Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cheap English Candy Bars - A Review

Scanned These "English" Candy Bars

My daughter pulled these out of her purse. They came back from London with a friend of hers. Funny thing is they were all made in Ireland. The Mars Bar was made in Dublin. The Cadbury bars were not that good actually. The Cadbury Time Out was most awful. I don't know if there's some sort of chocolate shortage in England-Ireland, but they need to add more chocolate to their chocolate bars - listen to me. Even the Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar, what a horrible name, wasn't that good, even though it did have more chocolate. Quite bland.

I don't really like candy bars, but that's not to say that I don't enjoy a bar of dark chocolate several times a week, but I can say that these candy bars were not very tasty - and from Europe I might add. There really is a difference between a candy bar, and a chocolate bar.

The chocolate bars which I find myself consuming most often come over from Germany, Switzerland, and France. European chocolates are available at Walgreen's, and other chain stores, and are a real bargain.

Just a few decades ago you could hardly find good European chocolates here in the states, but no more.

A few days ago my daughter gave me a chocolate bar which she bought at Walgreen's which came from Poland! That chocolate bar wasn't so good, but it still beat all the crappy Hershey's bars that line the rows of American Grocery store checkouts.

Speaking of Hershey's they are offering a premium line of dark chocolates, which are actually quite good for a Hershey's product. It took Hershey's a very long time to enter into the dark chocolate competition, but they are not only good, but better priced than some of the European chocolates.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Real Flying Car UFO Story

Eye Witness Sketch of 1986 California Flying Car UFO

A few years back I had the pleasure of working for an Internet Service Provider. The IP was started, and based in Springfield, Illinois. That company had within its employ some early website designers whom were very talented. One was a graphics artist whose name I won't share without his permission.

I had a small geocities website dedicated to a few UFO experiences which I had. One day in the break room over lunch my supervisor was talking to another coworker about ghost, and the topic of UFOs eventually popped up. I ended up telling my supervisor about my web pages, and she pressured me to provide the link - which I did.

I asked her not to make a big deal about it, but soon she ended up telling a few others at work about the site. Eventually the graphics artist heard about the sight, and while I was in his office we began sharing our stories about our UFO encounters.

It was then he told me of an incredible encounter with a flying car UFO back in the mid 1980s while he and his father were driving north along Interstate 80 in California.

As he was an artist I asked him to sketch the flying car, which he did.

I've kept the little sketches for nearly a decade, and intended one day to share them in some way, and so now I do.

The sketch above shows in the upper right hand corner how a very bright UFO in the distance hovered high in the sky, moving about somewhat slowly descended (straight line) behind a bridge. As my coworker and his father drove northward traffic came to a virtual halt as an automobile sized UFO just a few feet off the shoulder of the I-80 traveled southbound.

The small craft hovered several feet off the ground, had very bright lights, and darkened window areas. It was colored a very dark green.

The sketch shows I-80 and the bridge in the foreground, it shows the UFO car to the right of the road.

Eye Witness Sketch of 1986 California Flying Car UFO

I asked my coworker to sketch the flying UFO car, and he did. The sketch on the top shows a side view, and the sketch below shows a top view (as he imagined it would look). Notice the very bright lights positioned on the car, and window areas. The windows were darkened and not translucent enough to be seen through from the outside.

My coworker said that whenever he talks with his father one of the first things his father will mention is the day they saw this fantastic flying car.

For the 1980s such a craft would be fantastic indeed. I'm not certain if what they saw was extraterrestrial or not. Perhaps it was a remote controlled unpiloted aerial vehicle? Certainly it would have been top secret, and remains so today - twenty years later!

I suspect some type of hardware malfunction.

If I had been there I'd have jumped out of the car, and ran up to the craft, maybe trying to block its way. My coworker said that as it hovered it was only moving a few miles per hour.

I suspect I'd probably have been taken away, and still sitting in some federal prison for having done such a thing, but still it would have been fun.

Folks there are lots of secret things that will never be shared with us during our lifetimes. Future generations may be scootering around in Jetson's-like cars after all - but it's highly unlikely anyone living today will own such a means of transportation.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Koshi Kat & Half Blood Prince

Koshi Kat Loves To Curl Up With A Good Harry Potter Book

Just love how photogenic Koshi Kat is. Sometimes a photo can capture just a bit of the personality of the subject being photographed, well this photo does a good job capturing a bit of Koshi Kat's persona.

There's a little person there. I'm sure Koshi has a soul.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harry Potter - Half Blood Prince

The premier showing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is taking place as I write this. I didn't look up how many theaters here in Springfield, Illinois are showing Order of the Phoenix, but I'm sure they're all packed. The movie started just after midnight. I've talked with several fans of the Potter series today, and all expressed a keen desire to show up for the first showing, but none said they could attend - that's what happens when you get old I guess.

Despite not attending tonight I am hoping to catch the movie this weekend.

