Thursday, November 30, 2006

Moops!


An email from Rachel reminded me of this story (that will only be interesting to me). A couple of months ago I was playing a trivia game at work. A question came up, something along the lines of what is modern day Lusitania called. I answered (too quickly) Spain. The answer given was Portugal, which is plainly a more correct answer. But...if you look at the lower map, you can see that a significant part of the province is in modern day Spain. If I'd been a jerk about it, I would have had a case.


I guess the trivia people don't do too well with that part of the world.

Weather

One of the joys of going back to being an active agent is the rather busy weather day. Or days in this case as this storm is slowly rolling eastward. Yesterday, I got to help several people in the Kansas City area try to get back to the East coast. This morning featured panicky calls from Texans who were trying to get home before Chicago was wiped off of the map. Tomorrow will be spent sorting out the mess that American Airlines will be in. Two of their largest hubs are O'Hare in Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth, both of which got smacked today. Their fleet won't be in position and they're already canceling flights.
This front will hit the eastern cities sometime in the next few days and we'll be treated to news coverage of blizzards. Remember, five inches of snow in DC or New York is a big story. Really.
Meanwhile, we've gone to kind of warm to omigod freezing overnight. Not so much fun. Wonder what the job opportunities in Hawaii are like...?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shake Rattle and Roll

We had a pretty good thunderstorm this morning. Unusual for post Thanksgiving. It reminded me of some other strange weather here in Minnesota. Back in the heady days of January '96, I remember a night out in Dinkytown playing trivia at BW3. That night brought a violent thunderstorm and heavy heavy rain. Then the temperature dropped rapidly and everything was coated in more than an inch of ice.
The next few days worth of weather was more common in the Arctic Ocean than the upper midwest. Temperatures dropped well below zero (-30?), with windchill being dropping to something like minus 80. Tomorrow's estimated low is 12 degrees. This sounds like the same phenomenon but not as extreme and earlier in the year.
(BTW, it finally rained! Yay!)
Update: According to the news, thunderstorms this late in the year are unusual but not that unusual. Apparently we have one in November on average every other year and one in December once every ten years or so.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wheels

As the lovely FP Gal noted, we had surprise guests for Thanksgiving. Her parents had a late change of plans and were able to eat with us. After the meal we moved in to the living room where I had the TB/Dal game on. Fox did a brief feature on the Tampa quarterback, Bruce Gradowski. His favorite band is called 'Wheels' and this is the image that they used to illustrate the word 'Wheels'.
You'll note that it's a man on a square wheeled bike riding on a specially made track. The interesting thing is that the FP Gal's father had a hand in making this particular vehicle. The rider in the picture is one of his colleagues. This picture was taken a short walk from his office.
We quickly rewound the TV and took some pictures. Her dad was tickled pink to see his handiwork on national TV. And to think that we wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't insisted that football should be part of our Thanksgiving tradition.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

100 Greatest Cover Tunes of All Time

Just a tremendously fun list found here (via Althouse). Many of these entries have YouTube links to the videos. 'Satisfaction' by Devo is number four. According to the blurb, it's Jager's favorite version. My personal Stones theory is that their music just sounds better when covered by someone else. My favorite is 'Wild Horses' by the Sundays.
If you're a fan of music, take some time and sit down with this list. There is some seriously good stuff on it.

