31 January 2009

Touched: Mondo Solitaire

So, what is it with me and reviews? What can I say. I like reading 'em and writing 'em. But at least I'm not reviewing another set of headphones. At least today.

I've been really loving my iPod Touch. At night I get in bed, put on some soothing tunes (Fleet Foxes!), and play a game for a bit to unwind. Touch Physics was great for a while, but it's just hard enough not to be entirely relaxing. Now I'm really grooving on Mondo Solitaire.

This actually surprises me. Every computer has it, everyone has played it, but I've never been a big fan of solitaire. I'm a serious computer gamer, which means (almost by definition) I'm not a casual gamer, and have never liked casual games. But this version of solitaire is very well implemented. Graphically, if it is not Hardwood Solitaire, the ultimate solitaire for the PC, it still looks good, given the screen territory the programmers had to work with. It is very easy to play with the touch screen, though occasionally my fat fingers make it a bit hard to see exactly what I'm poking at. And it has every conceivable variation of solitaire (over 100, they say). I picked it up on a 99 cent sale over Christmas. It is now back at $5.00. If that's a bit too much bank for a card game, or you just want something basic, then Sol Free Solitaire is both free and very good. I like its graphics even better than Mondo's, but of course, it has fewer games (just five). I note that the full version, Solebon Solitaire (35 games), is now priced at $1.99. I may just have to try it . . .

30 January 2009

A Different Fast

Many religious traditions have physical fasts, and some people occasionally fast for purely for their heath. I personally do not believe there are any valid heath reasons, unless crashing your metabolism has hidden health benefits I cannot see. But integrative medicine guru Andrew Weil (that beard alone makes him some kind of guru) has long advocated the benefits of a "media break" or "news fast." He's written on this a lot, but one piece can be read here. Basically, news specifically but also other media can contribute significantly to stress and depression. An NYT article recently reported a study linking television watching and depression. One snippet:

    “We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy,” Dr. Robinson said. “TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less.”
I have myself tried media fasts, news fasts in particular, and it really works for me. Reading the news simply expands my world of concerns. Some times a smaller, simpler world is what I really need.

29 January 2009

Headphone Reviews III: Denon AH-C551K

Of the three IEMs I'm reviewing here, these are the top dogs. When 'phones start hitting a Benjamin at retail, you are generally headed for real head-fi territory. I bought my Denon AH-C551Ks used for $40 off of Amazon Marketplace ($99 retail), and they look and sound every cent of the asking price.

Denon is a top audio brand, though new to the headphone market. These are upper-middle in their IEM range. They have large 11mm active drivers in hard-coated aluminum housings with a frequency range of 15Hz-24kHz. They are semi-open in design, using what Denon calls "Accoustic Optimizer" technology. And yes, they have that most essential feature, the left-ear bump.

Their sound is scooped with truly, gloriously thumpin' bass. Or maybe it is not scooped so much as the bass is just very prominent. I have a set of beyerdynamic DT770 full-size headphones that are supposed to be real bass cannons. These little monsters shame them. But, the bass is clear and punchy, as is the rest of the spectrum. Unlike my JBLs and JVCs, they sound hi-fi from top to bottom. But with a whole lot of bottom. I can listen to about anything with them and not be dissatisfied, but they do have their own sound. Not everyone would like their sound with every kind of music. But with hard rock, they crush.

Aside from their bass-biased sound, I have three small dislikes. They come with a two-piece cable, a 20” base cable with a 31” extension. This is great if you use them with an armband player, but that is not my primary use. So I'd be happier with a single cable. The two-piece cable also adds to the already substantial weight of the aluminum housings. They are they first 'phones I've had with noticeable weight, though not really uncomfortable. But lighter would be better. Finally, the ear tips that are supplied with them are lousy. They don't fit my ears, or (it seems from reviews) most other human ears. Easily fixed, though, with some good-but-cheap double-flanged silicone tips off the 'Bay.

If I had a do-over, would I still get them? Maybe not. I'd probably save my coin and go for some Etymotic Research IEMs, even though twice the price. These Denons are good, very good, but not quite head-fi nirvana.

28 January 2009

Headphone Reviews II: JBL Reference 220

I am going to first point you to another review of the JBL Reference 220 canalphones, which has good pictures and discussion of the "system" part of this "earphone system." The "system" is basically just several ways provided to the user for hanging them on your head or sticking them in your ears. That I do not care about so much, though the included semi-hard case I do like.

