Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince

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I had the usual interest in seeing this movie, having read the book and seen its predecessors.  At only a couple weeks after its opening, "the event" ofharry_potter_and_the_half_blood_prince a new Harry Potter movie already seems to  have faded from current conversational fare.

In any case, I'm glad I had a college friend go with my family to see the movie, as he had little interest or knowledge of Harry Potter, having only seen the first movie.  He provided a good counterpoint to those of us who have read the book and were prepared to take note of things left out, altered, or inadequately done.

First, I enjoyed the movie.  It's a nice bit of escapism, and though a dark movie, there was a welcome portion of the better comedic moments between the three principal characters that tended to be left out of previous efforts.  This is despite an observation that the "awkward teenage years" would have been better suited to this cast several years ago, as they now look old enough to have matured beyond the script.  Still, they appeared to have fun with the trials and tribulations of crushes and dating and salvaged what would otherwise be a fairly uneven plot.

I thought they made good use, for once, of the "disposable Professor of the Year," in this case Professor Slughorn, who was an entertaining character.  And I was very relieved to see Harry Potter shed the irksome "woe is me who must save the world" posturing that was overplayed in previous movies. 

Overall, while entertaining, this was only a mediocre movie.

Regarding the title, there was certainly ample Harry Potter in this movie, but The Half Blood Prince was remarkably absent.  The term is introduced in a Potions textbook that Harry finds with scribbled notes correcting much of the content as well as hints of dark magic spells.  Just who is the author?  Should we care?

The movie never seriously investigates or answers these questions.  By drawing on interesting scenes from Lord Voldemort's childhood, the movie may have attempted to place suspicion on Him Who All Things Are Held Against.  Near the end of the movie, we find out that the infrequently seen but still menacing Professor Snape actually amended the book.  This is not surprising considering he was the former Potions instructor, yet it was revealed near the end almost as a forced afterthought.  I found Snape saying (something close to) "Yes, Potter, I'm the Half Blood Prince" to be fairly ridiculous both on its own or within the realm of all things possibly said at that critical juncture.  There was no context provided that Snape was even aware that Harry Potter was even questioning whose book it was, though it was established that Potter had learned one of Snape's spells.

The use of available screen time was often questionable, especially given the movie's length (153 minutes) and the abundance of potential content.  Why spend time on a throw-away special effects scene of Dumbledore restoring a house to its proper housekeeping? Why bother with Potter trying to listen in on Draco on the train to the school? Why torch the Weasley's house?  And why feature a plot development (Draco's adventures with the Vanishing Cabinet) for Voldemort's evil minions, the Death Eaters, to finally appear in a climactic scene in which they do not participate?

The last was the most troubling question, and it's apparently one already asked of the Director, who felt that major wizarding battles were best reserved for the final two movies.

They're certainly necessary for the overarching storyline.  The insertion of related disappearances in "The Daily Prophet" and the cursed actions of students indicate that Voldemort's forces are gaining ground.  Then there's the mysterious actions of the suddenly burdened and isolated Draco Malfoy that suggests that some evil will come of it.  Only, it doesn't.

A major battle scene with the Death Eaters, as the author wrote in the book, would have done a much better job of transitioning to the next chapters where the wizarding world is torn asunder by violence and suspicion, a world outside of the intermittently safe walls of Hogwarts where Harry Potter must next work.

But that's the way it goes when a book rich in detail is converted to a movie.  The Lord of the Rings managed to get it right, but it's rare to see any movie done as well or better than a book.  My enjoyment of the movie did not result on its conclusion.  It's no fault of the movie that this ended on the somber tone with the killing of Dumbledore.  Just as The Empire Strikes Back was an unsatisfying intermediate step in the fuller story, "The Half Blood Prince" suffers in setting the stage for more important things to come. Finally.

Rating: 3 of 5 (regardless of whether one has read the book).

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Old Man's War

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Starting around 8th grade, I began reading science fiction and fantasy voraciously, a fine escape from teenage wasteland.  This lasted until college where I had the opportunity and means to do other things, and I've never fully recovered the interest. SoOld Mans War - paperback now has a different cover. when I do read these genres, it's usually either something very popular (Harry Potter) or something recommended by a friend.

