THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. Welcome to the Home of Hyperopia.: January 2006

Sunday, January 29, 2006

On Harvey & Eck - DAY SEVEN

OK. Now we're really getting somewhere. This book is getting good. This book is getting interesting. None of the mysteries have been resolved, but I am getting anxious to see what happens next. I am getting interested to see what happens to these people. I am getting too anxious and too interested for my own good, in fact (my right foot is still asleep, several minutes after I got up from where I do my reading to come over here to do my typing).

I've reproduced my favorite sentence (for personal and selfish reasons; I've been planning a blog entry myself on this theme and I am hoping to discover the truth of this statement over the succeeding decades) from this last big bit of reading at the bullet point below. The context is one of the penpals is writing to the other penpal about marriage. And matters known and unknown.
    • I know nothing of its nuances, except that, if properly managed, matrimony is not a trap but a spiritual bond that strengthens its participants.

Hear, hear Erin. Nicely said.

Photo credits: here

Saturday, January 28, 2006

On Government - Part 1

We interrupt the TWELVE DAYS OF HARVEY & ECK for this brief political rant. Regular programming will resume shortly.

I was just reading, for the first time, a few of the entries on the Ranando Report. I have a view about the entries I read, but this isn't the time or place for that discussion. Nowhere and never is where and when for that discussion.

Anyway, in one of his posts, Ranando linked an article that the U.S. government is considering reducing the amount of foreign aid paid to Palestinians, apparently in response to the election results favoring Hamas. Any reason to reduce foreign aid is good enough for me. I favor Ron Paul's arguments on foreign aid. First and foremost, that foreign aid is unconstitional. Second, it is generally immoral for the U.S. government to take money from U.S. taxpayers and give it to foreign governments and other non-U.S. taxpayers (note my view, still to be addressed, is that all government-imposed redistributions of wealth are immoral as any such action is coercive and therefore a violation of the commandment Thou Shalt Not Steal). Finally, foreign aid generally fails to achieve the goals asserted as justifications for the aid payments.

That post prompted me to have this thought:
  • The world would be a better place if the supermajority of government errors were sins of omission rather than sins of comission. The world we are living in today is not a place where the supermajority of government errors are sins of comission (as in too much government), not omission.

Picture credits: here

Friday, January 27, 2006

On Harvey & Eck - DAY SIX

So OK. Those most recently read pages contained some touching stuff. Damn that Erin. Human beings (the characters in this novel included) are so complex. So I am learning. But seriously, how is a person supposed to make snap judgments about other people under these circumstances? Doesn't Erin know that life would be so much simpler if first impressions could be trusted. If first impressions could be accurate. If there wasn't another layer to the onion?

I am a father of two daughters. Fathers of daughters, the choices you make in your life will have far-reaching ripple effects. And if you buy Harvey & Eck, which you should if you like books, Erin will show you one of them (ripple effects). Which, depending on your choices prior to your reading the book, will either give you something to ponder or something to regret.

Thanks for the heads up, E.

A pen in the wrong hands is a sledgehammer. Good lord.

Confidential to Erin:
When I read about the New Year's Eve Frank-N-Stein party, I thought of that scene in There's Something About Mary. Where the paramedic asks: "Is it the franks or the beans?" For a New Year's Eve party featuring partial nudity and beer, this seemed about right. Flapping mongrels (as Jungle Jane uses the term) and pewter mugs.

After I finished reading the first letter of this session, I realized there were but three squares available to me. And that number proved to be quite inadequate. Because I needed two of the squares to wipe my eyes. Damn that Erin. How's that for the law of unintended consequences? Times like these, I wish my employer would wash my clothes.

PHOTO CREDITS (for the picture in this post): here.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

On Harvey & Eck - DAY FIVE

The piper payer has called for another tune. Obligingly I submit the following update on my progress through her novel, Harvey & Eck.

* * * * * * *

I have been anticipating (not eagerly) arriving at the pages in the book excerpted by Erin on her blog. I say not eagerly because the protagonist's conduct described in the excerpt alarms me exceedingly. I am generally ignorant of the statistics relevant to such conduct. But despite this ignorance, I have an emotional reaction to being confronted with that conduct. I view it is somewhat akin to Russian Roulette, except that in this case the person holding the gun points it at an innocent bystander instead of himself/herself. Ignoring the ancient wisdom regarding how you should look around at the glass house you're living in and walk a day in the shoes of the person you're pillorying (is that a word?) before casting the first stone, I am troubled by self-destructive behavior that has the potential to destroy more than the self engaging in the behavior.

