Friday, December 27, 2002

My Review of Star Trek: Nemesis

I finally got to see Star Trek: Nemesis yesterday. I talked Sean into going with me. We had a great time, and we both thought it was a good movie, and that it could have been better. FYI, fanboy shit ahead.

First, the whole Shinzon/Picard plot was interesting only briefly. But after the third "I am your shadow/You are me" speech, I wanted to scream at the director "I get it! It's nature versus nurture! Move on!"

Second, the Data/B4 sub plot, intended to mirror the main plot, was not needed. This is what happens when an actor pitches story ideas.

Third, the Romulans were ill used in the movie. The screenwriter had set out to do for the Romulans what the earlier movies had done for the Klingons. Then he creates a new race to replace them! WTF?!

Here's how I think the movie would have been better.

First, replace Shinzon with Sela, the alternate Tasha Yar's daughter and lose that whole nature/nuture thing. Pre-release interviews kept repeating that they needed a worthy villian, like in Star Trek II. Instead of bring back a villian from the show, the create a new one. Sela had the motivation to destroy the Federation. Picard ordered her mother to her death, and then later, with Data's help, thwarted her plan to take over the Klingon Empire. Later, Data, Picard and Spock prevented the Romulans from taking over Vulcan. That's motivation: revenge. Shinzon's motivation? "Picard had it better than me." You could still use the Remans, and their motivation for following Sela.

Second, lose B4. Granted, that was a good way to get Data onto the Romulan ship, and it makes sense that there was a less "mentally" advanced android before Data, but there was no explanation as to how they found B4. As far as we know, he could have been a Romulan creation. instead, have Sela reuse the technique that the Romulans used to have Geordi become an assassin, and apply it to Data.

The space battle was cool. Well worth the price of admission. Go see the movie. It was fun.

Friday, December 20, 2002

What is wrong with people?

(20) Yesterday, I ran across a news article at the Hampton Road, Virginia, Daily press website. Barbie's married friend, Midge, is pregnant. Some slack-jawed yokels who shop at the Wal-Mart in Yorktown are offended, and Wal-Mart, in their typical, in-your-face style, pulled the dolls from shelves. (Area Target and Toys 'R' Us stores have not received any complaints and have not pulled the doll.) They said "they wouldn't buy the new Midge dolls because they didn't want their little girl playing with a pregnant doll and that the Barbie line of dolls is supposed to be a role model for young girls," the article said.

A local clergyman expressed his concern of exposing children to a pregnant doll (Midge does have a husband, by the way, and a 3 year-old son), but had to give Mattel props for at least marrying off the doll. "Our kids need these early years for normal, natural play without the intrusion of adult issues that they will face soon enough," he said.

Oddly enough, he didn't have any complaints about the store selling plastic M16s, and Persian Gulf War GI Joe.

This just supports my theory that morons shop at Wal-Mart.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Ain't Technology Wonderful?

One of my friends is in Norway for Christmas. Thanks to the Internet, I have spoken to her twice. Back in the old days (the 80s) talking to someone on the far side of the world meant a hugely expensive long-distance phone call. Now, you can surf the web from anywhere and get your email. We are living in wonderous times, aren't we?

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

I'm Getting Too Old for This

On Sunday, my boss had an open house for homeowners. We had lots of food and beer and wine. The party ended at 7 pm. Dan, Donna, Debbie, Larry and I sat around and drank until 10 pm, or so. Didn't want the extra beer and wine to spoil, you know. The next morning I really didn't want to come to work. The alarm went off at 5 am. I turned it off, turned on the lamp by my bed and dozed until 6:45. I left the lamp on so I wouldn't fall completely asleep.

I drug myself to work at 7 am so I could open. It was rough, what with all the cats stomping around town. Donna showed up about 9:30. I complained to Gary via email, and all he could say was "Ha! Ha! Ha! We never learn do we."

Friday, December 06, 2002

A Visit to the Post Office

I just bought a new Standing-on-line-in-the-Post-Office-to-buy-stamps book. It’s “War and Peace.” I only read it while at the Post Office. No cheating.

