Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday random thoughts

Been a while since I've done one of these...
  • Ever since I've worked at my current job, I've worked on the same main account. Booking travel for the same client. And then supporting agents who were doing the booking for that agent. Yesterday was their last day with us. We've been very busy. By the end, we stopped being sad and just wanted it done.
  • On a related note, I spend the next month being trained. A lot of my coworkers hate the classroom setting. For me, it's more like a vacation. Sit there and learn stuff? All right!
  • Ozzie had helped tremendously with the grief process from Calypso. He's adopted a toy mouse. He brings it up to bed and pounces on it repeatedly. Very cute! He's the FP Gal's first kitten and watching her with him is wonderful.
  • Wendy's new Frescata sandwhiches? Very tasty. Combinded with a baked potato and you've got some good things going on.
  • MLB playoffs? How do I not cheer for the Tigers? They were Roxane's favorite team after all. If I were a Twins fan, I'd want to play against the Yankees for at least one reason. Those games will be on in primetime. Think they'll put Minnesota/Oakland on at night while Tigers/Yankees are on in the afternoon? I don't either.
  • Tomorrow is when we learn a lot about the Vikings. The prevailing theory is that they are a good team that's played a tough schedule. If that's the case, then they should dominate Buffalo. In particular, the offense needs to show up and play well.
  • That's all!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I promised pictures

from Carrie's wedding and here's one. The FP Gal also posted some nice pics from Sunday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Room with a View - 1986

This is a very English film. It begins however, in Florence Italy. Lucy Honeychurch and her chaperone/aunt Charlotte Bartlett. They arrive to discover that they weren't given a room with a view like they were promised. Their plight is overheard by Mr Emerson and his son who offer to switch with them. The Emerson's are free-thinkers and more than a little ecentric.
Lucy wants to roam the streets on her own but she happens upon a knife fight. One man is stabbed. Lucy faints. George Emerson (the son) rescues her and they begin to share a moment. A few days later, he kisses her. Just once and quietly, so know one else finds out.
Back in England we find Miss Honeychurch becoming engaged. Her fiance, Cecil Vyse, is an insufferable snob. He schemes to get a pair of strangers into a neighbor's rental. These strangers turn out to be the Emerson's. Will Lucy stay with Cecil or end up with George?
This movie has some nice moments and nice music. The cast is strong and very recognizable. The story didn't really catch me though. Good, but not really great.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings

This week was hard fought but not really well fought. CBS had the worst of it going 6-8 with only 53 points. Fox and ABC both went 8-6 but Fox only got 63 points, while ABC got 74.

Season totals:
ABC 21-9 191
Fox 20-10 177
CBS 18-12 167

Ozzie pics



Monday, September 25, 2006

Wedding

Carrie's wedding was very nice. When she posts pictures, I'll link to them. It was held at a resort just north of Two Harbors. I think they wanted to have the ceremony next to the wake but windy conditions and resulting high surf forced it indoors. Which was fine.
The ceremony was heavily Beatles themed, with live music playing various tunes. (The FP Gal noted that Carrie must be a Paul fan. I responded 'Who can blame her?' before remembering that the FP Gal is a George fan herself.) They had a 'unity moment' which involved mixing white and red wine that I thought was very nice.
A big highlight for me was being able to see some friends from highschool. Some of them for the first time in 10+ years. Among them was former neighbor Heather Guentzel (she's doing fine, Mom). Also got to see Carrie's folks for the first time in a long time. Her mom greeted me with 'Last time I saw you, you were a turtle!'. I get that all the time.
Other notable things:
  • They had pie for dessert. I choose the blueberry. Very yummy!
  • A pretty good presentation of pictures of the bride and groom set to music. Wish we'd of done that. (Carrie, what was the song played with Steve's pictures? I really liked it!)
  • Out by the lake we could see the stars. Very beautiful. I think the milky way was right overhead. Didn't see any shooting stars though and I'm usually lucky in that regard.
A very nice night.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's over

The White Sox play over the last week has seen numerous nails put in the coffin of their postseason hopes. Last night's 9-0 loss lowered it into the ground and covered it with dirt. What went wrong this season? Everything did in spots. The hitting disappeared at times. The bullpen fell apart in September. And the starters had a rough six week stretch after the All-Star Game.
Am I disappointed? Some. But not much. Lots of good memories from this season. Some come from behind wins. Back to back one-hitters from Garcia. And the most amazing play from a 2nd basemen that I've ever seen.
I've been told that when your team wins a championship you should just bask in that for the next five years. I'd never want the front office to take that stance, but as a fan that seems fair. Four more years then...

