Thursday, July 31, 2008

Weather

This morning was wonderfully gloomy, with a few spots of drizzly weather. We had the windows open and a cool breeze swept through fitfully. Now the clouds have cleared, the sun is out and the house is about to heat up. Rain, rain...come back?

Man, let's hope not

Could the Vikings rescure Green Bay?

Seriously, no no no no no no!

Halls of Fame

Every year the Hall of Fame inductions for MLB and NFL are just one week apart. I've always liked this as it signals the beginning of the transition from baseball to football. From what I hear, both places do a wonderful job, but I've never been to either.
Ran into a very good pair of articles about each Hall. The baseball set (here and here) focuses on the players that have been voted in, looking at them by position. It looks at which positions have been chosen well and which haven't, with some healthy discussion of who is there that shouldn't, and who should still go.
The football articles (here and here) and they take a very interesting approach. They first take a look at each team's overall accomplishments in terms of playoffs and overall success and then compare that to the number of players they've had enshrined. From this they can tell which teams have been screwed by the process. The articles have comments on each team and short discussions of who could be added right now and likely future additions. The Viking section starts the second article if you're interested.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

C'mon Itunes

Get with it! There are a number of songs that I'd like to download that they just don't have.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Adventures in afternoon TV

(I'm home early because of plans for tonight.) We're watching Dr Phil and they've got a woman on who was on a previous episode because her husband is a Bad Man. After that show they got home and he admitted to her that he'd killed and raped people before. She does what every reasonable person in that situation would do. She calls Dr Phil! And leaves a voicemail. Doesn't move out, doesn't move the kids out or anything like that. Thank God, for Dr Phil.
Later in the episode, (and I'll admit that some other things may have happened, my soul is trying to escape the sinking ship that is this TV program) the woman takes an overdose of drugs. By accident, apparently but what did she do about it? Call Dr Phil! Or at least his producer. Seriously, when do they 'help' this woman and give her the number for 911?
Holy cats! (Wait a minute. Deep breath.) Ah, much better. The FP Gal has changed the channel to ABC Family channel. Much better.

10 Less Vacation Worries

(Via Instapundit.) Here's the list. Among the items:
9. The universe’s missing mass. Even if the fate of the universe — steady expansion or cataclysmic collapse — depends on the amount of dark matter that is out there somewhere, you can rest assured that no one blames you for losing it. And most experts doubt this collapse will occur during your vacation.
Most of the list is closer to home. The whole thing is worth reading.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Baby's First Parachute


We figure that eleven months is long enough and it's time to get Relia ready for Airborne training. Isn't it cute that they design infant parachutes with little bears? Apparently they also come in 'bunny' and 'anvil' patterns.
Ok, it's not really a parachute. This is our horribly controlling harness and leash combo. We had to get it because she's just gotten too fast for us. If we let her walk around, she'll quickly blend into the crowd and be gone. So this is what we went with. Apparently a muzzle and bit would have been too cruel.
Does she like it? Eh. We think she finds it restrictive or something. Well, maybe she does. If you put it up where she can see it she wants it. Then she walks around with it until she gets a strap wrapped around her. Whee, it's fun for all of us!

Thinking...

of getting this.

Cruise Reviews

Here's a set of reviews of our ship. Most of them are positive, but not all. I found reading through them useful especially when trying to figure out what to do at different destinations. The FP Gal has set up some posts where we can list our plans at different stops. Only 11 days left!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wii are joined

We're showing off our new toy for Jodi! I think she's finding it addictive.

Friday, July 25, 2008

For More Smiles...


I've linked to this guy before and you can find his...well his life basically here. His life story, or at least the explanation is here.
In February of 2003, he quit his job in Brisbane, Australia and used the money he'd saved to wander around Asia until it ran out. He made this site so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he is.

A few months into his trip, a travel buddy gave Matt an idea. They were standing around taking pictures in Hanoi, and his friend said "Hey, why don't you stand over there and do that dance. I'll record it." He was referring to a particular dance Matt does. It's actually the only dance Matt does. He does it badly. Anyway, this turned out to be a very good idea.

