Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

I'm a big believer in New Year. I like the idea of having a starting point, especially one which encourages people to make positive changes. In that spirit I like to make resolutions for myself. My record is spotty (of course), but having a plan is a good thing. It helps you keep focus.
For next year:
  • Write a publishable novel.
  • Learn conversational Italian.
  • Be able to play a little piano.
  • See either a comet or the northern lights.
  • Attend a stage play.
Nothing about weight this year. That never works out somehow.

Tomorrow is the first day of a new year. A new leaf, a new path maybe. Make the most of it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Aniversary

To my blog, which started four years ago today. A lot has happened since then, huh? I hope that the next four are at least this good.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Playoffs!

Hooray for the Vikes. It turned out that they didn't even need to win today but I'm glad they did. It would be a little more satisfying if the Giants had played all out but frankly I'll take it. They host the Eagles next Sunday at 330p. I'm not confident, but it wouldn't be that surprising if they won. My guess is that the Eagles will be favored by about 2.
The day started with only five of the twelve playoff teams locked into their spots. That meant that there were many games that still had meaning for at least one of the teams. The conventional wisdom is that these games greatly favor the 'meaning' teams. Tell that to the Bears and Bucs.
For only the second time in NFL history, an 11-5 team (the Patriots) will miss the playoffs this year in favor of either the 9-7 Broncos or the 8-8 Chargers, depending on who wins tonight's game. This has already led to some talk of unfairness. TMQ thinks we should grab the top twelve teams, regardless of conference or division. I think this undervalues the divisional system by a wide margin.
There is a tremendous amount of tradition wrapped up in the divisions. Every year when the schedules come out fans first check out when and where they'll be playing their divisional foes. Then they check out other strong teams and cold weather road games and the like. This stuff matters.
And it all evens out over time. Last year the Patriots went 16-0 and earned homefield against a very weak division. The other three teams only one six non-divisional games (out of a possible thirty). This year's AFC west won 11 of 40, right in that same ballpark.
I've heard a suggestion (don't remember where or I'd link) that teams should be barred from the playoffs if they don't have a winning record, and I could live with that. Keep the 8-8 teams out and invite the next best one in the conference to play. That could add a little more drama at the end. Wonder what the owners would think?

Overheard

From the FP Gal:
"You know how you get anxious for baseball? Well I'm anxious for garage sales."

That makes me feel much better.

Dippin'

Per usual, we had our pre-football McDonalds for lunch today. Lately Relia hasn't liked the chicken we've made for her so I wanted to get her some mcnuggets and see if some better product would get her interest. She loved em.
About halfway through our meal, the FP Gal asked her if she'd like some mustard for her nuggets. This is the way that the FP Gal likes them and she wanted to share with her. Relia is wearing a black shirt today and all I could see was mustard yellow stripes all over her. She squirted a small dab in Relia's container. Relia looked at it and then daintily dipped her nugget in. Just like her mommy!
I was very surprised. She must have watched how mommy eats and then imitated her. Relia really is in a monkey-see-monkey-do phase. (Of course, as I write this she is trying to put her babies bottle in her ear, something that she's never seen her parents do before.)
And now we're going to watch some football!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Open question

For years people have said that the best thing about SNL was the Weekend Update, the part where two members do short clips as fake news casters. Every time that I've seen this they have a brief bit where a different member impersonates someone famous. Here is the question: in the entire history of the show has this impersonation thing been funny? Even once?

First Phrase

Relia has her first sentence down. She has apparently heard us tell the cats to 'get down' over and over. That's because Ozzie and Sana are naughty and won't stay off of the tables. Anyway, she picked this up and now tells them 'gi doe'. She even uses it in context! We think this is her way asserting power over someone else.
It's kind of a shame that the kitties don't listen.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Have a great Friday

50 Discoveries from 2008

A very interesting list. (Number 27 is somewhat worrying.)

Christmas stuff

For a nearly minute to minute update of Christmas day, you can visit my lovely wife's blog here (warning, there are about 20 pictures of our adorable daughter). Just thought I'd add some notes:
  • Relia really turned the cuteness factor up to warp 12 yesterday. She's at that wonderful stage where she's not really aware of how cute she is. That makes it sweet instead of trying.
  • She got two dolls, one big and one little. She loves them both and it's a little surprising to me just how maternal she is. The FP Gal and I had a brief discussion today and decided to stop saying "You're such a good mommy!" and instead say, "You're such a good babysitter". It's easier on her poor father that way.
  • Of course just after we decided that we found her standing on the big doll's chest in an effort to reach the couch. She still has a ways to go before we trust her with real babies.
  • Relia is picking up words very quickly. She's learned 'birdy' in the last couple of days. My mom has a canary and she quickly realized he was a 'birdy'. Today she saw a poster of an eagle and also decided it was a 'birdy'. (I'm sure this is common but we can hear the words clearly even if complete strangers probably couldn't.)
  • Another addition to her repetoire is kissing. She puckers up and makes fish lips. You can offer your cheek or your lips. If you kiss on the mouth then she laughs hysterically. My dad got a sample of this today and he loved it.
It was a lot of fun and we have even more family fun together tomorrow.

A Holiday Tradition

Favre Uncertain About Future

Thursday, December 25, 2008

RIP Eartha Kitt


We've listened to this song about 100 times in the car over the last month. What a strange coincidence.

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone has a very nice Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the Week Before Christmas

For the lack of posts this week. I'm busy trying to keep my head together. This should have been easy because it was a very short work week for me (office closed Wed-Fri) but I'm finding it tough. Let me blame it on the cold weather. And the continuing barrage of snow.
We're just about ready for Christmas. Tonight we'll stay home and snuggle together watching movies. Tomorrow morning we take care of two bits of family, then more on Friday and Saturday.
Relia has no clue that she'll get presents tomorrow. In all honesty, she'll almost certainly enjoy the wrapping paper and boxes as much as the gifts themselves. (Right now she's doing a combo of sweeping and knocking books off of her shelf.) We'll tackle Santa next year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Packers/Bears

I refuse to cheer for the Packers tonight.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Touchdown!

Relia has added this to her repertoire. Not really the word, but the signal. Against all odds, someone else taught it to her.

Date movies

In Roger Ebert's most recent 'Movie Answer Man' comes this question and answer:
Q. I have a pet peeve about the practice of describing a movie as a "date movie." As in, "Oh, it's a good 'date movie,' but otherwise I'd skip it." Surely a movie good enough to see with a date is also good enough to see on one's own? The statement implies one of two things, in my eyes: 1) Women don't have the taste in movies men do, so it really doesn't matter what you take them to as long as they are entertained. 2) You're going to be much too busy attending to other matters to be concerned with what's happening onscreen.
Nathan Gearhart, Kansas City, Mo.

A. Young men (and women), heed this warning! Only marry someone whose taste in movies is as good as, or better than, your own. Otherwise, you will be doomed to seeing Date Movies for the rest of your life, and almost by definition they aren't worth seeing at all.
First of all, what a limited definition of a 'date' movie! We typically think of these as 'first date' movies or more completely 'movies to see with someone when you're still getting to meet them'. These movies would generally:
  • Be on the light side.
  • Be noncontroversial.
  • Not be extreme in terms of nudity or raunchiness.
  • Go light on the profanity.
  • Be uplifting.
  • Not be too long (two hours max).
Lots of great movies would violate several of these guidelines and that's ok. I wouldn't see 'Schindler's List' on a first date. 'Million Dollar Baby' was a tremendous movie but not a good one with someone I didn't know well. The Lord of the Rings movies were great but each of them was so long that you wouldn't have much time left for the date outside of the movie.
And frankly, it takes a certain snobbishness to write off date movies. Sometimes you're just in the mood for something lighter and there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean bad taste.
Ebert's point about matching movie taste is a good one but kind of an obvious one as well.

