Saturday, March 31, 2007

What's your permanent age?

(Via Instapundit) Great question from Scott Adams. He believes that everyone has a permanent age that's set at birth. His is 42.

When I ask people about their permanent age, they usually beg it off by saying they don’t have one. But if you press, you always get an answer. And the age they pick won’t surprise you. Some people are kids all their lives. They will admit they are 12-years old. Other people have always had senior citizen interests and perspectives. If you’re 30-years old in nominal terms, but you love bingo and you think kids should stop wearing those big baggy pants and listening to hip-hop music, your permanent age might be 60.
The FP Gal puts her age at around 28. I'd put mine around 22. (That makes sense as she's the the more adult one.) I'm the one that's perpetually ready to join the adult world but always has one more course to take before graduating.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Baby names

So the FP Gal posted today about her thoughts on baby names. She's not ready to share our choice yet. The hitch is that I'm ready. We picked a couple of names pretty early into the pregnancy and they're pretty good. Good enough that I'm confident that we'll stick with them.
But I'm sympathetic to her wishes, too. We'll wait until she's comfortable before doing anything. Her part of this is somewhat more difficult than mine so I want to accomadate her whenever possible. And this really is a pretty small burden to bear. (It also occurs to me that if we don't share them ahead of time, then whoever can get to the birth certificate first has a lot of power. Hmmmm. Maybe Beowulf isn't out yet.)
We've also talked some about the last name. The FP Gal kept hers so we have some options to play with. (There's a good story there. I'll save it for some other time.) In the early days of the pregnancy I hit upon a wonderful idea to settle which name we'd choose. We'd challenge each of our families to raise money for the baby and whichever one raised the most would get the last name. The FP Gal shot it down. Something to do with good taste or something like that. Spoilsport.
Here are some of the names we've rejected:
  • Pagoda
  • Margarita
  • Agamemnon (way too special)
  • Robert Bruce
  • Gilda (just discarded tonight)
  • Paris
  • Adolph
  • George Bush
  • Bambi
  • Suri Cruise
We tried asking the baby and we got an answer of 'Rrrrgghhup'. (I'm guessing at the spelling.) The quest continues...

Baby gifts

Found a package on our porch yesterday morning as I was leaving for work. Apparently I walked past it Tuesday night coming home. Quickly called to the FP Gal and we opened up to find that my dear sister had sent us some gifts! She gave us:
  • White Sox baby clothes
  • Some toy blocks with a White Sox theme
  • A gift certificate for a spa
  • The Davinci Code
  • A sock monkey counting book
  • A White Sox Legacy brick
It's all very wonderful!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Random stuff

From my cousin Ricky.

A random kitten generator. The FP Gal can use this when she needs a nap and our resident kitten isn't cooperating.
Creative test answers from students. I once made a similar answer to a music theory question in choir. I defined 'tenuto' as a musical group from Puerto Rico. I hope Mr J got a kick out of it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Random Monday night thought

  • News from last week that one of the books on the Great American Novel list is being challenged at a metro school. Huck Finn, of course, for racial language. The proper course is to keep teaching it but address the issue head on. People were really treated like property in this country, even after the civil war. Pretending it didn't happen is ridiculous. I'll put this next on the list to read.
  • Horrible, just horrible.
  • The FP Gal and I drove past the 494-35W interchange this weekend. Both of us hate it because you don't really have room/time to merge easily. There are some bad traffic locations in the Twin Cities but nothing like these. I particularly like the left turn in Moscow. Whee!
  • The FP Gal has officialy shot down 'Beowulf' as a boy's name. It's sad, I know, but we have to take this in stride. Stiff upper lip, people.
  • Wonder if I should alert these guys. They might want a tour of the blog... Seriously, good for them. Sounds fun.
  • I could look for a job with these guys. Their route map is here. Note to geography buffs, Singapore doesn't really look like that from space.
  • Not really related, but this picture is too cute not to share.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


