Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye Old Year

Tonight rings down the curtain on the 'Year of the Baby'. Not that there won't be more babies next year and so on, but this marked the beginning of baby time in the FP household. (Wait, let me be clear, it's extremely doubtful that the FP household will have more babies next year.)
Let's hope next year brings clearer writing.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who has been with us on the journey so far. Next year we'll bring you her first steps and first words (maybe her favorite liqueur). We'll also share some of our personal lives. Have a good one and be courageous!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fifth day of Christmas

What gift is that again? A chainsaw, right?

Third Blogaverrsary





Yep, started this thing three years ago. (There's been a few changes to my life since then.)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Heaven

These are images of a bookstore in Maastricht, Netherlands. It's a converted church (duh). It's also the largest collection of English books in the city.
I don't know if it's as good as Powells, out in Portland, but it's certainly worth a visit. It looks like it even tops the beauty of the Barnes & Noble down in Rochester.
I've often said that once of the places my ashes should be scattered is in a library or bookstore. This place might make the most sense.

Grocery shopping

At lunch today, I accidentally offered to take Relia grocery shopping on my own today. Basically, I said something about using her to pick up women or something like that. The theory is that women love men with babies (or puppies).
So late in the afternoon, I started to get ready to go. The FP Gal put her in the car seat and we were ready to go. About a mile away from home she started complaining. I waited until I was at a stoplight and reached back to get her pacifier in. It wasn't there.
The complaints soon turned to howling and I pulled over so I could find it and get her soothed down. Climbed into the back seat and did a thorough search. Not there. Great. Should I take her shopping and risk a meltdown?
I turned the car around and drove a few blocks. She quieted down. I pictured the FP Gal looking at me if I failed to do something as simple as take her out shopping. So I turned back around and went to the store. By the time I got there she was complaining again.
Quickly into the store and a cart. I was hoping that if I could make eye contact with her that we'd be ok. And we were. This was a shop for my food so I didn't have to fool around much to get the right stuff. It was fast and we got it done.
Sadly, no women acted like they wanted to pick me up.
Once we were back in the car, the howling started again. She's started to act like the car seat is some kind of torture instrument. She only has to be in some kind of child restraint until she starts college so this might be a problem.
Overall, the mission was a success.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas




The FP Gal detailed our Christmas day already. At the end of her post she mentioned that I got an awesome gift this year (and she's right!). It's something straight from my childhood and I could hardly be more excited about it.
It's 'Crossbows & Catapults', a game designed for 8 year old boys. The idea is simple. Two players each create a castle made of plastic blocks. Then you take turns knocking them down with plastic disks flung by rubber band driven weapons.
It's tremendous fun! The FP Gal and I played a couple of games. Even her Mom got into the act and took some shots. Surprisingly, her Dad resisted but we'll get him to play next time.

Overheard

"I think you should blog about how you don't get the joy of breast-feeding."

The FP Gal

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Prestige - 2006

Magic tricks are based on three parts. First comes the 'pledge' where an item/person is presented. Then comes the 'turn' where something special happens. The third part is called 'the prestige' and it's where the illusion is produced.
This movie details a deadly feud between two stage magicians (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) in the 1890's. Between them is blood and jealousy and one very special trick. Bale has developed a trick called The Transported Man where he disappears in one spot and reappears instantly in another. Jackman becomes obsessed with finding out the secret.
When 'The Sixth Sense' came out, a friend of mine called me the day after she'd seen it and insisted that we go and see it with her. I feel the same way about this movie. Go out and rent it!
The movie was nominated for Best Cinematography, deservingly so. It's beautifully shot. The director is the same guy who did 'Memento' and the story is told in flashbacks.
The acting is very good. Michael Caine plays the engineer for the magicians and he's wonderful. Bale and Jackman are quite good. The story carries the day, though.
A great film.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

White Christmas

We've had postcard type weather today. This morning was cool and bright, with enough sun to melt the snow off of the car. Around 1p we started getting big soft flakes. By 5p we'd collected three or four inches of new snow. I don't know what the total will be once it stops but we're going to be in the neighborhood of half a foot. All very beautiful.

