Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Vaya Con Dios, Enero

Across from us, perhaps half a mile distant, partly screened by rainbow and mist, like as island slapped by a Titan, a gigantic wheel slowly rotated, ponderous and gleaming.  High overhead, enormous birds rode like drifting crucifixes the currents of the air.”

And with that skipbeating image, January fades out like the final point of light on a turned-off tube teevee, like a beautiful whisper …

[Note: skipbeating image taken from Roger Zelazny’s The Guns of Avalon, pg. 119 of my Avon paperback edition.]

Monday, January 30, 2012


Read a news article online this afternoon. It seems some woman had a seizure on a ski lift and fell thirty feet to her death. The headline was, “Woman Dies in Fall.”

Down at the bottom a reader comment caught my eye: “It’s not the fall that kills you; it’s the sudden stop!”

To which my immediate thought was: “Someone has to create portable personal inertial dampeners!”

Why not me? I’m a dreamer! I took three semesters of physics classes!

Rockefeller had Oil; Carnegie had Steel. Jobs had the iPhone. Gates has that operating software stuff.

Hopper has – the Personal Portable Inertial Dampener! The P-PID!

Now I got some heavy duty thinking to do. I don’t know how to beat classical Newtonian physics, but that wild-haired guy did it a century ago, along with a pack of twenty-somethings a decade or two later.

* * *

All kidding aside, say a small prayer for this poor unfortunate woman. (And lets hope this doesnt cause all ski lifts across the country to be banned.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Disposable People

© 1980 by Marshall Goldberg and Kenneth Kay

I was planning to launch this review with a ebullient and loud-shouted, “I loved reading this book!” but, realizing I just read a 316-page novel about a national epidemic that horribly slays 20 million people, something didn’t feel right. So let me simply state this was a Great Guilty Pleasure. That’s right, two capital Gs and a capital P.

Now, Disposable People ain’t no timeless work of art, indeed it is all but forgotten today, but I read it as a youngling and it left an impression. In fact, it was my first medical thriller (of the half-dozen or so I’ve read over my lifetime). Way back in 1980 I recall racing through it, enjoying every page, every disgusting description of etiological mayhem savored, every crack in the fiber of society incredulously awestriking. Truth be told, though, I too all but forgot it, until I stumbled across it online recently, and had to purchase it via my online book store.

It is remarkably truly a product of its time. Envision those 70s disaster movies. That’s Disposable People. “Starring Jimmy Stewart as The President!” “Shelly Winters as Miss Dalrymple!” “Martin Balsam as Dr. Henry Gault!” You get the drift. It’s also filled with glorious politically incorrect jaw-droppers. There’s a disparaging gay slur early on and more than a few instances of sexism that would never be published today, even in a work of fiction. The men are all He-Men, all tops in their field, be it medical, military, or political, and all wield six-packs and bed the sex-hungry women that surround them.

All while combatting the most lethal epidemic since the Yellow Fever of the early 20th century. Consolvo’s Ulceration, it’s called, and it’s a nasty piece of sickness. Once infected, any cut on your skin immediately festers, growing in length and width at nearly observable speeds, rotting your body while you’re still alive. It’s painful, putrid, and a forty-eight hour death sentence, forty-seven hours of which are pure torment. There’s no cure, but there is a vaccination. Unfortunately, the vaccination causes a sped-up-on-steroids flare-up of Consolvo’s Ulceration in ten percent of those taking it.

Like those 70s disaster movies, we take a global, high-level view just as frequently as we get the man-on-the-street vignette. The President, a Lincolnesque southerner name of Lloyd Dobson, is a main character, as are the Secretary of State and Attorney General. Then, trickling downward to mere mortals like you and I, you have generals, ambassadors, industrialists, doctors of all stripes, scientists of all flavors, teevee personalities good and evil, assorted military personnel, public officials, migrant workers, poor Mexicans, and even Death Row convicts.

The hero is lone wolf doctor hunk Noah Blanchard, dashing bachelor who’s the best epidemiologist on the planet, hopping the hot spots of the globe, a Colonel is the Air Force and an avid fisherman. You know, our Ideal Vision of Manliness, c. 1979. Noah is drafted by the President at the recommendation of a too-fat and too-old Surgeon General, tasked with the impossible task of beating the Ulceration and saving the United States. After hooking up with an up-and-coming newslady (a walking, talking amalgam of the power politics of 70s women’s lib), Noah begins a wrenching journey to find the cause – and ultimately, the cure – of the disease. Course, it doesn’t hurt that coincidence landed him right at ground zero of the outbreak.

I kid, but I liked it a lot. It was a very readable novel, though not without mistakes. Epidemic armageddon was better done in Stephen King’s The Stand, a target Goldberg aims for but doesn’t quite hit. In the middle of the book there are a couple pages detailing the fates of various individuals as civilization collapses around them, something King did much better, and I wish Goldberg incorporated more frequently in People. If I wrote the thing, I’d pepper the first half of the novel with little tragedies, and salt the final half with scenes of resourceful survivors and what they had to do to survive, no matter how grim.

A few more nits to pick. For a book written by a doctor, I expected a bit more medical stuff – terminology, pathology, a little Cliff Notes version of the phenomenon of epidemics. There’s a little bit at the beginning and some stuff at the end, but the majority of the novel focuses on the political – and geopoltiical – angle. And speaking of the end, I found the “cure,” which had to be tricked out of a schizophrenic virologist, inexplicably cheap. Say, for example, you write a whole book about a car that won’t start, and on the second-to-last page, someone says, “Gee, Bob, didja put the key in it?” And you slap your head, insert the key, and start the car. The End.

Still, a worthy read. Though I forgot the title and the author for decades, several scenes remained with me. The image of movement within the wound of a victim still gives me chills when I think about it today. Scenes of desolation in the southwest as well as the hunt for the carrier – patient zero – also never really left my mind. All in all, I’m glad I was able to go back in time and revisit these pages again.

Grade: A-minus.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dragon Heart

My Pacific Islander name is


Which means …

Yes, translated literally, it means “The Man Who Broke A Dragon’s Heart.”

