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Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. After yesterday morning's entry, I made a Facebook post, half-seriously looking for a game to join. Within a couple of hours, I had three invitations. I turned down D&D and Shadowrun in favor of Pulp Cthulhu. I know all three of the GMs, and have no doubts that the games would be quality, so it was something of an embarassment of riches.

Saw Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets this morning. It's a very beautiful movie, and there are some damned imaginative bits, but ultimately, it just isn't very good. The lead actor isn't believable, and there's no sense of connection between him and the leading actress. Clive Owen is unsurprisingly good, and there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it nod to The Fifth Element.

Pakistan removed its prime minister from office last week. Well, he resigned, but it seems he got resigned after fallout from the Panama Papers. There's likely to be a mostly-orderly transfer of power and all that, but as a GM, I have to take advantage of this. This is what starts it. In the interim, ISI makes a real play to move out of its deep state operations, but things only destabilize. The new PM and their cabinet have initial popular support from the military, but ISI action and resistance from Sharif's party cause a lot of problems. Tensions with India rise, and a shooting war breaks out. Border territory changes hands; other countries start pulling personnel and resources, and someone somewhere uses a nuclear weapon. The nuclear arsenals are quickly depleted or destroyed, with China launching its own strikes to destroy both aggressors' means to fight. The world has irrevocably changed. Good luck, agents.
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My Dodgers are on a real tear as the first half of the season comes to a close. They've won 25 of their last 29 games, and are 60-29 going into this afternoon's game against Kansas City. Tuesday night's the MLB All-Star Game, and six Dodgers are on the NL roster. It's a good time to be a fan.

Played an Epic-scale X-Wing game Friday evening. I got out my CR90 and a half-dozen fighter escorts against an Assault Carrier and a heap of TIEs. I got in some good shots early in the game, knocking out the Bombers before they could get their ordnance off, but the TIEs were the death of a thousand paper cuts, and I lost in a slugfest. The game got a lot of attention while league matches were going on, so I've scheduled a Team Epic night in a couple of weeks. Assuming the ratio of interested to will-actually-play holds up, we should have two Epic matches going.

Yesterday was Mom's birthday. Dad and I took her for a cruise on the Belle of Louisville, something she's wanted to do for a while. Really great experience. Weather was about perfect - low 80s and scattered clouds. We had a reserved table in the ballroom/dining deck for lunch, and the boat never felt crowded, even with a sold-out cruise. After lunch, we headed up to the open-air sightseeing deck for the remainder of the cruise. The Belle took us upstream almost to the new East End bridge, so plenty to see along the way. The old steamboat can get some speed when she's underway - jet skis and powerboats were zipping by (and their passengers gave the Belle her due), but we overtook a couple of barges and their towboats during the cruise. I went below to get a look at her engines, and it was like stepping back to another era of engineering. The Belle is a no-fooling steamer, 103 years old, so it's all boilers and pistons and vents and such down there. Pretty darn cool, and would definitely do this again. Possibly on one of the distillery tasting cruises.

I'm into October in my Pandemic Legacy campaign. Things aren't going well - we took steps to try to contain COdA as much as possible, but a streak of Scarlet Fever epidemics did us in. New Zealand's provided some emergency assistance, but it feels like it's just delaying the inevitable.

Finally got to see both Kubo and the Two Strings and Moana. Very different, but both very good. I was glad that Moana didn't become Maui's story -  Dwayne Johnson exudes charisma, even through a Pixar animation - and we got to see the mythology play out and a fun story unfold. Gave up on seeing Alien Covenant in a theater. I felt like I was constantly talking myself into going, and that was a warning sign - plus the not-very-goodness of Prometheus a few years ago.

Truth

Jun. 22nd, 2017 07:12 pm
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Calendar summer is upon us. Short nights, hot days, and at the moment, a heavy rain here in Bowman.

