Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Kayleigh's Home

Kayleigh's home from her vacation in Mississippi. Her grandparents brought her home on Friday and we were all glad to see her! She's gotten quite a bit darker with all the swimming she's done. She had to go straight away on a mission trip the next day. They brought a friend of her's named Marley home with them and she went along also. They spent two days helping others here in the city.

Maddie couldn't contain herself she was so happy to see Kayleigh. I'm sure she bugged her a lot but she was just so happy to see her big sister.

We all got to go to the Children's Center to see Fletcher and he was happy to see everyone also. It's great to have the whole family together again, if not in the same house, at least in the same city :)

We all went to Bricktown and rode the boats and I have to admit that things have changed quite a bit since I was there last - about three or four years ago.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 9 of 10

The Twelve Kingdoms DVD Vol 9 - AtonementThis volume ends the long running story arc A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn. There are no extras on this DVD other than previews.

The three separate stories of Yoko, Suzu and Shoukei come together with a very good resolution. I really enjoy the rich fantasy world that has developed over this anime - so much so that I went out and bought the first volume translated into English the other day by Fuyumi Ono.

I understand that the anime did not end the story since the series of novels had not been finished at the time. Hopefully I will not be too disapointed by this fact when the tenth volume arrives. I will also be looking forward to the next six books when they are published.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fletcher Achievements

Yesterday Fletcher moved down to one liter of oxygen from the two he's currently on. This lasted less than a day but it is a good sign that he's continuing to improve.

We have been working with him on the parts of his face - you know - eyes, ears, mouth, nose, etc. He's been real good on the nose and ears for a while but, yesterday was the first time he pointed to his eye when I asked him to. I thought that this was pretty awesome.

Another thing my wife told me is that he ate about 25 cc's by mouth. She is going to try and continue this each day and feed him herself when she can. It would be great to get him more practice eating by mouth!

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 8 of 10

The Twelve Kingdoms DVD Vol 8 - AllianceThis volume of the Twelve Kingdoms kicks into a higher gear. We have the three main protagonists, Suzu, Shoukei and Yoko slowly drawing together. Neither Suzu or Shoukei knows what the new Queen of Kei looks like (and neither do most of the citizens of Kei). Yoko continues to learn of the curruption in her kingdom and also comes to realize that she is the cause of some of it through her ignorance. Suzu and Shoukei both flip flop independantly toward believing in the new queen and blaming her. The highly derranged Asano continues to make his presence known. Thinking that all of this is a game he teams up with the evil lord Shoukou. This thinking drives him to do some terrible things. Suzu and Shoukei find themselve in two different factions working toward the same goal. Both factions are hoping to catch the new queen's attention. Little do they know that they already have it. This DVD ends with a rather big cliffhanger.

There are no extras on this DVD other that a few previews for other anime.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 7 of 10

The Twelve Kingdoms DVD Vol 7 - ReflectionVolume seven is better in that there are some intersting developments happening now. Asano is back and obviously worse for wear. Yoko has trouble understanding what she is to do as a ruler and so wants to understand the people better first. Suzu journies to find Queen Kei so that she will have someone to talk to that is sympathetic to her plight. Shoukei meets up with Rakushun and they also journey toward Kei. I like the way that things are coming together here. Also, especially with Suzu and Shoukei, I like the character development. These two start with goals that are oposite to one another and then switch their feelings toward Queen Kei. What Shoukei originally sets out to do, Suzu takes up as her goal but for a different reason. Yoko is also being plagued again by the vision from her sword.

There is still a summary episode but this one is done better in that there is still story development going on.

There are no extras on this disc other that DVD previews.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 6 of 10

The sixth volume begins the A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn story arc. We basically see three stories being told at once here. One involves a girl named Suzu who came here about 100 years ago and has been serving as a handmaiden during that time under a ruthless mistress in Sai. Another deals with the daughter of a horrible king in Hou named Shoukei. Her parents were dethroned and killed and she was exiled. Yoko's story continues as well as she has her official crowning ceremony in Kei. Suzu hears of this and sees hope that she may be able to talk to her and get home. Shoukei hears of this and is filled with hatred toward her in that she's got everything that she once had.

