Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's starting...

Maybe a little bit trashy

I just discovered that a drink carrier from McDonalds somehow ended up in the downstairs crib. Some people say that there's a kitty to blame, but I know...it's my own darn fault.

Find Your Spot

About this time every year (after a long brutal winter) I start thinking of packing up and finding someplace better to live. One site that I visit is Find Your Spot. It has a quiz that helps determine what kind of town you want to live in (climate/size/type of community, etc.). It ehn provides additional information about the cities as well as links to real estate listings and employment opportunities. My list has changed a little over the years but there have been several cities that have been consistent. My top ten:
Tacoma, WA
Olympia, WA
St George, UT
Provo, UT
Billings, MT
Anchorage, AK
Kent, WA
Bellingham, WA
Greenville, SC
Ogden, UT

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Juno - 2007

What a fun movie! The plot is pretty straightforward, a teenage girl accidentally becomes pregnant. She leans towards aborting but becomes convinced to go full term and allow the baby to be adopted. This film shows that journey and on through the birth.
What shines here is the writing. The stars are witty and clever. This is especially true of the parents (Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons). The best line of the movie comes from Simmons and involves a synonym of 'hot-dog'. The other thing that makes the movie is the soundtrack. All very folk-indie, with bare guitar and vocals. The FP Gal loved it so much that we ran out and bought it.
Best picture worthy? All comedies suffer in comparison to dramas when it comes right down to it. I'm very willing to suggest that it was the best comedy (highbrow division) of last year. I think people will remember this film fondly for years to come.

Coupling

I did mention that I enjoy this show didn't I? The clip shows Jeff and his extreme nervousness with women.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Overheard


"Yes, when it's time to kneecap a giraffe, Mommy is the one to go to."

Very cute (or cruel)

Relia is in her bouncer (immortalized in video here) and is (finally) happy. While I was working to convince her to enjoy bouncing, I shook a little bunny and put it on a little shelf near her. She's trying to reach it but it's juuuust out of reach. Not that that's stopping her. She bounces closer and closer...and then the spring moves her back away. She bounces back...and it happens again. Very cute.

Oh no!

Sad news.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Landscape photos

Most of the landscape/nature photos that I post are ones that I've found online. This one here is the best photo I've ever taken. Anything better than this isn't mine.
This was taken in Burnsville, summer of '04 during an unusually outstanding sunset. Not sure just what happened to combine the light that way but it was breathtaking. Absolutely filled my apartment with gold.

World's Smallest Violin

'Snatched in the Night'
Um, yeah. I'm sure this is exactly the position that her lawyers must take. I'll hold my sympathy for people who are actually wrongly convicted, thank you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Opening day?

So without any prior warning, they went ahead and played a real baseball game (counts in the standings and everything) this morning in Japan. The Mighty Mighty Red Sox beat the A's in ten innings. Man, this snuck up on me. I've been following spring training but I didn't realize they were starting actual games yet. (This just shows how my ESPN viewing has dropped. Not sure if I blame wife, baby or crappy product.)
But did that really make today Opening Day? This guy says no and I think I agree with him.
Depending on your tastes, Opening Day is up there with or demonstrably better than (the correct answer) Super Bowl Sunday, the first day of the NCAA Tournament and other great one-day spectacles of sport. More than the World Series, more than the All-Star Game, it's Opening Day — almost everyone's team in action, hopes undimmed for all — that is baseball at its inclusive best. However, when baseball deigns to kick off the season on the other side of the world, at a time when most Americans are in full snooze, and days before the rest of the teams open their seasons, it diminishes the event. So Opening Day is really Sorta-Kinda Opening Day.
Who cares? Well, I do. Opening Day is more than just the beginning of the rest of the year, it's also the floating anniversary of our proposal date (story here). Frankly, it wasn't on a Tuesday. It was before the Sunday Night game and that's where it's going to stay regardless of what the baseball powers say. So there!
We're almost there, hon. Just a few more days.