A couple years later, someone found the video online and passed it to someone else, who passed it to someone else, and so on. Now Matt is quasi-famous as "That guy who dances on the internet. No, not that guy. The other one. No, not him either. I'll send you the link. It's funny."

And yes, I'm very jealous. Love that video, though...

Have a great Friday

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Common sense, please?

Ok, so Aurelia is hardly a common name. I get that. But at least it's better than 'Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii'. That's the name that a New Zealand judge is helping a young girl change.

Officials had blocked Sex Fruit, Keenan Got Lucy and Yeah Detroit, he said, but Number 16 Bus Shelter, Violence and Midnight Chardonnay had been allowed.

One mother wanted to name her child O.crnia using text language, but was later persuaded to use Oceania, he said.

Somehow we never got around to the name 'Sex Fruit'. Maybe with the next one. Other names we never really considered:
  • Flex joint
  • Gooney bird
  • Ughlee Qidd
  • Princess Diana
  • Wildstrawberryjello
  • Frank
Really, what's wrong with some parents?

Overheard at work today

"I hate dealing with airlines!"

Thought from everyone nearby, "Boy, did you pick a bad job then, didn't you?".

Random Trivia (Sea Edition)

  • What four seas are named after colors?
  • What other sea shares the name of a color, named after a feature of the sea?
  • What sea has no land boundaries?
  • What U.S. sea was created in 1905?
  • What sea is furthest south?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Grumpy Day

Today's toddler weather has been mostly grumpy with occasional partly smiley. We don't know if there is some teething going on or what, but it's been a long day. She's been signaling that she's tired but won't nap for more than 45 minutes or so. She's eating regular amounts and on her regular schedule. Still she's grumpy. And whiny. Bedtime is coming but will it matter? I've got a nightmare vision of being up every few hours to try and figure out why she won't stop crying this time. Ugh.

Ozzie dreams

Alarm news

This is a sad story, but one that ends with hope and possibly a buzzer.

Back in the dark days of 1985 I had my first job as a paperboy. That's right, I was out there delivering the Herald, sometimes even to the correct houses. Didn't really like the job but the money was good for an eleven year old.
The biggest purchase I can remember was an alarm clock. The thing was a beauty. Dual alarms. Option to wake up to radio. Two settings for brightness. It even had a (new to me) feature called 'snooze'. That clock went with me everywhere. I've lived in twelve different places since then and my one constant companion was the one waking me up with the radio.
But as happens, it started to show it's age. Specifically, the button that lets you change the hour became harder and harder to use. You'd push and you'd push and finally it would agree to work for you. Every time our power went out, even for a minute, I'd struggle to reset the darn thing. Struggle only begins to describe it. Near the end, I was using other tools to try and bypass the button. Not a pretty picture.
And not one that the FP Gal was happy with. So she did something about it and bought me a new alarm clock. This one is fancier and you can even wake up to a CD instead of trying your luck with the radio. She bought it at a Goodwill, and the story is that it's previous owner was somehow killed in a bizarre clock radio/Indian burial ground/curse of the mummy type thing but I'm sure nothing bad will come of it.
Rest softly, old alarm clock. You'll never have to stir yourself at 6a, ever again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Moby Dick - Melville

Ah, the classic tale of revenge. Or obsession. Actually, it's a book about whales. I'm not kidding about that, fully half of the book is a scientific look at whales. Categorizing them and then separate chapters on each part of the whales physiology. This makes the job of cutting the book down for abridged versions very easy.
The story itself is quite interesting, if so well known that there are few surprises. The narrator (let's call him Ishmael) wants to go whaling. He meets a south Pacific islander named Queequeg and they become great, if unlikely, friends. They sign on to a ship commanded by Captain Ahab. After they get out to sea, he informs the crew that he's searching for a white whale, Moby Dick, who cost him a leg on his previous journey. The ship makes a regular whaling trip, asking every other whaler that they find if they've seen the famous Moby Dick. Finally they track him down and a battle to the death ensues.
I really enjoyed this book. Melville writes interesting dialogue and narrative. Even the scientific asides are interestingly written. It was a surprisingly good read. (Relatedly, I can also recommend 'Bartleby, the Scrivner', a Melville short story of some note.) 'Moby Dick' is sometimes considered the greatest American novel and I can see why. A great book.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dreams before a Monday

Unique Houses

(Via Weburbanist) Here are some very interesting houses. The one in Lubbock interests me the most although the Orchid House looks very interesting too. Powerball, someday...

