A frigid Friday -- 01/26/07

The unseasonably mild weather that we had during the earlier part of the winter was eventually replaced by weather that was closer to seasonal expectations. And now we've just "enjoyed" a day of really cold winter weather. It was five degrees as I left the house around eight this morning (what's that, about minus fifteen C?) with a wind chill factor that gave it the effect of being a lot colder. (When I got over onto the island -- that is, in the Newport - Middletown area -- it was all the way up to ten degrees there -- minus eleven or so C -- due to the temperature moderating effect of being a small island surrounded by Narragansett Bay.)

Yeah, I went to the office this morning. Actually, I went to the office on Wednesday and Thursday and today. On Wednesday my second line manager was in town and called a meeting, plus I had some printing to do and some preparations for the next two days. Yesterday and today my team (four of us) got together for four days of intense discussion, brain-storming, best practices determination, and general thrashing out of ideas and issues. Very productive days, but I am exhausted.

And I will be heading over the bridges again on Monday morning for another meeting (although in this case I probably will only stay a couple of hours). Yeah, me... the guy who shows up in the office about once a month will be there for four consecutive business days... Okay, okay, so those of you who have to perform a daily migration to your Dilbert cube have no sympathy for me at all.

Last night Nancy and I watched Good Night, and Good Luck. Interesting movie. I remember the era. I grew up in that age of black and white television. McCarthy hearings. Edward R. Murrow. And ubiquitous cigarette smoking. Enough to induce coughing via sympathetic reflex. (You do realize that Murrow died of lung cancer.) The odd thing about that era is how long ago it seems to be -- as if it has more in common with silent movies and flappers and Model Ts than with today. No, that's not quite right. The truly odd thing is how strange and remote it seemed just a very short time later. Think of the photographs of Jack Ruby shooting Oswald. Even in 1965, just two years later, those pictures looked as if they could have been taken in 1955 or 1948. Yes, yes, I know, Clooney wants us to see this as a parallel with life under Bushitler today. [Yeah, George, I remember when the Dixie Chicks were hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings... Oh, wait, they weren't... Oh, you mean that they just had some former fans using their own free speech rights to reply to their political statements. Oh, how dare those ignorant peasants! Don't they know their place is to be adoring fans and keep their mouths shut and their wallets open? They must be from red states. Gee, George, I'm sorry you missed the McCarthy era but we have enough problems of our own today; there's no need to pretend today is a rerun of 1953 so you can posture and pose.]

Okay, so Clooney has an agenda -- it's pretty unmistakable in the bonus feature documentary about the making of Good Night, and Good Luck -- but he is artist enough not to let his personal political beliefs distort his presentation and he has created (as director, actor, and co-writer) a fascinating look at Murrow, his associates, his enemies, and his era. [And nobody can accuse Clooney of distorting McCarthy by having him played as in some over-the-top manner by a scenery-chewing actor; he presents McCarthy via archival footage. McCarthy, a strange combination of megalomaniac monster and out-of-control clown, is presented with his own words and filmed image.] Murrow's words about the positive potential of television as a source of news and information and its negative potential as a source of mindless diversion that bracket the drama at the beginning and the ending were very prophetic. Well worth seeing.

Tonight we watched A Prairie Home Companion. We have been fans of the radio show for at least twenty-five years (no, we don't listen to it every week, but usually enjoy it when we do). Watching the movie gave the feeling of watching the production of an episode of the show while being able to wander around backstage as it was being produced. Marvelous cast: Garrison Keillor (of course), Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson, Lindsay Lohan (and she was fully dressed), Kevin Kline, Tommy Lee Jones, John C. Reilly... Keillor just played himself; Harrelson played the part of Dusty, the cowboy; Kline was Guy Noir (and he was a perfect Guy Noir -- and a refreshing portrayal that regenerated my interest in a character of whom I had tired many years ago.) If you have every listened to A Prairie Home Companion on the radio and been entertained, then you would enjoy this film. Plot? Oh, yeah, there is something of a plot of sorts, but it really isn't very important... just watch the interplay between the characters, listen to the music (including Guys All Star Shoe Band), and enjoy watching Keillor as his familiar voice touts the benefits of Powdermilk Biscuits, Be-Bop-A-Re-Bop Rhubarb Pie and Be-Bop-A-Re-Bop Frozen Rhubarb Pie Filling, and Duct Tape. (But there was no news from Lake Woebegon -- "where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average"!) A very pleasant way to pass an hour and three quarters (about the length of one of the radio shows minus a public radio station fund-raising drive).

Uh, yes, Jill and Jeremy did get us a year's subscription to Netflix as a Christmas present. We've been enjoying it.

Tiger has seemed much better yesterday and today -- there was no sign of a limp today at all that I could see. Nancy also thought he seemed much better.

When I came home from work today he was certainly clear about his annoyance with me. Since I work from home, I am usually around to feed him and cater to his whims during the day. He had become quite accustomed to having his "wet food" (i.e., moist cat food from a can or a pouch, rather than dry cat food from a box) served to him around noon. Since he disdains to recognize the change from Day Light Savings Time to Standard Time, this means he generally expects his wet food to be served sometime around eleven in the morning.

Yesterday, since nobody was going to be home (Nancy at work, kids at school and/or work) I gave him wet food before I left for the office. When Nancy got home at mid-afternoon (around three or three-thirty) he insisted that she feed him and she didn't realize that I had, so he got another dish of wet food. This morning I also gave him wet food. When Nancy came home she knew that I had given him his wet food, so she just freshened up his dish of dry food. Thus, when I came home, he attempted to put on a big show of needing to be fed... I pointed out to him that he had a full bowl of dry food and ignored his request. He meowed at me. Again. And again. He carried on for at least five or six minutes, walking around the kitchen (more like stalking about in anger), and once or twice a minute looking at me (usually looking back over his shoulder at me) and meowing with an annoyed tone. He seemed to be especially miffed that not only were we ignoring his impatient importuning, we actually expressed amusement.

I guess all was forgiven later because as I was lying on the couch watching Prairie Home Companion, he came over and lay down on my stomach and chest. (When sixteen and a half pounds of cat settle down on you, you are aware of him.). And after he yawned in my face a few times, I wanted to suggest that he try mouthwash. (Cat food breath.)

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