Overheard

"Daddy's excited for you to have a sippy cup. That's the one thing he wanted to register for."
"I registered for lots of things. That's because I had the gun."
"That's why they do it that way, so men will take some interest in registering."
Pause while I was thinking, "Maybe they should make a Wii registering game."

Worst movie ever?

Megan McArdle writes about the worst movie ever and her prime example is 'Road to Wellsville'. I've seen it on cable and it really did seem like an awful movie. But I've seen worse. In fact I've paid full price for worse movies. Some examples:

Star Trek V
The Mummy 2
Thin Red Line
In the Mouth of Madness
City Slickers 2

Man, that list makes me shudder just to look at it again. I was tempted to put 'Eyes Wide Shut' on it too, but the movie kept me interested at least. Honorable mention should go to 'The Crying Game' which made for the most uncomfortable mother's day movie ever (in retrospect, not the movie's fault just a really bad circumstance).
Other nominations?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Poor Ozzie

Pants ON!

One of the hardest tasks of my daily life is getting a pair of pants on a seven month old girl. First one leg and then try the other. At which point she's kicked off the first one. Continue and repeat until cross words are spoken (usually by me).
I'm trying to figure out what kind of job this is preparing me for:
  • Bomb technician
  • Cattle rustler
  • Pro golfer
  • Swami
Whatever it is, it's not 'travel agent'.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Coming Clean

Ok, I'll admit it. I don't care for 'Jon and Kate, Plus Eight'. I find it stressful. Taking care of one baby is enough work without watching eight of them running around. Plus, I don't find it all that 'real-life'. It's hard for me to believe that the special things they do during certain episodes aren't thinly veiled supplier freebies. Also, I don't like the way Kate treats Jon. Cut him slack!
That's all.

Happy Easter

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Random Saturday afternoon thoughts

  • This is the NCAA Men's Basketball version, so don't read this if you don't care.
  • Lots of people think that this tournament is the best postseason of any sport. I'd probably agree with that even though October baseball can be better. There are calls to tweak the whole thing every year but I don't think it's really necessary. This first weekend is the best, one of the best on the entire sports calender.
  • For some reason I do much better with my picks on the opening Thursday than on the second day. This year I went 14-2 to open and followed with 10-6. That's very typical and I don't know why it happens.
  • Remind me next year not to pick Duke for anything significant. This morning I was actually rooting against their huge upset loss. Ick. Like cheering for the Yankees.
  • Yes, I had to take a shower.
  • Can't really call myself a huge college basketball fan, and the Big 10 network hasn't made that any easier. One huge problem I have with it is the incredible overreaction this kids make to the slightest contact. You'd think they were being hit by cannon fire. And if you slice in towards the basket and lay it in without contact you shouldn't have to fly fifteen feet into the stands.
  • Still, how can you not enjoy these kids putting it all out there, living a dream? Great stuff.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gorgeous


No subtext intended (honest). Just like the music. Fans of Ferris Bueller might just recognize it. Sadly, it's not available with Itunes. Anyone know how to take audio off of a video clip?

The Eagle has Landed

Or at least the Mommy has come home.
Let me back up, today was my usual day off but with a twist. My Dad came up today to help look after her (and to watch some basketball). The FP Gal had a late night today with a school function so it seemed like some help was in order. Not to mention that it gave him a chance to play with his granddaughter.
Dad had to leave late in the afternoon. Things went well for an hour or so and then it all fell apart. Relia had a bottle and acted like she was going to take a nap. I started my own dinner and she woke up. Woke up with a vengeance! There was much yelling and screaming (most of it from her). There was whining and general unhappiness. No toy was the right one. No position felt good. Nothing I was doing worked.
The problem wasn't hard to figure out, she didn't nap much today. She was overly tired and couldn't sleep. That old saying about 'if momma ain't happy, no one is happy' is wrong, or at least incomplete. The happiness pyramid starts with baby and trickles down from there.
Anyway, the FP Gal is home and I'm off duty. Whew!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Glen Taylor

This is well worth reading. Question for Minnesota sports fans, which owner is worse, Taylor or Pohlad?