Such is the power – and the curse – of my existence.

Fear me and tremble.


My name in Zulu ...

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Stage and the Gilded Cage

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like a snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

- William Shakespeare, As You Like It

All the world’s indeed a stage,
And we are merely players,
Performers and portrayers,
Each another’s audience
Outside the gilded cage.

- Neal Peart, Limelight

Man, I love me some Rush.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"History" Channel

Some more mockery of the “History” Channel I found amusing –

Again, from Mark Shea’s blog.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bumper Stickers

It never fails to completely amaze me how many Obama / Biden bumper stickers I still see on cars on the road.

I mean, are the owners of these vehicles proud of their choice? Are they not aware of the rising national debt, the zero job growth, the unacceptably high unemployment rate around nine percent, gasoline prices hovering at $3.50, rising taxes (or the threat thereof), failed stimulus 1, failed stimulus 2, and any other big business bailouts not covered under failed stimuli 1 and 2? I mean, if this was George Bush, he’d have been crucified years ago in the press.

But hey, their guy speaks and looks good.

I wonder: how many Carter / Mondale bumper stickers were being proudly displayed back in 1980?

Daddy's Law

It is an immutable law of nature, much like Murphy’s Law and the Peter Principle, that:

Whenever daddy is taking care of two or more preadolescent children,
and mommy is away on business or whatnot,
and the water on the stove is boiling,
and the microwave is beeping,
and the house is in complete disarray,
and the table is still not set,
and one child needs help with a homework question,
and the other child just did a nosedive into the dishwasher,

the telephone will ALWAYS ring.


An immutable law of nature, called Daddy’s Law.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Underworld Awakening

My head was splitting, my ears were aching, my eyes were twitching, my heart was pounding, my stomach was churning, my brain was reeling.

And none in a good way.

It was ten minutes into Underworld: Awakening, the vampires vs. werewolves movie my pal dragged me too. Well, I wanted to check out the chick in the leather outfit, and I was basically virgin to all the other Underworld: Nouns, so I was willing game. Poor, poor me.

It’s only January 24, and I have already surpassed my annual cinematic quota of bursting brains. Bursting brains via bullet, gun, fang, grenade, needle, you name it, the movie’s a very bloody entry into the annals of attention-deficit drama. Everything about it was depressing: the washed out cinematography, the concrete lab-fortress as modern-day Castle Frankenstein, the joyless existence of every single character, even the Star Trek redshirts. And I am so tired of that vampire look of the past twenty years – a cross between Abercrombie & Fitch model and something outta the pages of my wife’s Vogue magazine.

What sickened me most, I think, was the oozing evil of the thing. Not true scary and seductive evil, like that Lambs movie; this evil is just plain stupid and boring. Vampires were evil, the werewolves were evil, each and every human was evil. Heck, I was even rooting for the main character, Kate Beckinsale’s vampire, to get killed. No mercy, no hope, nothing. This, I thought, desperate to give my theatergoing experience some meaning, is the World without Christ.

Yet I enjoy the Resident Evil flicks. Why? I think it goes back to that hope thing. In the latter movies, there’s always a plucky band of human survivors trying to overcome the zombie psycho menace. True, they’re killed off one by one and in similarly grotesque ways, but a few always overcome, and hope wins the day, at least in some small measure.

Plus, Milla just kicks Kate’s butt any day.

Underworld: Awakening – Grade: D. (Hey, the 3-D was impressive)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Block Blues

I have writer's block.

I'd love to write about the Shroud of Turin, my current subject of interest. Almost finished with a scientific-oriented treatment of the relic, then it's on to a more faith-based book on the topic. The sciency-one hasn't budged my setting on the belief-o-meter, though. Still about 90-10 in favor. In fact, the Rational, Reasoned and Enlightened book actually seems to be falling on the side of ... authenticity. The silly little cloth that silly little flat-earthers believe in might be - well, can't say it's the burial cloth of Christ, but we're forced to say it's not a forgery.

I'd love to write about some funky philosophy. I skimmed through a 20-page online summary of Pyotr Ouspensky's work that reignited my interest in his work. Now, I never finished Tertium Organum, so I can't pen knowledgeable and thoughtful opinions on it; but a couple of themes have permanently taken up residence in the real estate beneath my skull, and periodically bang on the pipes. One day, soon, I'll finished that tome. Then the trick'll be to write it into a piece of fiction.

I'd love to write about the football games. I'm thinking a Giant-Patriot rematch, which I think the suits are also pushing for. But since that's my prediction, it'll be a Niners-Ravens Superbowl. We'll see.

I'd love to write about my latest read, Disposable People. But those thoughts I'm saving for the review in about a week. A third into it, and I'm not disappointed. My first medical thriller, first read at the tender age of 11. Some images permanently seared into the noggin, one such just revisted three decades later. Surprised at the maturity of the book for me at that age, not to say that the book is mature, being a bombastic relic of its age, the late 70s.

I'd love to write about my new job, how well it's going. But that'll jinx it. Block or no block, work is off-limits here.

I'd love to write about politics; there's an endless treasure trove there. The pack of jokers vying for the Republican nomination, each of whom stands a good chance of losing against the worst President in the past century, or at least since Jimmy Carter. I honestly want none of them to win: Not Romney, not Gingrich, not Santorum, not Paul, and certainly not Obama. What to do, what to do, come November? It's depressing.

Man, I hate writer's block. No feeling worse than being unable to write a sentence ...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

House of the Vampire


She felt the recycled chill of the air conditioning upon small arms. What contrast to the heavy heat just beyond those doors! She imagined the sound of his sneakers padding along soft carpet, down unlit corridors, his fingers tracing black-painted moldings, dust and cobwebs framing the exhibits. His eyes, completely focused to the darkness, spotting creatures and secret passageways in every shadow . . .

Then she realized she’d glimpsed an intimate part of his world, a part shared with no one ever before. Had he known she would, bringing her here? She thought so, perhaps. She watched his profile as he strained to see past the bars, poor eyesight hindering his search for his imagination, and realized that the final exhibit was The Time Machine: two little boys, trapped in a fantasy world more than three decades lost, fading with the tiptoe of time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Let's Go to the Hop

Little One, minutes before going to her school’s Sock Hop.

