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Last night, we went to see Kingsman: The Golden Circle. It's a bit of fun, though I liked the first one a bit better. Clearly set up for sequels.

Today will be devoted to a bit of gardening in the front yard as was a portion of last weekend. Mostly maintenance work rather than any major additions.

And there's my last couple of weeks. Work, I just can't talk about, not that there's anything bad there. I'm still loving my job, no worries there, I'm finding that there's things that I must do that are a bit outside of my comfort zone but I'm getting them done because it's what's right and it's what has to be done.

And then there's happy 5778 for those who recognize the number system...
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I've been pondering something for several weeks, and I've come to the decision that I'm not going to bore people anymore with posting book reports, or at least not here. I'm a member of a couple of book-related groups and/or websites, and I'll probably continue doing it there, but due to the dearth of discussion that I get on my posts, I just don't have the time anymore to devote to it. Anyone interested in seeing what I think of what I read can friend me on Goodreads, I guess.
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After the last time I posted, we had a busy half-week at work followed by a trip to New Orleans. The track of Hurricane Harvey worried us but it never really interfered with the flight aside from some heavy turbulence.

On arrival in New Orleans late at night the breeze was warm and humid and utterly relaxing. After we checked into our hotel, Bridget refused to consider having room service for a very late dinner, so we headed into the French Quarter and had delicious food and drink at a place called the Back Space Bar. Tiny place, dark and friendly. Nice start.

We spent the next day driving out of town to the east enjoying the scenery, discovering a NASA test center that we didn't know existed, lunched in Gulfport, Mississippi. In Alabama we took a drive on a minor road and just soaked in the locale. Then it was back to the NOLA airport to return the rental car and meet up with our friends at the hotel.

That evening it was back to the Green Goddess, a restaurant that we discovered years ago in a back alley of the French Quarter where we had a meal with Natalie, a friend from Chicago who'd never been to New Orleans before. Once again, a delicious meal, and we later strolled through the Quarter with her sharing the things we love about the town.

I'm not going to get much deeper into a play-by-play about the weekend. We had gone there to participate in the Fourth North American Discworld Convention, and the Con was much smaller than those we'd attended before in Tempe and in Madison. We spent a lot of time in the city, showing it off to Natalie and her daughter Callista, and just had a lot of good times, just as you should if you visit.

We got home Monday night; the kittens were well and all of our various pets were glad to see us.

There's a lot of beauty in this world, and taking the time to go find it with my wife...well, it's what I want to keep doing forever...
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We've been busy; once again the last two weeks or so are a blur.

I remember going to what I think is the last food truck Thursday for this year at the Fairplex with my wife and a friend's daughter. The food quality is variable dependent on the trucks that show up, though usually pretty good, and that night it certainly was. I remember eating a lobster roll from one truck (Cousins?), and then a brie sandwich/quesadilla something from another truck which was also tasty.

We took the Bolt bus from a stop in Ontario to Las Vegas to attend the wedding of our friend Cliff. It was held at one of those little wedding chapels that LV is famous for, and an Elvis impersonator did the proceedings but it wasn't hokey, and the guy did a great job. They're obviously in love, and they had so many folks attend that we were causing the chapel to bulge! Lovely time. There was a reception afterwards at the Aria hotel and a party that followed at a club; we ate at the former and had great conversations with some of Cliff's friends going back to his high school days, but we were tuckered and didn't party into the night...we crashed at our hotel room at the Orleans. Next morning we had a brunch at the Paris hotel and people watched until it was time to catch the bus home.

Right now, the only other thing that sticks in my mind about the last couple of weeks was watching on Netflix DVD the movie A Dog's Purpose; it pulls the heartstrings, yes it does.


Where does the time go?
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It's been a couple of weeks, but with some traveling in there I had a bit more time to read.

First book I finished was Lord of the Flies. I know, most of you read this probably in junior high school, but it was never required of me and I just recently got around to it. In it, for those of you who don't already know, a bunch of English schoolboys in an aircraft crash on a deserted island without adult supervision and they rapidly lose all veneer of civilization. I can see why it's a book for discussion.

Next was Osprey Elite #55: Marine Recon 1940 – 90; how do you make an elite from an elite? The history and honors of this subset of the US Marine Corps.