Old Man's War, by John Scalzi (2005), was in the latter category.  The synopsis clearly indicates a stylistic similarity to a recognized "great" in the genre, Robert Heinlein, and the story itself is not far removed from Starship Troopers, the movie of which some may be familiar.

The premise is one that seems so obvious that I'm surprised it hasn't surfaced before (perhaps it has, but I'm just unaware of it).  A neighbor once commented that "it's too bad youth is wasted on the young."  Being young at the time, I had a sense of what he meant, but it clearly wasn't a concern to me.  Having teenagers, it makes more sense to me now...

The story expands on just that observation.  John Perry is 75 years old when his wife dies, and the end of his days is coming.  So, he enlists in the military, which promises some means of not only sustaining life, but making one physically fit for combat.  It's a natural progression from taking the knowledge and wisdom of the elderly and finding a means for extending it for some productive purpose.  Here, it only takes a few technological terms and a willingness to allow the imagination to leap into the author's vision (a necessary requirement for sci-fi or fantasy) for an entertaining and quick read. 

The plot is nothing extraordinary (as the idea of warring against hostile interstellar forces is hardly new).  Still Scalzi puts much thought into answering a wide variety of questions that a reader might ask given the premise, and he inserts ample humor as well.     

Recommended for those that appreciate sci-fi, humor, and a quick read (particularly during the doldrums of baseball season...).  On to the sequels as Sunday afternoons allow.

Rating: 4 of 5.

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Jeff Beck - Live at Ronnie Scott's

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I enjoy live concerts for a lot of reasons – the extra banter from the band, a more “festive” environment for listening as compared with a living room or ear buds, hearing how artists reinterpret their music (or contrarily, play it just as it sounds on a recording – ho hum), and the shared experience with friends come to mind.

On the other hand, there are negatives, possibly including the hassles of traffic and parking, increasing ticket prices, distant seating, poor sound quality, and other "fans" in the audience who consider concerts to be a personal venue to act as jerks.  And that doesn’t even include the tithing required by the evil empire known as Ticketmaster.

There is no perfect solution to consistently avoid the negatives and provide only the benefits of the live concert experience.  But there is a workable middle ground.

Concert DVDs have been extremely popular over recent years, and these have evolved from more of a static, documentary perspective to capturing the essence of the concert by planning at the inception of the idea Jeff Beck live at Ronnie Scottsrather than just showing up with cameras.  I first noticed the improvement in the DVDs for Eric Clapton’s two Crossroads Guitar Festivals, both of which are thoroughly enjoyable.

And such is the case here with Jeff Beck, Performing This Week Live at Ronnie Scott’s.  Disclaimer: This is actually a DVD review, but there is a CD released in 2008 of the same performance.  Ronnie Scott’s is a small but well established jazz club in London, and it’s considered an unlikely venue for a guitarist who, although experienced with jazz fusion genre, is largely known for playing his guitar loud and in large venues.

In this recording, Jeff Beck doesn’t concede his sound.  But playing in an environment where every note can be clearly heard is a challenge, one that Beck and his band exceeds.  Beck’s recorded work is probably not known to most, but he qualifies in every regard as a rock guitar legend.  Beginning with the Yardbirds in the 1960’s (from which came Clapton and Jimmy Page), he’s progressed through blues, jazz fusion, and rock power trio in the ensuing decades.  The song set included here includes some of all of these and more, but the performance joins together nicely despite the different styles.   The concert primarily includes instrumentals, but there are guest vocals from Joss Stone, Imogen Heap (a great complement to Beck's sound), and Clapton. There are an ample number of amazing solos, and the sound and video are so good that it’s an even debate whether the price of “being there” would be better than watching the DVD.  Each time you might wonder "how does he do that?" the camera zooms and lets you watch in detail. The bonus DVD has very interesting interviews, a counterpoint to the typical junk often included as "bonus" material.

Oh, and the price of the DVD was the same as the CD.  A no-brainer.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars!

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The Ultimate Power Grab

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In the news July 14th, 2009 was an article about a group of atheists and agnostics filing suit to prevent the words “In God We Trust” and The Pledge of Allegiance (burdened with the “under God” mention)in god we trust from being engraved at the new Capital Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. The group is candid in their purpose, as read in their name, Freedom From Religion Foundation. The proposed engraving in a public building would be considered by them an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

The argument for the separation of church and State is nowhere to be found in the Constitution of the United States, but it is found in Jefferson’s other writings. Nevertheless, it is the oft-used Gold Standard for those against things religious as if it had Constitutional authority, and the Supreme Court has included Jefferson's comments in guiding a number of their decisions.