Heartwarming Story

Even in death, Chet Fitch is a card. Fitch, known for his sense of humor, died in October at age 88 but gave his friends and family a start recently: Christmas cards, 34 of them, began arriving — written in his hand with a return address of "Heaven."
You've got to love a guy with a sense of humor.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bad weather football

I love to watch football when the weather is awful. Give me wind or sleet. Most importantly, give me snow. This last month has been wonderful for this type of thing. I don't remember a season that's given us this much good stuff. It seems like the northeast has been hit with good storms each of the last four weekends.
The Packers-Bears game (which just ended) looked just miserable. Coming out of the half they showed a wide view where you could see that one half of the stadium (the half where the wind was blowing) had emptied out. The FP Gal asked if they'd let people change seats. I'd think they would just for humanitarian reasons.
For years I've said that the Vikings should have an open air stadium. Yes, there would be bad weather but that's part of the experience. After seeing today's game...I'm not so sure anymore.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Good news!

I'm no longer the bread winner! Now I can finally quit my job and fulfill my lifelong ambition of being a beachcomber. Maybe I can sell conch shells in the front yard to help pay the bills.
Top ten jobs I wish I had?
  • Cat psychologist
  • Bartender at the airport
  • Acclaimed, best-selling writer
  • MLB broadcaster
  • Stage actor
  • Museum curator
  • Travel agent trainer
  • Lion tamer
  • Long haul truck driver
  • Powerball winner

Friday, December 21, 2007

Have a great Friday

So, where do I get these pictures? This one came from a site called Fresh Pics. The particular post has a couple of dozen similar pictures, all from Russian artist Vladimir Kush.
(BTW, this is the approved method of bringing a whale to the mountains.)

He lost Jodi's vote

Quote.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Little girls

I may need to clip and save this one to reread in a couple of years.
Now, here's where my demented genius comes in: I think that kids can be brainwashed to believe anything is fun as long as you seem excited about it. You could say to your child right now, "You know what we're doing later? We're heading to the yard to watch grass grow!" And if you sell it well enough, they'll be counting the minutes until the back door opens. Seriously.
Hmmm, she'll be 2 1/2 just in time for the 2010 baseball season. That sounds about right...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Creepy

One of our channels has taken to running old Orville Redenbacher commercials. Tonight I told the FP Gal that they give me the creeps. "Why?," she asked. Because they're like popcorn ads from beyond the grave, that's why.
(BTW, yes, he died in 1995.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Relia (and friends)



Movies and TV

Our new favorite TV show? 'The Big Bang Theory'. The idea is simple, two incredibly brainy guys live together in LA. A hot blonde girl moves in across the hallway and upsets their nerdy applecart.
It's very funny. The geek humor really works well. My personal favorite was when they tried to decide if Sheldon was a robot using Asimov's laws of robotics. I don't know how long they can keep up the pace, but it's well worth watching.
Interesting movie news today, as Peter Jackson has agreed to direct 'The Hobbit' and continue his Tolkien streak. I have mixed feelings. I liked this book better than the LOTR ones. I think the story will create a more straightforward narrative, and that's not a bad thing.
The bad side? Both 'Return of the King' and 'King Kong' were incredibly bloated movies. The plans for the 'Hobbit' calls for two movies and I'm guessing each one will be in the three hour range. The cartoon version that was released in the 70's? Not even ninety minutes. Let's hope the studio gives him an aggressive editor.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Random Monday Night Stuff

