Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ok, I'm a dork

I find this type of thing interesting. It's a post detailing current genetic research that suggests genes might play a part in language and understanding. It suggests that genetic mutation has increased our ability to understand non-tonal languages. I would never have guessed that that type of brain connection was hardwired rather than learned.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Random Tuesday stuff

  • Ugh. It's hot and humid here. Our nice mild springtime weather feels like it left with Memorial Day. Even the nice (brief) shower we just had didn't cool things down. I'm really hoping for a cool summer for the FP Gal's sake.
  • Of course we could always move to a milder climate...
  • It was a glorious victory. And that is seriously a nice park there.
  • And speaking of maps, I have few but prominent memories of this spot.
  • Rough day at work today. The day after a long weekend is always a busy one as people try and make up ground from the lost time. Today was made worse because of an hour of system issues that made pricing flights difficult or impossible. No sooner was that sorted out than a (very pleasant) woman with limited english skills booked a complex international trip to Europe with me. There came a point when we were trying to find a hotel in Paris near a certain address when I could feel my life force dwindling. I used to have a better linguistic ear but no longer.
  • That's it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Every year on this day, this speech by Robert Heinlein to the Naval Academy comes to mind.
Patriotism — Moral behavior at the national level. Non sibi sed Patria. Nathan Hale’s last words: “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” Torpedo Squadron Eight making its suicidal attack. Four chaplains standing fast while the water rises around them. Thomas Jefferson saying, “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed form time to time with the blood of patriots–” A submarine skipper giving the order “Take her DOWN!” while he himself is still topside. Jonas Ingram standing on the steps of Bancroft Hall and shouting, “The Navy has no place for good losers! The Navy needs tough sons of bitches who can go out there an WIN!”
I always feel a pang of regret that I didn't live up to that ideal myself, having never served. I guess the best I can do is to offer my thanks to the men and women who did. I'm fully aware that the life I lead and the country that I love is dependent on their work and the huge sacrifices that they've made. Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Open question to new mothers

We're putting together our kit to take to the hospital when the baby comes. We've used common sense and looked at some stuff online but I'm not sure we're set. What I'm wondering is what item(s) did you wish you had that you didn't. Or what oddball thing did you have that made it all work?
Bonus question: we're thinking we should have some kind of talisman or lucky charm to bring. Any advice? Also some kind of celebratory item is needed. Thirty years ago it would have been cigars but that won't work anymore. Fireworks maybe?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Baroque Cycle

For anyone looking for something new (and different) to read, I'd suggest the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. I tackled it about a year and half ago and really really enjoyed it. One warning, the entire thing runs almost 3000 pages so clear some time. I bring this up because the entire thing is reviewed here.
On a personal note, reading actual professional reviews like this make me feel that the distinction between amateur and professional critic really is quite large. I hope you'll look at my efforts as little appetizers or something like that. Not being down on myself, just recognizing the distinction.

Matchsticks and Grandma

The FP Gal and I just had a brief discussion about Big League Chew. She wanted to know if I remembered it, and I did. I compared it to candy cigarettes and suggested that you really should try to light them. Ruins the taste. Yes, I did just that and she wanted to know how old I was. Eight or nine I think.
A quick look of horror on her face and then she remembered. "That's right. Your Grandma gave you matches to play with."
Yep. When I'd go to visit my Grandma in the summer, she'd buy me two boxes of Blue Diamond matches and turn me loose in the driveway. I'd build little houses and burn them down. Little forts and burn them down. Create trails of matches. And burn them down. Lots of fun!
The FP Gal just might have some guidelines for grandparents when they're babysitting.