Then I finished reading Osprey Fortress #70: Strongholds of the Border Reivers: Fortifications of the Anglo-Scottish Border 1296 – 1603 in which they not only talk about the various forms of defended buildings, but also how some of them were taken.

Following that I read Osprey Men-At-Arms #71: The British Army 1965 – 80 which was essentially a mere description of the various unit uniforms. Meh.

Next book was Osprey New Vanguard #37: Sturmgeschutz III and IV 1942 – 45, a rather good description of this weapon system. Worthy of a look if you're into WWII armored vehicles.

Then, Osprey Vanguard #41: The M1 Abrams Battle Tank, a discussion of the onset of the present American main battle tank.

Still reading, I finished Normal by Warren Ellis, a somewhat frightening novel about our future lack of privacy.

And then it was Osprey Warrior #79: US Doughboy 1916 – 19, a portion of our nation's history that's not exactly forgotten, but not held up as an example the way the American Civil War or WWII is. Worth a read for a student of US military history.

On to the next book!
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
This week is heavily colored by enjoying from a distance while my beloved spouse is traveling with a friend and visiting Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. She's never been before, while I was there 51 years and one month ago. I'm so glad that she's had the chance to go...

OTOH, I don't think I've ever seen so many movies in a two week stretch as I have in this run. As mentioned in my last post, I saw The Dark Tower; last weekend Bridget and I saw two movies that she wanted to watch in the same day, starting with Dunkirk which I found pretty well-done even though it was rather unstuck in time, and then after a late lunch we watched Atomic Blonde which has a terrific score, and is another true female superhero. I liked it very much.

After my beloved left for her trip, I finally got a chance to see Valerian which is a beautiful film, and a bit of fun, but I'm afraid it's not a great film. Too bad.

I've been playing the full run of Babylon 5 on a website that has it for free; so much meaning in today's politics here. Hmm.

Good week to you all...
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Another week, another few more books.

First was Usagi Yojimbo #31: The Hell Screen; I love Stan Sakai's comic series though I don't buy the comic books. I patiently await the collected stories/graphic novels. I still find them very readable. For those not in the know, these comics are tales about a rabbit who is a skillful samurai now ronin in a fictional Japan. They are all excellent, and beautifully rendered. Very much worth reading.

Next was Dark Serpent by Paul Doherty, a mystery novelist with a huge variety of series that he's written. This is one set in the England of Edward II in which a French privateer is laying waste to English shipping while a series of murders among the recently ousted Templars disturbs the peace. Pretty good read.

Finally, there is Osprey Campaign #48: Salamanca 1812: Wellington Crushes Marmont, a critical battle in the British battle against Napoleon. Solid information.

And so it goes...
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
There's not much to say about this week, since my beloved spouse was helping my nephew move his things up north to San Francisco. We did go to a pool party for cast and crew of Dungeonmaster on Sunday, though, and that was relaxing. Looks like we'll be announcing a start date for the season in the latter part of September.

I had intended to go see Valerian while Bridget was out of town because she wasn't interested in it, but when I got to the theater, they'd pulled it and replaced it with The Dark Tower which she also wasn't interested in seeing, so I went ahead and saw it. Eh.

While she was away, I also watched via Netflix streaming an animated show written by Warren Ellis called Castlevania. The first season of four episodes is up and it deals with stirring up trouble with Dracula in Wallachia. Fun!

Have a good week...
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
Not too many books this week.

First of all, I read a short piece of work from Allen Steele called Sanctuary. It deals with humans and interstellar colonization in a very interesting way.

Then there was Osprey Weapon #39: Mauser Military Rifles; a very common weapon in the first half of the 20th Century. I didn't find it nearly as interesting as I have other books of this series.

And that's it.
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What a couple of weeks...

And yet I can't really remember all of it.

I know that I watched a movie called King Arthur via Netflix streaming, but it wasn't really worth the time invested.

I know that we had a crowd of kids staying with us from several families, and my wife took them on a series of adventures. In the evening they had a chance to make s'mores at the firepit, and watch the ISS orbit overhead.

I know that we went all the way to Moorpark for a cooking class/demonstration which was really interesting by a Top Chef contestant named Fabio Viviani.