It feels like it's been a while since I've done one of these...
  • Remember that novel I've been writing? Remember how I was going to put it out on a separate site so that everyone could read it? Well, that's still the plan. The writing on the end has been sloooow. Guess, I worked better with a deadline. I'm now shooting for New Years.
  • Speaking of slow, we've finally hit our slow time at work. This is my favorite time of the year. Today I took six calls. With any luck, it'll slow down even more.
  • We could use one of these. Would help with the stairway at night.
  • I'd like to hand a copy of this to every one of our travelers. Ticket rules are sneaky. The rule of thumb is 'Don't Change Your Schedule'. That way they can't charge you any more.
  • Has anyone out there read 'Love in the Time of Cholera'? I'm going to borrow a copy and I'm curious about the quality.
  • That's it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ghost Fortune Cookie

So I'm up on the third floor reading when I decide that it's time to go downstairs. I start turning off the lights when I look back at the couch and see something odd. Peeking out from under the sleeping bag is a fortune cookie.
In my entire history living in this house, I've never had Chinese food up there. As far as I can tell, none of my guests has ever had Chinese up there. I have no idea where it came from. Maybe the squirrels?
I brought it downstairs and told the FP Gal (freaking her out in the process). She hasn't been up there in months. She asks what the fortune says, hoping it will give some clue as to where it came from.
One who is not sleeping, does not mean they are awake.
And no, I don't know anything in particular that would refer to. Very strange. I'll keep an eye out for anything else.

Good news from Duluth

Dahlia Marie, welcome to the world! Looking forward to updates.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Relia

My how she's growing! It seems that every week she's doing some new thing. She's been working hard on her control skills, specifically taking the pacifier out of her mouth. The fun thing is that she's also working on putting it back in. This afternoon I found her trying to jam the poor thing in backwards.
Why does she take it out? Because she'd rather have her fingers in there, that's why. The FP Gal tries to discourage her for developmental reasons. I try to stop her because it makes her fingers all slimy. Whatever works, right?
The most interesting new development? Yodeling. (There must be some Swiss in there somewhere.) She loudly speaks while rolling her tongue. Lots of fun!
Non-action category: her eyes haven't changed to brown like we expected they would. They are kind of a grayish color. Very beautiful and if they stay that way she'll be very striking.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

FAA Website

Now that we're in our first serious weather event of the season, we're back to all of the old familiar situations at work. We get calls from the stranded traveler. (This year there has been much better awareness that blizzards aren't called up to get in their own personal way.) We get calls from airlines, looking to give heads up about canceled flights. (They don't sound tired yet. Give them a couple more storms.) We're having to call hotels and cancel reservations after policy. All pretty standard stuff, but tiring.
Last winter was a nightmare for a number of reasons including bad weather, full planes and lousy service from the airport workers. I can only hope(!) that there have been improvements over the year. I've got some hope on that front as the airlines seem to be stepping up.
One thing for the minus column is the FAA's website. They have an interactive map that shows delays from airports at every region. The past two days it has shown green all across the board even though airports were closed. Get with it people!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seven Natural Wonders of the World

Remember that poll to determine the new seven wonders of the world? Well, the same group is sponsoring a new poll. This one is to determine the top seven natural wonders of the world. They're still in the nomination phase.
My guesses?
  • Mount Everest
  • The Grand Canyon
  • The Amazon
  • Ayer's Rock
  • The Great Barrier Reef
  • Victoria Falls
  • The Harbor of Rio de Janerio
Some alternates?
Any other suggestions?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Playoffs???

Ok, so let me just start by saying that I was wrong about the Vikings before the season started. I'd predicted six wins this year and they've already surpassed that. Their next two games are at home against teams that they should beat. The last game is at Denver which is always tricky but I wouldn't be surprised by a win. At this point they look very good for the sixth spot and not bad for the fifth.
I hope this is all true and not a mirage. There are still some problems with this team that need to be fixed. Childress is still on a short leash next year as far as I'm concerned.
Looking back at the rest of that prediction, I notice that my division winners could hardly have been worse. I got two right out of eight. If any teams want to pay me not to pick them next year, I'm available.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Geek stuff (or My Day as the French)

