Sunday, September 30, 2007

Loving a football fan

Here's advice on how to do this.
Amazingly, psychologists have discovered that men and women who have a strong affinity toward a team are more likely to have higher self-esteem, have a truer sense of community, suffer less depression, and are more likely to be associated with groups than are non-fans. So, in essence, the crazier the sports nut, the more emotionally sound he/she is.

See, we're just being socially beneficial!

Hello!

Vikings/Packers

First of all, this is not a good Viking team. Or at least the offense is not good. More specifically, the passing game is terrible. Maybe worse than last year's team.
Having said that, if this team didn't have bad luck it wouldn't have any luck at all. This game featured a Packer's fumble that was called incomplete. It was late in the game and probably would have led to a defensive score. The refs blew the call by blowing an early whistle. This joins the blown call from last week and the last second FG that bounced off of the upright to form the biggest plays of their three losses. Adding frustration to today's game was the blown call on the Vikes last interception.
I'm not saying that the Vikings outplayed them or blaming the loss on the refs. I'm just hoping that at some point the snakebite wears off and they catch a break. If not we could be looking at a 4 win season. At least that's a high draft pick, right?
How to fix the passing game? I've got a few suggestions. First, increase the tempo. I think it's harder for their QB's to get into rhythm with this slow of a game. Second, some quick passes. It's obvious that the O-Line is having trouble blocking for a long time. They desperately need to find someway to slow the pass rush. Third, more Sidney Rice and Bobby Wade. They've got some ability or at least good hands. Fourth? If Jackson or Holcomb can't playing winning football by season's end (and neither has shown us that they can), they simply must go out and get someone who can.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Random Saturday Night thoughts

  • Live! from the living room...
  • So we just got done watching 'Yi Yi' a movie about a Taiwanese family. I was pointed to it by Ken Jennings back in July (just turned up in our Netflix). He described it as 'an intimately-scaled movie that still manages to tackle all of life’s big questions. It’s an undeniably foreign film that doesn’t have an inaccessible second in it.' I'll agree with that but add the warning that it's a long movie so plan an intermission somewhere. (Watching long movies in Chinese takes care of my arty-geek cred, right?)
  • No book review this month from the Great American Novel project. I opened 'The Scarlet Letter' a few times but could never stick it out. I'll get to it at some point but not yet. Still trying to figure out how to fit reading into my schedule. It usually comes down to a choice between reading and sleep. It's surprising how often sleep wins.
  • Relia got to spend time with all four of her grandparents this week. Dad came up on Thursday and spent some time with us. Even watched her for an hour and a half so we could go for a walk on our own. Today we got together with Mom for lunch. All very nice.
  • How are the cats accepting her? I think they're both a little attention starved. Sana hangs out on the second floor and is crazy happy to see us when we go up for bed. She'll get over it (I hope). Ozzie takes her in stride. Today he came to walk around on my chest. She was already on one side of it so he just walked right on top of her. Don't worry, I moved him. She made a noise and he turned to sniff her. She hit him in the nose but he didn't seem to take it personally. I think they'll get along just fine.
  • Does anyone else associate the leaves turning with U2? Just me?
  • Not much else happening around here. The FP Gal put together a wonderful video of Aurelia's first month. Be careful about watching it, you might get the 'Little Potato' song stuck in your head.
  • That's it!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

NWA and the growing NWO

Article in the paper about a growing partnership between Northwest Airlines, KLM, Delta and Air France. NW and KLM have had a long term relationship where they share profits on intercontinental flights and now they want to bring the other two airlines in too. The plus side is that we could get non-stop flights to Paris. The downside is that the closer these airlines become the less competition we could get here in Minneapolis.
I don't know what the figures are but I can tell you that we really do suffer pricewise due to the hammerlock that NW has here. Nonstop flights to a non-hub (noncompetitive) city are enormously expensive. If Sun Country was big enough to be a player for business flyers the situation would be different but they just aren't.
The longterm solution to this is to loosen the hold that NW has on the airport here. The other side of that is to lighten the regulations on airline relationships. We'd go through a period of high prices as they took advantage of their monopoly but smaller, no-frills carriers would quickly move in and eat their lunch. At least domestically. Europe has been going through this for the past few years and inter-Europe flights are incredibly cheap. I think you spend less money flying from London to Dublin than you do on the cabs on each side.
Don't take this to mean that I'm against the international aspect of this deal. NW and the other Skyteam carriers really do provide a useful service by working together. Baggage and terminal problems are smoothed out by joint staff. Pricing structures are easier to work with too. Check out their Europe Pass for instance. And nonstop to Paris is very nice...