I bought these 'phones off ePrey as refurbs from the JBL outlet store for $20 ($79 retail). They have great cloth-covered cables and are of quality build, even if still plastic (not a bad thing, for weight). They are of an unusual (for earphones) open-back design, which may let out some sound, but generally makes the audio less canned or boxy. Although they came with four sets of tips, I just threw on an old set of Skullcandy silicones that fit fine. They have standard "large" apertures common to a lot of earphones (Creative EP-630s, etc.), so many other tips will work with them.

My 220s are black, but they also come in white and, in fact, are sold on Apple's online store.

Now, if you bothered to look at that review above, ignore the reviewer's comments on the sound. He either got very different 'phones or has very different ears. These are NOT bass heavy phones. They are in fact quite neutral, though perhaps a bit warm (warmth=non-harshness). Each 'phone uses a single, active driver of unknown size, but frequency response is just 20Hz–20kHz, which is pretty shallow on the bass. But I think they sound very much like my audiophile-grade Grado SR-60s. They do not have that scooped rock sound so many phones have, but their neutrality is a real plus in terms of versatility. They're parked on my Touch right now, because while they are not the ultimate phones for any one thing, they do sound good with just about everything. The only thing I miss is that they do not have a left-ear bump on the left 'phone, so that you can identify it by touch, something both my JVCs and my Denons have and which I have come to regard as essential. (My Skullcandy's didn't even label the L and R 'phones, as if it does not matter . . .)

So, would these 'phones be worth the $80 retail price? That's not high-end spendy, but it's more than my Grados cost. Yes, they are good, but I'm not sure they're that good. But for $20, they are brilliant.

27 January 2009

Headphone Reviews I: JVC HA-FX33/34 "Marshmallows"

I've been trying a few different headphones the last while in pursuit of headphone nirvana. As I wrote a few weeks ago, head-fi is where it's at, and nothing does more for DAP sound quality than a great set of 'phones. I've also introduced my devoted readership (yes, both of you) to the basics of earbuds. Here we're starting at the low end.

JVC Marshmallows can be bought at any big box electronics store for about $20, but I paid $6-$8 for my two pairs on ePrey. They are of epic reputation for providing good sound quality at a stupidly low cost. The HA-FX33/34s (I have no idea the difference between to two model numbers) are nicknamed marshmallows because that is just what the foam ear tips look like. They they use soft, memory foam tips very like hardware store earplugs rather than the silicone tips other canalphones use. They seal well and are fairly comfortable, to me. They are totally closed and attenuate outside noise very well.

Marshmallows come in several colors, of which a few are a bit garish.

These buds have 8.5mm active drivers and a 8-23,000Hz frequency response. To my ears, they sound is a bit scooped, meaning the mids are a bit recessed. Many, MANY headphones are scooped, so they probably would not sound artificial to most people. They have plenty of bottom end, in any case, but the bottom is a bit boomy compared to more expensive 'phones. The good isolation and scooped sound makes them great phones for car travel, since the strong top and bottom project well over road noise. And for the price of a drink and sandwich, there is little concern if you should close them in the car door, etc. All in all, by audiophile consensus, they may just be the best bang-4-buck canalphones out there, and a quantum leap beyond bog stock iBuds.

26 January 2009

The Zune: A Great Failed Product

The prophets of doom are reading the tea leaves and saying the Zune is on its way out. Perhaps. MS is almost certainly losing money on it. This is really a great shame. The Touch is murdering everything outside the commodity player market, and the whole market for DAPs is quickly becoming commoditized. But in the latest revision, MS finally got the Zune to where it should have been on Day One. Namely, it not only has wi-fi, it can now connect to the Zune Marketplace over any open network. With a Zune Pass ($14.99/mo), this means you can now listen to any of 3 million songs anywhere you have wi-fi access. I've said before that this is what Apple needs to do. (They will not, I am sure, until forced to.) It may be too little too late, but still, we can be glad that MS (for a change) is innovating and showing the way.

24 January 2009

Ahhh, Alaska

My brother-in-law just published online his travelogue of a cruise our family took to Alaska a number of years ago. It is very well done and a very nostalgic for me. Significant Other and I are really looking forward to doing that again sometime. My only regret is a picture that includes me in profile, since at the time I was 80 pounds heavier. I probably put on another 10 on that cruise. Ohh, the food . . .

