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!


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.
  • 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.
  • 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



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!


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.


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


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.


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


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

Have a great Friday


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, 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.


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


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.

Season over

The White Sox lost today 6-2 and that puts an end to the season. Last week I said they were good but not great and I still think that. Tampa looks like a better team and sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other squad. Now that they've beaten my team, I'll cheer for them to win the whole darn thing.
2007 was tough because the White Sox were so bad that the season was realistically done in May. Obviously this year lasted much longer and was better because of it. In fact, I don't remember such a tight race as this in recent years. From late July the Twins and White Sox were locked together. The White Sox briefly had a 2.5 game lead, I think the largest the Twins had was 1. Most days it was just half a game one way or the other.
They gave us drama and suspense. They introduced some young players who should provide a good core for years to come. I got no complaints.
See you in February, guys.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Good news for my dad

The New York Times deems that single straight men can now own cats without anyone questioning their sexuality.
Although there are no hard (or soft) statistics (it is rare to find an owner, man or woman, walking a cat in public), it seems that single, heterosexual male cat owners are on the rise. Over the last few years Sandra DeFeo, an executive director at the Humane Society of New York, said she had seen an increase in the number of single, straight men who are adopting cats.
So we've got that going for us. Later on in the article...

When the Web site asked its readers, “Do Real Men Own Cats?” almost 84 percent of respondents said “yes.” “Only intelligent, aware, caring men love cats,” one reader said. And in a 2005 survey by Cats Protection, an animal welfare agency in the United Kingdom, the majority of the 790 people who responded said it was cool for a guy to own cats.

This line of thinking does not surprise cat lovers, many of whom believe that only pillars of virility and masculinity would dare to own one. They are quick to point out other well-known macho cat owners: Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo and Marlon Brando, who reportedly found a stray cat on the set of “The Godfather” and incorporated it into a scene.

Check out that list of writers. Hemingway, Twain and Hugo. Not too shabby.

Many women agree that guys with cats are extra special.

“They make the best boyfriends because they’re totally cool with staying home and watching a movie,” said Elizabeth Daza, 28, a video producer in Manhattan, who dated a cat-owning man for eight years. “Straight men with cats seem to be really secure and stable. They don’t need to be running around the park and proving their masculinity like the dog guys.”

I could have used that for dating profile! I have to say that the NYT stamp of approval makes me feel better here. Now if only they'd run an article on straight men who enjoy musicals...

The Whole World

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day features a repeat of one of my all time favorites of theirs. It's a composite of satellite pictures of the earth at night. Of interest to me:
  • Cities really stand out from countryside. This is a dramatic representation of where people are on the planet.
  • In some ways it's also a map of wealth. Compare Europe and the eastern US with South America and Africa. Also compare North and South Korea.
  • The upper Nile stands out like a string of Christmas lights. So does the Siberian railroad.
  • Islands also pop out here. Hawaii is very easy to spot. So is Bermuda and the Seychelles.
  • What a beautiful sight that must be from orbit!

Open question

Why does Sodor have so many rail lines? Was it government manipulation from a wealthy speculator? Wouldn't cars (or even horse and buggy) be easier for the inhabitants? Has a commission ever looked into this?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Cooler weather

We've had mostly cool weather since Labor day. The blankets have come out on the bed and the couch. This is wonderful news for the cats.
Sana is back to cuddling with us at night. She loves to lay on the pillow above the FP Gal's head. She purrs very loudly and I think that improves the sleeping atomsphere.
Ozzie is back to burrowing. Every evening he creeps up to the blanket crumpled at the foot of the couch. He works his way underneath until he's built his own little cave. You must be very careful when sitting down.
It's tricky for us, especially with Relia. The morning temps this last week were right around 40 degrees. In the afternoon it rose up to the 70's and then sank again at night. For adults you recommend layering. That's not as easy with a child who would really rather run around as a naked savage.
Today, for the first time I wondered how she'll deal with snow for the first time. I'm not hoping we get at least one good heavy snow so we can build a snowman. How great will that be?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Long week