Blizzard

Yesterday we had a nice big blizzard, that felt more like March than December. Nice big flakes and a bunch of them. Of course, we decided that it would be a good day to drive all over creation.
The FP Gal's parents offered to watch Relia so we could get some shopping done. We dropped her off and hit a half dozen different places. The stores were busy but not overwhelmingly so. We also stopped at Wendy's for lunch. (Can I just say how much I miss Dave Thomas? I know that most CEOs are dull people, but he always had a spot in my heart. And this new slogan 'Way better than fast food' bugs me deep in my curmudgeonly soul.)
Then I dropped the FP Gal off at her parents so I could go grocery shopping. When we arrived, Relia was out braving the deep snow. Pictures are here. Went shopping and got some stuff for green bean casserole, which I love but have never made before. It looks simple enough. Also got things for the FP Gal's chicken noodle 'soup' (the quotes will come down when the end product is soupy').
Picked them up and had to run one more errand. Poor Pagoda (my car) was certainly tired of the winter weather by then. She needs new tires and wipers. She did the won't-start-now-but-give-me-ten-minutes thing again at the grocery store.
Then home and we settled in for the night. Just about the time we got there, the wind picked up and the temps dropped quickly, ending up somewhere south of zero. It's been very cold so far this December. Subzero earlier than it usually is.
Lately we've been dreaming of Mexico.

Doesn't it look nice?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Little Monkey

Relia is just growing and growing and growing. Today she showed me that she can pull herself onto the piano bench without any help. That gives her access to everything on top of the piano, which has been serving as one of our last flat surfaces that is out of her reach. No longer.
I'm thinking we may need some suspended nets. We can tuck things in there and then hoist them up out of reach. The FP Gal thinks this might be too much of a reaction. I think it would look just like some of the rooms on Trading Spaces but that might not be a selling point.
The cats are finding this situation out too. She can easily climb to any of their usual sitting places. They take it in stride, mostly. Sana has the occasional slap fight. Relia finds her hisses very funny. No scratches yet, but I'm sure that will come when she's big enough to really corner one of them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Survivor Finale

Here is Jeff's final blog. He really lays into the jury for being bitter. The FP Gal said this was the whiniest season she could remember and I'd have to agree. So many people thought that they should just be given a longer stay and who cared that other people were actively playing against them. How annoying!
Can I make a confession here? I didn't care for Sugar. She was a huge player and her actions had a big effect on the game. But I really didn't respect what she did because it seemed so random. Someone spoke harshly to someone else? I'll switch sides. Someone tells me that someone else is lying to me? Without any more thought, I'll switch sides. The trick to staying in her good graces was to be the last one to talk to her.
I'm glad Bob won. Older engineer types seem to do really well at this game. I wonder if anyone else finds that inspiring?

Pretty snow

We had a nice snowglobe type snow today. Very nice to look at, not so much fun to drive home in. Also, it's much colder than I thought it could be for this much snow. Isn't there a minimum temperature for this?

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Viking Bar

Tonight's 'How I Met Your Mother' featured a Viking bar in New York City. It was weird. One of the main characters is supposed to be from Minnesota and his part is regularly written as if the writers have only vaguely heard of the state.
As a service, I'd like to offer some tips to help them in case they try to do this again:
  • Minneapolis and St Paul are collectively referred to as 'the Cities' by anyone from the state. Calling them 'the Twin Cities' sounds as odd as obsessivly referring to New York as 'the Big Apple'. It's a small error and perfectly understandable but it tips you off as outsiders.
  • You were very close with this one but the game that haunts Viking fans is the 1998 NFC Championship game. The game happened in January of '99 but it was part of the '98 season. The '99 one had St Louis hosting Tampa Bay. Check with your football guys, they'll set you straight.
  • Your bar has people ripping on Canadians. Any bar filled with people from 'the Cities' and featuring border animosity would show hatred towards Wisconsin. (Is there Canada bashing up north? Seems kind of pointless. Anyone help out here? Carrie?)
Overall it was sweet of you to include us. And it was a valiant attempt. Do me a favor, next time, check with some of your affiliates here. They'll set you straight.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vikes win!

And they looked good doing it. If they win either of their last two (or if the Bears lose one of their last two) than they clinch the division and almost certainly have the number three seed. I wouldn't have guessed that earlier in the season.

Brand New Week

Let's see if this one passes the Kate test.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Children's TV

Ok, so our parenting skills have gotten an assist lately. Relia has started to notice the TV and we've been using it as a pacifier. She hasn't been feeling well (we think, communication is sometimes iffy) or at least she's been much fussier the past few days. The alternative seems to be letting her yell and yell without any idea of what she wants. This serves as a distraction if nothing else.
And you know what? I'm already tired of this gentle world where every child shares and picks up after themselves. Do these plaster saints convince any kids at all? I'm very curious on this point. It seems like kid TV took a turn for the puffy sometime in the mid-80's or so. I'd love to talk to some school teachers that started teaching before then. Are kids more likely to share now? Or play gently?
I've got my doubts. My guess is that even very young kids are cynical enough to discount the behavior as 'just something adults want us to believe'. Or maybe as likely, they don't look to these shows for moral lessons. I certainly didn't look to Bugs Bunny for them.
Not to put too much emphasis on this. At this age, she just likes the active music and the fun colors. Frankly, her name is Relia. And she likes to dance!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A righty

Just so you know, Relia eats peas from a spoon much easier with her right hand than with her left. Apologies to my Dad and my Mother-in-law. On the plus side, now she can play second base and shortstop.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Babies crying on TV

There oughta be a law against them. We've put our screamy little angel down for the night and the show the FP Gal is watching has a baby crying faintly in the background. Yes, I'm on alert. Yes, I wish it would stop now.
Similar thing with radio ads that feature sirens. No matter how many times I hear the ad, I still check the rear view mirror and hurriedly put my automatic in the glove compartment. Sometime it will cause an accident.
Sickness update: I'm feeling better though my tummy is still upset. Took some Pepto yesterday evening and about an hour later had a 'clearance event'. Felt much better after that. Not perfect, but better.
Then came last night. Relia had a rough night, but that was only part of the problem. I simply couldn't get comfortable. I turned over so many times, you could've hooked me up to a generator and powered our neighborhood. The poor FP Gal slept through most of it (at least that's what she's telling me) but I couldn't. Throw in some genuine insomnia and I got maybe 30 minutes of sleep before 4a.
Why use that cutoff instead of a more reasonable waking up time? Because that's when Relia decided she was done for the night. We brought her into bed with us but it was obvious that she was done with laying down, darkness and not being fed. So, downstairs we went!
Neat parenting tip (and I hope hope hope that this effect doesn't wear off quickly), after eating I started up 'Spirited Away' and brought her to the couch with me. She was mesmerized and at some point we both fell asleep. I'm pretty sure she was. And then later, she got up and ran around. I know this because she woke me by tapping a tupperware cup on my glasses. I thanked her, took it and rolled over for more sleep.
Eventually the FP Gal woke up (probably at her usual time but I wasn't rationally aware anymore). I took a body check and decided that I was still too sick to go into work. Got Relia over to daycare with full Daddy Zombie behind the wheel of the car. And then went back home and collapsed.
Once I woke up I felt a bit better. Tummy is still off but not violently. The FP Gal came home a bit early because she's now not feeling well.
Note to Relia, don't make us call the gypsies tonight, dear.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sick today

Didn't go out to shovel again today. Instead I woke up feeling sick. All day long I've felt like I need to throw up. But it just won't happen. Awful feeling and now I'm considering doing shots or something to make it go.
Also, the temperature keeps going up and down in the house. I hope this isn't that awful flu stuff that I keep hearing about from other people.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Next Reading Project

Ever since I finished the Great American Novel project a few months ago, I've been a bit at odds. October was spent reading 'His Dark Materials' and 'Anathem'. Last month was spent writing for NaNoWriMo and also reading 'Midnight's Children' for a book club. But I knew that I'd need some kind of focus going forward.
(No, I don't know why I need to do these projects. I didn't do this back in school, as my high school mates can attest. I didn't do this when I lived alone and had enormous amounts of time. I just don't know.)
I tinkered with a few different ideas on what to do next. I've been reading some Man Booker Prize winners and enjoying them. Time magazine's top 100 novels is intriguing. Even toyed with reading biographies of all of our past Presidents. But I'm going a different direction.
Instead, I'm going to read all of the Hugo Award Winners. The Hugo is given out each year to the top Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel. I've read some of them already and enjoyed them quite a bit. Good sci-fi stretches the mind and challenges the reader. This list should give me plenty of good stretch.