23 January 2009

Give Up Orange Juice, Save the Planet

PepsiCo, which owns Tropicana, just completed a study of the carbon footprint of a glass of its orange juice.The damage? "[T]he equivalent of 3.75 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted to the atmosphere for each half-gallon carton of orange juice." Most of this comes from the effects (both manufacturing and use) of the fertilizer used to grow the oranges. Of course, one can grow oranges without using nitrogen fertilizer, but this makes them more expensive. Which makes no sense to a for-profit corporation, so instead they are just debating whether to spin this statistic or bury it. Too late to bury it.

22 January 2009

Death of the Humanities

Most of us who work in the humanities at universities and colleges have seen our fields and departments in decline for some time. This trend has now been documented in a new book, and the whole sad event has also received some attention from Stanley Fish. I'm a little more optimistic about my particular field, religious studies, because many religious schools like my own will always support it. But I did my undergraduate degree in Classics. While Latin instruction in secondary schools is thriving, that field is otherwise on life support. It will survive, but probably not independently. Expect to see ongoing consolidation of departments and disciplines into smaller, "Swiss army knife" general humanities faculties.

21 January 2009

Fine Food Causes Brain Damage

Or, brain damage causes you to eat fine food. While precise cause and effect is not clear, a new "benign" eating disorder has apparently been identified. Termed "gourmand syndrome," a new study "describes a preoccupation with food and a preference for fine eating."

    Analysis of the clinical and anatomical data of 36 patients who displayed this behavior revealed, in 34, a strong association with lesion location in the right anterior part of the brain involving cortical areas, basal ganglia or limbic structures. Our finding provides further evidence of a correlation between right hemispheric damage, eating, and other impulse control disorders.
I admit that I'm becoming a bit of a foodie, so I'm not sure whether I should be worried at this or just amused.

20 January 2009

Inauguration Day

I thought Pres. Obama gave a great inauguration speech, but one commentator said she liked even more his speech following the Lincoln Memorial concert Sunday afternoon. So I read it, and I liked it, and you too can read it here. Congratulations, Mr. President.

16 January 2009

Melancholy Nation

An interesting paragraph from a wellness article in Outside, which parallels my experience. Our passive lifestyles are extremely detrimental to our mental health. It's one of the reasons I've come to believe that constantly engaging in creative activity is essential to well-being.

    We're a nation of depressives. According to Randolph-Macon College behavioral neuroscientist Kelly Lambert, author of Lifting Depression (2008), we're ten times more likely than our grandparents to suffer from the blues. The clinical blues, that is—not the my-girlfriend-dumped-me sort. Why? We've abandoned physical interactions with our environment. "A lot of our mental illnesses are about the perception that we have no control," says Lambert. She proposes that, thanks to our affinity for computers and drive-throughs, we don't engage the brain's "effort-driven rewards circuit" enough. Our ancestors made plans—"build shelter; plant potato; kill elk"—and executed them with well-evolved hands. It's called controlling your envi­ronment. When we do this, our brains reward us with dopamine. But these days we've stopped using our hands for much beyond punching buttons. So curing your mood may mean putting down your BlackBerry and pulling on some work gloves. A few suggestions: Grow a tomato plant. Be your own bike mechanic. Catch a fish. Clean it and eat it. Learn guitar. Call next in pickup basketball. Just don't lose—if you don't execute your plan correctly, well, you don't get the dopamine.

15 January 2009

The Macho Evangelical

I've said before, I'm not much into posting on religion, because that's work, not leisure. But it looks like I'll be making some exceptions. This NYT article on Pastor Mark Driscoll of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle was very interesting, less for the somewhat racy bits (reader warning) than for the profile of evangelical neo-Calvinism that it profiles. Many protestants, both liberal and conservative, have been increasingly uncomfortable with Calvinist predestination. Many evangelicals today might describe themselves as "four-point Calvinists" (Google it), rejecting limited atonement to some degree or other. Others question the doctrine of election altogether. There has always been pushback against this "weak" Calvinism from some quarters, but I find this example especially interesting because it is not egghead theology, but commonman spirituality.

14 January 2009

Physics Can Be Fun!

