4:38 PM Oct 31, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I missed this one over the weekend: Three Indonesian girls beheaded

It is unclear what was behind the attack, but the girls attended a private Christian school and one of the heads was left outside a church leading to speculation that it might have had a religious motive.

Brave, brave, Muhajadeen!

Happy Halloween!

11:35 AM Oct 31, 2005by Rob Ritchie

I've been away all weekend at Necronomicon, and I had a blast, but now I'm totally whiped out. And, I have to go back to work.

So, I don't think I'll be posting too much on this very happy Halloween. But, here's something fun that Paige sent me.

Practice your pumpkin-carving skills here.

1:41 PM Oct 28, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I don't often link to sites I find on Instapundit because I assume that you visit there much more reqularly than you visit here, so what's the point? But, I thought this particular place, Found Photos was of such interest, I would do so.

Somewhere, somebody would love to have these photos. No doubt most of the people in them are dead. But I'll be[t] that little girl is out there somewhere and I'll bet that's her father and mother.

I wonder why the film never got developed. I wonder what course it took to get to me in 2004.

Give it a look.

1:19 PM Oct 28, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I'm almost afraid to say anything, but all week long I've been a Flappy Bird.

Shhhh! Don't look, you'll scare it away!

Pot not a major cancer risk: report

5:11 PM Oct 27, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Phew! Because, that's what I was worried about.

7:07 PM Oct 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I've always enjoyed the John Stossel specials on television.

I also enjoyed this column by him: What Congress Did Is Disgusting.

Because he's right.

12:49 PM Oct 26, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

John Hinderaker over at Power Line has an excerpt of the President's speech to the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives' group that you should go read: Meanwhile, in the Real World.... It's quite good.

How's your day going?

12:02 PM Oct 25, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Better than this guy's, I'll bet. This car is in the ditch outside my office, and has been since yesterday night.

In other words, he slid into the ditch as the hurricane came ashore.

Yesterday, the water was up over the door panels.

This is parody, right?

11:47 AM Oct 25, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Piggy banks 'offend UK Muslims'

British banks are banning piggy banks because they may offend some Muslims.

Halifax and NatWest banks have led the move to scrap the time-honoured symbol of saving from being given to children or used in their advertising, the Daily Express/Daily Star group reports here.

Muslims do not eat pork, as Islamic culture deems the pig to be an impure animal.

Salim Mulla, secretary of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, backed the bank move.

"This is a sensitive issue and I think the banks are simply being courteous to their customers," he said.

Pious gratitude to: lgf

And, another one

11:41 AM Oct 25, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Ouch, that one hits too close to home.

Ain't it the truth

11:39 AM Oct 25, 2005by Rob Ritchie

11:22 AM Oct 25, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

A scale model of San Francisco - in Jello!

The seasons have changed

10:33 AM Oct 25, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Yesterday, a hurricane roared through South Florida, which is characteristic of summer.

Last night is was 47 degrees, which is winter here in Orlando.

Around here, "Fall" refers to the dead branches blown out of the trees by the winds. They are everywhere.

Wind, Rain

2:53 PM Oct 24, 2005by Rob Ritchie

That's what we have here, the rain really came down at 4AM, but abated somewhat and I went to work at my normal time.

There aren't that many people on the roads....

Update:  It's 2:00 PM and it's absolutely beautiful outside, sunny and dry, about 60 degrees. Amazing!

The Party's Over

2:51 PM Oct 23, 2005by Rob Ritchie

The Annual Halloween Party for 2005 is over, and it went very well. We had a lot of people come by, much food was eaten, much beer was drunk, no fights, no scenes, much laughter. A bit of a triumph, I think.

Our theme this year was "Music" so we decorated with album covers and blow-up saximaphones and other such stuff.

Donna was Brunhilda and I was the "Three Tenors":

Thank God it's over! Now to prepare for Wilma!


5:19 PM Oct 22, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Final preparations are underway for the annual Halloween Party. The weather seems to be cooperating: it's humid and warm, but not overly oppressive, and the rain has held off so far.

Got to go pick up the hot wings.

7:13 PM Oct 21, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I'm busy preparing for the party tomorrow night; with Wilma holidaying in Cancun, it looks like we're on, barring any unforeseeable circumstances.

I was able to read a little bit today, and I suggest that you give Victor Davis Hanson your full attention, while I go and put up spider webs and mix drinks.

While no mainstream Democrat has yet gone the McGovern route, it is still politically toxic for any to state publicly that we should be optimistic about the future of Iraq, inasmuch as they are convinced that such an admission could only help George W. Bush. Some of us who are Democrats are baffled that the party that used to decry cynical realism, gave us the Truman Doctrine and JFK’s tough stance against Communism, galvanized us to hold steady in WWI, WWII, and Korea, and preached that we must promote and protect democracies, is now either joining the isolationist Right or drifting into quasi-pacifism — or simply standing against anything that the opposing party is for.

