Friday, November 30, 2007

NaNoWriMo

If you look over to your right, you'll see that I crossed the 50k mark yesterday. That's the beauty of this thing, as long as you have enough total words down the quality doesn't really matter. No one will ever read it unless you let them.
Well, here's the deal, I know there has been some interest from you guys to actually read this thing. So I'm figuring out a way to do that. I don't want to clog up this blog with a huge unreadable section. Instead, I'm going to start a different blog and put up 1000 or so words per day.
Keep in mind that I didn't write this as a serial so it won't be filled with daily cliffhangers. I'll try to make cut offs logical, of course. Also, don't feel like you have to go over and read it. I can't track these things, so you won't be hurting my feelings.
The story still has another week or ten days of writing, so don't expect anything until closer to mid December. I'll put a post up then with the new address. And then I'll stop talking about it over here.
How was the writing this year? Very difficult. It was a year of obstacles. I've been sick, had my computer down for a couple of days, had lots of family stuff and of course a baby to look after.
Did I enjoy it? Very much so. It's amazing to me how stories take on a life of their own. Once I started digging into it, different avenues and ideas just started opening up.
Will I do this again next year? Wife willing I will. And I'll also encourage many of you to join me!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Fifth Anniversary

To Hans and Rachel.
Their wedding was the beginning of a new chapter for our family. Until then we were the classic nuclear set up with two parents, two boys and a girl.
  • This wedding added Rachel and her family.
  • Not long after that we added Josiah.
  • Heidi brought Chad and his family into the group.
  • I soon followed suit with the FP Gal and her clan.
  • Annika was next.
  • Then came Aurelia.
You can also add parents and in-laws to the number. Anyway, Hans, I'm glad you brought her in (even if I did void the warranty).

Can you believe that was only five years ago?

Aurelia discovers herself

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Woman's Work


There have been about half a dozen babies born into my office this year (with two more on the way). One of the ladies that I worked closely with for about two years just had a boy last Friday. There must be something in the water or something.
Even amongst my friends who blog, there has been a rush of them. There's Holly who went early. And Carrie who only has a month or so left. Laurie caught on this fall. And who knows when she'll start telling people.
Anyway, I'm too busy to put together a real post, so I thought I'd put up a video of a gorgeous Kate Bush song. Yes, it's really for dads-in-waiting but maybe the rest of you can enjoy it too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blog news

I've tinkered with the settings for this blog so that anyone can comment. It will still ask for word verification to keep the spambots away but it'll be easier for non-bloggers to say something. If you're out there and have been reading, don't be shy. Join in on the conversation!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bachelor weekend

The FP Gal is back from her trip to IA. She and Relia survived just fine without me. When she arrived back home she was all smiles. After about twenty minutes or so this turned into inconsolable crying. Wailing and wailing as if the world was going to end.
The tale of the tape from the weekend?
  • There were seven McDonalds bags in the garbage. Only three of them were from me. This was probably too much. I'm swearing off the arches for awhile. At least until Wednesday.
  • I got to write several thousand words, enough where I'm confident I can reach 50k by Friday. Guess who else is playing? Good for him and I hope he gets there too.
  • With Hans in town we did some game playing on Saturday. I was competitive but didn't win anything. Maybe next time.
  • I had two (2) nights where I didn't have to share the sheets or the comforter. Very nice.
I'm glad they're home.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Creating Wonders

How could I resist this story?

Indeed, the Italian government was not even aware of their existence until a few years ago.

But the 'Temples of Damanhur' are not the great legacy of some long-lost civilisation, they are the work of a 57-year-old former insurance broker from northern Italy who, inspired by a childhood vision, began digging into the rock.

There are more pictures at the link.

In 1977, he selected a remote hillside where he felt the hard rock would sustain the structures he had in mind.

A house was built on the hillside and Falco moved in with several friends who shared his vision. Using hammers and picks, they began their dig to create the temples of Damanhur - named after the ancient subterranean Egyptian temple meaning City of Light - in August 1978.