The Dark Knight - 2008

Short review, it's a very good movie, Heath Ledger was amazing, and if you think you'd like then you should go. You can read more glowing reviews almost everywhere, I thought I'd just list some criticisms (SPOILERS to follow).
  • The movie is too long. They should have focused on one villain only and set up another for the next movie. As it was the ending felt tacked on. It could have (and should have) been at least twenty minuted shorter.
  • Christian Bale is nice and dark but at no point did I care about the character Bruce Wayne. Don't know if I'd blame the acting or the script but there you have it. The same thing is true of his girlfriend played by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • Batman should really be larger than life and he never really comes off that way. The actor isn't really well seen and when he is, he looks stiff. His combat technique is mostly about absorbing blows rather than avoiding them.
  • I've seen some praise suggesting that this is the best of the latest superhero movies. I'd say that Spiderman 2 was better. The third XMen movie might have been better too.
Ledger really deserves another mention. His portrayal of the Joker outshines even the Nicholson version. Dark and twisted and capable of great violence. There's been some talk of an Oscar nod and it wouldn't surprise me. He absolutely steals the movie. It's a shame that he's gone, far too young.

Extra Innings Preview

Every year after the All-Star break, MLB Extra Innings gives a week of free games. That means that we can watch baseball games from all over the country. Of course, I watch the White Sox games but I also enjoy seeing other games with other announcers.
I've got a problem, though. They show a commercial advertising the service that starts with "...and the Red Sox are playing in Boston. And Boise. And Birmingham." They show clips of a game with a scoreboard on the top of the screen. One problem, the score is upside down. If the score is vertical the home team is always the bottom one. Always. If the scoreboard is horizontal, the home team is always the one on the right. Again, always. In the commercial, they screw up both conventions. This is a simple thing but as a sports fan it grates on me. Obviously the owners of the channel don't care enough to get something like this right.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Animated films and Oscar success

Here's a pretty good article from Joel Morgenstern urging Pixar to push Wall-E for Best Picture consideration instead of Best Animated Feature.
I say, when the time comes, do the right thing -- put "WALL-E" up for the Best Picture nomination it so richly deserves. To be sure, the strategy entails risk. While a Best Animated Feature nomination would almost certainly bring a Best Animated Feature Oscar -- I mean no disrespect to other contenders, it's just that "WALL-E" is playing its own game by its own rules -- a bid for Best Picture might not end in Academy-sanctioned victory. But a champion mustn't be kept from competing with other champions. Such a dazzling light shouldn't be hidden beneath a splintering bushel.
He also discusses some of the other top notch animation that's going on right now and gives some love to one of my favorites, Hayao Miyazaki. His most famous work is probably 'Spirited Away' which won the Best Animated in 2002. (My favorite was 'Princess Mononoke' but I've seen just about all of his studio's, called Ghibli, main releases.)
The styles of the two studios are different. Pixar movies have better humor, more mainstream stories and more heart. Ghibli movies have more complicated plots, interesting twists and are utterly gorgeous to look at. Outstanding movies from both, and I'd put them up against the very best of the classic Disney films.

Friday, July 18, 2008

An Idea for Meigan

Here.

Bat Dance

Relia has started doing the Flamenco. Here you can see that she tried to have the bat as her partner...and that didn't work out so well.

Overheard

"Apparently I'm not a professional penguin." - The FP Gal on her inability to catch more fish during a balance game.

Have a great Friday

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Baby toys (Unwise edition)

Here's 20 Baby Products that maybe shouldn't have been made.

Related here.

