Friday, August 31, 2007


Now that we're less than a week away from the opening of the football season, go ahead and sign up for the football pool. It's free. No money involved, only pride. And not a lot of that!
Go to this link. Once there click on the 'Create or Join Group' button. Then 'Join an Existing Group'. Next 'Join a Private Group'. The Group ID # is '14052' and the password is 'Poltergeist'. You will need a Yahoo account to sign up but they're free and easy to create.
Go ahead and do it. You'll enjoy it.
There is another pool too. The second one is a little more in depth. Instead of picking the winner of each game, you'll be trying to correctly pick the winner taking the betting line into account. If a team is favored by 3 points, they will have to win by at least 4 to get credit for the win. The sign up is very similar, the Group ID # is 14054 and the password is 'Ghost'.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

What did we do today?

today. We got all of our stuff together (which only took about 45 min; we're improving!). We put the stroller in the trunk. The We were going to take our first trip to the MOAFP Gal tried out the front seat and committed to staying there for the whole trip.
Got around the block and both of us thought the car felt different. Drifted over to the curb to take a look. Yep, the front driver side tire was flat. Not pancake but soggy. Oh well, at least we were close to home.
Drove back to our seldom used driveway so I could change the tire. Never have done that with this car so there was lots of looking around for the jack and figuring our exactly what type of tire fitting I had. The manual was a big help. So was Relia.
Anyway, got it all replaced with the spare. Couldn't figure out quite how the jack had been assembled so just put the pieces next to each other in the trunk. Interestingly, the battery is back there too. Didn't know that!
While I was working with the jack, the FP Gal mowed about two stripes of lawn. Afterwards we both decided we were too tired to actually go out and walk somewhere. Relia didn't care much. She just wanted to be inside away from bugs and the evil moths. The FP Gal's fears over West Nile might have worried her too. So a vote was taken and I went and got drive thru for lunch. That was our outing today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Greek fires from outer space

More baby posts?

Be sure to check out the FP Gal's blog where she's updated her experiences. Also check out my father-in-law's blog where he put up some pictures, including one of Aurelia and myself and the two proud grandpas.

Adventures in parenting

  • Last night we got a good four hour stretch of sleep from 2a until 6a. It was very nice. Much better than the previous night where there was unhappiness from 5a to 7a. Still working the kinks out of this sleep thing.
  • The FP Gal has created a set-up in the nursery that works pretty well. We have a sleep clock with built in nature sounds. She sets that to 'Ocean' so that 'Relia can hear the surf. She's also put red lights in the lamp to make it dark yet allow us to see. Combine those with rocking in the glider and works pretty well. It's as close as we can come to simulating the womb.
  • Daddy's new best trick? The ultimate in high tech: walking. Laps around the living room and kitchen. This has the added advantage of being easy to do while groggy.
  • The other day we learned not to change the diaper right after she poops. Instead we'll give it a few minutes. Also we now also keep a diaper in the firing line and change from used to new very quickly.
  • Related note: 'Relia can fountain poop to a range of about seven inches.
  • Also related: Babies cause lots of laundry washing.
  • Another part of the routine is that Mommy gets a nap in the afternoon while Daddy watches her. This has mostly involved her sleeping on my chest while I have a movie on. It's very sweet.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

1000th post

This is the 1000th post on this here blog. I started this blog at the very end of 2004 so that I could review Best Picture nominees and compare them. I thought I might throw in some sports commentary and maybe a taste of my life here and there. Well, the movie reviews continue. The sports commentary has been less than expected. The slice of life stuff has come to dominate.
When I started out, I had just moved in with the FP Gal. A few things have happened since then...
I wonder what the next 1000 posts will bring...

Take your Daughter to work day

So guess where we went today? I had some paperwork to do so I went in. Mother and daughter were up to the visit so off we went. There were approximately 150 people that were very anxious to see her. They ooohed and ahhhed over her. They told us she looks just perfect (she does) and asked if she was a good baby (she is).
They were also amazed at how well the FP Gal looks. It's hard to believe that she just gave birth less than a week ago. She is up and getting around just fine. Stitches aren't giving her very much trouble anymore.
It's been a good day even though everyone is now tired. These pictures are of 'Relia napping in the family crib. She's the 47th child to sleep in it (number may not be accurate). I think the tradition goes back about 40 years and we're glad to add to it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

1970 in review

Five Easy Pieces
Love Story
The biggest thing that comes out of this set of movies is a bit of culture shock. The world was different 37 years ago and these movies really reflect that. 'Airport' launched a new genre but has been overtaken by spoof. 'Pieces' and 'MASH' are firmly set in their time period, none of them have aged particularly well. 'Love Story' won for best music and I'd say it had the best score of these five. 'Patton' is an all time great war movie and deservingly won the Best Picture. I probably would have swapped out any of the other four for 'Tora, Tora, Tora' which was released that year.

