Category Archives: Life

Middle Cyclone

The always astonishing Neko Case, singing the title track to her new record.

(Does anyone know anything about music? Does this song weave back and forth between 3/4 an 5/4 time? Seems like wild, wild stuff to me.)

What I Saw Last Year

  1. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  2. Match Point (2005)
  3. A Good Year (2006)
  4. The Secret of Roan Inish (1993)
  5. Proof (2004)
  6. This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
  7. The Good German (2006)
  8. Atonement (2007)
  9. Cold Comfort Farm (1995)
  10. Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951)
  11. Veronica Guerin (2003)
  12. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
  13. The History Boys (2006)
  14. Darling (1965)
  15. Cache (2005)
  16. The Claim (2000)
  17. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)
  18. Bread and Tulips (2000)
  19. Notes on a Scandal (2006)
  20. The Fallen Idol (1948)
  21. Why We Fight (2005)
  22. Wordplay (2006)
  23. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

I saw all of 23 movies last year, every one of them on DVD from Netflix. I haven’t seen a movie in an actual theater since 2005. I’ve seen dozens of ballets, in very grand theaters, these last few years. But no movies outside the house.

I didn’t especially love any of the 23 movies. Didn’t especially hate any of them, either, but that’s because I’m not counting the 5 that we just gave up watching.

With nothing that I absolutely loved, there’s no clear favorite to pick, so let’s just go with a top 3, how about. In no particular order:

I liked Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, maybe because I thought from seeing the trailer that it was going to be cloying and unbearable. And it wasn’t. It had my totally favorite actress of all time, Shirley Henderson, although, sadly, she played the heavy. Amy Adams was fun and charming her ownself in the ingenue part. And Frances McDormand and Ciarán Hinds were delightful, although you would expect that, as great as they always are in anything they do. So, all in all, a good time.

Speaking of incredible actors, there’s also Notes on a Scandal. I swear I’d watch Judi Dench read the phone book. (On the other hand, I’d rather not have watched her pee on the rug in Iris.) While Cate Blanchett strikes me as awfully uninteresting in person, she’s amazing on screen when she tries, as she does here, as opposed to, say, The Gift. And extra bonus points for the always memorable Bill Nighy.

Finally, I liked The Claim, which turned out to be a version of The Mayor of Casterbridge set in the frozen northwest. Again with Shirley Henderson, playing a lovable whore this time, thankfully not with a heart of gold. Also, it had Sarah Polley, another favorite of mine.

Seems like, even if the movies weren’t that great, I liked them because they had actors I like in them. Not too surprising, I suppose.

The movies we gave up on were Alfie (mutual decision), Tristan & Isolde (I gonged this one), Sylvia (another mutual decision), The Wind that Shakes the Barley (mostly Dawn, but it wasn’t doing a whole lot for me), and Sarkar (totally Dawn’s decision, but I suspected she wasn’t going to make it through).

Census Data on Last Names

Here are the last names of my Facebook friends, as of 12/24/2008, along with data from the 2000 census. Gives rank and count, e.g., Johnson is the second most popular name in the U.S., with almost 1.9 million people. Bohls, however, is not so popular. Only 282 of us.

Name Rank Count
Johnson 2 1,857,160
Wilson 10 783,051
Martinez 11 775,072
Clark 25 548,369
Scott 36 420,091
James 80 233,224
Hamilton 107 194,331
Boyd 164 149,476
Andrews 206 129,320
Oliver 248 111,641
Dean 250 109,230
Fuller 256 106,682
Schwartz 330 84,699
Ramsey 373 76,625
Saunders 439 67,210
Moody 479 62,344
Cain 516 57,873
Briggs 522 57,297
Randall 574 52,495
Christian 597 51,177
Wyatt 604 50,874
Lin 624 49,360
Kane 636 48,527
Conrad 786 40,102
Tapia 845 37,201
Mayo 965 33,126
Shea 990 32,069
Holliday 1,686 19,488
Pfeifer 3,302 9,963
Gracia 4,371 7,514
Luckett 4,504 7,254
Seely 5,805 5,455
Mickle 8,237 3,702
Bennington 9,835 3,032
Esch 9,998 2,974
Sydnor 10,969 2,662
Eckel 11,423 2,531
Polen 12,088 2,368
Class 13,943 1,985
Cerezo 19,657 1,269
Millay 20,618 1,194
Salam 26,469 867
Weygandt 34,799 614
Cotts 64,385 289
Bohls 65,668 282
Rognlie 114,852 141
Nayer 147,095 103

Got this email. I think it might be fake.