My friend Chris invited me to join him at a miniatures convention. Well, they call it a 'convention' but it's more like 60 people gathering at a VFW to play with tiny metal soldiers. I'm a gaming fan but it's more of the 'boardgaming' variety, which means I'm more comfortable with small cardboard squares or little plastic stars. 'Miniature gaming' is more about putting troops in the right spots and using tape measures and rulers to figure out how far they can move and how deadly they can be.
One of the cool things about this type of gathering is seeing the other games all layed out. At midafternoon, there were seven or eight different games being played. Each one looks like a giant diorama of a different era. It's very cool.
The game we played was called 'Empire' and it has the reputation of being one of the most complex games ever. It was at least four levels more complicated than I enjoy but I figured what the hell? I'd jump in and do what I could.
How complicated? The guy who ran the game has been playing this one for twenty years or more. We'd figure out combat and he'd say things like, "Ok, so you've got an eight and fatigue makes it six, plus one for being Prussian. And then three more but minus one. (Looks at chart). So six times twenty...try to roll high." And then we'd roll and he'd tell us what happened.
The game matched me up against Chris and everyone started by playing cautiously. After two turns I figured L'audace, toujour l'audace and flanked him with some cavalry. Things went well and I wiped him out. This will probably mark the one and only time I beat him at that type of game.
Fun? Sure. Not as fun as Dipcon looks like but I'd certainly play again.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Corrections and Clarifications (and other news)

  • The FP Gal doesn't really want a hippo for Christmas (or any other holiday). She just likes that song. And really, who doesn't?
  • More snow yesterday and more tomorrow. We're in some kind of weird weather pattern where we get hit every other day. It's very pretty and I'm hoping that it doesn't warm up and melt off right away.
  • Did you know that marionberries are part of the blackberry family? No, they really are.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Random Monday night thoughts

  • My brother and his family are winging their way toward Germany right now. You can look for them at the Flughafen or here at the Schlossplatz. (Aren't German words fun?)
  • Speaking of international destinations, you can test your geography skills here. Be advised that it gets tough. My best is level eleven which is billed as 'expert'. I can only guess that the next levels are labeled 'autistic', 'insane' or 'home schooled'.
  • And yes, my kids will compete in geography bees if I have anything to say about it. Wish it had been around when I was young, even though I wouldn't have appreciated it. What is it they say? 'Youth is wasted on the young' or something like that.
  • So those Vikes looked kind of OK yesterday. I might have been wrong about Childress and Jackson.
  • I spent some time at work today trying to find a book club to join. Didn't find anything. Well, there are plenty of niche ones, but nothing that I'd want to be a part of. Any suggestions? (Alternate question, how could I start one of my own?)
  • Alternate, alternate question: do I have anything like enough time to join a book club or especially to host one?
  • That's it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Relia and the Cats

We were curious how the cats would deal with a baby in their lives. Mostly they just ignore her. Maybe she'll be more interesting when she pulls their tails. Or when she drops them some food. Until then she's just something else that we sometimes have on our laps.
Ozzie will sometime pop up on the couch when she's there. He gives her a quick sniff and then ignores her. Unless he wants to knead, in which case he wants to use her as a cushion. Needless to say, we don't let him.
Sana is a different story. She's much to dignified (or skittish) to play with a baby. There is one curious habit of hers and we were curious how that would work out. She likes to lick people on the forehead. We refer to it as a 'Sana blessing'.
The other day we took Relia up to change her diaper. Sana was sleeping on her changing pad. I put the baby down next to her to see how she'd react.
Our dignified kitty gave her a sniff and then a lick. It was very cute! We let her do this for a minute, and then we noticed the look on Relia's face. Something like 'what is this, sandpaper?'.

Very funny.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First big snow day

It's been snowing since mid-morning and everything looks white and wintery. The FP Gal calls this instant 'urban renewal'. It really does make the neighborhood look better.
First snow driving rules are in effect. You can either drive as if your car is about to fall apart or you can drive as if there is no possibility of slipping. Nothing in between is allowed.
We're home and safe and intend to stay that way.