Monday, December 31, 2007
Let's hope next year brings clearer writing.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who has been with us on the journey so far. Next year we'll bring you her first steps and first words (maybe her favorite liqueur). We'll also share some of our personal lives. Have a good one and be courageous!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I don't know if it's as good as Powells, out in Portland, but it's certainly worth a visit. It looks like it even tops the beauty of the Barnes & Noble down in Rochester.
I've often said that once of the places my ashes should be scattered is in a library or bookstore. This place might make the most sense.
So late in the afternoon, I started to get ready to go. The FP Gal put her in the car seat and we were ready to go. About a mile away from home she started complaining. I waited until I was at a stoplight and reached back to get her pacifier in. It wasn't there.
The complaints soon turned to howling and I pulled over so I could find it and get her soothed down. Climbed into the back seat and did a thorough search. Not there. Great. Should I take her shopping and risk a meltdown?
I turned the car around and drove a few blocks. She quieted down. I pictured the FP Gal looking at me if I failed to do something as simple as take her out shopping. So I turned back around and went to the store. By the time I got there she was complaining again.
Quickly into the store and a cart. I was hoping that if I could make eye contact with her that we'd be ok. And we were. This was a shop for my food so I didn't have to fool around much to get the right stuff. It was fast and we got it done.
Sadly, no women acted like they wanted to pick me up.
Once we were back in the car, the howling started again. She's started to act like the car seat is some kind of torture instrument. She only has to be in some kind of child restraint until she starts college so this might be a problem.
Overall, the mission was a success.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
The FP Gal detailed our Christmas day already. At the end of her post she mentioned that I got an awesome gift this year (and she's right!). It's something straight from my childhood and I could hardly be more excited about it.
It's 'Crossbows & Catapults', a game designed for 8 year old boys. The idea is simple. Two players each create a castle made of plastic blocks. Then you take turns knocking them down with plastic disks flung by rubber band driven weapons.
It's tremendous fun! The FP Gal and I played a couple of games. Even her Mom got into the act and took some shots. Surprisingly, her Dad resisted but we'll get him to play next time.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
This movie details a deadly feud between two stage magicians (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) in the 1890's. Between them is blood and jealousy and one very special trick. Bale has developed a trick called The Transported Man where he disappears in one spot and reappears instantly in another. Jackman becomes obsessed with finding out the secret.
When 'The Sixth Sense' came out, a friend of mine called me the day after she'd seen it and insisted that we go and see it with her. I feel the same way about this movie. Go out and rent it!
The movie was nominated for Best Cinematography, deservingly so. It's beautifully shot. The director is the same guy who did 'Memento' and the story is told in flashbacks.
The acting is very good. Michael Caine plays the engineer for the magicians and he's wonderful. Bale and Jackman are quite good. The story carries the day, though.
A great film.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Even in death, Chet Fitch is a card. Fitch, known for his sense of humor, died in October at age 88 but gave his friends and family a start recently: Christmas cards, 34 of them, began arriving — written in his hand with a return address of "Heaven."You've got to love a guy with a sense of humor.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The Packers-Bears game (which just ended) looked just miserable. Coming out of the half they showed a wide view where you could see that one half of the stadium (the half where the wind was blowing) had emptied out. The FP Gal asked if they'd let people change seats. I'd think they would just for humanitarian reasons.
For years I've said that the Vikings should have an open air stadium. Yes, there would be bad weather but that's part of the experience. After seeing today's game...I'm not so sure anymore.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Top ten jobs I wish I had?
- Cat psychologist
- Bartender at the airport
- Acclaimed, best-selling writer
- MLB broadcaster
- Stage actor
- Museum curator
- Travel agent trainer
- Lion tamer
- Long haul truck driver
- Powerball winner
Friday, December 21, 2007
(BTW, this is the approved method of bringing a whale to the mountains.)
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Now, here's where my demented genius comes in: I think that kids can be brainwashed to believe anything is fun as long as you seem excited about it. You could say to your child right now, "You know what we're doing later? We're heading to the yard to watch grass grow!" And if you sell it well enough, they'll be counting the minutes until the back door opens. Seriously.Hmmm, she'll be 2 1/2 just in time for the 2010 baseball season. That sounds about right...
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
It's very funny. The geek humor really works well. My personal favorite was when they tried to decide if Sheldon was a robot using Asimov's laws of robotics. I don't know how long they can keep up the pace, but it's well worth watching.
Interesting movie news today, as Peter Jackson has agreed to direct 'The Hobbit' and continue his Tolkien streak. I have mixed feelings. I liked this book better than the LOTR ones. I think the story will create a more straightforward narrative, and that's not a bad thing.
The bad side? Both 'Return of the King' and 'King Kong' were incredibly bloated movies. The plans for the 'Hobbit' calls for two movies and I'm guessing each one will be in the three hour range. The cartoon version that was released in the 70's? Not even ninety minutes. Let's hope the studio gives him an aggressive editor.
Monday, December 17, 2007
- Remember that novel I've been writing? Remember how I was going to put it out on a separate site so that everyone could read it? Well, that's still the plan. The writing on the end has been sloooow. Guess, I worked better with a deadline. I'm now shooting for New Years.