But ... I didn't get to the pages in the excerpt yet. So apparently I have to feel this way more than once!

On Legends - Part 1

A friend sent me this guy's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow today. If you don't known it, find it and listen to it, is my recommendation. I've got it playing over and over on iTunes today. Gentle and lovely. Poor Israel 'Iz' Kamakawiwo'ole, who weighed over 700 pounds at his death, died in 1997 at the age of 38.

Read about his memorial in this article.

Monday, January 23, 2006

On Harvey & Eck - DAY FOUR

My other book is all boilerplate.

It is almost 11:30 p.m., Houston time, as I type these words. So it is with most sincerest apologies to Erin and Flamingo1 and with also an appropriate amount of great regret, that I must report that instead of: (1) reading some more of Erin's fine (so far) novel Harvey & Eck; or (2) crafting the threatened (erm, "promised"?) Open Letter to Dan Crall, at great personal cost (but for adequate pecuniary remuneration), I have spent a disproportionate percentage of this evening creating the following paragraphs (and several others of a similar nature):
  • As soon as possible after PARTY A has satisfied the Build-Out Obligation, PARTY A shall: (1) deliver to PARTY B a report comparing, in reasonable detail: (x) the size, location, and other non-financial criteria of the Facilities as actually constructed to satisfy such obligation; and (y) the Minimum System Non-Financial Estimates; (2) conduct an accounting of the costs and expenses PARTY A incurred in satisfying the Build-Out Obligation; and (3) prepare a settlement statement describing in reasonable detail such actual costs and expenses (the "Actual Phase I Facilities Costs") and comparing, in reasonable detail: (x) the Minimum System Estimated Costs; and (y) the Actual Phase I Facilities Costs.
  • Within a reasonable period of time following delivery of such report and settlement statement, PARTY B and PARTY A shall negotiate in good faith to agree: (1) as to the actual cost and expense as would have been incurred had PARTY A built the Minimum System to satisfy the Build-Out Obligation (the "Minimum System Actual Costs"); and (2) as to the amount to be paid to PARTY A, in the event that PARTY A has incurred costs in satisfying the Build-Out Obligation that exceed the Minimum System Actual Costs, or the amount to be paid to PARTY B, in the event that the Minimum System Actual Costs exceed the Minimum System Estimated Costs and PARTY B has paid some portion of the costs and expenses of the development of the Facilities in satisfaction of PARTY A's Build-Out Obligation.

Among dorks in the club, this process is sometimes known as "drafting in space."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

On Harvey & Eck - DAY THREE

"There is no reason to be scared."

At least that's what one of the characters in the novel Harvey & Eck asserts in one of the letters on the pages of the book that I read most recently. Begging Erin's forgiveness (I'm sure I must've glossed over dozens of others of equal weight), this was the first sentence in the book I considered profound.

My reactions (in the context of the book) to reading those words included: (1) yes, that's true, and good show saying as much; (2) who gives a damn; nobody needs a reason to be scared and telling some one who is scared that they haven't a reason to be scared is hardly helpful (or a good idea); and (3) physician, heal thyself (after reading the next letter from the character that wrote the headlining sentence to this blog entry).

My reactions (in the context of real life) to reading those words include: (1) yes, that's absolutely true, and good show to anyone who reminds themselves of this periodically (out loud is best); (2) yes, that's absolutely true, and good show to anyone who reminds themselves of this periodically, but damn, comprehending the heights and depths to which that sentence is true is a lifetime challenge; and (3) bullshit, look around!!!

* * * * * * * *

With regards to progress, here's the latest: I consumed two more Ecks and two more Harveys in this latest installment. Profanity has dwindled from abundant to absent. Nevertheless, I am confident Jungle Jane found plenty else to motivate her to page ahead. I know I did.

* * * * * * * *

Confidential to Flamingo1 - Four letters in one "reading session" left me with my right leg fairly soundly asleep. Porcelain supports, but it does not forgive.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday Frillosophy - Part 1

There is a significant difference
between going to
and did.
    We recommend you aspire
    to the latter.
    More circumstance,
    less pomp.
This recent speech by Ron Paul to the House of Representatives addressing the hue and cry about the Abramoff scandal will prompt an Open Letter to Dan Crall which will be published on this blog sometime in the next few weeks. The topic of the Open Letter? Asserting the truth of this sentence (from the speech):
  • True reform is impossible without addressing the immorality of wealth redistribution.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

On Harvey & Eck - DAY TWO

Having consumed Eck's first letter and two more Harveys, the degree to which I was upset by Harvey's initial rantings is already settling. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but the tide will ebb. Apparently. A little. Harvey's letters in these most recent pages actually made me think of Nowhere Girl. Who thankfully confessed today to being an emotional basketcase, saving me from feeling rude by making the comparison. So now, of course, observant readers of this blog will discern that I am of the opinion Harvey is an emotional basketcase. It is my a-compassionate view that a person who gets into the predicament facing Harvey is making emotional decisions. Not that there's anything (necessarily) wrong with that.