Day Five

And everyone is still alive. More than that, we're doing well. Feeding continues without big problems. We're figuring out a nighttime routine. Still short on sleep but figuring it out.
This morning we had a visit from the at-home nurse. This is a bonus we get for checking out of the hospital early. She came right to our house and checked everyone out. Well, not me. Or the cats. But Mama and baby. Everything is good. Aury's weight is good. So is her color. They didn't measure for length so I don't know if that's changed. The FP Gal checked out too.
This afternoon we took a spin out to Target (her first trip). We got some more blankets and changing pads. Time for laundry!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Not how ours went

Aurelia and the cats

How are the cats dealing with the changes at home? When we first brought her home, the cats took one look at her and took off. Ozzie came back first. He kept a wary distance. During our first meal we parked Aurelia in her car seat and just placed it on the floor where we could keep an eye on her. Ozzie circled her, about three feet away, at full alert. Every little sound she made and he would bristle. He spent the rest of the night keeping her in sight and trying to figure out what was going on.
Saturday morning found him nearly falling asleep on a chair watching us. I was holding Aury so I decided to force a meeting. He sniffed her head and I explained that she was ahead of him on the pecking order. He nodded in agreement so that she take care of everything.
Later on we were upstairs, and Aury had the hiccups. Sana was lounging on the changing pad. Another meeting though Sana is much more tentative. The baby got the pad and cat got the floor. We're hoping that will establish some territorial rights.
One more cat story, though this has to do with my adorable nephew and niece who visited yesterday. Josiah burst into the door and screamed, "Where are the cats!?!". He spotted Ozzie and the chase was on. Ozzie has the speed advantage and new the route. I picked him up so Josiah could pet him for a minute. Very cute. The cats then hid upstairs.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Football predictions

Using Star Wars characters. The Vikes don't do well but it could be worse. They could be Miami.

Thoughts on our first night alone

  • We're past the first big hurdle and made it through the first night. That's a big deal and it was the first thing that said we could really do this on our own.
  • I think we were both terrified that she wouldn't make it through the night. Is that common? I bet it is.
  • There was a long period of wakefullness from about 3a to 5a. Around 6a, the FP Gal called her folks over to help us out. Having grandparents nearby is incredibly helpful.
  • Why was she awake? Don't know. She was fed enough. We changed her. We walked with her and sang to her and nothing worked. She'd settle down for a few minutes. Then we'd hear some cooing. Then the crying. Tonight we'll try a half dozen other things until we find something that works.
  • From what I understand what I just described is completely normal.
  • So far we've been able to find a good balance between whose turn it is. Both of us can sleep through the crying if it's not our turn. We're a team and that's what it takes. (I think. This is all new territory to us.)
  • We kept the cats out of the bedroom and that will be the way it goes for awhile. They're still getting used to having her around. Ozzie is a little more brave but he's not sure what to do with her. Sana still wants life to go back to the way it was.
  • Here's hoping that night number two goes a little smoother.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Note to new commenters

Thanks to everyone who wished us well and followed along on the Eternal Wednesday. I was hoping to update from the hospital but their wifi was blocking anything having to do with Blogger. Anyway, I'll keep writing about Aurelia and other family stuff. (She needs a blog name. FP Baby?) I'll also keep up with the movie and book reviews. Some travel stuff and news that I find interesting. Stick around and keep reading. You just might like it.