Pirates of the Caribbean - To the End of the World


Or maybe until the end of time. This movie clock in at about 2:45 but it felt more like 4 hours. Every throwaway scene is lovingly crafted. The movie opens with an endless line of people shuffling off to a gallows and waiting to be hanged. We see several sets of feet dangling and then a child joins them. The child starts singing a piratey song and others begin to join in. The executioner gets a barrel so that the child is tall enough for a rope. It's revealed that he has a coin. This coin sets up a small joke later in the movie. Not only did this scene not do anything for the movie, it took a long time not adding anything.
This is repeated over and over ad nauseum throughout. Long establishing shots with little payoff. The movie looks good but each overly long scene drains a little bit of energy out of the whole thing until you feel sapped just from watching.
But that's not the worst part of it. The worst thing is that they keep Johnny Depp under wraps for far too long. And when they finally get to him they don't do much with him. He made the first two movies. Not to recognize that is artistically criminal. Look, I like Geoffrey Rush a whole lot but I really didn't go to watch three hours of him with overwrought facial makeup.
I'd sum up the plot but it was needlessly complicated and lengthy. If someone has an oppurtunity to double cross someone, they do. That's all you need to know. I don't think that's much of a spoiler because you won't really care enough about what's going on to be spoiled. This movie should have been much better and both the FP Gal and I are kind of grumpy about it. Normally, I'd complain about the lack of writing in Hollywood but I'll lay the blame at the feet of the editors or the director. Or whoever should have been in charge of keeping the director in check. After this movie and Spiderman 3, I'm plain tired of two and a half hour movies that drag.
Positives? The effects are good. Some of the acting is quite good. I liked the idea behind some of the mystical stuff. With some trimming, this could have been a very good movie. Oh, and they had the goddess Calypso looking to headbutt people and use her overwhelming purring for fantastic deeds. (Yes, I miss her.)
Very disappointing.
UPDATE: Yeah, what he said.

Baby fears

You can add this to the list. Let's stick to a hospital, kay?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Third baby class

So last night was class three of five. We talked about pain medication options and techniques. One interesting exercise involved a chart that listed (1-10) the level of help that moms would want. Both partners circled the number they thought the mom would want and then showed them to each other. No one in the class had the exact same number. (We were only off by one.)
We watched a short film on various techniques and it was the hardest part of the class so far. Watching a graphic of the epidural was tough. Watching the graphic of an episiotomy made me feel faint and I had to run to the bathroom. (Personal note, I've had the equivilant of an epidural to check spinal fluid pressure and they're not bad at all. Kind of like a shot and then some weird zings up and down the spine.) For the first time in this whole shebang, I was questioning whether I could deal with the medical side of this. The FP Gal assures me that I can, but really that's all she can do. She can't trade me out at this time.
Also learned some lamaze breathing. Our very funny teacher had all the ladies sounding like Dr Seuess characters (Hee, hee, hooooo!). Apparently this really is a godsend during the worst parts though. She also suggested this site for any upright babies (good luck, Holly!).
The last part included a tour of the hospital so we could see where to go and what the rooms look like when you get there. Very impressive place. Apparently the security is pretty good as far as babies go so we'll have to think up a different prize for the guessing contest.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New air traffic control software

Interesting read here. I know that we're seeing more and more delays and a ton of ripple effect. More travelers and less flexibility in the system means that missed or cancelled flights put passengers in a really tough spot. Let's hope that these changes help.

Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

Quick review: Story follows a man in a future society where people have rejected books entirely and now spend their lives with radios in their ears or with large room sized interactive TV units. The job of 'fireman' has been changed to putting out fires to burning any books that are found. He secretly steals some books instead of burning them and has a breakdown in which he rejects his society and becomes a criminal.

Read this back in high school but not since. Remembered enjoying it, but wasn't overly thrilled about reading it again. There are segments of our society that think we're inches away from becoming a book burning fascist society and frankly I'm tired of them. (Related.) I was ready to point out that I can go to a couple of dozen bookstores in the metro area and buy just about anything I want to without fear of censorship or reprisal. That the only real censorship battles in this country have to do with school mandated book lists and/or age appropriate guidelines.
But the book surprised me in not being about censorship. I remembered the passages about burning books vividly, but the book suggests that it was because the public turned their backs on books, not because the state forbade them. In fact, the suggestion is that America became anti-intellectual and it's citizens increasingly isolated as they choose solitary enjoyments. Books were shunned because they disagreed with each other and were confusing. TV and magazines became bland out of fear that they would offend some segment of it's viewership. This led to a situation where people more and more blindly trusted the media until it became a huge societal baby-sitter. Fascism not with a bang, but with a diaper.
Are we on our way there now? I don't think so. Not in the slightest. Bookstores do booming business. Free speech rights are expanding (with exceptions). Media distrust is growing. I'd argue that our society continues to become more sophisticated and intellectual. My copy of the book has a blurb from the New York Times about scary elements of the book becoming more real today. Possibly, but I don't think that I-pods necessarily lead to totalitarianism.
But the book does deserve praise. It was the compass for the anti-censorship side and is in some (large?) way responsible for the idea that banning books is anti-American. Perhaps it was so successful that it kept us from going down a dark road. It's certainly a must read and well deserves to be thought of as great American literature.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Random 'Lost' Predictions