It’s times like these that I literally thank God I have a wife, i.e., I’m not a widower. I don’t know how I’d handle these dances and such. While my girls, being girls, love these things with infinite passion and excitement, me, I’d actually rather be at the dentist. Getting a cavity filled. Easier to deal with than a roomful of parents making small talk.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Hound

All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.

Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.

Lo naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.

Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”

* * * * * * *

Why can’t I seem to get this right???

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


© 1980 by Andre Norton

(minor spoilers)

I learned two things reading this book. (1) I just can’t get into Andre Norton books, and (2) there’s a reason why this was one of the Great Unfinished Novels of my reading youth.

Regarding the first point, this analogy popped into my mind quite unexpectedly while showering this morning. Imagine me as a baseball pitcher. Ms. Norton comes up to the plate, swinging a bat, spitting out some chewing tobacco, playing with the sleeves of her jersey and the tags on her gloves in an intricate ritual that would drive any sane person bonkers. She swings the bat, and I notice words written on it:

Web of the Witch World

Hmm. I go into my windup and hurl a fastball straight down the center, bullseye-style, right at that spot where hitters blast ’em out into the parking lot. Norton swings and – whoosh! It’s a miss! She solidly hit nothing. Strike one.

She goes back to the dugout and picks up another bat. During her pre-pitch dress rehearsals, I see different words on this one, really just one word:


Out of respect and admitted admiration, I decide to take it easy on Ms. Norton. I slowly lean back, kick a leg up, and under-hand pitch a 40-mph gentle lob right over the plate for her –

Whoosh! Swing and another miss!

Oh, brother.

Translation for tone-deaf readers: I want to like her, like her writing, really I do, but I just … don’t. I’ve tried two in the past four years and I don’t know if I want to try any more. Which is a pity, because she has a large body of work and is fairly respected in the SF community. So maybe it’s me.

If so, it’s not a recent development. True, I was unable to finish Web in ’07 or ’08. But you have to go back three decades to find my first non-completed Norton book, Voorloper. It was a point of honor for me to get this and finally finish it.

Which brings me to point two. Why didn’t I like Voorloper?

Well, on paper (how ironic) I should have. An intriguing world populated by settlers far removed from earth. Settlements attacked by the mysterious “Shadows”, leaving no survivors save for the occasional infant. The “Tangle” – a writhing mass of thorny vegetation that chokingly grows outwards on the plains. Semi-psychic healers, one of whom I fell in love with all those years ago. Well, a drawing of her. The book’s evocatively illustrated by Alicia Austin.

So with all these pluses, how come I didn’t sync with it? Not sure. The plot is kinda been-there-done-that: monsters attack our villages, lets send in the boy-on-the-cusp-of-manhood whose father just died with the misfit clairvoyant girl to solve the mystery. Linear, overly expository, characters at best two dimensional. The only time the story picks up – well, attains speeds of 10 mph instead of the usual 5 – is toward the end when our two young people enter some sorta abandoned ancient alien outpost and somehow make everything turn out right.

I was a little confused, though, about what actually happened. And not in a good way, like a PKD or Thomas Pynchon kinda way. Were there one or two sets of aliens? A good race and a bad race? Or did the good race become bad when humans arrived on Voor? Or did only some of the good aliens turn evil? Why was some parts of the abandoned ancient alien outpost good and other parts evil? What was the role of the plants – and the “Tangle” in all this? What were the “Shadows”? What was the obsidian statue outside the outpost – a good alien or a bad alien?

The novel also contained one of the biggest deus ex machina props I’ve come across in a while. An alien necklace is conveniently found lying in the grass, an alien necklace which fits our hero perfectly, opens doors, operates machinery, and maybe even gives him superhuman strength for all I know.

However, I’m lashing out a little too harshly, I think. I did finish the thing in three days and read deep into the night. I did want to find out the answers to the mysteries the novel offered. I did enjoy Voor and the culture of the Voorlopers, and wished Norton revealed a bit more of its history and geography. And I loved the names of the settlements; brought an Old West feel to an SF story. Bottom line, I guess, is that there were a lot of ingredients that taste good on their own, but when combined make a pretty unremarkable goulash.

Up in the air whether I’ll try another Andre Norton book. Maybe if I read something luminous and fawning, something with a little detail that piques my interest. But whenever I go to them used book stores, there’s always a trove of her books on the shelves. Could it be because …

Grade: C+ (the plus only due to Austin’s illustrations)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Celebrate Good Times

1. Little One did her very first presentation! In front of a dozen members of her Brownies troop, she explained how she loves to write in cursive ( - “which they don’t even teach until third grade!” - ), displaying a poster board of the script alphabet and taking questions afterward (!)

2. Patch has graduated from Preppers to Pre-School in her daycare! Thanks to some lollipop-bribing over the holidays, she is now potty trained, and, well, she’s been long ready intellectually from the next step. Her Preppers teachers will be sad, but with Patch’s vocal abilities, they’ll be able to hear her on the other side of the school.

3. Wife has some sort of work-related connection with Gail – Oprah’s whatever – and scored all sorts of awesome points getting her company’s PR firm involved. I must confess I’m not too solid on the details, only listening with half-an-ear and half-a-brain. But kudoes for her! Here’s to an awesome 2013 bonus!

4. And me? Well, I keep doing all right at my new job, but as far as personal celebration goes –

To Die in Italbar

Disposable People

The Humanoids

Spider World

– all came in the mail today! And I’m looking to finish Voorloper tonight! Lots of tres cool escapism and beard-petting SF paperback reviews forthcoming!

Celllllllllllllll-a-brate Good Times – COME ON!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Two Very Different Sides

So I’m plowing through Dr. Heller’s 1983 book on the Shroud of Turin when I come across this passage, referencing author Ian Wilson, whose book I just gave a glowing review to –

I hung up and, figuring my afternoon was probably shot anyway, went to my car and drove to my favorite book emporium, which nine times out of ten had what I wanted. It had the Wilson book. I returned home and read it straight through. The book was quite entertaining, but Wilson’s science was awful. I knew from my own studies that his history was a fanciful collage, and I suspected that his art history might be, too. Wilson was clearly sold on the fact that the Shroud was authentic, and his bias showed heavily.