More pics

Skin to skin

The Ballroom

Ready for the ride home

The Story

(This is my version. Other people may differ.)
Ok, so you saw the post a few days ago where they said we could come in at 7p and they'd induce? Right after they told me that I called the FP Gal and let her know we were on the clock. This was roughly 545p. I then started to make some Mac & Cheese (alfredo style) and waited for her to get home. When she arrived I was eating. She said something about us being late and I told her not to worry. She was worried that if we got there at 702p, they would send us back home. The word 'divorce' was bandied about but I didn't take it seriously.
We arrived at 658p (and will stay married). We went in the hospital with our bags (sadly, the pack mule stayed home). After some wandering and asking of questions we got to the baby ward. Some nurses took pity on us. One said, "I think we'll put them in 40". Room 340 that is. The one they call 'The Ballroom'. Let me tell you, it was an unbelievably big room. Dimensions don't mean anything to me so I'll just tell you that we could have fit 40 or 50 people in there if we had to. Or possibly played racquetball. Or even thrown a formal dance.
Once we picked our jaws up after looking at our room, we called our 'support staff', the FP Gal's mom and my friend Jodi who would be in charge of pictures and general common sense. Jodi lives nearby so she'd be there pretty quickly. Mom was further away. Our first conversation with the nurse involved talk of a cream that softens the cervix. After 12 hours they move on to something else. We quickly regretted calling in the cavalry.
The next nurse told us something a little different though. A quick exam showed that she was between 2 and 3 cm. She said that we were probably far enough along that we'd go straight to the stronger stuff. An IV drip was put in place around 8p. She also had monitors put on her belly, one to show the babies heartbeat and one to gauge her bellies muscles. Our 'support staff' showed up and we started getting our stuff sorted out. We found out that she was already having contractions, just not dramatic enough that she could tell what was going on.
Around midnight I broke up our card game so that I could get some sleep and be rested for later. For me that meant 2a or so. By this time the contractions were obvious and each one was an event. The FP Gal had already gone for a walk around the unit and had been using the yoga ball. Next up was some time in the tub and some nice hot water. In she went and you could tell that the pain had increased. Contractions were closer and closer together with less time in between. I wanted to time them but the situation was a little crazy and I couldn't really glance at my watch each time. My sense was that they were about two minutes apart.
The pain was very bad and the nurse started mentioning epidural more and more.
The FP Gal finally said 'yes' but I made them wait. No request is valid in the middle of a contraction. A few minutes later she asked for one between contractions so we went ahead. The specialist was called for and we went ahead with it. We had to tinker with position to get the effect on both sides but once it hit you could tell a huge difference. Contractions were still there but not overpowering. (Our nurse seemed to think that she should be numb from the waist down which is not how epidurals had ever been described to us before.)
I asked the FP Gal if she'd had an urge to push in the tub and she said she had. I asked them to examine her and they found that she was at 8cm. This baby was on the way! We started noticing more and more people. Other equipment was brought in. Contractions continued (and were much easier to bear).
Soon after they told us it was time to start pushing. They gave us a plan as to what each of us were to do. Pushing started at 520a and moved on very quickly. The doctors were amazed at how fast it all went. Did I watch? Nope. Well, one quick peek very early in the game when she was crowning but not after that. It was probably amazing but I'm just too squeamish.
At 545a (roughly twelve hours after they told us to come in to the hospital) the baby arrived. They brought her out and the doctor said she was a Mister. Another quick glance showed that she was actually a Miss. They put her on mommy's chest and I said, "Here's Aurelia!".
She was a good shade of purple. A natural Viking fan I guess. They weighed her and laid her out. She didn't look like a newborn. Very big and smooth all over. I'm not an expert but having seen plenty of birth videos and seeing some recent babies I was very surprised.
She looked beautiful.

We're home

And everyone is fine. We've ordered some pizza (everyone's very hungry with the possible exception of Aurelia). I'll post a more full report later and some more pictures!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Welcome, Aurelia

I'd like to introduce you all to Aurelia Ryan DeFor. She arrived this morning at 545a. She looks beautiful! And mature. You'd swear she's a month old already. Pictures are here. I'll post more fully when we're fully back from the hospital.
Oh! Mom and baby are doing very well. Aurelia weighed in at 8 pounds, 15 ounces. We think the length was 22 in.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Today (with updates)

Ok, so we called at 530a. They told us to call back at 930a. We both think that it's borderline cruelty, but this is how hospitals operate (no pun intended).

UPDATE: We're still not at the hospital. We've called a few times but they don't have room for us yet. Apparently some line-jumpers went into labor or something so we have to wait. Next call to the hospital is 130p.

Update, again: Not yet and it doesn't look good for today. We'll call again at 4p and see how it looks.

Another update: We're going in! The fun begins at 7p. Further updates later.

We hope!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tomorrow's the big day!

Ok, so we wake up and call at 530am tomorrow and then all the fun starts. Rumor has it that we can find some kind of internet access so I'll try and add an update or two during the day. We'll add pictures and descriptions as soon as we have them.
One request, please don't call us. We'll call you!
The mood at the house? One of us is a little anxious and doesn't know what to expect. The other one of us is the same but with bouts itchy stretch marks and a growing loss of ability to put up with any more of this foolishness (my phrasing)! I'll let you figure out which one is which.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Random Monday night thoughts

  • I have loved this rainy weather. A girl that sits near me at work was complaining today because the forecast is for more cloudy skies. We had some words in which I explained to her that after weeks of hot and sunny weather it was time for some cool wet weather.
  • The FP Gal could smell wet cedar tonight. I think it was the neighbor's wood chips. She said it was one of her favorite smells. If only we could find a forest of them to live near...
  • One other nice side effect of the cool weather is that we're using blankets regularly. That means that Ozzie is sitting/standing/sleeping on us again. Right now he's perched on the FP Gal's belly bumping noses with her. Very sweet.
  • Geek cred? I've got this series and found this article very interesting. (Dad, you'll find it interesting too.)
  • Viking game on Friday? The defense looked good and I'm willing to believe that they'll be better this year than they were last. Looks like they've traded some against the run for better pass defense. Fine with me. The offense? They should have a dominating run game. The passing game will be hampered by a young QB, poor WR's and incredibly timid play-calling. (Sidney Rice looked fine, he might be a gamer.)
  • That's it!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Life of Pi - Martel