In anticipation of tonight's season finale:
  • Desmond gets killed.
  • Juliette betrays the good guys.
  • 'Looking Glass' is still run by Dharma.
  • We get another clue to the statue of a giant foot.
  • Kate is pregnant.
Update: Ok, so I went 0-5. What do I know?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Movie and book reviews

Seems I've had my license revoked. I think I'll go ahead anyway. What a fathead.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Clustermaps

If you look over on the right (below the blogroll) you'll see a global map with red dots on it. (I stole it from Jodi and I should give a nod to the FP Gal for helping me put it on the site.) If you click on it, you can see where the dots are in better detail.
I love the thing. I love that people in 22 different countries have stopped by to take a look since it was installed on April 8th. I love that someone up on Hudson Bay read something I wrote. Three different spots in India and five of the thirteen in South America.
Whee!

Pounce!

Guess which brother I thought about

while reading this? And if I'm going to link to Lileks, I should mention his trip to Disneyworld too (parts one, two, three and four and worth every link). Last went to Disneyworld in '99 and came away very impressed. The sheer amount of detail work is breathtaking. Reading about Lileks trip made me a little anxious to take little ones there. Maybe a family trip in four or five years...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

For Paul fans

discussion of article here. (The FP Gal is more of a George fan but I'd lean Paul if I had to.) Clip of the inspiration for 'Blackbird' found here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Baby names

Since we have an obvious interest in baby names right now, I found the most popular names of 2006 very interesting. For girls:
1. Emily (ruined by the psycho redhead)
2. Emma
3. Madison (do you think common last name or Avenue?)
4. Isabella (reminds me of crown jewels, also some family history problems)
5. Ava (Braun?)
6. Abigail
7. Olivia (wonder what this does to a little girl's self esteem)
8. Hannah
9. Sophia (like this one, but I'd spell it like the capital of Bulgaria)
10. Samantha (I like this one too)

Boys: (old Testament figures or saints)
1. Jacob
2. Michael (I always think Archangel)
3. Joshua (a strong name but no thanks)
4. Ethan (only name on the boys list without an obvious nickname)
5. Matthew
6. Daniel (a lion tamer!)
7. Christopher (has potential)
8. Andrew
9. Anthony (now a mobster)
10. William (greatest playwrite in history)


Second Childbirth class

Last night was round two and it went well. More info for dads in how to comfort moms. This is somewhat of a theme, I guess. Probably one of the two biggest reasons for the class, the other being to let people know what the actual fearful things are so they can take the regular things in stride.
So what did I learn? The most interesting thing for me was learning about how the baby is trying to make his/her push to the end. They are looking for any position they can find to make their way down the birth canal. That means that regular change in position by the mother will help the baby out. My question for next week is whether some caffeine during early labor will help at all. Give the little one an energy boost maybe. (That's not too stupid a question, is it?)
Also learned about 'back labor' which sounds very painful. Happens when the baby positions itself backward to the norm and causes rubbing of skull to tailbone. They gave us some techniques to help the baby correct position. Apparently we can't just reach up there and turn them around.
More birth videos which are more helpful than I would have thought. This week included a computer graphic of delivering the placenta. My guess is that they went with the animation instead of the real thing so as not to chase the dads out.
Last night I dreamt that the baby had already come and it was a boy. For those keeping score at home that's now two boy dreams for me and one for the FP Gal. Zero girl dreams. If that's important to you, you can change your vote. Andrea, in response to your question, we'll try and get a real live baby for the person with the best vote. If security in the maternity ward is too good, we'll think of something else.

Solution for mice


Ozzie's death ray eyes

Thursday, May 17, 2007

If we have a boy...

this book will be a must. Listened to an Instapundit podcast/interview that sold me on it. It's a book about raising boys in our modern society and it sounds very good. The interview can be heard here.

Nooooo!