While I was aging in the line with my book recently, I realized that the Postal Service had spent about million bucks to create a larger, more spacious and efficient post office to serve the community, and didn’t spend a penny to hire anyone to man the extra cash registers.

With my stamps in hand, I was fifth from the counter and watched as a tall, white haired man wearing a plaid shirt and jeans hand the clerk a yellow postcard. “This was in my post office box,” he explained. “I have a package.”

“Okay,” the lady nodded as she took the card.

The new building is so labyrinthine, she slipped on a steel helmet with a light attached, flicked a switch and disappeared.

Two chapters of my book later, she reappeared with a medium sized package. A co-worker at the register next to her blinked in surprise, then made a slow circle in the air indicating the first clerk should turn around. To our surprise, her back was covered with tarantulas! The co-worker brushed them off, and they skittered away. The clerk set the package on the counter, turned off the lamp, and took off the helmet. The man grabbed his package, nodded his thanks and left.

The line inched forward.

The co-worker returned to helping an elderly lady who had requested a change of address form. “Are you living there now? When will you be there? The form is over there, under the sign that says ‘Change of Address Forms.’ Next!”

The first clerk sold a couple of money orders, and when the customer started filling them out, she told him to go to the desk in the middle of the room and do it there. “No way,” he replied. “I ain’t standing in that line again!” The guy bore a passing resemblance to Martin Sheen. (“This drivers’ license photo doesn’t look like you.” “It did when I came in here.”)

I recalled that on November 6, 2002, the United States Postal Service announced that due to an accounting error they had over contributed billions (that’s with a “b” and an “s”) to their retirement accounts. Ooops. According to the news story, there won’t be a postage increase for three or four years as a result. Maybe they could use the billions to hire a couple of extra people to man those unused cash registers.

Then, I flashed back to July 2001. Mom, Dad and I went on the Great Western Prison and Post Office Tour. We drove from Fredericksburg to Colorado and back. At the edge of every little town and village, a gleaming new Post Office glittered in the sun. (And about every 200 miles we passed a prison. They must be building the closer to the roads so the escaping prisoners won’t have as far to walk to carjack somebody.) Are they also overused and understaffed?

I recognized the glazed looks on the faces around me. I see them in Wal-Mart and HEB all the time. Did the Postal Service design their clerk stations according to what I call the Wal-Mart principle? Here's how it works: Take the maximum number of parking spaces and divide by 25 to get the number of check-out lanes. Then man four of them and leave the rest empty, and watch the lines swell. Oh, yeah. Make one of the clerks a trainee. That'll brighten everyone’s day!

I stopped my wool gathering and returned to my book. I was half way through it, and completely confused by the intricacies of what was going on—the book was confusing too—when the clerk shouted, “Sir! Next!”

Startled, I looked around and saw she was speaking to me. Drawing glares from the line behind me, I walked up to pay for my stamps. Thoughtfully, I had opened the little package and put stamps on my mail. I handed her the mail, and she asked, “Anything fragile, explosive or dangerous?”

“Just their tempers,” I replied indicating the line behind me.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

I'm an Authority on Something!

Today, a newspaper article was published about brewing in Texas. I was interviewed as an expert thanks to my beer website. I have slavishly copied the web version of the article for your perusal.


Not that nothing has happened, I just haven't written. Sean graduated from basic and Rodney and Jeanne went out to see the ceremony. He came home for a week before returning to Camp Pendelton for more training. Next, he claims to be headed for Pensacola for advanced training. Then, he thinks that he will be posted to either Okinawa or Australia. Either way, I'm so there.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Busy, Busy, Busy

(23) Not much news to report this month. Sean is still in San Diego. Rodney is leaving today for graduation. Sean will be stopping by the house Wednesday night to stay with us, then come back on Saturday when his dad is there. I will post pictures.

Monday, October 07, 2002

The Day after Oktoberfest

Well, Oktoberfest is over, and my feet hurt from standing for almost three straight days. This supervising the beer bars is almost like work!

Here's a picture of Gary serving beer on Sunday morning. Steve said he's not used to seeing Gary serve beer.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Pushing Buttons

(6) Last night, Rodney's mother was talking about one of my cousins who changes jobs a lot. Mom said that, like me, this cousin doesn't know what they want to be when they grow up, but, Mom added, at least this cousin tries new things. As someone once said, who better to push your buttons than the person who installed them.