But honestly the last couple of weeks have been a blur.

Work, though it remains fascinating and though I still feel like I'm making a difference, has been a bit overwhelming that last few weeks. We've added a sixth clinic to the mix, and the new site is having some issues getting settled. Also, what with the summertime, various staff are taking vacations and the others including me have to pick up the slack. That means I get home fairly tired.

But it's been a good couple of weeks. I just wish I could put it all into some structure, mentally.
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
A couple of weeks reading to review.

As I had been, I was reading an Osprey book each time I finished a chapter of another book, so the first book I read was Osprey Elite #34: Afrikakorps 1941 – 43. As an older Osprey book, the plates aren't particularly great. However the text is pretty good.

Next was Osprey Fortress #69: The Berlin Wall and the Intra-German Border 1961 - 89 which details the whole structure of the border defenses, not just in Berlin. Interesting read.

Then I finished Osprey Men-At-Arms #70: The US Army 1941 – 45, once again an older book in the series which discusses the uniforms and gear of various units in the US Army in a variety of environments. Of mild interest.

Next one up was Osprey New Vanguard #36: Jagdpanzer 38 'Hetzer' 1944 - 1945 which was a tank destroyer of the latter part of World War II in Europe in the German forces. This was a pretty good book.

The next book after that was Osprey Vanguard #40: US Light Tanks 1944 – 84, a discussion of lighter armored vehicles some of which were failures.

Then, Osprey Warrior #54: Confederate Cavalryman 1861 – 65 which goes into details of the life of such troops during the American Civil War. Pretty good.

Osprey Weapon #14: The M16 was the next book. I recall there being a controversy about the weapon's reliability during the Vietnam War, though now it's one of the most common assault weapons in the world.

Finally, there was Price of Duty by Dale Brown, a rather frightening techno-thriller set in Eastern Europe in what must be a bit into the future. I can only hope we make some or all of the technology depicted...

And that's the week!
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I shall try my best to pummel my memory into submission and give up the bits and pieces of the last week or so. I expect imperfection.

Last Sunday was a graduation party for my nephew at my youngest sister's house; we were early which was my fault, but to be honest it was a pretty good thing because we got to spend a fair amount of time chatting with the nieces and nephew which we both enjoyed. It was supposed to be a BBQ, but we didn't stay for the dinner part. In fact, we left much earlier than we had planned.

You see, one of my mother's friends had been invited, and she informed us that Mom had apparently hurt herself and wasn't coming to the party. Because she lives now only a shrot distance away, we excused ourselves and went to see how she was. She was uncomfortable, but I was able to give her some suggestions on how to address her problem, and in the upcoming days, she had improved comfort and mobility.

We followed that with my pre-birthday celebration; Bridget and I went to Ink, a restaurant in Beverly Hills, I think, opened by a winner of the Top Chef TV show. We agreed that the entree and sides were incredible, but the appetizers and desserts were forgettable.

At work later in the week, two of the offices where I worked the staff decorated my office space for my birthday; helium balloons appear to be very popular. The Ontario office got me a birthday cake, while the Pomona office fed me pizza. I'm abashed at their willingness to celebrate.

Thursday night was food truck night at the Fairplex again, but there were fewer there this time, so the lines were longer. I ended up going to one of the trucks with the shortest lines due to being famished, but the food was forgettable again. It was my choice.

Yesterday was my D&D 5th Edition game; most folks weren't available, so those who attended didn't press to do anything too difficult with so many of the characters not involved. It was still fun, especially when the mages got involved in a bar room brawl with a halfling thief, and nearly every swing failed to connect. Some kind of comedy! Nice day.

We shall see what this day brings. Have a good week!
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This week's reading I handled in a slightly odd way; whenever I finished a chapter in one particular book I'm still reading, I then read an Osprey book through. This lead to a lot of books finished though total pages aren't quite so impressive.

Anyway, the first one I got done was Osprey Weapon #23: The M1903 Springfield Rifle which taught me a bit about a weapon of which I knew nothing. There's going to be a lot of the Weapon series in a row here, BTW, because they've been piling up and I wanted to get through them.