Wii Surreality

The Wii Fit uses the whole catalog of Miis that you've got stored on your set. They jog and throw hula hoops for you. They also dance with you during step aerobics. Right now the FP Gal is dancing between a Ninja and a younger version of myself (who I enjoy golfing with). It's like a cross between Austinaires and an acid trip.
(A few minutes later.) And now she's catching hula hoops from myself and Groucho Marx on the set of a cheesy 70's game show. I love this thing!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wii Fit

Or at least we gonna be fit. Yes, we finally got our hot little hands on one today. Now we shall stretch and twist and pose and step and balance our way to better fitness.
The game comes with a 'balance board' which is basically a plastic step (like in step aerobics) with sensors built into the top of it. The first thing it has you do is step on it and do a simple balancing test. Then it computes your BMI, weight and 'Fit age'. After getting your info it then changes your Mii to match your actual weight. The results were a little horrifying but what can you do? The next thing it does is help you set a weight/BMI goal. My 'age' was 50 (yes, 5-0) and my goal was twenty pounds over the next six months.
There are a number of games (like hula-hooping and step dancing) and a number of straightforward exercises, both yoga and more straightforward, like pushups. Each of these sections gives you a score of some kind so you can compete with yourself and other family members. It's fun and you can see how this is easier to keep up with than a gym membership.
The real oddity of the system is a huge emphasis on balance. Yes, this effects posture and the like but I wouldn't have thought of this as a critical part of overall health. My cynical side thinks that it's just showing off the one piece of equipment that comes with the game.
Anyway, the first look is very good. We'll check back in six months and see what we say then.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

All Star game

A couple of years back I blogged about how they should be doing this. If they'd followed my advice the week would look something like this:
Monday - AL game in Boston.
Tuesday - NL game in Philadelphia
Wednesday - Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium
Thursday - All Star Game
Friday, back to regular baseball.

Happy Birthday

To my kid sister Heidi. Looking forward to seeing you (and your pregnant belly) in a few weeks!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Baby name experts on the Brad-Jolie twins

Whew, finally we get the expert opinion!

When babies are born to celebrities, the burning question — after establishing that everyone's healthy, of course — is inevitably, "So what's the name?" Blame it on Suri, Apple, Moses, Shiloh, Pilot Inspektor and Sunday Rose. Famous people just can't seem to help but hang interesting monikers on their kids.

Don't blame those names on the kids, the parents are at fault. Interesting monikers? Maybe in the Minnesotan sense of 'that's interesting'. Read that list again. How long until we get 'Prius' and 'Camry'? (Speaking of which, I saw a car called 'Armada' this weekend. That violates all singular/plural rules as we know them. And would be a terrible name for a child.)
The Associated Press asked a few baby-name experts — people who make their living consulting regular folks on christening their offspring — to break down celeb baby names as they happen and assign them a letter grade.
This is a job? Really? What college do you go to for that? Is it the one that creates pet psychics, too? From further down:
"So with Knox Leon, we see they're picking the boys' names with an 'X' at the end. ... In an associative sense, I wouldn't give it a good grade; makes you think of 'hard knocks,' or knocking someone on the side of the head. We also have Fort Knox. That is something I would steer clear of — you want to think ahead of what kids will face in school."
I love the concern for how the boy will do in school. Well, they were born to a celebrity couple so they probably already have appointments for therapy. And can you imagine the taunting? 'Dude, your mom and dad keep getting naked on screen. Your mom has some weird relationship with her brother and your dad dumped Jennifer Aniston. Oh, and your name is funny.'
"Knox is an interesting name. It seems to be a family name on Brad Pitt's side; he also is a big collector of the Scottish artist Archibald Knox. The 'X' at the end seems to run in the family!"
Yes, the names end in X. They all rhyme. And none of the experts get to the real problem. When the nanny calls for them, each name will sound alike! Even the practical ones missed that.
"I think Vivienne Marcheline is a very feminine, very beautiful name. Members on our site are responding very well to it. ... I think it'll bring popularity to French names. ... It's a very long name. And when she says it, she's going to have to spell it for people."
Yeah, she'll probably have to spell it and good eye on noticing that it's a long name. Still...these are celeb kids. Treating them like they'll have everyday upbringing misses the point.
I'm certainly not one to knock unusual names and I won't in this case. The boy's name is strong and the girl's name is pretty. What more can you ask for?