Quick Off the Line

10:59 AM Oct 20, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Take a look at the picture below from the Weather Channel this morning:

This is why I have trouble believing the weather mavens.

According to their projections, Wilma will move approximately 100 miles between Saturday morning and Sunday morning, for an average speed of about 4 miles per hour.

Then, it'll move about 250 miles between then and Monday morning, apparently speeding up to an average of 10 MPH.

Finally, by Tuesday morning, it'll have be moving at an average of 30 MPH to end up 750 miles out to sea!

Now, that's some pretty strong westerly winds. It seems to me that if the winds are that strong, it'd tear that storm apart pretty darn quick.

This morning, I caught about 2 minutes of Fox 'n Friends. They had a "weather expert" on talking about Wilma, and he said that the models they have make contradictory predictions, because the U-turn they expect plays hobb with their numbers.

The Foxbabe then said (paraphrasing closely), "Yes, we keep getting different reports. Ted, exactly what day will Wilma make landfall? And at what time?"

I couldn't stop laughing....

Update:  My co-worker tells me I'm an idiot (not unlikely), and that storms routinely get up to 30 MPH speeds after they've made landfall. I'm still skeptical. Can anyone with the time please look this up?

Update 2:  OK, I heard a weatherman on the Weather Channel say that it's expected that Wilma will be moving at 25 miles-per-houer as she barrels over Florida. I stand corrected.


4:00 PM Oct 19, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Well, as usual, we're keeping a weather eye on Wilma, and it looks pretty certain that we're going to have to deal with her this weekend. Over and above the normal anxiety of a hurricane, we're having our annual Halloween party Saturday night.

As of this moment, we haven't made a decision whether or not to cancel it.

More as this develops.

5:53 PM Oct 18, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

In this post, otherwise about unusual inducements to gun ownership, Glenn Reynolds makes this startling admission: "I like puppies"

At last!


5:22 PM Oct 18, 2005by Rob Ritchie

I'll finish up the travelogue with a discussion of our two days in Charleston, South Carolina. We stayed in a 200-year-old house owned by an elderly couple that have lived there for 37 years and raised their family there. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston and did lots of damage, and our hosts invested their insurance money and restored / repaired their home and turned it into a B&B. That's where we stayed, and it was very nice.

Charleston is an interesting town with lots of history, much of it bad. They've been hit by plague and earthquake and the aforementioned hurricane. It's also where Fort Sumter is located, so it's where the Civil War started, and Charleston spent much of the war being shelled by Union artillery, blockaded and besieged.

Charleston is known for the beauty of their wrought-iron gates and decorations, and for a unique architectural style of home called the Single House.

We spent two days in Charleston, and it rained off and on for the whole time. We went on a bus tour and got a sense of the city's history and layout, and we had two very nice meals, which finished up our vacation very nicely.

On Saturday, the sun breaking through the clouds and breeze blowing them away, we drove back home to Orlando. He'd had a lovely vacation, and were glad to be back home where we didn't have to live out of a suitcase.

Reminder: Alligators Eat Stuff!

4:49 PM Oct 18, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Alligator in Gainesville takes Off With Family's Lunch

GAINESVILLE, FL (AP) -- A Gainesville family says an alligator took a bite out of their lunch. Two women say they were picnicking by Lake Alice on the University of Florida campus with their children when the gator splashed out of the water and took off with their lunch. They were having spicy chicken.

Pious gratitude to: fark

10:21 AM Oct 17, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

As usual, the Great One speaks the words that I cannot:

[F]rankly baseball bores me. Always has. Most sports do. I participated in a phone survey for the Timberwolves basketball team the other day; asked how many games I intended to attend, I pressed the number indicating “Zero.” Asked what was a major factor in my attendance choice, I waited for the option that said “Because it is basketball, and while I have an abstract appreciation of the athleticism and coordination involved in such an enterprise, I would rather sit in a soft chair and read a book. Even a book about basketball.” But the survey seemed fixated on matters of price and seat location and disinclined to press the matter of my general objections. Ah well.

Every sports event I’ve ever attended eventually felt like I was stuck in traffic. And then, after it was done, I’d get in my car, and be stuck in traffic.

...except for the part where the Timberwolves call; they know better than to call me.

And, I like to watch a ball game on occasion.

7:26 PM Oct 15, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

At last! Boobs are good for something!

4:57 PM Oct 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

Keep your ignorant, stupid opinions to yourself, assbite!

