We spent a pleasant morning at the Indianapolis Zoo. Spring has definitely arrived here in Indy. Bulb flowers like daffodills are in full bloom, and the well-tended gardens at the zoo are all springing, so to speak, to life.
We arrived at the ocean exhibit just in time for feeding time for the sharks. Watching them scarf up the little fish tossed into their tank was pretty cool. We also took in the new seahores (PDF file) exhibit.
All winter, I'd been promising Cecilia to take her on the zoo's kiddie rollercoaster when the weather got warmer, and today was the day. It's a pleasant little coaster for kids. The ride is short indeed, but they take you through it twice. (Wise move, that.) Cecilia really enjoyed it. Afterward, Crystal took The Girls for a ride on the zoo's train. And, of course, we saw lots of animals, from bears to Siberian tigers to flamingoes.
Ages ago, I picked up a cheapo DVD of the 1972 British horror anthology flick Asylum, starring Peter Cushing, Patrick Magee, and the lovely Britt Ekland, and written by horror master Robert Bloch. I finally got around to watching it last night. There seemed to be an unfortunate encoding hiccup that froze the movie at one point (during the Peter Cushing segment, alas), but what do you expect for four bucks? (I'm shocked and amazed that Amazon.com appears to charge $24 for this version! Don't go there, folks.) Even so, the video quality was decent, and the film itself quite entertaining. Here's a review at Cold Fusion Video.
My lovely wife surprised me today with a gift that got delived just around dinnertime...a translucent orange 64MB USB thumb drive that she got for a mere eight bucks (after rebate). She also took advantage of the opportunity to order a tote case for the laptop she's considering buying. Crystal is so thoughtful; this little think is a perfect geek toy, and practical too.
Coincidentally, my first paycheck for the new job arrived today. (I'm signed up for direct deposit, of course, but the first check is always live.) I like to celebrate the first paycheck with a little splurge, so I'm thinking of scooting over to HKFlix's bargain bin and picking up a few inexpensive Hong Kong movies. Then again, we had to put a big hunk of money on our credit card recently due to car trouble, and it might definitely would be more practical to send a little scratch MasterCard's way instead.
After days of intense pressure, the White House on Tuesday agreed to allow national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify publicly and under oath before the commission investigating the September 11 attacks.
In a letter to the commission, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales said the commission must agree in writing that Rice's appearance would not set a precedent for testimony by White House staff -- and that the commission "will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice."
Commissioners said they accepted those terms and would work to schedule a session "promptly."
The White House had resisted letting Rice testify in public, arguing that it would be a violation of executive privilege.
For a full debunking of that ridiculous claim, see Joshua Marshall and Matthew Yglesias (short version: Executive privilege might apply against being compelled to testify, not not testifying voluntarily, as Rice claims -- but few believe -- she'd really like to do). Marshall also comments on the latest development thus:
Isn't this more face-saving than precedent-blocking? To the extent that this precedent issue is even a real issue, what consequence does something in writing from the commission possibly have? Setting aside the logical problems with viewing this as a separation of powers issue (namely the fact that the commission is not an arm of congress) jurists decide what's a precedent, not some slip of paper a cornered White House extracts from people it appointed.
Note also that the White House has agreed to let the full commission meet in private with Bush and Cheney. Excellent!
Wired takes a look at electronic voting systems and concludes (as summarized by the publication's daily email alert):
[T]he technology is rife with problems, creating the specter of botched returns and deliberate election rigging. Although many election officials defend the system, e-voting still can't be trusted. Nor, apparently, can many of its more ardent boosters.
Speaking of GameSpot, it's currently featuring a cool article on the history of video game music. The article correctly notes that some of the most notable innovations in video game music come from Japanese games, from Final Fantasy onward. (Just look at how many Japanese names are among the article's Who's Who.) It's remiss, though, in not mentioning the superb soundtrack to the mayhem simulator Grand Theft Auto 3. I've enjoyed many soundtracks from Japanese games, including the Final Fantasy series, Metal Gear Solid, Soul Blade, Silent Hill, Parasite Eve and others.
Once again, I took a weekend hiatus from blogging, despite the fact that the previous week was fairly light from a posting standpoint. (We're very busy at work, so this unfortunate trend seems likely to continue, at least for the time being.)
I took Naomi to her first-ever movie in a threater Saturday morning. We got passes to a sneak preview of Disney's latest, Home on the Range, one of the last traditionally animated films the studio will release. (Shameless plug: Have you read my editorial on the subject over at Destroy All Monsters?) Cecilia, Naomi and I attended the show at Circle Center downtown. As a bonus, we bumped into my friend Gene, who was brining his toddler max to his own first-ever movie. The flick was decent, but not up to the standards of brilliant works like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. The kids seemed to enjoy it, though, and there was one joke (based on the tag line from Little Caesar -- a gag some 70 years in the making) that I think I was the only one in the theater to laugh at.
The movie also led to another outing downtown later that afternoon. I left a cap at the cinema, and when we went back to retrieve it, we wound up staying at the fountain and enjoying the beautiful weather and, after Cecilia dropped a hint or two, an ice cream cone.
The weather Sunday remained pleasant, and we took advantage of it with more time outside. This morning proved cooler and drizzly, but I hope that spring has finally taken hold.