- Speaking of slow, we've finally hit our slow time at work. This is my favorite time of the year. Today I took six calls. With any luck, it'll slow down even more.
- We could use one of these. Would help with the stairway at night.
- I'd like to hand a copy of this to every one of our travelers. Ticket rules are sneaky. The rule of thumb is 'Don't Change Your Schedule'. That way they can't charge you any more.
- Has anyone out there read 'Love in the Time of Cholera'? I'm going to borrow a copy and I'm curious about the quality.
- That's it.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
In my entire history living in this house, I've never had Chinese food up there. As far as I can tell, none of my guests has ever had Chinese up there. I have no idea where it came from. Maybe the squirrels?
I brought it downstairs and told the FP Gal (freaking her out in the process). She hasn't been up there in months. She asks what the fortune says, hoping it will give some clue as to where it came from.
One who is not sleeping, does not mean they are awake.And no, I don't know anything in particular that would refer to. Very strange. I'll keep an eye out for anything else.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Why does she take it out? Because she'd rather have her fingers in there, that's why. The FP Gal tries to discourage her for developmental reasons. I try to stop her because it makes her fingers all slimy. Whatever works, right?
The most interesting new development? Yodeling. (There must be some Swiss in there somewhere.) She loudly speaks while rolling her tongue. Lots of fun!
Non-action category: her eyes haven't changed to brown like we expected they would. They are kind of a grayish color. Very beautiful and if they stay that way she'll be very striking.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Last winter was a nightmare for a number of reasons including bad weather, full planes and lousy service from the airport workers. I can only hope(!) that there have been improvements over the year. I've got some hope on that front as the airlines seem to be stepping up.
One thing for the minus column is the FAA's website. They have an interactive map that shows delays from airports at every region. The past two days it has shown green all across the board even though airports were closed. Get with it people!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
- Mount Everest
- The Grand Canyon
- The Amazon
- Ayer's Rock
- The Great Barrier Reef
- Victoria Falls
- The Harbor of Rio de Janerio
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I hope this is all true and not a mirage. There are still some problems with this team that need to be fixed. Childress is still on a short leash next year as far as I'm concerned.
Looking back at the rest of that prediction, I notice that my division winners could hardly have been worse. I got two right out of eight. If any teams want to pay me not to pick them next year, I'm available.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
One of the cool things about this type of gathering is seeing the other games all layed out. At midafternoon, there were seven or eight different games being played. Each one looks like a giant diorama of a different era. It's very cool.
The game we played was called 'Empire' and it has the reputation of being one of the most complex games ever. It was at least four levels more complicated than I enjoy but I figured what the hell? I'd jump in and do what I could.
How complicated? The guy who ran the game has been playing this one for twenty years or more. We'd figure out combat and he'd say things like, "Ok, so you've got an eight and fatigue makes it six, plus one for being Prussian. And then three more but minus one. (Looks at chart). So six times twenty...try to roll high." And then we'd roll and he'd tell us what happened.
The game matched me up against Chris and everyone started by playing cautiously. After two turns I figured L'audace, toujour l'audace and flanked him with some cavalry. Things went well and I wiped him out. This will probably mark the one and only time I beat him at that type of game.
Fun? Sure. Not as fun as Dipcon looks like but I'd certainly play again.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
- The FP Gal doesn't really want a hippo for Christmas (or any other holiday). She just likes that song. And really, who doesn't?
- More snow yesterday and more tomorrow. We're in some kind of weird weather pattern where we get hit every other day. It's very pretty and I'm hoping that it doesn't warm up and melt off right away.
- Did you know that marionberries are part of the blackberry family? No, they really are.
Monday, December 03, 2007
- My brother and his family are winging their way toward Germany right now. You can look for them at the Flughafen or here at the Schlossplatz. (Aren't German words fun?)
- Speaking of international destinations, you can test your geography skills here. Be advised that it gets tough. My best is level eleven which is billed as 'expert'. I can only guess that the next levels are labeled 'autistic', 'insane' or 'home schooled'.
- And yes, my kids will compete in geography bees if I have anything to say about it. Wish it had been around when I was young, even though I wouldn't have appreciated it. What is it they say? 'Youth is wasted on the young' or something like that.
- So those Vikes looked kind of OK yesterday. I might have been wrong about Childress and Jackson.
- I spent some time at work today trying to find a book club to join. Didn't find anything. Well, there are plenty of niche ones, but nothing that I'd want to be a part of. Any suggestions? (Alternate question, how could I start one of my own?)
- Alternate, alternate question: do I have anything like enough time to join a book club or especially to host one?
- That's it.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Ozzie will sometime pop up on the couch when she's there. He gives her a quick sniff and then ignores her. Unless he wants to knead, in which case he wants to use her as a cushion. Needless to say, we don't let him.
Sana is a different story. She's much to dignified (or skittish) to play with a baby. There is one curious habit of hers and we were curious how that would work out. She likes to lick people on the forehead. We refer to it as a 'Sana blessing'.
The other day we took Relia up to change her diaper. Sana was sleeping on her changing pad. I put the baby down next to her to see how she'd react.