Okay then.

In all fairness to Wilson, let me just say Heller is talking about his first book, The Shroud of Turin, written in 1979. The one I read was his 1998 offering, The Blood and the Shroud. The science, art history, and history history may have been updated in some way. Won’t know until I read that older work.

Anyway, Heller’s book is a very interesting “live action” report of what happened from the point of view of STURP, the Shroud of Turin Research Project, a group of around 40 scientists who sprung together in 1978 last-minute to run the Shroud through a battery of scientific examinations. Though a bit of a curmudgeon, he’s very readable and charismatic, and I’m enjoying his contribution to Shroud literature (for the record, I’m about a third of the way in).

At lunch I read a chapter where Heller describes how things just seemed to come together for the ad hoc group of scientists: STURP is declared a non-profit agency in record time, donations fly in just as needed, a wild stock tip supplies hotel fare, an old lady volunteers to hand-weave an imitation shroud for a trial run. As I’m reading all these I suddenly spoke out loud: “It’s a secular miracle!” and then I burst out in laughter.

It’s okay, and not meant in a spiteful spirit. I’m a scientist at heart who believes in the Truth of the Gospel.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Five Dog Names

I’m trying to train my girls, ages seven and three, to think outside the box.

For example –

Yesterday, over lunch, we were discussing dogs. The wife wants to buy one, the little ones want to buy one, but I want to hold off a little while longer. At least until the girls are a bit older, so I ain’t the only one walking him. Anyway …

“What would you name our dog?” I ask them. “Let’s say we got five dogs – ” their eyes light up – “what would you name each one?”

After some whispered consultation, they come up with this:



Shadow (for a black dog)

Marshmello (that’s the correct spelling)



Hmmm. Okay. Now let’s think outside the box.* “Those are all great names,” I say with much grandiosity. “Do you want to know what I’d name them?”


“I would name our five little puppies …”







While I think these are different, “fun” names for pets, the girls, sadly, do not agree. In fact, I don’t think I even got all five out over their chorus of BOOOOOOs.

Oh well. The training continues …

* One day I’m going to brainstorm a list of terms to replace that old cliché, “outside the box,” and post it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Wilson's Shroud

Finished reading Ian Wilson’s The Blood and the Shroud last night, and, well, I was impressed. Quite readable, highly informative, obviously well-researched, I couldn’t put the thing down, which frankly surprised me. I read it during my lunch break, I read it waiting for dinner to cook, I read it while the little ones were in the bath tub, I read it until past midnight most nights this week. Verdict: A.

More importantly, it nudged my believability-in-the-Shroud’s-genuiness over from 75-25 to 90-10. Primarily through his methodical casting-of-doubt upon the 1988 carbon dating research and secondarily through his overall even-handedness. No one’s a bad guy in Wilson’s book, even the bad guys (from a pro-Shroud point of view, that is). I believe, independent of Wilson’s writings, that there was an agenda to carbon-date the Shroud to the mid-fourteenth century, thus proving it a “fraud.” After reading Wilson’s level and reasoned reasonings why a 2,000-year-old cloth could be erroneously dated to c. 1350 AD, my faith in the relic solidified.

Perhaps a post later down the road on the carbon dating, or perhaps the history of the Shroud (at least according to Ian Wilson). Right now I don’t feel qualified to write on the topic, simply because I don’t feel that I’ve internalized the subject enough. Truth be told I’m feeling an itch to read the 314-page hardcover over again. In fact, the final 60 pages are a chronology of the Shroud, almost year-by-year, from the death of Christ to 1998, the date of the book’s publication. Whatever you may think of him, Wilson is always thorough.

I took Patch with me this morning to a used book store and found another book of his, Holy Faces, Secret Places, for 96 cents. (This in a store where Stieg Larsson papercraps still sell for ten times that much, such is our culture.) Picked it up because it does contain pages of info on the Shroud of Turin and the Cloth of Edessa, which, according to Wilson’s main theory, are the same. I’ll get to that, too, later in the month.

Also, Wilson’s 1978 book The Shroud of Turin is now on my Acquisitions List.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Drop!


In the mail this week, SF paperback goodness via Christmas gift card to online book store:

Bicentennial Man by Isaac Asimov

Space Vulture by Gary K. Wolf and Archbishop (!) John J. Myers

En route:

Humanoids by Jack Williamson

To Die in Italbar by Roger Zelazny

Disposable People by Marshall Goldberg

Spider World: The Tower by Colin Wilson

Let the book reviewing begin!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In Search Of

Thinking about the self-inflicted demise of The History Channel (a Swamp People marathon tonight. Really? On the History Channel?), my mind wandered to that most awesomest of shows from my youth: In Search Of.

I’ve spoken about it often here at the Hopper. Next to the original Battlestar Galactica series, it was probably the only thing I regularly watched on night-time teevee at that age. True, when slightly younger, me and the family would watch Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Chico and the Man, and, of course, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, on Sunday nights. Around age eleven, I suddenly became too cool for such fare. But not for In Search Of.

In fact, In Search Of was downright creepy. Also, downright awesome, if you forgive the repetition. That opening synthesizer and wah-wah theme song; the psychedelic, moody, oppressive background music; Leonard Nimoy and everything about him – voice, moustache and/or goatee, those loud 70s suits and fat ties; and best of all, the topics. The paranormal, extranormal, abnormal, anti-normal. Strange sightings, cryptids, histories mysteries, edge-of-science-stuff, vanishings, legends true, false, and middling. Every week I looked forward with goosebumped anticipation. Thank God my dad was into this, too (at least, I guess; I don’t think I had the foresight to plan out these viewings).