- Since I was a wee lad I have always wanted to draw comic books. After I graduated from high school, while I was working at the local Super S Food Store, I applied to the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. Rodney's mother helped me prepare a portfolio to send off to this school. I was interviewed by Joe Kubert himself! (It was phone interview, and the guy said he was Joe Kubert, anyway.) I was accepted. Then I began to hear all the reasons why I couldn't go: too far away, no money for tuition, have to work full-time to have a place to live, and the ever popular, "you'll just give up anyway." I was advised that I had better focus my attentions on my job at the grocery store, because I could be a supervisor. After a couple of weeks of this, I declined my position at the school.

- After I became night manager of the store (eventually working my way to assistant manager), one of our employees got beat up by his step dad. (In retrospect, he deserved it.) When he was accepted to Schreiner College, now University, suddenly being a supervisor for a small grocery chain was beneath me. I was encouraged to apply, and money for my education appeared from thin air. When I thought about teaching for a living, it got a partial okay. (Aunt Audrey was especially happy about that choice.) Then I fell into the Japan Exchange program. I was told that whatever it took, I could go. I came back with a burning desire to teach English in Japan. (Admittedly, I had a girlfriend in Japan, something that hadn't happened too often here.) I was encouraged to apply for graduate school to get a teaching degree. I did. I got in. I worked part time for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

- After I graduated from UT, with a degree in foreign language education and a minor in English as a Second Language, I applied for teaching jobs in Japan, and had a couple of phone interviews and even had a glimmer of hope about getting a job in Japan. Now all the objections about me going to Japan surfaced: too far from family, need to pay student loans, you should work for the tobacco company, etc. So I declined the job in Japan and got a job selling cigarettes. The company was great to work for. But I hated every minute of the job. I lasted 5 years. (At least my cousin tries new jobs.)

- I could take it no longer. I left RJR under less than flattering circumstances. Frankly, I abandoned the job. I couldn't even face my boss, who I really liked. I moved back home. I got a job at Gastehaus Schmidt instead.

I used to try new things. Things I wanted to do. But each time I get excited about something, I get to hear about all the reasons why it wouldn't work out, and about how I should be practical, and work in another field where I could advance. While my mother may be disappointed with how my life turned out, I ain't too much happier. But I have learned to settle for things, because I have been taught to. Should the flames of passion engulf me, I can count on Mom to come along and put out the fire. Now, I don't try new things, so Mom won't have to get all worked up about how I will eventually fail anyway.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

I Know Just Enough to Be Dangerous

Well. I have designed yet another website. Check out Gastehaus Schmidt Kerrville. Before you flame me for the colors, I used the companies brochure as the basis of the design. I didn't pick the color.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Radio Margaritaville

Jimmy Buffett had an Internet concert last night. So I listened to it. He had a really cool, folk version of "Boat Drinks" and "Why Don't We Get Drunk." Of course, while I was listening, Sean tried to call us. Busy. Called his Mom. Answering machine. Tried to call Rodney and had the wrong (old) number. Apparently, his platoon won some sort of prize where they got a 10 minute phone call. By the time he got his Mom, he only had a minute left. She said he was still gung-ho. I guess the brain washing is taking hold.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Looking at Hot, Young Girls

I was driving home from Super S this evening when I passed the city pool. The lifeguards were closing the place down. When I was a wee lad, before I had to have a job to support my car, I used to hang out at the pool a lot during the summer. I don't remember the lifeguards looking that good. One girl was standing against the chainlink fence as the other knelt on the ground writing something on a sign. Oh. My God. I wonder how many wrecks happen there. While I don't remember the lifeguards of my youth looking that good, I am pretty sure they didn't wear read bikini bottoms with the word "LIFE" on their left cheek, and the word "GUARD" on the other.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Our L'il Leatherneck

Late July we went to Coleman for a funeral. Aunt Ann Holt's mother passed away, and Dad Mom and I went up to see Staci and Steven, who had come down. Sure was fun to see them. It's a shame it's so far between the families.