Our dignified kitty gave her a sniff and then a lick. It was very cute! We let her do this for a minute, and then we noticed the look on Relia's face. Something like 'what is this, sandpaper?'.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
First snow driving rules are in effect. You can either drive as if your car is about to fall apart or you can drive as if there is no possibility of slipping. Nothing in between is allowed.
We're home and safe and intend to stay that way.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Well, here's the deal, I know there has been some interest from you guys to actually read this thing. So I'm figuring out a way to do that. I don't want to clog up this blog with a huge unreadable section. Instead, I'm going to start a different blog and put up 1000 or so words per day.
Keep in mind that I didn't write this as a serial so it won't be filled with daily cliffhangers. I'll try to make cut offs logical, of course. Also, don't feel like you have to go over and read it. I can't track these things, so you won't be hurting my feelings.
The story still has another week or ten days of writing, so don't expect anything until closer to mid December. I'll put a post up then with the new address. And then I'll stop talking about it over here.
How was the writing this year? Very difficult. It was a year of obstacles. I've been sick, had my computer down for a couple of days, had lots of family stuff and of course a baby to look after.
Did I enjoy it? Very much so. It's amazing to me how stories take on a life of their own. Once I started digging into it, different avenues and ideas just started opening up.
Will I do this again next year? Wife willing I will. And I'll also encourage many of you to join me!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Their wedding was the beginning of a new chapter for our family. Until then we were the classic nuclear set up with two parents, two boys and a girl.
- This wedding added Rachel and her family.
- Not long after that we added Josiah.
- Heidi brought Chad and his family into the group.
- I soon followed suit with the FP Gal and her clan.
- Annika was next.
- Then came Aurelia.
Can you believe that was only five years ago?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
There have been about half a dozen babies born into my office this year (with two more on the way). One of the ladies that I worked closely with for about two years just had a boy last Friday. There must be something in the water or something.
Even amongst my friends who blog, there has been a rush of them. There's Holly who went early. And Carrie who only has a month or so left. Laurie caught on this fall. And who knows when she'll start telling people.
Anyway, I'm too busy to put together a real post, so I thought I'd put up a video of a gorgeous Kate Bush song. Yes, it's really for dads-in-waiting but maybe the rest of you can enjoy it too.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The tale of the tape from the weekend?
- There were seven McDonalds bags in the garbage. Only three of them were from me. This was probably too much. I'm swearing off the arches for awhile. At least until Wednesday.
- I got to write several thousand words, enough where I'm confident I can reach 50k by Friday. Guess who else is playing? Good for him and I hope he gets there too.
- With Hans in town we did some game playing on Saturday. I was competitive but didn't win anything. Maybe next time.
- I had two (2) nights where I didn't have to share the sheets or the comforter. Very nice.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
There are more pictures at the link.
Indeed, the Italian government was not even aware of their existence until a few years ago.
But the 'Temples of Damanhur' are not the great legacy of some long-lost civilisation, they are the work of a 57-year-old former insurance broker from northern Italy who, inspired by a childhood vision, began digging into the rock.
That's how these things always start, isn't it?
In 1977, he selected a remote hillside where he felt the hard rock would sustain the structures he had in mind.
A house was built on the hillside and Falco moved in with several friends who shared his vision. Using hammers and picks, they began their dig to create the temples of Damanhur - named after the ancient subterranean Egyptian temple meaning City of Light - in August 1978.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I went over there at 1130a or so. That let me watch the Fox pregame special where Brettie was proclaimed to be the best person in the world. That was super fun, let me tell you! We had the game on there, but muted with subtitles. This brings a unique view to a football game. The inane chatter is about two plays behind and sometimes that's an improvement.
The food was very yummy. I'd mentioned to the FP Gal that I've never had the drumstick so she made sure I got one this year. It wasn't anymore special than the rest of the turkey so I can gladly give them to someone else in the future.
Then it was off to Austin to see a different section of the family. Two of my cousins were there with their nine (9) children. Having them all under one roof is kind of like sharing a room with a tornado. More hugs though. Again, lots of fun. (My quick count has her in contact with 27 family members, mostly new to her, in about 48 hours.)
The Austin branch had helped out at the Salvation Army that morning, helping get hot meals to hungry people. It was covered by the news so we go to see them on TV. After they were done, they got to bring some food back with them so eating was buffet style. There was even some traditional Chinese food just like the pilgrims ate.
Then back home. It was great to see everyone but the FP Gal and I greatly benefited from the car rides there and back. Lately all we talk about it is her projects/my projects or what else to try when Relia is crying. While she was asleep in the back, we could just chat nicely. I might be most thankful for that.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
It was a very good time, though quite active. Relia spent the entire time being passed from grandparent to aunt or uncle and vice versa. She was very tired by the time we got home. I'd hoped she'd be her regular smiley self but she spent the whole time either sleeping or trying to figure out who in the world was holding her.
Back home, the FP Gal broke her new DVD, 'Help' by the Beatles and we watched some of it. She reports that the video looks much clearer than she'd ever seen it before. The plot is beyond goofy but quite fun. With her help, I may get to know this mystery band.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
- Yay, a random post! (These are some of my favorites to write. Unfortunately, there is an inverse relationship between how much I enjoy them and how easy they are to understand.)