Next was Osprey Weapon #29: US Combat Shotguns. Somewhere, somehow, I got the impression that shotguns were against the laws of war, but clearly they got a lot of use, starting with trench-clearing weapons in WWI to the Vietnam War and beyond, wherever it appears that US forces might be engaged in short range, closed in combat.

Then I finished Osprey Weapon #31: MP 38 and MP 40 Submachine Guns, the iconic weapon that is nearly always evident in WWII movies. Production of this was outpaced by the Sten, the Tommygun, and the following book which I read:

Osprey Weapon #33: Soviet Submachine Guns of World War II which discusses the weapons that they produced, used, and exported after the war. Interesting.

Next was Osprey Weapon #34: The Lewis Gun, the British light machine gun in use from WWI through II and beyond.

Then, Osprey Weapon #35: The MP5 Submachine Gun, leaping forward into the modern era and the chosen combat weapon of anti-terrorist units in the present.

Next was the book Osprey Weapon #37: The M14 Battle Rifle. I once had a friend who fought in Vietnam who swore by this weapon and could never get over being handed an M16 when he got overseas. The book spends some time on this controversy, which I found therefore interesting to read.

Following that was Osprey Weapon #38: The Hand Grenade, a modern weapon that goes way back, and one which has several variants, not all of which are anti-personnel. I found this book particularly interesting.

Then it was Vesuvius by Night by Lindsey Davis, a shorter piece which describes the life in Pompeii just prior to and during the eruption of the volcano. Chilling piece of work.

Then breaking free of the Osprey Weapon series for a bit, I read Osprey Campaign #47: Yorktown 1781: The World Turned Upside Down, getting a bit of background on the ground and naval maneuvers which led to the British defeat.

What a week!
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
This whole week has been strange what with a day off in the middle for Independence Day. Then the next day was fretful when my beloved wife was riding a horse who tripped and fell on her; next thing you know she's in a splint and very uncomfortable.

On the good side, we had a wonderful dinner with the Phillipses at a restaurant that we've long enjoyed in Claremont. Excellent food and conversation made for a nice evening.

I did work yesterday; since my new job I've worked a total of two Saturdays and no Sundays. Amazing...

Today we'll visit my sister and her family in honor of my nephew who has graduated from the University of California, or as most of the state says: Berkeley. He's soon to start a job in San Francisco and I wish him the very best (even if he never reads this).

One thing that has kept us amused is the antics that the two kittens get themselves up to. Both of them appear to like us very much which is pleasant, and something of a change. Even when we don't share the room with them, we can hear them thundering around chasing each other. I know, it's an exciting life.

And on to the new week...
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This week's reading has a bit more variety to it.

The first book that I finished was Tanya Huff's The Truth of Valor in which the protagonist hunts down space pirates to recapture her kidnapped companion. I have to say that this isn't the best of this particular series though it's quite readable.

Next one was Osprey Warrior #77: French Soldier in Egypt 1798 – 1801, the army that Napoleon abandoned to its fate. Solid information about something of a sidelight in the Napoleonic Wars.

Then I finished up Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., a graphic novel by Warren Ellis which must have been intended as a parody of superhero comics. I'd call this one a lesser read; I like most of Ellis' works better than this one.

Next was Osprey Warrior #78: US Army Tank Crewman 1941 – 45: European Theater of Operations 1944 – 45 which for this series was a bit unusual in that instead of describing the warrior and his milieu in general, this author looked at one specific tank officer and his units and followed them through training to the end of the war. Not exactly what I'd expect from this series. Not bad, not great, slightly odd.

Then I finished reading a book on my iPhone, And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails which for the subject matter was an interesting read. I found that it gave me insight into aspects of rum that I hadn't previously been aware of. Worth a read, if you tipple that particular poison.

Next was Osprey Weapon #11: The Beretta M9 Pistol, the handgun adopted by the US military when they finally set aside the .45 Automatic. The book appears to do a good job of discussing the overall controversies of this weapon's adoption.

Finally, there was Osprey Weapon #20: The M60 Machine Gun which goes into some detail about the development of American machine guns before dealing with the specifics of this one. Pretty solid.

And there's the lot. More when I have time to post...
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
Looking back on the last two weeks my mind is a blur. We had a lot of fun with a number of activities but what happened when is no longer clear to me.