All the King's Men - 2006

This is a remake of a story loosely based on the life story of Huey Long. It shows the rise and fall of a Louisiana man who fought against dishonest crooks in office and wound up in the governor's chair. Once there, he couldn't resist the dark side. In a memorable scene near the end he tells a large crowd that his side has crooks and the other side has crooks. But he'll watch his crooks closely so they can't take as much the other's will.
The FP Gal and I got some free passes to this movie. The trailer pulled me in. And Huey Long is kind of an interesting figure in American politics. So off we went. At one point she caught me looking at my watch. "What time is it?," she whispered. I answered that it was about 9. AM or PM I wasn't sure.
If you're only going to see one political thriller this year, pick something else. If you're only going to see one bloated Sean Penn movie where he looks in serious need of medication, this is your baby! Penn is a very good actor who does some very good work. But in this movie he decided to channel the worst parts of Howard Dean. I expected something like, 'We'll fight them in Baton Rouge! We'll fight them in Metarie! We'll fight them in Lafeyette! Yeeaaargh!'. Not that he doesn't scream and shout. He also moves his hands like he's a marionette. Bizzare. And yet I'm glad I understood most of what he said. Large portions of this movie are spoken in a thick swampy gumbo. I wanted subtitles.
But does the story save it? Nope. It wanders incoherently. At least two scenes appear to have been cut out of it. The love story seems tacked on and not taken seriously. Most of this very good cast turn in sub-par performances.
Something positive? The camera work was interesting. And the score was fine. Seriously, save your money for something else.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This changes everything

McDonalds considers all day breakfast! Which reminds me that I don't know if I've blogged about the wonderful Christmas gift I got from the FP Gal's folks. They gave me a Egg Muffin maker. It's a unit that will toast english muffins while it prepares the egg and canadian bacon. It's wonderful.
The other kitchen gadget that I can't do without is a Pizzazz. It's basically a rotating tray with a heater top and bottom. It cooks a frozen pizza in about 12 minutes. It's opened up a whole new world of additional toppings and improvments. If you're a pizza person, I'd get one of these.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings

Every week three of the major networks publish their football power rankings. They rank each team 1-32. Let's see how they did as a predictor!
I've taken each game and found the difference between the two teams. Then I've given an additional five points to the home team. That gives me the probable winning team. Then I've ranked each game by the spread in rankings so that the confidence points match what we're doing in Yahoo. Example: Team A (ranked 20th) is playing at Team B (10th). Team B is 10 places better and gets an additional 5 for being at home. That gives a spread of 15.
For ABC, I'm using ESPN's rankings. CBS's can be found here. FOX here. If NBC gets in the act, they'll be included later. How'd they do?

CBS and Fox tied with records of 12-4 and 114 points. ABC is the winner at 13-3 and 117 points!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Amazing Race

Huh. The first team the introduce is Peter and Sarah. And get this, they're both triatheletes. How's that for a coincidence?

Xena renamed, lesbians worldwide shave heads

Earlier this week the dwarf planet commonly nicknamed Xena, was given it's official name 'Eris'. Eris is a little known goddess. She represents chaos and disruption. Her most famous story is about a party of the gods that she wasn't invited to. In an attempt to make trouble, she sent a golden apple to 'the prettiest one'. Fighting broke out as everyone thought it was obviously meant for them. They appealed to a mortal man named Paris to judge who it belonged to. As a prize for being their judge he was awarded Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world. This started the Trojan war.
Also, as something that might only interest me, they've chosen the Greek name instead of the Roman one (Discordia). That makes it unique amongst the major and minor planets. [Bonus points for the commenter that can translate the most names. No fair looking it up.]
While I'm commenting on this, let me share my thoughts with the decision that demoted Pluto. It's poorly reasoned and will be eventually changed. It's clear that a 'planet' must be larger than some particular size. Labeling every rock in the solar system would be overkill. The common sense definition that it must be large enough for it's own gravity to make it spherical gives a clear, universal method to guage. But it's the other prong of the decision that's problematic. It was declared that a planet must dominate it's area of space or orbit. This eliminated Pluto because it forms a double planet with Charon (they revolve around each other tather than having a primary and a moon). It's orbit also crosses Neptune. This somehow doesn't effect Neptune's status.
As we find more and more planets around other stars, we'll find some double planets. Objects that are clearly planets in the sense that Mercury and Mars are. Maybe we'll even find some shared orbits. This will cause another reshuffling. (I'd bet it happens within our lifetime.)
[The headline is based on tabloid headlines from when Lucy Lawless got married. Bonus point if you read this far down.]