ABC on Tuesday announced plans for 12 new television shows next season, including a spinoff of its hit hospital drama "Grey's Anatomy" and a caveman comedy based on the popular Geico insurance commercials.
Please, for the love of God, let them go away!

Random Thursday stuff - Consumer edition

  • We were out at the MOA last night and saw a large Japanese group of tourists. They all had the same bag so it was obvious they were all attending the same conference or whatever. We often forget that this place we go walking at is really a world famous tourist attraction.
  • Sad news from the same event, almost all of them were taller than me. When I pointed that out to the FP Gal she said that it had to do with cultural diet change and that the height difference is much less than what it used to be. I pointed out that I've had the same diet as they have but moreso. She said that my folks must not have taken me to McDonalds enough when I was young. FP Baby, we won't make the same mistake!
  • I hate to admit this, but I've somehow found a clothing store that I want to shop in. Every time we walk by Tommy Bahama, I see a shirt in the window that I'd like. I know that the style doesn't scream Minnesota but I really like it! Finally stepped inside last night to price a shirt. $110. That will probably cure me of that.
  • Speaking of the Mall, I meant to link to this story a couple of weeks ago. It's about a lady who moved here from New York and decided to investigate our consumerist society at the MOA. She started to make a piece of art by collecting a bag from each store. That wasn't as easy as she thought it would be so she had to start buying items so she could later return them. Not sure what lesson this has to anyone really. The article concludes:
    So far, no area gallery or museum has asked Williams to re-create her "Wall of Mall" in the Twin Cities. But if they do, she's ready: She still has all the bags in a cardboard box in her studio.
    I'm sure they'll be calling soon. (I don't really understand what influence 'statement' artists really think they have.)
  • On the way home, the FP Gal needed some fruit and wanted to stop at the grocery store. It was late and we always spend more money there than we should but how could I say no? Total purchases: strawberries, grapes, ice-cream sandwiches and two frozen pizzas. The pizzas were mine. They're a brand called Bellatoria and they're usually quite expensive, $7+ per pizza. Frankly I won't pay that much for a frozen pizza but they were on sale, two for one. Why do I keep an eye on them? They offer two of the most perfect pizza options ever: Garlic Chicken Alfredo and Chicken Fajita.
  • What else? Oh, I was finally able to buy my car today, only two days after the lease expired. Hooray!
  • That's it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Can't crack the top 1000

So I took Mom to see 'The Queen' yesterday. My interest level in the royal family is low but I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. (Very well done, well acted and an unsual view into a very alien world.) Anyway, I was curious enough about some of the background to the movie that I looked it up on Wikipedia. Yes, she probably could have diagnosed a broken car.
Anyway, a few clicks brought me to the line of succession to the British throne. The list only goes to 1269 people. No word on what happens if the top 1300 all die. Unfortunatly, my family seems to have been left off so any hope I had of being king of England is out the window. (Frankly, I don't really have the height for it. Or the ears.)
Still...if the FP Gal ever decides to get rid of me I may have to look up Sophie Lacelles, number 47 on the list.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's day

I spent most of today with Mom. I'm sure she'll put a review up later. In fact I know she will because she took pictures for that purpose (and I wore a favorite shirt for that very reason). Anyway, it was fun and I learned some things about her.
  • She attended an Ed Sullivan show and saw Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster.
  • This was when she went to visit relatives on Long Island. This was a part of her Dad's (my grandpa whom I never met) dream vacation. It involved a trip to DC as well as New York.
  • She doesn't remember the ice ages and never saw any dinosaurs.
  • Sometimes, she still buys used movies on VHS because they're cheap and why not?
  • The English royal family fascinates her. Enough so that she had an opinion on whether the Queen Mum looked right or not. (I thought Prince Charles looked weird.)
  • Red peppers: good. Green peppers: bad.
  • If she could live anywhere in the Twin Cities, she'd have a townhouse by Centennial Lakes. One of the ones overlooking it. And if she lived there, she'd never throw her Christmas tree out in the backyard.
  • She'd like more Italian restaurants and fewer Mexican. She finds spicy food to be loud. She doesn't think she's qualified to open a bland Italian restaurant because she's too German.
  • She's thinking of a part time job walking dogs. I'm on board with that and think she'd enjoy it. The dogs might too.
  • Her new canary doesn't sing as much the old one but she still loves him.
Happy mother's day, Mom!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Online dating