Ozzie's wild week

This could really be a weekly feature but this week has been especially wild.
  • On Sunday he took advantage of rare pizza delivery to slip out the front door. The FP Gal quickly called to me and the chase was on. He quickly ran over to the neighbor's house. I crept up slowly not wanting to startle him into running off. He kept on moving. Another house, and another and under a fence. I went over hoping that there were no dogs there. He got distracted by a garden and I caught him. It was kind of scary and I was most afraid that he would dart out in front of the delivery guy. But he waited until we were taking our escapee back into the house before leaving.
  • Tuesday night found the FP Gal and I at Friday's, celebrating our birthdays. Each of us were given four ballons that were tied to our wrists (two each). I made some joke about putting them on Ozzie's legs. Well, when we got home we tried it. I envisioned he'd walk about very slowly and maybe flop over and try to get them off. Nope. He took off at Mach 2. He did three circuits around to the kitchen and back before they'd both come off. Imagine him trying to duck under tables and benches but these weird things kept chasing him. Very very funny and we hope the FP Gal has video. Sana was not amused.
  • Thursday brought a turkey and all the fixins into the house. Many new scents and things to see. Many lessons about whether he should be on the counter. He also spent a large amount of time on the front and back porches. Then there was company (the FP Gal's parents) and all that excitement. He slept well that night.
  • This morning brought about another adventure. There is a stool that he's adopted in the kitchen. He can sit on that and keep an eye on what we're doing without being on the counter. He settled into a bath there while I was making breakfast. Up popped the toast. Over fell the stool. Off went the glass break alarm. This time I was home to shut off the alarm so the police didn't have to come take a look. I didn't see Ozzie for a good half hour.

50k

I just passed the 50,000 mark and finished the novel this morning. I liked the first two thirds of it, the last third was a chore. Now for some rereading and editing. Just yesterday I stumbled across some notes that I'd written for this story. The notes were at least six months to a year old. Unfortunatly my story idea at the time had a better plot than what I ended up with. So...there may be some rewriting going on too.

Friday, November 24, 2006

NFL predictions

Before the season I made some predictions, mostly tried to predict all eight division winners. Now that we have ten weeks in the books I thought I'd revisit them.
AFC East - Miami Well, at 5-6 they're 2 1/2 back. If the Pats lose on Monday to the Bears, it would only be two games to make up in five weeks. They face a difficult schedule and their fate rests on Joey Harrington. I think I missed this one.
AFC North - Cincinnati Three games back with six to play. Not so good. But...their schedule isn't impossible. They'd would have to win at least five of them to have a chance but I think they can do it. The flip side is that I have very little faith in Baltimore. They have a good three losses in them at least.
AFC South - Jacksonville Also three games back. And really who knows what they'll do from week to week. The Colts have only lost one game but I don't trust them either. My guess is that I missed this one too.
AFC West - San Diego They're clearly the best team in their division. They have a game and a half lead. Their schedule isn't too tough. They should win the division.
NFC East - Dallas Currently the best record in the division with a half game lead over the Giants. The deciding game happens in NY on Dec 3. Both teams have been up and down so it just depends on who catches the best run.
NFC North - Minnesota Yeah, I blew this one. The Bears have all but clinched the division and they're probably the best team in the NFC. Whoops!
NFC South - Carolina Currently tied with New Orleans with the advantage of a head to head win. Their remaining games are all against inconsistent teams. Good play should get them in. The final weekend finds them on the road against the Saints. That will probably decide it.
NFC West - Seattle This team looks like the best in it's division. But they haven't been able to pull away. Injuries have mostly been the reason. They should win. I'd still bet them to win at this point.

That gives me three that I've definitly blown. There are four more that I feel good about and the last is a long shot. Wonder how that will stack up with other prognosticators?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tag!

1. What is your dream vacation?
A cruise around the world.
2. First music album you owned?
The Styx album with Mr Roboto.
3. Song you sing in the shower?
It varies, but mostly show-stoppers from musicals.
4. First dream job when you were a child?
Marine biologist. But I never wanted to disect critters and I gave up the whole thing.
5. Worst job you've ever had?
Third shift sanitation at a hog kill. Ick.
6. Favorite spice?
That's a tough one. Either garlic or cinammon.
7. Old TV show you wish you had on DVD?
Another tough one. Probably Dr Who.
8. Favorite game to play?
Diplomacy, hands down.
9. Least favorite color?
Brown.
10. Worst song ever?
Easy, it's 'Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.'

I now tag Mom, Rachel, Carrie, Jodi and the FP Gal to answer these same questions on their blogs.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

And now my turn...