I saw Wonder Woman this afternoon. Loved it from start to finish. It's a gorgeous movie, long on action and myth. Gal Gadot is fantastic as Diana, and I'm sure I missed plenty of details in the movie, because there are times when I couldn't look away from her. She's attractive enough in the collection of period costumes, but when she's on screen in the WW costume, I'm just enthralled. She moves and looks and acts like a goddess. It's uncanny and so lovely.

On the smaller screen, I've started Amazon's The Man in the High Castle. It's quite good, expanding logically on the book.

And on - or behind - a different screen ... my trusty ol' iMac remains trusty, but there are some consequences of its age showing up. Not so much in the machine itself, but in some software. OS updates are no longer available for it (10.10.5 is the last version that it'll run), and Blizzard reminds me that 10.10.5 won't be supported much longer. So, I'm looking at a replacement, or successor, maybe. Despite being nearly ten years old (I bought it in '08, a factory refurb probably built in late '07), it still performs more than adequately, and, well, it does what I want and need it to do, and there is this grossly underutilized PS4 over there.

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Roger Moore died, age 89, on May 23. Moore was the James Bond I grew up on, thanks to ABC's regular broadcasts of Bond movies on Sunday nights when I was a kid. Seven outings as 007, from 1973 to 1985, from one of the most perfect movies (For Your Eyes Only) to one of the worst Bond films (Moonraker). He was the playboy Bond, more lighthearted than his predecessor and far more so than Timothy Dalton.

As this entry's title suggests, I'm watching Pierce Brosnan's last Bond film. Gods, I love Brosnan as Bond. He managed to combine Moore's smoothness and Dalton's and Connery's toughness. Goldeneye is one of my favorite Bond movies - really, outside of DAD, I think Brosnan's run is my favorite. I love Jonathan Pryce's Eliot Carver and Famke Janssen's Xenia Onatopp and the tank chase, just all of it.
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Spring Break was a bit of a wash, but it made a lot of progress towards completing my onsite hours requirement for the practicum. In fact, I'll hit that mark on Friday, and then I can put a stake in that motherfucker. Write up my report and put the presentation and poster together and that thing is done.

Still a lot of work to do. Graduation is less than eight weeks away, and I think the last day of the semester is 38 days out. With any luck, Integration will be done on the 3rd. One individual paper, one paired presentation, one team paper for Social Determinants, and that's done. Big ugly paper and project for Policy, and that's done. Train wreck of a group project and some niggling assignments, and Evaluation is done. Planning on many many long nights over the next month.

Had a talk with Dr. Wilson before class this afternoon. He wanted to confirm that the practicum was on track, and seemed pleased that I'd logged a whole lot of hours this month. We're going to have a longer discussion soon about me pursuing another degree in 2018.

I'm not exactly dissatisfied with the HPBS program, but I'm not in love with it, either. I've gotten as much out of my Management Systems electives as I did any of the HPBS courses, and Dr. Esterhay made a heck of a pitch for the new MHA program. It's interesting, and there are really good employment prospects there, but it's just not really something I can see me doing. I've ruled out a PhD or DrPH at this stage - that three-year process would put me just shy of 50 at completion, and I feel like that would be better as a career capstone with active retirement prospects. What's looking good now is an epidemiology MS. Epi was my first choice for the MPH concentration, and I opted out of it for stupid reasons. If the Epi department accepts my HPBS coursework as the bulk of the second-year elective workload, then I can pick up the MS in a year of classes and a semester or two of thesis work. Looking at job postings, I see a lot of epidemiology slots to be filled, and the paired Masters have to look good. More conversations to come.

Saw Logan over the break, in Baxter Avenue Filmworks' ridiculously comfortable recliners. It is a damned good movie, if more than a little bleak. Jackman and Stewart are phenomenal, and Dafne Keen ... she reminded me of Hailee Stansfield's turn in True Grit. Spectacular. If this is indeed the last appearance of Jackman and Stewart as Wolverine and Professor X, they have sure enough gone out on a heck of a high note.

