Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!


It's been a slow week for blogging. I wrote a post on Thursday about the weather but Blogger seems to have eaten it or something. (Current weather: snowfall, looks like a Christmas card.) The holiday week has been very nice and we're rolling towards a nice calm conclusion. I might have mentioned this before but New Year's is my favorite holiday. My reasons have to do with rebirth, renewal and starting over. Throw in a party and some fireworks and you've got something good going on.
Anyway, be good to yourselves in the next year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Great Gatsby It Is

Now I need to find my copy. I remember it as a shorter book. I don't remember a natural breaking point but maybe someone with the actual book handy can help me with that. Anyway, we'll figure out some kind of deadline to finish it by (19th January?).
Hope this one is good.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sloooooow day...

The slowest work week of the year is the one between Christmas and New Year's. Very few people book travel at this time. How slow was it? I fielded a grand total of one (1) call today. This gave me time to read about 200 pages and hit every (nonblocked) part of the internet that I wanted. The rest of the week will be much the same. Oh well...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Tower

Someday this will be me. (I only want six stories. That's not so wrong.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Viking thoughts

  • That was the kind of game where the winning team is kind of ashamed afterwards. The losing team is defintly ashamed. Bad, bad, bad.
  • They do know that they're allowed to throw the ball past the first down marker, yes? They don't have to run past it on the ground. Seriously, throw a twelve yard pass.
  • It's now hard to tell if the bad offense was the quarterback or the playcalling. Jackson probably took fewer sacks but the game was still pitiful.
  • What was worse, the constant penalties? Or the dropped balls? These are the worst Viking receivers in a generation. This is also the most penalized team I can ever remember. Is this what life feels like as a Raider's fan?
  • Hats off to Favre. The Packers have won at least two more games than I expected them to. Some of it is the defense but he deserves credit too. And he threw the game's only touchdown.
  • NFL Network? Eh. The production level was low and the camera work was spotty. Collinsworth wasn't bad. Gumbel sounded lost all game. He has watched football before, right?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Next Novel?

Ok, so I'm ready to read another novel from the list. Last time Carrie joined in. Not sure if anyone else wants to this time, but I'm opening it up for opinions anyway. There are three that I'm thinking of:
Catch 22 - Heller
A Farewell to Arms - Hemingway
The Great Gatsby - Fitzgerald

Any interest? And if so, which one should we read?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Random Tuesday stuff

  • Day two with the house to myself and I haven't had much chance to enjoy it. I've had a couple of days of training at work and that means earlier mornings. Ick.
  • Last week while walking out at the MOA, we noticed a gathering at the, uh, gathering place. We noticed it from the third floor but couldn't tell what was happening. On our second floor pass it seemed that they were still warming up the crowd but we couldn't tell what was going on. One more floor down and they introduced the guests, Hulk Hogan and daughter. That's right, we saw the Hulkster. Who says nothing happens in Minnesota?
  • Speaking of which, it turns out that Minneapolis is a Gamma class global city. Who knew?
  • That's about it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sunbeam

My Antonia - Willa Cather

What was life like in the frontier days of the southern Nebraska plains? It was hard but merry. It was a melting pot of new immigrants combining different cultures and languages. It was a time when you depended on your neighbors and had to look out for each other.
Cather's book reads like another Laura Ingalls Wilder book. It has the same big winters and primitive houses. What it adds is a section where the protagonist grows up and goes off to the big city. There is also an element of longing for an unrequited love.
Is this a great book? Not really. It was an enjoyable read (and smaller than expected). It's an interesting period of history but not as interesting as many other periods of time. A good book.
(I finished this over two months ago but forgot to put up a review!)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mississippi Burning - 1988

In 1964, three civil rights activists disappered in Mississippi. There were immeadiate fears of wrong doing although residents of Mississippi were certain that they were up north stirring up trouble. It probably didn't matter as there was widespread belief that they were only creating trouble in an area that they didn't understand.
Two FBI agents are sent down to investigate. One of them (Gene Hackman) is from the south and understands it's ways. The other (Willem Dafoe) is a northener who wants to use bureau procedure to proceed. The investigation does not go well. Finding information is very difficult and the locals are afraid to talk to them. Manpower doesn't work. Publicity doesn't work.
Finally, Hackman takes over and uses more brutal methods. He pursues justice at any cost and by whatever method is needed. This involves kidnapping and brutality. The KKK ring is broken and several of the ringleaders are jailed.
Of all the movies in this project that have focused on racism in the south, this was the most powerful. Hackman in particular is very good. The storyline is very well laid out. This is a great movie.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Answers 41-50