Complaints

Yesterday I talked with one of the most annoying customers that I've had the treat to help all year. He had a routine problem that he wanted help with so I told him that I'd forward his issue over to our customer service desk. He then repeated the story behind his problem. And then repeated it again. Each time I assured him that I'd send it over to the people that could actually help him. It sounded like he believed me but still needed to talk about it. Before our call was done he told me the story five different times. It wasn't interesting the first time and didn't become more compelling the other four.
He also hit upon another of my big pet peeves. He was flying between two large cities with regular air service. I asked what time he wanted to fly and he asked for the latest flight.
"9p."
"What's the earlier flight?"
"7p".
"Earlier?"
"6p."
"Earlier?"
"4p."
"Earlier?"
"2p."
"Earlier?"
"1130a."
"I guess I'll go with 2p."
Are you kidding me? He started by asking for the latest flight and ended up flying at 2p. He passed up four later flight times! Seriously, if you want to fly early afternoon just say so and we'll work from there. Or (here's a thought) give me an exact time and we'll work from there. If he said he wanted to fly at 130p then I would have had him choose between 1130a and 2p. No problem!
Related problem? Everyone has a different sense of what different times mean. I've heard 'late afternoon' termed for everything from 1p to 8p. I've had people ask for 'crack of dawn' when they really meant noon. Just tell me the real time you want to go. I'm not judging you!
Believe me, today's day off was much needed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

West Side Story

West Side Story (my favorite musical) celebrates it's 50th anniversary today. Here's an interesting, if long, interview with some of the people that made it happen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What a beautiful world

More pictures here.

National Comic Book Day


I learn over at Buzz.mn that today is a celebration of comic books. I think my first step into comic books was X-Men 197 which would have been around 1985. (This issue sold for $.65 and is now worth ten dollars or so. And no, I don't have any of them left.)
The comic dealt with a plucky group of outcasts who were often looked at as outlaws. My brother and I quickly fell in love with the whole thing. We bought new issues and back issues and expanded to other comics. This was our shared literature.
The fellow on the left there is Nightcrawler, my favorite. He was forever on the outside because of his blue skin. Gifted with amazing acrobatic prowess and the ability to teleport. He loved the swashbuckler films of the '20s. I stopped reading the new stuff years and years ago so I don't know what's happened to him or the rest of the group (guess I could catch up on Wikipedia).
In recent years I've taken to buying some of the reprints in an effort to recapture some of my youth. It's incredibly satisfying. (And not too expensive if done in moderation. Hey, it could be worse, I could be addicted to XBox or something.)
Comic books offer stories in an easy to digest fashion. That doesn't mean that they're useless. They provide drama and conflict in quicker doses than a fully bound book. And sometimes, some lonely teenager will look at a blue skinned freak who still has a joy for life and think, I may not have it so bad after all.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Smiles

We're not sure if Relia is smiling or just having gas. The FP Gal thinks it's actual social smiling. I'm not so sure. We tried to take a picture but that guarantees that she stops smiling. Could be the blinding flash.
Also on the toss-up list, whether or not she just meant to say 'guh'. Yes, it could be an accident. Or it could be the French pronunciation of the name 'Gus'. You decide.

Pacifier = Happiness

Is that more true for baby or for parents? Discuss.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Valleyfair

So today was the annual company picnic at Valleyfair. They rent out the whole place for employees and family which is very nice. The crowds are light and the lines are short. You can do roller coaster after roller coaster without much delay.
We gave the new coaster 'Renegade' a try. It's wikipedia page says that the ride is two minutes long, but it feels more like 45 seconds. Very fast with a s-shaped curve on the first drop. Very nice.
The highlight of the picnic is a prize drawing with prizes ranging from money to hotel rooms to cruises and all expenses paid vacations. In the past they've done this at Valleyfair and had the prize winners come up to the stage. This year they're doing the drawing elsewhere and notifying winners later in the week. I preferred the first way.
One complaint? The park has started doing a Halloween themed thing on weekends throughout October. This means that they close some of the rides to get the spaces ready. One of the casualties is my favorite, the bumper cars. Seriously, how can they close that one down. (Someday, remind me to tell the story of how I changed bumper cars in Scotland). Still, it was very nice.