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A few more words

for Calypso, because she deserves more than I've written so far. She was probably the sweetest cat I've ever met. She loved to sit on your lap and purr. And purr quite loudly. Used to joke about how she'd disturb the neighbors.
She was clumsy and couldn't take even the broadest hint. Her meow sounded more like a crow than a cat. She had an infuriating habit of laying across my ankles when I slept. But I had insomnia when I was away from her for an extended time. And her cries were endearing. She had more perseverance than anyone I've ever met.
When Hans and I moved out of the first apartment she lived in, we discoverd 30+ pens that she'd knocked off of the table and behind the couch. She preyed on the things. Calypso also loved plastic bottle caps. You had to be on guard from leaving one next to you.
Many years ago she adopted a little stuffed lion from a Happy Meal. She'd carry it around with her and wash it's mane. It was her baby. Some mornings you'd wake up to find that she'd brought it to bed.
She added tons of happiness to my life. She'll be deeply missed.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Calypso RIP

She was gone when we woke up this morning. We don't think she suffered much. We hope she's together with Roxane again. Or looking for someone's lap to climb on while she insists on having her face petted. She was the sweetest.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Calypso

I haven't written much about Calypso for the past couple of months. I kind of felt that the numerous Roxane updates became overly dramatic. If we were in for a long tough slog with Cally, I didn't want to go the same route.
She stopped eating sometime in mid July (it's hard to tell with cats). We kept encouraging her, but she just wasn't doing it. We figured she'd snap out of it. But she didn't. Soon she started showing signs of sickness. Some internet searching brought me to fatty liver disease. Basically, if an older cat stops eating, the body starts going after the liver. This can usually be turned around by getting the cat to start eating again.
So we got some chicken baby food and a plastic syringe. We've been using this for close to two months now with no sign of improvement. On Wednesday we took her into the vet again. He gave us some options for more intensive diagnostics (ultrasounds, etc.). He also told us that if found anything that way, it would probably be something difficult to treat. So we decided to up the food amount and hope for the best.
That was just yesterday. Hardly seems possible. Today she crashed. She seems very feeble. Her eyes aren't always registering. And she goes through something like a seizure. We're hoping it's just a really bad day and that she'll improve. But we're not optimistic.
As I said, I don't want this to become another daily drama. I probably won't mention her again until she recovers or pass on. But we'd appreciate any prayers and good thoughts that can be spared. She's the sweetest cat who was ever meant to be a puppy. I hope she pulls through.

Heads up

The next book from the reading list is 'My Antonia' by Willa Cather. I'll start it in the next couple of weeks and review it sometime in October. Hopefully that will let anyone who is moving or getting married or even just generally busy read along. Drop me a note if you're interested in joining in and we can figure out some kind of structure.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Mission - 1986

This movie is known for two things, the first of which happens very early in the film. The story begins with the dictation of a letter to the Pope. The letter concerns a series of missions in the Amazon basin. The first priest to the area is shown amongst the tribe. They've lashed him to a wooden cross. They carry the cross into the river and let it go. The camera follows it down the river until (spectacularly) it goes over the falls.
The movie deals with the complex world of South America in the 1750's. Brazil was a Portugese territory while the rest of the continent was firmly Spanish. Jesuit missonaries had gone into the jungles to convert the natives. Some attempts were disasterous and resulted in martydom. Others were very successful. Especially the ones that used music. The movie notes that if the Jesuits had had an orchestra, they could've conqured the all of South America.
But not every plan for the natives was benevolent. Slave traders also went into the jungle. The Spanish forbade slavery while under the Portugese it was allowed. Some Spanish plantation owners bought slaves from the Portugese. The question of who controlled which areas became very important. This movie focuses on one such mission and it's attempt to provide a haven for the natives.
The second thing this movie is known for is it's score. Rich swelling strings. One of the finest that I've heard so far from the 80's. A very good movie.