Cities 41-50

South Dakota - Sioux Falls
Tennessee - Memphis
Texas - Houston
Utah - Salt Lake City
Vermont - Burlington
Virginia - Virginia Beach
Washington - Seattle
West Virginia - Charleston
Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Wyoming - Cheyenne

Nicknames (in a different order)
"Home of Hospitality"
"The Bluff City"
"Brew City"
"Crossroads of the West"
"Queen City"
"Magic City of the Plains"
"Space City"
"The Emerald City"
(Two of these cities have no nickname.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Life as a younger brother

Cities 31-40

New Mexico - Albuquerque
New York - New York City
North Carolina - Charlotte
North Dakota -Fargo
Ohio - Columbus
Oklahoma - Oklahoma City
Oregon - Portland
Pennsylvania - Philadelphia
Rhode Island - Providence
South Carolina - Columbia

Nicknames (in a different order)
"The Naked City"
"Capital of the New Century"
"The Duke City"
"The Queen City"
"The Renaissance City"
"The Discovery City"
"City of Brotherly Love"
"The Capital of Southern Hospitality"
"Gateway to the West"
"The City of Roses"

Answers 31-40

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Answers 21-30

Cities 21-30

Massachusetts - Boston
Michigan - Detroit
Minnesota - Minneapolis
Mississippi - Jackson
Missouri - Kansas City
Montana - Billings
Nebraska - Omaha
Nevada - Las Vegas
New Hampshire - Manchester
New Jersey - Newark

Nicknames (in a different order)
"The Brick City"
"City of Lakes"
"City of Fountains"
"Queen City"
"The Cradle of Liberty"
"City Beneath the Rims"
"Sin City"
"Motor City"
"Gateway to the West"
"Crossroads of the South"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Test

So...last Thursday was a big day. I got home from work at the usual time. It had been a long day and I was glad to be going home. When I walked in the door, the FP Gal told me that she'd taken some cute shots of Ozzie and I should see them. Then she walked into the kitchen.
I plugged the camera into the computer and downloaded the photos. There had been some strange problem with the camera's memory the weekend before that resulted in some pictures being 'hidden' or something like that. The download thumbnails only showed one new picture and it didn't look like a cat. So I went look at this month's pictures in slideshow and the new picture looked like this:

It took me a few seconds to translate. Then I asked her, "Are you telling me something?" She was peeking around the corner with that adorable smile of hers. The message was clear. There was lots of hugging and kissing. And then some discussion of test accuracy. And then lots of deciding how soon to tell people. The original plan had us holding out until Christmas. Obviously, that didn't last.
Anyway, we're very excited. More updates (and the entire name debate) to follow.

Answers 11-20

Monday, December 11, 2006

Cities 11-20

Hawaii - Honolulu
Idaho - Boise
Illinois - Chicago
Indiana - Indianapolis
Iowa - Des Moines
Kansas - Wichita
Kentucky - Louisville
Louisiana - New Orleans
Maine - Portland
Maryland - Baltimore

Nicknames (in a different order)
"The City of Big Shoulders"
"Falls City"
"Charm City"
"Sheltered Bay"
"The Circle City"
"The Crecent City"
"City of Trees"
"Hartford of the West"
"Air Capitol"
"The Forest City"

Answers 1-10

Cities 1-10

Alabama - Birmingham
Alaska - Anchorage
Arizona - Phoneix
Arkansas - Little Rock
California - Los Angeles
Colorado - Denver
Connecticuit - Bridgeport
Deleware - Wilmington
Florida - Jacksonville
Georgia - Atlanta

Nicknames (not in the same order)
"The Park City"
"The Magic City"
"Mile High City"
"Valley of the Sun"
"J-ville"
"The City of Lights and Flowers"
"Hotlanta"
"Chemical Capitol of the World"
"City of Angels"
"Rocktown"

Geography quiz

A few nights ago the FP Gal and I were watching some quiz show and the contestant didn't know what city is known as the Gateway City. I was surprised by that as I thought everyone knew that type of thing. Who doesn't know what city is the 'City of Light'? Or the 'Eternal City'? Or even the 'Marvelous City'?
So I thought I'd put together a little quiz for those who wish to play. Each day this week I'll put up a list of ten states and their biggest city. In a different post I'll leave the answer in a comment. In some cases I skipped a more well known nickname for a more interesting one. And two of them are so lame that they don't even have nicknames. But it might be fun anway.
For the record, I only knew 14 of these before I researched it. And I would have guessed the wrong largest city in at least a dozen. So this involved learning for me too.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How many people are in this picture?


