November 30, 2005

Gwen, We Hardly Knew Ye

At approximately 9:15 tonight, Gwen Chiappa was buried outside next to the tree at the pond. Apparently her stay here was something of a final fling before being overcome by hamsterish illness and old age. You could say that I served as Hamster Hospice for those three weeks. Gwen's passing will be marked by the first annual Gwen Chiappa Hamster Invitational Power Croquet Tournament, also known as the GCHIPCT, which will take place in the spring.

We will never forget you Gwen, most hamsterish hamster of them all.

Posted by Andy at 10:34 PM to the Gwenwatch category | Comments (3)

Harry Potter 4, the Sequel

As anticipated I saw this film again with mom last night. I thought it was a little better the second time around, and mom hated it. She hated it quite a bit too, but mostly because she doesn't like the books that don't end happily I think. Hard to get around that.

Posted by Andy at 08:41 PM to the TV and Movies category | Comments (0)

November 27, 2005

Ravens / Bengals Showdown

In a brilliant reprise of their tactical plan from week ten, the Ravens have put themselves in position to storm to the front of the AFC North by rattling off nine wins in five weeks to finish out the season. Billick wisely bowed to the Cincinatti offense in the first half, facilitating the Ravens scoring of "pity points" designed to pad sagging offensive numbers.

This strategy has also successfully masked the Ravens' true potential. When the Ravens rack up two wins in week thirteen, Houston won't know what hit them!

Posted by Andy at 04:37 PM to the Sports category | Comments (2)

November 26, 2005

Harry Potter 4

I just got back from seeing the latest Harry Potter installment with 3 friends of mine. We were turned away from Hoyts but luckily found a compatible time at Arundel Mills, which was a rather surprising reversal of our expectations. In any case, we arrived for our 9:15 showing without any other hitches.

In the end, I found this film to be rather disappointing. The action scenes were excellent, but I feel they compromised a depth of story to facilitate longer length in those action sequences. The acting suffered in some parts as well and tended towards the melodramatic, particularly near the end. I imagine I'll be seeing this with mom fairly soon, so perhaps I will change my tune with a second viewing. Maybe I was just too tired to see this and like it today or something.

Posted by Andy at 01:07 AM to the TV and Movies category | Comments (0)

November 23, 2005

Snack Turkey Day 2005

Amy and Amanda came by today to participate in our second snack turkey creation day in three years. I resurrected this little activity after a few years off, and it's just as fun as it ever was when I was a kid. What the heck is a snack turkey, you ask? These are snack turkeys!

Amanda Snack Turkey Amy Snack Turkey Andy Snack Turkey

Above you may view Amanda's, Amy's, and my snack turkeys, respectively. Each of us can now take our masterpieces with us to Thanksgiving dinners, where they will serve as nice appetizer trays for everyone.

Posted by Andy at 11:19 PM to the Food category | Comments (2)

November 22, 2005

Rome Season Finale

I saw the Rome season finale tonight, and though it was pretty good, I find I'm experiencing a slight let down from last week. On the bright side, it seems clear that the show will continue beyond season one despite the fact that Caesar rises to power and is killed all within the same year. History certainly provides ample material for a continuation in the form of the first and second Triumverates and the real-world struggles between Octavian and Mark Antony, both characters in the show.

Posted by Andy at 10:37 PM to the TV and Movies category | Comments (0)

Busy Day

Wow, today beat me up, but to a good end. I started things off with a voice lesson, and an old friend from church who now lives in Colorado got me there and back today. That helped mom out a lot and also gave us a great chance to catch up and just talk about random stuff. On the way back we met up with another old church friend who also happens to now live in Colorado and ate up at the Roadhouse. Good times, and hopefully we'll be able to communicate more now via email and the like. I really know these folks (and they me) in a high school context by and large, so there is a lot of ground to cover to be sure.

Posted by Andy at 12:46 AM to the General category | Comments (2)

November 18, 2005

Big Meeting

Today was a very difficult day, but I hope value may come of it. At 2:00 this afternoon we had a meeting in Finksburg (about an hour north) with the head of Catastrophic Health Planners, an organization focused on helping people like me into better situations, and for no money to boot.

The meeting started well with Mr. Lou Yeager describing the various problems each of us face and then explaining how a restructuring of our financial holdings could help me in the long run. After about an hour though, it just became the same speech over and over. My questions about diet concerns and the like were met with single-minded focus on Lou's plan outlined at the outset, and his answers were at times preachy, and at others downright insulting with no regard for the nuances of my situation. A few times he contradicted himself in terms of his attitude towards facing health problems. I cannot say I was ever afforded a chance to explain those nuances due to his approach. By the end of the meeting, we were instructed to form a plan over the weekend and contact them next week, despite the fact that we don't really have the information needed to form such a plan, regardless of my efforts to obtain it.