Pretty

(Gets that Favre taste out.)

Favre (again)

Yes, I know but I'm finding this whole thing fascinating. Kind of like watching a train wreck.
  • Best Favre quote: "Them moving on does not bother me," Favre said. "It doesn't. I totally understand that. By me retiring March 3rd, I knew that could possibly happen. All I was saying is, you know, I'm thinking about playing again." Just to be clear, when he retired, he knew there was the possibility that the team could move on. Either he thought that the team would fold up after he left or he doesn't understand what the word 'retire' means.
  • He also feels that the Packers pushed him into rushing a decision. How many years has he been going through this? Three? The Packers understandably wanted a clear answer from him. That's the only way they know what to do for the rest of the season.
  • The team apparently asked him for a list of teams that he'd accept a trade to. He hasn't given them one and instead wants to be released and become a free agent. That suggests to me that he wants to go to a team that the Pack wouldn't be happy with. Could that be the Bears or (gulp) the Vikings? Naw. Couldn't be.
  • The Packers have told Rodgers that he's the guy this year and they want to stick with that. Understandable. This is the sticking point. This would show that management thinks the team is more important than anyone player. Laudable, but in this case misguided. The solution is pretty simple. Keep Favre on the roster and announce that out of respect for all he's done for the team, let them compete in training camp. If the old man can do it (and he should be able to) than you go with him. If Rodgers leaves the team in a huff when his contract is done, so be it. He's an unproven player and Favre is the best QB you've ever had. This should be a tough choice.

Bats on the loose

Relia has taken to running around the house with this bat. She really doesn't understand how it's used and prefers to carry it heavy side down like in the picture. She also likes to whomp it on the floor, making it like a White Sox themed butter churn.
Also of note, she likes to cuddle it against her cheek and coo. This just might become her dolly. What proud Papa could ask for anything more?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Language Rules

More and more I'm seeing blog posts (even from actual journalists!) use the word 'way' when they mean 'much' (e.g. "That is way more interesting.") This is only acceptable if you're a teenage girl and even then it's looked at as a cute affectation. Maybe not even then.

Thank you, that is all.

Weekend update

Obviously, we survived the storm on Friday. There was a tornado west of the Cities but our portion of it just featured about twenty minutes of heavy rain and occasional lightning. Following the storm was a cool strong breeze. That made the last couple of nights very easy to sleep during.
Saturday found us out and about and ending up at Har-Mar. We ran into Andrew there and got to catch up with him. Relia loved it. She walked and walked and walked all over the place. After we left the bookstore she walked all the way over to the Cub food that's at one end of the place. She slept well Saturday night.
Today we drove up to Blaine to get together with family on my mom's side. Beautiful house in a new development, including a screened in porch overlooking a pond and some wooded prairie. This part of my family has strong Chicago roots so I got to talk with another White Sox fan. Relia charmed everyone as usual. Home and naps all around.
All in all, it was a very nice weekend.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Favre in Horns?

Just so I can say this out loud so others can hear me, I do not want Brett Favre to play for the Vikings next year or any other year either. For those who haven't heard, the sweet prince of Elsinore has asked the Packers to release him so he can sign with someone else. First of all, what a crappy position he's put his team in! It was only four short months ago that he very tearfully decided to hang it up. Now that he's changed his mind, he has entirely screwed up their reasonable attempts to plan for the future. He's now responsible for making certain that his current change of mind goes as easy for them as is possible.
If he does end up a free agent, I don't want him here. I've cheered against him for too many years. It's too late to change and suddenly cheer for his success. Let him throw that courageous critical fourth quarter interception for someone else.
In fact, I'll go further. If he ends up somewhere else, like Baltimore, I hope he has a dreadful season. No injuries or anything like that, just a simple 2-14 season with the interception record put so high that it won't be challenged for the rest of my life. And athlete's foot. I hope he gets that too.