2:24 PM Oct 14, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

The Anchoress was asked to contribute to CBS News Blog "Public Eye". Her column is very good, as expected.

Give it a look.

Asheville, Part Two

11:36 AM Oct 13, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Biltmore Estate in Asheville is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited. It is the closest thing to one of those beautiful French palaces scattered around that country that you are likely to find in the United States; and it was built with the same dedication to comfort and disregard for expense that marks the fruits of French aristocrats of the 18th Century.

Biltmore was built by George Vanderbilt in 1895 as a home for his family, and was conceived as a self-supporting estate, along the model of such estates from the English countryside. How successful it was is in this goal is questionable, but they certainly produced much of the considerable resources necessary to support the vast staff necessary to keep the house going. Every modern convenience was incorporated into the estate, from electric lighting and telephones to elevators and washing machines.

In addition, the Vanderbilts were followers of progressive thought concerning the education, health and comfort of their servants; and also followers of the ancient concept of noblesse oblige; they cared for the families of everyone who worked their vast estate in the most grand style.

The house today is open to the public, and has been restored to its fullest beauty, as it was when it was built. The place is stuffed with beautiful works of art and furniture and has a library that had Mrs. Agnostic panting and feeling faint. The gardens surrounding the house are beautiful and ornate, and the estate itself is set in the midst of rolling, wooded hills of great beauty.

We spent a lovely morning and afternoon touring the Biltmore, and had some yummy barbeque in their Stables restaurant for lunch. It was really amazing. We also visited the Biltmore winery, did a little tasting and bought a few bottles of the ones we liked.

As far as I can tell, the Biltmore is really the only thing worth seeing in Asheville. Afterwards, we drove down town to find a book store, and it was a pretty nice place but rather empty on a Wednesday afternoon.

My brother visited Asheville a couple of years ago, and had a different experience. He had some adventures and enjoyed the funky down-town area near the college and rubbing elbows with the hippies.

We saw hippies too, but declined to rub elbows, or anything else, with them.

The rest of our stay in Asheville was uneventful. We had an uninspiring supper someplace forgettable (which is perhaps for the best). The next morning, we woke up to rain, which dogged us all the way to Charleston and hung around for the rest of the trip.

10:53 AM Oct 12, 2005

by Rob Ritchie

I will continue writing about our trip soon, but I'm particularly busy right now. I'm under no illusions that anyone is panting with anticipation for a description of the Madeira reduction I had in Charleston, but I should warn you that I took no usable pictures after Savannah; the weather was just too poor, or conditions were otherwise infelicitous.

So, it'll be all text from here on out.

Back soon.

Asheville, Part One

11:15 AM Oct 11, 2005by Rob Ritchie

From Savannah, we drove on to Asheville, North Carolina, where we had a really bad sandwich at a place called "The Upper Crust." This sandwich was absolutely disgusting. Let me set this up.

The trip took about five hours, and it was a lovely drive. As we traveled through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, we had no idea what kind of horrible meal was awaiting us.

We checked into our hotel about 4:30, and decided to drive out to a place called the Grove Park Inn, which is a fabulous resort and spa in Asheville. We'd been told that we had to go out and have a drink in the lobby, and so we did. The lobby is HUGE, with two enormous fieldstone fireplaces on either end. We had a drink and an appetizer, but the ambiance was spoiled somewhat because they were vacuuming the carpets. We decided, though, that if the spinach dip we ordered was the best spinach dip we'd ever tasted, in keeping with the beauty and elegance (except for the vacuum cleaner) of the hotel, then we'd have dinner there.

It wasn't, so we didn't. Really nice place, though.

So, we drove back to the vacinity of our hotel, and passed a lot of chain restaurants along the Interstate, restaurants that we could eat at anywhere in the country and many with whom I have business dealings and so didn't want to deal with while on vacation. Down the road, we found what we hoped was a small, intimate little gem of a restaurant, one of those ubiquitous and often charming places that advertise "Pizza - Subs - Pasta" under the rubric of Old Italy.

Little did we know what horrors awaited us inside.

Here are some indications, when entering a restaurant, that you should immediately turn and leave without even looking at the menu:

  1. You are practically the only ones in the restaurant even though it's dinner time.

  2. None of the chairs match.

  3. Every booth bench has torn or cut coverings.

  4. You order a beer, and they tell you that they've "temporarily lost their license."

We did not heed these warnings. The appetizer we'd had at the Grove Park Inn had been pretty filling, so we decided to each just order one of their Italian Subs.

My memory gets a little blurry after this. I remember waiting what seemed like a long, long time while the hostess/waitress/cashier read the sports page. When the "food" eventually came out my memory goes pretty blank, but I have an impression of hot, tasteless cheese, rainbow lunch meat and gritty bread.