Internet problems

Posting will be light until it's all fixed.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Random Sunday thoughts

Need to post something this weekend...
  • This July's relentlessly hot weather was awful. The last few days have been cool and cloudy. And I've loved it. I'm sure we'll have Indian summer in a few weeks and it'll be lovely too. I'm hoping for a mild fall.
  • Taking advantage of the cool weekend, I made some soup today. Some Cheddar-Potato mix. Add cubed ham. And a can of peas. Very yummy. The FP Gal thinks this is apple crisp weather. I'm not going to argue against that.
  • As I write this, the White Sox are 1 1/2 games out of a playoff spot with three weeks to play. One of the guys at work asked me if this was driving me crazy. It really isn't. I think I'm still coasting on the elation of last year. Not that I don't want them to win it all again but I'm not really worried. My boys are world champs for another six weeks minimum.
  • (Ok, now the football stuff.) Did you know that Payton and Eli Manning are brothers? No, they really are.
  • Week One is a strange beast. You never know how good teams are going into it. When the dust settles, you still don't know if one team is very good or the other team is very bad. I figure you really have a feel for the true quality after week three.
  • I always look at the first week of the football season as premiere day for the newest commercials. Even more so than the Superbowl. Today's best? Hummer has a commercial that shows a group of guys escaping from work. The music is from 'The Great Escape'. They have elaborate plans and they have to leave one of their own behind. I feel that way at least once a week in the office.
  • No seriously, they're brothers. And I guess their Dad played football too. And get this, all three are quarterbacks. Speaking of which, one of my latest favorite sites is this one. It features lots of interesting football history and statistical tinkerings. This last week has been about the best and worst QB's of all time. Fran Tarkenton fares well.
  • Ozzie's favorite team? The Cincinnati Bengals, of course. I wish I could explain to him how much easier his life will be if he roots for the hometown team. I wonder if my folks feel the same way...
  • For those keeping score, Roxane always cheered for the Detroit Lions. Something about silver cats. Calypso just hopes for a clean competitive defensive game with very little yelling. Sana prefers golf.
  • The Vikes start the season tomorrow!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Overheard

while the FP Gal turns up the TV while watching Pee-Wee's Playhouse, "I'm having trouble hearing the cow."

Hans and Stampy

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Since you're out at sea

Let me share something you can see. (Sorry Rachel!)

Youtube for Hans

Happy Birthday, bro!
  • I know you're busy today being in the Navy. Er, in the Navy. You know shooting stuff.
  • At least your time there has let you see some beautiful places. Like here. And here. And of course, here.
  • And now you're on the road to Rhode Island (with a bonus song). Which apparently is famous. Um, be careful out there.
  • With football starting, you'll be able to watch more Viking games this year. This will probably help set the table. And another good memory.
  • And speaking of good memories, come on down...
  • And this is just strange, but I think you'll like it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Football

Just a heads up for those who care to play Survival Football, go here. The group ID is 15143 and the password is 'mendota'. You'll be asked to pick one team each week. If your team wins, you continue. If they lose, you're out. You're only allowed to pick a team once during the season.
Also, still time to sign up for Pick 'Em. Group ID is 5098 and the password is 'ozzieboy'.
The season starts this Thursday. Good luck!

'Banal' films

Interesting little piece in the London Times today with Michael Caine criticizing today's films.
FILMS made today pale against cinema classics of the past because they are so lacking in dialogue, character and plot, Sir Michael Caine told The Times yesterday.
Part of me wants to nod my head in agreement. There are some truly dreadful movies out there. 'Snakes on a Plane' was made because of how bad it looked to be. But that's only half the story. Huge numbers of movies are made today. And they're made for all kinds of people. Dozens of artsy and intellectual movies are made every year.
Apparently Caine made these remarks after looking at the top ten movies in the US today. Movie studios release movies in a predictable cycle every year. Fall is for thrillers. Winter is for serious Oscar-bait type movies. The first few months of the year is kind of a dumping ground for movies the studios don't have faith in. And summer is for action, adventure and comedies. Looking at August's box office results won't show a fair sampling of movies. It's like looking at last month's weather and concluding that Minnesota is running out of snow.
I did enjoy this,
Sir Michael, who won Oscars for Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules, asked: “Who today writes such lines?”
Let's take those one at a time. Who today would write lines like those from 'Hannah and Her Sisters'? Um, how about the same guy, Woody Allen? He's made twenty some movies since that one. If you think he's lost it, let me throw two others at you. Wes Anderson and David Fincher. Both of them are top notch directors and I'd put them up against some of the best in Hollywood history.
And seriously, does anyone remember 'The Cider House Rules' because of the sparkling dialouge? Don't get me wrong, it was good but hardly an earthshaking event. And the movie was out seven years ago. Hardly a lifetime in the movie industry.
If all we had for movie options was 'Beerfest' or 'Miami Vice' Caine would have a point. But we have a much wider menu to choose from. This whole article smacks of sitting on the porch and complaining that life was better in the good old days.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Menagerie


About a month ago, the FP Gal and I went to the Powderhorn Art Festival. We found an artist there that we both enjoyed. Steve Tomashek creates minature animals. What caught our eye was his very creative pictures. The zebras is one of the best.