There once was an Indian boy named Pi (short for Piscine Molitor Patel). He is the son of a zoo keeper in Pondicherry. Even though his parents are fairly secular, he is vaguely Hindu. By accident he wanders into a Christian church and after talking with a priest he becomes a Christian. A similar accident brings him in contact with a Muslim baker as he says his prayers. He's overcome with admiration and adds Islam to his life. He is a boy for whom faith and the beauty of the religious mystery is very important.
His family leaves India for a better life in Canada. Some of the animals are shipped along with them. The ship sinks and Pi ends up in a lifeboat with some of the animals. The most notable of his shipmates is an adult Bengal tiger. He is alone in the middle of the Pacific with one of the largest predators in the world.
What follows is a tale of survival. Can the boy get rid of the tiger? The tiger is a better swimmer than he is so he can't just trick him out of the boat. He doesn't really have the tools to attack him. He has limited tools for finding food for himself. Almost no tools for providing shelter for himself. Or communicate. Or navigate. How can he possibly survive?
The true crux of the story is one of faith, however. Life is filled with beautiful mysteries and the question is which of those can we believe. This book argues for the most beautiful and away from doubt. It tells a wonder filled story and will leave you asking questions of yourself. It's a wonderful book.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Still nothing. But we have been enjoying a wonderful soothing rain all day. Feels like the Pacific Northwest...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nope, still waiting

Yesterday was kind of a tough one. Neither the FP Gal or I were happy with the idea of setting a date for induction. Making an appointment to go have a baby seems so...artificial. I called her from work yesterday and got the news. By the time I got home we were both grumpy.
Going out on a date seemed to be the best strategy. I wanted something in a bacon cheeseburger type thing. She wanted pasta with crab. After driving around trying to figure out what restaurant would suit us both we compromised and went to Olive Garden. (Ok, so my burger looked more like an pizza but it worked.)
When we were seated we decided to just air it all out and have a full fledged pity party for ourselves. We quickly decided that we would go ahead and wallow for one night. And then we would wake up and just accept the situation for what it is.
We realized that in a couple of weeks we'll barely remember this disappointing time when we were ready and due and the baby just hadn't come yet. I even went so far as to google a number for the stork. The first thing that pops up is from Stork Medical and it asks for a 'Different Shipping Address'. Hmmmm...
Anyway, we're still waiting. Could even happen tonight. Let's hope so.

The Pyramids

The Pyramids are the only one of the seven ancient wonders that is still standing. It's also the oldest of them which says something about the power of Egyptian engineering. Also something about the benefit of using simple shapes during building. It was the tallest man made structure for thousands of years, until it was replaced by the Lincoln Cathedral in England.
There is widespread (though not conclusive) belief that the Pyramids were built as tombs. Alternate theories (*cough* crackpots *cough*) suggest that they were built by some unknown advanced civilization. This is probably the most mystical of the Ancient wonders or at least the most important to the New Age movement.

The best approximate equivalent? The wonder of the Pyramids is the sheer size and manpower needed to create them. The only other structure that really compares to them is the Great Wall of China (blogged about here).

Patton - 1970

Is there a more famous opening monologue in all of movie history? Just George C Scott standing in front of a giant flag giving a pep talk. The story is that they had to fool Scott into doing it by telling him that it would appear later in the movie. Otherwise he refused to do the scene. Actors, huh?
The most striking part of the movie to me was the scene where he visits Carthage. The idea of a modern general listening to echoes of his ancestors is more than strange. Apparently Patton was a strong believer in reincarnation and the movie treated that accurately.
This is probably the Grandfather of all WWII movies. Even though it was released during the Vietnam war, when doubt in the military was at it's highest, it did very well and won the Oscar for Best Picture. The story is well told and the movie is solid, but it's Scott that makes it work. He (famously) won the Best Actor award but refused it on the grounds that the glory belonged to the script.
A great movie.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another book list!

Boy, it's been awhile since I've posted one of these. This one is from Robert McCrum of the Observer (I have no idea who he is either) posting his list of the top 100 novels of all time. The top books are mostly older books which makes sense as classic novels are ones that stand the test of time. The top ten:
Don Quixote - Cervantes (lots of fun!)
Pilgrim's Progress - Bunyan
Robinson Crusoe - Defoe
Gulliver's Travels - Swift
Tom Jones - Fielding
Clarissa - Richardson (never heard of this one)
Tristam Shandy - Sterne
Dangerous Liaisons - De Laclos
Emma - Austen
Frankenstein - Shelly
Hugo doesn't make the list and that probably invalidates the entire thing. The only Rushdie on the list is 'Haroun and the Sea of Stories' which I haven't read but I'll put it on my must read list. I'd estimate about 90 of these have been made into movies. Yikes! I've only read 11 of these. Can anyone beat that?