Mulholland

Feb. 26th, 2017 09:10 am
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Started trying to catch up on movies last week - unrelated to the Oscars tonight. Got out of class Thursday night and treated myself to John Wick Chapter 2. It's a superlative action pic, an excellent sequel to one of the best in the genre. Goes deeper into the underworld these characters inhabit, their rules and resources. After watching Hell on Wheels, I shouldn't have been surprised by Common's performance, but I was, and pleasantly so.

Yesterday was The LEGO Batman Movie, and it was an utter delight. Nonstop running gags, pop culture nods, Batman rapping and/or singing about how great it is to be Batman. Very good voice casting, and an appropriately sweet ending.

And on this bright Sunday morning, I'm watching Mulhulland Drive, because it seems I want to get the weird underway as quickly as possible today.

I saw both movies at Baxter Avenue Theater, and should probably make a habit of seeing more movies there. It's on my way home from school, so makes for a good way to wind down after the classweek ends. It's not part of the ginormous Cinemark or Regal or other chains, and, well, it's got its own cool little vibe. Also, extremely comfortable recliners. Like the Kentucky back in Lexington, Baxter regularly runs midnight shows, and in March, the theme is the Fash Bash - three movies involving lots of punching Nazis: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saving Private Ryan, and Inglorious Basterds. Don't know that I could handle SPR at midnight, but Raiders ... just try keeping me away.

Also in media, I'm rewatching Heroes Season 1, and remembering that this was a pretty darn good show, with some occasional missteps. And then the later seasons happened and oh no what is this.

Got in the second round of the Corellian Conflict Friday night. Lost a close match, acquitting myself better this time than in the first round. My fleet's reduced to about 90 percent of it's starting capability right now, having lost one of my capital ships. Bumped up the fighter complement to try to compensate.
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I saw Rogue One yesterday morning, and I'm going to talk about it in the comments.
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I find myself drawing comparisons between my time at the other school and my current program. At UK, I couldn't have told you the name of the A&S dean, or the chair of the department. At SPHIS, I talk regularly with our dean, and outside of business and class hours, I'm on a first-name basis with him. Friday was extremely quiet, being the day before a three-day weekend, and I found myself sitting on the steps of the HSC library with Dr. Blakely, eating tacos and talking about my plans for my second MPH year and what I'm doing afterward. He told me straight-up that he thinks I'm shortchanging myself by not pursuing a doctorate - if not right away, then when I'm working in the field and can get an employer to help cover the expense.

One of my pledges when I started this program was to not discount advice about academics and career paths from those in a position to give it. A doctorate was on my mind at the outset, and while I've pushed it to the back of my mind, the idea is still there. I have no reason not to do it, and my career would definitely benefit. So, something like a plan.

I didn't make the last Slur Your Role, so no Edge of the Empire time. There was some nerdrage over one GM not getting players and then not getting a player slot in games that people did want to play. The next one is in a couple of weeks, and there's a Changeling game listed, so, yeah, my interest is piqued. And a couple of my regular X-Wing opponents are interested in some Star Wars role-playing.

Went to see Mom&Dad on Saturday, avoided the family reunion (maybe should have gone, in retrospect), got to see Shadow in the evening. Ran into some bad traffic on I-64 when I got back to Louisville, with my exit bracketed by westbound and eastbound wrecks. Got home okay, played WoW for a bit, napped.

Shadow (or maybe Six-String Shadow, since she's learning to play guitar) came by yesterday, giving me a convenient excuse to not go to Indiana for a cookout. Introduced her to Joella's, had ice cream, did normal-people date things. Rather fun. After she went home, I wound up sitting in bed and writing for a while. Got inspired, I guess, and I'm continuing with it this morning.