This post, however, is about Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I ran out to Barnes & Noble tonight and purchased Half Blood Prince. Thanks to my brother and sister in law who gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card for Christmas I have the money to purchase the books.

I also reserved a copy of the upcoming, and final Harry Potter book which will arrive on bookshelves in less than two weeks!

So far I've read the very first chapter of Half Blood Prince, and it definitely picks up where Order of the Phoenix ends. I've been reading in the press lately how author J.K. Rowling has been coming under increasing pressure from fans to not let Harry Potter die. I too am feeling a bit concerned. It's such a nice series, but I know something has to give - either Potter or the Dark Lord - He Who Must Not Be Named - must die, and I suspect Harry Potter will not survive.

But what does that mean? How will Harry Potter die? Certainly he can not die in the sense that the Dark Lord prevails, but at the same time we know that the Potter series is coming to a definite ending. There must be some ultimate act of self sacrifice on the part of our hero. Everything seems to be pointing to Harry Potter not being able to defeat the Dark Lord through magic alone. Yet we know Harry Potter is the one person who can defeat him. So it is something else about Harry that can defeat He Who Must Not Be Named. Most speculation I've read suggest it is Harry Potter's ability to love. That love in some way will overcome hate.

How J. K. Rowling spins the final chapter of the final book in this series is something hundreds of millions of Harry Potter fans around the world expect to find out in less than a fortnight. I can hardly wait. This is why I decided to read Half Blood Prince now instead of waiting. Reading the last three books in rapid succession, and taking in the fifth movie is certainly helping to define the color of this summer of 2007.

Movie Reviewer Makes Mistake - I Point It Out to Him

Oh yes, here's an email which I sent to San Francisco movie reviewer, Mick LaSalle who incorrectly identified one of the magical creatures in his Order of the Phoenix movie review.

You stated, "A flight across the Thames at night on broomsticks is a beautiful thing to see. A similar flight, later in the film, on centaurs is almost equally satisfying", however, the winged creatures to which you refer are actually Thestrals.

Some Potter Mythology

Centaurs are a proud race of creatures not the servants of man for goodness sake. They'd probably shoot arrows at you if you ever venture into the forbidden magical forest outside Hogwarts for suggesting that they would help Harry and his crew. Although a Centaur saved Harry Potter's life by giving him a ride in an earlier book that Centaur, a friend of Dumbledore's, is now under a threat of death from the other Centaurs, and is banned from ever returning to the magical forest when he agreed to teach at Hogwarts).

Thestrals, winged reptilian horselike creatures, have a keen sense of direction, can only be seen by those who have witnessed death, and may give a ride if you can attract one with say, a lick of Giant's blood, or perhaps some fresh kill.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Response From Senator Durbin

O.K. I know this is boilerplate. Something anyone voicing their concerns about the Iraq War receives. Still let's look at it. My responses in purple. I use the color red to indicate areas of interest.

The following, not including my comments, came from Dick Durbin's staff as a result of an email which I sent to him a few days ago. Look for my better written version of that email on my blog posted a few days ago.

Thank you for letting me know of your opposition to the war in Iraq. I appreciate hearing from you.

I agree that our policy toward Iraq needs a new direction. I voted against the resolution authorizing this war, and since then, far too many of our men and women in uniform have died there. With our involvement now in its fifth year, more than 3,500 American soldiers have been killed and more than 25,000 have been wounded, including thousands who have suffered life-changing injuries such as traumatic brain injury or the loss of a limb. In addition to these losses, this war is costing us $2 billion each week. Add to this the escalating sectarian violence and the unknown number of innocent Iraqi civilians who have perished as a result, and it is clear the Bush Administration lacks a coherent strategy to stabilize Iraq and achieve victory.

JP: I didn't know Senator Richard Durbin voted against the resolution authorizing the war. I suspect there were several points at which Congress had the chance to delay, or stop our headlong rush to war. I'm hoping Senator Richard Durbin consistently voted against the war. If so, my hat is off to him since I was duped by Bush into supporting the war. I honestly believed that our intelligence community must have possessed evidence of weapons of mass destruction. I like most were fooled by lies from the Bush Administration. Who would have believed any administration would stoop so low after the attacks on the twin towers as to lie to the American people, and the world about who was responsible?

The invasion of Iraq was possibly the greatest policy failure of any administration in our nation's history. It is time for a new policy that will start bringing our troops home. Congress went on record in support of a phased withdrawal when it approved a supplemental spending bill containing a timetable for redeploying our troops from Iraq. Tragically, President Bush vetoed that bill and vowed to do the same with any other bill that included a timetable. We do not yet have the votes to compel him to change course, but the supplemental appropriations bill Congress ultimately sent to the President is not the end of the debate on the war in Iraq. This debate will continue until the President relents and implements a plan to bring our troops home.