Last year on my birthday, I made a list of all the wonderful things that had happened in the past year. A few days later we discovered that Roxane's kidneys were bad and that started a chain of events where we lost both Roxy and Calypso. The FP Gal thinks I'm silly to blame that on my blog post but we all have our superstitions to live with.
The last year had definite ups and downs. Not as many big events certainly. Our honeymoon was lovely. And our newest addition, Ozzie, is a treat in many ways. It was a good year.
So here comes thirty three. One third of a century and one sixth of my goal. I'm sure it will be a year of big changes, new challenges and unexpected joys.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Happy birthday, FP Gal!

May all of your hopes and dreams for the next year be realized. And may all of the fears prove silly.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Slow blogging

Guess I didn't have much to say over the weekend. More during the week. I promise.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Random Thursday Night thoughts

It's that time again...
  • The novel is almost 2/3 of the way through. It's still going strong and I'm finding the story interesting. I'm really enjoying it. Plan on some challenges going out next year to others who should try it too. Talked to Dad about it the other night and he said that November is bad for him. We might try a different month.
  • Speaking of the novel, the FP Gal thinks I have too many projects. And the truth is that my interest in some of them is waning. That probably means some stuff will be shelved. The Network Power Ranking thing is one of them. There just wasn't enough difference to make it remotely interesting. And if I was bored by it, I can't imagine anyone else cared.
  • The movie project isn't done but it's definitely off the tracks. It's been a combination of things, most recently a missed week due to a damaged Netflix movie. Only nine movies left so I'll get there but it won't be by New Years (probably). And the chance of doing the 70's next year is pretty remote.
  • The Great American Novel thing will start again in January. I'll put up some choices next month and see if anyone wants to join in. Carrie read 'My Antonia' with me last month. Did I ever put that review up?
  • Speaking of reading, I'm rereading one of my all time favorites, 'The Name of the Rose'. Wonderful, wonderful book. There was a book out a few years back, 'Shadow of the Wind' that reminded me a little of it. Both are mysteries about books. Very meta.
  • And that's it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More scanned photos

The first two are rather dramatic pictures of Roxane when we lived down in Austin. The last one is my favorite picture of Roxy and Calypso. They were hiding under a cot, trying to keep away from their nemisis, the vacuum cleaner. This shot must have been from '98 or '99.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Self Portrait


The FP Gal scanned some stuff for me this weekend. This is an x-ray from after the accident. You can see plates, all seven of them. You can also see the bands on my teeth. Not quite the full teeth wired shut deal, but close enough.
Answers to two commonly asked questions, the plates are permanent. They'll be their the rest of my life. And secondly, they don't set off metal detectors. Oh, a third question, they aren't magnetic.
BTW, that was almost four years ago if you can believe that. In that time I've gained a nephew and a niece. Two brother in laws. A very nice wife. Lost two dear cats and gained two others. Not to go all Ferris Bueller on you, but life does move pretty fast.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Stranger than Fiction - 2006

So we used a rare combination of some free tickets and a Saturday off for the FP Gal to go see a movie. We went to see the new Will Ferrell film and really loved it. The movie reminded me of 'Being John Malkovich' and the 'Truman Show'. Not a great movie, but very enjoyable.
The movie is about an auditor who discovers that he's the main character of a novel. He begins to hear the narration from the author. This causes no end of trouble in his real life. He goes to see a shrink and she sends him to a literature professor. This leads to a wonderful sequence while he tries to determine if he's in a tragedy or a comedy. The last act of the movie drags a bit as the author has trouble with a very easy ethical dilema but overall it was a very well done movie.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Random note

It appears that I can do a spot on impression of Andy Rooney. Who knew? The FP Gal thinks it's better than my Kermit.
I'd never really watched him before this fall. CBS juggled their lineup so that Amazing Race starts right after 60 Minutes. Whenever CBS has the afternoon game it pushes the schedule back so a 7p start time is usually closer to 730p. As we fast forward to the start, we've come to stop and watch the last segment of 60 Minutes. I think it's called 'Andy Rooney's Continuing Descent into Madness' or something like that. It's something like a cross between a 5th grade social studies report and a Grandpa Simpson story. Must see in the same way that a burned out car is hard not to look at.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Youtube stuff (Weird Al version)