- Very foggy today and I liked it. The forecast calls for cold and possibly snow starting Thursday. I remember when I was young it seemed that we always had a white Thanksgiving. It must be drier now because they've been green/brown for the most part. Kind of sad.
- Being a sports fan means seeing the same commercials over and over and over. This leads to some obvious questions. Is there a construction company in this country that expects it's employees to use their own trucks on the site? And are you really telling me that any sizeable number of the truck owning population would ever risk their very expensive new vehicles by just throwing concrete blocks in the bed? How stupid do you think we are?
- Speaking of trucks, there must be some way to angle their headlights so as not to blind car drivers. This isn't rocket science. (Yes, there is physics involved in both but it's clearly different.)
- Related note, would it be legal to rig a mirror for my back window? When one of these guys needs to drive on my back bumper I could pull a cord or something and shine those brights right back at him. Not legal? Can I talk to a legislator about this?
- Speaking of laws that should be passed, here is an obvious one and I don't know why we don't have it. Pregnant women should be issued a handicapped parking sign for their last few months. They need close parking more than a number of current recipients. Some smart pol will figure this out someday and be swept into office.
- American Pie lyrics and explanation found here. I used to like this song. Then I worked at a bar where you could hear it ten times a day during a pool tournament. If I never hear it again, that will be fine with me.
- This post is sounding ranty and angry and I don't mean it to. I'm looking forward to good food and seeing family this week. Should be great fun!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
A few T-Jack interceptions and a missed receiver or two and the Raiders get a couple of touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Vikes of last week looked like they may never score a point again. Yuck, I feel sick just typing that.
Hold on Relia! The Vikings really are more fun to watch than they've shown this year. Really, I promise. (Does anyone have tape of the '98 Vikings that I can show her?)
Update: Maybe I should make a cynical prediction about the Vikes every week. That seems to almost guarantee a victory.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
FP Gal: I didn't know anyone else did this.
Me: This is the only version I know. Who else did this?
FP Gal: Um, the Beatles (duh!).
Me: Oh. I've heard of them.
Guess we just come from different musical backgrounds.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Mr J did his best by choosing interesting music. He introduced me to the Coventry Carol (which I sing as a bass). He had us do so P.D.Q. Bach. Frankly, he did his best but it was just too much for too many years.
It is only in the last few years that I've been able to enjoy it again. In fact it's become kind of a sign of the season the first time a commercial gets 'Carol of the Bells' gets stuck in my head. So, you can have it stuck in yours too.
BTW, I know that it's too early for holiday music. I was raised to believe that it shouldn't be around until after Thanksgiving. That ship has apparently sailed. Take a look at your TV or walk into a store. It's the holiday season already. I suggest that we put all of our energy into keeping it after Halloween.
Wish I had more to say. The FP Gal and I have been pretty much floored with a cold (or flu or something). I came home early Tuesday because of it. We both stayed home yesterday. I think we're past the worst of it. My voice is still funny but I can think straight now.
That was the worst part of the work on Tuesday morning. Every problem call I got felt like something completely new and incomprehensible. It was like they were speaking in Greek or something. Not a good thing when simple mistakes can cause hundreds of dollars to fix. Anyway, I'm confident I can tackle the usual stuff tomorrow.
Hope everyone is doing well. It's strange being cut off like that. It's like I'm used to talking to a couple of dozen people everyday and then they were just...gone. That probably means that I've got a problem or something. Anyway, it's good to be back.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Today, my firm wish is that I was a stay at home dad. [Looks down at green fuzzy slippers] "There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home!".
Rats. I'm going to work.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
In comes Drew Barrymore to water his plants. It turns out that she's a writer and the two click. If they can overcome her literary demons. And if they can get past his lack of confidence.
This is a very charming movie. Grant plays a wonderfully befuddled man. Barrymore stretches her acting chops here a bit and does a very nice job as a complicated woman. She could honestly have come from the pages of a Woody Allen script (and I mean that as a compliment).
The story works well. And the music? Plenty of fun 80's pop. It's well worth watching.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
- Yes, I'm jealous. I'm sure we'll catch up in a couple of years when availability goes up and the price comes down. Rachel, try and sing their praises to the FP Gal, would ya?
- A quiet day at the FP household. Relia and I just stayed in and watched some TV. Well, she did some time in the swing while I did my own stuff. Do I feel guilty about that? Some. But I'm getting better about it.
- Meant to tell everyone that 'Amazing Race' was starting again. This is probably our favorite TV show. I keep hoping that the FP Gal will try out for it with me but she won't. She thinks that the stress would be too much. Hey Jodi, you up for a trip around the world?
- Seriously, it's a great show and you should treat yourself and watch it. It's on Sunday nights on CBS, right after 60 Minutes. You can treat yourself to a double dip and watch Andy Rooney's Decent into Madness, too.
- Where are the new Relia pictures? The truth is we don't have any good ones. She's just as cute as ever but we're just too tired. Sorry about that.
- I mentioned the novel yesterday, but I forgot to shout out to the two people I convinced to try it with me this year. My Dad is working from a story idea that he's been playing with over the last couple of years. He called today and we talked writing stuff. It is great to listen to the excitement in his voice as he develops new ideas and plot points. My mother-in-law is also writing. I've hardly seen her this month so I don't really know how she's going but I hope she's having fun!
