Friday, July 28, 2006

Book Recommend - Ghostwritten

I just finished David Mitchell's first book, 1999's Ghostwritten. Mitchell has quickly joined my list of favorite authors. Ghostwritten was his first novel followed by Number 9 Dream and Cloud Atlas. His newest book, Black Swan Green, is the only one I haven't read.

It is rare today to read books where you empathize so strongly with the characters that you find yourself rooting or grieving for them throughout the novel. All three of Mitchell novels that I have read conclude with you a bit sad that the ride has come to an end. His characters are so well-fleshed you wish you could spend some more time in their lives.

Ghostwritten, like 2004's Cloud Atlas, is told in nine seperate stories that come together with unforseen impact. Upon finishing the novel you say to yourself "whoa", and feel as though you've entered a new realm of understanding about something you've never given thought to previously. You feel as if there's a whole new world out there that you've realized is available to explore.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Movie Review - Pirates of the Caribbean

I have to admit I was disappointed with the new Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. It looked great, the acting was fine, and the fx spectacular. But the story was convulted and frequently bogged down. Plus, the movie clocked in at a whopping two and half hours. It just kept going and going and going. Pirates fell into the trap of most summer sequels...they tried to pack too much in to not enough time. It wasn't bad...just not near as good as the first.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Kick 'em all out!

Florida is experiencing its worst orange harvest in decades this season. That may not seem like much of a big deal to you and me. But the Orange industry is one of the linchpins to Florida's economic success. When the harvest suffers, billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are at risk.

The reason for this year's lousy harvest...drought?...hurricanes?...a mysterious fungii? None of the above. In actuality the orange groves have produced plenty of oranges this year...a bumper crop actually. However, there's not enough workers to harvest the crops. The oranges are literally rotting off the vine.

The reason there's not enough workers? Florida's protectionist legislature has enacted some of the harshest anti-immigration laws in the nation. There's not enough migrants legal or illegal to work the groves. So many illegal migrants have been forced out of Florida that this year's harvest is going to cost Florida and the United States billions.

The trickle-down effect will spread throughout America. Jobs will be lost. Prices will go up. And yet, there will be those in this mosaic of a nation who will continue to rally around the cause of kicking the Mexicans out. Short-sightedness is a characteristic of being an American I guess.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

AP European History Conference

This past week I attended an AP European History conference at Texas Christian University. I will be teaching AP European History for the first time this upcoming school year. People may find the idea of a history conference extremely boring. But it is intellectually stimulating to be in an environment with so many people well-versed on a subject I find fascinating. By the end of the week my mind actually ached from all the thinking and analyzing of European matters since the Renaissance.

photo: This is the TCU Hornfrog next to the building where my conference was. No one seems to be able to tell me the difference between a hornfrog and a horned toad. We used to play with horned toads during recess when I was a kid in Woodward, Oklahoma.

Monday, July 24, 2006

World Cup Wrap-up

I was out of town during the final of the World Cup and have been off the computer much of the time since I've returned from vacation. But I could not resist finishing up some final thoughts on this year's Copa Mundial.

I was very happy to see France lose to Italy. I do think the Italians dive more than anyone save for the Portuguese. But I would have hated to see Le Bleus win the whole shabang. I was astounded by Zidane's now infamous headbutt. I've always respected Zizou but there is nothing that should cause you to lose your cool in such dramatic fashion...especially in the most watched sporting event of all time.

Zidane has played for the biggest teams (Juventus and Real Madrid) and on the biggest stages (winning the '98 Cup). He's a veteren pro. What he did was inexcusable especially if he was only responding to some trash talk about his sister. Trash talking goes on in every sport in every level from playground to the hallowed ground of Yankee Stadium. As France's best penalty taker he possibly cost them the game.

The biggest disappointments for me were the United States which should have beat Ghana and fared better against the Czechs. Brazil also was overconfident and arrogant. England should have played their game and not given way to Portugal in such a passive way.

But I am glad Italia won it. They should have won back in '94 on PK's against Brazil. Hopefully this makes up for it a bit.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Tour de France

I haven't been able to catch the Tour on television due to the fact that we are proudly cable and dish free here at the White House. But I am thrilled to hear that Floyd Landis is about to win. The Euros must be freaking out. Another American!?! Even the athiestic French secularists must think the apocalypse is near. Of course now they will claim the tour was watered down because of the doping suspensions or some other lousy rationalization. And to be honest, despite admiring Lance Armstrong for his tenacity in beating cancer and winning an unprecedented seven tours, he still came off as arrogant. Floyd, with his arthritic hip and all, is admired by all the other tour riders for his humility. He's a real rider you can root for.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Flickr Photo Update

I have updated my flickr photo site with photos from our recent trip to the Lagenour and Crews family reunions in southern Indiana. They can be accessed here.

Photo: Me and Ryan Springer at the White Castle in Bloomington, Indiana. There are no White Castle's anywhere near Forney...I haven't seen any in Texas although I've heard there are this was a special treat. Love those mini onion burgers!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I haven't stopped blogging!

I know it's been awhile since I last blogged...not that anyone noticed. But my computer has been disconnected as we redo our home office. We're converting the guestroom into a nursery. So my study has to also become a place where the occassional guest can stay. As a result we've re-floored and repainted and are re-arranging things in there. The computer had to be unplugged. Finally we had use of it and the computer is temporarily on our dining room table. Stuff is is utter chaos until we get this office finished. I hate painting. Flooring is easy when someone else is doing the work!

photo: hummingbirds on the porch at the Lagenour's in Dubois County, IN

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I hate the fireants! Finally we got some much needed rain on the Fourth of July yesterday. It rained walruses and clams! I didn't mind many of the firework shows being dampened. We're under drought conditions and my lawn needs the rain. However, I wake up this morning, go outside and there they are...the fire ant mounds. Five mounds in my front yard alone. I despise these little buggers.

I had never heard of fire ants until I moved to Texas nine years ago. Then I was told you better watch out for them. They're ants that bite AND sting. Lovely. I guess they have migrated from Mexico. The only good thing is that they have killed off most of the scorpions that used to roam these parts.

But I spend half my summer days attacking these mounds and when you accidently step in one of their areas...they bite fast and often. So after I sign off here...guess what I'm doing? That's right...death to the ants!