The Last Picture Show - 1971

This story is in a small Texas town during the 50's. The town is drying up and blowing away (and their high school football team sucks). The film focuses on two young boys (one of them is Jeff Bridges) who are trying to figure out what to do with their lives.
Bridges is involved with Cybil Shepard (her first movie) and plans to get married to her one day. She expects that too, until her Mom undermines that desire by telling her that she should sleep with him a couple of times and get it out of their system. She does and it does.
Actually there is a lot of sleeping around in this movie. Affairs and heartbreak dominate. Having grown up in a small town I can tell you that that really is the best way to spend your time. The hidden message is not to get involved with Cybil Shepard though. Boy is she trouble.
It's an arty movie. It has a few nice moments but I really didn't become attached to any of the characters. It also has the realistic Texas touch that can only come from a director who was a European immigrant who grew up in New York City. Not bad, but not really that good either.

Viking update

Just finished watching the game. They got screwed on the touchdown call which would have put them ahead 14-0. These things happen in sports and I'm not too upset by it. The problem is that this Viking team isn't good enough to make up for losses like this. Well, I wasn't expecting this to be a winning season anyway. Guess this just ensures a better draft pick next year.
What do I want out of the rest of the season? A win over Green Bay (next week would be fine). Some improvement on the offense, especially from the receivers. A rookie-of-the-year award for Peterson wouldn't be bad. And sustained play from the defense.
Am I giving up on the team? No. It wouldn't take much more from the offense to make this a good team. If they could start finishing drives with touchdowns and get into the three offensive touchdown per game range, they'd win most games. I don't expect that to happen but it sure could.

If I could choose...

a poltergeist for my house, I'd probably go with this one. Seems like it would be restful.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Lazy Saturday

Q: How long does it take new parents to get ready to go grocery shopping?

A: About three hours. It happened this way. We started to think of going but wanted to time it for between feedings. She's started 'cluster feedings' (which means she'll only eat if a cluster of birds is outside the window) so her timing is a bit irregular. When she finally ate we decided we should too so I started for McD's. Only to find our neighbor outside. They're good people but we're not close enough that we have brought Relia over and introduced her. So out she came and there was some chitchat. Then I was off and brought food back home. We ate and that was all good. Then more time passed and finally it was time to feed her again. And then off to the grocery store.
This is the stuff that we didn't know about beforehand. At least I didn't. Take note, potential new parents.

Anything can happen at a baseball game

Watch the bat.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Killer Death Storm

We've got a thunderstorm (or possibly thunderstorms) working their way through the Metro right now. I'm not usually home to watch storm coverage so this was kind of a re-education. I'm sure it's been said before but I'll second it: severe weather is like porn for local stations.
There was a possible tornado touchdown near the Wisconsin border with many reports of funnel clouds. This was reported with the fanciest set of radar options you've ever seen in your life. Vivid colors. Hail sizes (estimated) popping up on neighborhoods. Long arrows that presumably showed vectors. And (new to me) ominous circles that showed 'mid-level rotation', a cluster of which might just have been showing a tornado.
Everyone is ok over here and I hope everyone is ok throughout the metro. My biggest concern is the tension level that the stations cause throughout their audience with wild warnings and predictions of doom for everyone. Let's keep calm until we have reason to get excited, ok?

Lying down with lion and lamb

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Piratey stuff

Skills

(Via the Corner) Here's a list of 25 Skills every man should know:

1. Patch a radiator hose
2. Protect your computer
3. Rescue a boater who has capsized
4. Frame a wall
5. Retouch digital photos
6. Back up a trailer
7. Build a campfire
8. Fix a dead outlet
9. Navigate with a map and compass
10. Use a torque wrench
11. Sharpen a knife
12. Perform CPR
13. Fillet a fish
14. Maneuver a car out of a skid
15. Get a car unstuck
16. Back up data
17. Paint a room
18. Mix concrete
19. Clean a bolt-action rifle
20. Change oil and filter
21. Hook up an HDTV
22. Bleed brakes
23. Paddle a canoe
24. Fix a bike flat
25. Extend your wireless network