Random Wednesday morning thoughts

  • There is nothing better in the world for a housecat than an open window. Unless it's a window with a bird perched nearby it.
  • Why is 'Wednesday's child filled with woe'? It seems a perfectly nice day of the week to be born on. I'd bet the most healthy and adjusted children of all were born on Wednesdays. What day of the week did I finally arrive on? Do you need to ask?
  • It's a slow time at work, which is nice. High vacation times are when we hit slow spots. As soon as the kids go back to school we get killed for a few months. Same thing happens between New Years and spring break.
  • My wonderful mother-in-law came over yesterday to keep the FP Gal company. While she was here she tackled the weeds that were taking over parts of our yard. With the FP Gal not able to do yard work, it's mostly fallen on me. And frankly, I'm terrible at it. The yard looks great now. Thanks!
  • I don't feel all that bad about the yard work thing. I was very up front with the FP Gal about my flaws when she met me. She knows that I'm well suited to live in a condo where I don't have to worry about the yard. Or ever painting the walls or that type of thing. I'm just not a useful person. I'm here for decorative purposes. (And back scratches.)
  • That's it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

If only there was a German version...

Or 'I don't understand the Japanese'. Link with video here.

Pale Fire - Nabakov

So a respected poet writes a poem. The following day he is killed quite suddenly. His neighbor, a fellow professor, takes it upon himself to write the commentary for the poem. This commentary is shaded with bitterness because the subject of the poem is mostly autobiographical instead of a celebration of the neighbor's homeland, Zembla. We learn through the commentary that the neighbor had a poorly hidden secret and that the poet paid the price for it.
Or do we? Is the neighbor in his right mind? Was he nearby a terrible incident and his fantasy life seized him and won't let go? Does Zembla even exist? Was the killing completely unrelated to anything having to do with the poet? Alternately, did the poet make up the neighbor and write his own commentary?
These are the questions left by 'Pale Fire', an utterly unique book. There are other possible stories behind these, all hinting at themselves but no true answers are given. Does it work?
There were things I really liked about the book. The poem is presented in full. Not much of a poetry fan but I really enjoyed this one. The second part tells of the poets only daughter and is quite touching. The commentary is interesting and sometimes humorous.
I kept wishing that I was reading this with a group of people so that we could bounce ideas off of each other. I liked it, but it is great only in the mysteries that it creates. Other books, for instance 'The Life of Pi' create similar mysteries but also give superior story along the

Big storm

We've had a series of large storms over the last few days. Last night's storm was the biggest in our exact area. From 11p to 1130p we had continuous lightning flashes. We also had something that I don't ever remember hearing before. The thunder must have been continuous enough to sound like one extended rumble. I had to keep reminding myself that the classic sound of a tornado is like a train, not a garbage truck.
We sat and looked for a station with weather coverage which is a sign that this was bigger than normal because local weather coverage usually drives me crazy. (The other night they blocked out a quarter of the screen because of a thunderstorm warning in one county up near the Canadian border. Um, not your viewers guys.) We kept our ears open for any kind of tornado warning but none came. Just a big angry orange splotch that moved over the metro area.
The strange thing about this storm is that you could feel it coming for a good six hours before it actually arrived. It's an odd feeling to rush out and close your car windows only to discover that you were premature by a quarter of a day. Also unusual was the feeling that this time it was our neighborhood's turn to lose power. Didn't happen but we each had flashlights just in case. We were fortunate though, as we never needed them.
Ok, how about a nice drizzle now?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Baby update

There is no news. In fact, the FP Gal thinks that we're giving the baby too much attention and maybe that's why we haven't had labor yet. So we're going to stop talking about the baby. From now on it's The-Baby-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (Tom Riddle for short).
My guess is that we'll have a new strategy tomorrow.

The Mausoleum of Maussollos

Maussollos ruled an area of western Turkey around 375 B.C. As a show of wealth he built a large tomb for himself and his wife. He spared no expense, hiring two different architects and four of the most prominent sculptors of the time. A golden chariot was on the very top. The site became famous and eventually, any ornate tomb was called a 'mausoleum' after this man.
The tomb was eventually destroyed by earthquakes. The marble and plaster were taken for other buildings. Recovery efforts started in the 19th century. Eventually, some of the statues ended up in the British Museum.

The most obvious equivalent that's still around is the Taj Mahal (blogged about here). It's the largest, most decorated tomb in the world. Possibly the only one that would qualify as any kind of tomb where people visit more for the structure than for the person interred there. There are a number of modern structures that are based on the Mausoleum, one of them being Grant's Tomb in New York.

Europe breathes a sigh of relief

A killer is off the streets.

RIP, Merv Griffin

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Grand Slam

We have a new guilty pleasure. The Game Show Network (GSN) has a show called 'Grand Slam'. They've found 16 of the top game show winners in history and put them up against each other in a rather unique format. They are seeded tournament style, playing head to head. Each player has a minute to answer questions. Once they answer correctly, their opponents timer starts.
They play four rounds including a very difficult numbers and logic round where they have to do math problems. All of them are freaked about this but I'm one of those weirdos that do well with it. They also have a word round that features acronyms and word jumbles. Not my best.
Anyway, it's lots of fun. On Saturday and Sunday nights. You can read Ken Jennings description here.