Snow!

The headline on the Strib site today said 'First Significant Snow of the Season Today'. I found this somewhat funny because it's been insignificantly snowing each day for the past week or so. Dustings here and there, not much more than an inch but it's been snowing. All of the yards were covered with white.
Of course by significant they meant that today we were going to be hit by a real snowstorm. They predict six inches total by storm's end. I just shoveled about three of it. The other half is due sometime in the morning.
I've said it before, I don't mind the snow. It's the cold that gets me. Today was easily warmer than the weekend. Shoveling was even kind of fun. (Trying to keep a positive attitude...)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cold

Yep, it's winter in these parts. Over the last few days we've been around 10 degrees more or less. Add in some strong winds and powdery snow and you have a party!
Yeah, I'm not loving this.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire - 2008

Jamal Malik has done amazingly well on India's 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'. And that's a problem. You see, he is nothing, from a slum. Doctors and lawyers don't do this well at the game and yet this 'slumdog' is answering every question. He must be cheating.
The movie opens with Jamal being tortured. They will find out how he's cheating and who is helping him. Or they will find out how he was so lucky to answer each of their questions. His story spills out and they do find out.
This movie is based on the novel 'Q and A' by Vikas Swarup. I haven't read it but it reminded me of a Rushdie novel. It details a long personal history and shows an incredible degree of interconnectedness. The story is amazing.
This is a great movie and it's already receiving some Oscar buzz. It draws you in. It shows stunning pictures of India. It's script is very well done. The camera work and music is well put together without being too arty.
Be warned that it's not always an easy movie. It shows abject poverty. It features children in danger, some being hurt. There are tense moments and many laughs.
I wouldn't be sad to see it win Best Picture. It's certainly worthy of that level.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Seventh Heaven

(The FP Gal forced me to write this or else she'd out me.)
Yes, I've got a new TV show that I enjoy. WGN plays back to back episodes of Seventh Heaven, weekdays at 5p and 6p. It's hard not to watch.
For those of you not familiar with it, Seventh Heaven follows the trials and travails of a southern California family. The father is a minister, the mother is a minister's wife (a tough job) and they have seven kids. Each episode they run into various troubles and somehow the family pulls through. Standard TV, right?
Well, what makes this different is that the family is filled with good people. The parents are easily the toughest, most loving parents I've ever seen on a TV show. The brothers and sisters genuinely act like they love each other. I find myself thinking that it's the type of family I'd like to raise.
Yes, it's hoakey. And sometimes overly sweet. But that's kind of ok. Most modern television is so cynical and 'ironic' and overly self-reverential. 'Seventh Heaven' is almost shocking in it's decency.

(There I wrote it. And yes, I think this makes me an old man. Or somebodies parent. Possibly both.)

Tip

For the FP Gal.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Anathem - Stephenson

Neal Stephenson creates large, dense worlds. 'Anathem' is the perfect example of that. It takes place on a human non-Earth planet. The protagonist, named Erasmas, is a kind of secular monk. Many millennia ago, this planet exiled their scientists, philosophers and other thinkers into walled off monasteries. Each monastery is dominated by an giant clock that is designed to run for decades without human help. The clocks are also connected to various gates that are designed to open at set intervals.
Erasmas, for instance is in an area that opens up every ten years. This allows them to connect with outside world for brief periods. There are also groups that make contact once every hundred years and millenarians, every thousand. All of them, necessarily take the long view history and don't concern themselves with the outside world very much.
But then something happens. A strange light is found in the sky. Members of the order are unexpectedly cast out. Big things are afoot.
The whole book is big, sometimes too big to really focus on. It wasn't really a page turner, and not Stephenson's best work. But my mind kept turning back to it. Weeks after I finished it, I still think about it.
Part of the Stephenson's inspiration for this work is the idea that our current society is too impressed with the new and the flashy. He has created sanctuaries dedicated to thinking and learning. We don't make century long plans today. The people of this book work in thousands of years. It makes an impression.
At times, 'Anathem' reminded me of both 'The Name of the Rose' and 'A Canticle for Liebowitz'. The first for the intrigue and the second for the unmistakable apocolyptic feel. It's not a book for everyone but I found it deeply rewarding.

His Dark Materials - Pullman

This is the trilogy that the book (and then movie) 'The Golden Compass' came from. It's a fantasy story set in an alternate universe, at least starts there. The time frame is slippery, in some ways the world is less advanced than ours, in some ways more. In it, the Catholic Church is much more powerful than in ours, almost a throwback to pre-Enlightenment Europe.
The most interesting difference is that everyone in this world has a 'daemon'. This is some kind of manifestation of their soul. It takes the form of an animal and is in direct, constant communication with it's human. Each daemon can take the form of different animals until the human becomes an adult. They are visible to others and tangible. It's hard to read this without wishing for one of your own.
The first book stars Lyra, a young girl who has been left as a charge of Oxford. She become swept up in a plot that involves kidnapping, northern lights and giant armored polar bears. Along the way she meets witches and gypsies and a golden monkey. 'The Golden Compass' was easily the high point of the series and it's a very good adventure/fantasy novel.
Then the trilogy slips. The other two books are ok but not special. The 'church as villain' theme seems very forced and there are many places where characters give forced anti-religion speeches.
The author, Phillip Pullman, was very open about writing these books as a way to create anti-religion skeptics. Unfortunately for the books, these spots make the stories drag. There have been comparisons to C.S. Lewis' Narnia books and in some ways the two series resemble each other. Lewis has a lighter touch and it helps.
In some ways, the whole trilogy feels like a missed opportunity to me. The 'daemon' idea is a great one and it's well developed. There are other elements, such as the Subtle Knife, that are equally great. It's a shame that Message interfered with Art.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Exhausted

Relia has taken to waking up between 4 and 5 in the morning. This is not a good thing. Last week when the FP Gal and I had time off it was a limited problem. One of us would get up with her while the other one slept in. After a couple of hours, we'd switch.
That didn't work this morning of course. To make it worse, I was too jazzed from the Viking game to go to sleep easily last night. So my night went like this:
11p - in bed
1145p - admit that I can't sleep and go downstairs
130a - back to bed and sleep
430a - Relia wakes
432a - Relia comes to bed with the FP Gal and Zombie Daddy
433a-6a much kicking and wrestling, some whimpering and general miserableness
6a - my alarm goes off, the FP Gal goes downstairs, blessedly taking Relia with and making me promise be down at 625a
605a-625a - nirvana
625a - Zombie Daddy achieves the ground floor

We can't keep doing this.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Vikings

Tonight, it looks like they're wearing the old uniforms. Man, those look better.

Ice Cream Update

The ice cream was a little on the soft side last night. Another night in the freezer and it was more the consistency that I expected. I'll need to tinker with the proportions a bit. The recipe called for 3/4 cup of sugar and it was a bit on the sweet side, so next time I'll try 1/2 cup and see how that tastes.
Overall, it's pretty yummy. Especially with the dark chocolate syrup. At some point I'll add in the peanut butter and then I'm ready to go.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

50k!

And I've reached the NaNoWriMo finish line again. This year was much harder. Baby time is exhausting and staying up late and writing was very tough.
But I'm now three for three in this crazy thing!
(It's very likely that no one else will ever read this, but that's ok. It's more than 50,000 words and it's part of an actual story. I'd guess that it's maybe a third of the way done, if that. I hope to stay disciplined enough to write the rest of it too.)