Rough day

Today I was the bad guy at work. The one who gets to tell all of the nice travelers why they can't do the things they want to do. The one who gets to tell them that the things they want to do will be horribly expensive. The guy who is accused of lying to them about what flights are sold out.
The last actually happened. Some poor guy wanted to change airlines at the last minute. When I told him that he couldn't fly his (suddenly) desired airline he just didn't believe me. Walked over to the departure schedule and started reading off flight numbers so I could check them. Then snottily told me that he'd check directly with them at the counter.
This is the other side of bad customer service. Everyone complains (and rightfully, understandably) when they get a bad agent. What they never seem to realize is that difficult (and manipulative!) customers are a problem too.
Thank heavens I've got a few days off.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

As I Explained...


To the FP Gal, I'm a two cat minimum kind of guy. I brought two of them into this marriage and I want at least that many around. That way we each have one to keep our feet warm.

Picture proof

Meigan has posted her threatened pictures of me with hair. Man, those were the days.

Random Tuesday morning thoughts

  • We've gotten more snow and they're describing it as the heart attack stuff. Be careful shoveling, I guess. Actually it's quite pretty. Those few days of spring we had last week helped out immeasurably. New snowfalls feel temporary.
  • Meant to post this over the weekend but the WSJ has a fascinating article on NCAA brackets and how to get an edge with your picks. They've taken years of data and looked for what types of things gave teams an edge. As a hint, playing far away from home really does sap a team. They also look at specific teams to see who tends to outplay their expected performances.
  • And since I mentioned it, I'm bearish on the Pac-10 this year. They were arguably the best conference in basketball but there are very few games on the West Coast. Don't know if it's the luck of the draw or if the planning committees really screwed them but they'll have tons of travel.
  • I'm down on UCLA but for a different reason. In the last few weeks they've been just barely getting by. At least two of their wins were hugely referee assisted. They just look like they're ready to stumble. I'm picking them as the first #1 to get bounced this year.
  • That's it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Just walked downstairs

And rounded the corner where Relia is playing in her Exer-Saucer. She's busy choking a giraffe but then she looks up and notices me. Huuuuuge smile.
Sometimes being a parent is pretty sweet.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

For Christina fans

Slow posting

Sorry for the light posting this week. It's been tougher to think of blogworthy posts. Could blame some of it on just plain tiredness as Relia has decided to add a 2am pacifier loss crisis to her routine.
We got a break Friday night as my Mom offered to do an overnight babysit. The FP Gal took her over late afternoon and then we went out to eat. Our standard sit down place is Fridays so that's where we went. The nice thing about a regular restaurant is that you usually know what you want to eat before you even get there. The FP Gal gets a steak. I get a bacon cheeseburger. This time my burger came with very skinny strips of bacon. I showed it to the FP Gal and said, "Look angel hair bacon,".
Afterwards we went for a walk at the MOA. They were getting ready for the grand re-branding of the park into Nickelodeon Universe. We're skeptical. The Peanuts characters had been around for decades, Dora the Explorer not so much. We'll see what happens.
On a whim we bought the soundtrack to 'Juno'. We both enjoyed the movie and the music was a big part of that. I'll get around to reviewing it sometime soon.
Saturday morning we both slept in until at least 8a. Good times!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Random Thursday night thoughts

  • In reference to yesterday's scatological posting, I just haven't figured out how to change that diaper and keep myself clean. I know I know, in a few months I'll be a pro. That's just the way this works.
  • Overheard the other night: "You know, I just keep finding more 'Flock of Seagulls' that I want." In related news, the FP Gal is very understanding. The song in question? Right here (dig that bass line!).
  • My latest timewaster can be found right here.
  • More music? These are some recommendations from my brother. Link 1. Link 2. Link 3. He says he's really enjoying the tunes that he can get over in Germany.
  • And speaking of Germany, my sis-in-law, Rachel, has been very good about posting photos of the many many castles and quaint towns they are visiting over there. As a bonus, she's also an entertaining writer.
  • Meant to mention this the other day but we've (finally) had a stretch of gorgeous warm weather. I think we hit 50 today. The snow is shrinking. Frankly, it's like getting out of prison.
  • That's all!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