From: Federal Bureau Of Investigation <>
Sent: Monday, December 22, 2008 10:53:55 AM
Subject: Federal Bureau Of Investigation. ( Your ATM-CARD Is Ready ).

Anti-Terrorist and International Fraud Division.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation.
Seattle, Washington.
Telephone Number : (206)-201-2749.


This is to Officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we have thoroughly completed an Investigation with the help of our Intelligence Monitoring Network System that your ATM-CARD is currently  with the (G.P.S.) Global Postal Service in Nigeria.

We have ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to contact FedEx, Dhl, Ups, First Bank, Zenith Bank and other firms to release the bank draft and Atm cards to the GPS (Regular Mail Service), So that they can be mailed out to the rightful owners, because there are too many complains/Rip Off Report coming to the desk of Federal Bureau Of Investigation that people are not getting their Instrument to cash their funds and gratuity, e.g people are not getting their Bank Draft and Atm Cards due to the fact that people are not meeting up with the required demands and amount imposed by some of this delivery companies, firms and other sectors and constant require of fees that are too much for people to handle or pay.

We have completed this investigation and we have verified the entire transaction to be Safe and 100% risk free, due to the fact that we have been assured that your ATM CARD will be delivered to you once your Full Name and Address is confirmed. Delivery of your ATM-CARD is free!!! You only need to pay $95 for insurance only.

Therefore, you are instructed to contact the Global Postal Service with the Information below:

Full Name: – Mr. Richard Oscar.
Valid Contact: –
Tel # +234-7025-9828-94.

You will be required to e-mail him with your information such as:


FBI Director.
Robert Mueller.

NOTE: In order to ensure your ATM-CARDS gets delivered to you ASAP, you are advised to immediately contact Mr. Richard Oscar via contact information provided above.

Doo Lough and Mweelrea Mountains

Doo Lough and Mweelrea Mountains

Originally uploaded by ebohls

Must have been Lifehacker that recommended MIcrosoft’s Image Composite Editor, to put together panoramas of photos. They said it was pretty good, so I downloaded it.

I thought it was going to be somewhat tricky to use, trying to figure out similar points in the photos. And then I was worried about the different angles of the pictures, that it would look weirdly bent.

But, nope. No worries. The program does everything for you.


Give it up for Peter Wallison

From the New York Times, September 30, 1999, Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending by Stephen A. Holmes:

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.

”From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.”

Full article here.

(h/t The Corner)

The Crisis

Oh, maybe I should explain.

Another reason I liked the previous quote from The Mayor of Casterbridge so much is because of the financial meltdown we’ve been experiencing lately. And the bailout plan that’s been floated by Secretary Paulson.

Yesterday there was the  big summit at the White House, trying to hammer out a final deal. Apparently the House Republicans staged some sort of revolt, also apparently with the support of Senator McCain. I imagine the scene as something like this:

[W]ith the demand and response of real cash the jovial frivolity of the scene departed. A lurid colour seemed to fill the tent, and change the aspect of all therein …

You think?

Reading The Mayor of Casterbridge

I had seen the A&E adaptation with the always magnificent Ciarán Hinds, although for some incomprehensible reason I didn’t especially notice Juliet Aubrey (whom I later loved in Middlemarch) and Jodhi May (same deal, Daniel Deronda). More recently we got Michael Winterbottom’s The Claim from NetFlix. Mostly I wanted to see it because it had both Shirley Henderson and Sarah Polley. But darned if it wasn’t also a Yukon Mayor of Casterbridge.

Finally, we’ve packed up all our books, stored them in a self-storage in Hyattsville, trying to clear out the house, make it more sellable. All we’ve got left in the way of books is Dawn’s bookcase of Penguin and Oxford classics in the bedroom. So when I finished The Nutmeg of Consolation, sadly The Truelove is packed and stored and just not available. So I went trolling through the classics.