That's how these things always start, isn't it?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Post Thanksgiving

Yesterday was a good day. The FP Gal took Relia over to her folks to start cooking. That's her favorite part of turkey day, maybe her dad's favorite, too. That left me the house to myself and I got some writing done.
I went over there at 1130a or so. That let me watch the Fox pregame special where Brettie was proclaimed to be the best person in the world. That was super fun, let me tell you! We had the game on there, but muted with subtitles. This brings a unique view to a football game. The inane chatter is about two plays behind and sometimes that's an improvement.
The food was very yummy. I'd mentioned to the FP Gal that I've never had the drumstick so she made sure I got one this year. It wasn't anymore special than the rest of the turkey so I can gladly give them to someone else in the future.
Then it was off to Austin to see a different section of the family. Two of my cousins were there with their nine (9) children. Having them all under one roof is kind of like sharing a room with a tornado. More hugs though. Again, lots of fun. (My quick count has her in contact with 27 family members, mostly new to her, in about 48 hours.)
The Austin branch had helped out at the Salvation Army that morning, helping get hot meals to hungry people. It was covered by the news so we go to see them on TV. After they were done, they got to bring some food back with them so eating was buffet style. There was even some traditional Chinese food just like the pilgrims ate.
Then back home. It was great to see everyone but the FP Gal and I greatly benefited from the car rides there and back. Lately all we talk about it is her projects/my projects or what else to try when Relia is crying. While she was asleep in the back, we could just chat nicely. I might be most thankful for that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Birthday extravaganza

So last night we went out and celebrated our birthdays. We did this last year with just our parents and it was very nice. This year we expanded it and invited our brothers and their families. That gave us a round number of 13. (With some forethought, we would have gotten a Hobbit to bring us luck.)
It was a very good time, though quite active. Relia spent the entire time being passed from grandparent to aunt or uncle and vice versa. She was very tired by the time we got home. I'd hoped she'd be her regular smiley self but she spent the whole time either sleeping or trying to figure out who in the world was holding her.
Back home, the FP Gal broke her new DVD, 'Help' by the Beatles and we watched some of it. She reports that the video looks much clearer than she'd ever seen it before. The plot is beyond goofy but quite fun. With her help, I may get to know this mystery band.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Birthday

To the FP Gal. It's been quite a year and you've handled it all marvelously.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Random Monday Night Stuff

  • Yay, a random post! (These are some of my favorites to write. Unfortunately, there is an inverse relationship between how much I enjoy them and how easy they are to understand.)
  • Very foggy today and I liked it. The forecast calls for cold and possibly snow starting Thursday. I remember when I was young it seemed that we always had a white Thanksgiving. It must be drier now because they've been green/brown for the most part. Kind of sad.
  • Being a sports fan means seeing the same commercials over and over and over. This leads to some obvious questions. Is there a construction company in this country that expects it's employees to use their own trucks on the site? And are you really telling me that any sizeable number of the truck owning population would ever risk their very expensive new vehicles by just throwing concrete blocks in the bed? How stupid do you think we are?
  • Speaking of trucks, there must be some way to angle their headlights so as not to blind car drivers. This isn't rocket science. (Yes, there is physics involved in both but it's clearly different.)
  • Related note, would it be legal to rig a mirror for my back window? When one of these guys needs to drive on my back bumper I could pull a cord or something and shine those brights right back at him. Not legal? Can I talk to a legislator about this?
  • Speaking of laws that should be passed, here is an obvious one and I don't know why we don't have it. Pregnant women should be issued a handicapped parking sign for their last few months. They need close parking more than a number of current recipients. Some smart pol will figure this out someday and be swept into office.
  • American Pie lyrics and explanation found here. I used to like this song. Then I worked at a bar where you could hear it ten times a day during a pool tournament. If I never hear it again, that will be fine with me.
  • This post is sounding ranty and angry and I don't mean it to. I'm looking forward to good food and seeing family this week. Should be great fun!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Note to bettors

When we put Relia in her Viking sleeper she immediately started crying. Under the rule that babies can sense oncoming thunderstorms, earthquakes and embarrassing football games that probably doesn't mean good news for the Purple today. I've picked them to win (another bad sign) but it's easy to see where today could go badly for them.
A few T-Jack interceptions and a missed receiver or two and the Raiders get a couple of touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Vikes of last week looked like they may never score a point again. Yuck, I feel sick just typing that.
Hold on Relia! The Vikings really are more fun to watch than they've shown this year. Really, I promise. (Does anyone have tape of the '98 Vikings that I can show her?)