So now I'm home and probably shot for several days or more, which means I'll have to deal with frustration and anger with energy I simply don't have (nothing new here). I am going to try to drive this financial plan and hopefully get something done about the little house next door, but all with a sour taste in my mouth.

I cannot say I particularly like Mr. Yeager after today, but I will try to heed his advice in areas in which he clearly has experience. The problem is, can I trust his judgment based on the second half of our meeting? It could turn out that his devotion to a certain methodology is entirely misguided, but I don't have the resources to prove or disprove that notion.

I welcome advice on any or all of this. If you work in a financial field, maybe you can help me figure out whether or not to sign on for this plan. I can't give you a ton of detail now but I know some and will be learning more soon enough. If you're not into finances that's ok too. This whole situation is complicated and troubling, so I could use any advice you may have.


Posted by Andy at 09:53 PM to the Health category | Comments (2)

November 17, 2005

Mexican Lasagna

We tried a Rachel Ray recipe today for Mexican lasagna, essentially a taco-like concoction that gets baked with tortillas substituted for pasta. It turned out to be really good, and I imagine we'll be trying it again sometime. We decided that more vegetables would enhance the dish a bit, though it had a goodly amount of corn, tomato, onion, and bell pepper already.

Posted by Andy at 08:04 PM to the Food category | Comments (3)

November 13, 2005

Ravens Game Management

A lot of people are saying that the Ravens are "defeated" or "done for the season," but I think there is more to this team than meets the eye. Today, the Ravens supplemented their tried and true "3 and out" offense with calculated interception throws designed to tire out a Jaguars offensive squad through over-scoring. Now, with 1:55 to go in the 4th, the Ravens need only resort to careful clock management in order to overcome a 27 point deficit and surge to victory.

Posted by Andy at 04:04 PM to the Sports category | Comments (0)

November 12, 2005

Another Great Poem

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Posted by Andy at 09:57 PM to the General category | Comments (2)

Year-End Croquet

I hosted what is likely to be the final croquet event of the year today, and though the turnout was disappointing, the game was played at a high level by the four of us remaining. Not unexpectedly, we had to call the game due to darkness, as we all got stuck getting past the half-way post. The terrain was brutal in that spot, and we were always in close proximity to one another, which facilitated lots of croquet-ball smashing. Since that is essentially the core element of power croquet, I would say the event was a success based on solely that level.

Posted by Andy at 07:16 PM to the Sports category | Comments (0)

November 10, 2005

Birthday Cake

Busy Bee Cake
Uncle Tom's birthday gift arrived today, damaged but intact. It's a Busy Bee Cake from the Dean and Deluca catalogue. We have to let it sit out for 5 hours or some such, so until then we will just stare longingly at its chocolaty exterior. You can do the same by clicking on the image to the left.

Thanks Uncle Tom!

Posted by Andy at 08:39 PM to the Food category | Comments (2)

FMS Article

Though I do not technically have Fibromyalgia, my conditions are extremely closely related to it, and this article is a worthwhile read if you wish to get a better understanding of what I and others face.

Vicious Cycle of Fibromyalgia and Emotional Impact: What to Do

Posted by Andy at 03:52 PM to the Health category | Comments (0)

Tennis Season on the Ropes

My friend Amy came by again today to play tennis as we have been doing since the Spring, but we had to cut things short due to darkness. The frustrating thing of it is that the courts at the high school have bank lighting, only you can't turn the lights on anymore. I really want to call the school and see what is going on, but it's hard for me to make phonecalls at the time of day that would be required. Still, we got some good hitting in despite it being November and I was able to further hone by "spleen crusher" forehand, so I can't complain too much I guess.

Posted by Andy at 01:04 AM to the Sports category | Comments (0)

November 08, 2005

Gwenwatch, Final Installment

At the time of this writing Gwen has officially moved out. Joe's arrival prompted much friskiness and even some wall climbing. I feel that we said our goodbyes in an appropriate manner, with me forking over hamster treats and Gwen happily gobbling them up while using my fingers as a makeshift ladder.

Ah, the memories...

Posted by Andy at 10:33 PM to the Gwenwatch category | Comments (0)

November 07, 2005

Gwen on Break

Activity over the past couple of days has been sparse. Perhaps Gwen has finally completed her massive earth-moving project, or perhaps she has uncovered something best left undisturbed... I may string up some garlic just in case.