Yikes! I can only do three of those well (7, 15 and 23). I would have put 14 on the list but my skills there are iffy. I've never put 3 to the test but I think I could do it. Fortunate for me and my modern marriage my wife can probably do about 20 of these things. I guess we know who wears the toolbelt in this family.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Novel reminder

Just a reminder that November is National Novel Writing Month. This was a blast last year and I expect to enjoy it again. The idea is simple. You write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The idea is that the time crunch will turn off your 'over-editor' and let the words flow out of you, leading you to new and interesting paths.
When I started last Nov.1 I had little hope of actually making it. I thought the discipline would be too much. Or that other events would get in the way. But I soon found that I was looking forward to my writing time. I didn't know where the characters were going and it was very enjoyable getting to know them.
How'd the story turn out? Not bad. I knew pretty early on that I was writing just for myself. Didn't even go back and edit it. Turns out that was best because major elements of the story turn up in the current movie 'Good Luck Chuck'. (I didn't have the good sense to cast Jessica Alba in my story though.)
Anyway, take the plunge! The worst thing that can happen is that you'll start something and have to walk away from it later. But...you might just surprise yourself and create something you're proud of.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Random Monday night thought

  • That Ipod Nano commercial with girl dancing in a warehouse? The one that begins "1,2,3,4"? Very catchy. The video is here on YouTube. I had to google it and came up with a young lady named Feist. She had a different commercial song done with this song.
  • Holy cats! This sounds less like a newsroom and more like something from Cinemax.
  • 500 and a game winner. Not everyone understands the appeal of sports. They don't understand the commitment and the emotional involvement. Stories like this are the payoff.
  • How does this not make your day? Seriously, bookmark this and you can chase away the darkest day. (Don't worry, we'll get one of these from 'Relia when we can.)
  • Until then, here's something the FP Gal whipped together for her dad. You'll like the music for this one too.
  • That's it!

Sicut Cervus


This was probably the most beautiful pieces we did in high school choir. If memory serves, it was my senior year and it was introduced to us at Big Nine Select but Mr J had our choir in Austin do it. Gorgeous.
A translation can be found here. The first line has always captivated me. 'As the deer longs for running water, so longs my soul for you, O Lord.'
Yes I miss singing in choir.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tiger illusion

Can you see the hidden image in this picture? Puzzle found here.

What a week!

Sorry for the slow blogging this week. This was my first week back to work and it's been a tough one. Monday morning felt like the first day of school. The colder weather and waking up to an alarm for the first time in weeks really sold the illusion. I felt like I should gather my notebooks and pencil box and keep an eye out for the bus.
It was good to see people at work but I didn't miss the actual job. It's surprising how fast it all come back to you though. By Monday afternoon I was already dealing with cranky TA's and unreasonable travelers. Yep, if you make a last minute change to your plans it will cost lots and lots of money. And no, it's not my fault that your business plans changed at the last minute. Take it out on someone else.
Monday night brought the first real challenge. I work ten hour days so the FP Gal is on her own for 11+ hours. When I got home she had an angry thought bubble over her head that said "Someone else take her!". She let me settle in a bit and then I took her. She fell asleep on my chest like a little angel. This was a big mistake as she would not go to sleep later. About 230a I woke up the wife and passed her off. She used her magic powers to settle her instantly. I don't know that trick yet.
The rest of the week was much the same (though with more sleep). The trouble with long work days is that it leaves very little down time at home. We're still figuring out how to balance things so that we both get time alone.
Thursday (my day off) we ran some errands, including grocery shopping at a Super Target. Not bad. The prices are comparable and the selection is a little different. We've got one opening near us next month and we may need to mix in some shopping from there occasionally. Yep, we love the big box stores!
Yesterday, the FP Gal had an all day wedding to shoot meaning 'Relia would be in my care all day. (Remember, it's not baby-sitting if it's your own children.) The day went fine in the early part. I warmed milk and bottle fed her. Changing was ok. After 6p or so she didn't want to calm down. I finally got her to sleep on my chest about 730p and the Ozzie decided it was time to sharpen his claws on the couch. That riled up daddy and woke up baby. She didn't calm again until midnight or so. The FP Gal thinks she may have a touch of gas or something. An unhappy baby really takes it out of you. It's a good thing we love her so much that we're willing to go through this.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Sports Gal