Oh well.

I'm pretty sure I should start with the season's finale at Dungeonmaster. Folks had fun with it; there were a lot of funny bits. I'll let you all know when we've set next season's opening date probably in September.

The next thing that sticks in my mind was driving into Studio City to spend some time with our friend David Woolley who lives in Chicagoland. We haven't seen him in years, though we keep some contact through FaceBook. He teaches at Columbia College, and a number of his former students turned up to enjoy his company. We finally met his wife, and it turned out that the creator of Dungeonmaster also was there, Bruce A. Young. We had a terrific time chatting, meeting people, and telling each other stories about Chicago.

A couple of nights later was Mike's birthday and we celebrated again in Studio City at the Residual's Bar on Ventura Boulevard. Clearly, the birthday boy was enjoying himself, and we had a good time chatting with folks and knocking back a drink or two.

That weekend we spent some quality time on cleaning up the kitchen cabinets, dumping food that was past its prime and looking at kitchen utensils that we've never used and either placing them aside for sharing with interested folks, or throwing them out. In addition, we culled some bottles from our liquor; several were dumped completely, a few need to be gifted out to someone who wants them, and the rest were repositioned where they are more easily accessible. In the end, our cupboards are much cleaner and we can now see what we have on hand.

End of the weekend, we went to the Claremont Flappers, a comedy club we've never tried, to see a selection of comedians. The entry fee wasn't bad, but the service and the food was, and much too overpriced. Only two of the comedians were funny, thankfully the best was saved for last so we didn't leave feeling completely gypped.

Last week one of the front yard fruit trees that we planted this last spring gave us the first of its peaches. Small, but utterly delicious! The tree is heavy with fruit, so there'll be more to eat and soon!

Wednesday night last we invited over the Greens for dinner with good food and conversation. We moved from the dinner table to the backyard and the old couch back to the dinner table where the cat managed to spill a glass of ice water into my lap, capping off the night. We discovered later that the beagle had stolen the last of the bread which led to a very pudgy dog.

At this time of year, every Thursday night at Gate 1 of the Fairplex, where the NHRA has their museum, they have a food truck event, and we generally go. A couple of weeks ago, the theme for us was lobster, while this last Thursday we took the daughter of a friend with us, and had quite a variety of flavors. Wonderful!

My beloved spouse wanted to see the movie Beatriz at Dinner with Salma Hayek, a fairly difficult film to describe. Hmm. How about "immigrant woman ends up at dinner with members of the 1%"? It was kind of hard to watch as they clashed; we were rooting for Ms Hayek.

I'm sure there's more to the week that I've forgotten; clearly a lot of my attention was on work as there's been some administrative duties that I've had on my plate. But it's been a good spell overall.

Have a good week!
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
What with one thing or another last weekend I didn't have time to post, so here's two weeks' worth:

First one was Osprey Warrior #31: Union Infantryman 1861 – 65. Now I have mentioned before my antipathy to deeply studying the US Civil War, though I do still dabble with books on it occasionally, and this one does a solid job of helping a person visualize what it was like fighting for the Union in that war.

Next was Osprey Campaign #45: Majuba 1881: The Hill of Destiny, the major campaign of the Boer War. Not as engaging a read as I might have hoped for, but pretty good.

I followed that with Osprey Elite #13: US Army Rangers and LRRP Units 1942 - 87; this one I found especially interesting because when I was in osteopathic school, one of my family practice instructors had served in a LRRP unit during the Vietnam War. I learned a fair amount reading this book.

Then, Osprey Fortress #68: American Civil War Fortifications (3): The Mississippi and River Forts. Here we go again with the Civil War. Control of the flow of trade on the Mississippi River was critical for both sides, but in the end it was the Union who held it. Spoiler.

Next book then was Osprey Men-At-Arms #66: Montgomery's Desert Army. I've been a student of the history of WWII for much of my life, and so because over the years I've read so much about the North African campaigns that the data in this book didn't teach me all that much, still it was a pretty good overview of the many nations involved on the Allied side.

Following that was Osprey New Vanguard #35: M26/M46 Pershing Tank 1943 – 53. This is the tank that you see in many of the movies of the post-war period. Truly too late to be a major player in WWII, but had its place in Korea and thereafter. Pretty much gone by Vietnam.