- That's it!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
“So, what do you think?”
The servants had all cleared the room. There was no more evidence of the fine meal they had enjoyed. The cards and chips were packed away, too. The card game was finished and a new winner had been crowned. All that remained of the earlier festivities was the cloud of smoke from the lone smoker. From out of this he had brought forth his idea for a different kind of contest.
The other six looked at each other, no one sure that they really wanted to commit. This would mean an incredible amount of time and they were all busy people. It would also be no small amount of money.
Still…there was an upside as well. All seven of them were intensely competitive. Their annual card game had been it’s usual cut-throat affair. It was Rex’s turn to host and he had outdone himself. The food and the service had been top notch. His lavish yacht had been the perfect setting. Here they had privacy. More importantly, they were able to get away from the desperate people. The suck-ups and beggars. After the card game, six of them would poorer but it would be money that they risked and lost fair and square.
After the game, came this new proposal. It was large and grand and tickled the vanities of several of them. It would mean a lasting legacy for each and every one of them. Still…
“Maybe you could go through the details one more time,” drawled Rex. “I’m not sure I understand exactly what it is that you’re proposing. Some kind of ‘art’ thing?”
“It could be. Look, I’ve had rules drawn up and everything but let me run through the gist of this thing again.” A pause and he made certain everyone was watching him. They were of course.
“It’s a simple game. Each of us will build a Wonder of the World.”
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
It came with very strong winds and it felt like we'd been picked up and dipped into the Arctic. Today looks like more of the same. It's like the narwhal saw his shadow and now we're in for six months of winter.
Monday, November 05, 2007
The smaller airlines don't work well with our booking systems so we often have to call them. I didn't have 'Wings' phone number so I had google around for their website. While there I found a link to 'Employment Opportunities'. (Don't worry, I doubt I'll ever convince the FP Gal to move to Alaska. It never hurts to look around though, right?) Under customer service I found the usual requirements: experience, able to use a computer, reservations and...able to lift 70 lbs.
Needless to say, we don't do a lot of heavy lifting at work. I can't imagine what the ladies in customer service would say if this was added in. Probably nothing polite.
When I called, I had to ask what that was all about. The nice lady reservationist didn't seem taken aback when I asked her about it. I'm guessing I'm not the first person who has wondered what's going on. Turns out that that a lot of their baggage is freight and 70 lbs is pretty typical.
Man, we're soft down here in the lower 48.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
- Costume for Halloween? Nothing much. In fact I'm ashamed to call it a costume. My team at work decided to go with a theme and all dressed as 'Alice in Wonderland'. When this was first discussed I quickly grabbed the spot of the Cheshire Cat. When der tag came we hadn't prepared anything. As a result I wore a crazy colored poncho and a paper smile hanging from my glasses. Didn't even wear the smile that long because it kept getting in the way.
- Halloween highlight? The FP Gal brought Relia into work dressed in her tiger costume. She was adorable! We did a quick tour around the office so everyone could see her and then mother and child ran off. (I'd share pictures but our camera is off visiting her brother.)
- Wednesday night we fought the squirrel. This little critter had gotten into our attic and promptly fell down the vent into the basement. Not loose in the basement, just trapped in the vent down there. We unhooked part of it (a part that the FP Gal thinks they can chew through) and tried to chase him out the coal door. It took a long time and wasn't fun for anyone.
- Did you know that if you poke a squirrel with a bit of plastic tubing, they just growl unhappily?
- Very early Thursday (I waited until midnight) I started my novel. And promptly hated it. All of the things that I loved weren't enough to make a story. None of the characters were any fun. The thought of spending the next month listening to these dreary people filled me with dread.
- Thursday afternoon I decided to go to a fall-back story that I had prepared. The idea is simple and can be summed up with the idea of modern ships doing a 16th century style exploration job on a new planet. I love this idea and if someone would write this book I would sprint to the bookstore to buy it. The only problem is that I don't know even close to enough about ships and other nautical stuff to pull this off. I thought about collaborating with my brother but that will be too time consuming.
- Later Thursday afternoon. What if I...(don't spook the idea). What if... Say, could I save my original idea by making it just part of a larger story? A quick discussion with the FP Gal made me think I could. (She probably deserves sainthood for putting up with this kind of crap. I really do appreciate it, hon.) So, full speed ahead!
- Friday at work, I got a bonus package. Not to go into too much detail but for tax purposes they've come up with some kind of way to reward us by doing some shopping for us. I got a computer game and a Paul Simon CD. The game looks like lots of fun. The CD? Eh.
- Saturday morning brought some shopping, Target and grocery style. While driving around we test drove the aforementioned CD. The last song literally makes the FP Gal cry. The rest just makes you want to listen to his earlier stuff.
- Saturday evening took us over to my Mom's for dinner with a large part of her side of the family. Lots of fun and Relia was exhausted by being held so much. Actually, everyone was exhausted as the yawns appeared around 630p or so. Good thing we get an extra hour tonight.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Frankly, we wish it came with a volume control because it's incredibly distracting. The only reason we turn it on is because of the incredible cuteness that comes from it. When it starts to go her little eyes just light up and she becomes very still. Then it goes quiet and she stares at it. Finally she kicks again and sets it off. I think she has some idea that she's doing it. I'm sure the FP Gal will provide video at some point.