For years I've reading a column by Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) over at ESPN. He's witty and insightful and has a better command of pop culture than even Ken Jennings. Before the start of last year's football season he decided to let his wife make picks even though she didn't watch football. It was a test to see if his experience and acumen would win out over her novice common sense. She won.
Her only condition for being willing to go along with the whole thing was that she would be able to include a small section where she could talk about anything she wanted and he couldn't edit it. Her latest is quite good and I'm sure there are people in this audience that can relate.
Right now, I'm eight and a half months pregnant and have a giant bowling ball in my stomach. I can't sleep and I pee every hour on the hour. Every time I lay down, I feel like someone's kicking field goals inside me. My daughter constantly wants me to hold her even though I can't hold a bag of groceries at this point. I'm always 20 degrees hotter than everyone else, but Bill lowers the air conditioning every time I'm not looking so I call him the Air Conditioning Nazi. I'm very emotional and can't watch any movie where a dog gets killed or someone might die of cancer because I don't want the water works to start flowing. If I seem especially mean in these rants over the next few weeks, don't blame me -- blame God for deciding that it would be a good idea for women to have babies and men to watch football every Sunday. I wish Bill was carrying this kid and I could go over to a friend's house to watch TV for eight straight hours under the flimsy excuse that "it's my job." Yeah, it was also your job not to knock me up in time for football season.

Just know that I'm extremely concerned. Our second baby is due right between Game 7 of the World Series and the start of the NBA season, and during the middle of football season as well. Bill claims this won't be a major problem. Ohhhhhh-kay. I keep having this nightmare that I'll be in labor in agonizing pain, but every time I look up for support from Bill, he'll be pretending to care while he's really trying to figure out how to get split-screen on the 13-inch hospital TV. If that happens, I will be the first pregnant woman to file for divorce at the same time they're administering the epidural. The other problem is that we can't decide on a name. We're having a son and Bill thinks we should name it after him because he's a third and the kid would be a fourth. I love the logic of that one -- sure, let me carry the kid for 10 months, and then we'll name it after you. That's an awesome idea. Even when he jokes that we should name him D'Bill or LaBill so he'll be a good athlete, it makes me mad. Everything makes me mad right now. Did I mention that I'm eight and a half months pregnant?

I refuse to discuss names any more, I want to see Bill's performance in the final days of the pregnancy first. If he's watching sports every spare second and saying things like, "Why did you have to go into labor during Game 6 of the World Series, what were you thinking?", then I'm naming this kid Peyton Manning Simmons and that will be that. Anyway, I'm sorry this week's rant isn't about Britney throwing her career down the toilet, but I had to get that off my swollen chest.
Hon, let's never schedule a baby for October, ok?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

International hotels

One of the interesting things I do during my job is to call hotels in other countries. This sometimes involves a language barrier but we're fortunate that English is really the international language of the travel industry.
Today was my first call to Moscow. The guy on the other end of the line was either named Peter (Pytor?) or he misunderstood and was repeating my name back to me. They didn't have the availability that we needed (I think) so our conversation didn't go too deep. The two months of Russian I took ten years ago flashed through my mind but none of it stuck enough to be helpful. I did close with a polite 'Spaceba'.
Southeast Asian hoteliers are invariably polite. They are a joy to work with if you can understand each other. That also goes for the regions airlines.
The worst hotels to call? New York or DC. Hard to understand and dripping with condescension and/or hatred. I'd much rather deal with the level of politeness in Paris, thank you very much.
My favorite city to call? That's easy. Montreal. Warm helpful young ladies with nice French accents. They absolutely make me melt. (Don't worry, the FP Gal knows all about this. She doesn't worry about me over the phone but I'm sure she'll never let me travel there without her.)