Sean finally got into the Marine Corps. He talked to mom last night, and she said he was so hoarse that she had a problem understanding him.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

I worked at Night in Old Fredericksburg over the weekend. It was a pretty good time. Okay. I poured beer and didn't actually work. More of a labor of love thing, you understand. Sean stopped by Sunday for lunch. He is due to leave San Antonio on Monday for basic training. He left his PlayStation with me. I tried a couple of his games, but I had been waiting for this day to buy Medal of Honor: Frontline. This is a one person shooter that lets you get off the landing craft at Normandy in 1944, and fight your way ashore. If you don't hear from me for a while, that's why.

Sunday, July 14, 2002

Sean was supposed to have gone to San Diego today. He showed up at Fort Sam on Friday at 4 am. They told him that there were too many people that needed to go, and that he would be shipped off the next weekend. He spent the next 11 hours watching CNN. (The only way he could leave, was when everyone else left.) Sean was kind of pissed. He said that he had given away all of his clothes, except for a couple of pairs of shorts, and a few shirts. So check here later to see if he made it.

Gary stopped by Sunday afternoon. He had been at Fort Sam for the last week, and was on his way back to Midland. He looks so good in his uniform.

Friday, July 12, 2002


The first two weeks of July rained. All the area rivers got up, and San Antonio flooded. The media was eager to convey images of the disaster: they showed helicopters picking people out of trees, submerged cars. Things were bad. On July 3, roads that came to Fredericksburg were damaged or underwater, but by the evening, the roads were open again.

I work at a bed and breakfast reservation service. I had some rocket scientist email me on Wednesday asking what the river would be like on Thursday. He asked me if the river would be safe for his kids to play in. I told him that it wouldn't. He came down on Thursday and spent the weekend with us.

On Monday, I got an email from my little Einstein. He said he had had as much fun as possible, but would have liked to reschedule. I responded that I was sorry I misunderstood his email, and that I would have been happy to reschedule for him. He responded by saying that I had mislead him. When I said the river was up, he said he knew that rivers went up and down all the time. When I said the river would be unsafe, he said that no river is safe. But he didn't expect river 200 yards across full of debris, and that he had to drive through water, and I quote, "over the hood of my SUV" to get to the house. He didn't feel like he should have been "encouraged to come."

Fortunately, the boss stopped me from sending an email that began "Jane, you ignorant slut . . ."! However, I would like to go on record that
Kenneth Kimball of College Station, Texas, is a complete and total moron.

Sunday, June 23, 2002


As part of Sean's Graduation/Going Away present, I took him to Midland to play golf with Gary. Originally, Dad and Rodney were going with us. Then Dad got sick and he couldn't make it. Then Rodney had to move and he couldn't make it. Sean and I showed them. We had fun anyway.

We got in to Midland Friday afternoon, and Gary took us out to Hogan Park. Damn! It was hot! At the end of the day, I beat Gary by two strokes. On Saturday, Gary took us to Nueva Vista, a new course near his apartment. I had played both courses before, but I kind of like Neuva Vista a bit better. Gary broke 100 to beat me by 3 strokes. Sean's score? Well, he had some fine shots, but he lost a bunch of golf balls. His most used phrase of the weekend was "I'll drop up by you guys."

We met the new addition to the Turner family: Bonnie, the Scottie. Sharpest teeth in creation! Amy's dad was in town, and she spent most of the weekend with him. Gary assured us we didn't have B. O. or anything, she was just busy.

On Sunday, about 8:30 am, Sean and I decided to leave. I have Aunt Audrey's patience: I'm always in a hurry to get somewhere. I'm sure Gary was disappointed we didn't stay longer (I would have been in his shoes), and I know Amy missed us when she got up shortly after we left.

I would like to go on record and apologize to Aunt Ann and Uncle Bob. About the time we got to Eden, we ran under the storm clouds that had covered the Hill Country since Saturday, and that would drench the area for the next full week. I thought about taking Sean to Voss to visit the other Turners. Really I did. But the lure of getting home, combined with the worsening weather made me decide to keep driving. Once I pulled up in front of the house and put the van in park, I knew I had made a mistake. They deserved to see Sean too. Sorry, guys!