ENTRY 0019, December 31, 2006

Wow, another year has passed.  And again, I have only done this one entry for the entire time... Why do you ask?  Well, It's because I took my entries in a different direction.  What and how, you may ask?  Well,  it all started right before the last blog I wrote, back in 2005.  Sheila and I had gone to Phoenix and to Bookman's used book store.  There, I found a copy of James Kochalka's book, American Elf .  For those of you  unfamiliar with  James  Kochalka's work,  you can check it out  here  and here .  He is a bit weird, and I really do not like his music much, but he has done a daily comic journal every day since October 21, 1998.  It inspired  me to start my own on  January 1 of this year.  I am not going to post all of them, like he does, but here are a couple of examples of what I am doing.

Journal entry for january 17

And this:

february 23

So, every day I have been adding a page to the journal.  It is interesting.  It isn't necessarily anything special or significant each day, but just something I noticed or happend that day.  I actually started this to improve my drawing skills.  After reviewing my progress from day one to day 365, I find that I still suck at drawing, but my printing is getting a bit better...

Anyway.  In the last blog I mentioned that Sheila and I got tattoos.  Again.  Since then, we got some more.  Sheila got her tudor rose colored in.  It looks really nice.  I got a completely new tattoo.
My alchemist tattoo

I said in my last blog "Next, I'm going to start getting tattoos of the signatures of scientists I admire..."  Well, here are the top two, in my book, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.  In between them is a symbol taken from "Fullmetal Alchemist" which is an anime show that Sheila and I really like.  (More details about this show can be found here.)   It combines several symbols from traditional alchemy.  The four compass points represent the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  The Serpent represents renewal.  The crown represents the precious metal gold, and the wings represent eternal life.  The last two represent the goals of alchemy, to transmute base metals into gold and to create the Elixer of Life, which would guarantee immortality.  I plan on adding more names and more symbols over time...

Anyway, what's new? (Or, more precisely, what has happened since I last updated this blog, just over a year ago?)

-Bush is still a lying moron.  The evidence is coming in that he lied far beyond what we ever suspected.  His approval rating is rivalling that of Nixon, and the majority of Americans don't see any improvement in the world's situation next year. (Surprisingly, a phone survey conducted last week indicates that about 25% of Americans think that Jesus may be coming back in 2007.  The fact that so many people believe this is frightening.)

-We still have two working rovers on Mars. They have exceeded their expected lifespans by about 1000%. That is still Too Cool For Words.

- The Mars Orbiter has discovered evidence that water has flowed on the surface of Mars within the last five years.  That is amazing.

- The shuttle has returned to flight, and the construction of the ISS continues.  They had a problem with an old solar array, which has delicate, paper-thin leaves and was a bit balky during re-folding, but they got it all in place and some new parts installed.

- We had an election.  The democrats won both the House and Senate.  Woo Hoo!  Change may be in the offing!

- On a totally unrelated note (According to the White House) Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld quit, just two days after the election went to the democrats.  Interesting...

- (Dec 29, 2005) Gas prices spiked at nearly $3.00 a gallon here in SoCal.  They are now down to just over $2.00.  I never thought I would be happy to see gas prices hit $2.00 a gallon...

-(Dec 31, 2006)  Gas prices slowy began creeping back up, went down right before the election for some strange reason, and are now at about $2.65/gal again.

- We hit 3,000 dead American soldiers in Iraq.  This is in addition to the 53,000+ iraqis killed by direct military action. (For details see here.)

- Our travel mentor and dear friend, Tom Smith, died suddenly.  He had been dealing with cancer for years, but went into the hospital for gall bladder surgery, and never came out.  The phone call was rather unexpected.  Tom had been working on getting us upgrades to our flights from December 22 to 30.  The Caller ID had his name, so I picked up expecting to hear from him about our trip and whether or not we would be going by business class.  Instead, it was his wife, Carol, informing us that he had died.  It was like a punch in the stomach.  He will be missed, badly.

- I finished my Master's degree.  I now know how to teach science really well. 

- ComicCon was great!  We met a bunch of folks we wanted to meet (Like the prime voices from "Fullmetal Alchemist") and ran into Lewis Black.

- For a graduation gift, Sheila got me a Hot Tub!  It is great for relaxing.

- For a graduation gift, I got myself a Nikon D70 Digital camera.  It is great for taking pictures. 

-We had a minor brush fire north of the town on September 17.  Here is a view or two:

As seen from my backyard

As seen from the church up the street

And the view from our roof

- We had a MAJOR, fast-moving brush fire just south of town on October 26.  It burned thousands of acres and killed five firefighters.  By a strange, sad coincidence we knew family members of three of them.  Here are a few views of the burning hills:

fire picture

Another fire picture

yet another fire picture

-We went to London to be in Europe for Sheila's Birthday.  She now officially states that her age is "between thirty-nine and death".  Works for me.  London was great.  We left LA. on December 22nd, arrived in London on the 23rd.   We got food, books and toiletries, then went to bed.  The next day we did a bit of shopping before the stores all closed.  The 25th was spent relaxing, watching telly and eating a Turpigen dinner.  The 26th, Boxing Day, was spent going to a few shops, then to a Blue Man Group show. (The theater was directly across the street from our flat!)  The 27th and 28th were more sightseeing and shopping days.  The 29th, Sheila's birthday was spent sleeping in and going for a walk.  The 30th, was spent on traveling home (again in Business Class, thanks to Tom) and unpacking.  the 31st was resting and recovery.

Lots of other stuff happened, but that is enough for now.

Well, I gotta run.

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