Fear Not! Good News! Great Joy! Glory to God and Peace on Earth!

As I sit her watching the Christmas tree lights fade slowly from one color to the next, I wait expectantly for my own son (and his wife) to arrive here at home after a long, long drive north.  I thought now would be a good time to re-read the arrival of our Savior, humbly born to Mary in a stable in Bethlehem.  I like to remind myself of the reason for the season:

1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fianc’e, who was obviously pregnant by this time. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn. 8 That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11 The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God: 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors. ” 15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.

Luke 2:1-20 (NLT)

The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord —
has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!

Glory to God in the highest heaven!

On the Second Day of Hanukkah

Photo1011.jpgMy true love gave to me … a tour of the Surgery waiting room, holding and recovery area at Menorah Medical Center. Meanwhile, he was prepped for surgery and waited and waited and waited and waited and finally entered the operating room at around 2:30 p.m.  In about half the time originally mentioned by the surgeon (thirty minutes instead of an hour), he was in the recovery room and already awake and alert.  Even though he had fasted (both food and all liquids) since before midnight (on the first day of Hanukkah), the anesthesiologist and my husband decided a general anesthetic was not necessary for the surgery to his right hand.  A local block for the right arm, coupled with some sedative, provide sufficient.  Which made recovery faster and relieved my anxiety immensely.

Headed homeAbout an ninety minutes after the surgery, Terry was dressed and ready for the road trip home.  The nurse sent me off to fetch the car while she wheeled him out to the entrance in a wheelchair.  We left the hospital just in time to catch a gorgeous sunset and all the rush hour traffic along I-435 that southern Johnson County is so famous for.  We still made it home before dark but not before the sun set on the shortest day of the year (Winter Solstice 2011).  He’s doing as well as can be expected this morning.  His attempts to contact his surgeon (and doctor) about some medication concerns (and some swelling this morning) are frustrated by the Friday before Christmas Eve short-staffing epidemic.

Thanks to everyone for their prayers and thoughts for us doing this stressful time.  We greatly appreciate it. 

Book Review: Ready Player One by Cline

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I must say Ready Player One easily and quickly became one of my funnest and most memorable reads of 2011. Wade Watts lives in the not too distant dystopian future (mostly in America, but implied world wide aftermath of the post-fossil fuel era). He (and the majority of what’s left of humanity) escapes the ravages of poverty and orphanhood through the virtual OASIS reality. When the founder and creator of OASIS dies, he leaves his vast fortune (multi-billions) to whoever can find the egg he hid somewhere in the infinitely vast OASIS universe. Since Halliday obsessed on 80s culture, music, movies and early video games, he expected everyone else to join him. He succeeded posthumously by enshrining the clues to the egg in obscure 80s lore.

Ah, the early geeky memories that flashed before my eyes.

I played Zork and Adventure both. Neither of the two computers I grew up with were listed in the book: a home built Digital Group computer running a very early version of DOS and a Xerox 820 running C/PM. My favorite game (also not mentioned in the book), even more so than Adventure, was one called Nemesis by Supersoft. It’s Rogue-like (which I prefer to an all-text based interactive story-type game like Adventure). I yearned to play it again, especially while reading the Second Gate section of Ready Player One, so I found a copy via a Google search. Now to find a C/PM emulator that will run on Windows (or Linus) so I can really revisit the ‘good ole days.’

Wargames and Ladyhawke are both two of my favorite movies from the 80s era and the play a significant role in the egg hunt. On the music font, Rush (one of my favorite bands, after Styx and Kansas) provided key elements to the final third of the quest. I almost dug around in my basement for my old dusty Rush albums, but left them to rest in peace. Besides, my husband’s band covers older Rush songs so I get a Rush-fix at least once a week.

I am very glad Cline didn’t spend much time on the fashions of the day and I ignored most of the other music references (as I was a metal head and refused to listen to pop music). I played nearly all the arcade games mentioned EXCEPT for Tempest.