UPDATE: NFL.com has more:
Making their first public comments since Favre demanded his release this week, Thompson and McCarthy told The Associated Press on Saturday that the team had no plans to release Favre. They says Favre is welcome to rejoin the team, but he would be doing so without a defined role.
May I suggest that whatever that role is, they don't put him charge of anything that involves making decisions in a timely way.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Top Ten ways to make local weather even scarier

Drum roll please:

10. Put reporters in Hazmat suits.

9. Keep a running death count.

8. Employ the Dread Pirate Roberts.

7. Heavy rainy areas replaced with new 'pulsing' red blotches.

6. Sudden pictures of Streisand.

5. Just make things up.

4. January: The Retrospective.

3. Show Dave Dahl's true appearance.

2. Make veiled references to the station's new ark.

1. Two words: Locust storm.

Storm a'comin'!

The local weather (with their usual careful restraint) are showing what appears to be the hand of God, coming forth to smite the Cities. Or it could be a largish summer storm. So wish us luck. I'm sure other sources of news will have something if we're wiped from the Earth.
Not to be too flip, as there have been tornado sightings. We've got the basement prepared if we need to head down there. Even if we need to entertain a small baby.
Updates if necessary...

Have a great Friday


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Airline woes

There are days when I really think that the airline industry is in line for a huge correction. Today was one of those. Twelve airline CEO's issued a joint letter today in which they blame all of the rising costs on fuel prices, specifically on market speculators. Fuel costs have certainly hurt the carriers (though I think they're using speculators as a scapegoat). That's not the big problem, though.
Americans can see what's happening at the fuel pumps. We can understand that oil is much more expensive now and the link to more expensive flight operation costs is an easy one. If the airlines simply responded by raising prices accordingly, there would be complaints but not outright hostility. The problems lie elsewhere.
  • Too many fees. Customers want simple to understand prices. One high price at the beginning and free water and baggage is better than a slightly lower fare and the feeling of being nickeled and dimed.
  • Easier to understand pricing rules. If you want to change a flight you can run afoul of about a dozen different rules. Days of the week, advance purchase, Saturday night stays, even the time of day all factor into the flight cost. It's gotten so complicated that even travel professionals (including me) have to call the airlines regularly to make sure we're charging things correctly. Exchanging a sweater at Target is easy. That should be the airlines model.
  • Lack of basic service. Adding to the problem of being to complicated, is that it's tough to find an actual agent to help you out! This is especially true in times of emergency and delay when people need the help the most. Technology and especially more work-from-home agents should give the flexibility to fix this. Get on it!
  • Lack of hands on service. Flight attendants and gate agents are the face of your company when dealing with the public. Get good employees there, train them well and then (most importantly) give them the power to actually fix problems. That might mean freebies. It will always mean finding people who actually want to help others.
Ultimately, some of the problems with the airline industry have been caused by propping up sick companies. We should let some of the big ones merge and try to solve their problems together. We should let other fail and go bankrupt. Someone else will take their place. Plenty of people still want to fly and someone will take their money.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cat picture

(Not one of mine, taken from here.)

Blow to the Nose

Um, what caused this?

Federal and airline officials are still trying to figure out what crumpled the nose cone of a Northwest Airlines Boeing 757 that landed safely Sunday in Tampa, Fla.

One early theory has been ruled out: that the plane struck a bird.

"At 18,000 feet, a bird would have to be wearing an oxygen mask," said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory in Chicago. Other possible causes include metal fatigue or a design failure, she said.

Check out the picture in the article. I can't imagine that 'metal fatigue or a design failure' could possibly cause something that's clearly some kind of impact. The reasoning in the article is that 18,000 feet is too high for a large bird to fly. A little Google fu suggests that that's false:

When migrating, however, birds often do climb to relatively great heights, possibly to avoid dehydration in the warmer air near the ground. Migrating birds in the Caribbean are mostly observed around 10,000 feet, although some are found half and some twice that high. Generally long-distance migrants seem to start out at about 5,000 feet and then progressively climb to around 20,000 feet. Just like jet aircraft, the optimum cruise altitude of migrants increases as their "fuel" is used up and their weight declines. Vultures sometimes rise over 10,000 feet in order to scan larger areas for food (and to watch the behavior of distant vultures for clues to the location of a feast). Perhaps the most impressive altitude record is that of a flock of Whooper Swans which was seen on radar arriving over Northern Ireland on migration and was visually identified by an airline pilot at 29,000 feet. Birds can fly at altitudes that would be impossible for bats, since bird lungs can extract a larger fraction of oxygen from the air than can mammal lungs.
C'mon news people, check these things out!