Banana ice-cream

Long time blog readers will know that I have a talent for finding wonderful foods that are about to be discontinued by their manufacturers. One of the earliest casualties was a wonderful ice-cream that was a mixture of banana, chocolate and peanut butter. It's been gone for a good seven years now and I still walk slowly through the freezer aisle, hoping that somehow it's come back.
Well, about six weeks ago I realized that some people actually make their own ice-cream. I didn't know how tough it was, how difficult the process. My kitchen adventures aren't very adventurous. Looking around on Amazon brought me to this beauty right here. The reviews were positive and it didn't look that hard to work with. The basic thing you need is enough freezer space to store the mixing bucket. If you've got that then all you need to do is mix the stuff, pour it in and you had ice-cream!
My wonderful sister got me one for my birthday. I'm making the first batch right now. It took some sugar mixed with whole milk and heavy cream. We mashed up three bananas. One quick pour and right now the machine is doing it's thing. I'll update, but I'm pretty optimistic.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving

Yesterday we went down to Austin to have Thanksgiving with some relatives. My parents had scattered to the winds (Seattle and Germany) but we still got together with some members of my family, my Aunt Donna and Uncle David. Part of the reason that we went there was because my cousins have dozens of small children for Relia to play with (only nine were present yesterday).
Our day got started late. Well, actually very early but make up sleep made us late. We didn't get there until after noon. But what fun we had!
Relia played with cousins and explored the house. She discovered that puppies are more friendly than kitties. She danced to YouTube videos (the Egg Song, english version). Later on, Tim fed her pistachio pudding.
We ate lots of food and watched little football. We played cards and chased Relia away from the pie table. And then we left and drove home.
Today: leftovers!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wake up music

Some months ago the FP Gal found me a new alarm clock, one with a CD player. I put in one of my all time favorite CDs, 'The Unforgettable Fire', (the one that inaugurated my last few stereos, including my car) and was set to wake each day with a smile. Some time back it got set to shuffle, I wish I could take credit for it but I don't remember ever trying to make it do so.
So I got the idea to make a CD with songs just for the alarm clock. Pulled up Itunes and played 'Wire'. She sat up straighter and said, "This is like my new wake up song". Somehow I've trained her.

Attacks in India


You've no doubt heard of the attacks in India today. As I'm writing this, the death toll stands at 82, the casualties are in the hundreds. I feel for the poor people there and my prayers are with them.
The reason I'm writing this is because of this:
Police reported hostages being held at the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, two of the best-known upscale destinations in this crowded but wealthy city.
I book these two hotels on a regular basis. The picture there is the Taj Mahal. Reports suggest that the gunmen were targeting Brits and Americans. I'm hopeful that the business travelers that I work with would have been home for Thanksgiving but I don't know that. Man, I hope so though.
I've got a soft spot in my heart for India. In the last ten years I've read dozens of books that take place there. It's near the top of my dream vacation spot. I won't pretend I'm an expert on the country of that I have special insight, but I do have great sympathy for them and hope that they continue to make progress.

Meant to post something last night...

But it just didn't happen. The FP Gal talked me into going to bed around 10p and I couldn't quite resist. We've got the flannel sheets and electric blanket going. Plus it's taking me forever to finish the book I'm reading and I need to chip away at it each night.
Anyway, good luck to all of those people traveling this weekend, and if I don't post anything later, have a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thunderstorm


Maybe it's weird but I find this incredibly relaxing. I've got a theory that as HD TVs become cheaper and more widespread, some enterprising person is going to have a series of channels that are something like expressive wallpaper. There will be a thunderstorm channel where you can just flip over and get some rumble therapy. One channel will be beach scenes, maybe interspersed with reef diving. You could film the cruise view from the glacier run and it would be mesmerizing. And so on, and so on...

The Tragedy of ballons

The FP Gal got a balloon for her birthday last Thursday. A nice Mylar balloon that says 'Happy Birthday'. When she got home she let Relia play with it. Or tried to.
This was Relia's first balloon (that either of us can remember). Mylar has a low chance of popping so it shouldn't lead to a traumatic noise. We thought it would be fun to watch her figure out the floating thing a on a string.
Screams and horror! She wanted to hug it (we think) but it wouldn't stay put. When she finally did pull it down it was hard to control. And the idea of tying it to something like her wrist or Bear were simply unthinkable.
And it hasn't improved. The FP Gal tied it to a water bottle this afternoon and there were more screams. I guess she isn't ready for balloons yet.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

$1.69

That's what I bought gas at today. I'm pretty sure that is the lowest it's been since I moved in with the FP Gal. In my mind the emotional price of gas (i.e. the price gas should be, closely connected to the price it was when you started driving) is between $1.00 and $1.09. I thought those days were past us never to return. Now we're only sixty cents away.
I don't remember the highest I saw gas in the Cities last summer but I think it was just over $4. That means that the price has dropped almost 60% in the last few months. That's an amazing amount. I'm frankly surprised that there hasn't been more news coverage of this. Some explainer pieces if nothing else. Or some explanations from economists as to why none of them predicted this.
The really interesting thing to me is that I think a real change in driving attitudes has sunk in. In other words, even if gas prices stay below $2 I bet most people will now permanently stay away from SUVs and other low mileage cars. Really there should be a market for very small/high mileage cars. I hope that it will now be served better.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

For Survivor Geeks

Did you know that Jeff Probst is blogging about each episode this season??? I didn't either! Check it out:

Episode 1 and 2
Ep 3
Ep 4
Ep 5
Ep 6
Ep 7
Ep 8
Ep 9
Ep 10

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pigs in Space!

It's been a good birthday festival here in the FP household. Last night we went out to eat with our parents and her brother and his wife. My brother and sister and their families were welcome but they were busy having children and living in other cities/continents. Fun was had by all. With the possible exception of Relia who was very tired. (Special thanks to my Dad for valiantly keeping her company and feeding her broccoli.)
This morning I went into work for a few hours and then left to run around the town. I stopped at Target and got some nice rolls to make toasted tuna sandwiches. Then I went to three different used bookstores to find some old sci-fi novels for my next reading project.
Then back home for a bit to turn up the heat and play a little Wii before picking up Relia from daycare. She was in a better mood today and we had a good time. Relia did a spectacular flip off of the couch, turning 180 degrees in the air and landing exactly on the crown of her head. Luckily, she hit one of my slippers so the impact was dulled a bit. After some crying (and holding) she was fine. (Any adult would have ended up in the ICU. Infant flexibility is amazing.)
Now I'm baking a blueberry pie to enjoy with vanilla ice cream. Relia is in her bed, sleeping peacefully. And the FP Gal is watching her new Muppet Show DVD (which provided the title to this post).
Another year, and a good one. Let's hope that 35 treats me as well!

Recount Madness

Here's a fascinating look at some of the challenged ballots in Minnesota's Senate recount. Some of them are pretty arguable and the voter intent will be tough to figure out. Other ballot challenges are obviously hail mary attempts to gain an extra vote somehow. On the radio today, they said that the challenged votes will almost certainly outnumber the winning margin. Should make for fun court cases (yuck).

Have a great Friday

Seychelles

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Glaciers in Gabon

Ok, so remember I was questioning the landforms in Gabon from Survivor? Well I googled 'ask a geologist' and sent an email questioning them. I originally wrote:
Are you watching Survivor? They're shooting this season in Gabon and I've been trying to puzzle out the geography. It's taking place at the Wonga-Wongue Presidential Reserve and I'm no closer to puzzling it out. According to this description, the reserve has 'cirques' which it describes as 'rare in Central Africa'. A cirque is formed by a glacier. I don't think Central Africa ever had glaciers (outside of mountain tops). I don't understand.
Well today I got a response and he wrote that he couldn't find evidence of glaciation in Gabon either. He suggested that the landforms may look like traditional cirques and they just got labeled that. That doesn't get me any closer to finding out what they are or where they came from but it's a start!

Too Tired

For any real blogging. But doesn't that look nice and ever so much warmer than here?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rawr!