So I've been listening to a New Wave music station on our cable. Good stuff and the FP Gal is probably getting sick of it. Last night they had played 'Jeopardy' by Greg Kihn. That inspired her to sing the Weird Al version. YouTube to the rescue and we found it. The Greg Kihn version is here. Let's just say that he had some commitment issues.
Anyway, we quickly ran across this polka medely matched up with anime. Tres bizzare. BTW, this is his polka that I know the best. Also found this clip from AlTV. Remember that, Hans? This is also the funniest video narration that I've ever seen. (Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.)
Good stuff.
UPDATE: Missed the last link. Check it out, it's worth your time.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings

Another tough week. All three networks had the exact same picks. Each had a record of 7-7. Only the scores were different. Fox led with 67. ABC and CBS had 64 and 63 respectivly. For the season:
ABC 70-42 595
Fox 69-43 576
CBS 67-45

Novel update

If you look at the chart off to the left you'll see a sad red gash in the daily progress chart. I blame it on staying up late and watching election stuff. The FP Gal wants to share some of the responsiblility. She dragged me off to Menard's last night to buy some sissal. (Sissal's a heavy twine type material. News to me.) She used this to wrap a short ladder in an effort to create a scratching alternative for Ozzie. The couch is getting tired of his attentions.
Anyway, I hope to get back on track today. I'm on target to finish over Thanksgiving weekend. Wish me luck!

Election thoughts

Can be found over here, for those who are curious.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting

Just got back from the polling place. I wasn't registered there but that's nothing new. I don't know if I've lived in the same district two years in a row since I became eligible for voting.
The FP Gal and I did our civic duty. The place (61B) wasn't as full as we'd feared. At 9a, there had only been 150 odd voters. (And who knows how many normal ones. Thank you, I'll be here all week!) We're ready for the election to be over so the commercials will stop.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Accidental Tourist - 1988

What happens when you take a character from a low-key family, give him a tragedy that makes him distant and then supply a plot in which almost nothing happens? That's the perfect storm that 'Accidental Tourist' explores. William Hurt (it's not an 80's Oscar movie without him!) plays a business travel writer. He was selected for that job because he doesn't like to move outside of his comfort zone. If a rolling stone gathers no moss, you could use this man to tell which way north is.
The story takes place about a year after his son is killed in a sensless random burglary gone wrong. His wife (Kathleen Turner) wants a divorce. She needs someone who'll help her regain her faith in humanity and Hurt can't do that. (By the end of the movie, you'll look for someone to help you regain your faith in screenwriting.)
Hurt meets a crazy woman (Geena Davis) who takes in interest in him. The reason behind this isn't explored. She helps him train his dog to stop biting people. Can she help him put his life together? Will you care?
I really don't know why this movie received any Oscar nominations. There is one brief scene where concern about an undercooked turkey brings some laughs. But that's it. For a more positive review, you can read Ebert's take on it. He gave it four stars. I can't agree. This is a terrible movie.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunbeam

Late game

I hate it when the Vikes don't play at noon on Sunday. The occasional Monday night game is fine but this 3p stuff is awful. The late game is for taking a nap! BTW, I've come to hate the current crop of Vikes receivers. If you can't catch the ball you should find a different job.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Random Thursday Night thoughts