As Yoko learns of how her kingdom works, she is faced with making decisions that will effect lives. She also must deal with the dead scabbord that begins to pull at her mind again as well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 5 of 10

The Twelve Kingdoms Vol 5 - ForgottenThe fifth installment of the Twelve Kingdoms is four episodes long and the extra on the disc is an interview with one of the character designers for the series. The series has now become a little tedious. The final episodes of the Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth. We see more exposition on the life of Taiki and his chosing of a king and then more history of the world of the Twelve Kingdoms. The story line needs to start building toward something in my opinion. Maybe we'll see some of this in the next installment. Still a good story but a little lacking at this point.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Cover for Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsThis has probably been the most anticipated book for me. I have had to wait for books before - especially with the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant which were published no sooner that 18 months apart. I really couldn't wait just after I finished Half-Blood Prince but the excitement settled a little. Then The Order of the Phoenix movie came out and then, before you knew it, the seventh and final book was to be released. About mid-week I couldn't wait. I didn't camp out or anything but I did go to Wal-Mart Saturday and got me a copy. I finished it Sunday night (Monday morning actually) and I will say that it had a very satisfying ending. I will also say that almost everything I predicted in the sixth book turned out how I thought it would.

I'm not going to spoil anything for those two or three people that read this blog but, I will apologize to my wife the being in another world for a couple of days.

After reading the epilogue I felt satisfied with the series as a whole. J K Rowling, while not writing a masterpiece in my opinion, has finished a nicely woven story that was very entertaining. That's one of the most important things. I have read books I considered masterpieces and that I could put down for a day or two with no problems. J K Rowling has a gift that is not too common in writers, the ability to make you want to read the next chapter at the finish of each one. Regardless of the climax, I consider a book to be good if this is true. A good ending is an added bonus and this book had that as well.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 4 of 10

The fourth installment of The Twelve Kingdoms changes tracks a little. Now that Yoko has been chosen Queen of Kei, she must travel with Keiki to Mount Hou to make it official. Once there she is treated to a story about Taiki, a kirin born in Japan. Sugimoto, now in Japan, follows a boy named Kaname Takasato and qustions him about his apparent familiarity with the Twelve Kingdoms.

The Twelve Kingdoms Vol 4This DVD spends most of its time focused on the past when Taiki was born in Japan and then brought to Mount Hou at the age of ten. The story is told to Yoko by Youka, the lady that helped teach Taiki, and Keiki who also helped.

Yoko is in this very little and most of this DVD emphasizes the differences of cultures in the two worlds. We know that Taiki left Japan at age ten and returned a year later and we also see some of the things that have happened to him in that time. The problem is that Sugimoto knows him as an older boy that doesn't seem to remember anything about being "Spirited Away". As we learn about his past and his searching for a king of Tai, we are also in the present day Japan learning about him from Sugimoto. Mostly these episodes are historical at this point but I'm sure more time will be spent with Sugimoto later.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 3 of 10

The Twelve Kingdoms DVD Vol 3I just finished volume three of the The Twelve Kingdoms. This four episode DVD wraps up the first segment of the story: Shadow of the Moon, Sea of the Shadow. I have been pleased so far with the story. I have always appreciated it when writers are able to build a world that has it's own rules and laws and can do so believably and with a depth of history. This is also one of the main reasons I liked Banner of the Stars so well. I also find myself liking the characters in this story so far. Yoko makes some tough decisions taking on responsibilities that will cause her to miss her old life while Sugimoto also grows up some.

The only problem I have is with episode 13. The explanation for the hunting down of Joei is done too quickly and we don't get to see exactly why Yoko feels as she does at the end of the episode when she's talking to Sugimoto.

Also, episode 14 is a filler episode in which Yoko and Rakushun talk about the events that have happened in the previous 13. If I were watching these weekly as they were broadcast then that would be fine but, watching them on DVD in succession made this a redundant story. It did put all of the information we've learned so far about the Twelve Kingdoms together in a nice neat package though.

I should have the next DVD arriving soon and can't wait to see how the next segment, Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth, will turn out and who that mysterious boy that Sugimoto met back in Japan is.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Twelve Kingdoms - DVD Vol 2 of 10

Twelve Kingdoms DVD 2 - EmpressI just finished the 2nd DVD of The Twelve Kingdoms - Empress.  I have enjoyed the story so far, it has a real epic feel to it (as I supposed it should being 45 episodes long). This DVD contains episodes six through ten. I rented these from NetFlix because I wanted to get into a long episodic anime.  Anime News Network has these rated very high also.