Involuntary Burglar Alarm

The FP Gal just went out to the porch to get the mail. On her way there, a small toy panda made a sudden karate noise and scared her. Guess who put that there...?
The comedy benefits of a toddler shouldn't be underestimated.

Lunch wishes

I wish someone would bring me a torn up waffle (toasted), some chunks of cheese, sliced bananas and boiled broccoli. Or maybe I'm just jealous of Relia.

BTW, as a programming note, Wednesdays are my new Thursdays if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pixar

The FP Gal and I have been talking about 'Wall-E' and it's place in the overall list of Pixar movies. This little studio has really created some amazing movies since 1995. She wanted a list to compare them with. Here goes...
Toy Story (100)
A Bug's Life (91)
Toy Story 2 (100)
Monsters Inc (95)
Finding Nemo (98)
The Incredibles (97)
Cars (75)
Ratatouille (96)
Wall-E (97)


(The number after each is the percentage of positive film reviews from professional critics, tallied by RottenTomatoes.com.)

That's a pretty good list. I haven't seen 'Bug's Life' or 'Ratatouille' yet, but the later got serious raves last year. And I've just added it to our Netflix queue... Of the others, I'd say that 'Toy Story', 'Monsters Inc', 'Finding Nemo' and 'Wall-E' were all great movies. I'd watch any of them if I saw them on TV and I'd look down at anyone who didn't like them.
I remember liking 'Toy Story 2' but it doesn't really stand out in my memory now. We thought 'The Incredibles' was overrated, but I'd kind of like to see it again and double check. I liked 'Cars' a lot but it wasn't quite up there with some of the other ones.
I'm curious where other people would rank them. What did you think was great? What was a waste of time? Tell me!

A Very Bad Day

Except mine would involve moths...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Christmas in July

A mere two and a half seasons after it happened, I finally got the White Sox World Series DVD collection. Six full games on disc (the clinching games from the first two rounds and all four Series games), in beautiful HD. Which would look even better if our TV was designed for that, I suppose. This will come in beautifully when I get the baseball jones each offseason.
Thank you, strange bonus program at work!

Wall-E stuff

(Via Ross Douthat) Here's a post talking about questionable plot points from Wall-E. Major spoilers of course, so proceed at your own risk. Certainly an interesting post. The FP Gal and I had talked about some of these, including the title question, but in the end we decided that this type of thing misses the point.
The beauty of the movie rests on one thing. The character of Wall-E is incredibly touching. He's touching in a way that no movie character has approached since ET. Yes, that movie had plot holes, too but it didn't matter either.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Paris

Portrait of a Lady - James

This makes the third novel that I just couldn't get through. It started with a very similar feel to a Jane Austen novel. Unfortunately, there was even less plot. Just pages and pages of descriptions of the characters inner feelings. Nothing real to hang on to. Can't really recommend this one to anyone.
Only three books left on the Great American Novel list. I'd like to finish those up in the next few months and then add on a few that I thought could have been considered. The schedule (in case anyone else wants to follow along):
July - Moby Dick
August - The Adventures of Auggie March
September - To Kill a Mockingbird

"Yes, it's the moon. Over."

Must be urban life.

Lessons of Parenthood

They never told me this, but now that she's walking around the house my sandals wander all over the place.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Suggested names for my upcoming Nephew

  • Gilbert
  • Grape
  • Godfrey
  • Frank Thomas
  • Agamemnon
  • Stone Cold
  • Egbert
  • The Hulk
  • Mxyzptlk
  • Stewie

Friday, July 04, 2008

Dance, Bunnies, Dance!


This is what the FP Gal is playing right now. The object is to 'drum' when the rabbits hit the spotlight. Holy cats, it's addicting!