Ran across this article about a man trying to find a boyfriend for his nannie (h/t the Corner). Some salty language but not terrible. He helped her create an online profile and then took over the writing duties in talking with men. Some of his discoveries are interesting.
People that I talk to are always surprised that the FP Gal and I met online. Part of me misses reading the profiles because it really is a peek into someone's life that you just don't get in any other way. This was especially true late on a weekend night when a search for who was online was a little heartbreaking. The sense of lonliness was strong.
Don't worry, I have zero interest in getting back in the dating game. Very happy with where I'm at. But the real truth is that online dating taught me some lessons about life that nothing in the previous 30 years had been able to do. Can't recommend it enough.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

And I had this going through my mind constantly


Second part

First birthing class

So tonight was our first class. Our first lesson was an unexpected one; we can't possibly get from the FP Gal's work to the class on time unless traffic magically disappears at 6p. It's a good thing our teacher is forgiving.
We learned a lot, or at least I did. Who knew that there was something called a 'mucus plug' involved? And when it comes out, we don't need to bring it into the hospital. In fact we were urged not to. Repeatedly. Also didn't know that when the water breaks we will be asked questions about it's color, odor, amount and time of breakage. The teacher said that most women fear this breaking at an embarassing time and I can certainly understand that.
Tonight we learned about labor and how to tell when it's started and what we should do. Apparently I have to get a stopwatch and get the FP Gal's time in the 40 yard dash or something like that. I may have to reread that section. We also discussed ways to distract her during the early time. Any suggestions?
Got to watch a video. Not terribly bloody and we both got teary eyed at the time of the actual birth. I didn't realize that they came with a phone cord. It's 2007, don't we have cordless technology yet? The takeaway lesson for me is that women in labor can sometimes be a wee bit unreasonable. I'm sure that won't happen in our case but I'll try to be ready just in case.
Further updates as the situation warrents...

Maxjet

Ran across this article on Cnn.com about a man and wife who missed a return flight on Maxjet and had a terribly expensive time getting home. Apparently a bad patch of weather kept them from their flight and when they could finally be accomadated they were charged an additional $2300 apiece. They wrote to a column that focuses on bad customer service and tricky travel rules. It looks like Maxjet backed down in the face of bad publicity.
This caught my eye because I had a Maxjet experience last night just like it. A guy was scheduled to fly but he wasn't feeling well and wanted to change his outbound flight to the next day (today). The rule for an outbound flight change is that you have to resell everything and reprice at the current price. This brought the fare up over $500 and we had to charge the $100 change fee on top of that.
The passenger was outraged and wanted to know if the airline wanted him to fly sick and infect the entire flight. Of course they don't, but they also know that a '24 hour flu' exemption would open an unworkable loophole in their rule structure. They don't care about doctor's notes either. They barely care about a death in the family.
So I called the airline to see if we could do anything. No dice. The agent talked to her supervisor. Nope. I conferenced the passenger in so he could yell at them. Still nothing. He angrily told me to go ahead and make the exchange and hung up.
Two lessons here:
  • Maxjet sticks by their rules. Most airlines have some wiggle room but if you make changes to your flights you're really at their mercy. Some are pretty easy to sweet talk. Some really aren't.
  • If you're at an airlines mercy, try something novel. Throw yourself on it! See if you can get a 'favor'. Let them know how much it'll help you out. Tug some heartstrings if you can. Don't yell at them or you run the risk of having them dig their heels in and make certain that you don't get what you want.
The second lesson is a universal for dealing with customer service. If they like you, they'll want to help you and look for ways to do so. If they don't like you or if they feel manipulated, they'll make you pay.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Vacation suggestion

Hans and Rachel have asked for help with a vacation suggestion. I think they're leaning towards something else but I stumbled across some nice stuff that would make a nice trip.
Ok, maybe that's a better trip for me than anyone else. FP Gal, you up for a trip?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Random Monday night thoughts