In my defense, I'd wait until at least four until teaching chess. I'm thinking 'Diplomacy' at nine. Or maybe 'Pit'.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I was going to get another tatoo, I'd think about this one.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Brokeback Mountain - 2006

So last weekend was my bachelor weekend and my Netflix movie was 'Brokeback Mountain'. Between that and '300' I kind of got different ends of the spectrum (and it's a toss-up of which one was referred to in more reviews as 'homoerotic'). So what did I think?
The movie is about two young men in Wyoming who get a summer job tending sheep up in the mountains. While up in the mountains they fall for each other, but it's understood that's a one time thing. Afterwards they go their seperate ways and each marries.
A few years later they get back in touch for a 'fishing trip'. Each one has realized that the other is the one who makes them most happy. One marriage crumbles and the other one is mostly a sham. The fishing trips continue. They talk of getting a place together but it's unthinkable. One tells of when he was younger and a man suspected of being gay was lynched in his town.
The movie tells the story of a couple in love in a place where they aren't allowed to be. The story is quite touching. Heath Ledger is very good as high school dropout from the back country. The cinematography and music is also top notch. I was afraid that this movie's rep was over-inflated by it's subject matter (like The Crying Game) but it was actually very good and certainly Best Picture level quality.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Random YouTube Stuff

Bollywood Beatles
Why seal costumes and polar bears don't mix.
The oboe may be barely breathing?
Brings back memories. "Don't touch it! It's evil!"

Strange dreams

In my early morning dozing I somehow became convinced that the bed had piles and piles of dirty dishes on it. I had to move very slowly as I rolled over otherwise I'd knock one of them over. I remember the fear of hearing all those plates and cups smashing. The FP Gal got up at some point (5am?) and did something that convinced me that the bed was clear and I could stop worrying.
While telling her about this (at a reasonable hour) she told me that she dreamt she'd been working my job. Apparently someone had had their luggage shipped to them and needed to cancel the shipment. She'd never heard of someone doing this and didn't know what to do. No one was sitting close enough to her to help out (and she didn't think to call the support desk).
Work dreams are frustrating, and can be exhausting, but it's rare to dream you're doing your spouse's job. I've never had a hint of a dream of filming weddings, for instance. She did just start in an office where she takes calls and wears a headset so it's not hard to find the link there. But dishes? I know that they hold a somewhat mystical place in some branches of my family but I've always thought myself immune.
More details as they follow.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

How clever can a book be? What's the maximum cleverness possible? 'Catch 22' looks to push that envelope. It's clever at every chapter. Every page. Every paragraph. And frankly it becomes tiring. It's like reading 500 pages of MASH scripts.
The central character is a man named Yossarian. He's a bombadier in the US Air Force as the Allies campaign in Italy during WWII. He's convinced that someone is out to kill him. When his comrades to assure him that he's wrong, he points out that someone shoots at him everytime he flies. He tries to stop flying missions on account of craziness, but is refused because anyone who wants to stop flying into combat must be sane. Only someone who wants to keep flying could be crazy. That's the classic Catch 22.
This was my fourth or fifth attempt to read this book. Each time I'd stopped after a hundred pages or so but this time I pushed through and found it quite rewarding. After some time you can put aside the cleverness and appreciate the characters. The end becomes very dark and that adds to the overall quality of the book. Very good.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Another one...

for the Do-Not-Fly list. Also, this sums up the experience of so many people I talked to on Friday. There was a trio of business travelers in San Juan who were scheduled to fly to Newark on Friday. When their flight was canceled, the next one the airline would book them on was for Tuesday. (I would have just spent three more days on the beach but they wanted to get home.) Seriously not a fun day.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Found on the Web