Tonight we taught Relia what the tiger says, "Rawr!". She didn't really care for it and there was much creasing of eyebrows. I don't know if she was scared of it or if it sounded angry or something but she didn't like it. Her proposal? The tiger should say, "Uh-oh."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's Happening Again

The furniture is dancing around again. The nursery has moved and our bedroom is soon to follow, if it hasn't already. I expect the kitchen to be in the living room when I get home tomorrow. Hopefully a map will be near the door so I can find my way around.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Down to Rochester

We went down to Rochester tonight to visit my Aunt and Uncle and celebrate all of the November birthdays. That includes my uncle and the FP Gal, myself and now my newest nephew Marshall. This was exciting for us, because Rachel would also be there with Josiah and Annika, my other nephew and only niece. (They also met on Monday night but it was within a restaurant and without being able to run around.)
Ever see the dynamic of three children aged four, two and one? Let's just say that it becomes a complex dance of possession and ownership, while the youngest one just operates with the purity of believing that every toy is hers. One memorable moment involved Annika putting a doll to bed and Aurelia sweetly putting the covers on her. Not five seconds later Aurelia decided that the doll had slept long enough and really needed to be hugged. This was not a recipe for happiness.
It was good to see everyone. We passed the phone around and all talked with Heidi for a few minutes. My great Aunt Liz was there too and it's always good to see her too.
(Aunt Liz, the book for you is 'The Path Between the Seas' by David McCullough. You might also want to try 'Misery' by Steven King.)
Happy Birthday to everyone!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Perils of translation

Got a kick out of this story from the Language Log (your one stop shop for grammar and linguistics posting). A sign was being posted: 'No Entry for Heavy Goods Vehicles. Residential site only'. But not everything went well.
the council emailed the English text to their Welsh translator, and gave the response to the sign painters. Unfortunately, according to the article, the response meant "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated".
Picture at the link. They also provided a link to my favorite picture of 2008:

And while I'm at it, the FP Gal almost fell out of her seat laughing at this pic:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NaNoWriMo

Haven't really mentioned this yet (and don't worry, I won't bore you all month), but so far it's going well. I just put the progress bug up over there on the right so you can see that I'm just now on schedule.
The early days were troubled by sickness, the election and one lost day to a late headache. They were also something of a slog because it was all introductory and not fun writing. Now that I'm in the actual story, it's cruising right along.
Plus (glances around to see if boss is reading the blog, Hi Carol!) we've been slow enough at work the last couple of days that I've been able to do my writing there. Seriously, almost 2500 words today in between phone calls and other tasks. And I still got my internet surfing in!
Anyway, it's going well. Expect another post when I cross the 50k mark.

Welcome to the world!


My baby sister had her first baby of her own today. Welcome to the world, Marshall.

(Both mother and baby are fine. Word is that the father made it too.)

Morning thought

If God intended toddlers to wear shoes, he wouldn't have given them a second foot to kick with.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More winter

It's often said that the Eskimos have a hundred words for snow (or something like that). The Bedouins have the same deal with sand. And it's not noted as much but the Swiss have about a hundred words that all mean 'rock formation'.
Why don't Minnesotans have a hundred words for frost-on-your-windshield? This morning's entry was like a beautiful smooth white layer of paint. You could only scrape it off if the scraper blade was at just the right angle. Unfortunately to achieve that angle for the middle third of the windshield I would have had to stand on the hood of the car.

Current weather in Honolulu? 82 and cloudy.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Random Sunday Night Thoughts

Here we go again:
  • Hooray for missed field goals! And even though Adrian Peterson's nickname is 'the Purple Jesus', I think he should be named after some kind of bull. Fun game to watch, but I would have been happier with a larger margin of victory.
  • Winter has arrived. The high today was 35 with the morning temp in the low 20s. The leaves are almost all down and sooner or later the snow is going to stick. This year had one of the longest and most beautiful colored leaf seasons. The reds just popped and there wasn't a strong enough storm to knock them down until recently.
  • Are you watching Amazing Race? Last week's Pit Stop was at the Baha'i headquarters in Delhi. They arrived at night and didn't get to see the gardens. Images are here. One of the prettiest gardens in the world.
  • Are you watching Survivor? They're shooting this season in Gabon and I've been trying to puzzle out the geography. It's taking place at the Wonga-Wongue Presidential Reserve and I'm no closer to puzzling it out. According to this description, the reserve has 'cirques' which it describes as 'rare in Central Africa'. A cirque is formed by a glacier. I don't think Central Africa ever had glaciers (outside of mountain tops). I don't understand.
  • I mentioned the dark chocolate syrup, right? Well, my father in law has introduced me to the idea of a chocolate coke. I've modified it to a dark chocolate coke zero. Yum!
  • That's it!

Go Vikings!

I've somehow got a good feeling about this game. My inner 8-ball is saying Vikings 35/Packers 17. Let's see how that works out.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Relia and the 'Kitties'

The weather today was in the fifties with intermittent rain. The perfect day to take her to Como Zoo! It wasn't that cold and she was covered with both parka and stroller cover. And the best news was that we almost had the place to ourselves.
We started at the primate house to look at the monkeys. She picked them out right away and said, "Kitties!". Which makes sense. They're small and furry and have long tails. So we looked at them and the gorilla (not a kitty).
Then off to the cat house. I let her out of the stroller and let her run around in here. At one point a family (three kids and dad) wandered through, but otherwise we had it to ourselves. The tiger was out and walking around. We watched him lick the wall of his area. The lions were napping, not a surprise as they're almost always napping. We also saw a cougar (not this one). They got the "Kitty!" treatment too.
A quick spin past the giraffes and zebras followed. Then the aquatic room where the penguins were surprisingly stoic. Some movement from the seals but not much. A quick zoom through the Conservatory, not quite at a dead run but close, and we left.
This was more fun than the last time there with her but she's not quite old enough to get it. Give her another six months and she should be very ready. This will be a definite stop next spring!

Sock mystery...solved?

The FP Gal thinks she knows what Relia wants with the socks. Apparently her mother takes the socks and makes little sock puppets to entertain her with. I tried it this morning and we avoided any yelling. She quickly became bored and wandered off but at least she was happier.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Announcment

I've just been handed a sock. I don't know what is being asked of me with it but my failure to do, well, something with it has brought about great unhappiness. Can't wait until she can talk!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Congratulations


To Obama, and the Democrats in general. Let's hope he's up to the tasks that are now before him.

Update: At least he's a White Sox fan.

Election

Pardon the bitterness from last night, this whole thing has really been exhausting. Go out and cast your vote today and be proud of your choice. Just remember that tens of millions of well meaning Americans are going to be voting the other way. All of them will be doing so for honest and well intentioned reasons.
Let's hope that the winners guide our country well. And for God's sake, let us please avoid another recount fiasco like in 2000.

Update: Message to politicians and their minions, never ever put something on my car ever again.

More update: And we've voted. Only took us about a half hour.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election eve

My friends, it's almost over. It's been the longest Presidential campaign in history but we're nearly to the end. Things to celebrate:
  • We're almost clear of the ads. It's hard to convey to non-Minnesotans just how depressing the ads have been. The TV has been absolutely blanketed with them, nearly all filled with obvious half-truths and insulting lack of logic.
  • The senatorial campaign in particular has been especially rough. That Franken is a world class Ventura hasn't helped. (Sorry for the language, Mom.)
  • Twenty-four hours from now no one will hector me to vote anymore. Yes, I know I'm not the target but the overkill factor is huge. Come Wednesday the uninterested will be left alone. This isn't a bad thing.
  • We'll finally find out the actual votes and be able to stop listening to widely contradictory polls. Seriously, how can two different polling agencies search the same area at the same time and get such different results. This could be the one that breaks the industry. Again, not a bad thing.
Just one more day...

The Trade

Relia eats her breakfast just a few feet from my computer. In the morning I get her up and immediately put her in her chair and strap her in. Quite often (this morning for instance) I get food ready for both of us. That means I walk in and out of the kitchen about half a dozen times with one item or another.
She usually gets a toaster waffle broken in quarters and some milk. This morning she was adamant that only one of those items could be on her tray at a time. She'd fuss and I'd turn toward her and she would express great displeasure in the sippy cup. This usually means that the cover is about to come off and needless tears will happen.
This morning I quickly took it from her and set it on my desk out of her reach. Then she happily ate more waffle. A few minutes later I handed the milk back to her to see if she wanted a sip. She would take it only after I took the remaining waffle. A minute later we traded back.
I don't understand this dynamic.