Loved Captain America: Civil War. The Russos have given me two tremendous Cap films (Winter Soldier is far and away my favorite MCU movie), and this one really showed how weak Age of Ultron was. It also provided the exception to the rule that Captain America is always right in moral or ethical matters. In this case (protecting the Winter Soldier), he was wrong. Friendship is precious and valuable, but when your friend is a weapon of mass destruction and the keys to that engine are in who knows what hands, the right thing isn't keeping him on the loose. You secure that weapon, and help find ways to disarm it.
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The trip to Atlanta was good, but not without a couple of little hitches. We left the yard with the wrong trailer, and were nearly an hour on the road before we caught the mistake. The first invoice didn't list the cargo size, so we figured it would fit in the Conestoga; the return order did, and, well, had to switch to the drop-deck. Minor frustration. We thought we had a return load, but the engine had only just been removed from the plane when we got to Atlanta, so we headed home.

Holiday weekend and all, but the emptiness of the roads surprised me. Very little traffic on I-65 between Louisville and Nashville, and even Atlanta on Saturday morning was easy (and fast) to get through. At one of our stops, we wound up parked next to a truck with a couple of wing sections loaded; saw it again a few hours later when we were heading out of the airport.

WKU beat Marshall, and Louisville beat the other school, so it was a great weekend for football in the Commonwealth. UofL's postseason game should be announced on Sunday. I've seen predictions of the Pinstripe Bowl against Indiana; if the game is in Nashville or Memphis or somewhere similarly close, Dad and I are going to try to go.

Halfway through Netflix's Jessica Jones, and liking it a lot. It's a pretty damned dark piece of work, and Kilgrave is wonderfully hateable. The first trailer for Captain America: Civil War has released, and I'm eating my words as to this being Avengers 2.5. Also, there's Batman vs. Superman and Wonder Woman shows up, so yay! Arrow and The Flash still deliver, Supergirl is very good. It's a good time for superhero media.

We're in the final week of classes for the semester. Behavior and Biostats tonight, Environmental on Monday afternoon, first final is on the 9th, two on the 10th, one on the 12th (WTF a Saturday), and the last one on the 14th. Going to be a celebration of some kind. Christ, this has gone by so fast.
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After the disappointment from Age of Ultron, I told myself I'd manage my expectations for the other summer releases. George Miller apparently had other plans, because Mad Max: Fury Road may very well have knocked Die Hard off the top of my action movie list.

Believe the hype on this one. It delivers on every level.

More later. I'm exhausted.

Review

May. 4th, 2015 05:34 pm
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Age of Ultron : Marvel Cinematic Universe :: Skyfall : James Bond franchise
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This has been a glorious week to be a Star Wars fan.

On Thursday, the second teaser for The Force Awakens was released. I was thrilled with the teaser we got on Thanksgiving, but the new one, y'all. Sweet Jesus. I don't know how many times I've watched it. A lot. It hits so many buttons. Luke's voice-over. Stormtroopers and lightsabers. The opening shot of a downed X-Wing in the foreground and a downed Star Destroyer behind it. And just when the hooks are in, Han and Chewie in the cockpit of the Falcon. It's perfect.

Today, DisneyXD released a trailer for the second season of Rebels. Starfighters and Darth Vader and old friends and old and new enemies. I could gush. I'm giving in and buying a season pass or whatever to watch this one instead of just catching it piecemeal over the course of the season.

At the Star Wars Celebration, Fantasy Flight surprised no one by announcing that their game licenses include the upcoming movies. They announced four new ships for X-Wing, nerds have raged, and changes to how expendable weapons seem to be in the offing. Just give me ships/pilots from Rebels and the new X-Wings, man, that's all I really ask for.

I had planned to visit Lexicon tomorrow for a X-Wing tournament, but CoolStuffInc got the money I'd set aside for that. A VT-49 Decimator for $20 plus shipping came to less than I would have spent on a one-day badge plus fuel and food and whatnot. And it is a good-looking ship - I'm looking forward to learning how to fly it.

Today was the kickoff of the Kentucky Derby Festival, a big-ass airshow and fireworks display called Thunder Over Louisville. I had planned to head downtown to take it in, but when I woke up this morning, my interest in spending the day in a crowd of 675,000 people just evaporated. I watched WLKY's coverage and did homework and feel pretty okay with that.