Post Due Date

So, I guess we've gone past the due date. We were hopeful that yesterday would be the day but the baby thought otherwise. We talked about this last night and it actually is something of a relief. We had August 11th marked on our calendars for months now. I had a countdown going at work. There was an expectation that grew each day.
Well, now that's over. We're truly on baby time. In truth, we've been on baby time all along but we just didn't realize it. The little critter has it's own agenda. That's probably an important lesson of parenthood.
Still...we are ready anytime you want to come out.

Colussus of Rhodes

The Colossus is probably the most obvious of the ancient equivalents to match up. The original was a huge bronze statue of Helios, the sun god. The statue was built at the harbor of the isle of Rhodes. Accounts vary, but they think it was about 100 ft tall, made higher still because it was on a 50 ft high pedestal. The statue only lasted a little more than 50 years when it was dropped by an earthquake. The residents decided against rebuilding it because the Oracle of Delphi convinced them it was a bad idea. The remains lay around for some 800 years until they were sold as scrap.

Tall statue on top of a pedestal dominating a harbor? What does that sound like? It sounds like the Statue of Liberty to me. A gift from France, it was presented in 1886. Liberty is about twice as tall (counting both statue and pedestal). She was a gift from France in 1886. The statue is the most recognizable symbol of New York City and has served as a symbol of freedom throughout the world.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hot (again). Would rather be here.

Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park.

Seven Wonders - Modern Equivalents

The ancient list of Seven Wonders was created sometime in the 400's B.C. The original lists are lost in the mists of time but they're referenced by later writers. The list was pretty well set in stone by the sixth century A.D. These were the top tourists spots of the ancient world. Kind of a set of sites that the educated and wealthy should go to.
The recent list (that I blogged about) shares some of the same traits as the old one. The focus was more on old sites rather than contemporary ones. The list was also heavily influenced by the voting process which encouraged ballot stuffing. What I'd like to do is to do is to talk about what sites are most similar to the ancient ones. Hopefully you'll find it interesting. As always, let me know what I missed or if there are better matches than what I found.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Nope, not yet

Further news as the situation warrants.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Scene from the house

Me: Is it too late to change our boy's name to 'McLovin'?
FP Gal: Yes.
Me: Too bad.
FP Gal: Besides everyone will be using that name next year.

Things I've learned

Here are some things that I've found out since learning that we were having a baby. Some of these may be obvious to everyone else but maybe I'll provide a service for someone.
  • There are many contractions before you get to the actual labor. They're irregular and I still don't know what the pain difference is. A few weeks ago when they started I was trying to figure out where the bag is and what traffic would be like. Now I just glance at my watch and tell her to let me know if they seem regular.
  • Just when you think a pregnant wife can't get any bigger...she does. It's fascinating in some ways. I now think she's giving birth to a cauldron.
  • If we have an emergency C-section, they'll make me go in there with her. Did. Not. Know. That. Your humble correspondent doesn't handle the cutting of surgery well. Can't even watch E.R. or other medical shows.
  • People that you see every day have about four questions/comments on pregnancy. This doesn't make for stimulating conversation. I'm trying to figure out alternates for myself when I'm confronted by other pregnant couples. Something like 'Wow, you look like the Hindenberg'. I'll be memorable if nothing else.
  • Seriously, right in there while they just cut away. How is that ethical?
  • Temperature isn't as important as sleeping difficulty when assessing a woman's discomfort. I'm thinking for the next child we should get a hammock with a hole cut out so that she can sleep on her front and just dangle out. That could be the next big thing in pregnancy fashion.
  • 'Pregnancy brain', the phenomenon where a woman's concentration is affected near the end can hit the dad too. All this week I find my mind wandering and suddenly I'm trying to use the car key to get into my computer. Very strange.
  • The most important thing I've learned? You just don't understand how much love you can have for someone you've never even met before.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


No baby yet. Much to the dismay of all the women I work with. And the FP Gal.

Maybe tomorrow.