(And Bonus Cat Picture)

Happy Independence Day

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wii are Connected!

We finally hooked up the Wii so that we can play worldwide. For the last hour or so we've been racing other people around the world in Mario Kart. Mostly US players but also Australia, Mexico and Brazil. (It's early morning in Europe so I'm guessing not many of those players are up and about yet.) The game makes an attempt to keep skill levels even so that races are competitive, which is nice.
Man, I can see how you could lose hours to this thing.

Wall-E - 2008

[Spoilers...proceed at your own risk.]
The movie opens on a vast future world that is completely overrun with garbage. Stacks of garbage are taller than skyscrapers, the air is brown and the oceans appear to have disappeared. Even orbit is filled with satellites, so much so that the planet looks fuzzy.
There are only two bits of life on the planet, a cockroach and a robot that has been compacting garbage for centuries. And yes, I count the robot as 'life', in fact Wall-E is more alive than most actors in most films. The first forty minutes are almost completely without dialogue and they're nothing short of amazing. We watch Wall-E scoot around and get a sense of his world. And his loneliness.
The love interest shows up and the plot moves along. There are moments of heart-rending tenderness. There are many, many laughs. The overall concepts are very interesting. There were a couple of young children in our theater and I was curious how they'd handle the movie. They were quiet and obviously drawn to the story. Strangely, it reminded me of a silent movie.
The movie has drawn some criticisms about the environmental message being too heavy-handed. It didn't bother me. The story is something of a cautionary tale, but the scope of the caution is so overblown as to be unreal. It serves as a base for the movie, but I couldn't take too seriously beyond that.
It's a great movie and I wouldn't be surprised to see it get a Best Picture nom.

Dubai

I've mentioned Dubai before, and specifically the World project. Here's an overhead picture of their coastline. All of the islands at the top are artificial. Dubai's strategy is to use their oil money to create a world class tourist spot. Frankly, it's amazing what they've done.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Give the man some lotion!

Guess who has an itch...?

Childish discoveries

Over the last couple of weeks, Relia has discovered the joy that comes with fans. Not people cheering for their favorite team but spinning blades that move air and cool you down. She likes to yell into them and hear her voice vibrate. We've all done it, we just don't remember when we first started doing it. It's fun to see her go through this process. After she yells into it, she then wanders around for the next few minutes continuing to yell.
And speaking of discoveries, today we found out that Heidi's having a boy. Mazel tov!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pictures




I've been looking for an excuse to post these, but never could find one. So here they are.

FAQ

Sometimes when I see people in real life, they ask me questions about the blog. Long time readers know my quirks and back story. Others probably just think I've suffered a heavy blow to the head (also true). I thought it would be nice to collect some of the regular questions together in case anyone here was wondering about something.

What is a 'future poltergeist'? I picked up the name from a work habit of mine, where I randomly moved stuff around on other people's desks when they weren't around. What can I say? Random acts of chaos are fun!
And the FP Gal? That's my lovely wife. I don't want her to show up on Google searches and be faulted for my opinions. She doesn't seem to care.
Then why not FP Baby? Just doesn't feel right to compare a toddler to a ghost. She has plenty of time to figure out her own ambitions.
Why the Friday pictures? Lack of energy, mostly. By Friday night I'm exhausted and don't have the energy to write anything. A picture in the morning keeps the guilt away.
It used to be cat pictures. That's not a question.
Ok, why don't you do cat pictures anymore? No specific reason. Mostly just liked the landscapes better. Should I go back to the cats?
We'll ask the questions, smart guy. Sorry.
Why the other blog? How many do you need? The other one is for more political stuff, this one is more general. There was a blog I enjoyed (mostly baseball) until the writer started in with some crackpot political stuff. It was jarring and made me like him less. I didn't want the same thing happening over here.
Why the movie reviews? That was the original point of the blog. Then it developed a life of it's own. I find it easier to write if I've got some kind of hook I can go to. That's moved more to books.
What do you hate? Moths. And certain rival sports teams.
Any current blogging goals? I try to post something daily. More often if I've got more to say.

Any other questions?