You're not living

If it's 7a and you don't have poop on at least one of your fingers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Every day a new change

Our little girl is growing up right in front of our eyes. (Well, she's growing up when we're not looking too. I mean when she's at daycare.) (And at night.) (Well, probably at night. Her fingernails at least.) (But not her hair. Or at least very little growth on that front.) (Yes, I'm not one to talk. Let's just hope that her next twenty years of hair growth is more abundant than mine.) (Not that the Sinead OConnor look can't be nice. Some guys really dig that in a girl.) (Or course, I hope our baby girl never goes on SNL and tears up a picture of the Pope. That's just rude.) (Hopefully no other religious leaders either. Can you imagine the outrage that would follow if someone destroyed a picture of the Dali Lama?)
Where was I? Oh yes, she's growing everyday.

(For the life of me, I had examples in mind but now I can't remember them. Guess I'm getting old, too.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Old Friends

One of the joys of blogging has been connecting with old friends. There's a whole section (girls from the class of '91) that I now get to read from daily. For those of you scoring at home, that's Carrie, Holly, Laurie and Meigan.
There are a couple of others that I wish were blogging. Two of my closest friends in junior high and high school were Matt Grosland and Camdon Draeger. I know where both of them are and I talk to each one about twice a year but I can't help but think that the day to day stuff would be lots of fun to read.
Today at work I had a little free time for googling around. Crazily enough both of them came up with YouTube searches. First is Matt on the drums.

Next is Cam in a college production. The facial expressions kill me.

Come on guys, start blogging!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Novel

It's finally all up on the web. I didn't get a good counter on the thing so I don't really have any idea if anyone was reading or not. Which is a strange, strange feeling. Kind of like playing to a dark theater with no chance of glimpsing the audience.
Heinlein said that "A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits," and man does that ring true. This entire time I've alternated between feeling like a show off hack and a real writer sharing some (very minor) art with his friends. Now that it's all up I think I'd rather not know which one is closer to the truth.
Did I enjoy it? Yes. Thinking up the Wonders was great fun. The first four were simple, the next two were much harder and the seventh was very difficult. Not sure what the next would have been or even could have been.
The characters were much harder to write and they're easily the weakest of the story. Still, there was that one moment. The one where it all clicked into place. Easily the best part of writing this. Even got chills.
Now what? Well, NaNoWriMo rolls around again this November. I'll certainly try it again this year (wife permitting). I'll keep writing short stories as they come to me. Wrote about a half dozen of them last year and I hope to have the same luck again. Maybe some day I'll have real books published and everything. That sounds like living the dream.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Smiley



(Via Reason) Here is one British school's ingenious effort to reduce the risk of possible predators using their website to target children. Make sure that the nice friendly pictures you're putting up on don't show them anything of value. Just look at those kids, this would be the creepiest school on the planet.
The FP Gal operates a similar website for her school. I'm trying to convince her to do the same thing but she's resisting. Guess she doesn't care about kids.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Correction

Per the FP Gal, monkeys have tails but chimps do not. Either way, I don't like them in commercials.

Have a great Friday

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Speaking of...