I said in my review that the iPod Touch 3rd party apps were very good, and that in particular there were some first-rate games appearing. I have only been sampling the free and 99cent variety, but I've come across a few even in that modest segment that are really well done.

I've read that one of the hot indy games on the PC right now is a game called Crayon Physics Deluxe, which was also just released to the App Store for the iPhone/Touch. I have not coughed up the five clams for that (yet), but I have been playing its cheaper cousin, Touch Physics. For a buck, it is a mini-marvel. Descriptions are dull, but in a nutshell: the game has you draw shapes on screen, which then follow the laws of physics. So, round things roll, square things stack, etc. You need to use these shapes to move an object from one side of the screen to the other. Sounds dull, but it's really loads of fun. But don't take my word for it. Live large. Blow a buck on it and see for yourself.

13 January 2009

More Fleet Foxes

I'm so hip to this album right now that I felt I should post the full imeem stream. Listen, love it, pass it on. (NB: Tracks on imeem playlists are very often not in the album order, even if they include the full album, as is the case here. But hey, whaddaya want for free?)

Fleet Foxes

12 January 2009

Noir, Jim Noir

But no, he is not a private eye. I came across him on an old Best of list from '06, which said of his Tower of Love: "Sure, Jim Noir — the mysterious Mancunian in the bowler hat — has practically cut-and-pasted bits of Pet Sounds into his gentle pop pastiche. But this charming man gets an 'A' for effort. After all, it's actually hard to ape the Beach Boys at their most psychedelic, and Noir's cloudlike choruses and clever couplets stoke pop's eternal flame in a most enchanting way. Plus he did it all himself." I went thence and imeemed him, and indeed, this artist breathes new life into the most flowery sixties pop. He makes want to drive straight to Haight-Ashbury and join in the new Flower Power revival. Take a listen.

11 January 2009

Best Albums of '08: The Black Keys - Attack & Release

I'm only going to do a couple of more "Best of" reviews, and this will be the only one of a band the I do truly love, and have for several years. It's ironic that, as an aspiring bassist, two of my favorite bands are bassless. The other is the White Stripes. (I hear bass lines on this album, but it may be a guitar through an octaver, though Auerbach has recorded with bass before.) Both bands play (or used to play, with the Stripes) stripped-down garage rock blues. One reviewer says, "If Jimi Hendrix had been a white guy from Akron who frequented hipster dive bars, he might have made music like this." Whatever, I like 'em. And Robert Plant likes them, which gives them amazing cred in my book. But I'm not sure this is their best album. I like the early stuff self-recorded in a basement on a Tascam 8-track better. This album is produced by Danger Mouse and sounds a lot slicker, at least by their lo-fi standards. But I'm glad they're getting critical recognition. Warning: My one and only regular reader probably won't like this all that much (sorry, dear).

10 January 2009

Best Albums of '08: Neil Young - Sugar Mountain

Neil Young sounds a lot like . . . Well, I'm sure he sounds like someone before him, but he has now himself become a fixed standard to which others are compared. He is an American original. This is a live album recorded in 1968 just after the breakup of Buffalo Springfield, as he was preparing to launch his solo career. He of course does some Springfield ("Mr. Soul," "Broken Arrow"), but mostly material he would release on his first album, or later albums. Young has always been a stripped-to-the-bone performer, but it doesn't get any more basic than this: Young and his acoustic guitar. It's a great snapshot of an iconic singer/songwriter just coming into his full powers, at the age of 22. If you don't like this, you won't like anything by Young. NPR's Bob Boilen did a great piece on Young and this album that you can read here. And now, the whole album, and in the proper track order (!).

09 January 2009

Felicitous Minimalism

I used to be a devoted follower of the NYT columnist, the Minimalist (Mark Bittman). But I've gotten out of the habit of reading him. Yet every January we seem to catch a new wave of enthusiasm for cooking, and for any enthusiastic home cook, Bittman is a must-read. This is one of those great general hints and tips columns he often does that I find among his very best. I'm definitely making a simple stock, which Significant Other has been threatening to do but which I have not been too enthusiastic for. The tipping point was Bittman's inclusion of celery in his stock, which I don't like to eat but is delicious in soup base. Time to boil some chicken bones. Maybe I'll make it into a spicy chicken soup.