Each 22-minute episode focused on a single, sole topic aimed directly at the imagination of eleven-year-old boys all across America. Occasionally the show veered into the hokey, to small degrees, but it always maintained a somewhat objective scientific mien. That, coupled with the dignity Spock brought and exuded with his superhuman vocal chords, gave the show a seriousness that you just couldn’t shake. Many episodes focused on respectable “mysteries” – mysteries of literature, historical events, people and peoples of ages past.

So, scanning my memories, I tasked myself to come up with a top-ten of greatest In Search Of episodes. Now, we all know memories are leaky things, quite malleable and often possessing agendae of their own. If I err somehow, well, take it in the spirit that it’s offered: Creepy Nimoy goodness!

10. The Dogon tribe

An African tribe that somehow knows of the existence of Sirius and its smaller stellar companion – invisible to the naked eye. Though I didn’t grasp the significance back then, I somehow have never forgotten this episode.

9. Jack the Ripper

My first encounter with this serial psycho from 1880s England. The sheer violence shocked me, truth be told, I, who loved swords and sorcery and science fiction mayhem at this point. I still can’t get interested in this historical mystery due to the gore factor.

8. The Shroud of Turin

Hey, I’m currently reading a book about this! Again, my first encounter with a historical mystery. Never completely escaped my mind. Well, it did for a few decades, but lately I’ve been thinking about it!

7. Michael Rockefeller

Okay, I don’t remember seeing this as a kid. Saw it in a rerun about ten years ago, and this truly never really left my mind. Youngling of the beyond-wealthy and uber-powerful clan, he seemingly chucked all that wealth and power … to study primitive cultures as an anthropologist. However, hubris must be passed along genetically, as he ran afoul of a particularly nasty tribe (allegedly) and – disappeared without a trace. What happened to him?

6. The Amityville Horror

Vaguely remember this, and rewatched it on youtube around Halloween (you can see most In Search Of episodes on youtube). Man, was I into this back around 78 or 79. Scary stuff. Drew me like a moth to flame.

5. The Oak Island Money Pit

Buried treasure. Just beyond your grasp. Many tried to dig it up. All failed. Some died. Every ten feet down, a sign. An elaborate trap? Otherworldly engineering? Who knows? Something I’d love to. Learn more. About.

4. Amelia Earhart

In a similar vibe with Michael Rockefeller, these types of mysterious vanishings toy with my obsession buttons. Many years later I skimmed through a book about her. Lots of alternate theories of what happened to her (captured by Japs, starved on a distant island, etc), but I think she and her co-pilot just plain veered off course and crashed into the ocean. I don’t want to think of what happened after that.

3. Ogo-Pogo

A sea serpent, or rather, a lake monster like the Loch Ness critter. I recall some footage from the episode. Interesting, intriguing. What caught me most, though, was the name of the dang monster. It’s gotta be of Indian derivation, but there’s a spookiness in a million-year-old modern brachiosaur named Ogo-Pogo.

2. Bigfoot!

As every eleven-year-old boy was in the late 70s, I was completely enamored by Bigfoot. Read tons of books on the cryptid, watched anything and everything I could on the subject. This episode held my first viewing of the Gimlin-Patterson film footage, of which I have never made up my mind. I think I’m of the opinion that there’s a fifty-percent chance the creature exists. Still, though, the possibilities are so intriguing I am completely amazed and dumbfounded a decent horror movie has never been made about the beast. Aside from The Legend of Boggy Creek, of course.

1. UFO abductees

This was before the whole abduction phenomenon began in the mid-80s. So I was treated to learned about Travis Walton primarily. Some other stuff, too, but I can’t quite remember what exactly. However, I do know that this was the very first episode of In Search Of that I ever watched! And I was hooked, baby, hooked!

Here’s that theme music –

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

History (?) Channel

My sentiments exactly!

(But I still watch the kooky stuff every now and then ...)

Hat tip: Mark Shea

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mysterious Herb

Quick – what tastes like a cross between root beer and thickly medicinal licorice?

It’s my mysterious herb, that I can’t quite decide whether I wish to despise it or lay down my life in its cause.

For those of you who began reading this post thinking I was going to write something about an enigmatic fellow name of Herbert, well, I am. Herb’s last name is of Spanish derivation: zarzaparrilla (yes, that’s right, roll those rrrrs and go heavy on the y-sound at the end). But, truth be told, he goes by the nom de guerre of

S a r s a p a r i l l a !

No, sarsaparilla doesn’t make you drunk. I don’t drink and blog. But I am high on life!

Monday, January 9, 2012


OK, so maybe it’s not my Waterloo. Maybe it’s my own literary Battle of Borodino.

I’m putting Tolstoy’s War and Peace back on the shelf. It bested me. In a world where Hoppers hop maniacally between work, children, household chores, friends, and a never-ended inertial battle against low energy, there just isn’t any room for an eleven-hundred word eighteenth-century Russian masterpiece of literature.

Weep not for me, children. It goes back on the shelf, not in the trash can.

This is not the first time I’ve thrown in the towel. Recently, I had to surrender to Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain (about 50% completed), Pyotr Ouspensky’s Tertium Organum (60% completed), Father Walter Ciszek’s He Leadeth Me (33%), Robert Anton Wilson’s Eye in the Pyramid (20%) and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (5% before my head exploded). All are back on the shelf, and all will be tackled again.

Many books required a second go to get through: Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities, Clive Barker’s Imagica, PKD’s Time Out of Joint, Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. Some of my proudest accomplishments are when I finally master books like these, absorb them and make them my own. I never leave a Good book permanently unfinished, provided that “G” in “good” is capitalized.

What happened? I guess my heart wasn’t into it. I first cracked the book in 1984, reading the first 80 or 90 pages. This time around, I raced through the beginning, eager to get past the “soap opera” elements of the story and on to the Napoleonic Wars. Well, I got there, and it wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t Red Badge of Courage. It was good, don’t get me wrong; I’m not panning the book. But when I found myself making excuses not to read it, that was the red flag. Life is too short to waste on reading something that doesn’t drive you crazy with anticipation.