A Clockwork Orange - 1971

A group of young men are sitting in a milk bar getting ready for their night out on the town. They leave and find an old man drunk under a bridge. They beat him. They stumble across another group tearing the clothes off of a young woman so they can rape her. They start a fight and beat them up.
That's how this classic film opens up. It shows a young gang, incredibly violent and without a shred of shame. The leader accidentally kills a woman while robbing her and is sent to prison. He volunteers to undergo a radical treatment that will give him early release.
The treatment involves applied behaviorism. The patient is forced to watch movies of violence or sexual situations. His eyes are forced to stay open so he can't turn away. He's also made sick so as to associate the two things. Afterwards he is unable to fight or become sexually aggressive. There is a problem though. The treatment has left him vulnerable to his former victims. An accidental side-effect has also turned him away from Beethoven, his one and only pure love.
This is probably the most gratuitously violent and sexual movies I've ever seen. There is nudity everywhere. Any excuse for naked artwork is taken. The accidental killing is done with a giant plastic penis, for instance. Frankly, it's too much. The violence isn't as bad. (Probably just desensitized or something.) The original film was rated X and that's what the DVD version has on it. The film underwent periods of censorship and was even pulled by it's director (Kubrick) after a copycat rape.
Is it a great film? Kubrick knows his filmmaking, there is no doubt about that. The movie is hypnotic and it's difficult to turn away. It's also sickening at times. I can understand the appeal but I didn't care for it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We won't forget


(Picture from Althouse.)

Patriot Day

I'm tempted to write up my 9/11/01 thoughts as my Mom did, but I'm not in the mood tonight. Maybe next year.

Last week the FP Gal and I talked about the difficulty of naming this particular day. We remember it for scattered but related events. If it was just the Towers or the Pentagon it would be simple but as it is we think about the whole day and that's how we usually talk about it. It's become 'September 11th' or 9/11.
Or so I thought. When I got to work I noticed that today is called 'Patriot Day' (USA). I'd never heard of that before. Maybe I live under a rock or something but that passed me by.
I emailed Jodi to check on her calendar (correct me if you need to). She has a diversity calendar that celebrates holidays all over the world while ignoring important dates in US history. I told her what my (snooty, Latin) calendar said and asked her what her calendar said. She responded, "Happy Ethiopia's New Year".
We traded emails about celebrating with fireworks and then she sent me this one:
We had our monthly cake and ice cream. The cake was a US flag; I made
the comment it was left over from Labor Day. The guy looked at me and
said, "No, it's for Patriot Day. Why am I the only one that knows about
this?"
Aha! I'm not alone! And then, in a further bit of synchronicity I ran across this post about the Ethiopians:
One of the oldest Christian countries, Ethiopia keeps the Coptic Orthodox calendar ushers in the 21st Century. and at 5 pm EST, it is midnight in Addis Ababa, the party has just begun and tens of thousands have burst into celebration, as Ethiopia ushers in the 21st Century.
So...good for them I guess. One more thing? When I told my coworkers about this story, they decided that cake was just the thing for them, too. So a quick trip was made to Sam's Club and we had cake this afternoon.
Patriot Day? It's been around since 2002 but the term isn't used very much.



Random stuff

  • Dad, this is for you. Use it in moderation.
  • Newest method of calming 'Relia? Watching old Doctor Who episodes on YouTube. (One of my faves, co-written by Douglas Adams.)
  • Want to search for bloggers by location? Here are the ones listed for Austin. Duluth. Scotland. The moon.
  • That's it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Top ten: Babies vs Kittens

All of my former parenting experience has to do with kittens. Here are the top ten differences between raising the two of them.

10. Babies don't come litter trained.
9. The Humane Society makes you promise to spay or neuter. Human society thinks this is cruel.
8. Neither one lets you sleep in but babies don't bite your toes.
7. If you drop a baby, she won't land on her feet. (This hasn't been tested but I'm assured it's true.)
6. Kittens threaten your furniture. Babies threaten your shirts.
5. Catnip.
4. They both want milk but only babies get it.
3. A baby with whiskers would be very very wrong.
2. No one asks about the cats last name.
1. Cats really don't like wearing diapers.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ioway