08 January 2009

OK, Now I'm Worried

My favorite economist is Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, not only because he's one of the best, but also because I can actually understand him. His current forecast is not bright. We need risky, radical, large-scale, politically-difficult action on the part of the government—immediately—or we are facing Great Depression II. As someone who works at a non-profit funded by charitable donations, I can't help but be a bit nervous about the future. The good news is that Obama knows what needs to be done and will try do do it. The bad news is that it will be politically difficult. Everyone hold your breath . . .

07 January 2009

The Death of DRM

The MacWorld Expo is mostly a platform for Apple to roll out new hardware. They did roll out a new 17" MacBook Pro yesterday, but at $2800, in the midst of economic chaos, I'm not sure it will fly off the shelves. Otherwise, the keynote was a bit of a yawn, all about software revisions (no wonder Jobs chose not to speak). But, the famous "one more thing" at the end was more interesting. DRM will be removed from all songs sold on iTunes (NYT article, Apple).

This was inevitable, but a long time coming. Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to the recording industry in Feb. '07, urging them to do just this. They in fact have not required DRM for music purchased from Amazon, but except for EMI, the labels have retained that restriction for Apple. This has probably been for two main reasons.

First, the labels have hated the iTunes monopoly. With it, Jobs has had them over a barrel for years. By allowing Amazon to sell tracks DRM-free, they have been hoping to build Amazon up as a competitor. And in fact, Amazon has not done badly, but they are no iTunes killer.

But (second reason) they've also finally gotten the big concession they wanted from Jobs: variable pricing for songs. Jobs has been adamant about his 99 cent flat pricing model. But the labels wanted their older back catalog to sell for less (so they could sell more) and their new, hot songs to sell for more (they'll probably sell the same number, but at higher margins). Jobs finally agreed to this and they dropped the DRM.

This is good. DRM is evil. It had to die. But what about all those DRM-poisoned tracks you've already purchased? You can "upgrade" them to DRM-free 256k tracks for 30% of the purchase cost, just as before. Think of it as a format migration. And expect to pay for those songs again and again as new formats emerge. Or, just buy CDs and turn them into whatever you want, whenever you want.

What's next for iTunes? I think lossless music has to be somewhere in its future (yet another format migration). And also a buffet-style all-you-can-hear subscription service, like Rhapsody. Again, Jobs hates the idea, but even he will relent in the face of necessity.

But another real revolution in digital music is social networking services. And here the gorilla in the room is not MySpace or Facebook, but imeem. imeem has licensing agreements with all the major labels that allow users to upload and share music and videos from their artists. And it's free (advertiser supported). Admittedly, this is not a challenge to portable music services, but social networking elements are already incorporated into subscription services. And this is what consumers want: a way to share music (not just playlists) with their friends. Apple certainly knows this and eventually will do it.

06 January 2009

Best Albums of '08: Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

I admit it, I liked the Bee Gees back in the day, but I've never appreciated falsetto vocals. But as much critical acclaim as this album has received, I approached it with an open mind and surprised myself. The story of the the album's recording has to be part of the allure. Solo artist Justin Vernon retreated to his parents' cabin in Wisconsin for three months to recover from a confluence of personal difficulties: the breakup of a band and a relationship, and poor health. This retreat hadn't meant to result in a recording, but he had the gear and this album was his catharsis. And it sounds like it. The album is less about particular songs than a distinctive style and sound, and an evocative emotionality. I myself will be inclined to listen it only at certain blue times, less for pleasure than for, as was intended, catharsis.

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

05 January 2009

You and I Are Killing Books

There was a very interesting piece in the NY Times this past week about the terrific damage that buying used books online is doing to publishers and resellers. The fact is, every time we buy a used book online, often for a pittance, we deprive the author, publisher and retail resellers of potential income. Many authors will always publish, even if they make no money at it. But print publishers and resellers are really hurting from this new economy, and shrinking, and dying. Should we online book buyers feel guilty? I think not. The market will adapt, money will always be made by somebody, and good books will always be published. Just maybe not in print.

04 January 2009

My Kind of Touring

I love food and I love to travel. Ideal travel to me is "culinary touring." Most every destination has something unique to offer the foodie, if only you know where to find it, as food gurus Alton Brown and Calvin Trillin show so well. Trillin's Trilogy is high inspiration to me.