-

Oh! I've got a cute kid story from this weekend. (Actually it's the FP Gal's story but who knows when she'll feel well enough to share it.) On Saturday we baked up two tubes of cookie dough. Yes, it's not as good as homemade but it's quick and you can be eating cookies fifteen minutes after you decide you want them.
Anyway we made the cookies and left the uneaten ones on a cooling rack. That was on a table in the kitchen. Not high enough to keep out of questing hands so we just kept her out of the kitchen. Problem solved.
There was great sickness in our house and great naps resulted. Mine took place on the third floor while the FP Gal watched Relia. At some point the FP Gal was woken on the couch when Relia sweetly handed her a cookie. She thought this was odd since she assumed that any stolen cookies would be eaten.
No worries, Relia had a stash of them already sitting on a nearby table! Seems she picked the lock and got into the kitchen or something like that. And she would have gotten away with it all if she hadn't decided to share. Let's hope that lesson didn't sink in.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

About the costume pictures...

See, Relia dressed up very cutely for Halloween. On Thursday I took her into work to show her off...and I never got the camera out of the diaper bag. We put her back into costume on Friday and sent her to daycare. She was very cute again...but the FP Gal didn't know where the camera was so she didn't take any pictures. At least not on our camera. She got some shots on her parents camera but we don't have access to that.
So there are pictures and eventually you'll see them. Just not yet.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Mighty Hunter

I just had to take a toy away from Ozzie. It was a freshly killed mouse that he was happily playing with. Glad it happened while Relia was taking a nap.

Friday, October 31, 2008

NaNoWriMo advice

I've only got a few hours before the kickoff and I thought I'd share some advice:
  • Find a regular time to write. Form a habit. Let other people in your house know that it's writing time and stick to it.
  • Let loose. The more you ignore your inner editor the easier it'll be to get the word count in place. Find yourself off on a tangent? Explore it! It might lead to gold that you otherwise never would have come across.
  • Start with the idea in mind that no one else will read what you're writing. You can always change your mind later but this is the best way to start. It'll give you more freedom from external judgment.
  • I write at night. Throughout the day I think about the scene(s) that I plan on writing. The drive home from work is especially good for this.
  • Your daily goal is not 50,000 words. It starts out at 1667 and a regular writing plan should keep it right around there. Just get that in and you'll be fine.
  • Enjoy what you're doing. You're actually creating a brand new story that no one else has ever written. Revel in your creativity!

Shocking

My dear wife, the FP Gal, has never seen 'Poltergeist'. It's been on TV almost constantly for the last month. Now we'll need to track it down so she can be scared of the TV.

(BTW, a big thanks to her for the Advertising Slogan generator on the side. It's endless fun for us, hopefully someone else is enjoying it too.)

Have a great Friday

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fixing baseball

Ross Douthat links to a post from Peter Gammons where he talks about the direction baseball is going in:
When this World Series finally ends, there will be a great deal of discussion about how to avoid this sort of misery. The first will be to figure a way to shorten the schedule. Say the schedule was reduced from 162 to 148 games (records or no records; the Steroids Era made too many baseball records meaningless), then the division series and League Championship Series could be played between Sept. 20 and Oct. 6, with the World Series theoretically completed by mid-October. Granted, the loss of the seven home dates would hit teams' revenue streams, but they'll just have to adjust player salaries; CC Sabathia and Manny Ramirez might have to make ends meet on measly $20M salaries.
Ross suggests that they aim to shorten to 154 games to give themselves at least an extra week. I think this misses an easier fix. Well, two of them really. First of all they could change opening day. Right now they start on the first Monday of April (usually) with a single game on the Sunday before. It would be easy enough to add three days right there. Put ESPN's opening game on Thursday night. Then start the regular games on Friday and add some weekend games.
The second fix is to add some doubleheaders into the schedule. Maximize those weekend days in the summer! And don't forget the holidays. A 4th of July doubleheader? That's money, baby! There are legitimate questions of how many of these would cause too much pressure to on the players (especially the pitchers) but certainly there is some room here.
The last two weeks of the year have roughly twelve games played in them. We get three from the opener and another three from holidays (Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day). That leaves six doubleheaders or two apiece during June, July and August. Voila, the playoffs start earlier and we finish the Series in mid October.

Great American Novels - summary

Back in 2006 I started working my way through a list of Great American Novels. Last month I finished the list and I wanted to summarize. I'm very glad that I did this, it introduced some great novels, some I never would have picked up otherwise.
I thought these five were great:
  • Huckleberry Finn - Twain
  • The Long Goodbye - Chandler
  • Moby Dick - Melville
  • To Kill a Mockingbird - Lee
  • Pale Fire - Nabokov
'Mockingbird' wasn't a surprise as I'd read it many times and originally voted for it as the best American novel. 'Huckleberry Finn' and 'Moby Dick' are often mentioned as top novels and I completely agree. 'The Long Goodbye' was a surprise to me. It's hard-boiled detective work and it's crazy good. I'd never heard of 'Pale Fire' and it was the one of the books I'll read again soon.
Very good:
  • Great Gatsby - Fitzgerald
  • Catch 22 - Heller
'Gatsby' is fairly deep. It catches something unique about the American experience in regards to wealth. 'Catch 22' is the funniest of the set. At times it was too shallow but the final third had great pay-off.
Good:
  • My Antonia - Cather
  • Invisible Man - Ellison
  • Fahrenheit 451 - Bradbury
  • The Sot Weed Factor - Barth
  • The Great American Novel - Roth
These are all good novels, very interesting but not as good as the previous. 'Antonia' is a record of life on the prairie. 'Invisible Man' is important for it's message. 'Fahrenheit 451' has become the go-to for anticensorship. It's understandable how it got there, but it isn't quite the theme. 'Sot Weed Factor' might have the broadest scope of any novel in this set. It's ambitious, maybe too much so, but a fun read. 'American Novel' is fun for baseball junkies but I don't know how well it goes beyond that.
Ok:
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin - Stowe
  • Age of Innocence - Wharton
  • Farewell to Arms - Hemingway
  • All the King's Men - Warren
  • Rabbit, Run - Updike
This set was mostly very readable but just didn't zing. 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' was more important than quality. 'Age of Innocence' was done better as 'Gone with the Wind'. 'Farewell' was fine but flawed. 'All the King's Men' was much better than the movie that it spawned but certainly not great. 'Rabbit' was frustrating because of what I wanted it to be, but wasn't.
And then the ones I didn't finish:
  • The Scarlet Letter - Hawthorne
  • Portrait of a Lady - James
  • The Sound and the Fury - Faukner
  • Adventures of Augie March - Bellow
These were a mixed bag and I feel badly about some of them. 'Scarlet Letter' was ponderous and unreadable. 'Portrait of a Lady' took too long to go anywhere (and maybe never does). 'Sound and the Fury', I might have just been in the wrong place for this one. Maybe I'll try it again in a few years. 'Sound and the Fury' is the one that I feel guilty about. It really is seen as a top classic and I probably gave up too quickly.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Phillies Win World Series

And I wonder how much of the country cared. Back in the early 90's, the NFC Championship game was almost always a better contest than the Super Bowl. This year the AL Championship series had the same feel to it.
The Rays hit the first big milestone when they made the playoffs. The next milestone had to do with playing well, which they did by beating my White Sox. Then they had to prove that they could play with one of the decades top teams, the Red Sox.
And what a series that was! They should have won it in five but they gave up an 8 run lead. Then they lost two close ones before winning a good game seven. Every year I look forward to October magic. That was it.
Well...almost. Tonight marked the first Philadelphia championship in 25 years. The joy of the players as they created their post game mosh pit was something to see. I'm sure their parade will be outstanding too. Good for them!