Update: Maybe I should make a cynical prediction about the Vikes every week. That seems to almost guarantee a victory.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Overheard at our house

(While 'Dear Prudence' by Siouxsie and the Banshees comes on the music station.)

FP Gal: I didn't know anyone else did this.
Me: This is the only version I know. Who else did this?
FP Gal: Um, the Beatles (duh!).
Me: Oh. I've heard of them.

Guess we just come from different musical backgrounds.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Holiday music

Back in high school our small show choir group would start rehearsing Christmas music right after homecoming (sometime mid-October or so). Our group would sing about 30 times or so between the beginning of December and mid-January. Do the math; three years times three months times about 90 performances = a guy who couldn't stand Christmas carols anymore.
Mr J did his best by choosing interesting music. He introduced me to the Coventry Carol (which I sing as a bass). He had us do so P.D.Q. Bach. Frankly, he did his best but it was just too much for too many years.
It is only in the last few years that I've been able to enjoy it again. In fact it's become kind of a sign of the season the first time a commercial gets 'Carol of the Bells' gets stuck in my head. So, you can have it stuck in yours too.

BTW, I know that it's too early for holiday music. I was raised to believe that it shouldn't be around until after Thanksgiving. That ship has apparently sailed. Take a look at your TV or walk into a store. It's the holiday season already. I suggest that we put all of our energy into keeping it after Halloween.

Back up and running

Well, the computer is anyway. Had to get a new graphic card for the poor thing. Anyway, that should solve the problem.
Wish I had more to say. The FP Gal and I have been pretty much floored with a cold (or flu or something). I came home early Tuesday because of it. We both stayed home yesterday. I think we're past the worst of it. My voice is still funny but I can think straight now.
That was the worst part of the work on Tuesday morning. Every problem call I got felt like something completely new and incomprehensible. It was like they were speaking in Greek or something. Not a good thing when simple mistakes can cause hundreds of dollars to fix. Anyway, I'm confident I can tackle the usual stuff tomorrow.
Hope everyone is doing well. It's strange being cut off like that. It's like I'm used to talking to a couple of dozen people everyday and then they were just...gone. That probably means that I've got a problem or something. Anyway, it's good to be back.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Computer troubles

Very limited posting until I get the video card sorted out.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Make a wish

On the drive home tonight I saw a long gliding shooting star. It started white and turned green before fading. Very beautiful. Did I make a wish? Of course. Can't tell you what I wished for because that would ruin it.

Colds all around

That's the status at the FP household. Well, the maybe not Relia, but the rest of us. The most she has is some snuffling in the morning. The FP Gal and I? Both up at 3a with body aches and strange feverish dreams. Great fun!
Today, my firm wish is that I was a stay at home dad. [Looks down at green fuzzy slippers] "There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home!".
Rats. I'm going to work.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Music & Lyrics - 2007

Hugh Grant plays the failed half of an 80's pop band (think the other guy from Wham!). He gets an offer to write a duet with a Britney clone. The trouble is that he can only write music. He needs someone else to give him the lyrics.
In comes Drew Barrymore to water his plants. It turns out that she's a writer and the two click. If they can overcome her literary demons. And if they can get past his lack of confidence.
This is a very charming movie. Grant plays a wonderfully befuddled man. Barrymore stretches her acting chops here a bit and does a very nice job as a complicated woman. She could honestly have come from the pages of a Woody Allen script (and I mean that as a compliment).
The story works well. And the music? Plenty of fun 80's pop. It's well worth watching.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Random Thursday night stuff