Pictures here. Ok, so we left Thursday morning. Prep time would have taken me about 15 minutes. Add in the FP Gal and we're looking at a half hour. 'Relia bumps this to an hour. It seems exponential so I'm guessing a family with five children (two of which we met with on Friday) would take 16 hours to get ready for an overnight. That's a sobering thought.
The weather was fine and we decided to bring musicals to sing along with. We opened with 'The Music Man' and followed that up with 'Les Mis'. Our guide to 'Les Mis'? Either she likes the song or I do and there's very little overlap.
We stopped for lunch in Mason City and discovered that 'Relia doesn't like to eat in the car. She did (eventually) and we ate lunch at Subway. They covered mine with onions but the FP Gal survived. Nothing else of note from the drive down except that there is very little good talk radio in central Iowa.
Then off to meet the in-laws and the FP Gal's grandmother and she got to see her great-granddaughter. There was much happiness. 'Relia dropped the average age at the nursing home quite a bit.
We went over to Marshaltown for one of the FP Gal's favorite traditions, a Maid Rite. Think of the Tendermaid in Austin and you've got it. Except they won't put cheese or ketchup on theirs. Just mustard, pickles and onions. 'Relia had her first visit (I'm sure of many) but they only thing she ended up with was hamburger in her hair.
Back to the hotel and I elected to stay and watch football with my daughter while everyone else went to play savage games of Upwards. It felt like the right choice. She fell very firmly asleep against my shoulder. It was very sweet.
The next morning brought a very long drive up to Austin. It was made longer by some construction and flagmen. Eventually we made it up there and got to spend some time with Dad and Grandma. It was so nice that we took a nap and left her in the care of her Grandfather. They looked very sweet together.
Then off to the HyVee deli for supper (only the fanciest for us!). We were joined by my Uncle and Aunt and my cousin Amy and 60% of her brood. Steve Bremner and his clan also swung by to say hello to us. We were given clothes and other assorted baby stuff, including an offer to become a Personal Penguin (song found here).
Then back home...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Proof of ghosts?


Sitter Cam Catches Ghost - Watch more free videos

Madeleine L'Engle

She was one of my favorite authors when I was young. 'A Wrinkle in Time' is one of those books that everyone should read. The third book in that trilogy, 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet' is the first book I can remember staying up very late to finish. I also liked the Austin family books. I thought this post of personal remembrance is very sweet.

Twins/WhiteSox

So when we got home last night I turned on the TV to see what was going on in the baseball game. With the Twins in Chicago I'd get to see my team, even if I had to put up with the wrong announcers. They were just entering the ninth inning, tied at 4. A few hits (and errors) later and the Twins put two runs up on the board. I turned the channel because, frankly, I've watched enough White Sox losses this year. Didn't even check the score last night.
So I was surprised when the FP Gal told me that they came back and won. Well, good for them. Must have pushed three runs across in the bottom of the ninth. Was kind of sorry that I missed it. Then I read the game recap in the Strib, 'Historic Collapse...' read the headline.
It seems that the Twins went on to score six runs in the top of the ninth. The White Sox (somehow) scored six of their own. The game went on for another four innings before the Sox pushed across the winning run in the 13th.

It marked the first time in White Sox history -- a history that spans to 1901 -- that they had entered the ninth inning with a six-run deficit and come back to tie. It was also the first time in major league history that two teams entered the ninth tied, only to have each team score at least six runs to tie the score again.

First time in major league history. You just never know what will happen in the world of baseball.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Back from Iowa

And everyone is fine. Story and pictures of 'Relia with two of her great-grandmothers tomorrow.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pray for our souls...

We attempt to brave darkest Iowa today. If all goes well you'll hear from us sometime when we get back. If we get back...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

2007 Football season

Since tomorrow is the season kickoff, I just wanted to get some thoughts down so I could laugh at them in five months or so.
  • I want to be encouraged by the Vikings preseason, I really do. The second biggest question mark, Tavaris Jackson, looks serviceable. The receivers might be good enough for an average passing game. The defense should be good against both the pass and the run. What holds me back? The playcalling. Until Childress shows that he's willing to try and convert on third down, I don't trust them. I'll predict another 6-10 season.
  • Who wins the division? I don't trust the Bears because of Grossman. He looked fine early in the season but then nosedived late in the year. He'll keep the opposition in too many games. I also think their defense and (especially) their special teams will decline.
  • The NFC North winner? I hate to say it, but if I had to put money on it, I'd go with the Packers. Their defense should be good. They have the fourth easiest schedule in the league. If they get their running game going, they'll win a lot of games.
  • Boldest prediction? The Patriots are widely seen as the top team this year, especially since they've made so many moves to improve their passing game. I don't buy it. Every few years in sports, some team comes into the season looking unstoppable. Remember the Lakers a few years back when they added a couple of Hall of Famers? Didn't get them a ring. Something will happen to derail them. Injuries or something else will disrupt them. I see them as a wildcard team.
  • Division winners? Put me down for the Jets, Jaguars, Bengals and Chargers in the AFC. In the NFC I'll go with the Redskins, Saints, Packers and 49ers.