As for Eck, I haven't a solid opinion of Eck yet. He's verbose. He's rigid. That much is clear. The teaser on the back of the book suggests something happens to him as a result of his receiving Harvey's letters. I'm going to be interested to see where he winds up.

Of course I ain't going to tell you folks where he ends up.

You need to buy Harvey & Eck to find that out.

Jungle Jane - Be forewarned: the profanity was less abundant in what I read most recently.

Velvet Frog - A watched kettle never boils.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

On Harvey & Eck - DAY ONE

After powering through the first three chapters, my reactions are varied. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the prose is packed. Staccato sentences and abundant profanity maintain interest. I am more Eck than Harvey and more Hub than Crunch, however, so at the moment I am not inclined to be especially sympathetic to Erin's protagonist. But then again I know I am a far cry from being an appropriately compassionate person.

I'll be interested to see how (if) those sentiments change over the remaining pages. And I'll be grateful if this book contributes to my personal growth.

This concludes Day One of the Twelve Days of Harvey & Eck, a novel by Erin O'Brien.

Monday, January 16, 2006


I nominate the following excerpt from this article about that German cannibal for the worst sentence ever. Especially if you're trying to enjoy a bratwurst while browsing internet news stories.

  • Meiwes told the court, repeating much of his testimony from his first trial, that he had severed Brandes's penis at his request and that both had tried to eat it, without success.

(emphasis mine)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

On Harvey & Eck - INTRODUCTION

I have fulfilled my contractual deal! At least the easiest part. Heretofore I am also embarking on the more difficult part: preparing the actual review. However, I am chickening out a little. The task of distilling the essence of a novel to a few dozen sentences is too daunting. And unfortunately my professional and personal activities are so considerable at the moment (new house, multiple transactions I'm working on trying to close this month, etc.), that I haven't completed the read yet. So instead I intend to provide one less snapshot than is in a baker's dozen of my experience reading Harvey & Eck.

Perhaps the "as-it-happens" review will be interesting.

Then again, perhaps it won't . . .

Saturday, January 14, 2006

On Odometer Watching - Part 1

Yesterday I noticed my odometer reading 64444. Then later yesterday I noticed my odometer reading 64471. Neither of those are especially interesting. But look at this picture on the right. The person who engineered that outcome was seriously planning ahead. Envy may be a mortal sin (is that accurate?), but I can't help it. I wish I had taken that picture.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

On Harvey & Eck - Part 2 (plus a little HNT)

SUBTITLE #1: The Erstwhile Critic at Work...



(yes, that's a hyperlink to the
SNL Chronicles of Narnia rap;
go ahead and click it.)

SUBTITLE #3: Taking rhythmic flatulence to the next level.

You see, Erin O'Brien was telling the truth. The book I am privileged to have won and to have received was in fact contained in the package wrapped with the red ribbon. It wasn't stacks of hundred dollar bills sent to buy my votes. And after I recovered from my disappointment, I started reading it almost immediately. And I was engrossed. The prose comes at you so fast and so furious. It is really something. It is a book that is difficult to put down. The first hour or two after I opened the package, I read it everywhere I went. Exhibit A to support this assertion is pictured below. But don't take my word for it.

Buy a copy for yourself by clicking ... HERE.

I haven't finished it yet, so this entry is not my review. But I wanted to assure Erin that I was working on it. Progress is being made. And this reviewer is not disappointed. Yet. In fact, so far reading this book has been a very moving experience.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

On Driving Music - Part 2

Just following up - I did not listen to any Barry Manilow songs on the way to work this morning. But Weekend in New England is probably my favorite of his songs. I don't like Copacabana. Or at least I don't like it enough to have it in my iPod.

That song is goofy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On Driving Music - Part 1

I listened to all the Barry Manilow songs on my iPod this morning on the way in to work. Then when I pulled into the parking garage, I belted out "Looks like I made it."


Monday, January 09, 2006

On Harvey & Eck - Part 1

I am a Chosen One (and I am also "esteemed" and flattered to be thusly thunked). I have been honored with the happy (I hope/expect) privilege of reviewing Erin O'Brien's first published novel, Harvey & Eck. I was and am extremely excited about this opportunity. And I am looking forward to getting started.