  • A fine polemic about the Mac vs PC commercials. Don't really have a dog in this fight. Just enjoyed the art of the writing here. (I know that Macs are better for hardcore artistic things, just wish they could drop the pretension level a wee bit.) Via Jane Galt.
  • Neal Stephenson on '300' (registration required). The insight about the gamers knowledge of history and military tactics is right on. Also credit the History channel (amongst others) and it's easier than ever for a civilian to understand warfare. Via Instapundit.
  • Very interesting speech from Crichton on the limits of managing complex systems. In part, it's about global warming but the overall message has to do with the limits of human ability.
  • Ozzie, the next generation. Maybe someday I'll become a cat breeder...
  • And since I'm at YouTube, does the Union of the Snake have good dental coverage? (Seriously, what is that song about?)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

300 - 2007

It's hard to review this without dipping liberally into the bag of superlatives. This is not a tame movie. Quite possibly the bloodiest movie I've ever seen. Incredibly violent and you have to know that going in. Also, this movie fails to make even the slightest nod to the (modern) idea that war is the worst thing in the world. Kind of a shock, I don't remember the most recent war movie that didn't have an aside about the pointlessness of violence or somesuch. That it's based on history makes it that much more shocking.
It opens with a look at the city-state of Sparta. It's a violent place where boys are cruelly shaped into warriors. Personal indepence is high with the Greek importance on the individual. A messenger from Persia (modern day Turkey) is requesting that the city-states of Greece join their empire or be brought in under force. King Leonidas of Sparta can't submit and the war is on. He takes a force of 300 warriors north to narrow valley they call Thermopylae ('the hot gates'). If he can force the Persians to attack where they can't surround them, they can delay them so the rest of Greece can counter them.
Lots of fighting ensues. The fighting isn't really gruesome because it's not all that believable. It's more like a video game. I'd be shocked if this movie didn't become a huge favorite amongst the military, especially the Marines. In a related note, there is an enormous amount of eye candy for the ladies (or non-traditional men) in this film.
It's hard to admire Sparta and their lifestyle but at a critical point in history they really did an enormous service to what has become Western Civilization. The Persians would have snuffed out democracy and the idea of individual rights. Everything that we hold dear in our liberal democracies came from that root. Maybe it would have popped up elsewhere without the Greeks but it's impossible to know. It would be wrong for us to dismiss the warrior ethic. This movie acknowledges that.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bachelor Weekend

The FP Gal took off for the weekend so it's time to party! The cats and I are going to sleep, eat badly and watch lots of basketball. (Actually, their eating and sleep habits won't change at all and they don't care about the flickering light on the Great Box. Unless it's the DVD logo bouncing around.) Whoo-hoo!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More Beautiful

More here.


Basketball Tourney

I thought about putting together tips on how to pick the tournament this year. Something titled 'How to finish solidly middle of the pack', but I couldn't find time for it. So you'll have to randomly guess without my help this year. Only tip from my own brackets: pick full state names apparently. I've only got one non 'state' school in my final four (Georgetown). My championship game has Ohio St beating Kansas. Do with that what you will.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Seven Wonders

So I just ran across this article on a campaign to name a new Seven Wonders of the World. You can cast one free vote at their website, so go ahead. I'll put my list up, please leave yours in the comments.

Great Wall
Taj Mahal
Hagia Sophia
Machu Picchu
Easter Island
Neuschwanstein Castle

I'd probably add the Louvre and the Forbidden City if I could.


This is for you, Mom.

May '95 - Moved up to Minneapolis to live with Hans.
July '95 - Got Roxane.
June '96 - Got Calypso.
January '97 - Moved back to Austin to bartend.
August '97 - Moved to Colorado Springs to enjoy limited employment.
January '98 - First shaved head.
February '98 - Moved back to Minnesota (Little Canada) and moved in with Jodi.
July '98 - Jodi and I moved to NE Minneapolis into cool apartment.
April '00 - Started at CWT, started regrowing hair.
July '00 - Jodi and I moved into her house in St Paul.
February '02 - Shaved head again.
July '02 - Moved into apartment in Brooklyn Park.
November '02 - Hans and Rachel got married.
January '03 - Nearly voided Rachel's warranty in car crash.
July '03 - Moved to Burnsville.
February '04 - Had first date with FP Gal.
November '04 - Moved in with FP Gal in Minneapolis.
Full timeline for '05 is here.
April '06 - Roxane died.
May '06 - Got Ozzie.
September '06 - Calypso died.
Novemeber '06 - Knocked up the FP Gal.

