Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Christmas and Candy

Took the dogs for a walk (the medium one) and we passed 17 houses with Christmas lights on the last day of November. Will do the walk in a few weeks and see what the count is.

We're starting to see a lot more of the "special edition" candy out in CA. I saw for the first time a white chocolate Take 5 bar:

as well as an Orange Kit Kat and a Coffee Kit Kat. Tried the Take 5 and it was tasty.

Monday, November 28, 2005


The courthouse is closed until at least noon tomorrow. Maybe all day. Meanwhile the winds continue to whip and the snow continues to drift and swirl!


I got the call at about 7:20AM. Courthouse is closed! The storm is nasty mainly because of the high winds. I don't even want to open the door to let Yuki out! Here are a couple of pics out the window.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


It ain't Summer no more in Nebraska. The wind is howling at up to 50 miles an hour. The snow is dumping. Chance of snow: 100%. We're expecting up to 8 inches and we're under a blizzard warning until 6PM Monday. Yuki and I are hunkered down. Driving is considered treacherous. My great hope is that work will be cancelled tomorrow!

Candy Review

I was at Walmart and there are 2 brand new candy bars featured! Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with Caramel, and Hershey's Kissables, a candy coated mini kiss. I tried the Reese's Caramel first. It was good, but overly sweet. For me, the caramel just got in the way of the peanut butter flavor. Thumbs down. The Hershey's Kissables were decent. Think M&M with a slightly different chocolate flavor and a slightly thicker candy shell. Photo by quarter shows the size. Worth a try but it won't replace the M&M. One thumb up, one thumb down.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Here's the projector I just ordered


Epson has upped the ante for DVD-equipped projectors with its MovieMate 25. The product features excellent image quality, tons of great extras, and an astonishingly low $1199 price tag. The only negative is its substantial 13.4-by-12.2-by-7.1-inch size--bulky for a unit that's designed to sit on a living-room table.

Other than in size, the MovieMate 25 is superior in every way to rival Optoma's impressive MovieTime DV10. The extras start with an 80-inch, floor-standing, pull-up, 16:9 wide screen. A 40-watt subwoofer works with the projector's integrated speakers to produce deep, natural sound.
Epson has also added lens shifting, an attribute normally found on high-end projectors. This feature enables you to raise an image, lower it, or move it sideways without resorting to the typical keystone controls (used to square up an image when the projector is tilted up or down).

The projector's native resolution is 480p (854 by 480), ideal for playing DVDs. The product is rated at 1200 ANSI lumens--plenty of brightness for presentations in smaller rooms or for movie viewing at home. I customized settings effortlessly using an easy-to-navigate menu system, though I never managed to attain quite enough detail in black areas. Still, the unit's smooth, brilliant color impressed me.

Rated at 26 decibels, the projector performed very quietly during my tests. In fact, except with regard to its lack of compactness--an admittedly important consideration for a tabletop projector--the MovieMate 25 was a joy to use, and ranks at the top of its class.

Georgia Tech Win

Tech may have lost to Georgia, but the quality of last week's win can't be denied. I took these pics of my tv as the game wound down.

Fiction entry wins first place!

The sentence first published here (see September archives)has
been published again in the Memphis Mensa Newsletter as the
first-place winner in the Memphis Mensa Bad Fiction Contest.

(here's the sentence)

It is January 8, just another bleak winter's day for most people, but for me the day that carries the heavy double shoulder-burden of Elvis' birth in 1935 and Dave Thomas' death sixty-seven years later; my battered Buick station wagon roars through the morning mist out of Bear Bryant's childhood homeland, crossing the black father-of-waters into the looming triangular grip of a strange Egyptian icon crawling up into the gray Tennesse sky like the dark fist in the opening scene of some grotesque Nazi propaganda movie.

Arkansas State goes Bowling!!!!!

Arkansas State - Sun Belt Champion is going to the New Orleans Bowl after their victory vs. North Texas and the Louisian Monroe loss. Who would have thought!. Congrats to ASU, Kansas, Nebraska and GT...All to bowls.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

It really wasn't that bad out in CA. I went to Wal-Mart early in the morning. I didn't quite have my nose pressed against the glass at 5am but was there around 8 perhaps. A good portion of the advertised super sale items were still around including a mountain of Garth Brooks box set CDs. Those things didn't seem to move at all. I snapped up a few items including a $5.50 copy of the DVD "Friday Night Lights". We watched it tonight and it was decent. Kind of a weak version of Varsity Blues that was just as cliche'. You could pretty much call every play shown. The star will get hurt here...there will be an interception there...

Speaking of football - How about the Huskers! They finally seemed to have had a game where things clicked.

