 108,000 miles, a 5-speed manual transmission and cold A/C. And the car is in mint condition, both inside and out. The exterior and interior are nearly perfect and it drives like a new car.

Paul relayed the phone number of the seller to me and I called him and talked about it. So after some serious soul-searching, I rode with Paul and Julie in their crumpled car back up to Tyler (where they'd left from) Sunday evening. The owner came out to meet me at the car at 11:00 P.M., and we test drove it. It drove as advertised. So I paid cash for the thing and drove it back to my parents' and crashed for the night.

Both Mom and Dad got a chance to test it out, and both agreed it was in great condition for its age. I drove it back to Austin this morning (just for the record, it'll get up to 100 M.P.H.).

So now I've got a new ride as well, thanks to the sharp eye of Julie, Paul's willingness to turn around to look at it for me, and the owner's willingness to meet a total stranger at night who'd come over 200 miles just to test-drive a car. (Not to mention his willingness to take a personal check for over $3,000....)

I start back at school with staff workdays tomorrow. Eep.

And incidentally, the "7-day" candles with saints on them they sell for religious purposes last only about six days and eight hours. (Or at least the one I've tried so far did.) What a rip-off.

Tuesday, 6 August 2002 [23:14 CDT]

Got some boxes unpacked today. Pretty much just infrequently accessed papers left.

Last night I watched Girl, Interrupted, which I enjoyed, and not just because Winona Ryder was in it. (I've been in love with her since Beetlejuice.) That also marked the first movie I've ever seen with Angelina Jolie in it, if that can be believed. She did a good job. One of the supporting actresses in it (Clea DuVall, who plays Winona's roommate "Georgina") looks quite a lot like Andrew's last girlfriend. In fact, she looks so much like her that I went back and forth for nearly half the movie before finally deciding that it wasn't. But then I looked up the actress afterward anyway, just to make sure. (The actress is five years too old, has seven tattoos and smokes a pack of cigarettes a day.)

Tonight for After-Practice Movie Night we watched Being John Malkovich, which was just incredibly weird but very good. And of course, Winona Ryder has a cameo (she's on screen less than two seconds and I still spotted her).

Monday, 5 August 2002 [13:54 CDT]

Lots of driving Saturday, but the wedding was nice (and just over 15 minutes long). Also lots of meetings yesterday. I watched Pi, which is a pretty cool independent film about conspiracies and math.

Today I'm turning my attention to unpacking the last of the boxes in the apartment. Most of the stuff left I probably should just throw away, but I probably won't.

Saturday, 3 August 2002 [08:04 CDT]

A quickie! As of yesterday I finally got the last bit of stuff out of the house, so I'm clear for good. Still lots of unpacking to do here, though.

And I'm about to head up to East Texas for my cousin's wedding. I'll be back tonight. I'm taking the second coffee table up there (on a luggage rack on top of my car) for Paul and Julie.

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