We fled into the night, our dinner uneaten and our appetites gone.

Thus ended our first day in Asheville. I'm drained; I'll write about the next day later.


8:18 PM Oct 9, 2005by Rob Ritchie

After St Augustine, we moved on to Savannah.

I can't begin to tell you how nice this city is. Lots of fun things to do and see. It's a terrific city for walking, and there are tour busses you can hop on and off to get you from one part of the town to another.

We stayed at a wonderful old inn call the Hamilton-Turner House; we stayed in the Earl of Chatham Suite. It was absolutely heavenly.

Here's a picture I took of the front of the house. Our room was on the top floor, the rightmost window.

Here's another view of the house, from Lafayette Square which fronts it.

Hamilton-Turner House is purported to be "the most haunted house in Savannah" which is saying a lot, because they have a lot of tales to tell about their city. Their particular ghost story involves a billiard table, and the ghosts apparently play pool late at night. And I actually heard them! That is, I heard the sound, which may emanate from shifting tiles or the air ducts, or from the ectoplasmic plane! Ooooh! Scary, eh kids?

Adjacent to the square can be found the beautiful Saint John the Baptist Cathedral.

We also drove by, but did not tour, famous Mercer House, wherein Jim Williams shot a man, as told in "The Book".

Jim's sister still lives in the house and has tours, but will not answer any questions about the murder or her brother. Apparently, it's a sore subject.

Incidently, "The Book" is everywhere in Savannah; you really must read it, or at least see the movie, before you go to Savannah because it really makes it a lot of fun. I mean, images of this thing:

...and this guy:

...are just everywhere.

(OK, another aside; my brother recently saw the movie version of "Midnight" and thought that their choice of Kevin Spacey to play Jim Williams was odd. But, look again at that picture above, and compare it with this:

I rest my case.)

Ok, we had a lot of other non-Midnight-related fun. We went on another ghost tour, this time a walking tour that was very entertaining.

The USS Cole was docked, and I got a picture:

Also, we went to the Telfair Museum of Art and viewed their Maxfield Parris exhibit, very beautiful. It's also where the famous "Bird Girl" statue is now located, because it was being damaged by fans who wanted to chip pieces off of it. Needless to say, they won't let you touch it in the museum.

We were in Savannah two days and nights, and enjoyed ourselves quite a bit. We walked our little feet off, but it was worth it.

Update:  My brother writes to tell me that I misstated his misgivings about Kevin Spacey in the Williams role. He correctly reminds me that it wasn't on the basis of appearance that he protested the casting, since Hollywood can make anyone look like anyone else. He found Spacey's performance as a Southerner unconvincing. I'll leave it to the reader to judge this issue, but I've lived in the South for a number of years, married a Southern girl, and my in-laws are from Birmingham. He sounded authentic enough to me.

We interrupt this travelogue...

8:03 PM Oct 9, 2005by Rob Ritchie

...to bring you this link:

" The List " of Islamic Terror Attacks Since September 11th, 2001

"...It is a ponderous chain!"

Pious gratitude to: lgf

Saint Augustine

6:28 PM Oct 9, 2005by Rob Ritchie

We were in Saint Augustine only one day, Saturday October 1st. The drive from Orlando was only about two hours, so we were there before noon and spent the night.

Mrs. Agnostic and I have visited here many times, so we really just wanted to have some fun and start to unwind.

First, we went to a terrific bookstore called Wolf's Head Books, which we were lucky to find because they had just moved into their new building; in fact, we were their FIRST CUSTOMERS there!

Next, we went to lunch at a place called The Reef on Vilano Beach that has a wonderful view of the ocean. I submit the following in the grand Pious Agnostic tradition of lunchblogging:

Yummy grouper sandwich at 'The Reef'

We went a little pirate crazy in St. Augustine. Must have been the grog!

Also, we visited a bar where we once had a hilarious time many years ago, and the beer was still quite cold.

For dinner, I had paella at a place that brewed its own beer, but I don't remember what it was called; are you detecting a theme?

At night, we went on the Ghosts & Gravestones trolley tour, which was corny but fun.

St Augustine is the oldest city in North America, and one of the most cheerfully touristy places I know. Everything is pretty goofy, and while there are opportunities for education, they can be hard to find among the ice-cream parlors and the souvenir stands, bars and tour guides. But it's a fun place, there's lots to see, and I recommend it.


3:15 PM Oct 9, 2005by Rob Ritchie

Mrs Agnostic and I had a wonderful vacation, and we're glad we are back home. Lots of laundry to do and mail to sort.

I'll post soon with pictures.