  • Two days into the novel and I'm really digging it. The characters are going in directions I didn't expect and my hazy idea for a plot keeps growing. Don't worry, I won't spend the next four weeks updating. One big surprise is the amount of sex this thing will have. Um, I don't know if I'm letting anyone read this. The nudity is still tasteful.
  • Is anyone else ready for the election to be over so we can stop watching the political ads? Both parties are treating the electorate like children this year. Outrageous claims go back and forth as if we're supposed to take each and every one at face value. November 8th sooner, please.
  • On a related note I've taken to calling the FP Gal a typical liberal politican whenever she steals my pens. We expected more from her.
  • We only had to chase Ozzie off of the kitchen counter 287 times tonight. Squirt guns and loud yelling doesn't seem to work. We're thinking of those gates that keep children from tumbling down stairs.
  • I stil haven't put up a review of 'My Antonia' yet have I? Sometime in the next few days. I won't pick another Great American Novel until after New Years.
  • Most recent fave songs? 'Sit Down' by James and 'Strict Machine' by Goldfrapp. Both are fun for very different reasons. Well worth two bucks on Itunes.
  • That's all!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Battle of the Network Power Rankings


(Yep, that time again.) Another down week. October has been kind of a correction month as we relearn how good teams are. The two from Pennsylvania in particular are tough to nail down. ABC had the the best week again going 6-8 with 61 points. Fox also went 6-8 but only had 56. CBS in last with 5-9 for 51. For the season:
ABC 63-35 531
Fox 62-36 509
CBS 60-38 497

Bonus points if you can name this actress too!

Hope and Glory - 1987

A very interesting movie. It's set during WWII, London during the blitz to be specific. The opening scene shows a young boy playing in the backyard while the radio explains that a state of war exists between England and Germany. It's a beautiful day and it's hard to believe they're at war. The mood is a little tense but mostly excited. The boy's husband explains to his mom that it'll be over in six months.
This is a slice of life movie I guess. The twist is that it takes place during a very unique time. When the air raid siren sounds everyone must head to the shelter. The bombing raids are indescriminate and even quiet neighborhoods are at risk. There's an incredible scene where the family stands on their front lawn and watchs a dog fight up above. They follow the contrails up high.
Life goes on, and the young are particulary adaptable. When the house down the street is bombed, it becomes a treasure trove for the young boys. They collect shrapnel and take an almost 'Art of Noise' joy in destroying anything that still stands. They learn that they can set off live rounds using a vice and a hammer. A very different world.
This was a good movie and well worth watching. But it wasn't really that special. I'm guessing it was nominated for being different more than anything else.

Yip yip yip

The first bit

Here's the first few paragraphs. Don't worry this won't be a regular blog item.
“So what, you’ve been cursed?”, he asked incredulously. He took a long pull off of his bottle and I could see the sneer beneath his question. I was about to snap back angrily when it all connected. I did suffer problems that no one else did. (Well no one outside of a movie. And a chick flick at that.) But cursed? Did that even make sense?
I swirled my CB&7 with straw and thought. This process really should be easier, shouldn’t it? Why was I finding it impossible?
The door opened and let in a swirl of wind. Following that was a young couple. My eyes were immediately drawn to her. Such a young and lively face. Intelligent eyes. And a pleasant amount of cleavage. I guiltily looked at him. Nothing special. If you passed him on the street you wouldn’t take a second look. He defined average. And there he was with his arm around a babe. My mind hit upon a question it had been asking more and more lately, ‘How do you think they met?’.
“Yum.”
Gavin had noticed her too. I looked back at him. And then down at my glass. Cursed? Did it even make sense in this century to ask that type of thing? Curses belonged to old fantasy movies. Or stories of witches and elves. I had real problems and thinking about this wasn’t really helping me.
But…it kind of made sense. Look, I’m a nice guy. All of the women I work with have trouble believing I’m still single. The married ones all treat me like they wish their husband could be like me. Any girl would be incredibly lucky to meet a guy like me. What could possibly be holding me back? Was I somehow cursed?
As I said it made sense then. Maybe the kind sense that needs half a dozen drinks but there you have it. I was ready for this type of solution.
I pointedly raised my eyes from the glass and looked at him. “Maybe I have been cursed.” He took another swig and seemed to study me for a second. “But who would curse a guy like me? And more importantly, how would I break it?”