In the context of the Constitution, Jefferson’s thoughts were quite agreeable and made sense with what was deemed sufficiently stated in the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Amen to that!

Given its sterling performance in any or all of its responsibilities, I don’t want to even imagine how our government might administer religion if God was under its authority. The European issues several centuries ago with church and State were far more dangerous than the issue brought suit against here. Those who disagreed with the prevailing creeds (Catholic or Protestant), vocally or visibly at least, were likely to be jailed, deported, or executed. Giving consideration to the more recent development of a fundamentalist Islamic State, there is little evidence that societies benefit under a theocracy, no matter their particular religion. The mention of God in a public building obviously pales in comparison.

But governmental recognition of the historic impact of religion upon the institution itself is not the point here. While the Freedom From Religion Foundation is most active with issues of church vs. State, the sentiment inherent in their name is the removal of religion and all its trappings from public discourse, in essence the removal of all PDRs (public displays of religion – such as against Christmas trees on public property, a posting of the 10 Commandments in a courthouse, pre-game prayers at sports events, or the presence of a cross in a church sanctuary being used for high school graduation). Neither these examples nor the ones filed suit against could in any sense be regarded as the government enforcing a State religion on its populace, not to mention enacting a law.

I’ll make some assumptions that FFRF and those of like mind find “the god hypothesis” to be scientifically proven unnecessary for all that "is," the existence of (any) god unproven or not provable, god to be an idea that emerged to explain natural events to primitives and later as a civilizing force of hope to the uneducated, and a societal force that wreaks more havoc than benefit.

On a more personal level, assumptions would include that they are greatly upset when a someone shares their faith, or when someone tries to hand them a religious tract, or when a prayer is held prior to an any assemblage of people outside of a place of worship, or when Billy Graham preempts their favorite rerun of "House" for an evangelical crusade.

They are certainly entitled to those or similar beliefs.

So what's the rub? This group doesn’t like religion, and they don’t like it so much that they’re willing to spend their time and resources to keep religion farther away than just their own arm’s length. One might say that they are fervent about their non-faith and are actively proselytizing the world in seeking disciples.

Sound familiar? The Freedom From Religion Foundation is just as guilty of inserting their own view of God/morality/virtue into public discourse as those they war against, only in positing the negative of theism. Atheism is every bit as much a worldview that shapes the thinking of its (non)believers as religions would hope to affect their own followers. But rather than respecting the philosophical landscape, they hope to put religion in a gradually diminishing box until it exits the stage of public awareness.

I confess I don't understand why someone would take pleasure, be it intellectual or otherwise, in the absence of a deity(ies) of choice. But I do understand the attraction. If there is a God, then it's fair to ask what expectations He (She, or gender neutral...) might have of us. To live a life free of ultimate accountability means that there is nothing that we must necessarily not want to do because of a feeling of wrongness, as one's own judgment of the morality of any act is just as valid as anyone else's.

Certainly the vast majority of people who do not believe in a god do not choose to rape, pillage, or plunder. But when someone does choose to do these things, they might certainly be found guilty of breaking a societal law, but there is no moral basis to say that what they did was wrong.

If morality is defined by what makes sense to a population's majority, it is necessarily a shifting definition that can vary over time. An absolute in moral terms (positing that something is truly good or evil) can only be found if there is an unchanging and authoritative lawgiver.

When faced with this unwelcome insertion of a God who defines morality and judges, it's not surprising that many would rather rest on the self-preservation tendencies of societal law and deny the existence of The Absolute. The logical complication of insisting that "there is no absolute truth," however, is that the statement itself is also said in absolute terms.

The rejection of ultimate accountability speaks to one of the simplest (and often ridiculed) of biblical stories, where man (Eve did it first!) ate fruit from the forbidden tree, yielding to the temptation: "You shall be like gods." One only needs to scratch at the surface of this very deep theological doctrine (original sin and autonomy) to recognize that in denying God, we are elevating ourselves to his vacant throne. After all, one must be omniscient to know absolutely that God does not exist.