Bonds hits 756

Video here. For the record, I fully believe that he cheated to get there. I don't believe that he didn't know what his trainer was giving him. I think this record is tainted and will be remembered as such.
I don't ask my athletes to be angels. I'm not looking for them on tips of how to behave. Nor do I see them as role models for children, except maybe as proving the negative case. I do expect them to keep to the convention of true competition where they give it their all without chemical enhancements.
There is a growing theme in baseball that A-Rod will probably break the record in a few years. This morning millions of Americans woke up and turned on the news, saw the Bonds home run and became A-Rod fans.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

NaNoWriMo and you

You may remember that last November I did the NaNoWriMo thing. The name stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is simple, you get one month to write a 50,000 word novel. Whether anyone ever reads it or not is completely up to you. I didn't let anyone read mine for instance. The focus is on having enough time pressure to force the words out of you. This keeps your inner editor in check long enough to get some stuff down in words. I found the entire experience very rewarding.
I'm mentioning this now because I'd like to challenge some of you out there to join me in doing it this year. We can offer support and peer pressure to each other. Maybe trade ideas or offer help, too. If you've ever wondered if you had a novel in you, this is a wonderful way to find out.
The set month that they have is November but we could strike out on our own and do October if that'd be easier. This would still give you a couple of months to think of a general outline and a plot to work with. I started last year with a story in mind and about a dozen specific scenes. That was enough of a foundation to get me to the 50K mark. You can do it too!
I know some of you are creative and talented enough to do this. I have some specific people in mind (yes, I mean you). So hop on board and join in! You have nothing to lose but your fears.


Night before last, the FP Gal had a baby dream. (Or maybe a vacation dream. I'll let you decide.) Last night was my turn for vivid dreams. I was a travel agent down in Austin with an office over at Ellis. There were visitors in my office that I was supposed to be demonstrating for but they kept taking my keyboard away. On top of that, someone kept stealing my fudge stripe cookies!
I think you should get paid overtime when you have a work dream. The most vivid I had was while I was bar tending down in Austin. I dreamt that the bar was all around my bed and I spent hours rushing to get drinks to everyone. Woke up exhausted.
The only travel agent dream I remember was after they rolled out a new system for scoring our calls for quality purposes. The system was split between customer service, accuracy and number of transactions (separate orders). In the dream, my battle-axe of a supervisor was using the system to score my love life. She said that the service was good and that my accuracy was fine. The transactions though... At which point I interrupted and told her that I just couldn't do 80 transactions a week.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Still no baby

Well, there is a baby but it hasn't emerged yet. Or shown any serious signs of emerging. Not that we haven't invited it out or anything like that. I guess Godot is just not ready yet.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Manhattan - 1979

This isn't one of the movies on the list, but 1) some people think it's Woody Allen's best movie, 2) there were complaints that it didn't make AFI's list and 3) it was on TCM a few weeks back. Bonus reason 4) it has the best opening few minutes of any movie I've ever seen.
It's shot in black and white and it's Woody Allen's valentine to New York City. Gorgeous shots and a soundtrack that's exclusively Gershwin. Other than that the movie is straight Allen. It involves NYC intellectuals, broken marriages and lots of one-liners.
The movie opens with Allen dating a 17 year old Mariel Hemingway. The whole set up is a little creepy, especially with his later actions. He later falls for his friends mistress and the two have a battle of neurosis. If you like a Woody Allen movie, you'll enjoy this. Otherwise...not so much.
I mentioned the opening. I'd hoped to find it on YouTube but the best I could find was the Spanish dub version. It's still worth watching though. Just picture Woody Allen's voice instead...

Baby update

Still not here. Sorry Heidi.

MASH - 1970

This is the movie that launched the TV show and is one of the rare instances where the spin-off is better regarded than the movie. Remember when I described 'Catch-22' as a series of MASH scripts? Well the movie is the same way. This movie couldn't be more episodic. It's a series of stories 8-10 minutes long. Characters are introduced but not really developed.
I'm sure this movie was hugely popular with the military when it came out. It pokes fun at the command structure and celebrates the counter culture of the time. Best quote from the movie:
Hot Lips: [about Hawkeye] I wonder how such a degenerated person ever reached a position of authority in the Army Medical Corps.
Father Mulcahy: He was drafted.
Did I like it? Eh. It was ok, but nothing special. Director Robert Altman works for real life type movies. That means lots of people talking over each other which I find frustrating in a movie. Sub-titles were a must. The story? It's maybe been ruined by years of watching the TV show. It was nominated for Best Picture so it must have been good back then, but it didn't do anything for me today.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Where's the baby?

Everyday that I go into work, my arrival is met with dozens (literally) of people say something like "No baby yet?". I want to respond with something like "Do you see a baby? I'm still here aren't I?", but I know that they're just being nice and I don't want to be mean to them. This has been followed by showers of advice on how to bring labor on. Yesterday I had to remind them that we still have some time to go so we're not in a desperate place yet.
In fact, we've become pretty patient over the whole thing. I no longer try to read the FP Gal's random pains and sensations. We just don't know the signs well enough to know what they mean. When the water breaks or we get regular contractions, we'll start to worry.
Everything is going well and she's feeling fine, if uncomfortable.