Jon & Kate on the Soup

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A posting

I feel bad. There really should be something interesting enough out there to post about, right? But nothing is coming up. Let's see...well, it was really cold this morning. Twenty-something degrees or so. For some reason our living room floor is somehow connected to the polar ice cap and it radiates cold at an almost unreal rate. That means the weather in our living room was something like 15 degrees. (That's probably not true. And my cold feet probably mean I'm getting old or something. Or possibly that I need to move to Hawaii. That shouldn't be discounted.)
I'll blame the blogging apathy on just sheer tiredness. Between nursemaiding the sickos and fending off sub-freezing weather, I'm wiped out. Sorry about that. I'll try to be entertaining again tomorrow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gas prices

Today I filled up at $2.21. That's much cheaper than what I'm used to. Gas prices have fallen at least a third in just a few months. That's kind of crazy.

Update: Today the price was $2.12. Wonder just how low this is going to go?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Beautiful

Sick

I was the least sick person in the house today. (Well, my mother in law was over and she seemed to be feeling well so that's not strictly true. She watched a movie with the FP Gal and an old episode of 'The Big Bang Theory'.)
I'm the least sick person in the house right now. (Unless you count the kitties who seem to be in fine shape. In fact they might have caught a mouse this week. No corpses have been found but their actions were all Mouse Hunter on Thursday and today not so much.)
Depending on your view of kitty-personhood, I'm the least sick person in the house right now. (Not counting my sense of humor, which can be pretty sick. It doesn't show on the blog because...well, my Mom reads this. Not to mention my in-laws. And aunts and such. Yes sir, a family blog is what this is. Except for the occasional vavoom! picture of Selma Hayek. Hey, everyone can dream right.) (Actually, let's pretend that last paragraph didn't happen.)
The FP Gal and Relia are both feeling a bit under the weather and I feel mostly fine.

Let it snow!

We've got flurries! (I'm trying to stay positive about this. Trying, trying...)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lolita - Nabakov

'Lolita' has a pretty firm place in our cultural mindset. It's the story of an older man, Humbert Humbert, who seduces a teenager. He works things so that she actually crosses the line but he's obviously the one at fault. After the seduction they go on the lam. The biggest surprise for me is that this is actually an 'open road' book.
The book is interesting in that it doesn't sympathize with Humbert. He explains what he feels but he doesn't ask the reader to follow along with him. He is interesting, almost poetic in a way. He's also creepy and one of the most manipulative characters that I've ever read. You can't trust his narration, must always be reading between the lines.
It's a great book and well worth the read. The theme is obviously adult though not graphically so. Nabakov is a very interesting author. I enjoyed this a bit more than 'Pale Fire' but both of them were great.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More teething

Last night was a bit of a tough one here in the FP household. Relia went down easily enough but she really wouldn't stay down. We did the 5-10-15 minute routine but she wasn't calming at all. In fact, she was getting a little hoarse from yelling.
So I sent the FP Gal to bed and brought Relia down with me. I decided that I'd lay on the couch with her and watch a movie. If she didn't want to stay then she could run around and play downstairs. Eventually she'd have to get tired, right?
So we watched 'No Country for Old Men' together. (She thought it was ok but wished that the characters were more cartoony. I wanted to discuss the ending with her but she fell asleep.) Yes, she finally fell asleep around 1230a or so.
Here's hoping that last night was the bad night and she'll be better tonight.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Hugging

Well, that didn't take long. Right after I got home from work last night she found Ozzie laying on a chair. Relia quickly climbed up next to him and started petting him. Ozzie was completely unfazed. Only when she actually tried to lay on him and hug did he get up and go. What a patient cat!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy birthday, Pop!

And thanks for watching Relia for us today. It really helped!

Relia and animals

Speaking of hugging the furry creatures, she has completely latched onto a stuffed bear as her new best friend. She sleeps with him at night, all cuddly. This morning she brought him from crib to highchair. Right now she's eating breakfast with one hand while the other holds him tightly to her. Waffles are ok but milk is a little tough that way. Any 'suggestions' from Daddy that bear sit nearby are met with cloudy looks and threats of crying.

Ozzie and the grocery bag of Doom

Relia has decided that the cats are the best stuffed animals ever and she really wants to hug them. Petting is fine but it usually becomes more of a frenzied patting that isn't satisfying for either of them. But if she can get her hands around them...that would be awesome!
Of course she can only get close enough if the cats are down on the ground or at least somewhere low. This has resulted in some body flops and running cats but no real hugging has gone on yet. Or scratching and biting, thank Heaven.
This weekend she finally cornered one of them. Ozzie found a paper bag laying on it's side. He sniffed inside and decided it would be a perfect little cave for him. Unfortunately, Relia saw him go in. She ran right over and tipped it upright, trapping him inside! She then carefully reached down inside to touch him.
The FP Gal and I were watching from the couch. We both were debating breaking it up before anything bad happened. We also were curious how the two of them would work it out. Ozzie is great about not biting but we never put him in spots where he really feels trapped. I think we were also amazed at our clever little girl trapping the kitty!
So she reached down. And then a little further. And we're expecting some noise from inside the bag or some drastic motion. Maybe he'd scratch her and she'd recoil and cry. And then her little arm came back up...with an envelope that must have been in the bag. She quickly threw that away and reached down.
And then Ozzie decided that was enough. He bounded out past her and moved away, unfazed by the experience. But the hunter knows she has time on her side. Some time again he'll let his guard down. And then it will be over. He will be hugged.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Random Sunday Night Thoughts

Man, it's been a long time since I've done one of these.
  • The FP Gal sent me out to do the grocery shopping this morning. I ran across something new to me, Hershey's Dark Chocolate syrup. Right now I'm enjoying a frosty glass of dark chocolate milk. Very yum.
  • NaNoWriMo starts in just under two weeks. Give me a holler if anyone reading is planning on trying it this year. It really is very satisfying. And free. Of money at least, rumor is that it can cost you your mind...
  • I'm very behind in both movie and book reviews. Hopefully I'll catch up some before November. I know many of you are waiting with baited breath.
  • It's been awhile since I've linked her. Don't want her to think I've forgotten.
  • I'd like to encourage my family to set up wish lists with Amazon. Christmas is coming up and this is a pretty handy way to shop for people. Here's mine.
That's it!

Debate

The FP Gal is having some kind of internal debate about furniture. She wants to use me as a tie-breaker. Should this bother me?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Down to Austin

We shot down to Austin for a quick trip this morning. There was very heavy fog on the way down, unusual for late morning. We went down to see the leaves. Also, I've been wanting to show off the Nature Center to the FP Gal. Stopped and picked up my dad and out we went. The place looks like much as it always did. It's one part of Austin that I miss.
Afterwards we ate at the Tendermaid. Yum. Mom was there with her Red Hat Ladies (or whatever the name is). One of them complimented my beard...which was odd. Lunch was good and it was nice that Relia got to see both her Grandma and Grandpa on my side today.
We stopped by Todd Park and let Relia play for a while before we left. Did you know that the Circus is gone? The replaced it with a smaller, more child friendly set. The robot is still there but he's been painted! Instead of a solid tomato red, he's...stripped. Stop messing with my childhood!
Then back up and long naps for all involved.

The Music Then

We're watching some more 80's videos on VH1 and we've noticed that the overall attractiveness factor was much lower for bands back then. Steve Perry probably wouldn't do so well these days. Nor would Tom Petty. My all time not pretty enough for air-time band is the Rolling Stones. Discuss.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Instead of the debates...

Maybe they should just have more of these events.

Whenever

Relia wakes up earlier than normal, she is an absolute grouch. Seriously, you'd think she was living in a garbage can or something. Nothing will make her happy unless you can put her back down for a nap. Which daycare time constraints won't allow. She's wandering around very unhappy, and nothing will change her mind that she needs to yell and cry for no good reason.
Good luck daycare workers! Soon she'll be all yours for the day.