It seems many are too busy to reflect on spiritual things or don't want to even think about "God" because of the potential implications and obligations that might affect the way they choose to live their lives. So I certainly respect the opinions of those who have taken the time to think these things through, regardless of their eventual choices.

As for me, I find it reasonable to believe that neither matter nor life created itself and that, as a result, life has a significance beyond what we choose to attach to it. The freedom of religion (or non-religion) as guaranteed by the Constitution makes sense, but the freedom from religion strikes me as strident atheism seeking to exclude theistic considerations, wherever they may be found.

Apologies to those who come here expecting lighter fare, but if I viewed life as ultimately insignificant, "Amused to Death" would have been a more appropriate summary of the content here.

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Patterson Hood - Murdering Oscar

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...(and other love songs).  Such is the humor of Hood, the lead talent behind Drive-By Truckers, who, for those in the know, is the leading southern rock band today.

DBT's and Hood's solo work share similar themes.  These aren't the pop-rock tunes of .38 special, the affected vocals of Molly Hatchet, or the defense of things Southern by Skynyrd.

Instead, Hood typically writes either about characters one generally doesn't want on their list of friends, relationships gone sour, or biting yet hopeful commentary on the injustice faced by the working class guy.  Hood's strength is his narratives and the decidedly moral undertones of his characters, positively in family terms, and negatively towards most anything else.

He is also decidedly non-religious, never mocking faith but leaving it at arms length.  Related themes of redemption from sin are frequent, but invariably the sin is justified and there remains the only the telling of why it is (such as going to church and looking the preacher in the eye after burying a banker - guiltyMurdering Oscar - Patterson Hood of a foreclosure - in a sink hole).  That's across the body of his work.

In this release of leftovers from the last decade, he jumps right into the same themes.  The title track (written quickly before a performance before a politically correct audience):

Oscar Oscar was destroying me
I killed Oscar, burden lifted off of me
I killed Oscar now I'm happy happy happy
I killed Oscar before he killed me
I don't need forgiveness for my sins
I don't need redemption for my sins
I don't need salvation cause I saved myself
I don't need your help because I helped myself
I don't need nobody trying to save save save me
I killed Oscar and I forgave me

In "Granddaddy," he speculates on his later years:

But I ain't taking any chances on my fate
Gonna bounce you on my knees just in case
When the time comes to burn out or fade away
Like the rest of my life, I'll be running late

In "Heavy and Hanging," he tells of the guy who is running out of options:

I don't have lots of money like those people on the TV
See I have some real problems
Like what to do tomorrow and the day after that
And where I left that ski mask

In "Back of the Bible," he finds an empty sheet to write a song:

I wrote you a love song on the back of a Bible
On the back of a Bible, A love song for you
I ain't no authority about what it says in it
Can't even begin it
But that page in the back is blank and waiting for you

Musically, despite some worthy bass lines by his father and a Chris Isaak-like use of girl vocals on one song, the songs here stylistically are no different from his group work, and several songs might have improved the last two fairly lackluster DBT releases. 

For what amounts to leftovers, it's no surprise that some of these songs certainly underachieve, particularly as Hood forces lyrics into choruses that often don't fit or where the narrative is particularly thin.  Like his band mates, he has a limited vocal range, and he's most comfortable with loud, jangling guitar chords to carry each song.  This CD was recorded four years ago, and at the time it would have been considered a musical departure from DBT, trading in slide guitar for pedal steel to handle sweetening the sound spectrum.  Unfortunately, with Jason Isbell's departure, DBT now sounds closer to this album, the pedal steel a mediocre tradeoff for Isbell's superb guitar work.   

One of the best aspects of this CD is the accompanying booklet. It has lyrics to some songs, but also has the background story of what caused him to write each one.  It's insight that is humorous and appreciated, and, though also provided on his web site, supports my cause: Death to the Downloads! Long Live the CD!

Recommended Songs: "Pollyanna," "Pride of the Yankees," "Granddaddy"

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

The only song I could find from this CD in video form: "She's a Little Randy"

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Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit


To be fair, I approach a Jason Isbell release with a bias, that is, beyond my general appreciation of the music.  I don't blame Isbell, but he left the Drive-by Truckers due to a soured relationship with their bassist, leaving them artistically less than they were before.  I mean, when that happens, shouldn't it be the bassist that hits the road rather than a songwriter and ace guitarist?