Steam Engine Blues

Note to the reader: Steam locomotives were often referred to by their
wheel configuration. Thus an engine with 2 guide wheels, 8 drive wheels,
and 4 wheels in the rear for weight support, would be called a 2-8-4.
Here's a quiz: What is the wheel configuration of the starring locomotive
in the old Burt Lancaster flick 'The Train'?

Steam Engine Blues

I forget where it was I first saw you,
It was either New Hampshire or Maine.
But I’ll never forget what you looked like
as you stepped off that big southbound train.

We only got to talk for a minute,
I was married back then, so were you.
But you smiled as you rolled by in the club car,
Bein’ pulled by that old 2-6-2.

Now I’m settin’ down here with the poor folks;
They say I’m lazy, and I drink too much booze.
But it’s unfair to rush me to judgment,
‘cause I’m a victim of the steam engine blues.

I had my next gig down in Memphis,
I had a guitar, and I drove them old Fords.
But they fired me; they thought I was a picker,
And they found out I could barely play chords.

So I moseyed on down to the rail yards,
I had thirty-five bucks, and no more.
I got lucky and hopped into a boxcar.
It was hooked up to a big 4-8-4.

Now I’m settin’ down here in the train yard
With the friends and companions I choose.
You can call me a homeless old wino,
But I’m a victim of the steam engine blues.

Well it wasn’t too bad in that freight car;
we had a fire on the floor, and some wine.
There was an old black man there from New Orleans,
And he said, “Lordy, but ain’t this place fine!”

We got thrown off that boxcar in Dallas,
I was cold, and had no place to go.
Imagine my surprise when I saw you,
You were standin’ by a black 2-8-0.

Now I’m settin’ down here in the train yard
With the friends and companions I choose.
You can call me a homeless old wino,
But I’m a victim of the steam engine blues.

Well I left out of Texas for Phoenix,
And I hoboed in the west for a year.
I tried to get better at the guitar,
While subsisting on hot dogs and beer.

The last time we met was Wyoming,
They were clampin’ down your coffin door.
They took a forklift and set it on a flatcar,
And pulled it off with a 4-6-6-4.

Now I’m settin’ down here with the poor folks;
They say I’m lazy, and I drink too much booze.
But it’s unfair to rush me to judgment,
‘cause I’m a victim of the steam engine blues.
Just a victim of the steam engine blues.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Arkansas Lives!

This is in the nature of a test, since I have had computer
problems of late. I'm still not posting pictures but
perhaps soon. I entertained Carol and her mother at Thanksgiving
dinner today, cooking a complete meal with both smash taters and
sweet taters. No marshmallows on the latter. Happy Thanksgiving
to all our thousands of readers. Go Huskers and Go Jackets!

Buffalo Head In Use

in Nebraska to help motivate the huskers...check it out.

As for bowl projections every projection has Georgia Tech in a different bowl so it is too early to say at this point. Georgia Tech vs. Nebraska is intriguing in the Champs Sports Bowl as is Georgia Tech vs. South Carolina in the Peach... we'll see.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Unusual Law Makes Coroners of Attorneys

Unusual law makes coroners of attorneys

BY NATE JENKINS / Lincoln Journal Star
Saturday, November 19, 2005

Deb Gilg wasn’t prepared for this.

She’d gone to law school, earned a degree, and honed her skills as a practicing attorney. The qualifications seemed sufficient for a job she was eyeing in the mid 1980’s – Keith County attorney.

Voters agreed, electing her in 1986.

Soon after, Gilg got wind of a job description that caused her to question whether she was indeed qualified for the position.

County coroner?

“It was very surprising,” said Gilg, who was Keith County attorney until 2002 and now juggles a private practice with her duties as deputy county attorney in Saunders County. “I felt I had a responsibility to the people I served to do it.”

Because of an unusual state law exercised only in Nebraska, Gilg became county coroner when she was elected county attorney – even though she had no training in the sensitive, scientific field of death investigations.

Gilg responded to her deficiency by earning certification as a forensic examiner, even though such training is not required under state law. At the time, she was believed to be the only county coroner in the state with certification as an examiner.

Nebraska’s reliance on elected county coroners instead of state medical examiners’ offices staffed with trained scientists puts it in the national minority. And the fact the state doesn’t require its coroners to have any forensics training after being elected makes it one of a tiny number of states that national experts describe as scientifically negligent.

Only four other states that have elected coroners – South Dakota, Colorado, Idaho and Indiana — do not require forensics training.

The lack of training shouldn’t be a concern, explained the executive director of the Nebraska Association of County Attorneys.