(And yes, that's the excitement from our household today.)
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
- This was going to be a series of pictures of pumpkin carving and Aurelia but Blogger doesn't seem to want to post pictures tonight. Maybe tomorrow.
- Week two of the great day care experiment started today. We're setting into a routine which is nice. Today I got to explain why she had a bit of pumpkin on her forehead. I'm sure grade school is much the same.
- Mom was over on Saturday (her version is here). She told me that it had been hard to picture me as a father before Relia came along. That makes sense as I've been able to avoid having this level of responsibility so far. This weekend was kind of a test as there was lots of fussiness and the usual stuff didn't always work. The FP Gal asks if I still want twins. Of course I do! I didn't really understand how much work this would be but that doesn't mean I thought it would be a picnic. (Think of it, two little girls like Aurelia, who wouldn't want that?)
- The baseball playoffs are done and they could hardly have been less exciting. Out of seven series, five of them were sweeps. Very few close games. Too many off days. The last point is completely in MLB's control and I hope they take it seriously. One of baseball's charms is it's dailiness. If we wanted three games a week, we'd watch basketball or hockey.
- Speaking of sports topics, if this Viking team doesn't make a serious turnaround I want a new head coach. Bring in Parcells or someone like that. We've got a great running back, most of a great defense and some good players on the O-line. Some good coach has to be interested in doing something with that.
- That's it!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Back in the '80's, when my brother and I got hooked on the show, I started taping them. A full story was (usually) 90 minutes long so if you used the extra long play option you could fit four of them on a tape. I've lugged them around with me for years but didn't have any real hope that the quality would be high enough to watch. The tapes are more than twenty years old after all (how did that happen?!?).
Well...it turns out that they survived surprisingly well. There are some tapes missing and some shows that I must have missed in there but I've got most of the fourth Doctor and all but one of the fifth. This has been my consolation for being pinned to the couch by Relia. The whole thing (recording and now watching) is the easily the second dorkiest thing I've ever done.
How do they look? The acting and writing is Masterpiece Theater quality (with many of the same actors) while the sets look a touch better than a high school play. The production quality picks up a bit when the fifth Doctor comes in. Some of it's camp and some if it is quite clever. It's all fun.
The good Doctor is still around as the series continued in 2005 (can be seen on the Sci-Fi channel and BBC America). I also found this great spoof. (The bit about the tin-foil makes the whole thing.)
Friday, October 26, 2007
The high points:
- That thing on my leg? Not leprosy and no, amputation isn't the answer. Probably eczema and there are things to do for it.
- Blood pressure is good. Pulse was fine. Both hearts sound fine.
- No, they couldn't find anything wrong that would justify two weeks in a tropical location. He promised to consult his books and see if he could prepare anything for the next time. On a related note, there is no such thing as 'bikini-deficiency'.
- They took a blood sample so they can check my cholesterol. The lab assistant said that she'd try to make me pass out so I'd miss work but she didn't follow through. There is such a thing as taking the Hippocratic oath too seriously.
- On the other hand, the exact combination of not eating for twelve hours before a check up, getting flu and tetanus shots and having blood drawn did some kind of number on me. A quick sick call to work and a four hour nap later and I felt much better. Probably nothing more than the power of suggestion.
- I feel better for having gone.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
So back to today. Got her up and changed and even started some laundry. And then the fussiness started. One of those days where she couldn't be left alone for even a minute. Wailed if her pacifier got out and couldn't keep it in on her own. The only thing that calmed her down was sleeping on my chest while I watched TV. The only problem was that I didn't want to spend all day on the couch! I couldn't even reach the bon-bons.
The FP Gal ran into the same problem later in the day and I'm told that even with her parents (so far a golden touch) she was fussy. Just one of those days. Or maybe gas.
Next time we have a day like this we're going to try a car ride.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Saving Private Ryan
Life is Beautiful
Silence of the Lambs
These may not be your cup of tea, but they're all widely recognized. The 00's list is pretty short and I don't really know why. I should say that I'm not trying to run down modern film-making. There are many many good movies out there. Looking at the list of Best Picture nominees I noticed that there are very few 'bad' movies there. Just not many outstanding ones either.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
My second theory is that over the last ten years we've seen an explosion in the number of movies that are available for us. Take a look at the list of 2006 movies here. I count 192 movies in wide release (and another 100 or so in limited release). That's almost four new movies at the cineplex every weekend. This flood of movies creates so much noise that it's hard for a single movie to stand out.
(I've also got a third theory that suggests that Hollywood makes better films when there's a Democrat in the White House. I need to work on the background reason but if you look at the overall film industry since 1980 or so you'll see what I mean.)
Ok. So my question is this, what's the best movie since 2000? Here's the list of Best Picture nominees:
- 2000 (73rd)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
*A Beautiful Mind
In the Bedroom
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Gangs of New York
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
*The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Lost in Translation
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
- *Million Dollar Baby
Good Night, and Good Luck.