Football pool(s)

With the football Hall of Fame weekend upon us, it's time to open up the yearly football pool. Actually, it's a little earlier than usual this year but I was afraid that there just might be some busyness later this month so I wanted to get it done early. We'll be using Yahoo again, this link will take you there. Once there click on the 'Create or Join Group' button. Then 'Join an Existing Group'. Next 'Join a Private Group'. The Group ID # is '14052' and the password is 'Poltergeist'. You will need a Yahoo account to sign up but they're free and easy to create. There is no money involved and there's plenty of room so the more the merrier!
How does the pool work? Each week you'll pick the winners of each game. Picks are due five minutes before the start of the first game (most weeks that will be around noon on Sunday but watch out for Thursday games). We'll be using confidence points, too. That means you'll rank games in certainty. If there are 16 games, you'll rank them from 1-16 with 16 points being the most confident. (Leave questions in the comments if this isn't clear.)
I'm actually creating two pools this year. The first one is just like the one we've done before. The second one is a little more in depth. Instead of picking the winner of each game, you'll be trying to correctly pick the winner taking the betting line into account. If a team is favored by 3 points, they will have to win by at least 4 to get credit for the win. The sign up is very similar, the Group ID # is 14054 and the password is 'Ghost'.
Good luck!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Happy Aniversary

to my Mom, as she celebrates her 39th birthday again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bridge - more thoughts

We went down to the river this morning to see what we could see. As I mentioned, it hardly seems real or possible. The Stone Arch Bridge was closed off so we couldn't get that vantage point. We walked down to the new Guthrie to use their 'Bridge to Infinity' or whatever it's called. You know, the stalk that juts out towards the river. From there we could see a bit of the north end and nothing more.
It wasn't really satisfying and I think we both felt a little ghoulish. Not that we were alone down there. Probably a couple hundred people were also trying to find a spot to see it all. Is this wrong? I'm going to say 'no'. This is a reasonable reaction to want actual visual evidence that something big has happened. Especially when you're near something historic. That doesn't diminish our sympathy for the dead and injured.
One of the big stories from this is the numerous accounts of heroism. Many people rushed to the accident to help save people. Other people got out of their cars and didn't leave the bridge until they'd helped everyone they could. This really is humanity at it's best and that should be recognized and celebrated.
Humanity at it's worst? The people that are quick to use this to blame others for political gain. Last decades road and bridge budget could have been doubled and no one would have proposed replacing this bridge. It could have been ten times it's current size and it wouldn't have happened. If this was a fatigue collapse (which seems most likely), then it happened because we don't have enough knowledge of what level of fatigue is critical with this type of bridge. (Isn't this obvious?)
There will be thousands (maybe millions) of Minnesotans who hold their breath the next time they go over one of our bridges. That's understandable. So is the fact that they'll get over it in time. They'll get back on that horse and drive.
Is there a lesson here? I don't really know. It's human nature to look for some all encompassing moral of the story but that doesn't mean there is one. Maybe the lesson is that bad things sometimes happen. Maybe the lesson is that one should always be ready to get moving if catastrophe strikes. Or maybe it's a lesson to love the people around you because you don't really know what tomorrow brings.

View from the bridge

I can't help but nod my head in agreement with James Lileks here:
I’ve driven across this bridge every few days for thirty years. There are bridges, and there are bridges; this one had the most magnificent view of downtown available, and it’s a miracle I never rear-ended anyone while gawking at the skyline, the old Stone Bridge, the Mississippi. You always felt proud to be here when you crossed that bridge, pleased to live in such a beautiful place. Didn’t matter if it was summer twilight or hard cold winter noon - Minneapolis always seemed to be standing at attention, posing for a formal portrait . We’ll have that view again – but it’ll take a generation before it’s no longer tinged with regret and remembrance.

35W Bridge

By now you've all heard about the bridge collapse, good article from the Strib here. Here is a blog post from a guy who lives almost under the bridge and was there at the time (via Captain Ed).
Description of collapse: Surprisingly quiet, but my entire warehouse apt shook quite a bit. Bridge fell so very slowly - poof. Yelled and yelled but no one answered. Only a handful of ppl in water, all got out ok and then began to help as well. Ran into woman who thought school bus was trapped on east side in fold of highway. Couldn’t confirm it or get to the other bank to help.
He also says that within 20 minutes everyone was saved who could have been. Video (from CNN) is here. One positive from this is that the Twin Cities got a real time test of disaster preparedness and all reports seem to show that they did quite well. A small positive, I know.
There was some bad reporting last night. Despite local(!) and national descriptions, there was no pedestrian or bicycle traffic on this bridge. It was an Interstate and only had motorized vehicles. The collapse could have gotten peds and bikes at either end but no one would have been 'thrown into the water'. I can understand national news reporters not knowing this, but this was a major road for the area and any local media who made this mistake should be ashamed (I'm looking at you, Cindy Brucato).
I've driven over this bridge hundreds (if not thousands) of times. It's where my first car accident was. It's hard to believe that it's gone. The FP Gal and I were talking about how we won't really believe it until we see it.
Our prayers go to the hurt and their families.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bridge collapse

Big bridge collapse, 35W over the Mississippi. Just got home. Everyone is fine.