War and Peace goes back into semi-retirement. I may get to it sooner or I may get to it later, but I will read the whole thing before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

(For the record, I reached page 236 – Chapter XII of Part III – before reaching this decision. I began it on November 26, and probably invested twelve or fifteen reading sessions.)

(First paragraph note: Waterloo is the battle which effectively ended Napoleon as Emperor of France and threat to Europe.  Borodino was the battle which effectively ended Napoleons campaign into Russia.  A more fitting metaphor, no?)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Shroudy With A Chance ...

I finally found something moderately fringey-ish to read up on.

A few months ago I wrote about my disenchantment with the JFK assassination, a little topic of weirdity that fascinated me every November for ever since I saw the Oliver Stone flick. Reading Gerald Posner's conspiracy-debunking book last year debunked all the spooky fun out of the events of November 1963. In this post, here, I wrote about my search for a new goosebump-inducing, beard-petting topic of study.

Even though the list I came up with included some freaky stuff and some sciency stuff and some mental-idea-ideology stuff and some plain-kookie stuff, nothing really grabbed me. So I read up on the Civil War and read a science fiction book or two in the interim, along with starting a new job and piloting the leaky vessel known as the S. S. Hopper through the iceberg laden Holiday Sea.

But there was something nagging me, something just beyond my consciousness. I may have had a dream about it; it's on the tip of my tongue to tell inquiring minds, 'cept for the fact I don't recall an actual dream. When I got out of the hospital in February 2009, with a new spiritual fervor, I remember taking a few books out from the library, skimming a couple, taking some notes, planning some blog posts. But nothing fruitful came of it.

Saturday, on errands with Patch, I stopped at my favorite local library and found two intriguing books on the Shroud of Turin. You know, that burial cloth upon which supposedly holds the transmitted image of Christ. Something is driving me to learn more about it. I don't know why or what for. All I know is that right now it interests me.

My first encounter with the Shroud was sometime in the late 70s, watching that awesome weekly show In Search Of as a lad. About six months ago I came across it again on youtube (actually while watching an In Search Of on the "Amityville Horror" in conjunction to reading said book; the Shroud episode was on a list of recommended videos on the right side of the page). Then, that dream I may or may not have had. So I borrowed the two library books and I'm already 45 pages into the first.

Maybe some posts to follow every couple of days or once a week. I don't know; I don't know where this is going. Right now I'm probably 75-25 in favor of it being the authentic burial shroud of Jesus. But that 1988 carbon-dating evidence is pretty daunting (modern science tells us the cloth is from circa 1325 AD). I need to do more reading to firm up my opinion, one way or the other.

The Shroud of Turin is said to be the most investigated / researched / studied object ever made by man. Now it'll be studied by one more guy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Searchers

In lieu of a full-court review, of which I lack the desire and energy to write, I’ll give you three letters, three words, and eight marks of punctuation:

OMG!!! She’s Ethan’s daughter!!!


Now, as a side note, I have the book upon which The Searchers is based, also entitled The Searchers. The slim paperback I have is so yellowed with age I wouldn’t be surprised if either John Wayne or John Ford personally handled the book. Apparently, Ethan is known as Amos in the book, and from what little I know, little else is changed. Except, perhaps, the ending and the whole meaning of the work. Anyways, I plan on traversing those pages come summertime.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Make My Mind

Kinda busy tonight, so –

Aw, shucks. I’ll be honest.

I’m tired from a long week at work, tired from raising children, tired from detoxing due to my New Year’s diet, tired from … well, I’m tired.

So’s the Mrs.

We’re gonna watch a flick together tonight. I can hear little footpads two floors upstairs telling me she’s marshalling the little ones to bed. Good. Let me type this quickly and get it posted. Big weekend, with the football playoffs (Go Giants!), church, my father-in-law visiting, errands tomorrow, cutting up that gigantic tree branch that crashed on my deck last month. But tonight I’m watching a movie. (I have The Searchers starring John Wayne DVR’d, but I’m not sure I can cajole the wife into watching it.)

In the meantime, why not check out my latest musical obsession? I was way into these guys around 1996 or 97; they were probably the last rock band I enjoyed before delving into classical.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ghosts of the Battleships

It’s been said the Golden Age of science fiction is not the Forties or the Fifties. No, the Golden Age of science fiction is around Eleven. When a boy’s eleven, and he gets pulled in just past the event horizon of Asimov, or Bradbury, or Clarke, or Heinlein – well, life is good and complete and endlessly fascinating and overflowing with wonder.

As a corollary, Eleven was probably the most wonderful time of my life. This was a year or two before my parents divorced. I lived in a house I loved, I lived in a neighborhood filled with endless possibilities, I went to a school I was comfortably perfect in – or perfectly comfortable in – and I pal’d around that year with a kid named Mark, getting into all sorts of devilishly fun mischief you can really only appreciate if you had once been an eleven year old boy.

Yeah, we were in school together, in the same class. Though we weren’t “bullies” by any stretch of the imagination, we made up elaborate backstories about our classmates. I remember a somewhat heavy ethnic kid – who probably wound up a collegiate offensive lineman – that took the brunt of our weirdness. And he never even knew it.

But most of our troublemaking happened around the neighborhood. Ring and run was a favorite past-time. That soon grew boring, so, being criminal masterminds, we recruited my little brother to do the ringing and running. We, of course, would hide in the bushes in the house across the street and observe the homeowner’s reaction. I even had the grand idea to tell my brother to ring the bell, run to the edge of the property, and lay at the base of a three-foot stone wall out of sight of the front porch. Unfortunately, the owner, dumbfounded and perplexed, decided to walk out and leisurely inspect just about every inch of his front yard. He literally stood two feet directly above him, yet never spotted my no-doubt terrified little brother. We, of course, giggled with glee from safety on the other side of the road.

Like many gateway drugs, this led to harder stuff. Harder in this case meant: let’s have my little brother “play dead” at the side of the road, half on the curb, half off, while Mark and myself would camouflage ourselves behind nearby shrubbery. We’d wait a remarkably short time before cars pulled over to investigate this “dead” child – at which point my brother would take off running like the devil himself was after him. We always made sure we were close enough to hear the remarks of our “victims” as they returned to their cars: “I thought he was dead!” I remember one young man saying to an older woman as clear as if I heard it at dinner tonight.