Have a great Friday

Norway

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Car Idea

My current car is low. I'm also a short person. That combination makes it hard for me to see over parked cars when I'm at an intersection. Because of where we live I have to make left turns onto one-way streets fairly often. Too often I have to tell the FP Gal a quick 'I love you' and turn quickly while hoping that some other low car isn't firing down the left lane.
This weekend the solution hit me. My car needs a periscope. It wouldn't need to be that high, another foot would give me much more visibility. The upper end could almost sit right on top of the roof of my car.
The FP Gal isn't impressed by this idea. She worries that it would suffer the same troubles as some sun/moon roofs. She thinks it would leak. I countered that if they can leak proof them on submarines, a car shouldn't be that difficult.
To the good people of Saturn, I'm available as a test subject if you want to try this out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

For Rachel


And yes, I'm full out wondering.

Morning update

Relia woke a little early this morning, 6a or so. I went into her room and she proudly said, 'Hi', which seemed awfully polite. It was pretty deliberate 'hi' and she repeated the performance for the FP Gal a few minutes later. I think she's gotten the hang of it.
She may also have outgrown the small table in the foyer where the keys and the mail live. She's either getting taller or her arms are getting longer. Anyway, we've just about run out of room to push things back out of reach. This morning she tried to run away with mommy's keys. Later she wandered around with her very own pair of pliers, looking for all the world like she was trying to remove a loose tooth.
Never a dull moment...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

There Will Be Blood - 2007

This movie stars Daniel Day Lewis as a Texas oilman in the early 20th century. He's vulgar, violent and a terrible parent. And it's impossible to take your eyes off of him. Day Lewis is very impressive in this film.
Unfortunately, the movie really isn't that great. The cinematography is interesting and well shot but the story isn't that interesting. I don't mind movies that take their time unfolding but this was too slow. And worst of all, the music is mostly atonal string sections. There's a line between excruciating and ominous and this music kept swinging back and forth.
Wasn't really impressed.

Full Moon

We had a gorgeous moon last night, almost full. Tonight we go for the whole thing. According to Wikipedia it will be a Hunter's Moon. Their full list:

I've always thought of October's as the Harvest moon and November as the Hunter. Might be a regional thing. Anyway, the durn thing sailed right over our house last night. It was in the backyard before I went to bed and somehow turned to peek in our front windows this morning.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Facebook Follies

My lovely wife just started her own Facebook account. We're friends now, it's even confirmed. She told the program that we're married and it sent me the comment that she is now married. Then it asked me to confirm that we were in a relationship. I could either 'confirm' or 'ignore'. She was sitting two feet from me so I went with 'confirm'.
Three and a half years, a license from the state, several years of tax returns and a birth certificate have all had their say but now it's official. We're hitched and Facebook will confirm it.

Highlight

Guess the moth horror was fresher in my mind because I meant to blog about my highlight from yesterday and forgot to.
Yesterday afternoon Relia was running out towards the porch. She tripped over something and fell headlong into the doorframe. She hit one of the hinges so hard that it left a little dent over her left eye for a moment. There was much yelling and crying.
The FP Gal was the first on the scene hugging her and kissing her poor head. That didn't seem to help much so I knelt down a few feet away and opened my arms for her. Relia ran right over and buried her head in my chest with a hug. That seemed to help. She did it a few more times, each time being careful to hit my chest with the non-hurt side.
Then she stopped crying and was all better. This is the good side of the dad thing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Near Thing

We went over the FP Gal's parents house tonight to celebrate my MIL's birthday. Before eating we gathered in their living room to chat. Suddenly there was a commotion as a giant moth was spotted right outside the window. I only caught a quick glimpse as I ran out of the room. From what I could see it had about a two foot wingspan and huge fangs. Later the FP Gal helpfully told me that it also had an enormous tongue.
I hurried into the kitchen to find Relia and protect her. Or alternately to use her as a shield in case the foul beastie got in the house. Everyone else went to look, even going outside at one point. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

Parenting Update

The FP Girl seems jealous that I have a better feel for Relia's pooping schedule than she does. Believe me, it's an honor I'd rather pass on.

Friday, October 10, 2008

$2.79

That's what I bought gas at tonight. When was the last time it was that low?

Have a great Friday

Spain

Sign of the times

I've got the news on and they just ran four straight political ads, followed by an ad for better coffee and then an ad on that creepy card check thing. And then a McCain ad. So for those scoring at home that was six political ads out of seven. November 4th can't come soon enough.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

New TV Show Idea

What if someone made an American Idol style show but instead of judging performers the audience would critique (and vote off) commercial series. Just think of it, we could have gotten rid of those stupid Geico cavemen once and for all. The Miller Lite 'More Taste League' (possibly the worst ad series ever from Miller) would have died a quick death. Meanwhile, truly good ads like...um...well, I'm sure there's something good that I'm not thinking of, anyway, good ads would be rewarded.
There is all kinds of good things that would happen with this. Advertisers would get free airtime. Ad companies would get focus groups that number in the millions. And maybe we could somehow get some of these stinkers off the air.
FOX? Drop me a note in the comments. I'll help you develop it.

Splash!

I sometimes joke that I'm part duck because I love rainy weather. I'm starting to wonder if Relia hasn't picked up some of my waterfowlness. If we let her wander around with a sippy cup she will eventually pry off the cover and make a puddle. If she can't pry off the cover than she shakes the milk out for the same effect. After she has the puddle she slaps it to make it splash further.
To combat this I've taken to giving her a no-pry lid with a rubber stopper in it. The stopper will only let water out if she sucks on it. For the past few minutes she's been trying to shake that water out on her favorite chair. No luck but she's still trying it.
Should we sign her up for swimming lessons or something?

UPDATE: She just got the lid off of a cup of milk. Yay! Great fun. And then Mommy and Daddy cleaned it all up. Then she took the cup and realized she had nothing to drink. That led her to, you guessed it, cry over the spilt milk.

Red Sox/Dodgers?

I've now seen reports from both Fox and ESPN talking about the possible Red Sox/Dodgers World Series matchup as the one that 'everyone wants to see'. Are you serious? Tampa is the cinderella story of the year and if they made it they would become America's darlings.
The truth is that Fox would like the Red Sox in the playoffs because they think it would create better ratings. ESPN wants them in because they've been their darlings for years now. I'm sure Boston fans want them there but that's hardly 'everyone'.
Seriously, get out and meet some other fans sometimes guys. Get some other perspective.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

For Jodi

Check out the last two minutes of this clip. I know it's not the 'team = body' commercial but it's the best I could find.

Programming Note

For those who know...Thursday is now the new Wednesday. Which means that it actually reverted to it's old status as Thursday. But not so far as before Thursday was Thursday if you know what I mean.
All other days remain as they were.

Thank you, go about your normal business.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Wisps

Lingerie Football League

Got word over the weekend (thanks Heidi) of another league to watch next fall. I'm in favor of more football and wish that NFL Europe had done better. I've long advocated for some kind of real minor league system for the NFL. This isn't it.
Nope, it's the Lingerie Football League. They held tryouts in Seattle, no word if she was among the hopeful or not. Tryouts are necessary and frankly until the college lingerie leagues mature, they'll remain so. I'm not sure who the Mel Kiper of this sport will be but I'm sure the competition will be strong.
The article points to the league's website here. They don't have rosters yet, but they do have teams. Here are the inaugural squads:

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Steam
Chicago Bliss
Miami Caliente
New England Euphoria
Tampa Breeze
Western Conference
Dallas Desire
Los Angels Temptation
Phoenix Scorch
San Diego Seduction
Seattle Mist


Traditionally, teams pick names to inspire fear in their opponents. Or they represent some facet of the town they represent. Most of these names fail miserably by these standards. Let's break it down.
'Steam' is fine and 'Breeze' is neutral if too benign. Over in the west, 'Scorch' and 'Mist' fall into those exact same categories. I guess 'Caliente' is fine too, and it has the added bonus of being exotic.
Then comes the problem names. 'Bliss'? 'Euphoria'? "Well, when you play the Euphoria, you really have to bring your A game. Those girls host a house of pain!" Yeah, I don't see it either. They also have the 'Desire' who play with lots of heart. And the two most baffling, the 'Temptation' and 'Seduction'. I'm guessing they'll be more finesse type teams.
Seriously, with names like these they run the risk of being mistaken for strippers or something like that. The dignity of the Lingerie Football League is in danger. I hope they realize that.