I have now archived all of my Gwenwatch 2005 posts into one category, aptly named "Gwenwatch." Now you can ignore my frivolity all in one place!

Posted by Andy at 07:31 PM to the Gwenwatch category | Comments (0)

November 05, 2005

Gwen, Now in Technicolor

Gwen the hamster 1
Gwen the hamster 1
After failed attempts at hiring an around the clock film crew, I have settled on showing you a couple quick snapshots of Gwen in her umm... natural habitat. These photos were taken with an Olympus C-740 digital camera from within my hamster-blind. As usual you may click on these images to view larger versions.

Posted by Andy at 10:39 PM to the Gwenwatch category | Comments (0)

November 04, 2005

Gwenwatch Update

Man, when Gwen comes out to drink, she really does it right. She just spent several minutes just chugging away at her little tube bottle, and would brook no interruption. I tried to tempt her with tasty hamster snacks to no avail.

Posted by Andy at 11:43 PM to the Gwenwatch category | Comments (0)


Wow, this HBO Rome series is fantastic. I grew up reading about the Roman army, drawing pictures of legionaries (detailed ones I might add), and making construction paper soldiers even. Now this series is on, and they have gone over the top to make it historically accurate in a visual and conceptual sense. The story line follows actual Roman events but is fictionalized. I'm loving it. Are any of you watching?

Posted by Andy at 11:02 PM to the TV and Movies category | Comments (0)

Section 8 Hamster-Housing

Gwen's burrowing instincts have backfired fully now. Her hamster house is leaning on the wooden ramp next to it, and Gwen now has to get out from the opposite side. Is this hamsterish sabotage or cutting edge art?

You decide.

Posted by Andy at 05:30 PM to the Gwenwatch category | Comments (1)

Oh Deer!

Sorry, that was bad...

I walked outside last night on the deck before bed, looked down to the water and saw a doe and 4 deer teenagers tentatively walking across the bottom of our yard. The mother led the way, then waited for the kids to cross over in turn. The whole process lasted maybe 10 or 15 minutes until all had crossed over past our yard and presumably into my Aunt's. Neat stuff.

Posted by Andy at 03:42 PM to the General category | Comments (0)

November 03, 2005

The Zen of Gwen

As we near the 3 week mark of Gwennish care, I cannot help but look back with pride at the new skills I have developed. I am now a fully licensed Hamsterologist and Hamstlosopher, and am well on my way to mastering the ancient art of Hamstrology as well. What is the difference between Hamsterology and Hamstrology, you ask? Well, Hamsterology pertains to the general knowledge and care of hamsters in a general sense, while Hamstrology involves the fortelling of hamsterish futures by looking at the stars.


Posted by Andy at 11:53 AM to the Gwenwatch category | Comments (2)

November 02, 2005

Gwen Exultant!

I am here to report some serious hamstering having taken place around 4:30 this afternoon. We had full drinking activity at first, followed by treat snatching and general friskiness. I was careful not to introduce lone fingers into the mix this time given Gwen's history of violence, and all went well as a result.

Posted by Andy at 05:23 PM to the Gwenwatch category | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day (11-2-05)

I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law.

Diogenes Laertius

Posted by Andy at 03:25 PM to the General category | Comments (0)

My Temple

The pier at night is the place I feel closest to God. It is the place I go to face my greatest pains and utter my deepest hopes. It is the first place I go when something terrible happens to me, and is the last place I go before I sleep at night. The pier is, in essence, my church, and has been for the entirety of my adult life.

I walked out to the water tonight to find that my neighbor has installed a bright fluorescent security light on his pier, which illuminates everything, blocks out the sky and destroys the beautiful peace of that place I have cherished for so long. My church has been all but destroyed, and I am not entirely sure what to do about it. My faith is not in any jeopardy, but to lose something of such profound meaning on what amounts to a technicality just shocks me.

If you have any ideas I would love to hear them.

Posted by Andy at 01:19 AM to the General category | Comments (2)

Favorite Poem

I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal.
I died as animal and I was human.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die human,
To soar with angel's blessed above.
And when I sacrifice my angel soul
I shall become what no mind ever conceived.

Kim Stanley Robinson
Red Mars

Posted by Andy at 12:40 AM to the General category | Comments (0)

Poor Gwen

After relocating her hamster house last night, Gwen now has some difficulty getting in and out. I hesitate to move it back to its original position because I feel confident she would just move it again. Perhaps Gwen's poor eyesight is to blame for this engineering disaster, or perhaps she just likes a cozy basement abode.

Posted by Andy at 12:38 AM to the Gwenwatch category | Comments (0)