In any case, when I hear his solo release, I want to hear something that makes his departure from DBT seem somehow worth it.  It's not a fair expectation, butJason Isbell & The 400 Unit I can't help it.  And, through this his second solo release, he still hasn't lived up to it.

This doesn't mean that it isn't good, though. In fact, it starts well.  "Seven-Mile Island" has a nice shuffling beat, which is followed by "Sunstroke" (which really wanted to be a DBT song), but it's still solid.

Interestingly, the rockers ("Good," "However Long") in this set seem a bit formulaic but are needed to add some variety to an otherwise evenly paced CD.  In fact, stylistically, many tend towards Delbert McClinton's established territory of tough times, whiskey, and song, packaged in songs that are probably heard best in songwriter venues with smaller audiences.  Despite several rock guitar riffs, there is more often than not a sense of McClinton through the CD, and "Cigarettes and Wine" and "No Choice in the Matter" measure up to McClinton's better songs.

Isbell remains an excellent lyricist, typically writing in narratives that are insightful or cutting, but rarely cynical ("Streetlights," "Soldiers Get Strange").  Overall, this CD is a solid set of songs and shows his solo direction a little more clearly than his initial CD, Sirens of the Ditch.  But with a limited vocal range and a delivery that is suited to certain styles of song structures, he may also end up like McClinton, looking back on a solid catalogue, but with only a handful of tunes that are remembered later.  That doesn't mean he isn't worth a listen.

Recommended Songs: "Seven-Mile Island," "No Choice in the Matter"

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars.


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iPhone - Photo Distractions

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I have the iPhone 3G (not 3Gs), which has a 2.0 megapixel resolution.  For candid photos in good light, it's adequate for most needs, despite a lack of zoom capability.

Any picture can be further edited on Photoshop or similar software on a home computer and returned to the Camera Roll, but there are options within available iPhone Apps that perform many edit functions suitably.  There are, of course, a wide variety of competing Applications that perform similar functions, and there may be others that are better.  But following are some that I've used and enjoyed.

The basics:   Photo fx ($2.99) provides a variety of pre-determined filters that convert your photphoto fxo to certain "looks," such as with a soft focus, night vision, sepia, black & white, etc.  Most of these include slider handles where you can further adjust the default effect.  More universally needed, it also has a useful cropping function that takes only a short time to master.

Cool fx ($0.99), made by the same vendor,cool fx has a wider  selection of default filters that can be applied, and should meet most needs.


Simple:  While I was in Death Valley, I wanted to take a 360 degree picture of the horizon, and I used Pano ($2.99) to do it.  After taking the first picture, it will provide a ghost of the right hand side of the  previous picture, so that as you take the next, youPano can align the previous image with the next shot.

This worked fairly well, despite not being able to see the screen due to the fireball in the sky and the loss of effectiveness from merging so many frames into one.   That said, it worked well enough for a rather extreme application, and works very well for when only merging 2-3 frames.  The following was one picture, but I had to split it into two for display here.

 Left half, 5-6 adjacent pictures merged.

Right half of the picture.  Yes, that's the top of the car.  It was 110 degrees and I was in a hurry!

Fun - Why not take any photo and turn it Postman into a faux postcard?  Postman ($0.99) does just that, and includes a built in facility to either save the "postcard" or mail it - by posting the picture on a variety of services or emailing it directly. 

Postman offers font and colorPostman options for text on both 'sides' of the card.  Hopefully, updates will include the ability to move the placement of the text on the picture, or to crop a preferred portion of a photo for the main picture.  Perhaps a future version would also allow the stamp postmark to indicate the city from a current GPS location.

The App currently cannot successfully post to Facebook, something which they're working on.  But photos can be uploaded directly via the Facebook App, so it's not a great loss.

Fun:  ...and possibly useless, but I've really enjoyed Color Splash ($1.99).  This App converts a photo tocolor splash Black & White, and provides a surprisingly intuitive interface for "coloring in" any portion of the picture to its original color.  By zooming in on the picture, quite an acceptable level of ease and accuracy is allowed to "stay within the lines."  Make a mistake... press a button and trace back over it with b/w.