Gave up on Hard Times after the first two insufferable pages. (After the not-insignficant chunk of my life that I devoted to Little Dorrit, I’ve not got a lot of patience for Dickens. And yet Great Expectations is wonderful. Go figure.) So next I grabbed the Thomas Hardy. Love his poems in my Norton. Might as well give his novel a shot, yeah?

Loved this immediately.

The sailor hesitated a moment, looked anew at the woman, came in, unfolded five crisp pieces of paper, and threw them down upon the tablecloth. They were Bank-of-England notes for five pounds. Upon the face of this he clinked down the shillings severally–one, two, three, four, five.

The sight of real money in full amount, in answer to a challenge for the same till then deemed slightly hypothetical had a great effect upon the spectators. Their eyes became riveted upon the faces of the chief actors, and then upon the notes as they lay, weighted by the shillings, on the table.

Up to this moment it could not positively have been asserted that the man, in spite of his tantalizing declaration, was really in earnest. The spectators had indeed taken the proceedings throughout as a piece of mirthful irony carried to extremes; and had assumed that, being out of work, he was, as a consequence, out of temper with the world, and society, and his nearest kin. But with the demand and response of real cash the jovial frivolity of the scene departed. A lurid colour seemed to fill the tent, and change the aspect of all therein. The mirth-wrinkles left the listeners’ faces, and they waited with parting lips.

I did read The Return of the Native in eleventh grade. Pretty much don’t remember anything about it. I also read The Catcher in the Rye the next year, just for fun, and I still distinctly remember that Holden liked that Eustacia Vye.

Unplanned Hiatus

Sorry for the lack o’ posting, folks. I’ve started the new job. Dawn’s started hers as well. And we’re trying to sell the house. And we’re trying to buy a house in Hyattsville. Been very busy. Will update soon. Promise.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

It’s summer, so the choir is gone at St. Matt’s. And we’ve got so much to do on the house to get it ready. So we go to the 8:30 Mass at St. Joe’s. It’s a quick, ten-minute bike ride away.

There’s no cantor or organ to let us know when Mass is about to begin. Indeed, there isn’t even a procession up through the nave. Instead there are just some simple bells that chime from the sacristy, just to the left of the sanctuary, and the priest & lector just kinda appear. It reminds me of Italy, actually, where we saw much the same thing when we were there in aught-three.

The first reading is from Kings, in this particular instance good old King Solomon. The Lord appears to him in a dream, to grant him anything he wishes. Smart guy that he is, he doesn’t ask for fast cars or loose women or wads of cash. He asks God for the wisdom to govern. “I am a mere youth,” he says. “I serve you in the midst of … a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.”

Things never change, do they? I can barely wrap my own head around the concept of three hundred million Americans or six billion people on Earth. But at least I’ve got some reference, a census or whatever, something to give me a number at least. Poor Solomon doesn’t even have that. He doesn’t even know how many there are.

Something else, though, that I just learned, that I find fascinating, something that I think is just totally cool. From the Wikipedia entry for S-L-M:

Salam “peace”

Arabic Salām, Hebrew Shalom, Ge’ez śalām, Syriac šlama are cognate Semitic terms for “peace”, deriving from a Proto-Semitic *šalām. The word salām is used in a variety of expressions and contexts in Arabic and Islamic speech and writing. Al-Salam is one of the 99 names of God in the Qur’an, and also a male given name in conjunction with abd. Abd Al-Salam translates to Slave of Al-Salaam (i.e. Slave of Allah.)

In Hebrew, the equivalent of the word is Shalom. It is also the root word of the names Solomon (Süleyman), Selim, etc.

I’ve certainly noticed the similarity between the Arabic Salām and the Hebrew Shalom, but I never noticed before the connection to the name Solomon. But it’s pretty cool, huh?

Music at Moe’s

Forgot to mention that yesterday, while we were waiting the 3.5 hours for the car to be fixed, after the shopping trip to IKEA, after the hour-long walk around College Park, we had chips & queso & salsa & booze at Moe’s Southwestern Grill. The queso was pretty good, as were the chips, although maybe the queso was a bit bland. The salsas, however, were all way too smoky for my tastes. And we made the mistake of dumping the hottest salsa into the queso to try to spice it up a bit. But Dawn had a big ass cup of wine and I had a Pacifico. That helped the day quite a bit.

