Sunday, November 30, 2008


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.