Me and Mark targeted a local home fix-it supply store called Rickels, causing mayhem for their poor minimum-wage employees. We set all the display alarm clocks to go off all at once. We put six-inch hollow black plumbing tubes into the fake toilets and closed the lid – ho, ho! what a surprise awaited the unsuspecting shopper. We even got kicked out by the store detective one day.

There was a stream that meandered beyond the wooden fence in Mark’s backyard. We hopped over and followed it all the way down to the mill and the pond a little way’s away. The stream was overflowing with tin cans. We hit upon the idea of asking the mill owner’s permission to fish out all the cans and recruited my brother to help. Of course, he eventually fell into the blue scummy water and had to bike all the way home to shower the foul odor off himself. This was probably the most altruistic thing we did (at least superficially; I believe we had it in mind to make 5 cents off each can, but it never got that far).

Another time we had the intelligent idea to stick a Frankenstein mask on the end of a stick, go under a nearby two-lane bridge, and poke it up over the sewer grating at passing cars. Very quickly, however, the tables were turned on us as a motorist – who obviously had no sense of humor – pulled over, ripped the Franken-stick out of our hands, and hurled it at us spear-like as we fled down the stream away from the road.

Over in my neck of the woods, we hit upon the idea of trying to scare people a different way. I stole a plastic tin of talcum powder from my mother’s dresser as Mark came over my house one night. We did up our faces to look as unnaturally pale as possible, then moved out down my street, looking for houses with windows open and “victims” visible inside. We found a few and paraded as zombies back and forth on the sidewalk … and elicited exactly no response. A rare dud for us, I suppose.

I have lots more memories of those days, a lot disjointed, a lot that run on to no discernible conclusion. There was a birdcage that hung on a tree at that stream behind Mark’s house for no comprehensible reason whatsoever. Playing Battleship with Mark in my backyard and Mark taking the destroyed battleships, hovering them about in the air, saying something that the “ghosts of the battleships are returning!” Going to the movie theaters by ourselves for the first time, and seeing … The Poseidon Adventure 2 (!) Mark extolling the virtues of the Chuck Heston movie The Omega Man one afternoon, then calling me up later that day after I went home to exclaim, “It’s on teevee right now!”

And many more I won’t bore you with, primarily because they probably wouldn’t make any sense to you.

* * * * * * *

I’m not big on the Facebook thing; probably cause I’m about a generation removed from its target market I suppose. After my hospitalization in 2009, when I unexpectedly found myself with a lot of down time with a pink slip with my final check, a friend strongly encouraged me to sign up. Reluctantly I did, because such public non-anonymous displays embarrass me. But guess who “friended” me a month later? Yup. Mark. My best friend from over thirty years ago.

We corresponded and caught up, and maybe checked in once a year or so, all via email. Then, out of the blue, he let me know his family was coming cross-country into town to visit relatives. Would I want to get my family together with his for a bite to eat?

Immediately as I read his words, all the thoughts and memories preceding flooded through me. Stuff I hadn’t thought of in decades. Would I? You bet. Opportunities like this you can’t just leave to “tomorrow.”

One night between Christmas and New Years, Mark and I met and grabbed some Mexican food with the families in tow. Over a couple of beers we reminisced and caught up with life stories and chatted up our jobs and houses and towns. He and his wife have two daughters, just like me and mine have, though a year or two older. They shyly played the mental chess pre-adolescents do, barely speaking to each other until breaking the ice as we’re all putting on jackets to leave.

It was a tremendous ninety minutes that I wish was two or three times longer. We left in the rain making promises to reconnect in a few years when my family would be vacationing near his once my little ones are a bit older. On the ride home all they talked about were Mark’s daughters, while I drove watching the wipers rhythmic motion, my mind half in 2011, half in 1978.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hot Herbal Tea

It was an awesome herbal tea, having all the esoteric qualities that made an herbal tea awesome.  Intrigue, mystique, strange familiarity, a timeless invitation into the enternal now, a devilishly haunting aftertaste.  Indeed it haunted me all that cold, rainy afternoon as I murmured over and over to myself, “I will either drink this tea hereforth every single afternoon, or else it will never, ever pass my lips again.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Around 1997 I became disgusted with contemporary music. No, that’s being a bit dramatic. But I distinctly recall driving up to CD World one night, cash in hand and looking for something cool to buy, and after casing the store for over an hour, literally finding nothing to pique my interest. Nothing at all.

A change was needed.

A couple years earlier, in my band’s heyday, looking to expand my musical horizons, I began listening to a local classical music station. Over the summer. Didn’t get too far into it (aside from realizing I liked the music of some guy named Sibelius). But my ma bought me a “sampler” 10-pack of CDs, each one of a different heavy-hitter. Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, to name a few (but no Sibelius).

So, five years later, desperately seeking something new, I decided to throw myself wholeheartedly into classical music. I believe I wrote about that mini-quest elsewhere here on the Hopper. But in true Hopper form, I quickly grew bored of classical music, and again needed a fix of something new.

Why not – Opera? Surely that would truly challenge my long-held proud musical identity as a grunge guitarist. Surely that would make me grow as a musician, being such a foreign – yet well-proven musical influence.

I bought a “Mad About Wagner” CD, which introduced me to some of the famous passages of his Ring cycle, and a few others. It was mostly music, though, with no singing other than a chorus here and there.

Then I tried La Traviata by Verdi, The Barber of Seville by Rossini, Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart. But none particularly grabbed me, and I was about to write off Opera until I borrowed Carmen by Georges Bizet from a local library. It was April of 1999, and I was in the middle of renovating my apartment. That night I was washing the walls with some orange-scented chemical before priming and painting them. The early Spring evening was that perfect balance of warmth and wind, and I had all the windows opened. And from the very first notes I was hooked.

I loved Carmen. Yeah, I’m about as far as one can be from hot-blooded Spaniards or Frenchmen. But every song had something that grabbed me, that hooked my soul. Very quickly after that, I had to hear more.