The main thing though was the music on the soundsystem at Moe’s. I don’t know if was special to Moe’s or just some satellite station or what, but it was pretty damn swinging. First there was a woman (probably Doris Day) singing Dream a Little Dream of Me. Then Frank Sinatra doing My Blue Heaven. Then Ella Fitzgerald singing something. Then Buddy Holly Rock Around with Ollie Vee. Then INXS doing New Sensation. Other songs, most likely, before during and after. But those are what I remember.

It all worked together, really well, as eclectic mixes go. It was pretty cool.

I Remember That He’s On My Wall


Originally uploaded by ebohls

It was only after I posted the item below about Ed Mitchell that I remembered: I’ve got a picture of him up in my workshop. Actually, as you can see, there are three pictures, one each of the Apollo 14 crew. Signed pictures, no less, although I’m pretty sure that they were signed by the automatic pen machine rather than the crewmembers themselves. But still. Signed.

So it’s funny how I’m patting myself on the back in the blog post for remembering the astronauts’ names, when I didn’t even remember that I had these pictures. What a strangely selective thing is memory.

The pictures themselves, if you’re curious, were a gift from Mom. She’s got that knack, the gift-giving knack. Just coming up with cool stuff like this, or the electronic protractor last year, or the Brookstone desk set gadget on my desk at work this very moment. I wish I had that knack.

The other thing that I remembered, this with respect to forgetting Gene Cernan’s name, was that only last Saturday, less than a week ago, I held in my very hands a copy of Cernan’s memoirs, Last Man on the Moon. Packed it up along with many other books, and donated them to a local used bookstore, true. But I actually touched his book only days ago, and then I forgot his name.

In my defense I can only say that I clearly was having trouble between Irwin and Kerwin, and then Cernan. Jim Irwin, of course, LMP on Apollo 15. And Joe Kerwin, who was on one of the Skylab missions, I surely no longer remember which. But I do remember that he was a capcom on Apollo 13. He was calling and calling up to them during Earth re-entry, getting no respose. Everybody was getting worried. Finally Jack Swigert’s voice came crackling through. “Okay, Joe,” he said.

The Car Sorta Dies

We drove to IKEA just after lunch, to get a new kitchen trash can. Old one broke.

We were just getting off the Beltway at Route 1 in College Park when the car sorta died. It was funny, actually, because when we were driving I noticed two indicator lights on the dash that I didn’t think I’d ever seen before. One was an icon of like a person in a seat in the car with a big old airbag in front of him. The other simply said ABS. I asked Dawn if they were usually lit. She said she didn’t think so. She checked the manual in the glove box, and it said that these both were indicators of trouble. Great.

So then it wasn’t a huge surprise when, after being stopped at the light at the end of the Route 1 exit, the car didn’t respond when the light turned green and I hit the gas. The tach was stuck at around 2500 rpm and the speedometer was stuck at 50 mph. But we were just puttering along at about five miles per hour. Pressing down more on the accelerator didn’t make us go any faster. Didn’t even rev the engine any more. But then neither did taking my foot completely off the gas pedal do anything either. The car just continued to eke along.

Of course the guy behind us was honking until he could get around us, even though I had popped on the hazards right away. And the intersection cleared enough so that I could limp from the center lane to the right, to make a right turn and at least get away from this off ramp. Of course I wasn’t thrilled that the car would probably die completely on Route 1. But at least I wasn’t stuck on the ramp.

Luckily though there was a Shell station just a few hundred feet up the road. I was able to steer into it just as the engine started to buck a little bit. Turned it off, then tried to start it again, just to test it. Wouldn’t start at all. But we were safely at a service station. Whew.

But really the interesting part was the way the car just kinda kept itself going, even though it was just 5 mph or so. Was weird, it just going by itself that way. Was that some sort of controller computer being funky because it wasn’t getting enough power? Or was it a feature, not a bug, some sort of reserve kinda deal where it all almost dies but lets you limp to the side of the road?

But then if the car is so damn smart, why couldn’t it tell us that the alternator wasn’t putting out enough juice to fully charge the battery, as the mechanic who ended up fixing everything told us was the problem? Why was the fancy computer telling us we had problems with the airbag(s) and the ABS, but not telling us the rather simple electrical system problem? What’s the use of the fancy pants computer then?