  • Saw Spiderman 3 this weekend. Lots of good action but the movie dragged in spots. The exposition portions were a little too lovingly crafted. But the action was very very very good. There's something about fighting and falling and dodging and more falling that just works very well.
  • Related, Marvel vs DC.
  • All that you ever wanted to know about acai berries found here.
  • Finished 'Time Traveler's Wife' this weekend. Full review later in the week. Short review, I really enjoyed it and totally indentified with the main character. Except for the time traveling stuff.
  • The nesting has begun.
  • And that's it.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth - 2006

(In the intrest of fair disclousure, let me say that I didn't vote for Gore in 2000 and don't forsee doing so in the future. I'll gladly stipulate that warming occured over the 20th century in an amount consistent with the latest IPCC report, about one degree farenheit. The degree to which mankind is responsible is still unknown, perhaps unknowable. I'd support a complete switch over to green energy if it was practical. My personal opinion is that a switch to nuclear would be best for the country.)
I viewed watching this movie as more of a duty than a pleasure. It's been wildly popular and has sunk into the popular culture. It's been widely lauded and even received an Oscar. Various assertions are taken as talking points in enviromental discussions. I expected that I'd disagree with parts of it but be swayed by others. Frankly, I was shocked at how misleading and dishonest it was. (Even the FP Gal, much more to the left than I am, felt that way.)
First the compliments. Al Gore certainly knows how to give a good demonstration. He's at his best when he embraces his wonky reputation and plays off of it. His slides are simple and easy to understand. The only real negative from a movie standpoint were the many cuts to Gore in other parts of his life. These came off as a campaign commercial. You can use elements of any pol's childhood to illustrate whatever you want if you have a forgiving director and good writing.
The biggest problem was the science. Gore is consistently misleading as he moves from issue to issue. Problems of hidden context, poor analogy and obvious half truths were everywhere. Some examples?
  • There is a section where he talks about 0 peer reviewed studies that disagree with global warming. Here's a selection of 13 that disagree with elements of his presentation. There is reason to doubt.
  • He includes a quote from some internal memo from a skeptic, “Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of creating a controversy in the public’s mind.” I'm guessing that you can find some damning quote from any group of people if you look hard enough. Here's one from Stephen Schneider, a climate scientist talking to the Discover magazine. "On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people, we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that, we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. … Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest." Somehow that didn't make the film.
  • He shows the effect of a sudden catastrophic addition of freshwater to the North Atlantic and how that shut down the gulf stream. He infers that a slow melt off of Greenland could do the same thing. Scientists don't agree.
  • He suggests that Hurricane Katrina was a city killer because of warming in the Caribbean. There's an open question as to what effect climate change will have on hurricanes but the idea that a few degrees less temp were at fault is ridiculous. There was political failure at the local and national levels. There was catastrophic failure from an engineering standpoint that caused the levees to fail. Katrina was a Cat 3 storm when it hit New Orleans, big and (obviously) dangerous but not unprecedented by any means.
And so on and so forth. Early in the movie, Gore admonishes us,
“What gets us into trouble is not what you don’t know, but what you think you know that just ain’t so.”
This is a call to keep an open and skeptical mind. It's too bad he doesn't follow his own advice and it's bad science that tries to keep others from doing so.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Nursery challenge update

So I put the challenge out there and the FP Gal responded with her encylopediac knowledge of children's books. (Seriously, I'm now a bit intimidated. Guess I'll need to get up to speed.) So then I head back over to Ken Jennings and he's put up his list too. My sense is that his is more mainstream and her's is more personal.
For the record, I think Peter Rabbit is a fine choice for 'P'.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Kentucky Derby

If you've never watched the Derby before, you should treat yourself Saturday. There's a tremendous amount of energy and tension that goes into it. The whole tunderin' hooves thing has a certain thrill to it too. The trick is to select a horse so that you have some kind of stake in it. (Putting actual money down probably magnifies the entire experience, but we here in the FP are afraid of losing money.)
Here's the field:

  • Sedgefield (Julien Leparoux, 50-1)
  • Curlin (Robby Albarado, 7-2)
  • Zanjero (Shaun Bridgmohan, 30-1)
  • Storm in May (Juan Leyva, 30-1)
  • Imawildandcrazyguy (M. Guidry, 50-1)
  • Cowtown Cat (Fernando Jara, 20-1)
  • Street Sense (Calvin Borel, 4-1)
  • Hard Spun (Mario Pino, 15-1)
  • Liquidity (David Flores, 30-1)
  • Teuflesberg (Stewart Elliott, 30-1)
  • Bwana Bull (Javier Castellano, 50-1)
  • Nobiz Like Shobiz (C. Velasquez, 8-1)
  • Sam P. (Ramon Dominguez, 20-1)
  • Scat Daddy (Edgar Prado, 10-1)
  • Tiago (Mike Smith, 15-1)
  • Circular Quay (John Velazquez, 8-1)
  • Stormello (Kent Desormeaux, 30-1)
  • Any Given Saturday (G. Gomez, 12-1)
  • Dominican (Rafael Bejarano, 20-1)
  • Great Hunter (Corey Nakatani, 15-1)

  • The FP Gal has had very good luck picking the winner over the last three years. This year she's going with 'Zanjero' (provisionally and with the option of changing it right before the race starts). I'm going with 'Tiago' because it reminds me of 'tiger'. Hmmm, that wouldn't be a bad name for a boy either...

    Great ice cream


    The FP Gal got an urge for strawberries last night so we made a quick trip to the supermarket. As soon as we arrived, I announced that we were also getting ice cream and she couldn't stop me. (This confused her as she almost never tries to stop me from buying food, my being an adult and all.)
    After a quick search for the perfect container of strawberries, it was off to the freezer aisle. I always do a quick search to see if Eddy's has come to their senses and brought back the perfect ice cream but no such luck. (Fools! They shall pay for their insolence!) Ok, so no peanut-butter, banana and chocolate. Anything with banana at all? A couple of things but they were tainted with nuts and therefore out of the question.
    On to the Haagen-Dazs and this little creature: Brazilian Acai Berry Sorbet. I quickly called over the FP Gal, "What's an acai berry? Is it a-sigh or a-kai?" She didn't know either but she read the label and it mentioned something about blueberrys and blackberrys. It immeadiatly went to the top of my list.
    After an eternity (I can't rush shopping for ice cream), we bought our stuff and went home to eat. How was it? It's pretty darn good. Great berry taste without overwhelming you with tartness. The FP Gal liked it too. Said it was subtle. I'm pretty happy with it.
    Expect it to disappear forever in two weeks.

    Thursday, May 03, 2007

    Nursery

    FP Gal, I'd love to see your list,
    I’m starting a mural on the walls of Caitlin’s room. I played with a children’s-illustration look when I did some Winnie-the-Pooh murals on Dylan’s nursery walls back in the day (photos still on this dead site) and I liked the way it came out. So my idea for Caitlin’s room was this: a classroom-style alphabet strip around the top of the room, with each letter illustrated with a different children’s-book character who begins with the appropriate letter.
    A clever idea.

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Respect and it's limits

    Last November during the Ellison campaign/coronation, just about any criticism of the man was dismissed as anti-muslim bigotry. More recently, the Twin Cities have been the frontline of a debate on religious accomadation as cab drivers have refused fares that might offend their principles and checkers at Target have refused to scan pork products. We are urged to understand and respect religous differences.
    Meanwhile, it's hard to drive in my neighborhood without stopping behind a car with a bumper sticker ridiculing Christians. The Darwin fish is probably the most popular, of course, because making fun of people's creation beliefs is always good for a laugh. I'm sure most of these cars just haven't gotten around to getting something that explains that Gaia spirit thing isn't really grounded in science either.
    This outstanding post from Ken Jennings brought all of this to mind for me. He's writing about the recent uprising in Mormon ridicule that goes along with the Romney bid. Excerpt:
    After you get off a particularly good zinger at those gullible Mormons, try recasting your sentence so it refers to “those gullible Jews” or “…Catholics” or “…Muslims.” If, Wonkette, you think Mormon temple garments should be called “magic underwear” throughout your post, try substituting “magic beanie” for “yarmulke” or “magic Nilla wafer” for “Communion host” in a similar context and considering whether that’s journalism, or whether that’s even funny anymore. If you’re horrified by the result, it’s because bigotry is bigotry, no matter the target.
    And I couldn't agree more. What bothers me is that the tempo of this will only increase as the election season continues. People who preach understanding will take cheap shots at someone because of their 'weird' beliefs. Hyporcrites, and classless hypocrites at that.