I wanted more real world information, to learn about the fall of civilization and the consequences of ignoring the ever worsening and appalling conditions rising to destroy what’s left of humanity. Some readers have likened Wade Watts to a ‘Mary Sue’ type character, which is hard to refute since the tale is told in first-person from his point of view. Characterization, aside from Wade, could have been fleshed out more. If a sequel is in the works, I look forward to a deeper look into this world and these characters.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone with a smidgen of geekiness who also happens to be born in the mid-60s or very early 70s (i.e. were you a teenager during the 80s?).

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Novella Review: The Machine Stops by Forster

The Machine Stops The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I found this gem yesterday via Feedbooks public domain short stories listings. I raised my eyebrows when I saw E.M. Forster wrote a science fiction novella (in 1909). I love reading dystopian fiction, provided I space it between less depressing offerings. Forster surprised me with not one dystopian future, but two. His ideas mixed to form a somewhat steampunkish voluntary Matrix benevolent Terminator mashup.

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Massaging My Misty-Mossy Menu

It occurred to me this morning that people receiving my Christmas cards this year may be wondering where exactly I’d hidden my annual Christmas letter in this blog.  So I did some quick rearranging and reconfiguring of categories to make it easier to find all my posts related to the Holidays (especially Christmas and Thanksgiving).

As you can see, I’ve condensed my blog menu and added a section just for Holidays.  Each menu heading contains at least two or three submenus for my most frequently used categories.  Musings and Mutterings appear under the Home menu.  Family and Rottweilers appear under the About heading.  Any reviews I write and post here can be found under Reviews.  And anytime I see something strange in the sky, you can be assured to find it under Astronomy.

All posts are full-text indexed soon after they are posted so please take advantage of the Search box at the top of the right-hand pane if you are looking for something in particular.

This concludes my public service announcement on navigating around my blog.  I now return you to your regularly scheduled life.

Just one more day until the Winter Solstice and four more days until Christmas!

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Four out of Five Stars

My husband and I braved the last-Sunday-before-Christmas-crowds at the Legends shopping center to watch this latest installment in the Sherlock Holmes universe.  Strangely, our theatre (the largest one at the Phoenix Theatre complex) was sparsely populated for the mid-afternoon matinee.  Be that as it may, we thoroughly enjoyed the film. The musical score grated less on the ears this time (more classical orchestration instead of the out-of-tune upright piano cacophony overused in the first movie). I can’t wait to re-watch this on DVD so I can pause it and examine certain scenes minutely. Even with my photographic memory, modern day editing gives viewers nanoseconds to absorb an incredible amount of relevant detail.  Despite the dreary gray British and French winter countryside, the cinematography was gorgeous, the highlight being the Swiss Alps.  The action frequently sported ultra-high-speed slow-motion sequences, punctuated with excellently choreographed audio.

Movie Review: A Dog Named Christmas

Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie: A Dog Named Christmas (2009)

Four out of Five Stars

I read the book this movie was based on last year for Christmas.  The author, Greg Kincaid, lives in Olathe, Kansas, just twenty or so miles south of my home via K-7.  But for some reason, the movie was not re-aired last year (or I completely missed it in the avalanche of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies that start in late November and don’t stop until nearly New Year’s).  This year, I caught the movie on my DVR when it aired on Saturday night.  My husband and I spent a very pleasant Sunday evening with the McCrays and their on-again-off-again adoption of a dog named Christmas.

Movie Review: The Accidental Spy

The Accidental Spy (2011)

Three out of Five Stars

My husband and I have separate Netflix queues (and have for years).  This DVD came in the mail Saturday so we popped it in the player for Saturday evening entertainment.  Who can resist a Jackie Chan action movie?  Not me.  The Turkish bath fight sequence brought a smile to my face.  The plot was hardly believable, but I really didn’t care.  It’s too much fun watching Jackie pretend to play the spy game.

Movie Review: Love’s Kitchen

Love’s Kitchen (2011)

Three out of Five Stars

While searching for new Netflix titles to add to my queue, I stumbled across this movie, available for immediate streaming.  My husband and I watch quite a few shows on the Food Network channel, so we thought it might be a good fit.  I had hoped it would be similar to 2007’s No Reservations which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Sadly, Love’s Kitchen fell a wee bit flat.   We laughed occasionally, but did not feel the romance at all.  I did, however, really want to taste that Trifle dessert that everyone in the movie thought was divine.