“When questions arise, I think most of them (county attorneys) are pretty good about sending them in for autopsies,” said DeMaris Johnson, the director.

“We’re talking about elected county officials here – they live in the community. They want to make sure things are done right.”

That mentality strikes Peter DeForest and other experts as naive. It is also at odds, said DeForest, with the public’s appreciation for the mental and scientific prowess necessary in death investigations. That perception, he said, has been cultivated by fictional narratives ranging from Sherlock Holmes to the popular television show CSI.

DeForest, a professor of criminalistics at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, lectures on the need for government jurisdictions to have a uniform, scientific approach to death investigations that places scientists at the front end of investigations to both determine whether a crime was committed and then ensure important evidence is not contaminated.

“Having someone with a law background,” DeForest said of the Nebraska coroner system, “certainly isn’t the ideal thing.”

A primary duty of coroners in Nebraska is deciding whether the circumstances of deaths warrant autopsies. Was the death a suicide or homicide?

“It’s usually obvious,” said Lancaster County Attorney Gary Lacey, who has no medical training. “But there are some times when I worry whether a suicide is actually a homicide.”

In those cases, Lacey said, he orders autopsies to be safe. Requiring training for newly elected county attorneys/coroners, he said, “wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

Lancaster County Public Defender Dennis Keefe said everybody in the system, including Gary Lacey, probably would prefer a professional medical examiner’s system. But that would raise costs, he said.

Still, he said, change is overdue.

“I think it’s an antiquated system that does not provide law enforcement or the public with the best information possible.”

Gauging the overall cost of Nebraska’s system is difficult because each county pays its own bills. Autopsies ordered by Lacey are done by Dr. Matthias Okoye. Earlier this year, the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners increased his contract for 2005 from $170,000 to $270,000.

In Oklahoma, a state with roughly twice the population of Nebraska and one with a state medical examiner system, the annual cost is about $5 million, according to that state’s chief medical investigator.

“That’s not much,” for a system that helps ensure death investigations are handled properly, said the investigator, Kevin Rowland. A primary attribute of the Oklahoma system, he said, is its independence from law enforcement and other arms of government that participate in the judicial process.

“That way there’s no conflict of interest,” he said.

Two central offices in the state – one in Tulsa, the other in Oklahoma City — decide whether to do autopsies based on input from licensed physicians that serve as county medical examiners. Fewer doctors have been willing to take on that low-paying, part-time job, so the state is changing course. It’s replacing county examiners with forensics-trained investigators responsible for multi-county regions. To keep costs down, the investigators will use their homes as offices, and Rowland predicts fewer autopsies may be ordered, cutting costs more.

Like untrained county attorneys in Nebraska, he said, physicians who act as medical examiners in Oklahoma are cautious because they lack expertise, leading to autopsies that might not be necessary.

The last time a Nebraska lawmaker proposed a state medical examiner’s system was in 1999, when Sen. Kermit Brashear of Omaha introduced legislation. He said he does not plan on introducing similar legislation again.

Many counties in rural reaches of Nebraska don’t have the luxury of a nearby forensic pathologist. In Keith County, for instance, Gilg recalls having to send bodies 130 miles northwest to Scottsbluff to have autopsies done. The practice is not uncommon. Many western Nebraska counties are forced to send bodies to either Scottsbluff or North Platte.

That can pose a “huge problem” in death investigations, said Gilg, because warm air causes bodies to decompose quicker. In essence, the primary piece of evidence in a homicide case, for example, can be severely compromised.

Because the county lacked vehicles that could keep bodies cold while in transport, officials improvised, Gilg said.

Bodies were sent to Scottsbluff packed in ice in the back of a hearse. Keeping them cold before they were packed was also a problem.

Also at risk for being compromised under Nebraska’s system and others that use elected county coroners, said a former supervisory scientist with the FBI Laboratory in Washington, D.C., is the integrity of investigations because science takes a backseat to elected officeholders.

“With the coroner system, it’s rooted in politics, and it’s hard to extract that,” said Max Houck, now director of the Forensic Science Initiative at West Virginia University.

Elected officials helping oversee lean county budgets, for example, could be prone to considering cost when deciding whether expensive autopsies should be done.

Long transports of bodies such as the trip required from Keith County to Scottsbluff can add $400 to $500 to the cost of each autopsy, pushing the total amount to roughly $2,000. By comparison, Okoye’s contract stipulates that should he do more than 135 autopsies, each one after will cost $1,700.

Gilg said she never was involved in a case where an autopsy was not done even though the evidence warranted one.

Asked if cost was ever a factor in decisions about whether autopsies were conducted, she paused for several seconds before responding.