It's been a long one here on Walton's mountain. The FP Gal started back to night class and also had conferences. That meant I got to spend gobs of time parenting on my own. To be very clear, I've encouraged the FP Gal in both ventures and I'm glad she's doing them. That doesn't mean there isn't a downside.
Relia is becoming more and more adventurous every single day. She can climb on top of the coffee table and several different chairs. The couch is just a bit too high but it won't be long. She's also mastered the art of using other objects to boost her height. Is there anything better than toddlers balancing as high up as they can go? It has become something of a race to see what comes first, her cracked head or my heart attack.
She really really wants to talk but just doesn't have it figured out yet. She's communicating more and more (she goes to her high chair when hungry) but still can't tell us everything she needs. That leads to tantrums. Believe me, bedtime can't come too early somedays.
I was complaining to someone at work today about this and they said something like "Well, that's what you signed up for." True enough. I even knew that then. Of course there would be bad days. You know what? Never once did I sign anything that said I couldn't complain about those bad days. Not once. Never said that, never even thought it.
If I complained about this all the time that would be one thing but I don't. Usually she's very easy to watch. Even when she's not it's rare to go through this long of a stretch when the FP Gal isn't around to give me a hand.
Word to the wise, step carefully around fathers who look short on sleep and long on frayed nerves. Just nod sympathetically and mention that it'll get better. Keep in mind that we have access to dirty diapers.

Wedding cakes

Not funny ones like these, but very creative ones. My favorite is the one with legos. Full list here.

Have a great Friday

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Caught some Kate Bush tonight on the music channel and it sent me over to YouTube to see what her videos looked like. I came to like Kate in my late teens, well after most of her music had been released and I don't remember her getting any air time on MTV.
This song has the same basic theme as 'the Pina Colada song' but I like this version better. I saw it in a karaoke menu once in a small bar I used to frequent in Colorado. It was tempting to regail the poor mountain people with this bizzare tune but I passed. Babooshka, ya ya!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Great news

Southwest Airlines will start service to the Twin Cities. These guys get rave reviews from our clients. Their prices are low and the service gets good marks. Plus the pressure from their low fares should drop some of the outrageously high nonstop fares on Northwest. This is a complete win for Minnesota travelers.

I'd like to go here

Now if I only knew where this was...

The Problem with 'Sierra'

Warning: This might be the most random post this blog has ever hosted. And the competition for that is kinda fierce. Proceed at your own risk, ok?

I've got a problem with the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and I don't know who to complain to. With any luck someone from their governing body will trip over this via Google and my voice will be heard. I can't be the only one with this issue. Maybe their is a large group of people out there just looking for a leader. For years they've thought they were alone and were just waiting for someone else to stand up.
A bit of background, when I became a travel agent over eight years ago I ran into a little problem with all of the confirmation codes that we speak over the phone. Most agents used names, MBL would come out as 'Melanie, Brenda, Lucy' or something like that. This works well if you're disciplined enough to use the same names but if not you run into problems like saying 'Mary, Barry, Larry'. This is worse than useless.
I emailed my brother for the phonetic alphabet and he quickly shot back a list that matches this one. Problem solved! Now I'd simply say 'Mike, Bravo, Lima' and the person on the other end of the phone would never misunderstand me.
In practice that isn't true. Older, more experienced airline and hotel agents know what I'm saying but younger ones need a restart. When I was training new agents for the company, I'd hand them a copy of the list and urge them to use it. I wish other companies would too. (This would be nice for car companies too but I figure their agents are doing well to pick up the ringing thing and answer it. No need to increase the difficulty too high.)
Still, most of the time it would work just fine. With one exception. The letter 'S' is represented by the word 'sierra'. This is probably missed 90% of the time! Part of the problem is obvious, the word starts with the phonetic sound 'see' or 'C'. This causes plenty of confusion.
According to wikipedia, other words that have been used for 'S' are 'Santiago' and 'Sugar'. The alternate I've been sliding towards is 'Sam'. Changes have been made to this alphabet in the past. I think it's time for one more.