JP: It's too bad that Congress can't keep sending bills to the President anyway - like one bill a week until Bush is kicked out of office. The Democrats could say they sent a hundred bills to the President only to have the President veto them all. I don't think the American people would blame the Democrats for the war or for dragging their feet. They'd know the Republicans, and the Bush Administration was completely to blame for keeping our troops in Iraq.

The measure that was signed into law takes one small step. It requires the Iraqi government to adhere to specific conditions in order to continue to receive economic assistance from the United States. The President may waive that provision, but to do so he must justify the waiver and describe the actions being taken to bring the Iraqi government into compliance. Ultimately, however, the bill lacks the clear timetable for redeployment that many of us worked hard to include.

JP: Symbolism only, and I dare say that this one measure was not enough.

Our troops have done everything we have asked of them. We owe it to them and their families to hold our government accountable and continue to press for a new direction. We must make it clear to Iraq's political leaders and its people that they must take responsibility for the future of their nation, engage in an effective reconciliation process, and establish and maintain peace with the help of a trained and fully functioning Iraqi security force. The Iraqis face a difficult road ahead, and we should continue to help them as they strive to move forward. But by continuing our current open-ended military commitment in Iraq, the Bush Administration is simply prolonging the day when the U.S. soldiers there are able to return home to their families. I am saddened and angered by the Administration's insistence on continuing and escalating our role in what is now an Iraqi civil war. I will continue to push for a new direction that brings our troops home.

JP: This was some good boilerplate. Obviously Senator Durbin doesn't have time to respond to every letter, or email, but he probably approved the text. Nothing new here, but in a way that's reassuring in the sense that what I hear him say on CSPAN is what he's telling everyone, and that's that he wants to bring our troops home.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Order of the Phoenix - My Take

Last week I announced on this blog that I started reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I have read every book in the series just before attending its theatrical release.

Part of the reason why I chose to read the books just before each movie was released was laziness, but as each movie approached I also realized that I enjoyed racing to finish the associated book just in the nick of time.

And so this weekend I decided I simply had to finish up Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, what with the movie coming out in a matter of days.

This morning I finished the book after reading all night. In fact I left just twenty pages for myself before sleeping, and finished those up this morning.

As this isn't going to be an actual review of the book I'll cut to the chase and simply say - wow!

Great book for what it is.

Tonight I watched a one hour retrospective which appeared on A&E which reviewed the first four Harry Potter books, and movies. It also included many recent interviews of the actors which portray the main characters in the series, and included some tantalizing clips from the soon to be released movie.

From everything I've seen I can tell you it looks very exciting.

I can think of no other series of books or movies which start their main characters out as children, and slowly progress them through adolescence, and what will inevitably be early adulthood. So this must be really exciting for my daughter's generation who have aged year by year in step with the characters in the movies.

Also, there's the fact that the last book in the Harry Potter series is due for release later this month.

I plan to break my pattern, and purchase the two remaining books in the series.

I'm doing this as a form of self defense, for if I don't one of my coworkers will ruin the ending of the series for me, and I won't let that happen.

Stephen King is correct when he says that a hundred years from now people will still be reading the books in this series.

No doubt I'll be going to the movie this week!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Open Letter to Senator Dick Durbin

Senator Durbin,

I've been a life long supporter, and wish to thank you for your service.

As I see it, President Bush will not bring our troops home from Iraq despite mounting opposition to the never ending war there.

I believe the Iraq war has harmed the national interest.

I've seen you speak several times on CSPAN, and I suspect you are as frustrated with the Bush Administration as the majority of the American people are.

I realize that the slim Democratic majority in the Senate makes it difficult to proceed in any bold fashion. Without Cloture Republicans can filibuster - effectively killing a bill before it even has a chance.

Unfortunately, I have begun to notice in the blogosphere that many who supported Democrats in the last election feel betrayed.

I'm hoping that this sense of betrayal doesn't keep people from voting in the extremely important 2008 election.

The fate of the nation depends upon voters understanding that Democrats did not betray them, but that they simply lack the votes to overcome Congressional procedural obstacles employed by Republicans. That such procedures will prevent bringing our troops home unless either the Democrats take additional seats in the House and Senate, or until we have a Democrat as president again.

I believe that our nation should be using the money we are wasting in Iraq on subsidizing a shift to alternative fuels.

We've wasted so much of this nation's treasure on the Iraq debacle it is simply mind boggling to wrap one's thoughts around how much good we could have done right here in this nation.

I often wonder how many wind mill farms, geothermal electric plants, and solar plants could have been built with the money we have wasted on the Iraq war?

I can only guess how many more hybrid vehicles, flex fuel vehicles, and electric vehicles could have been purchased if we had used money wasted on the Iraq war to finance tax breaks for those purchasing such vehicles?

I see many problems ahead for America which can be avoided if we only had leaders willing to tell the truth, and challenge corruption.

I feel that you are such a leader. Please do what you can to end the Iraq war, and help this nation move toward energy independence.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Edited for presentation on my blog. I sent this to the Honorable Senator Durbin.

email jp






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