Lost

Our clear favorite show on (mine at least, the FP Gal might differ) is 'Lost'. It's mysterious and jolting and has become appointment television. The early fear was that writers would paint themselves into a corner and have to cheat to get themselves out. That doesn't seem to be the case. They already decided on the total number of episodes for the series so they know exactly how long they have to create and finish various story arcs.
The first six episodes of this latest season have been outstanding. They have answered some of the big questions while creating new ones. Various pieces from earlier in the series are starting to fall into place.
One other good thing about the show? ABC is putting each episode up on the web. You can go right here and watch the show from the beginning.
Seriously, this might be the best ABC drama since 'Moonlighting'.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bridge on the River Kwai - 1957

A large group of British soldiers have been captured by the Japanese
during WWII and are brought to a POW camp. They are going to be used as
a labor force to build a bridge over the nearby river Kwai, so that a
strategically important railroad link can be completed.
Trouble occurs when their commanding officer (Alec Guinness) stands on
the Geneva code and refuses to let his officers do manual labor. A
contest of wills follows as the camp commander (Sessue Hayakawa) decides
to break Guinness by putting him in a stiffling solitary confinement.
After this is sorted out another conflict occurs. The Brits
(understandably) want to drag out the construction but Guinness has
other ideas. He wants to show them what the Brits can do and put the
Japanese engineers to shame. He takes over the project and improves it
greatly. This climaxes with enormous doubt and regret.
Guinness is incredible in this movie. He won a very deserved Best Actor
award for it. The whole film is great and was the Best Picture winner
of 1957. If you haven't seen it, do so.
Interestingly, one of the most memorable parts of the movie is a
whistled tune from the Brits. Did you know that the tune has words? Careful, it's bawdy.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Careful...

Phoning China

One of the oddities of my job is that I occasionally have to call people in other countries. This can be troublesome since I only speak one language reliably. In fact, it's worse than that, as I've got a terrible ear for other languages and am completely lost if they speak with anything nearing a normal speed. Add in the fact that I have the power to completely hose up some innocent person's travel plans and you've got a bad recipe.
Well, not all bad. It can be kind of cool. Last week I called Luxembourg. Twice. (They spoke perfect English both times but still...)
Today I got a call from a man for whom was English was obviously not his native tongue. He was booking travel to Hong Kong and then to Shenzhen. Once he arrived there he'd be staying at the Sunshine Hotel (which looks like a nice place).
Our system wasn't offering the correct corporate rate and I had to call the hotel. As a rule, any hotel that caters to westerners in a large city will have some English speakers near the phone. The further you get from the beaten path, the less true that is. My hopes weren't high here.
Called over and got someone quickly. Talked to about five people before I found an English speaker. Each of the earlier ones tried to understand me but couldn't. This final guy seemed to be doing better.
We talked about the dates and the price. I told him which company the discount was with and he found it quickly. Then he asked me the name of the guest.
"Last name, Trinh. T-R-I-N-H."
Repeats back but last few letters hard to understand.
"Trinh. Tango-Romeo-India-November-Hotel."
"No, Sunshine Hotel!"
After much confusion we got it figured out (I hope). He gave me a confirmation number and I was all set to go. Then I asked for his name.
"Henry."

As I said, these calls can be troublesome. Mr Trinh, good luck with your reservation. We tried our best and I hope it ends up being somewhere near correct.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Not for chewing

Approved list

Ok, so having a number of children's toys around the house has taught us some new categories of acceptable animal classification. To recap:
  • Mammals are ok to chew on.
  • Insects are not. (There is some dispute on this but I feel very strongly about it.)
  • If you hit a monkey in the face he will play a song for you.
  • Elephants are good to suck on.
  • Fish are good for grabbing.
  • Plush frogs and cats should be beaten repeatedly.
  • Giraffes are fun to chew on, but some of them will become seahorses in time.
  • Kitties (Ozzie and Sana) are fun to look at but hard to grab. There is probably a sharp lesson coming up about pulling their whiskers.
  • Bears are fun to wrestle with.
Further updates as needed.

Very funny

Warning: Do not click on these links if you're offended by heavy swearing and/or sexual humor. If that's not you, click here and then here.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Scenes from the house

The FP Gal keeps buying butterfly themed toys for Aurelia. Relia likes to put them in her mouth. The whole thing is horrifying.