Try

Aug. 30th, 2014 11:50 pm
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The first week of class is behind me. I'm completely certain that this is where I am supposed to be, and I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

There's a marked difference in teaching/learning/grading philosophies between SPHIS classes and my lone A&S course. SPHIS takes, I guess, a more holistic approach. With the Internet in everyone's pocket now, access to information isn't nearly as important as knowing what to do with raw data, and SPHIS is set up towards teaching how to make use of the information. Conversely, BIOL 372 is going to be graded on bouncing classroom information back to the instructor. Now, it's going to be really interesting information (man, cholera has nifty effects on its host), but the learning experience won't be as complete.

By the way, my Tuesday/Thursday classes begin at the sour spot as far as parking goes. The garage is full when I get to campus, and I'm parking out behind Speed instead. Which affords me the opportunity to walk past the site of my catastrophic failure 25 years ago. Motivation, of a sort.

Went to Frankfort for an X-Wing tournament this morning. Went 1-1, and proved the worth of a cheap-ass Z-95 kitted out as a missile carrier. Only one salvo, but it punched WAY above its weight class and teamed with a X-Wing to blow a YT-1300 right off the board. Pretty terrific return on investment. Next time around, I'm fielding an Imperial force, as part of my ongoing project to make the TIE Advanced somehow useful. The host store was holding a weekend long mini-con and sale, so I picked up the On the Brink expansion for Pandemic; later, I swung by Something 2 Do and got the Blood in the Forest expansion for Last Night on Earth for quite a bit under retail. Since I'm not expecting to get into any RPGs anytime soon, these should  be pretty good investments.

Had a rather good evening out. Hibachi, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, delicious ice cream, and fantastic company. And hey, NCAA football got underway this weekend!
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Day Two of the Interim Time: A haircut, and a movie.

To copy what I said over on Facebook, Darren Aronofsky's Noah is pretty much exactly what you'd expect out of the director of Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan getting his hands on a big-time cultural myth and $125 million. I liked it.
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The No-Longer-at-the-HL celebrations started on Saturday. Went to Louisville to see Jen M. We started off at the Silver Dollar, a newish whiskey bar and restaurant on Frankfort Avenue, then were off to the Back Door, and then a late showing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. A heck of a fun evening.

Disclosure: She is fantastic company and a great friend, but this visit to my future bar of choice wasn't nearly as much fun as the last time I was there.
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Taken on its own, Jose Padilha's remake of RoboCop ain't bad. It's well-cast, Padilha has terrific skill at putting together action pieces, the "Show Me!" scene is horrifying, and the movie does a pretty good job addressing the issues it wanted to play with. The RoboCop prosthesis looks pretty darn cool, the updated ED-209s are nifty, and, man, Jackie Earl Haley is such an utter dick. Really liked Michael Keaton, too. Points for using some of the original's most distinctive sounds - RoboCop's heavy footfalls and Basil Poledouris' classic theme.

In comparison to Paul Verhoeven's masterpiece, though, it falls sadly short. Despite the slightly longer runtime, it feels like there is less movie here. Padilha's movie's villains are half the strength of Clarence Boddicker and Dick Jones. The mandated PG-13 rating means that the cartoonish violence from 1987 is sanitized for the audience's protection. Sam Jackson as a Bill O'Reilly copy just isn't interesting, and has entirely too much screen time.

On the whole, it's an okay movie, but not one I'll seek out again. The whole is a bit less than the sum of its parts.

Teasers and trailers from the viewing: Expendables 3 - will wait for Netflix. Amazing Spider-Man 2 - will probably see in theater, after finally seeing the first one. 22 Jump Street - clever and self-aware trailer, but not interested in giving this one the money or time.

Some shorter takes, because I'm feeling self-indulgent.

I would love a version of Michael Mann's big-screen treatment of Miami Vice with just environmental sound and music. It's a gorgeous movie, filled with some great cinematic craft, but kind of a mess when you pay attention to the plot, and the dialogue is awful.