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
And this is just the hoity-toity serious films. What's the best comedy so far this decade? Maybe the first 'Pirates of the Caribbean'? 'Anchorman'? What else?
Monday, October 22, 2007
- We've got 21 of them (and another on VHS). That's more than I expected. Can anyone out there top that? I'm counting any version, not just the special editions.
- Biggest surprise for placement? 'Ordinary People' at number 5. Didn't make AFI's top 100 but it cracks the top ten for Amazon. This must be someone's personal favorite...or they had a bunch leftover in stock. (Only 88 spots higher than 'Saving Private Ryan'.)
- The highest rated Hitchcock film is 'Rear Window'. Couldn't agree more.
- Some very nice, below-the-radar films on this list. 'Cinema Paradiso' at 12 is a very nice Italian film. 'My Neighbor Totoro' at 85, is a sweet film about two young children balancing fantasy with a sick mother.
- Some overrated films here too. #46, 2001 A Space Odyssey (possibly the most boring movie ever). #78, 'The Usual Suspects'. #98, 'Blue Velvet'.
- For DVD owning, I think of movies that I'd want to watch and rewatch. That means more comedies. Where's 'Ferris Bueller'? And while there are plenty of good thrillers, I'd watch 'Hunt for Red October' ahead of about half of these.
One day down...
- The baby.
- Her medical forms.
- An extra outfit.
- A pacifier on a clip.
- Bottles (even more important than baby from what I'm told).
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The FP Gal has very interesting looks. The top one is where I accused her of 'pondering the eternal'. She looks a bit like Dave at the end of '2001'. The bottom one is my fault. Not that she looks bad, it's just that I failed to get her to give a big smile for the shot. When they expire in a few years, I'll do better. I promise.
It's known for the car chase (watch it here). Sometimes known as the best car chase ever, it involves a car trying to race an elevated train to the next station. The car is driven through intersections without regard to traffic laws or safety. I think it's overrated. One detail that impress me though, according to Wikipedia:
Many of the shots in the scene were "real", in that Hackman actually drove the car at high speeds through uncontrolled traffic and red lights (legendary stunt driver Bill Hickman, who also had a small role in the film as FBI agent Mulderig, handled many others and outlined the entire chase with Friedkin and D'antoni), with Friedkin running a camera from the backseat while wrapped in a carpet for protection. The production team received no prior permission from the city for such a dangerous stunt, but they had the creative consulting and clout provided to them by Eddie EganSonny Grosso, (which allowed normal protocol for location shooting like permits and scheduling to be circumvented) and the only precaution taken was to place a "gumdrop" police siren on the car's roof and blare the horn. Other shots involved stunt drivers who were supposed to barely miss hitting the speeding car, but due to errors in timing accidental collisions occurred and were left in the final film.Holy cats! Can you imagine how much trouble a film crew would get in if they just ran crazy through traffic today? (Insert Lindsay Lohan joke here.)
This movie really put Gene Hackman on the map. (Roy Scheider, too, but he hasn't quite enjoyed the career trajectory that Hackman has.) It's hard (for me at least) to think of Hackman as a hard drinking, womanizing, tough guy cop.
A good movie for it's type but not a great one.
This is the check up with all the needles. Otherwise known as 'the Parent Killer'. They started off with some kind of medicine that was sweet tasting. Just kept squirting it in until it was all swallowed. Then came shot one. Insert, pause, scream, stop (with indignant look). Shot two, insert, scream and then crying. Shots three and four just kept the crying going. But then came the pacifier and everything was just fine. The FP Gal made it without much problem. She's a trooper. (Me? I was stoic and calm. That's what I bring to this whole thing, right?)
Next appointment isn't for a few months. Updates as needed.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
So I'm off to a land where normal adult people blame me for the whims of airlines. And people with strange names think it's unreasonable that they would have to spell them out to have them entered correctly. With any luck I'll also get some people complaining about the terms of service that their company negotiated with ours. Those are always a blast!
Monday, October 15, 2007
- Cold and rainy again today. It seems like we've had this exact same day for about a month now. People at work are getting cranky about it. Me? Still loving it. I must have been a duck in a former life. Or a clump of moss.
- Speaking of work, not sure if you saw this story about a woman who was denied boarding a plane in Phoenix and accidentally killed herself while in police custody. There was a somewhat overwrought opinion piece here (via Instapundit). What happened was a tragedy but in no way is the airline responsible for her death. I don't like the industry wide policy of overbooking at all but it happens and the way to deal with it (as with most things) is with patience. This poor ladies problems were profound and I'm sorry for her but trying to inflate her personal tragedy with things like seating policies is just wrong.
- Speaking of Instapundit, he's found a way of dealing with speeders that I bet even Hans would appreciate. This approach would only work for about seven months here in Minnesota and would cause blindness in Wisconsin.
- Did I mention airline policies? The first call I got today was about a traveler who got confused by an email and decided to skip a segment of his travel, going by car instead of flying. If he'd just gone to the airport he would have found his entire ticket cancelled and possibly forfeit. If I could send one message to the world, it would be this: airline regulations are incredibly complicated and it's easy to get screwed. If you're planning on making any changes whatsoever to your ticketed travel, it will be expensive and may involve other inconveniences like awful flight times. Call the airline or your travel agent. Trust me on this.
