Saturday, October 02, 2004

Monday Night Football

OK, I think I'm finally done clearing off the digital camera. Behold, the pictures of Monday Night Football.

When you start tailgating 5 hours before the game, you'd better bring cards. And beer.

On our way to the stadium, we had to dodge a guy burning a Dallas jersey.

On the way to our gate, there was a contest where you could win a cap by throwing a football through a hole. Christina walked away with one.

And then there was the game. Sigh.

Visiting My Cousin

A couple of weeks ago, since I was in the UK on business, I went up to Sheffield (that's in South Yorkshire, which is in northern England) to see my cousin Diane. She had married Mark, an Englishman, in August, so I went to visit them.

They have a very nice house.

Isn't this a great window?

Here are Mark, me and Diane.


Friday, October 01, 2004

Visit to the Boneyard

Today my parents, Christina and I went to visit the Boneyard, where the Air Force mothballs planes. According to our guide, there are $27 billion worth of planes there. Pretty cool.

OK, here's my "picture of a stealth fighter" gag picture.

Here's an A-10 "Warthog".

After the tour, we went to the Pima Air & Space Museum. Here's Christina looking cute in a cockpit.

The museum had Kennedy and Johnson's Air Force One available for touring. This, of course, is the Presidential Potty.

Here are my parents in front of an SR-71 Blackbird. What a plane. Coast to coast in 68 minutes.


Thursday, September 30, 2004

No Ad

Some of you may have noticed ads on the side of this weblog recently. I signed up with Google AdSense to put ads on the side of the page. When people clicked on the ads, I would get a commission. When my total reached $100, I would get paid. I decided to see what rate I was earning money, and judge how soon I'd get the first check. If it was in the far, far future, I would give up. If not, I'd hang in there and wait to collect the money.

I should mention that one of the terms of signing up is that you're not allowed to publicize how much money you're making. I'm going to break that condition right now. Why? According to their stats, nobody ever clicked on an ad. That's right, I earned $0.00. At this rate, it would take an infinite amount of time to earn $1, let alone $100.

So I'm taking the ads off. It was amusing to see what it thought was related, but I'm declaring this experiment a failure and moving on. The ads will gradually disappear as I get around to re-publishing pages without them.

How Few Remain

How Few Remain Book Cover

I recently started listening to books on CD in my car. The second one I worked through is How Few Remain, which is an alternate history novel based on the assumption that the South won the Civil War. First of all, I have a problem with the plausibility of the premise. I don't think one minor event (as in the book) could have changed the course of the war -- I think the industrial might of the North pre-determined the outcome. I was glad to see an essay in the book Alternate Gettysburgs from a professional historian which supported this point of view. Still, it's interesting to think "What If?" (Warning, spoilers follow.)

This book is set in 1881, just after the USA has finally elected another Republican president. The Confederate States of America decide to purchase two Mexican provinces from the "Empire of Mexico." (Lack of a strong USA has let French interference in Mexico persist.) The USA, fearful of a stronger CSA stretching to the Pacific, declares war. The book is the story of the war told by looks at various famous people (Abraham Lincoln, George Custer, Samuel Clemens, Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, Teddy Roosevelt and a few more).

It was definitely well-researched, and I found it all very plausible, except for the whole idea that the North wouldn't wipe the floor with the South. Then again, with the CSA having English and French allies, the balance is tipped against the USA. One thing I noticed is that the author takes a lot of care only to include things that would follow from the premise --- nothing too unexpected ever happens. This is good for the believability, but takes something away from the excitement in the novel. Also, some of the details can be a little bit mind-numbing. Yes, Germans would be puzzled by American idioms. No, that doesn't need to be mentioned every time it happens. These flaws, however, are less of an issue for a book-on-CD, when I also have my fellow motorists to entertain me.

In my view, the major flaw was the sex scenes. Having a guy affecting a 19th century way of talking read you descriptions of Sam Clemens, George Custer and Teddy Roosevelt doing the wild thing is not an experience I recommend to you. Thankfully, that only occurred three times in the entire 21-CD book.

I did worry a little bit about potential pro-South bias in the book. (They were the ones with slaves, which in my mind makes them the bad guys.) I don't think there was any --- the author (also, I must admit, a professional historian) was following the original idea to its logical conclusion. The book did end with the CSA "winning" --- they got to keep part of Mexico, and the Brits annexed part of Maine. But that just made me want to read the next book so I could hear the USA get revenge (I hope). "Remember...Maine!"

Opening Day

Well, hopefully this week of vacation will allow me to catch up on my weblog, including posting pictures I took earlier.

Here are some pictures from the Redskins' opening day victory over the Buccaneers. We had a good time getting ready, tailgating, and watching the game before I headed off to England.

We managed to find an open seat next to us for Ben, who couldn't find anybody to take his other ticket. What happened to the traditional demand for Redskins tickets?

This picture gives you a good idea of the view from our seats.

Casa Grande Again

Greetings from Arizona. We flew in last night and stayed with my Aunt Pam. Today, Christina and I drove to my parents, passing by Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. I had visited there in 2001, but Christina had never been there, so we stopped and looked around.

With my new digital camera, I can now upload pictures wherever I am (yeah, I know, welcome to the 21st century). So here's our visit in pictures.