Possible Northwest Action

in case of more labor trouble.
Nepal's state-run airline has confirmed that it sacrificed two goats to appease a Hindu god, following technical problems with one of its aircraft.

Nepal Airlines said the animals were slaughtered in front of the plane - a Boeing 757 - at Kathmandu airport.

According to the BBC, this was to help a plane with chronic mechanical problems. I'm not sure if a goat would be the best option here or not. Possibly a burnt offering of lutefisk would be better.
(Via Althouse.)

Update: Shouldn't they at least sacrifice an opossum when they reopen the runway?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fiddler on the Roof - 1971

This is the story of a Tevye, a Russian jew who has been blessed with five daughters. He lives in the small town of Anatevka where he works as the village milkman. His oldest daughters are coming up on marrying age. Each one brings a new crisis as they force him to choose between love and tradition. (Seriously, you probably know the story and if you haven't seen this movie, you should.)
It's hard for me to picture anyone but Topol playing the role of Tevye but apparently he was a controversial choice. The original Broadway run (1964) starred Zero Mostel, of 'The Producers' fame. Wish I could see that.
Some wonderful songs from this musical. The FP Gal's favorite is 'Tevye's Dream' with 'Matchmaker' a close second. Both are very good. I'd probably lean towards 'Far from the Home I Love' but there are six or eight good ones.
A great movie. It's a shame that we don't get musicals like this anymore.

What's changed?

Someone asked me today what's changed since Aurelia arrived. The biggest thing is just the sheer amount of responsibility that's been added. Once of us has to account for her at all times. The FP Gal and I are both pretty independent people. We're used to each going our own ways here at home. Usually with me disappearing to the third floor for hours at a time. That's the big change.
I'm tempted to say that I've gained a huge awareness of the future as I see her going to kindergarten/high school/college. There is something to that but it doesn't pay to dwell on that too much. She'll be walking and talking soon enough without any worries on our part. Someday she'll even be dating. (Note to self, look into gun training.)
My dad says that he learned enormously from his kids. I'm sure there are many lessons to follow. So far the big one is that there is a little someone who sometimes needs all of my attention and those times are completely on her schedule.

Monday, September 03, 2007

State Fair

So off we went to the State Fair today. The FP Gal's version is here. We spent a large part of the day adjusting the shades on the car seat and stroller. The FP Gal is convinced that 'Relia is part vampire and must be protected from the barest hint of sunshine. Color me doubtful.
Anyway we had a good time, if a short one. We both got tired out. Hot sunny days just wipe me out for some reason. This is why we're not moving to Arizona.
Speaking of the fair, the great Lileks has been blogging about it for the last couple of weeks, sometimes including video. This is from last Friday but it's a lot of fun. All it takes is one runaway bull and you've got your Fair story set for you. That kind of sums up journalism right there, doesn't it?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Random Sunday Night Thoughts (Baby edition)

  • We made it out to the MOA today and got two levels in. We got to figure out how the car seat works with the stroller. The durn thing has lots of bells and whistles. It'll probably take months before we learn it all.
  • We've gotten some pretty good sleep the last couple of nights. This is good for us but a little worrisome. Best advice I've gotten is from my friend Lia. She told me that what helped her most with her first child is that she hadn't read lots of books or listened to any advice. That way she could just take it all in stride. Good advice.
  • Is there anything better than a good swaddle? The FP Gal swears by something called the 'Miracle Blanket'. It has interior flaps to really hold the arms down strongly. She loves it. Well, they both do.
  • I'm pretty sure that swaddling is a violation of the Geneva Convention.
  • My walking trick is wearing thin but I may have found a way to make it more effective. I'm stuffing a blanket into the upper part of my shirt to make my chest softer. Don't laugh, it works. I may be pioneering something that will make fathers all over the world happy.
  • We actually had a conversation about what age 'Relia can start blogging at. Of course, by the time she's ready, it'll be some kind of stream of consciousness interface thingy. Amazing how fast this all moves, isn't it?
  • That's it!

Saturday, September 01, 2007