These episodes start out with the survival of Yoko after Sugimoto beats her in combat.  Kourin stopped her from killing her.  She's lost Asano in the conflict and finds herself nursed to health by a giant rat named Rakushun.  He tells her she needs to get out of Kou and into the kingdom of En.  They set out together.

On the journey, Yoko is plagued by visions from Aozaru who continues to cause her doubts and fears to take over.  She finally overcomes this to make her way to En with a troop of entertainers.  Once there she meets up with Rakushun again and, with the help of a local teacher, a kaikayu, gets more information on the world in which she's found herself.  She is introduced to King En who believes that she is the rightful queen of Kei.

These episodes do a good job of keeping you entertained and at the same time answering just enough questions to make you want more. The history and setup of the 12 kingdoms is interesting.  They are apparently based on some Han-era Chinese mythology that I know very little about.

There is also a lot of character development in these episodes as we see a swing from selfish, evil Sugimoto back to a somewhat sympathetic charcter and then to a hopeless, honor bound lackey for King Kou. Yoko also follows the prodings of her visions to become a non-caring person out for her own survival into a caring and compassionate person who wants to believe in people because that's her choice.

I am calmly awaiting the next installment.

Monday, July 16, 2007

This Ugly Yet Beautiful World

This Ugly Yet Beautiful WorldI finished This Ugly Yet Beautiful World last night.  This is a twelve episode anime that I rented from NetFlix.  I rented it first off because the title seemed interesting.  It also has a closing theme sung by Yoko Ishida - she sings the opening themes for Ah! My Goddess and I like her voice. Anyway, it was an entertaining series although fairly weak in places. The story was interesting but the execution was a little slow and the ending was slightly weak as well. It was left open to interpretation though.

I would suggest renting this series because it was fun even if it's not a masterpiece.

A Trip to Mississippi

Well we just got back from Mississippi.  We took the girls to see Kayleigh's grandparents in Clinton. We had to leave Fletcher here and spent a whole three days without seeing him. It was tough but we had a good time while we were there. When we got back we went straight to the Children's Center to see the happy boy.

Maddie did well on the trip, better than I thought she would after being cooped up in a van for nine hours each way. The portable DVD players we took with us helped in that area :) Kayleigh is spending a couple weeks with her grandparents so we left her there. We're gonna miss her...

We had a great time but we're also glad to be back home.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Foundation's Fear

I have just finished the first book in the Second Foundation Trilogy authorized by the Isaac Asimov Foundation titled Foundation's Fear by Gregory Benford. I got these three books from my Dad who picked up a few books that were being thrown out somwhere.  I was reluctant to read them because I liked the Foundation Series and the subsequent books Asimov published tying in these with the Robot Series.  I finally broke down and read the first one and was mildly surprised.  I enjoyed it.

These books are stories that take place during Hari Seldon's life and deal with his development of psychohistory.  This book in particular deals with his pre-Minister days leading up to his appointment as First Minister of the Empire.  This book shows us some of the interworkings of Trantor and the political struggles there.  The worries about the Empires fall and what can be done to prevent it.  It involves Daneel from the Robot books also as we learn a little (very little) about the pre-Empire days.  I would recommend reading this for any true Sci-Fi fan.

I have started on the second in the series: Foundation and Chaos by Greg Bear.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

No MRSA for Fletcher

We got good news Thursday. Fletcher has had two MRSA tests come back negative. He has had MRSA for 15 months. It has been in his lungs and now it is clear which means he should be having fewer problems. He's also being weaned off of some of the steroids that he's been on and this is a slow process. He's been on them for a long time and so they have to give his body the chance to catch up with making them on it's own. He has been crankier lately and we think that that's the reason. He's a tough boy though and should be able to handle it.

Here is a picture of Fletcher and me at home on the 4th of July.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I've Got a Blog, WooHoo!

So I've broken down and started a blog. Since my wife and daughter have one here (See NeeNee's Blog and Miss Kayleigh in my blog list), I decided I've got to have one also. I am not so sure what I will put here but we'll just see as we go along.

See ya...