(Hint: It's more than two. Probably four.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Kitty pictures




And I have nothing new (bad parent). So here's some old ones.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dangerous Liasons - 1988

What happens when a pair of vipers stop admiring each other's work and decide to attack each other instead? That's the situation that this movie creates. John Malkovich and Glenn Close play members of the French nobility that have adopted cruelty as a hobby. They delight in manipulating the people around them, creating destruction and humiliation. They also delight in seduction. Most of this story's tricks involve it. Seducing against one's will, seducing from principle and taking advantage of youth and inexperience.
The movie is clever and well put together but it's hard to care for the main characters. The scenery and costumes are very well done. The acting is superb. It's a very good movie.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

$109,990

That's the price for two to take a round the world cruise. Details found here.
The 2007 World Cruise will be longer and more extensive than any global circumnavigation in our history. In 111 days, you'll explore 46 ports in 26 nations, and return with endless memories. and you'll do it all while enjoying the peerless six-star luxury of all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Voyager. This unique itinerary sails south from Fort Lauderdale to Rio de Janeiro, then east across the Southern Atlantic to Africa. With 14 overnights in key destinations, you can join optimal multi-day tours that venture deep into the cultures and countries. And many complimentary shore events are already included such as a hotel overnight in Bangkok. From the Seychelles to Shanghai, from Mombasa to Mozambique, you'll discover an intoxicating collection of major cities and intriguing new ports of call.
I'm tempted to say that if anyone is looking for a Christmas gift for the FP Gal and myself (and has an extra house to sell) that this would be perfect. But...111 days. Nearly four months. How long ago was 111 days? August 17th. That's a long time. If you left tomorrow, you'd be home on March 26th. Which isn't a bad idea now that I think of it.
Still, if I had the money I'd do it. If I could still have a job when I got back. And if someone would feed the cats (or could they come with?). And if I could afford not to get paid during that time.
Guess you can always dream...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Random thoughts about the MOA

Last year the FP Gal and I started taking walks at the Mall of America during the winter. It's aged us 40 years but we hear that the exercise is worth it.
  • It's a big place and it's utterly unshoppable if you're not a woman looking to buy clothes. There are a handful of shops that really couldn't exist in a lesser mall and that does make it interesting. It's also fun to see the obvious tourists.
  • Seeing teenage girls there makes me very certain that any daughter of mine will spend the ages of 12-19 in a convent. In that same vein, any parent that lets a young woman wear clothing with writing across the bottom should have their guardianship revoked.
  • Ok, I laughed at the Peanut Butter store (PB Loco). But they offered us a sample of Raspberry/White Chocolate. And that made me want to try some of the other flavors. Tonight I tried the CocoBanana. Yum!
  • Why would they name a large mall after a large flightless bird?
  • The large gingerbread house? It's a cheat. We saw it during construction and it had plenty of non-gingerbread construction.
  • A few weeks back we were walking there and a man dressed in a giant shark costume lunged at me, making me flinch. It was odd, to say the least. About thirty seconds later I had an urge to chase and tackle said shark. I could have made the news.
  • I wish they had a store where you could take a nap! That store would make lots of money.
  • The only clock store in the metro area that can change my watch battery is there. It's run by a crazy woman who is lots of fun. If I had to pick a crazy clock store running woman to date, it would be her.
  • The amusement park should go with a Paul Bunyan theme. They'd be stupid not to.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Brrrrr!

Today was very cold and windy. I'm not sure what the windchill was but the combination was brutal. This was the kind of day that someone always mentions during a hot stretch in the summer. Something along the line of 'you'll miss this in the winter'. But...those aren't the only options. There must be something temperate.
(Must keep working on the FP Gal...)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Happy Birthday

Yesterday the FP Gal and I drove down to Rochester to celebrate my Aunt's birthday. My cousins in that branch of the family are just about as far flung as my family is, so it was a treat to see all of them. The food was good (and plentiful). There was only one small fire and that was put out before the smoke detector activated.
Our family pictures are almost always posed affairs while people are eating so I'm trying to break that mold and take random pictures when people aren't prepared. The third picture here is Tim and Ricky stealing shrimp from Julie. Not pictured is my stand-in attempt for Troy (there was a chair involved).
Good times.