Viking prediction

Ok, so let me talk about the team that's nearest and dearest to my football heart, the Vikings. Their season hinges on one person, Brad Johnson. More to the point it hinges on his health.
The Offense - Brad looks perfectly suited for the west coast offense. He's smart and accurate and doesn't rely on the deep ball. He's good at finding the open receiver for a small gain. The wideouts on this club have some talent but no real star power. The ball will be spread around quite a bit. The running game should be good. The preseason didn't really show that, but the Vikes faced three good run defenses in Pit, Bal and Dal. The O-line should be very good. Hopefully, that means very few knockdowns and sacks for Brad.
The Defense - The Vikes look like they could have a dominant D-line this year. Both DE's, James and Udeze, look like they may have finally developed into the players they were projected to be. The DT's, Kevin and Pat Williams, look like forces to be reckoned with. If they can get consistent pressure, the Vikes D will have a great year. The 'Tampa 2' defense is based on pressuring the QB into making bad throws and then picking those throws off. That's how it worked in the preseason and that gives hope for the year.
Special Teams - No idea. They've had good and bad moments so far, mostly bad. But they have a quality kicker and punter. And lots of new people on coverage.

If Brad stays healthy, the offense will work. If he gets hurt, the offense will drop off of a cliff. If the defense gets turnovers, this will be a tough team to beat. If they don't get to the QB, it'll be a long season.
Their schedule is front-loaded. They open at Washington, which has looked cover-your-eyes awful so far. Especially in pass blocking. Then they host Carolina, a trendy Superbowl pick. Week three brings the Bears to the dome. Their quarterback situation is dreadful right now and might not be fixed by then. We should know quite a bit about this team by then. They only play one playoff team after October. Their December opponents had a combined 2005 record of 19-45 so a strong finish is likely.

NFL predictions

Ok, so we're almost to the football season. Is anyone else wishing that this was opening weekend? With all of the preseason games behind us, I want to put some thoughts down on the upcoming Viking season.
One of the charms of the NFL is how quickly a given team can radically improve or decline. A last place team can win the division the next year. A Superbowl team can fall apart and miss the playoffs. And it's very hard to tell which way a team will go. As part of my Survivor league efforts I try to determine the worst five or six teams each season. From my notes, here were the consenus worst teams starting last season with their final record (listed from worst expectation to best):
  • San Fran 4-12
  • Cleveland 6-10
  • Miami 9-7
  • Chicago 11-5
  • Tampa 11-5
  • Tennessee 4-12
That's two divisional winners and another winning record. As I said, very hard to do. Injuries are the biggest factor of course. Right below that is the inability to predict just how personel will come together. And random luck might play the largest role. A dartboard or some kind of random generator might be the best way to make these predictions. But each year, experts ignore all of their past failure and bravely make some picks. They usually pick last year's division winners and hope no one remembers when the season ends.
Well...I can't resist joining in on the fun! I'll look back at this in January and we can all laugh at how badly I did. Without further ado, the 2006 NFL division winners:
AFC East - Miami
AFC North - Cincinnati
AFC South - Jacksonville
AFC West - San Diego
NFC East - Dallas
NFC North - Minnesota (maybe)
NFC South - Carolina
NFC West - Seattle

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hannah and her Sisters - 1986

This movie is simple to review. If you like Woody Allen you'll like it. If you don't, you won't like it. Simple, no? This movie centers on a woman named Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her two sisters, Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Diane Wiest). The movie is told chapter style with different chapters focusing on different characters. It opens with Hannah's husband, Elliot (Michael Caine) lusting after Lee. This forms the central part of the story.
Another part of the story centers on Hannah's ex-husband played by Woody Allen. He's a nervous hypochondriac who has a near brush with bad news. This causes an existential crisis in his life. He starts exploring other religions in an effort to comfort himself about the afterlife. All in a witty manner.
Allen's movies always make me want to move to New York. They show the city as a cosmopolitan dream. His taste in jazz music is also quite nice. But his characters always leave me cold. They seem to be actors in interesting situations rather than real people with real problems. As I said, it depends on your taste. A good movie.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Congrats!

A couple of months ago there was confusion as to wether or not Jodi is engaged. Today, I found out that she is and it's a pretty good match. I've done some work with him and he's top row quality. Mazeltov and many happy licensures!