Got it?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Random Monday night thoughts

  • Remember all that snow? It's almost all gone. We're just about back to where we were before the two big storms. Today felt nearly tropical. Was able to skip the coat and just wear a flannel to work.
  • Daylight savings time? Not a big fan. At least not for this turn of the screw. It's much better in the fall. One way to make it better? Let's move the change to Friday night/Saturday morning. That will give weekday working folks another day to get used to the change.
  • Just finished a book called 'Beyond the Deep'. It's about the search for the deepest cave in the world, in this case looking for the deepest part of a Mexican cave system in Huautla. The cave system is longer than 35 miles and the authors had to do quite a bit of cave diving. Not really that great a book. Kind of poorly written. The gold standard in adventure writing is still 'Into Thin Air'.
  • So why did I read it? If the FP Gal and I ever hit the Powerball, I've already picked out my eccentricity. Spelunking. I find caves fascinating. The idea of finding some unknown chamber deep beneath the ground is a little bit thrilling. Just standing there in complete and utter darkness. That calm and cool air just settling over everything. Calms me just to think about it.
  • I think about caves most years about this time. My dream March trip? Down to Tucson to see some spring training. Over to Kitt's Peak for a star-party. And then drive over to Carlsbad and spend a few days touring the place. And that glorious desert warmth.
  • That's it!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Birthday Party

So last night the FP Gal and I trundled up to the White Bear Lake Area for a birthday party for my dear Aunt Janet. The party was held at my Great Aunt Liz's place. Hadn't been there for a long time (a vague memory of Hans and I going sometime in '96 or so?). Anyway, we got to see some of the extended family on my Mom's side, some of whom we met for the first time. Well, more of them were first time for the FP Gal but some were new to me.
We had a great time. Got some good spaghetti and got to talk about the FP Gal's lack of morning sickness. The highlight of the evening was setting up a blog for Aunt Liz. Also got to talk with her about her (aborted) cruise through the Panama canal.
It was lots of fun.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tuesday Random Thoughts

  • We've got warm weather on the way. There's talk of temps in the 50's by the weekend. A few weeks ago we couldn't get above 0. Then we had two feet of snow. Now spring is on the way. Crazy weather we've got.
  • The past few days have been wonderful for icicles. All that thick snow on the roofs is melting. We've got a good set right outside the bedroom window. Our cross the street neighbor has a ten footer going right now. Seriously, the thing could be a man-killer. I keep thinking of Ralphie from the Christmas story.
  • This guy should go on the 'no-fly' list.
  • Story from work? Our customers can send us requests electronically. These have to do with modifying car rentals or hotel stays or things like that. Today I got one requesting a hotel reservation in Louisville with a group rate for 'Lubrication Excellence'. I then had to call the place and ask for the 'Lubrication Excellence' rate. I don't know who was more embarassed, me or the reservation guy. Good times.
  • Quote from the FP Gal during Sunday's baseball game, "You know, I kind of missed this". There's hope.
  • Speaking of the FP Gal, she's starting to show!

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Departed - 2006

So what happens when you take a movie about the Boston mob, spice it up with a rat in both the polcie department and the mob, mix in a star-studded cast and have the entire thing directed by one of the greatest living directors? Well, you get a Best Picture winner. And, man, I wished I'd have liked it better.
The story is simple but involved. The Boston police have got an undercover informant in the mob. At the same time, the mob has someone inside the police force. If either of them are discovered it'll probably mean death or prison. They play a game of cat and mouse (or mouse and mouse) and you never know what will happen next. A clever plot.
So why didn't I like it? It was so over the top profane and violent that none of the characters felt real. It was like two and a half hours of watching cartoons shoot each other. Foul mouthed cartoons. (And without the wit of South Park.) The story really wasn't that good either. The plot wandered all over the place. There was an unbelivable love triangle. And (huge pet peeve of mine) the climax is far distant from the credits.
Maybe I just wasn't in the right place to enjoy this. Or maybe it was much better on the big screen. But this was a good movie at best. When the all time best Scorsese movies list is created, this one won't be near the top.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Zodiac - 2007

