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Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 17 June 2005
ImageLast week we did a family night and went to see Madagascar.  The film probably should have been named Mad-a-gag-me.  It wasn't very good.  The animation was late-90s at best.  The plot was -- well, what plot?  The story writers couldn't decide if the story was about the zebra or the lion.  The giraffe and hippo were side characters but they didn't really add anything.  The psycho penguins were just out of place.  More on that later though.
Last Updated ( Friday, 17 June 2005 )
The Light of Eidon -- Karen Hancock
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 17 May 2005
ImageThe Light Of Eidon is the first book in the Legends of The Guardian-King series by Karen Hancock.  As a fantasy book it does an excellent job of combining all the elements of the fantasy genre (magic, mythical creatures, swords, and heroic quests) into a fresh, new story.   It also presents a deeper and more complex view of humans than many books do. 

The story spans about 2 years of the life of the main character, Abramm, also know as Eldrin.  At the beginning of the story Eldrin is preparing for his initiation into the religious order.  On the eve of his induction he is betrayed and sold into slavery.  His owner plans to train him and use him as a fighter in the gladiator fights.  
Last Updated ( Sunday, 17 July 2005 )
Family Vacation To The Oregon Coast
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 22 May 2005
ImageThe first week of May we spent in Lincoln City Oregon enjoying a family vacation.  Lincoln City is one of our favorite locations on the Oregon Coast.  Now that we live in Arizona it's a bit hard to get there but we made the extra effor this year and were well rewarded with a great time! The rest of this article gives an overview of our trip.  I've also included some pictures with descriptions. 
The picture here shows everyone except me standing outside of the Oregon Aquarium.  Ah.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 22 May 2005 )
Are Earthlings Aliens? -- A discussion on the road
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 07 May 2005

ImageYoung kids somehow are able to cut right through all the preconceptions, pretenses, prejudices, and pre-teen hormones that adults (and pre-teens) have.  And the clarity of vision they possess is remarkable.  Here is a case in point.  Recently we headed out on a 1300 mile roadtrip.  The 'we' is two adults, a teenager, twin first-graders, and a 3 year old.  All of us packed into a large SUV driving across the Western United States.  Amidst the numerous "are we there yet?", "I'm hungry", "I'm thirsty" (and the follow-on 30 minutes later, "I have to go to the bathroom") questions we heard someone from the back ask, "Are Earthlings Aliens?". 


Last Updated ( Friday, 22 July 2005 )
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency -- Douglas Adams
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 05 May 2005

ImageWhat do a lost cat, a time traveler, a software engineer, a stuck sofa, and an Electric Monk have in common?  Well, it's hard to say unless you read Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Then it becomes clear -- almost. Adams' style, first shown to the world in his Hitchhiker's Guide series of books, is hard to describe.  Not because it crosses many genre boundaries but because it's hard to make words like irreverent, zany, witty, and clever combine in such a way as to give an accurate picture.  It's best just to read the books. But be warned, if you have even the smallest of religious bones in your body, be sure to wear your thick skin while reading this book.  His pokes at religion and belief systems are not mean-spirited but could be irritating if you're not expecting it.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 July 2005 )
Grace In Autumn -- Lori Copeland, Angela Hunt
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 26 April 2005
ImageThis book is the second in the Heavenly Daze series (see The Island Of Heavenly Daze).  Like the first book this one has quite a few very funny situations.  The "testimony" time during the church service is close to the top of my list of funny situations.  But I won't spoil it.  In contrast to the first, though, this book contains more sad and touching moments.  It is also a lot more directly religious than the first book (not that this is necessarily a bad thing).  The moral message in the book, or rather the Christian message in the book, is very strong and direct.  In many ways I prefer for a story to reveal moral truth for me to discover rather than simply telling it to me directly.  Despite the preachy tone I still enjoyed the book quite a bit.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 April 2005 )
Flooding in Tramonto
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 16 February 2005
ImageThe Arizona desert is run through with gullies and washes. You don't have to be in the area long before you hear dire warnings from locals telling you to stay out of these places when it rains. Flash floods can appear almost instantly and be very dangerous, they tell you. It's hard to believe that anything more than a mere trickle of water would run through these normally barren gashes in the ground. But now I have some pictures!
Last Updated ( Monday, 25 April 2005 )
The Island Of Heavenly Daze -- Lori Copeland, Angela Hunt
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 18 April 2005
ImageIf you are ever looking for some light and fun (and very funny) reading then The Island of Heavenly Daze is a good place to start. It is the first book in a five book series covering the often hilarious antics of the residents of the very small island called Heavenly Daze.  At many points the book is side-splittingly funny.

Heavenly Daze focuses on the pastor of the town, Winslow Wickam.  In honor of his service with the community the church presents him with a unique gift that causes him to see himself in a different light.  Armed with his new perspective he uncovers a secret plot by the church ladies to replace him with a newer, younger, more vibrant pastor.  To protect himself he begins his own campaign to prove to the church that he is the best pastor they could ever have.  Needless to say, it doesn't turn out quite like he had planned.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 April 2005 )
A Rattlesnake at our house
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 13 April 2005
ImageWestly: What are the three dangers of the fire swamp? The fire spurts, no problem, threre's a noise preceeding each one so we can watch out for that; the lightning sand, you were able to find out about that without fair warning so we can watch out for that too.
Buttercup: But Westly, what about the R.O.U.S's?
Westly: Rodents of unusual size? I don't think they exist.

And in my case, "Poisonous rattlesnakes? I don't think they exist".  Clearly I was kidding but actually I had not seen any rattlesnakes since moving to Arizona.  Not even on any of my hikes in the desert.  Well last weekend was my opportunity to see one up close.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 14 April 2005 )
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