In that regard, I received a package in the mail from Erin this weekend. It was a large box. I took a picture of it and was going to post it here, but of course on closer review my full name and home address (for the time being) were clearly visible in the photo. I'm into sharing, but not that much!

But I waste time ... so we opened the box, eagerly anticipating poring over the book and savoring the prose presented therein. But instead all I found were the several beautifully wrapped items pictured above. (That is a real picture of those things.)

CONFIDENTIAL TO ERIN - Are you going to send me the book?

I do not want my objectivity to be swayed by the almost certainly wonderful and enchanting presents prior to the publishment of my review of your book, so we did not open any of these items.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

By Request - House Pictures

Yup. This is it. The American Dream in Kingwood, Texas.
McMansions available, approximately $75 per square foot.

* * * * * * *


Again, and I just mention this because in one of my fantasy lives I moonlight as a representative of the Chamber of Commerce for the greater Houston, Texas metroplex, and because I have a feeling both of the people who regularly visit this blog are currently living in comparatively high priced real estate markets (e.g., Des Moines, Iowa), but we are paying under $80 per square foot for this place.

Oh, and did I mention that the lot is about 12,000 square feet?

* * * *

We have a saying down here in Texas. We meaning us comparatively new Texans. Meaning us Texans who weren't born here but who moved here sometime after the start of our professional lives.

  • I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.

Friday, January 06, 2006

On the Shapes of Pools - Part 1

Speaking of cute stuff done by children (and mine in particular), we are buying a new house in Kingwood, Texas. We'll be moving next month. The house has a private pool. We are very excited about it. Even my oldest daughter (almost four years old).

Except ...

That she is disappointed about the shape of the pool. Several months ago she shared with us her ambition that our next house have an "L" shaped pool (as pictured). Well, our house has what is currently fashionable in pool design - shaped like a kidney. She commented on it. To my amusement. We were a little concerned she would be so upset about it she wouldn't want us to buy the house. But luckily her future room has a cute little porthole type window, so that was compensation enough for the pool-shape failings...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

On Natural Phenomena - Part 2

Following up on this post, this morning I asked my oldest daughter to look out at the "fog" on the body of water in our back yard.

She turned and looked at it. Then she turned back to me and said, "You're right, Daddy. It is fog. I told you!"

These are the moments, aren't they, that make life so wonderful?

Gosh do I love that child.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

On Natural Phenomena - Part 1

Is mist a type of fog or is fog a type of mist?

My three-year old daughter has been debating me on this topic recently. And I'm beginning to think she has the high ground.

In our backyard there is a body of water (that is not a picture of our back yard). The body of water in our backyard is part of the Fort Bend County flood control system, but our house is upstream of a small dam. Anyway, the past few weeks, it has been sunny and unseasonably warm during the day (highs around 80) and cooler at night (but still unseasonably warm with lows around 50). When this weather pattern persists, mornings are extraordinarily beautiful in our backyard. The sun comes up over our house, eventually shining on the water, illuminating what I have been calling "the mist" rising off the water. Each day, I say "Wow, look at that gorgeous mist!" (or something similar). And my daughter says, "No, Daddy, that's fog."

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to say "look at that gorgeous fog." I can't wait to see what she says to that...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

On Lifetime Goals - Update #1

Many moons ago (well, actually it was one hundred forty-one moons ago unless, as defined for purposes of that expression, one "moon" is one lunation, in which case it was 4 or 5 moons ago), I published this entry publicly declaring a lifetime goal.

The end of this calendar year seems an appropriate time to publish an update. Some progress was made. Unfortunately, most of the progress was the product of savings of earned wage income and repayment of debt rather than as a result of the generation of investment cashflow. But progress is progress, nominally speaking.

So, once again ... for those of you keeping track at home, here's the comparison of the goal and the current progress towards the achievement of the goal, dating from December 31, 2005 (with principled estimates of how our family balance sheet will look on December 31, 2005):
  • Minutes alive = 17,674,560.
  • Net worth = up about 29% since March 31.

The change in minutes alive represents a 3% (on an annualized basis) increase since March 31, 2005. The 29% (also annualized) increase in net worth since March 31, 2005 is faster than that. Thank goodness. For the sake of achieveing the Lifetime Goal, that is imperative. Recall, however, that in order to achieve the Lifetime Goal by the age of 50, our family's resources need to be compounding at over 35% per year. So we are falling further behind that benchmark...

These long-term goals are interesting beasts. Complacency regarding progress towards the goal is probably counterproductive. But excessive anxiety is too. A for the love of a happy medium.

Happy New Year!