  • Yes, I'm jealous. I'm sure we'll catch up in a couple of years when availability goes up and the price comes down. Rachel, try and sing their praises to the FP Gal, would ya?
  • A quiet day at the FP household. Relia and I just stayed in and watched some TV. Well, she did some time in the swing while I did my own stuff. Do I feel guilty about that? Some. But I'm getting better about it.
  • Meant to tell everyone that 'Amazing Race' was starting again. This is probably our favorite TV show. I keep hoping that the FP Gal will try out for it with me but she won't. She thinks that the stress would be too much. Hey Jodi, you up for a trip around the world?
  • Seriously, it's a great show and you should treat yourself and watch it. It's on Sunday nights on CBS, right after 60 Minutes. You can treat yourself to a double dip and watch Andy Rooney's Decent into Madness, too.
  • Where are the new Relia pictures? The truth is we don't have any good ones. She's just as cute as ever but we're just too tired. Sorry about that.
  • I mentioned the novel yesterday, but I forgot to shout out to the two people I convinced to try it with me this year. My Dad is working from a story idea that he's been playing with over the last couple of years. He called today and we talked writing stuff. It is great to listen to the excitement in his voice as he develops new ideas and plot points. My mother-in-law is also writing. I've hardly seen her this month so I don't really know how she's going but I hope she's having fun!
  • That's it!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Novel news

I don't have the little bug working on the blog yet, so I'll just tell you that the novel is going fine. After six days you should be at 10,000 words and I'm only a couple hundred short of that. This year isn't going quite as smoothly as last. I'm still getting to know the characters and that takes more time. Don't worry, I won't fill the blog with updates on this all month. Here's the beginning (which is certain to be rewritten once I know the people better).

“So, what do you think?”

The servants had all cleared the room. There was no more evidence of the fine meal they had enjoyed. The cards and chips were packed away, too. The card game was finished and a new winner had been crowned. All that remained of the earlier festivities was the cloud of smoke from the lone smoker. From out of this he had brought forth his idea for a different kind of contest.

The other six looked at each other, no one sure that they really wanted to commit. This would mean an incredible amount of time and they were all busy people. It would also be no small amount of money.

Still…there was an upside as well. All seven of them were intensely competitive. Their annual card game had been it’s usual cut-throat affair. It was Rex’s turn to host and he had outdone himself. The food and the service had been top notch. His lavish yacht had been the perfect setting. Here they had privacy. More importantly, they were able to get away from the desperate people. The suck-ups and beggars. After the card game, six of them would poorer but it would be money that they risked and lost fair and square.

After the game, came this new proposal. It was large and grand and tickled the vanities of several of them. It would mean a lasting legacy for each and every one of them. Still…

“Maybe you could go through the details one more time,” drawled Rex. “I’m not sure I understand exactly what it is that you’re proposing. Some kind of ‘art’ thing?”

“It could be. Look, I’ve had rules drawn up and everything but let me run through the gist of this thing again.” A pause and he made certain everyone was watching him. They were of course.

“It’s a simple game. Each of us will build a Wonder of the World.”

Congratulations, Hans

On your degree. I know you worked hard for it. Details here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Winter

Meant to mention that we had our first flurries of the season yesterday. Nothing that stuck to the ground or screwed up traffic or anything like that. But it was real actual white stuff blowing around for a bit.
It came with very strong winds and it felt like we'd been picked up and dipped into the Arctic. Today looks like more of the same. It's like the narwhal saw his shadow and now we're in for six months of winter.
Joy.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Alaska and the 70 lb requirement

Got a call today from a client who needed to fly from Kenai to Skagway. This was part of his regular territory so he knew the schedules and the airlines. Alaskan Airlines is the dominant carrier of the area but they don't always fit the times that are needed. When that happens we go to lesser known carriers. In this case we went with L.A.B Flying Service and Wings of Alaska.
The smaller airlines don't work well with our booking systems so we often have to call them. I didn't have 'Wings' phone number so I had google around for their website. While there I found a link to 'Employment Opportunities'. (Don't worry, I doubt I'll ever convince the FP Gal to move to Alaska. It never hurts to look around though, right?) Under customer service I found the usual requirements: experience, able to use a computer, reservations and...able to lift 70 lbs.
Needless to say, we don't do a lot of heavy lifting at work. I can't imagine what the ladies in customer service would say if this was added in. Probably nothing polite.
When I called, I had to ask what that was all about. The nice lady reservationist didn't seem taken aback when I asked her about it. I'm guessing I'm not the first person who has wondered what's going on. Turns out that that a lot of their baggage is freight and 70 lbs is pretty typical.
Man, we're soft down here in the lower 48.

Airport codes answers

Answer in comment section.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Touchdown!