In the late '60's there was a string of murders in northern California. The methods were different and they happened in different districts. There was no connection between the victims. In fact, nothing connected the murders at all until a series of letters were sent to various bay area newspapers taking credit for them. The first set contained a code and threatened a killing spree unless they were published. The killer called himself 'Zodiac'.
This movie is the story of the newspaper people and the policeman who were assigned to the case. It follows them as they chase down the maddeningly few details and the enormous number of suspects. One by one, people leave the case until the only one left is a newspaper cartoonist who loves puzzles.
The directing is flawless and the writing is very interesting. The acting is very good, especially Robert Downey Jr, who plays a reporter/alchoholic. Mark Ruffalo is also very good as the lead detective. Frankly the whole cast is good.
The movie is odd in that it doesn't fit the classic police movie plotline. There are no car chases or gunfights. The burden of proof is much harder to reach than in a 'Law & Order' episode. The results are less...satisfying than in a more conventional movie. But it's well worth watching. Not a great movie but very good.

Home of the Fire Pig

Where all of the baby stuff is going, found here.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Midnight Oil

Ok Hans, here's a sampling of Midnight Oil's good stuff. Better than 'Beds are Burning'. There message is sometimes too blantantly socialist for my taste, but as you said, sometimes you have to look past that. They've got a good beat and a somewhat exotic sound and I like that. (Links only, the embedded stuff slows the whole site down if you go overboard.)
Blue Sky Mine
Forgotten Years
King of the Mountain (couldn't find the actual video, but this is the song)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Gorgeous Video

Friday Random Thoughts

  • Lots of snow. We shoveled three times yesterday and once again this morning to dig my car out. Still more snow this afternoon. Guess we're catching up on missed snow from earlier in the year.
  • Kind of a ghost-town at work today. Very busy as we hardy few had to pick up the slack. Found out that they sent everyone home early yesterday. It's been a rough winter for staffing.
  • That book list from yesterday? I did some googling and I think that it originated as the top selling list from some bookstore (not sure which one). I thought it would be fun to update the list with something more current. Didn't find a good one though. Here's a list from Powell's (best bookstore ever, in Portland). It doesn't really fit the other list though as it's a mix of fiction/nonfiction/everything else. I'll keep looking.
  • Another booklist? I could happily work my way through this list, the winners and shortlisted Booker Prize novels. I've read five of these and enjoyed all of them greatly. I'd recommend the 2002 winner to everyone.
  • My baseball fix is about to get another hit. They're broadcasting a White Sox/Cubs game on Sunday afternoon on WGN. Man I wish we could head to Arizona.
  • That's all!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Very cool blog

called 'Strange Maps'. The author finds unusual maps and describes them. Included is a last possible bit of East Germany.
Frankly I wish I'd have thought of this idea first...

Update: Should have noted that I found this blog through Ken Jennings.


In response to Carrie...
In the list of books below, bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of. In the comments, let me know if you're up for it; I'd love to see if y'all have been puttin your book-learnin' to good use.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. +Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. +To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. +Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. +The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. +The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. +The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. *A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. +Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. +Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. +A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. +Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. +Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. *Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. +The Stand (Stephen King)
19. +Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. +Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. +The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. *The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. +The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. +Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. +The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. +Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. +Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. +1984 (Orwell)
35. *The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. *The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. *I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. *The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. +The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. *The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. +A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. +Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. +The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. +Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. +The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. +Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. +The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand
63. +War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. +Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. +Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) (part way done)
69. +Les Miserables (Hugo) (one of my all time favorites, too)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. +The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. +The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On the Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. +Emma (Jane Austen)
86. +Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. *Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. +Lord of the Flies (Golding) (overrated)
93. *The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. +The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)
97. *White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. *A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)