Wednesday, July 30, 2014

LOOK OUT, its....a book review.

BOOK REVIEW: Listened to an NPR interview with Michael Bunker. He writes for a genre called Amish Sci-Fi. WOT!?! The author speaks with imagination and authority being a member of a plain community in Texas.

The book being discussed is entitled “Pennsylvania” The Complete Novel. (More about THAT later.) Setting is in Pennsylvania mid 21st century. War has visited in such a fashion that the Amish who are tech free live in five Amish Zones (AZ). The rest of the world powers evolved into one pricipal that of encouraging business. And the Amish are being relatively unmolested because they produce the majority of the food for the world. As a result, all personal travel was outlawed, all roads were dug up. All non Amish are wired into the internet in their heads and live a vastly different life as Englischers. And there is peace except for the occasional rebellion. The main prison is in Oklahoma.

Story starts out with 18 year old Jed Troyer saving up to join his childhood friend on New Pennsylvania, help him in the Amish way and eventually get his 200 acre farm for himself. Eighteen!!

This started to feel distinctly like an old Robert A. Heinlien youth adventure until everything went to Hell. Then as more characters and situations were introduced Isaac Asimov took over for five or six pages to explain in rather tedious detail exactly how the internal internet system evolved. Then the action bits kicked in here and there. My favorite chapter is “The Barn Raising” wonderful summation of an Amish barn raising and the plain and sacred aspects of the effort.

There were just enough questions raised and explained in sequential action events to explain what was going on. There is the promise of a happily ever after but we will have to wait because it is a CLIFF. HANGER. The writing of which is implied. ARGH!! This book is a keeper even if I was highly tempted to dash it against the wall.

PS: Of course there is a power struggle for Okcillium, not unlike Unobtainium on Avatar. What next Impossibilium?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hey what are they doin' over there?

The kitties are not ours but if we had that many they would all be lined up on the couch watching the activity across the street at the large two story farm house.

It stood vacant for several years, gradually some repairs have been made to it, the very large oil tank just out side on this end was removed.  New roofing along with Sky lights were put on the top floor and some serious work was done on the shrubbery around the house.  And we have listened to the music of weekend skill saws for quite some time.  I assume it is all interior work.  

The owners finally broke out the power washer and what a difference!  From this distance it looks like the original paint job has held up pretty well.  Our initial scrub on our house a few years ago scoured off years worth of nastiness and flaky paint.  This project may not even require new paint but it couldn't hurt.  Wonder if the fancy work on the upper floor will get pink or green spindles?  This old farm house was one of the first houses in this area in the late 1800's and stood amidst farm land until the city grew enough to meet the farm.  I'll try to keep you posted with shiny pictures of this old beauty.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Jury Duty all done!!

Oh dear didn't realize this cartoon was um what it was.

So, I have just completed jury duty for Coos County.  I am eligible again within the next three years.

The routine is like this, about 100 people assemble, get signed in, fill out waivers for fees and watch a video.  Then the court clerk takes all the names and goes off to randomly select the jurors. First twelve picked go into the juror box, no shilly shallying around.  Everyone gets to go to one of three courtrooms and once the lawyers have divied up the ones they want, we are excused.  The courtroom I went to was all about theft by receipt of stolen goods over 1000 dollars.  Now lets stop and think a minute.   It seems a little excessive that one hundred people, a judge, two lawyers, the defendant and various witnesses were all assembled for this exercise in justice for  goods costing 1000 dollars.  And if convicted, there are a few years involved in incarceration, parole, probation.  This is quite an industry.  I'm thinking an enlightened justice system could have a six person jury listen to the evidence, bind or free and judgement to serve public service.  Go clean up the cemetery, pick up trash by the road for six months, bring back the chain gang with umbrellas because this is wet wet Oregon after all.

And I do have some other experience for comparison; 70's in California, case was fraudulent check passing.  When I lived in Alaska you became eligible for jury duty after you had received a dividend check.  In Barrow the court was very brisk; my term of jury duty was for an entire quarter EACH YEAR.  I served on three juries; one was a mistrial when it was discovered that not every one had copies of the testimony, one was an assault and one was a DUI.
I also served on Federal jury duty in Nome, Alaska.  That was very interesting. The whole North Slope panel were called to Nome, some didn't make it past Fairbanks because it was a free ride to a bar that sold liquor.  That case was a sort of a sting, some Fish and Game official dressed as a hunter sold illegal mammal parts to some doofus dumb enough to purchase them.  I got a nice ride to Nome where the Iditarod ends.  It was very interesting.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Britain's Got Talent addiction

Recently I have become obsessed with Britain's Got Talent. Watched bits and pieces and loved it. They kept mentioning 250,000 pound prize and performing for the Queen. I started looking and found Royal Performance. I saw bits and pieces of that and remain convinced that we two great nations are separated by a common language. Some of the presenters had such thick (None posh) accents that were nearly incomprehensible to me but the audience ate it up. Dang I wished there were English subtitles. 
Andrew Lloyd Webber came on to present previews of a couple plays he is working on. A musical called “I Can't Sing” Based on Factor X contest with a couple cute songs. One was called “Please Simon” and of course a crowd of contestants were shouting for Simon to sign autograghs etc and was quite witty. Another song “I can't sing” brought the house down. I hope Mr. Webber (Um, he could be Sir Webber for all I know) changes the name of the play to “X Factor; The Story”. 
There was some one called Bill Bailey who is a very amusing and talented musician who managed to play the last bit of The William Tel Overture on a rather fabulous set of bike horns. Truly awe inspiring. 
They brought on the (originally very nervous) Welsh fellow to belt out Nessum Dorma. I love that aria from Turandot and if it gives me goosebumps, he done good. 
I also watched EGT episode last night. A very diminutive elderly lady came out with a much younger dance partner. They started dancing a very demure Tango that went on for about 20 seconds before the infamous Simon lost patience and hit the buzzer. The dancing couple, paused briefly, looked at each other, nodded and busted a move by swinging into a classically fast dance that had him tossing her up and catching her, swinging her between his legs with multiple twists and twirls. The panel were gasping in horror watching this very Senior Citizen doing these fantastic SoYouThinkYouCanDance moves. The audience was screaming in terror and laughing all at once. They finished the dance with a big move and the roof blew off the house. The audience chanted “Put Them Through!!” and one of the panel hit the gold button which means they go directly to the live performances. Turns out the lady was 80 in June, her partner was a dance instructor from Spain. One of the ladies on the panel scampered up onto the stage to hug the day lights out of that outragous little old lady. Simon did apologize for buzzing in too soon. Wow! Wisht I could dance like that. And although there is a site on line to subscribe to BGT.TV I do not seem to able to get that to work for me. Must need a super secret handshake....sigh...
And if this video does not play, it's on You Tube.  Enjoy!!!