Airport code quiz

Most airport codes are formed from the name of the city that they serve. The results are obvious; DEN is Denver, MSP is Minneapolis-St Paul. Other airports are much harder. I thought it would be fun to throw some of those unusual ones out there and see how many people can get. The first list is the codes and the second is the cities that the airports serve. (Heidi, I expect you to get a perfect score!)
The codes:
1.BDL
2.BNA
3.CVG
4.MCI
5.MCO
6.MSY
7.ORD
8.TYS
9.XNA
10.YYZ

The cities:
Chicago
Cincinnati
Fayetteville AR
Hartford
Kansas City
Knoxville
Nashville
New Orleans
Orlando
Toronto

Answers tomorrow!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Week in Review

Sorry for the light posting this week. The stress of job schedules has left us both tired and non-creative. Let me try and make up for it and hit the high spots that I left out.
  • Costume for Halloween? Nothing much. In fact I'm ashamed to call it a costume. My team at work decided to go with a theme and all dressed as 'Alice in Wonderland'. When this was first discussed I quickly grabbed the spot of the Cheshire Cat. When der tag came we hadn't prepared anything. As a result I wore a crazy colored poncho and a paper smile hanging from my glasses. Didn't even wear the smile that long because it kept getting in the way.
  • Halloween highlight? The FP Gal brought Relia into work dressed in her tiger costume. She was adorable! We did a quick tour around the office so everyone could see her and then mother and child ran off. (I'd share pictures but our camera is off visiting her brother.)
  • Wednesday night we fought the squirrel. This little critter had gotten into our attic and promptly fell down the vent into the basement. Not loose in the basement, just trapped in the vent down there. We unhooked part of it (a part that the FP Gal thinks they can chew through) and tried to chase him out the coal door. It took a long time and wasn't fun for anyone.
  • Did you know that if you poke a squirrel with a bit of plastic tubing, they just growl unhappily?
  • Very early Thursday (I waited until midnight) I started my novel. And promptly hated it. All of the things that I loved weren't enough to make a story. None of the characters were any fun. The thought of spending the next month listening to these dreary people filled me with dread.
  • Thursday afternoon I decided to go to a fall-back story that I had prepared. The idea is simple and can be summed up with the idea of modern ships doing a 16th century style exploration job on a new planet. I love this idea and if someone would write this book I would sprint to the bookstore to buy it. The only problem is that I don't know even close to enough about ships and other nautical stuff to pull this off. I thought about collaborating with my brother but that will be too time consuming.
  • Later Thursday afternoon. What if I...(don't spook the idea). What if... Say, could I save my original idea by making it just part of a larger story? A quick discussion with the FP Gal made me think I could. (She probably deserves sainthood for putting up with this kind of crap. I really do appreciate it, hon.) So, full speed ahead!
  • Friday at work, I got a bonus package. Not to go into too much detail but for tax purposes they've come up with some kind of way to reward us by doing some shopping for us. I got a computer game and a Paul Simon CD. The game looks like lots of fun. The CD? Eh.
  • Saturday morning brought some shopping, Target and grocery style. While driving around we test drove the aforementioned CD. The last song literally makes the FP Gal cry. The rest just makes you want to listen to his earlier stuff.
  • Saturday evening took us over to my Mom's for dinner with a large part of her side of the family. Lots of fun and Relia was exhausted by being held so much. Actually, everyone was exhausted as the yawns appeared around 630p or so. Good thing we get an extra hour tonight.

Crazy

Thank God, everyone is ok. At least everyone that we know personally.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Woo-hoo!

So the FP Gal added an attachment to Relia's bounce chair. It stands at the foot of the chair and has legs that put it about 10 inches up. It's motion sensitive with the result that every time she kicks or lunges, she sets it off. It lights up and has things that twirl. It also laughs and cheers.
Frankly, we wish it came with a volume control because it's incredibly distracting. The only reason we turn it on is because of the incredible cuteness that comes from it. When it starts to go her little eyes just light up and she becomes very still. Then it goes quiet and she stares at it. Finally she kicks again and sets it off. I think she has some idea that she's doing it. I'm sure the FP Gal will provide video at some point.
(And yes, that's the excitement from our household today.)