Osprey Vanguard #27: Armour of the Korean War 1950 - 53 came next, showcasing the same Pershing tank with a few others. The whole Vanguard series is out-of-print having been superseded by the New Vanguard series, and in a way this book isn't as good as the one just above, but it does look at the topic more specifically (i.e. just the one war) and then again more generally (i.e. everybody's tanks that were involved). A different way of looking at it.

Next one was Osprey Warrior #52: US Naval Aviator 1941 – 45, the details about these key and critical warriors of the Pacific War in specific. A good one.

Then, and finally in this post, was Osprey Warrior #73: Tito's Partisans 1941 – 45. In my readings in the past, Tito's effect on the war was usually acknowledged; this book details what it was like for the men who followed him. Very good.

Yes, it's a lot of Ospreys. I know. I'm slogging through several novels and other non-fiction works at the same time, but the Ospreys are relatively short, and easy to get through. I suspect next post will cover some other genres entirely.
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There's been a lot of meetings at work which limited the socializing that I was able to do in the last week. Still, it's not been a bad week.

Most of the fun took place yesterday. We got snarled in traffic early while driving out to the edge of the Earth to pick up an inexpensive sewing machine, soon to be passed on to the daughter of a friend. We followed that by taking Brushette to the veterinarian for an external ear infection. Moving on to the next venue, we had lunch on a patio where they let in dogs. Then off to Danza del Sol Winery to pick up/out this quarter's wine club choices. From there, back home: since I did the wine tasting as the non-driver, I dozed the whole drive home.

Very pleasant day.

Today is the Guardian Trials at Dungeonmaster, so I hope we'll see you all there!

Oh, and happy Fathers Day! Best to all my friends who are fathers, and prayers to my father who I miss with all my heart.
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This week's reading remains a bit less than previous, but it was enjoyable for the most part.

First was a graphic novel/non-fiction piece called Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D. It deals with the invention of, and the subsequent battles over the game Dungeons & Dragons in a comic book style. Not bad at all.

The next book I finished reading was Earth, Air, Fire and Custard, a comic fantasy novel by the British author Tom Holt. This carries forward from the previous couple of novels about the magical corporation in Britain in a rather strange and somewhat offputting fashion. For me the book was a bit of a hard slog compared to other novels this gentleman has written. I'll be picking up and starting another of his novels moderately soon, but if it's this hard to get into, I may dump it quickly.

Finally, Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey was recommended to me years ago; the tale of a wizard who'd been transported to Hell alive and managed to return for his vengeance. Fast and fun read. There's several more books in this saga and I'll be looking to read the second one soon.

Have a good week!
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
It's been so long since I last posted, I'm sure to miss out on some critical things that we did. I'll try to peg them all, but I'm not hopeful that my memory will manage here.


The Monday of Memorial Day we spent the evening at the Ground Control Anniversary event at Union, so that was pretty delightful. We hung with a few folks, sang at a distance (not on stage), and came home happy.

The next evening was a delightful dinner with the Axelsens. Good food, and good conversation.

Later in the week we had the opportunity to go to an early showing of Wonder Woman, a film that we really enjoyed. I urge anyone who hasn't gone yet to get out there and see it!

That Friday night we went out with a couple that we've newly met, the owners of the equestrian center where Bridget has been enjoying some horse camaraderie. Once again we had a wonderful time, with tasty food and interesting talk.

Sunday was the get-together with my sister Laurel for her birthday, and she wanted a stroll through the Huntington Library, and lunch there. It was a lovely day, and we spent time in a variety of the gardens as well as seeing a display of materials from the author Octavia Butler. I put in several miles of walking there...

Last Thursday night we got out to do the weekly food truck event at Gate One of the Fairplex. I had a delicious lobster roll, followed by a dessert crepe from a different truck. It's a beautiful setting with plenty of parking.

I had to work Saturday, but when I got home our friends the Archers showed up to take us to a restaurant called Neptunes in Artesia; the food once again was very good. Following that, we went to a horse auction where my wife was disappointed that the prices were a bit on the ridiculous side.

Next Sunday is a Guardian episode at Dungeonmaster, and I encourage you to join us!


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