But if you have a fetish for chocolate, REAL chocolate (yes, that's another post), there is really only one locale that will offer you satisfaction: Paris. This article offers a short connoisseur's tour of that chocolate-lover's paradise. Proceed from there immediately to Mort Rosenblum's Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light, best read with a bar of Valrhona in hand.

03 January 2009

Best Albums of '08: Plants & Animals - Parc Avenue

This was not a high profile album and made it onto few "Best of" lists (in fact, maybe only one). But it did receive some critical recognition, as a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize (an alternative Canandian Grammys), and I really like it. The artists themselves classify their music as "post-classic rock," which I guess means that it's channelling classic folk and rock (the Beatles, Neil Young, the Dead, 60s Brit-pop, and a touch of psychadelic) while remaining thoroughly modern. The same could probably be said for most of today's hot alt-rock. It's a fairly eclectic album, but it all really hangs together well, a harmonious whole. See a fuller review here.

Parc Avenue

02 January 2009

Scientists Discover that Religion Is Good for You

I don't often post on religion since that's my employment. This blog is for leisure. But this article is nothing too heavy, just generally interesting. For some of us, it's probably just a, "Tell me something I didn't know."

This NYT article reports that two scientists at the University of Miami "have reviewed eight decades of research and concluded that religious belief and piety promote self-control." It continues:

    Researchers around the world have repeatedly found that devoutly religious people tend to do better in school, live longer, have more satisfying marriages and be generally happier. These results have been ascribed to the rules imposed on believers and to the social support they receive from fellow worshipers, but these external factors didn’t account for all the benefits. . .

    Religious people, he said, are self-controlled not simply because they fear God’s wrath, but because they’ve absorbed the ideals of their religion into their own system of values, and have thereby given their personal goals an aura of sacredness.
Nonreligious folks can try to replicate the forms and practices of religion to derive similar benefits, but I expect further research will show, as is indicated here, that these virtues derive much more from belief than practice.

01 January 2009

Friends Don't Let Friends . . .

drive drunk and crash their cars into other people's houses on New Year's. OK, lame title, but I've only had two hours sleep. The alternative was an über-cliché: "The Griffins started the new year off with a bang."

The bang happened at 2:40am this morning. Carl the insomniac was just falling asleep. I heard what, in retrospect, was clearly a loud crash, behind my head and slightly to the east. Tani jumped straight up in bed and went into a delirious five-alarm panic. Neither of us could process what the noise was, but of course ran out of our room in search. Immediately we heard what sounded like the panic beeper on our car, a horn honking like a car alarm gone off. We processed that, ran to the garage, but it had stopped and our car just looked at us nonplussed.

Tasha was on the couch asleep, her room gutted for repainting. But I stuck my head in her room anyway and noticed a blinking yellow light outside her window. I pressed my face to the glass, looked at the SE corner of the house, saw the blinking yellow light, also halogen light, bits of debris that I registered as perhaps rain gutter. Had something fallen out of the sky onto our house? "Tani, I have to go outside." A knock at the door as I'm running to it, a young man I don't know. "Sir, a car just ran into your house."

"Uh, Tani, call 911."

Direct link to Flickr set

It is a nice car, actually, a blue Dodge Avenger, with no one in it and parked on top of my air conditioning unit. The polite young man and his companions explain: They were coming up the street that intersects Main, ending in a T just behind our house. The Avenger flew by them "doing at least 100" and did not even slow down at Main. It jumped the curb and went through our neighbor's back fence, airborne over 15' of his lawn, landing and careening through the side fence into our house. It was stopped by our south window-well and the AC unit. The driver (a parolee, and drunk) immediately fled the scene.

Policemen, firemen, several concerned neighbors, a nice Questar gas man, all converged on our house until about 5:00am. The vehicle was towed, the police went after the driver. He eventually turned back up at the party he'd left, and the police hurried off to collect him. We estimate the damage at over $10k, but that swanky new car has to be insured. It will be a massive headache, but we do not expect to foot the bill for the carnage. Mostly we just feel very blessed. The car just kissed our gas meter. Six inches to the left would have taken out our gas thingy, maybe in a ball of flame. Six feet to the left would have put him in our bed. This same thing happened to our neighbor on the north two years ago. Just now, we are not liking our home location. I think we need some WW2-era tank traps installed behind our rear fence.

I better have a shower. It may be a long first day to 2009.