Salt is, so far, a good espionage thriller, and hey, there's Andre Braugher!
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We've had a brief break from the cold this weekend. I spent most of yesterday studying, got a call from CPTAAL late in the afternoon, and rounded up some of the usual folks to go out for a while. Started off with 47 Ronin, which was a lot better than I expected.

Went to Marikka's after the movie, and got to see things turn very very strange over the course of a couple of hours. A strangely arbitrary situation, to steal from Neuromancer. All ended well enough.

Slept until midday today. Watched hockey - played in Yankee Stadium, which is pretty cool. More studying. Read a little bit.
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I'm up way too early this morning, but it seems I've become hardwired to this sort of thing. I was up until 2AM last night, coffee and reading, and couldn't get my mind to slow down for nearly an hour after going to bed.

I'm reading A Fiery Peace in a Cold War, by Neil Sheehan. It's a biography of General Bennie Schriever, one of the driving forces behind the USAF's development of ballistic missiles and related spaceborne research projects. Sheehan's a skilled writer - A Bright Shining Lie is a brilliant look at a very vocal critic of America's conduct of the Vietnam War, and I wish I'd had time to make use of it when I worked on Spycraft: Battlegrounds. I find myself more and more impressed with non-fiction writers who are able to spin a compelling narrative without embellishing their subject. It's definitely a particular gift.

Binged on movies last night, while following UofL's bowl game on ESPN's Gamecast site. Included American Psycho and followed that up with Looker. These started mixing together and making a Shadowrun plot, and gamer ADD kicked in - DTRPG provided me with a couple of sourcebooks and I found myself almost completely distracted by the gaming material over the movies themselves.

(Also, having my Blu-Ray player linked to my Amazon account for streaming video access is both wonderful and potentially quite dangerous.)

Looks like a messy rainy day ahead. I've got a few errands to knock out before settling in for the last Sunday of the NFL's regular season. The Bengals locked in their playoff slot a couple of weeks ago, among other teams, and while I have no illusions about the Bengals' Super Bowl chances, they're looking pretty darn good.
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Halloween night saw a line of storms come through town. There was some scattered damage, and here at the complex, a tree fell onto a couple of vehicles. Scattered power outages, as to be expected. Made things interesting for a little while.

I saw Ender's Game last night, and was not impressed at all. The movie's pacing is a mess, and the ending seems even more rushed than in the novel. There's very little time given to showing us why Ender is such a mess, only that he is, but he's also the Chosen One and all, so, audience, just go with it, okay? Hailee Steinfeld's good, and Ben Kingsley, too, but the rest of the cast is either phoning it in (the adults) or mostly stuck with a fairly weak script and not quite able to make it work. Not recommended.

Had planned to run Eclipse Phase today, but turnout and energy levels were both too low. Going to try again in two weeks. Hoping like anything that we're able to get in a Deadlands session tomorrow night.
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Christ, last week was just one little tin god after another. Lost almost all respect for someone I used to almost consider a mentor.

On the positive side, I saw Man of Steel, and loved it. It does great things with the Superman mythos - gets in the messiah role of the character, shows his humanity, and we get gods fighting their war among us. My only complaint is with Amy Adams as Lois Lane - maybe script-related, but she didn't convince me. Not a huge quibble, and for those of you who haven't seen it, I recommend it.

Spent most of yesterday in Louisville, mixing business and pleasure. Fandom Fest is in two weeks, and yesterday was an early volunteer meeting. Not mandatory, but it was a good reason to get out of the apartment and see some people. Visited the Frazier Historical Museum and its exhibit on mythological creatures (fun, but was hoping for more), and spent some of the evening with some friends of [livejournal.com profile] ddneyal.

Today, I'm resting up. There's a ridiculous volume of beef stew in the slow cooker, and I'm going to do some reading and a little writing this afternoon. My Dodgers (finally above .500 on the season!) are on the radio at 4, and I have no demands on my time on this sunny Bastille Day.

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