“It could be a factor,” she said.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Candy Review

I was intrigued by the new Hershey's Kisses Filled with Peanut Butter. I bought a bag. They're good. The peanut butter filling is a little on the salty side when compared to the filling in a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup which is sweeter. They're rather addicting. I ate some and will take the rest to work to avoid eating the whole bag myself.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Big Week-end

First things first. GT bounced back from a stinging loss to Virginia last week to beat #3 Miami in the Orange Bowl stadium in Miami. One of their best victories ever though still not as exciting as their victory at #1 Virginia back in the 1990 season. The win has upgraded their bowl prospects however with several sites now talking Peach Bowl.

I happened to be in Tahoe this week-end and placed a bet on the Jackets (+18 points) to win. I also picked Auburn (-7 points) so scored a double victory. Here are my tickets.

Tahoe was lots of fun. Relaxation was the focus and we watched lots of football, played games (Catchphrase and Spades were the most popular) and ate lots of food. Here's a snap of Steph and I.

Chatted with Dad and he's still struggling to use one of his computers at home so we really haven't seen much activity from him on the blog. The working computer is upstairs...but that one isn't conducive to blogging for some reason...?

Anyway - we are anticipating the short week here in CA and have already bought ingredients for a pecan pie.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mom visits Australia

She met this Koala bear! No word on any dingo sightings.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Gift of Gap

An intern in our office works at the Gap. She gave me a Gap friends/family card. With it I can get 30% off any purchases between December 1st through 4th. If any of you guys want some Gap discounts (it works on let me know and we can hook it up.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Champs Sports Bowl Prediction

on CBS Sportline is Georgia Tech vs. Nebraska.

That would be a fun one. Standard Sunday out in CA. Watched some football. The poor Raiders were destroyed by Denver. Raked leaves, washed car, shopped for groceries. Nothing too exciting.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Light Saber

Well it happened. I wanted the blue but it was unavailable so I got the Vader red. Yesterday in Best Buy I see they have the Anakin blue in stock! Next up....Luke Skywalker green!!!!

Anna Nalick and Rob Thomas

We went to see Anna Nalick and Rob Thomas. You've probably heard of one song by Anna Nalick - Breathe (2am). She was good. Big voice. Melodies a little weak but some good stuff in there. Rob Thomas was pretty good too. The commonly used description of a poor man's Rick Springfield is somewhat accurate but the show was good. It was in Sacramento's Memorial Auditoriom which was a great place for a show - all seats are close.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Cheap Hog Tees

Need or want a hog shirt. Ok - so it is either a game day shirt for Vandy or Missouri State but still a decent looking hog shirt.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Jayhawks Blast Huskers!

The Jayhawks knocked off Nebraska for the first time since 1968! I was there to celebrate! More pictures can be seen by clicking the link to "Bill's Homepage" in the column to the right.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

not interested in Free Land? How about Freelines

A praline recipe developed by a longtime prisoner in LA. Looks good.

King's Freelines
1/4 pound butter
5 pounds sugar
1/2 gallon or 3 cans evaporated milk
1 gallon whole milk
1 1/2 ounce vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 pounds pecans

In a huge pot put all ingredients except pecans. Heat on a high fire, stirring continually so the mixture doesn't boil over. Stir until the mixture is a caramel.

Pour onto large greased sheet pan, then add pecans. Allow to cool a bit, until you can handle it.

Using a spoon, whip the mixture. "Talk to it, show love to it," says Wilkerson.

Either leave completed mixture in sheet pan to cool entirely, or before it's fully whipped, use a spoon to remove the mixture into smaller rounds, placing them on a second sheet covered in wax paper.

Wilkerson warns that "candy has a mind of its own" and varying temperature and humidity can effect the result. Makes 25 3 1/2-ounce pieces.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Free Land in KS

Dad would likely have the most interest in this but numerous rural towns in Kansas are now offering free land if you'll move there and build a house or open a business.

Summary is here:

Washington, KS appears to be one of the more prominent locations with reasonable access to Topeka and Lincoln. Only 90 miles to Lincoln! 67 miles to Manhattan, KS.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

New retro cellphone nonheadset handset

I've been all cell for awhile. That means all my phone time takes place on a cell phone. I don't want to wake up with a brain tumor when I'm fifty. Handsfree type headsets are a good option, other than the fact that they tend to be uncomfortable with the tiny earbud style listening piece that I hate or big headphone things with a mike running out front making the user look like Garth Brooks in concert. I've found a sweet solution! Comfort AND retro style!


Robert and I had similar Halloween costumes. Yuki spooked the neighborhood as Darthvader (Darthyuki) and I went as a Sith Lord (it's a darkside jedi).

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