The Cards Night Vulture on his perch. My wife's jewelry doesn't need this App to dazzle.


St Simons Lighthouse Emphasizing a good college choice.

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Yay. Big Winner.

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Shockingly, we didn't win the lottery this weekend despite my wife's prognostication of forthcoming abundant wealth.  This disappointment came as a sudden jolt as we passed a billboard with the updated jackpot on I-75N.  So much for Christmas, kids!  But, as an elderly lady once said to me, "Sonny, you have to be in it to win it." 

And truly, there is "a" chance of winning the lottery.  Leaving the math to others, the reported likelihood is 1 in 175,711,536.   As so many say, you have better odds of being struck by lightning... (1 in only 5,000!) 

Well, there is no action without a primary cause, and if you don't buy a lottery ticket, then there is no chance of winning it.  Many would argue, and logical minds would agree, that the difference between 0 and 1 is so small that it really isn't worth an "investment" of a dollar.  Still, there is a chance, which can be defined as the mathematical probability of a known outcome.

Instead, "chance" let me cash in on another improbability, 1 in... um, well, I don't know.  I'll explain.

On July 3rd, we were on the way to pick up my daughter for a weekend break from the Georgia Governor's Honors Program (says proud parent...), which requires, seemingly along with the rest of the world, driving south on I-75 towards Florida.  The Georgia D.O.T. has blessed I-75 with their caring attention for years, resulting in very long stretches of road construction, speed zones, swerving lanes, warning pylons, and attending State Patrol officers.  To set the picture, it's three lanes in each direction, and on holiday weekends, five lanes would be appropriate.

And so it was that somewhere south of Cordele, GA (notable only as a fast food oasis), that a fairly new Toyota Highlander zoomed by me in the right lane (per the Georgia Highway Laws manual, that would technically be the "slowest" lane, with faster traffic to the left).   But I digress.  This vehicle then ran afoul of some rude person going the speed limit, cut left to the center lane into a gap of about 1.5 car lengths and zoomed far enough ahead to get around the strange, law-abiding driver that blocked his rightful path.   (Speeding, cutting and crowding, possible reckless driving, but hey, who's counting?)

As fate and The Handbook of Traffic Truisms would have it, I passed him only miles later in one of those inexplicable interstate delays where there is no cause, only effect.  Yes, it was a construction zone, but there was no work being done.  There was no visible evidence to account for the many highway travelers having to slow to 5 mph on the interstate, but so it goes.  Slowly.

One might ask reading forward why it is that I paid attention to this particular jerk driver, when there are so many from which to choose.  I can only say that I left my iPod at home, and I was music-less in this particular FM wasteland.  As such, my thoughts were free to roam wherever they might, and they certainly meander all over the place when I drive.  My wife event asks me what I'm thinking about, to which I answer, "I don't know."  This is a learned mantra from a seasoned driver.  Other alternatives would be "only of you" by the more newly married, "acronyms for the license plates in front of us" by the creative, or "whether I answered an e-mail at work" by the insane.  I'm sure there are other answers, but mine works for all occasions, thank you very much.

So, first observation: bad driver.  Second observation: Same "Toyota" blue as my father-in-law's Forerunner. Third observation:  Distinct peace symbol on the rear door.  Translated in seasoned driver thinking, all three observations are summed as follows: "How did this stupid hippy freak afford such a nice car?"

Fast forward two days, now driving north on I-75, when, surprise!, a blue Toyota Highlander passes me on the right, cuts over to the middle lane, accelerates, then cuts right, successfully getting in front of whoever was holding him from his appointed rounds.  And yes, it had the same peace symbol on the rearYes, thank you, I know it's not a good idea to take a picture while driving. door.  So, what are the odds of seeing the stupid hippy freak twice?

With some consideration, it's not uncommon to see the same cars occasionally during my morning commute and more rarely in the afternoon.  But what are the odds of seeing the same vehicle on an interstate roughly 3.5 hours away from home, two days apart?

For one, it might happen more often that I might surmise.  If I hadn't paid particular attention to the vehicle on the way south, I wouldn't have made any observation on the return trip other than giving myself a larger cushion away from an idiot driver.  And when all these random musings come to their rightful end, if I have one chance in some great number of winning, I'd prefer that Lady Luck had concentrated her energies on the lottery.

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