Carmen was Bizet’s only opera – pity, but the man died of a heart attack as it was preparing to premiere. Fortunately, I followed it up with that oft-paired duo, Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci, the “Heartbreaker” and “Living Loving Maid” of Operettas. Both remain with me to this day, in the form of a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law. Yes, Pav is headlining both.

Over the next five years I listened to a little over twenty more. 2004 was a particularly fruitful year. That May we moved into our house, and that summer, working full-time and painting every single room in it by myself, I would soak in a hot tub nightly listening to each of the four operas in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. My favorite one is Das Rheingold.

Verdi is often touted as Wagner’s rival. I must confess I am a Wagnerite (my father-in-law is a Verdi man himself). But this has not kept me from exploring the Italian’s work. I listened to Rigoletto, Aida, Traviata, Il Trovatore, Falstaff, Giovanna d’Arco, Otello, and La forza del destino. Though none are true personal favorites, I absolutely loved the ending to Falstaff. Goose-bump inducing, and a triumphant finale to both the opera and the composer’s career.

There were some dead ends. Though I loved Dvorak’s Rusalka, I never did get into central European stuff. The Bartered Bride and Wozzeck did nothing for me, and, traveling a little north, the operas of Richard Strauss ditto. But I did enjoy Die Freischutz by Weber. Go figure.

Puccini … some say he’s the greatest operatic composer. I’ll say this of my personal experience with him: La Boheme, Tosca, and Madame Butterfly did nothing to me (gasp!), though I grant the right leading lady in the role of Tosca can be incendiary. That being said, my all-time favorite opera, hands-down, is Turandot. The version with Pavarotti never fails, even to this day, to send shivers up and down my spine.

There was a stretch, before children and before the house (in other words, when Mr. and Mrs. Hopper had money), where I’d see an opera every year for my birthday. It started out with a trip to the New York Philharmonic to see a symphony, then turned into a visit to the Metropolitan Opera House. There I saw Traviata and Aida; at the Julliard Theater I saw Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, in a hypnotic and strangely riveting performance.

Soon after this the long-suffering wife put her foot down. The next year we saw Jazz at Lincoln Center while my ma watched the little baby. And soon after that there no longer was money for trips into NYC. My interest in opera waned, then dwindled, then disintegrated. The last one I listened to with any real intent to get into the work was Beethoven’s Fidelio, in May of ’06.

On the way home from work tonight, though, on a whim, I stopped in at a local library and browsed their music shelves. Ah! Begging me to take it home was a battered and torn opera by – Wagner! Parsifal! Don’t think I ever listened to that one. Hmm. Maybe tonight, after everyone’s in bed, I’ll get the headphones and crack open the libretto …

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Oscillating Electron

This is currently my favorite physics “oddity” – check it out …

Why does every electron “look” exactly like every other electron?

Because there is only one electron in the entire Universe.


Aren’t there anywheres from one to over a hundred in any given atom, and aren’t there megagazillions of atoms in the tiniest little hair poking out of your skin?

In fact, the number of atoms in the universe is guesstimated to be somewhere around

10 ^ 78


10 ^ 82

which are, of course, numbers with 78 to 82 zeroes after them.

That’s a lot of atoms. A hydrogen atom has only one electron, while an atom of uranium has 92. So multiply that gargantuan number by a factor of 10 or 100 or so to get an idea of how many electrons exist in the universe.

Physicist John Wheeler believed that there is only one electron in the Universe.

Now, I don’t know how far down the facetious scale Wheeler is taking us. I don’t really think it matters, for the reasoning is truly wonderful.

Most of us are aware of the Big Bang – the “birth” of the Universe in which all matter, energy, and space burst outward from a singular point. The best analogy is not an explosion, but a massive balloon being blown up at hyperspeed. We live on the surface of the balloon, so in effect the Universe is bursting outward from every single point.

There is only one thing that can stop such outbursting – and that’s gravity. Gravity from all the matter in the Universe. So the big question is, is there enough matter to slow the expansion of the Universe? Right now, observably, the answer is no; that’s why there is so much interest in dark matter (and energy), “dark” meaning not “black” but “undetectable.”

But Wheeler assumes that there is more than enough matter to slow the Universe’s expansion. In fact, there is enough to cause a reversal after 50 or so billion years. This contraction will lead to a Big Crunch, which itself ultimately leads to another Big Bang. This is the model of the Oscillating Universe.

Once upon a time, there was a Big Bang which shot forth a single electron. It traveled forward in time billions of years until – the Big Crunch, where it moves backward in time as the Universe contracts to a singularity. Then, the Big Bang again, spewing that solitary little electron, forward in time, backward in time to Crunch. Ad infinitum.

What is the difference between an object traveling in space and one traveling in time? Objects in space can not see duplicates of themselves, but objects in time can! Just think, if I go back in time a year, I can sneak around and spy on myself.

So there is this electron that lives through a series of Big Bangs and Big Crunches. How many? Oh, I don’t know … how about

10 ^ 78


10 ^ 82

or a similar amount by a factor of ten or a hundred? In other words, a megagigantazillion of Bang-Crunches. Now … see where Wheeler is going with this?

There is only one electron, but we experience a megagigantazillion time-copies of it.

To which I can only add: how cool is that idea? Yeah, it goes against Christian theology, yeah, it mirrors that nut-job Nietzsche’s belief in Eternal Recurrence. But It Is So Cool!

Man I wish I stuck with physics …

(Note: this neat little anecdote is better described in Michio Kaku’s excellent book, Beyond Einstein. Great for beginners or those re-introducing themselves to cutting edge physics from a 1980s point-of-view.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year New Do

All righty! 

I do have some interesting ideas to blog about ... just simply need to find the time to sit down and write them!  There's a review of the Alien "Director's Cut," there's a meeting I had with a childhood friend I hadn't seen in 30 years, there's some theological thoughts that bounce about that noggin above every morning during my commute that make me exclaim out loud: "I should blog about this!"  And lots more, mostly in the form of vague and amorphous blobs of semi- and pseudo-thought.

So please check back!