- Aurelia is becoming more and more like a real person every day. I know I should have expected this but...somehow I didn't. I'll blame it on raising kittens. Their personality plateau happens early. Relia will just keep...growing up. (Filed under: Things They Don't Tell You Beforehand.)
- Did you know that today was 'White Cane Safety Day'? Remember, they're only worth half points if they're in the crosswalk.
- That's it!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
- What Rosebud was.
- Who Vadar's son was. (And daughter. And repair droid. And erector project.)
- That Rhett didn't give a damn.
- The story behind Norman Bates mother.
- Bruce Willis's problem in 'The Sixth Sense'.
- Why the 'Crying Game' made some people cry.
- The fate of Bambi's mother.
- Old Yeller and hydrophobia.
- The fate of Gandalf and the Balrog.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Three brothers meet on a train in India. They haven't talked in over a year, not since the funeral. All three are messed up in some way, the oldest most visibly since he crashed his motorcycle and planted his face into a hillside. They meet and begin to trade pharmaceuticals. They also trade agreements. This is to be a spiritual journey and they want to get it right. The only problem is that they have no idea how to do so.
Each of them is broken in some way and this movie is about them trying to get the pieces to fit. There are laughs and surprises and some tragedy along the way. The movie also shows the exotic side of India.
It's a Wes Anderson film and that means that it's humorous for the overall absurd situation rather than the punchlines. Like 'The Royal Tennenbaums' it focuses on an family and the strange rules that they live by. If you've enjoyed his others, you'll like this one too. Not a great movie, but enjoyable and well worth watching.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I have a favorite restaurant. It involves billions of burgers and a pair of arches. I also have a second favorite restaurant, Panera. They make yummy soup and sandwiches and (even better) sell them together in a simple combo. I enjoy going there, especially with my lovely wife but we have a problem. She always seems to go there with other people. Today I took the reins in my own hands and convinced her that we should go there together. We met with her Mom (who I'm talking into doing NaNoWriMo). All very nice.
Since we were in the area we also got our licenses renewed. I've been kind of looking forward to this because I'd like a new picture. The most recent one was taken the day before surgery to fix my nose. Now that I look a little less like a prizefighter, I was ready for a new shot. The FP Gal and I compared pictures. She looks like she's staring past the camera and is just shy of achieving nirvana.
The lady at the desk was very nice (I know, she was probably new and the DMV will correct that as soon as they can). She took our pictures and was very concerned about glare and whatnot. I do wish that they'd coach people to smile though. The FP Gal did her best to keep from laughing, despite my efforts. Oh well, guess I'll try again in a few years.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Having said that, it didn't hurt my feelings (or sense of objectivity) to hear that a judge in Britain has ruled that the movie can only be shown with a warning label. He's identified nine errors in the film (list here). There is a very real and honest debate to be had about warming but it's not one that Gore's interested in. That's a shame.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Elizabeth: The Golden Age - I've wanted a movie that deals with the Attack of the Spanish Armada for some time now and this one is it. The downside? It's directed by the same guy who did 'Elizabeth' (reviewed here). What did I say then?
This movie is gratuitously violent. Almost in a Bruckheimer sense. It also suffers a serious pacing issue. The movie sets the stage of conflicting intrests, French/Spanish, Catholic/Protestant and even Love/Politics. At each end we wonder what the resolution will be and how it'll turn out. And then Elizabeth tells her advisor to do what he must. What follows is Geoffery Rush killing everybody. This is the movie equivalent of Staples Easy Button. And it feels like a cheat.Well, let's hope they get this one right.
Across the Universe - This looks like a love story that follows the same musical technique as 'Moulin Rouge' but with all Beatles music. (Althouse reviews it here. Kind of.) I love the idea of this. Hope the follow through is good.
The Darjeeling Limited - A Wes Anderson film, and that's enough to make me want to see it right there. Trailer here. It's about three warring brothers who make a go at reconciliation during a train ride in India.
The Seeker - Boy, do I have low expectations for this movie. It's based on a very good book though, The Dark is Rising. It's about a 14 year old boy who receives a gift and discovers that he is in the middle of an eternal struggle between Light and Dark. The book had a certain Old World charm to it. The movie looks like it's been
Monday, October 08, 2007
- Happy Columbus Day (observed). Point of etiquette question; do we wait until the 12th to argue over how to remember Columbus or do we do that on whatever day the Post Office takes off? Not sure on that.
- Speaking of Columbus, by any modern measure he was not a good man. He enslaved people and in his stint as Governor, had people's hands cut off if they didn't bring regular amounts of gold. (The other side of the argument is that he was a man of his times and that's true too but beside the point I want to make here.) The main cause of death for Native Americans was disease. It makes no sense to hold Europeans responsible for this. They had nothing in their history to tell them that meeting a totally separate civilization would cause epidemics.
- The Yankees lose! The Yankeeeees lose! Actually, I'm very happy with how the playoffs have gone. I'll be fine with any of these four teams winning it.
- The bread that the FP Gal mentioned? It now occupies a full third of the refrigerator. We're going to try and wrestle it out to the garbage can tonight. Pray for the garbageman.
- That's it!